"Three-Bagger" is a new feature I'll be running here from time to time. It refers to posts, like the one below, where I briefly cover three different topics rather than dedicating an entire lengthy entry to one subject.
* Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com both suggested today that the Yankees aren't interested in trading for Zack Greinke because they don't believe he'd deal well with the pressure of pitching in New York. That's amusing because so many Twins fans have been clamoring for the team to pursue Greinke, reasoning that he'd be the true bulldog "ace" that Liriano isn't. Incidentally, the Yankees have apparently inquired about the availability of Liriano.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'd take Liriano over Greinke as my No. 1 starter on a contending team. That's not to say I wouldn't love to add Greinke to the Twins' rotation, but people who think he'd automatically solve the supposed "ace" dilemma aren't seeing things very clearly.
* Today's bitter J.J. Hardy fact: His .714 OPS last year ranks as the highest for a Minnesota shortstop who played 100-plus games since Cristian Guzman in 2001. For being such a replaceable commodity in the eyes of many, Hardy's production was awfully rare around these parts.
* The Twins supposedly are focused on increasing team speed this offseason. They claim that it's the main reason they've elected to part with both of their starting middle infielders from 2010. Yet, both Hardy and Orlando Hudson rated extremely well defensively, helping contribute to the Twins' No. 6 ranking among MLB teams in UZR. Among those clubs that finished among the top 10 in UZR, five made the playoffs. The Giants, who ranked second, won the World Series. Meanwhile, only one team ranking in the bottom 10 reached the postseason -- the Braves, who were ousted in the first round with ease.
On the flip side, three of the five lowest-ranked teams in stolen bases made the playoffs last year. That includes the Giants, who ranked dead last. Only one playoff team -- the Rays -- ranked among the top five in stolen bases.
If you believe their claims, the Twins' front office seems to think they can improve their 94-win team by subtracting defensive proficiency and adding foot speed. That's a shaky proposition based on the way things played out last year. Whether or not you put much stock into UZR as a statistic, it was clearly more closely correlated with success this past year than stolen bases.
Of course, I don't really buy the rhetoric from the front office, and believe (and hope) their decisions this offseason have been guided almost entirely by a desire to cut costs.