Friday, February 15, 2008

Wrapping Up the Offseason

The long, cold offseason is finally coming to a close, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Ft. Myers on Sunday. Next week I'll have an offseason review piece, as well as a Spring Training preview, and within a couple weeks the Twins' exhibition schedule will be getting underway.

I don't have much to write about today, but here are a few notes:

* One pitcher who won't be reporting to Ft. Myers on Sunday is Francisco Liriano, who is having visa problems stemming from a 2006 DUI arrest. The process of getting things cleared up could take a little over a week. That's unfortunate news, considering that Liriano probably needs to be in camp more than any other pitcher on the staff being that he hasn't pitched in a major-league game in well over a year. The good news, however, is that within the article linked above, Joe Christensen mentions that Liriano "appears fully recovered the Tommy John elbow procedure he had in November 2006," noting that the left-hander "pitched two innings recently in a scrimmage at the Twins’ Dominican academy in Boca Chica."

There is not one player on the Minnesota Twins that I am looking forward to watching this year more than Liriano.

* On Wednesday I wrote about the Twins' signing of Livan Hernandez and concluded that, while not outrageous, it is not a particularly good move. Many fans seem satisfied with the signing, and I have seen numerous people voice sentiments that sound something like this: "Basically the Twins got another Carlos Silva for about half the money Silva is making in Seattle."

While Hernandez and Silva are both heavyset Latino right-handers, the comparison is probably not apt. Given his recent downward trends, I think it's a lot more likely that Hernandez pitches like Silva v. 2006 than Silva v. 2004, 2005 or 2007. Silva was never flashy, but for the majority of his time in Minnesota, he was a solid pitcher who kept the team in games and occasionally tossed a gem. It seems like he was a little under-appreciated, and he may be missed more than people realize, especially by those who seem to think Hernandez will step in and pick up right where Silva left off.

* Speaking of Hernandez, Christensen had an entry in his blog yesterday outlining the details of the newly acquired pitcher's contract, which includes an incentive whereby Hernandez will receive $100,000 if he wins a Cy Young Award this year. Apparently that's pretty standard, but it still seems kind of funny to me. I'd be fine with the Twins rewarding him with $100 million if he wins the Cy Young.

* Finally, here's the image that graced the front page of ESPN.com's MLB section yesterday:

Could that be any more depressing for a Twins fan?

18 comments:

Bryce said...

Frankly, that picture would be more depressing if they left Dontrelle off of it.

Nick N. said...

I agree somewhat, but Willis might do a little better than some people are expecting. He got progressively worse as the National League figured out his delivery... but now he's in a new league. At the very least, he'll be better than Livan Hernandez.

Anonymous said...

Hernandez has never pitched in the American League. Scouting reports can only go so far. I think pitchers have an advantage over hitters in the first few meetings.
I'm expecting him eat up innings and for the most part keep the Twins in games.
I look for him to tire in 6th innings (3rd time through the order). And be less productive after the All star break as the season wears on.

TT said...

At the very least, he'll be better than Livan Hernandez.

That is possible, but he wasn't better than Hernandez last year.

I look for him to tire in 6th innings

Hernandez had six starts last August. He pitched 7 innings in 4 of them and 6 in two of them. He did struggle some in September, so you might be right. But I don't see why he won't pitch 6 or 7 innings pretty consistently and produce a couple hundred innings just as he has in the past.

For the Twins that will be very valuable if some of the young guys struggle and the bullpen is asked to bail them out with extra innings.

ubelmann said...

Dontrelle Willis 2007 xFIP: 4.76
Livan Hernandez 2007 xFIP: 5.62

Yeah.

Nick N. said...

Dontrelle Willis 2007 xFIP: 4.76
Livan Hernandez 2007 xFIP: 5.62


That's more what I was getting at. ERA doesn't tell the whole story with those two.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree, Livan will be much better than Silva was. Look at his inning output from the past 5-8 years. He always keeps his team in games cause he throws so many innings. Its going to be huge to have a guy like him around with so many other young starters. The bullpen will need the rest when he is on the mound. C'mon, Silva.....seriously!!

TT said...

ERA doesn't tell the whole story with those two.

No, it doesn't. Hernandez gave up 116 runs while getting 613 outs in 33 starts. Willis gave up 131 runs while getting 616 outs in 35 starts.

By almost any meaningful measure Hernandez was better than Willis last year.

Anonymous said...

That picture of Santana in a Mets uniform makes me sad. Just when I thought I was getting over it...
**Becca** aka Twins Sisters

Nick N. said...

By almost any meaningful measure Hernandez was better than Willis last year.

Willis was considerably better by xFIP, as ubelmann pointed out. I consider xFIP to be a "meaningful measure" as it measures everything that a pitcher has direct control over. So I mean I guess we can say Hernandez was luckier, and had a better defense playing behind him. I'm just not sure that makes him better.

The problem it seems -- and I've noticed this from your comments over at Twins Geek as well -- is that you don't seem to think that any statistics other than the traditional ones are "meaningful." That's fine, I guess, but not something that I'd agree with. I don't base my analysis in stats as much as many bloggers, but I certainly recognize the value of a number of sabermetric measures.

Beau said...

Why does the main projections (is it PECOTA?) put Livan at 130-some innings this year when he hasn't pitched less than 199 since forever? Yeah, he's declining, but where does that number come from? That's a huge dropoff from age 32 to 33.

TT said...

So I mean I guess we can say Hernandez was luckier

How exactly do you measure "luck"? You can't. Its just a way to rationalize ignoring objective results that contradict someone's theory.

"it measures everything that a pitcher has direct control over."

It purports to measure "everything". A claim which should be taken with a huge dose of salt.

Especially since no one really has any way to objectively determine what results pitchers have direct control over. Afterall, the umpire decides whether a pitch is a strike or a ball. What umpire is calling balls in strikes is a matter of "luck". So even at the most basic level, there are limits on the pitcher's "control" and "luck" is a factor.

I don't really care if Willis has the better xFIP next year if the Twins have the pitcher who puts up more innings each start while giving up fewer runs. That will put the Twins ahead of the game versus Detroit.

Nick N. said...

Why does the main projections (is it PECOTA?) put Livan at 130-some innings this year when he hasn't pitched less than 199 since forever? Yeah, he's declining, but where does that number come from? That's a huge dropoff from age 32 to 33

PECOTA is a tool that compares a pitcher to historically similar players based on age and history. So basically, it projects him to pitch 130 innings because that's what other comparable pitchers were able to do in their age 33 season. That might have more to do with declining performance than declining stamina -- either way it doesn't bode well.

I don't really care if Willis has the better xFIP next year if the Twins have the pitcher who puts up more innings each start while giving up fewer runs. That will put the Twins ahead of the game versus Detroit.

I agree, but the idea is that we shouldn't necessarily expect Hernandez to put up more innings while giving up fewer runs just because he did so last year. It is the same idea as a guy with a high Batting Average on Balls In Play posting an artificially high batting average. In most cases, that BABIP comes down to Earth the next season and the batting average comes plummeting along with it.

TT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TT said...

I agree, but the idea is that we shouldn't necessarily expect Hernandez to put up more innings while giving up fewer runs just because he did so last year.

The past is only a dim light on the future, but last year Hernandez was the better pitcher when measured by actual results.

Willis had a bad year and you can expect him to improve if you want. He is young so it would not be entirely unexpected. But if he pitches like he did last year, there is not much reason to think Hernandez won't get better results.

Hernandez numbers last year were, if anything, worse than usual. So, far from being worse this year, regression toward the mean would mean he is likely to be better. There is no reason to think he will regress away from the mean except, maybe, his age.

Nick N. said...

There is no reason to think he will regress away from the mean except, maybe, his age.

And the fact that he's consistently gotten worse in nearly every category for the past four years. And is moving from the worst offensive division in baseball to a pretty good one.

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