Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trading For Cantu?

With an off-day, I could easily focus on the Twins' offensive ineptitude so far. They have, after all, hit a meager .254 so far after facing the notoriously difficult staffs of Baltimore, New York, and Tampa Bay. I will instead try to tackle this subject in a different light.

Many people have suggested that, in light of these offensive issues, the Twins should try and trade for the reportedly available second baseman Jorge Cantu, who is currently playing for Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls. As many remember, Cantu surprised people with his 28 home runs and 117 RBI in 2005. His 117 RBI, after all, were good for seventh in the AL that year.

However, I would caution against this move. For one, as Dayn Perry mentioned in a recent article, the RBI is a highly overrated stat. It can be useful, obviously, and when you are like Justin Morneau, putting up 130 of them with high numbers with RISP, you certainly deserve them. But often RBI are more a product of a batter's number of RBI chances. Ryan Howard had 149 last year not because he was so great with men on--he in fact wasn't too good--but because he had so many chances with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in front of him.

This, however, is the biggest issue with Cantu. In that year, Cantu did have 40 doubles and 28 homers, which suggest some pretty good power, especially for a second baseman. He also walked a total of 19 times in 598 at-bats. That is simply awful. Such bad plate discipline combined with awful fielding reminds me of someone the Twins brought in last year: Tony Batista.

Cantu is only 25, but the two have awfully similar "skill sets." That is, one skill: power. No speed, no defense, no patience. Cantu probably wouldn't work on this Twins team as a result. Ron Gardenhire isn't a huge fan of guys with no fielding skills and with little or no fundamentals like Cantu. He played Batista last year, it would seem, more because Ryan had him on the roster than because he wanted him in the field. Plus, Batista had the all-important "veteran presence," which Cantu lacks.

Thus, for anyone wishing for a Cantu trade, even if it went down, it probably wouldn't work out. And it could possibly mean jettisoning some young talent.

On another note, Nick Punto appears to be staying off the DL, as there is no structural damage in his ankle. A DL trip is still possible, but it is far less likely with this news.

Today, the Twins will go against another terrible starter: Jeff Weaver. In his one start this year against the Red Sox, he gave up seven runs in two innings. Somehow, in the only starts he has made against the Twins in the last few years (2002 and last year), he has given up only seven runs in 19 2/3 innings. This is the guy who has was one of the worst pitchers in baseball last year, only getting a contract after his postseason heroics. Lets hope the Twins can do something against the Weaver who can't pitch.

6 comments:

Corey Ettinger said...

My guess is Weaver tosses a complete game 3 hit shut out. One hit will be a bouncer to 1st by Castillo, the other a Texas leaguer by Punto which everyone will show proves his turnaround, while Jason Kubel will double sharply to left center and continue to receive no attention for putting together more quality AB's than any Twins hitter not named Mauer.

Staying on the subject Q-ball and quality AB's, yesterday I commented on the Twins inability to work counts as their reason for offensive failure. Checking out AG today I see that he has some stats that show I'm not actually just talking out of my rectum.

Nick M. said...

Well, Corey, I think if you just watch the games, its hard to forget how many times a Twins hitter got himself out on the first or second pitch. Just with observation, you could tell they were taking terrible at-bats and that was a good part of the reason that guys like Jae Seo and Casey Fossum could get through six or seven innings against them.

And I hope to God that Weaver doesn't throw a complete game shutout. I would have to take a week off from the Twins to recover.

Nick N. said...

That's a very specific prediction. I'll keep it in mind.

And yes, that was very good observation about the lack of quality in Twins' ABs.

Nick M. said...

Maybe Gardy should institute a system like Joe Madden to punish hitters for not taking enough pitches. Wait, that hasn't worked well for the D-Rays....

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