Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Surprises

In our comments section last week, a reader notified me that this blog was rated as the 17th-best baseball blog in the country for the 2007 season by the readers of a site called LA Snark. Suffice to say that this was a major surprise to me and also a huge honor. I'll confess that I don't know much about the LA Snark blog and I'm a little wary of this list's legitimacy considering that some wonderful and popular Twins blogs like Seth Speaks, Twins Geek and SBG appear nowhere among the Top 101, but nonetheless it is extremely flattering that enough people voted for this blog to put it among the Top 20, and to rank it as the second-best Twins blog on the Web behind the immortal Aaron Gleeman (who came in at No. 3 overall). So, thanks everyone.

Anyway, last week's surprises didn't stop there. Bill Smith made his first official moves as the Twins' general manager, dropping Luis Rodriguez, Lew Ford, Josh Rabe and Tommy Watkins from the team's 40-man roster. Moves like this can accurately be described as "trimming the fat."

With the possible exception of Watkins, each of the players are expected to find a home with another organization during the offseason. Rodriguez has already been picked up by the Padres. These are hardly moves that will hurt the Twins, as none of these players have been valuable assets to the team.

Back in 2004, it appeared that Ford would be a part of the organization's long-term plans after he hit .299/.381/.446 over 154 games while patrolling the Twins' outfield. Unfortunately, he never approached those numbers again. Since his major-league debut in 2003, here is Ford's year-by-year OPS trend: .977, .827, .715, .599, .677. At this point his career, he is just a no-hit fourth outfielder. Because of his defense and speed, Ford still has some value, but he's not worth the $1 million-plus he's likely to receive through arbitration next season. It appears that Smith realized this, and made the necessary move.

Rabe and Watkins are both minor-league journeymen who don't really belong in the majors. Many people seem to have grown an affinity for Watkins because he's apparently a nice guy and he had some success in his brief stint as a major-leaguer this season, but it's important to note that he has hit just .249/.331/.337 over 10 minor-league seasons. I'm fine with him returning to the organization on a minor-league contract, but I found it awfully ridiculous that some people were toying with the notion that he could compete for a starting job in the Twins' infield next year.

Moving these relatively useless parts out of the picture represents a step in the right direction for Smith, but by themselves these moves don't do a whole lot of good. They key now, as Gleeman notes, will be finding superior players to replace them. That shouldn't be an overly difficult task, and if Smith can accomplish it, he could go a long way toward improving the offensive depth on this club.

9 comments:

fro said...

first post, eh?

Well hearing about this news did nothing for me, in fact, I was glad to watch most of those guys go, L-Rod, Rabe, and Watkins sucks, enough said...Ford on the other hand, I like, good guy, team player, but as you mentioned, just not a hitter anymore, it would be better to give a young guy some playing time then to keep Ford dangling around year after year...

Also, I'm not sure if people look at past posts, but I have defended Holliday, as the 2007 MVP, to a great degree in Mosvick's Award Picks post from yesterday...please read...and I'm ready to go to war...

Jake said...

I feel a little uncomforatble with the statement "useless parts". Call them baseball journeymen, or players that don't fit into the Twins plans. I'll step off the soapbox now.

Lew Ford never seemed to know how many outs there were, when to play deep and guard the line, when to take a pitch. Always seemed to be out of touch with the situation.

Luis Rodriguez played the utility role well - but his hitting was suspect.

Watkins and Rabe just never showed enough in the minors to warrant much playing time in the majors.

We needed to go a different direction and get a little more impact from our bench. Who will fill these gaps?

Nick N. said...

I feel a little uncomforatble with the statement "useless parts". Call them baseball journeymen, or players that don't fit into the Twins plans. I'll step off the soapbox now.

You're right, that might have been a little harsh. But, while those players all have their own skills, I really don't think they have much use to a team starved for offense like the Twins.

Luis Rodriguez played the utility role well - but his hitting was suspect.

The issue was that Elrod hit like a utility infielder, but his defense wasn't particularly good and he couldn't even play shortstop.

Fro, I'll pick up your NL MVP debate here so it will get more exposure.

You make some good points and as I've said before, I'd have no problem with Holliday winning the MVP. He had a fantastic year and he came up huge for the Rockies.

I think the main things working against him are the facts that his numbers were inflated at least to some degree by his home park (1.157 OPS at home as opposed to .860 OPS away) and he played only decent defensive at arguably the least important position on the field.

Rollins played in a hitter's park as well, but his home/away split wasn't nearly as drastic -- in fact, they were nearly even -- and he played stellar defense at probably the second-most important position on the field.

There are definitely some things working against Rollins. A .344 OBP for a leadoff hitter is definitely nothing special, and as you've mentioned he had some great hitters in that lineup. But I think for a guy to come to the plate almost 800 times in a season and be that productive and consistent is really special. Rollins was the catalyst for an offense that led the league in runs scored, and they needed to because Philly's pitching was considerably worse than Colorado's.

If I had a vote, I'd go with Rollins, but as I've said I don't think you could go wrong either way.

Josh's Thoughts said...

Congrats on the award!

fro said...

Thank you very debating with me in a constructive way, rather just tell me I'm wrong and such...

I would doubt if Rollins got the MVP and it wouldn't shock me...the only reason i care at all is that I love the Rockies because i think out of most of the teams in the NL they play the most like the Twins, fundamentally sound baseball, and like the Twins, they are good and nobody talks about them...

The only thing that i would say to your arguement is to...

and he played only decent defensive at arguably the least important position on the field.

Holliday only committed 3 errors in 306 chances in left field...the 306 was a MLB high for this season for all left fielders...

Nick N. said...

I generally don't find fielding percentage to be a very good judge of an outfielder's defensive ability.

I'm not a big fan of defensive metrics in general, but if you're into such things, it's worth noting that Holliday ranked fifth in the NL in Range Factor, though he did have the best Zone Rating.

All of that might be moot anyway though, because like I said, left field is probably the least important defensive position in baseball.

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