Friday, March 23, 2007

Babying the Big Boys

It can be argued that there is little importance in what a manager or coach says about his players in the media. Most players probably ignore newspaper stories or, at the very least, take them with a grain of salt. Still, it's a well-documented fact that Ron Gardenhire has a tendency to go out of his way to make excuses or heap undeserving praise on a pitcher who has a poor outing, and that tendency has been on full display this spring. There's nothing wrong with that, in essence; a big part of a manager's job is to maintain player morale and keep the confidence of his guys up. Yet, it seems to me that Gardy is most always much more willing to provide this service to the veterans than to the younger players or prospects who have a rough day.

Most people who read either of the local newspapers have probably noticed this. Carlos Silva gets knocked around by the Twins' Double-A affiliate and Gardy is "encouraged" by the movement on his pitches. Then Kevin Slowey has his first rough outing of the spring and is promptly bumped down to the minors. In general, I rarely see the Twins' manager going out of his way to emphasize the positives when a younger guy gets roughed up, but he almost always does so for guys like Silva and Sidney Ponson.

For instance, after seeing youngster Glen Perkins struggle in a start against the Red Sox on Tuesday, Gardy had the following quote in a Star Trib recap:
"He never really found a good rhythm, and it's all about being to make an adjustment," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You see that with younger pitchers. Veterans know how to step off the mound a little bit better than some of the young guys, take a deep breath and make an adjustment."
Or, in other words, it's too bad Perkins isn't a veteran and couldn't "make an adjustment." You know, kind of like the adjustments Silva has been making this spring en route to a 7.62 ERA and 5-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Or the adjustments Ponson has made while giving up 17 hits and seven earned runs in 10 innings. Hogwash.

And then there's Boof Bonser. Gardenhire has been pretty much unwilling to come out and openly announce Bonser as a lock for the rotation, despite the fact that he was a crucial component in the team's stretch run last year and he's been outstanding this spring, holding a 2.25 ERA and 12/0 strikeout-to-walk ratio up until hitting a slight bump in the road yesterday. Even now, it sounds like Bonser will be the fifth starter, which could mean he will have a few starts skipped early in the season in order to keep the rest of the rotation on schedule when the team has days off. Meanwhile, Silva, Ponson and Ramon Ortiz have pretty much been written into the rotation all along, despite terrible numbers last season and (with the exception of Ortiz) uninspiring performances this spring.

To me, Gardenhire's philosophy makes little sense. If anything, shouldn't the younger pitchers be the ones getting babied in the media? I have to imagine that their confidence is a little more fragile than veterans who have been in the major leagues for several years.

This trend seems to provide further evidence of an ongoing bias in the Twins' organization against rookies, one that has been around since Tom Kelly was the manager. It is particularly frustrating because the Twins are a team that needs to rely on rookies to step up and produce if they want to win. That fact became blatantly clear last season, and I have little doubt that this season will be the same way.

41 comments:

John said...

Seriously, this gets old. We went through this garbage last year, and you'd think Gardy would have learned his lesson. I will be surprised, nay shocked, if Silva or Ponson have a job come July. Bonser as the fifth starter? That's a slap in the face. All Gardy's doing is putting the Twins in another hole to start the season.

Lee Henschel said...

I disagree. Gardy is like a doctor. He treats each person with what they need.

A veteran like Silva (whom I wish they hadn't picked up his contract, but nevertheless he's there) needs some confidence right now. He needs to know that he can indeed pitch in the bigs. Confidence is part of Silva's problem.

With some youngsters – like Slowey – he needs to give them a reality check. They need to know that although they've put out great performances in the past, they're not yet ready for the big top. They have some learning to do. Slowey will be a great pitcher one day – and my blog (lee-the-twins-fan.blogspot.com/2007/03/lineup.html) says he'll be back early this year – earlier than Garza. But he needs a little seasoning in AAA.

Remember how Gardy treated Bartlett at spring training last year? Sent him down to change his attitude, so he could be more of a take-charge guy. He came back up, two months later, a much better SS, and is now solid in the position.

As manager, you cannot overinflate young egos – or veterans' egos. They need stroking but not overstroking. Sometimes they need a kick.

As a former pastor once told me, part of his job was to "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comforted."

That's Gardy's job, too.

Nick M. said...

Silva has gotten plenty of soft coddling in the past year that hasn't done very much to his game. He just isn't an effective pitcher. The problem is when you continue to defend a "veteran" long after he is no longer being very effective over a rookie who is being much more effective. The problem is how the situation looks to a Garza or Slowey. That could hurt their confidence, which I'm sorry, is far more important than Silva's.

Nick N. said...

Lee, I see your point, but in my opinion Gardy is the one who needs the "reality check." Silva always seems to need confidence (that's what tends to happen when you absolutely can't perform), but at some point, as a manager, you've got to stop coming up with excuses. Or, if you're going to, at least extend the same courtesy to all of your pitchers.

As for Bartlett, I think it's extremely debatable whether sending him down actually had anything to do with his outstanding play last year. I would argue that he would have done the same thing if he'd been with the team from the beginning of the year. So why did the Twins do it? Well, I'll say this much: that little stunt bought them an extra year on Bartlett's arbitration clock.

Anonymous said...

Slowey was not sent down because of his bad outing. Everyone was saying that, except your blog. He just need further seasoning. And Gardy practically guaranteed that he'll be back, most likely this year. That's a vote of confidence.

Silva is a 4 million year old baby. You do whatever you do to make that work.

Comparing Slowey to Silva like this, is just not a good example.

the Dragon said...

Nick N.,

I was also going to post yesterday and Lee has said it far better than I.

From your post I presume Gardy is a "Bush League" manager.

I don't know what Garza, Slowey or Perkins have done to deserve coddling. I think we all agree on one point, that they ALL potentially, and the operative word is potentially, have GREAT futures in the Major Leagues.

Garza, Perkins & Slowey rocketed through the minors last year with nary a bump in the road until Garza hit the Majors. His problem, IMHO, is that he relyed on what got him there. Unfortunately, his fastball is probably not enough to keep him there. Was he overmatched? Was he stubborn? Or was he relying on the comfortable, and that was almost enough, but not quite.

I would not be upset if Garza makes the opening day rotation, yet I believe the Twins and Garza whould be far better served if he had a couple of months in AAA to work on those few missing pieces, and I suspect it's not actually missing pieces, rather comfort and confidence to use and rely on them in tough situations.

Anyone who saw the Bartlett sent down to AAA and the one who came back, and say there was no difference...well I wear contacts, yet am not blind.

Maybe an analogy will help. Dave Leato is the Basketball Coach at the University of Virginia. In an article about his ranting sideline style, one of his players Jason Cain, noted that when he first began working with Leato, he (Cain) thought the Coach HATED him. As time went on, Cain began to understand that his early perceptions were wrong. Rather the Coach thought Cain could be a better player than even Cain himself thought he could be, and all the Coach was trying to do was to get Cain to be the best Leato thought he could be.

Coddle the young pups when they have proved they deserve to be coddled.

Silva is a bit different. Most, including you folks, see Silva's last year as a disaster. I agree it WAS NOT good, yet the complete statistics are a bit deceiving IMHO. Silva was maddeningly inconsistant. He pitched either good or bad, and rarely inbetween. He put a good 6 weeks together followed by a bad month, followed by a good couple of starts, followed by a couple of disasters. If Gardy and Anderson can find the Silva of June 15th through August 5th, the coddling and effort will be worth it, if not I don't see Silva lasting long on the team. (With one possible caveat. Is Santana applying any pressure on Silva's behalf? I personally doubt it, yet is it beyond possibility?)

If Gardy's comments are so divisive, I would expect to hear far more about a divided clubhouse. Maybe there are warring factions, and this press peace and light is just spin from Ryan and Gardy.

While I am relatively new to the Twins blogoshphere, and I stop by everyday, this post just seemed to me a bit below your usual standard.

And anyway, it's a matter of opinion, and most of us have at least one (I happen to keep several in reserve).

Regards,

Nick N. said...

Slowey was not sent down because of his bad outing. Everyone was saying that, except your blog. He just need further seasoning. And Gardy practically guaranteed that he'll be back, most likely this year. That's a vote of confidence.

Silva is a 4 million year old baby. You do whatever you do to make that work.

Comparing Slowey to Silva like this, is just not a good example.


I don't disagree with the fact that Slowey was sent down in general, and I didn't expect him to make the team, my only point was that he got demoted right after his first bad outing of the season, which to me seems like it could be relatively damaging to his self-confidence.

And Dragon, you make some good points, but I think you're missing my point to some degree. I'm not necessarily promoting that the young guys get coddled; I just don't understand why they don't get the same treatment as the vets.

Coddle the young pups when they have proved they deserve to be coddled.

How has Silva proven that he deserves to be coddled? Say what you will, his 2006 season was disastrous, with few exceptions. One decent two-week stretch doesn't change that. What about Ponson? He hasn't been decent for three years. How has he proven that he deserves to be coddled any time recently?

If Gardy's comments are so divisive, I would expect to hear far more about a divided clubhouse. Maybe there are warring factions, and this press peace and light is just spin from Ryan and Gardy.

I'm not saying it's necessarily a divisive issue, and I didn't make it out to be one. It's a trend I've noticed, and it's one that bothers me. I could see it potentially having an adverse effect on some players, and it certainly annoys me from a fan's standpoint.

Corey said...

In his last start of the spring Silva gives up 9 in 3.3. 11 Hits, 4-4 GBo-FBo ratio. But Im sure Gardy was "encouraged by the fact that Silva didn't walk anyone." God this guy is a head case. Its like Kyle "Lowsy" Lohse all over again.

Corey said...

I forgot to mention that leaves his spring ERA at 11.02.

I can't even count to 11.

Nick N. said...

In his last start of the spring Silva gives up 9 in 3.3. 11 Hits, 4-4 GBo-FBo ratio. But Im sure Gardy was "encouraged by the fact that Silva didn't walk anyone." God this guy is a head case. Its like Kyle "Lowsy" Lohse all over again.

Sigh.

Corey said...

I understand your "sigh" Nick, but I think we, as a community need to come to a simple realization.

1) Garza, for as well as he's pitched this spring, hasn't had enough innings due to his neck problems to be considered 'ready' for regular season games. Besides, managers, general managers as well as others in the front office have learned hard lessons over the past hundred years that young pitchers (Garza is only 21) really do need to be handled with kid gloves.

2) Perkins is too dependent on his fastball, without a plus second pitch. Thats a real bad way to pitch in the majors.

3) Slowey has better stuff but lacks the control, and the Twins are wise to give him more time in the minors.

Clearly Garza is the most MLB ready of the group but none of these guys are Liriano. None of the have a real plus-plus second pitch, and until they either demonstrate that they either have that or at least 2 plus pitches besides their fastball, I'm all for keeping them in the minors.

As an avid Twins fan, I think its important that Twins fans keep this season in perspective. This year we aren't going to win the division. Its not a debate, its a fact. We aren't going to the playoffs. Think Im wrong? Consider what needed to happen last year for us to get to the playoffs.

1) We needed to have the most dominant perfomance by a rookie pitcher maybe ever. (Liriano)

2) Nick Punto had to come out of nowhere to become a gold glove third baseman hitting .300. No way he duplicates that.

3) Joe Mauer does nothing short of win the batting championship.

4) Morneau, who I believe is the one Twin who has a chance to improve considering he did most of his damage in the second half was the MVP. The concern watching and hearing about him this spring is he's forgotten what made him successful last year. Learning to stay back on the ball and go oppo.

5) Santana was filthy, and while that can be expected to happen again, one man does not a rotation make.

Sit down by yourself in a dark, quiet room and ask yourself in all honesty, "Can I really expect this many good things to happen again? Do I really think Garza can be Liriano? Can anybody on this staff be Radke? Even if every good thing plausible happens can we actually keep pace with an even better Tigers ballclub?"

If your honest with yourself how can you answer yes to those questions?

Then consider this, by the time the AS break comes we have to get serious about moving Torii. Span is (to my complete shock) ready for the majors. Which means we need to find Torii a new home. As much as I hate to think about it, NY is the perfect fit for all involved. 1)They have the need and the cash to pay him. 2)His personality is a perfect fit. 3)Eric Duncan, Jose Tabata, Phillip Hughes. Need I say more?

So why not do all we can to get ready for next year. Let the kids work out the kinks till September, give'em the call up and let them get introduced and then next year the rotation is; 1)Santana 2)Garza 3)Liriano 4)Slowey 5)Perks

Thats nutty good.

Plus, regardless of whether or not Morneau resigns long-term, he's not a free agent till the end of 2010. Same for Cuddy (expect I believe he's FA eligible in 2009). So the lineup should be just fine.

If your a real Twins fan, one who wants another championship, then you realize 07 doesn't matter, its all about 08.

Dan said...

Corey,

If thats the mindset or attitude you have going into the season, that theres not a chance, then why not go with the youth and let them develop in the majors? I see where you are coming from a little, but it can easily be argued from the other side.

I believe the Tigers did it, the Indians have done it, the Marlins, D-Backs, Brewers, D-Rays, Rockies just to name a few are playing young, talented prospects that some may say 'arent quite' major league ready.

So, if we are going to lose, I'd rather lose having our future learn some lessons this year and be more ready for next year than wasting half a year with Vets who can't come close to getting the job done.

And by the way, I think you are selling the team a little short on our chances this year. "Its not a debate, but a fact" So what are your'e factual predictions for the baseball year?

Corey said...

Dan, I appreciate the feedback!

My rationale for keeping the kids in the minors, revolves mostly on two premises. 1) It keeps them confident. 2) I don't want teams like the Tigers and Indians and ChiSox to have seen their stuff for a whole season before 08. I'd much rather have them be as much of an unknown quantity to th league as possible. If they pitch this year, the league will have a book on them by 08.

I don't think I'm ignorant enough to believe that teams won't learn how to deal with these kids quick enough anyways, but why not have every advantage possible?

And as a counter-point, why have the kids up here before they're ready? Why let them get pounded (which Perks and Slowey would)?

Theres another reason, perhaps the main one, and the hardest one for casual fans to understand/get around. The twins dropped 9 million on Ponson, Silva, and Ortiz. For most teams, releasing them and eating half their salaries wouldn't be too much of a pain, but this team is WAY outside its budget. Something most people can't grasp is that Pohlad, regardless of how much heat he gets from fans and the media, has lost tens of millions of dollars in owning this team. As a season ticket holder since I was 16 in 1999, I've seen the good years of attendance and the bad, but one thing I know is that their attendance last year, nor even their record season ticket sales this year are enough to justify adding 10 million in salary to a team that was already over budget, but he did.

As a fan, and someone sympathetic to Mr. Pohlads plight, I think we ought to at least give these guys a chance to see if one or two of them can give us ERA's of 5 or under (which I would actually be ok with). While I don't feel that any of them with the exception of Ortiz has done anything to show there's even a snowflakes chance in Hades of that, I see no harm in the team letting them try.

I'm interested however in furthing the discussion on the pro's and con's of developing players in the majors vs minors.

As far as my predictions for the Twins in baseballs toughest division?

1) Tigers 96-66
2) ChiSox 84-78
3) Twins 80-82
4) Indians 78-84
5) KC 69-93

Nick M. said...

Corey, I'm not going to disagree with you too much here. But there is nothing more disguisting than seeing that Silva has given up 29 hits in 16 1/3 innings. Its absurd that he is allowed to keep a spot with those stats, when he was supposed to "compete" for his spot.

The thing is, I think your point about no one having a second great pitch like Liriano is interesting. Silva has only one pitch really and it doesn't work. By that logic, there is nothing smarter than giving the last spot to a guy like Garza, or even Perkins, who at least has one good pitch and possible can throw the ball guys occassionally.

Trying to help with Silva's confidence is a lost cause. Its clear he is no longer effective. I say this because guys like Silva, with the sinker, usually are one-hit wonders and don't win Cy Youngs like Brandon Webb. We can celebrate his one good year, but its really a waste to let him stay in the rotation.

Nick M. said...

Also, I have to say that put the Indians at a 78-84 record is pretty debatable. The Indians have a lot more talent than the Sox. And the AL Central should have three or four winning teams.

Corey said...

Nick, I agree that Silva is a lost cause. No arguements. But allowing him to pitch, even he can manage only a 5.00 era would give him at least some trade value. Whereas cutting him wastes 2 million dollars, a tough pill to swallow.

I hate to rag on the best GM in the biz, but resigning Silva was a poor decision, but perhaps an understandable one considering the desperation that he must have felt in November of last year looking at a rotation that he must have felt had at least three holes to fill.

Thankfully to say, I'll be meeting with him this July and plan on discussing that matter in particular.

And I justify my rationale on the Indians is my belief that they, like the Twins have only one quality pitcher, Jeremy Sowers, as its my opinion that CC Sabathia is simply not the guy he used to be. Effective at times to be sure, but also no longer the dominant pitcher he once promised to be.

The ChiSox, despite my loathe for them still have oodles of pitching, and John Danks is the real deal, even if I'm one of the few who know sit yet. I'm not overly concerned with their inflated ERA's of this spring, though I promise I'll be sitting front row, section 100, and they'll hear about all batting practice long come early May.

Especially Jon Garland. Me and that man have issues.

Worst case scenario, I think the Sox and Indians are even on pitching and the lineups can both rake. I'll take a team thats shown they know how to win over an unproven one any day of the week.

Nick N. said...

2) Perkins is too dependent on his fastball, without a plus second pitch. Thats a real bad way to pitch in the majors.

3) Slowey has better stuff but lacks the control, and the Twins are wise to give him more time in the minors.


I think you mixed these two up.

WinTwins57 said...

I only skimmed some of the comments, but I wanted to comment on the fact that they are calling Boof the FIFTH starter behind Ponson, Silva, and Ortiz. That's ridiculous and like someone said, it's a slap in the face for a pitcher that stepped up big time last season for us. Coming into Spring Training...and still...I had him penciled in as the #2 starter. It's insane for Gardy to skip Boof and let Ponson and/or Silva pitch every fifth day! I, too, feel like the re-signing of Silva was one of the worst ideas TR has had. I understand his concern, but I think we have at least five pitchers in the organization that would be a better fit. Ugh!

Oh, and even though I do consider myself a REAL Twins fan, I don't agree that 2007 "doesn't matter." Corey, you're counting them out before they've even started. Give them a chance. It wouldn't be the first time they've shocked us all!!

Corey said...

My bad with the "real fan" thing, I certainly didn't mean it the way I think some people have taken it, I don't doubt the loyalty, or intelligence of anyone who follows this ballclub. I simply think the pragmatism which is being used to justify some peoples opinion is based a little too much on the hope of a desperate heart than the logic of a realistic mind.

As for my giving this team either too little credit or not being optimistic enough, I prefer simply to think that I'm a realist. I simply don't believe that the Twins, either with the old and untalented rotation or the young and unprepared rotation can come within 10 games of winning this division. Maybe if this were the NL West or even the AL West I'd think we were still right in the thick of things, but this isn't and in my opinion, we aren't.

Jason said...

Corey-

Just as an aside...there is no "plight" for Mr. Pohlad, the only reason HE necessarily would consider it a "plight" is the fact that he looks at the Twins organization as a business rather than and investment in a city or entertainment. Billionaire, three times over.

That's not a rip on the Pohlads necessarily, however, I think it would be a vast overstatement to call their situation with the team and payroll a "plight".


As for the rotation...

I see the point about Silva's salary and not wanting to throw $4 million down to the minors, but there has to be a line somewhere.

Garza hasn't been extended, true, but when Liriano shot into the majors he was only pitching 5 innings most nights at the beginning. We've got a deep bullpen, it can work.

I don't think anyone expects Garza to be Liriano, but I think we KNOW that he can certainly do better than the gastly 11.20 ERA that Silva's posted this spring.

$4 million or not, Gardy's got the right idea...if he doesn't shape-up in his next start, toss the ball to Garza.

Corey said...

I try not to knock people who run their business at a loss for a couple decades for my benefit anything degrading. And as far as Silva is concerned, I think this is what will happen.

1)Silva will pitch three games, have an ERA of about 2000.00
2)Garza will get called up once he's extended in the minors, and pitch as a capable #3 MLB starter.
3)Instead of moving Silva to the minors they'll release JD Durbin as he can no longer be optioned to the minors, and move Silva to mop-up duty till they can find a willing trade partner. Much the same as the did with Lowsy last year.

Now, back to watching my St. Thomas Cadets win another State Championship.

Jason said...

I am by no means knocking Mr. Pohlad, I was just merely stating that a guy with a net worth more than I can ever possibly conceive of making probably isn't in a situation I would describe as a plight. Let us not forget that what he's given to the team, the state and Hennepin County in particular, are giving right back for the Stadium.

Mark said...

To me it is pretty obvious at this point that Terry Ryan is simply running out the arbitration clock with the young pitchers this year.

All three of Garza, Perkins, and Slowey have to stay in the minor leagues until only mid-may for them to be considered prospects for yet another year. Assuming they get arbitration figures similar to Freddy Garcia, Zito, etc, in the year that would be the first year of arbitration the twins save $3 million on each player ($300K v. $3.3 mil) and then an additional couple of million the other two years. In the long run, this will save the twins about $15 million down the road holding off two of the three pitchers for a year. This is assuming that we wouldn't want to keep Ponson and Silva. If you want to throw Ortiz in, that figure rises to over $20 million saved by holding them off a year. These figures are material to the Twins management.

I do agree that Garza, Perkins, and Slowey have all outpitched Ponson and Silva this spring training. However, each pitcher could improve in AAA for the following reasons
1. Slowey could definitely use a lot more experience in the minor leagues. He only had 60 innings of even AA experience.
2. Perkins does need to develop some pitches that make him less of an extreme fly-ball pitcher. Articles this spring have indicated he is working on a sinker. I would rather see him work on this out of the lime light in Rochester. Not in the limelight of the majors.
3. Garza could use some additional refinement on all of his pitches to make himself more useful. However, his is the least defensible. I saw him step in last year during the game that Liriano came back/reinjured himself and he shut down the A's. The kid was tired from working more than ever.However, he can pitch and when he is fresh, he can dominate.

Furthermore, assuming by mid-may Ponson and Silva, have made 18 starts (the #5 pitcher only pitches 3 times in April), we can assume that a reasonable scenario of them going 7-11 during that stretch. Assuming replacing them with Garza and Perkins improves our record during this time to 11-7. This is a difference of four games. I don't know about you, but I am willing to give up four wins for $15 million.

My guess is Ryan and Gardenhire both know that they would be better served right now by going with Garza and Perkins. However, the reason for not doing so would be stupid to mention publicly so they have to put on a show.
Note: My argument is moot if they put Bonser in the five slot. That would be a slap in the face and blatantly coddling the veterans in favor of the good of the team.

Corey said...

Agree, agree, agree.

Anonymous said...

Good Comments,

Yes, Silva put up a real stinker yesterday. He ultimately has his own destiny in his hands. Doesn't look good.

Just for clarification, if it is needed, in my comments on Silva were not meant to endorse him for the rotation, rather to voice support for decisions Ryan & Gardy appear to be making. And, not necessarily support, more accurately, understanding.

I personally think the situation dictated the choices Ryan made this summer.

1.) Liriano's injury
2.) Radke retiring
3.) Deep pitching in the minors, yet not quite ready.

I can't speak to how important the service time issue in these calculations, yet it may well be of higher priority than I personally would place it.

On another blog, at the time Silva's option needed to be exercised (and if I have a problem with Ryan, it's that these options...both Silva's & Hunter's...were timed right after the end of the season, rather than say November 1 or some such) confidently predicted that mid-level starters would be available for Silva type money. It was a sensible prediction, yet only days later, baseball broke out the Monopoly money. The marketplace, atleast in the Fall of 2006 inflated by 75%+. Pitchers, one might have expected to be available for 3-6 million, were getting 4/5 year deals at 9-12 million per.

2 things appear not to have changed with this inflation, First, the Twins budget and Second, a handful of Arbitration eligibles.

If you evaluate Silva's option in 2006 dollars, it is more like 2.5 mil, Ortiz is more like 1.7 or so.

I think Ryan's moves make far more sense in context, then they do when taken as stand alone moves.

If you end the season with 2 spots in the rotation open, Bonser, who seems to have gotten it, yet has only 6 weeks of performance to back that analysis up. Garza, who has a great future, yet struggled and appeared not quite ready. Silva who had a bad year, but glimpses of Silva 2004/2005. Where do you go? Particularly if you don't have George Steinbrenner's or John Henry's pocketbook available?

I don't see this season as dire as some. One thing on the positive side is that the line-up is likely to be much stronger. While the bench is not yet deep, I'll happily play that line-up against anyone.

I happen to trust the moves and instincts of Ryan & Gardy because of performance. For all the catterwalling about Batista & Castro, the Twins had the most wins in 35/36 years. Only 6 teams have a better average win total over the last 5 years.

I don't often agree or know the reasons for the decisions that Ryan & Gardy make, yet the results speak for themselves.

Regards,

Pollyanna

Nick N. said...

Wow, there's a lot of really great conversation here, so I'm just going to jump in and comment on a few points.

As an avid Twins fan, I think its important that Twins fans keep this season in perspective. This year we aren't going to win the division. Its not a debate, its a fact. We aren't going to the playoffs.

I don't think that's a fair statement. I tend to agree with the notion that the Twins probably won't make the playoffs (I had them finishing third in the AL Central when I did my predictions last week), but to state that they factually have no chance of making the playoffs is going a little far. I think most baseball analysts would agree that there are four great teams in the AL Central and any one of them has a shot at winning the division. The Twins rotation could be a mess, but look at it this way: What if Garza and Bonser both step up and pitch well? I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation, and if it happens, those two can combine with Santana to form a pretty good top of the rotation. In that event, all you need to do is get reasonable contributions from two other guys and you've got a solid rotation to go along with an offense that is set to improve and one of the best bullpens in baseball. No chance? Sorry, I just can't agree with that.

Theres another reason, perhaps the main one, and the hardest one for casual fans to understand/get around. The twins dropped 9 million on Ponson, Silva, and Ortiz. For most teams, releasing them and eating half their salaries wouldn't be too much of a pain, but this team is WAY outside its budget.

There is a concept called "sunk cost" that the Twins need to familiarize themselves with. It basically means that once you've paid for something, the money is gone no matter what you do. The Twins are already going to have to pay these guys, but that shouldn't be used as an excuse to keep handing them the ball. Then all you're doing is piling up mistakes and throwing away a season.

To me it is pretty obvious at this point that Terry Ryan is simply running out the arbitration clock with the young pitchers this year.

That's a fair stance, but can you really agree with it? The Twins have a good young team here, and this might be one of the last seasons in their window to win a championship with Santana/Nathan/etc. I think they need to put the best players on the field and do what it takes to win, now. As I stated above, I certainly don't agree that the team has no chance of making the playoffs, but if they want to do it they're going to need to be willing to do what it takes. Slowey, Perkins and Garza are all going to get paid eventually, and if that happens one year earlier it doesn't really bother me, as long as they're ready to go now.

If you evaluate Silva's option in 2006 dollars, it is more like 2.5 mil, Ortiz is more like 1.7 or so.

Just because Ortiz and Silva's contracts don't look ridiculous in that context, it doesn't make them good deals. Money is money, and the Twins simply don't have a ton. If the market for third basemen shot up by 75%, would be excusable for the Twins to start paying Punto $6 mil/year?

Corey said...

Nick, thanks for the comments.

As per my opinion that its"fact" that the Twins wont be making the playoffs this year, I'll stand by that. Regardless of how well Garza pitches (and thats an enormous question), the Twins would still need a number of different balls to bounce their way. Let me put it to you this way...

If Garza pitches well along with Bonser, does that make our rotation as good as the Tigers? I don't think so.

Bonser, at his best projects to a career middle of the order pitcher (#3 in my opinion) with an era that will hover between 4.25 and 5.25. He doesn't have a particularly lively fastball, which he locates just ok, his curve isn't anything to write home about either and his change is a marginal pitch at best. So basically that makes him a Ramon Ortiz plus.

As for Garza, I actually project him out (for this year) as a Kyle Lohse, with worse stuff but a better head. His fastball is more lively with better movement and he locates it well, but I'd disagree with anyone who would make the assertation that his curve or slider are better than Lohse's. Lohse, if you'ld ever watched a bullpen session of his had absolutely filthy stuff. Even in his good games last yea (people love to throw around his ERA minus his first and last games) he was VERY hittable. Opponents hit over .300 against him last year.

I don't see Garza as the prospect that I think everyone else does, and I know I keep raining on everyone's parade, but until he proves me (and the rest of Twins Nation) wrong I think its hard to make a counter argument.

The counter point of course is that the two biggest predictors of success for pitchers (in my opinion K/9 and BB/9) are still really freakin' good.

K/9=6.38
BB/9=1.65

I know those numbers contradict a number of assertations that I have made but just by observing him so many times, I think he'll be a career #3-#2 guy. I suppose thats not bad, but I don't think he's either A) at that point yet or B) that even if he was, it would be enough to win the Division, which I think the Twins would have to do this year.

I also disagree with your 'skunk cost' theory.

If the Twins can something, anything, out of Ponson, Silva, or Ortiz, it would enable them to trade their contracts mid-season, for something in return.





I suppose I view this year as an extremely vital rebuilding year for a number of reasons. It will be important for the Twins to use the leverage they'll have in the Hunter trade for quality prospects.

I think that this trade may perhaps be the most important aspect of this entire season, because what we get in return for him will set our course for the future. Consider the AJ Pierzyski (I hope I butchered the bums name) trade. I think there are a number of viable candidates whom the Twins can consider.

A)Los Angeles
B)New York Yankees
C)Bo Sox

All have the money to shell out for Torii, all have the need, all have what we'd want/need in return.

What do the Twins need? A replacement for Nathan, a quality starting pitching prospect, a third baseman, a shortstop, and a let fielder.

Now clearly they wont be able to fill all those holes, but filling them with talent that'll be ready for the show in the next couple years will be the key to keeping our 'Braves like' run going.

The reason I think this is so important is because next year, I truly believe we can win it all. A full year with two aces in the staff, an MLB ready trio of 3-4 young middle of the rotation pitchers and a stacked lineup, whats not to like?

For as down as I am on the Twins this year, I'm even further UP on them next year. But our future as a low budget ballclub depends on extracting value in trades for our veteran players. Always has, always will.

Remember, for as kind as these past six years have been to us, we aren't that far removed from the eight years before that, nor are we ever that far away from falling back into that abyss. Selling out for one good season, championship or not, could spell doom for the teams future.

Regardless of whether or not we have a nice new stadium, we'll never be even a mid-market team (example: Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit) all of those teams had a couple of years of expanded payroll due to their nice new parks and then faded right back into mediocrity. To presume that this team can suddenly be competitive every year is arrogant.

Nick N. said...

Corey, you make a number of interesting points but I'm going to have to disagree with you on a few of them.

First of all, I don't buy the Kyle Lohse comparison for Matt Garza. Lohse was never dominant, in the sense that he was never really a strikeout pitcher. People love to talk about how great Lohse's "stuff" is, but the fact is that it has never really translated to missing bats, in the minors or majors. His career K/9 is a mediocre 5.67.

Garza, on the other hand, struck out 154 batters in 135 innings in the minor leagues last year, and still maintained a solid strikeout rate once he reached the majors, despite his struggles. I think you're selling his stuff a bit short. You don't dominate three levels of the minors like that without great stuff.

I don't think you can really base anything on Garza's performance with the Twins last year. He was a 22-year-old rookie, less than two years removed from college, jumping into a playoff race. That's crazy pressure. The kid still has ace potential, for sure. Let's not forget how poorly Justin Verlander pitched when he was first called up for the Tigers in 2005.

I also don't see why you think it's a foregone conclusion that the Twins will trade Hunter this season. It would probably be a good idea, but that doesn't necessarily mean Terry Ryan will do it. I could easily see him being happy with the draft pick compensation the team would receive if Hunter left as a free agent at the end of the year.

You listed needs for the Twins as: "A replacement for Nathan, a quality starting pitching prospect, a third baseman, a shortstop, and a let fielder." The Twins have numerous internal candidates to replace Nathan, should he leave. They have tons of starting pitching prospects. They have a shortstop for the foreseeable future in Bartlett. Left field may be an area of need, but only if they let Cuddyer go and Kubel has to move into right field. I'd say the only real needs the Twins have right now are third base, DH, and center field.

In any case, I still don't agree that the Twins have no shot at competing for a playoff spot this year. As long as they do, it makes no sense to throw away the season by handing the ball to replacement-level pitchers three times a week, especially when there are better options within the organization.

Corey said...

Mr. Nelson;

I suppose I'll have to remain the only fan in Twins Nation with my view point on the chances the Twins have this year. I must admit, crow will never taste so good if I happen to be wrong. However I think we just see different things, and thats ok.

With regard to Torii, I'm curious whether or not you think it would be prudent of the team to move him, and furthermore, to whom and for whom.

Also, I'm curious as to know who you think the Twins would consider to be their internal candidates for replacement of Nathan. I don't presume you speaking of anyone on the active Major League roster... are you? (gulp)

As far as starting pitching candidates, there's no such thing as "enough," or, "too many."

And for Garza and Lohse, lets dig in...

In 2001, at age 22 Kyle Lohse made his MLB debute. Before his first appearance he combined to throw 87 inning between AA and AAA (38/49) and struck out 80 (32/48) for a combined a K/9 of 8.27 (7.58, 8.82)

In 2006, at age 22 Matt Garza, in his minor league year prior to joining the big club tossed, as you pointed out 135.6 innings. (44.3,57.3,34) and struck out 154 (53,68,33) averaging K/9 ratio's of (10.76, 10.67, and 8.74)

We can see that at the AAA Level, where hitters start to be able to hit 97MPH fastballs, their K/9 are nearly identical.

The major differences in their inagural years are that Lohse then pitched 90.3 innings with the Twins whereas Garza logged only 34. For a total, Lohse pitched 177.3 whereas Garza (in his tired weakened state) pitched only 141.3 (how will he ever make it to 200???).

Once they reached the show, the lines look like this...

Lohse pitches 19 games, starting 16. Over that span he strikes out 6.38/9 with a WHIP of 1.45, and a ERA, of 5.68

Garza by comparision, pitched in 10 games, starting 9 over 50 innings. He had a K/9 of 6.84, an ERA of 5.76 and a WHIP of 1.70


By almost all numbers, LOHSE had the better debute and his numbers in the highest level of the minors aren't that different either.

Throw in the fact that their nearly the same size and grew up a 4 hour drive from one another, and have an identical mix of pitches and I can't help but make the comparision.

Perhaps you have a reason why I shouldn't make the comparision.

BTW, Before Kyle's bad 2006, he had a career EA of 4.73. Thats not considering Radke had a career ERA of 4.22...

Also, I'll stand by my belief that Lohse's secondary pitchers we're at least a tick above Garza's.

However, and I don't think I'd use this as my indicator of talent... but Garza's K/9 in A ball was clearly superior to Lohse's in all but Lohse's first year in the minors.

But besides that, I'm not certain on what your basing your assumption that Garza is a 'clearly' superior pitcher at this point, or that we should somehow expect more of him this season.

Corey said...

Also, your periphery reasons for Garza's dismal performance, less than 2 years removed from college, playoff race... Lohse had only 3 full minor league seasons, after a brief stint in JC. Therefore I'd say their development path was similar and last time I recalled, the 2001 season was where the Twins we're making a playoff push (their first in a long time) and finished second in the division at 85-77. Another erie coincidence? Definitly, but certainly a worthy counter-point to your assertations.

Also, as a trip down memory lane... who remembers any of JC Romero's 11 starts that season?

Nick N. said...

Corey, thanks for your continued involvement in this discussion. I'm enjoying it.

By almost all numbers, LOHSE had the better debute and his numbers in the highest level of the minors aren't that different either.

Throw in the fact that their nearly the same size and grew up a 4 hour drive from one another, and have an identical mix of pitches and I can't help but make the comparision.

Perhaps you have a reason why I shouldn't make the comparision.


I guess I just don't see them as similar pitchers, at all. Garza is a power pitcher, Lohse rarely tops 92-93 MPH.

Regarding their numbers in the high minors and their major league debuts, I think it's important to remember that experience is more important than age. Yes, they were both 22 when they made their major-league debuts, but at that point Lohse had about FOUR FULL YEARS of experience in pro baseball. Garza was in his first full season last year.

Garza is a FAR, FAR better prospect than Lohse ever was. I mean, come on, Lohse went 3-18 with a 6.04 ERA in Double-A as a 21-year-old. For all his "stuff," Lohse's entire career has been erratic and inconsistent, and I just don't see that with Garza. He was solid in his pro debut in '05, he was phenomenal at each level of the minors last year, and he struggled in his first stint in the majors, which I think is totally acceptable.

Corey said...

I don't disagree that with time Garza will be a better pitcher, like I said, I think he projects to a #2-3 that much I've said, however, my reason for assuming he wont be that good this year follows your own logic, he's not ready.

Corey said...

Granted, Garza goes 5-7 MPH faster than Lohse... what else, this year, will make them different?

Also, do you think Garza will top Lohse's 180IP and 4.23 ERA, and 6.18K/9? Which Lohse registered in his second year.

My guess, not a chance.

Also, I really am interested in what you think of the Torii situation. Does he go, does he stay, why?

Nick N. said...

Also, do you think Garza will top Lohse's 180IP and 4.23 ERA, and 6.18K/9? Which Lohse registered in his second year.

Yes, because Verlander was better than that last year and, in my opinion, Garza and Verlander are extremely good comps.

Also, I really am interested in what you think of the Torii situation. Does he go, does he stay, why?

Hard to say. They won't re-sign him past this year, I'm sure of that. I think they'd be wise to trade him, and I think they could get pretty decent value for him, but I'm not sure they will. If they are in the hunt, I think they'd fear that trading Hunter would appear to be a concession. Hunter will be a Type-A free agent, meaning that if he signed elsewhere after this year the Twins would get pretty good draft pick compensation.

Corey said...

Yeah, but Verlander has a filthy curve.

Mark said...

Nick,

I think we take different perspectives on this issue. Thus our conclusions are different even though we agree on the basic merits of the pitchers.

As far as talent and ability is concerned, I think Garza is the second best starting pitcher in the organization right now. If the best interests of the 2007 team were the only concern, he should be pitching after Santana every day. Almost every top prospect in recent memory that comes up in September has a high ERA. Fransisco Liriano and Justin Verlander are two of the best examples. I hardly consider this to be indictments of the prospects and, if anything, I am more bullish on Garza now that I have seen him.

Where I disagree with you however, is that the best interests of the 2007 Twins is the only concern for Terry Ryan. He has to run on a budget less than half of the Yankees and Red Sox of this world every year. He needs to most efficiently allocate his resources and in this case, as much as it pains me to admit, that means stashing Garza on the AAA team until his service time this year expires.

The absolute best case difference between Silva and Garza is 4 games (1-4 and 4-1) with a more likely difference of 2-3 games. Additonally, they could trade Silva for a lot more with him pitching in the majors, than if he were in AAA. Having him fill in the #5 slot for five games means he will probably have 1-2 good to great games (along with 3 bad ones admittedly) which will probably be enough to entice a team that thinks they can turn him around.

If there is anything that is undeniable with Terry Ryan, it is that he is the best GM in baseball--with all due respect to Billy Beane--at getting great prospects out of teams for marginal major league talent.
In my humble opinion, it is in the best interest of the organization to put Garza in AAA until Mid-May, let Silva pitch five games and then trade him. Come Mid-May/Early June, they can bring up Garza and let the rest of the season go on as planned. If two games costs the Twins a spot in the playoffs, so be it. It is a risk, but a calculated one that is in the best interest of the team in the long run.

Trust me, this is painful to come to grips with since I want the Twins to win every year. However, Terry Ryan has to try to run this team on a budget and I do not begrudge him at all if he has to sacrifice a couple of games to ensure that we can keep more of our talent in the future.

Nick M. said...

Mark -

I think that is basically the team's position, though they will never say it. There is a reasonable argument there in being able to control Garza until 2013 instead of 2012. But I think, when it gets down to it, the other question is why waste what are potentially the first of the last two years of Johan Santana's time with the Twins. Same with Nathan, Hunter, etc.

Mark said...

I definitely agree with you on the issue of wasting this year with Santana. It is a shame and it is even a bigger shame that this has to even be a consideration.

I keep getting the feeling that we could win the World Series in 2008 after trading Santana halfway through they year to the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, or Mets. The infusion of top notch prospects would be nice, but it doesn't feel right at all. Santana is a much bigger part of this team than Garciaparra was in 2004.

I keep wondering what they would do with Garza if Liriano was pitching this year? My guess is he is the #3 pitcher but counterfactual arguments are inherently speculative.

Corey said...

If Liriano was pitching this year, I think its reasonable to assume that the Twins would have approached this season quite a bit differently. With what I view as two aces on one staff, you've got to take your shots. However, I think that the Twins braintrust is correctly viewing this season as one where all the stars haven't aligned as they would have liked. And while I think they'd like to win, they realize that without Liriano, its going to be awfully tough.

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,

be said...

酒店經紀,
酒店工作,
酒店上班,
酒店打工,
禮服酒店,
禮服公關,
酒店領檯,
華麗幻想,
夢世界,
酒店經紀,
酒店工作,
酒店上班,
酒店打工,
禮服酒店,
禮服公關,
酒店領檯,
華麗幻想,
夢世界,
酒店經紀,
酒店工作,
酒店上班,
酒店打工,
禮服酒店,
禮服公關,
酒店領檯,
華麗幻想,
夢世界,