Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fielder Hardly Seals Division

While many people had already written off the Twins as contenders in 2012 following a 99-loss season, I've been bullish on their (admittedly slim) chances, reasoning that a whole lot can change health-wise from one season to the next and that no club in the AL Central was looking like a world-beater.

The entire division has largely been in a holding pattern all winter. The White Sox, Indians and Royals haven't made impact additions. The Twins have brought in several new players, but all have been designated to fill newly created vacancies. (Willingham for Cuddyer, Marquis for Slowey, Zumaya for Nathan, Doumit for Kubel, etc.)

And those reigning champs? Coming off a 95-win campaign, the Tigers had been conspicuously quiet, seemingly content to maintain the status quo and take another run with largely the same group that succeeded a year ago. Sounded similar to the Twins' approach last offseason.

As it turns out, these Tigers had just been lying in the weeds, waiting to pounce with their royally big move. Yesterday, Detroit signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year deal worth a reported $214 million.

The blockbuster signing comes as a surprise. General manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters less than a week ago that the slugging first baseman was "probably not a good fit," which rung true seeing as how the team already employed one of the best hitters in baseball at Fielder's position. In addition, most were unaware that the Tigers possessed the financial muscle to lock up the game's best under-30 power hitter for a decade.

It's a strong move, and one that bolsters Detroit's roster immensely, ostensibly transforming them from de facto favorites in a weak division to legitimate American League powerhouse. A lineup anchored by Fielder and Miguel Cabrera will strike fear into opposing pitchers, and could approach 900 runs if guys like Alex Avila, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta are all at the top of their game.

Without question, the Fielder signing weakens Minnesota's chances, which were already sketchy at best. But it would be foolish to write off the rest of the AL Central on the basis of this one move. Here are a few reasons to hold out hope that the Tigers can be toppled this summer:

1) V-Mart is out.

Granted, Detroit just added a guy who drove in 120 runs with a .981 OPS last year. But they also lost a guy who drove in 103 runs with an .850 OPS when Victor Martinez went down with a torn ACL a week ago. Fielder is of course a superior hitter to Martinez, especially in the power department (he out-homered V-Mart 38-12 last year) but it's not like his production is simply sprinkled on top of what Detroit got last year.

2) The rotation is questionable beyond Justin Verlander.

Detroit's starting corps is led by the Ace of Aces, a reigning Cy Young winner and MVP. But outside of Verlander, no pitcher who threw more than 100 innings for the Tigers last year posted an above-average ERA. And does anyone really believe that Doug Fister is going to be able to replicate his 2011 performance? Pitching issues could be magnified by the following:

3) This looks like a slow and defensively awful team.

This lineup will slug, no doubt, but baseball isn't all about hitting and there are few defensive assets to be found on this roster. Delmon is tabbed to man left field, Fielder is a notoriously bad defender at first, and there's been some talk that Cabrera could see time at the hot corner this year. Yeesh. In addition, nobody in the lineup outside of Jackson runs well.

4) Stuff happens.

I can't emphasize this one enough. On paper, the Tigers look like runaway favorites in the AL Central with Fielder aboard. Then again, on paper, the Twins looked the same way to many a year ago. Adam Dunn hadn't posted an OPS under .819 in his career before he logged a .569 mark for Chicago. The Red Sox were the toast of baseball before the they became the laughing stock.

A lot can happen in this game. Things rarely work out the way everyone expects them to. It would be surprising if Detroit failed to outclass the rest of the division this year, but it wouldn't be all that surprising.

If you thought the Twins had a shot two days ago, you shouldn't feel any differently now.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fielder is a fat slob, who will be an anchor around Dumb empasis dum browski's neck

Twins fans rejoice. He'll hit some homers this yeat and next but he is a fat slob.

Zak said...

my thoughts exactly ya it gives them a nasty 3-4 in their lineup but do they really gain that much replacing Vmarts bat with Fielders and sacrificing defense with Cabrera at 3rd (reports have him starting there anyway). They are a team built solely on power in a big park their pitching staff has the monster of Verlander and then 2 ground ball pitchers an inconsistent K guy and idk who is the 5th. Heres to a lot of bunts when we play the Tigers lol an infield of Fielder, Guillen, Peralta, Cabrera will be a hilarious thing to witness.

Anonymous said...

Is Willingham the most expensive non-Twin FA the team has ever signed? I believe that to be the case. We simply do not fill needs with impact, game-changing players. And we wonder why we went 0 for 6 in the play-offs last decade ...

Anonymous said...

How much do you think Fielder is going to weigh by the fifth or sixth year of that contract? Yikes... The Tigers will need to hit a lot of homers to move anyone around the bases, with that glaring lack of speed... I hope Revere's bunting improves, because he could get on base every at bat, with a bunt, when the Twins face the Tigers...

Josh said...

This is another one of those Boras deals that will look good the first few and could crater badly in 4 or 5 years. I don't know if Prince is going to balloon up to 300-400 lbs like some people are convinced he will, but I do think he'll be almost unplayable at 1B in a few years. Paying a guy $23M to DH seems a bit iffy unless that guy is really killing it.

The one thing I will say about this deal, is it is for all Fielder's prime years, not a "a couple of prime years and the back end of his career". There's really no reason to believe that he'll be washed up at 34 as a hitter. As a defensive player on the other hand...

I do agree that this doesn't change the twins prospects for competing in the division all that much. Yes, Detroit is still the favorite, but a healthy Twins lineup can compete very nicely and our rotation (much maligned as it may be) is deeper that Detroit's, which should pay out over a long season. The short series with Verlander is where Detroit's advantages shine through.

The Twins success this year is based on their health. If they get good health from the majority of the players they're counting on to perform, they'll be a good team and stay competitive for most if not the all of the season. If they don't, they won't. Adding Fielder's production makes Detroit a little better, but not massively. The bigger issue for them is it keeps them from having a huge fallback without V-Mart.

Jack Steal said...

Nick,

I just can't figure out why the Twins refused to improve their starting rotation and bullpen this year? I sure as hell can't figure out why they cut payroll by $15 million? It it's truly not about the money they why? As a season ticket I am troubled by the lack of direction the team is taking. It should be noted the Pohlad family has more money than Illich and still refuses to send it. The Twins drew more fans than Detroit but still the stubborn approach to signing good free agents.

jjswol said...

I can't say I agree with your assessment of the Tigers starting pitching. With Verlander as the ace, followed by Fister (who will continue to improve), Scherzer, and Porcello and who ever the Tigers put in the 5 spot is a very nice starting group, far and way better than any other starting rotation in the Central division.

Twilight in Twins Territory said...

If the Tigers starting pitching is "questionable", than the Twins' starting pitching is the worst staff in the history of baseball. Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, and Porcello are each better than anyone the Twins have to offer.

Also, you're looking at this rather myopically - sure V-Mart is out THIS year, but we're going to have to deal with Fielder for 9 years. He's entering his prime. This move makes the Twins' road tougher for the next 4-5 years at least, which means the Twins will have to spend a little more to compete, which they won't, so we'll have to endure years of our cheap, scrap-heap gopher-ball pitchers serving up 450-ft shots to Cabrera, Fielder, Martinez and Co.

Yes, the Tigers will be slow and crappy defensively. The Twins won't be able to compete with them for 2 reasons: They'll score 7 runs a game against our crappy pitching, and we won't be able to score 8 against their solid pitching.

Add Detroit to the list of AL organizations committed to winning. One day, perhaps, the Twins will join this list. One day.

Mitch said...

Every poster who thinks Fielder is a fat slob needs to pull their heads out of their own asses.

Fielder is well aware of the 'common wisdom' that's he's going to eat himself out of the league by his early 30's. And, unlike his father, Fielder has been quite disciplined in his nutrition and workout regiments, even going so far as to become a vegetarian.

Nine years for 200+ million is too big of a contract for just about any player, but mark my words: Fielder will be an extremely productive hitter for the vast majority of it.

Anonymous said...

Much power behind the Detroit bats this season with out a doubt. Advantage for the twins is (usually) our defense, which seems to have improved in the infield slightly. Hoping for a healthy Mornie and Mauer and a good showing from the out field and a pen that can pull it together! Crossing fingers

TT said...

I think if you look at Kent Hrbek's career you see the real danger with Fielder. Its tough to stay healthy as you age when you are carrying around that much extra baggage. And, regardless of his diet, Fielder appears to have even more baggage than Hrbek.

Its obvious this signing improves the Tigers chances, which almost by definition means the Twins chances have declined. But you can insert a whole bunch of cliche's here that all boil down to "we will have to wait and see". As Nick points out, a lot of things can and will happen between now and the end of the season.

Mike said...

I think the first and third points are the biggest reasons to think the Twins can still compete. Yeah, Fielder is a huge addition, but we'll see how he adapts to a new league, etc. Even if he performs like he did last year, he's essentially replacing Martinez. Fielder is better, but the difference isn't likely to add THAT many more wins.

And the defense is huge. Twins fans got to witness first-hand how pitchers with decent career numbers fare when the defense behind them fails miserably. Bad errors, bad range, overall bad fielding made the Twins pitchers look worse than they really are. Verlander is great, but even he would probably look much more human if his defense consistently asks him to get 4 or 5 outs in an inning.

It's certainly an intimidating move on paper, but after having a day to reflect on it, it doesn't make the Tigers unbeatable or anything like that.

Sam said...

"we will have to wait and see". As Nick points out, a lot of things can and will happen between now and the end of the season."

This is the most depressing thing about the Twins these day, that the most optimistic thing we can do is to absolutely give up on analyzing anything and just repeat utterly meaningless and empty things like "it all depends on health" and "we'll see" and "who knows" and "stranger things have happened" and "not every team favored to win the division does, you know". It's a sign of giving up: no amount of analysis in the world is going to make the Twins a real competitor in 2012, so we get lazy and rely on cliche and cosmic intervention and the like in a desparate attempt to add meaning to this season.

Look everyone, the Tigers are easily 15-20 wins better than the Twins, even without martinez. Stop sugarcoating it. It's not a little league team we're dealing with, you don't have to be oblivious at all costs.

Laches said...

Nicely done as always, Nick, but I doubt it will do much to combat the chorus of whining from Twins fans. I do get a good chuckle listening to the same people who spent all summer complaining about how stupid it was to give Mauer such a big, long contract get all worked up because a division rival signed fielder to an even bigger, longer contract. My guess is that by year 3 or 4, the Tigers are going to regret it, but we shall see.

Last season proved the utter silliness of crowning champions in January based on offseason moves. Remember how a Red Sox-Phillies World Series was practically a foregone conclusion last winter? It didn't quite work out that way now, did it?

NordeastMPLSTwinsFan said...

Good job, Nick. I like what you're saying here and I agree.

I don't think detroit will be too different from last year, except that their defense will be much worse with Miggy out there at 3rd. And what will they do when V-mart comes back in 2013 and they have 3 people that should be at DH instead of the field?

As far as everyone's complaints about the payroll... remember way back in 2009 when the thought of even $100MM payroll seemed way too big for the Twins to ever have? How short our memories are.

Laches said...

Sam, seriously, lighten up. It's baseball. It's supposed to be fun. You referenced depression, emptiness, giving up, desperation to add meaning and a whole bunch of other tormented artist phrases in one post. We all like to see the home team win and talk baseball, but you sound like you're getting into neurotic Red Sox fan territory where you let the fact that one group of millionaires do a better job of hitting, catching and throwing a ball than another consume you.

Mike said...

"Look everyone, the Tigers are easily 15-20 wins better than the Twins, even without martinez. Stop sugarcoating it. It's not a little league team we're dealing with, you don't have to be oblivious at all costs."

Not likely. The myriad of lengthy injuries to every significant player for the Twins last year (aside from Cuddyer, Valencia and ? Pavano? Duensing?) goes a long way to explaining why the Twins finished so far back of the Tigers. A few guys for the Tigers had career years or near career years and Verlander was absolutely lights out. My guess is the Twins are healthier and therefore significantly better than last year, and Detroit regresses a little bit.

If anyone is being oblivious, I would say that it's the guy that seems to only look back to the previous year's results.

If the Twins finish 15+ games back, I think it will be because they'll make some trades for good, younger players when they're already out of it. They won't have many trade assets, but I could see them using them midseason with long-term team health in mind.

Anonymous said...

There is more to baseball than slugging for the fences. Fielder certainly brings more power to a power heavy team but he also adds another plodder to a stable of clydesdales. The Tigers are doing a very good job of amassing a roster filled with guys whose best position is DH and using a ton of money to do so...Fielder over 20 mil a year, Cabrera over 20 mil a year, VMart 13 mil a year, Delmon at least 6 mil a year.

Also, Tiger fans should be more than a little worried that the hard-drinking, overweight Cabrera is moving back to 3b, even though he says it's his natural position there is a reason the Tigers moved him to 1b when they got him. He wasn't a good fielder when he was young and spry with the Marlins.

Pitching should have been a higher priority after giving up 39 runs in 6 games to the Rangers in the ALCS. If you're doing the math that is 6.5 runs a game, not a recipe for success in the postseason. Fister pitched out of his mind when he got to Detroit last year. He might be a solid pitcher but he's not going to post sub 2 ERAs year after year.

I'm with Zak, fill the lineup with fast guys that can bunt and see how Cabrera, Peralta and Fielder handle it.

Anonymous said...

Cabrera had 13 errors at 1b in 2011 the only 1b with more errors was Fielder with 15, now they are on the same team. Cabrera's last full year playing 3b was in 2007 with the Marlins where he was credited with 23 errors. He last played 3b for the Tigers in 2008 for 14 games and had 5 errors in those games. And the Tigers are moving him back to 3b? As a Twins fan I say thank you Detroit. Signing Jose Reyes or Buehrle or both would have made more sense for the Tigers. Instead they waited then overreacted to Martinez' injury.

Anonymous said...

Jack...
The Twins did improve both their bullpen and their starting pitching. Marquis is an upgrade over the likes of Duensing, Slowey, Manship and Swarzak. Granted he's not a huge upgrade but he does allow Duensing to move back to the pen where he could be a very effective lefty, as he was before he moved into the rotation. There was plenty of addition by subtraction...Slowey, Hoey, Mijares, D. Hughes and Nathan. If Zumaya is healthy he is a definite upgrade.
After a 99 loss season a team with a 115 million payroll should be examined and some of the fat should be trimmed. Spending money for the sake of spending money isn't the answer in baseball. Spending money on value is, just ask the Tampa Bay Rays. This isn't the year to break the bank and sign free agent after free agent when there are so many injury questions to be answer...Span, Morneau, Mauer, Blackburn, Baker, Casilla, Capps, Liriano. This year will show if the Twins are just a 10 - 15 million player or two away from contending or if you are locked into a major rebuilding process. If they contend this year and spend nothing next year or do nothing at the trade deadline then you have a valid complaint.

Matt said...

Whatttup Big Nick? Hope you're doing well. As a result of the trade, all I could think about was the fact that "Delmon Young is [no longer the Tiger's] #%$@ing three hitter!"

Anonymous said...

Speed kills. The bigger and stronger the Tigers get, the leaner, meaner, and speedier we need to get. Bunt, steal, take that extra base. Also, Prince Fielder may be fat, but he's NOTHING compared to Capps or Gardy!

Nick N. said...

As a result of the trade, all I could think about was the fact that "Delmon Young is [no longer the Tiger's] #%$@ing three hitter!"

Ha, I thought the exact same thing Matt!

Josh said...

If Detroit plays Cabrera at 3B and Fielder at 1B with Delmon in LF and Magglio in RF, this could be one of the most incompetent defensive teams we've seen in a long time. I think it's unlikely Cabrera will spend more than a handful of games at 3B; he'll split time with Fielder at 1B/DH this season with Martinez out, but it's still going to be a bad defensive team that will only get worse.

Detroit is obviously still the favorite, but they're hardly a lock to run away with the division.

Chris said...

twins need a Starting Pitcher period. Why can't they get a decent starter? please ryan get us a starting pitcher. by the way, marguis isn't a decent starting pitcher, or even a starting pitcher for that matter.

professor mcilvane said...

"this could be one of the most incompetent defensive teams we've seen in a long time."

since probably the '11 Twins.

how exactly are the twins going to be better defensively by the way? a 39-yr old shortstop? what happens when he inevitbly gets hurt? noodle arm in center? poor mans cuddy in left?

cabrera and fielder are going to split time at 1b and dh. 1b is the least improtant defensive position on the field. the tigers defense wasnt great to begin with (really hurt them on the way to 95 wins last year, huh) but lets not pretend its going to be keystone kops out there.

why cant anybody locally be honest and realistic about the fielder deal? everyone's reflex is to find ways to downplay it. nick even claimed the tigers were no better with fielder than without him. jesus christmas, that's just a flat out lie right there.

i tink our fans are so accustomed to hearing other teams get good free agents while getting none ourselves that it's our nature to find passive aggressive reasons why we didn't really want/need/like that guy anyhow so our feeling arent hurt (my favorite: he's fat. good analysis!).

if the twins had signed fielder youd all be crowing about how the twins were the new faves in the divison.

this offseason youre really starting the see the fanbase splinter. one side, the payroll grumps have had it with this ownership groups lies and deception. the other side are rebelling against the outcry by becoming delusionally optimistic about the team's chances, sort of like if you tell yourself something over and over again you can convince yourself of anything.

columnists, bloggers, fans are all taking sides. fascinating from a sociological perspective. which side will win?

Matt said...

Fielder may be fat, but he's NOTHING compared to Capps or Gardy!

Haha, totally. Modern day Hrbek is up there, too. They should seriously consider salads.

The overall impact is a couple wins more for the Tigers in the season series. The Twins still have the rest of the division to play against, too. By no means should one player on one team, no matter how good he is, suddenly destroy the rest of the division's chances to compete.

birdofprey said...

I love guys like Jack Steal, who choose to ignore reality so it doesn't interfere with what they want to rant about. The Twins weren"t LIKELY to contend in 2012 anyway, but we still get to play the games. Why is it so impossible for some of you to be satisfied with an improved team in 2012 that's going to continue improving? Congratulations to Detroit fans. But I will still enjoy my .500 baseball team knowing that few of those wins will come against a superior Detroit team. And I will smile at the bunt doubles to Cabrera, and then the doubles slapped by his fat ass out to that klutz Delmon in left when Cabrera inches closer to the plate.

Ha Ha Ha said...

"They should seriously consider salads."

Fielder is a vegetarian.

Seriously, folks, we get it, Fielder is big. But all these "jokes" are unoriginal and terribly unfunny. Perhaps one day you'll look back on these posts and think, gee, here I was on a baseball blog and all I had to comment on was some dude's weight?

Anonymous said...

I'll give you "stuff happens" but the Tigers are LIGHT YEARS ahead of the Twins in all phases of the game. Even if the Tigers somehow don't win the division its not going to be the Twins that take advantage.

Mike said...

"how exactly are the twins going to be better defensively by the way?"

For starters, the old shortstop you belittle for his age is a definite defensive improvement over what the Twins trotted out there last year. Even if he does get injured and they go back to the other players, at least there was better defense while he was out there playing.

"Noodle arm" in center, I'm assuming, is Ben Revere, who will actually be in left field where his poor arm won't be as much of a liability. He's a huge defensive upgrade over Young and if you don't get that, I can't really help you.

As far as center, I'm assuming a healthy Denard Span, who is a very good center fielder.

WIllingham replaces Cuddyer. I don't think he's any better or any worse as a fielder.

So the outfield defense looks to be significantly better than it was and the middle infield has improved. And that's without doing any real speculation. I think it's reasonable to expect Valencia, who's young, to improve defensively, as well as Revere to increase his arm strength. And likely Nishioka to be better adapted to MLB play.

Mike said...

"if the twins had signed fielder youd all be crowing about how the twins were the new faves in the division."

Actually, I think a lot of us would have been happy about his offensive skills he would bring to the team, and then wonder about how well he fits in to the current players. Mauer, Morneau, and Doumit are likely to split DH duties and 1st base duties, which would just mean we would have a 4th player with which to split limited action at these positions. Personally, I would question if it wouldn't have been better to spend that money on improving other areas of the team, such as 2nd base, the starting rotation, or the bullpen.

Anonymous said...

I take a fat MVP candidate that plays everyday over a pampered 30 RBI 110 game guy who is thin 100 times out of 100.

Anonymous said...

Mike, seriously you need to check the definition of "significantly". The Twins outfield defense is at best a wash over last year and you are banking on a guy coming back from a concussion. That's not exactly been the Twins forte, getting guys to actually play after injuries.

professor mcilvane said...

"The Twins outfield defense is at best a wash over last year and you are banking on a guy coming back from a concussion."

yeah revere played most of the year, willingham slightly worse than cuddy, and carrol is an upgrade but creaky and will get hurt so nishi will see action.

all in all you can say the twins defense is ever so slightly better and the tigers is the same. tigers were 32 games better than the twins last year and i don't think jamey carrol is worth 20-30 wins, so you can say all you want how bad detroits d is, as long as you admit that d got them to the alcs and the twins d is poor also and that in the grand scheme of things "better d" is going to be utterly meaningless in separating the twins and tigers in 12.

again, honesty, folks. reality. facts. reason. level headedness. honesty.

Mike said...

Hey kids, sorry if I disagree with you in my assessment of the team. That doesn't make me unrealistic and it doesn't mean that I'm lying to myself. I also fully understand the definition of significantly.

Yes, Revere played much of last year. Who did he replace when he was out there, by and large? Denard Span. Who would he be replacing in 2012? Delmon Young. I know this is a real brain-buster (apparently), but the 2011 Twins relied on an outfield defense of Span OR Revere paired with Young (or Kubel); the 2012 Twins will rely on Span WITH Revere. Big difference.

Willingham and Cuddyer are pretty equivalent fielders.

And am I counting on Span coming back from a concussion? Yes. Because most people come back from a concussion. Morneau is more of a unique case. To say that the Twins outfield defense isn't significantly better, you're relying on a guy continuing to have concussion problems.

Mike said...

And Professor- I'm not sure why you think Carroll should be required to add 30 wins to the team. On that thread, there isn't a single player in MLB that would add 30 wins to any team. But he makes the infield defense better than it was, and that was what you were whining about before. What did you say- honesty, talks, reality, reason?

No one is trying to say that one player is going to make up the difference between the two teams. It's a combination of players returning to health, players performing up to their career norms, and improving on some weak areas. Better SS, improved outfield defense, a viable backup catcher, and a stronger bullpen with Duensing becoming a reliever again accomplish that. It's probably not a 32 game difference, but it's certainly an improvement.

"all in all you can say the twins defense is ever so slightly better and the tigers is the same."

Again, if you think Young is as good of a fielder as Revere, go ahead and think that. "Again, honesty, folks. reality. facts. reason. level headedness. honesty."

And Detroit is not as good defensively as it was last year. Delmon will be there the whole year and is a huge liability. Cabrera at 3rd is an absolute joke if that's what they're really planning. That team is so much worse defensively.

"so you can say all you want how bad detroits d is, as long as you admit that d got them to the alcs"

Life isn't as simple or black and white as you make it out to be with that post. Detroit's defense didn't get them to the ALCS. Their defense just wasn't so bad as to prevent them from getting there.

Laches said...

I’d suggest practicing some of what you preach there, Professor, and stick to facts as opposed to projections and assumptions (e.g. Carroll will “inevitably” get hurt).

You might want to also employ some of that reason and logic that you mentioned as well.

Nobody here is saying the Twins should be division favorites or denying that Fielder makes the Tigers better. Sitting here in January, I cringe at the thought of our pitching staff facing that lineup. But, I’ve also been following baseball long enough to know that offseason hype doesn’t always lead to success on the field.

Here’s a little recent history lesson from this same Tigers franchise: I know this is hard for many Twins fans, but let’s think back further than 1 year to all the way to 2008.

The Detroit Tigers made some blockbuster moves that offseason, acquiring likes of Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria to add to an already talented team that had recently been AL Champs.

Everyone projected to be successful with these additions.

Most of ESPN’s analysts picked them picked them to make the playoffs, and more predicted them to win the World Series than any other team.

There was all kinds of talk about what an explosive, unbeatable lineup they would have. One rival GM said "This is going to be one of the most dominant offenses that any team has fielded in 10 years."

And the Twins? Well, they were coming off a down year, and said goodbye to Johan Santana and Torii Hunter in the offseason. Few predicted them to finish higher than fourth with the Tigers upgrading as they did, the Indians coming off a strong ’07 showing and the White Sox still fielding a solid team.

But things played out a little different than expected. The Twins put together a spirited run to game 163, nearly stealing the division while the Tigers spent the summer pissing themselves and finished dead last, behind even Kansas City.

Again, I’m not saying history will repeat itself. I’m just saying it could. Dismiss that as a cliché all you want, but I think the view that it can’t happen is just as delusional as the one that it will.

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments here are idiotic. I am a Sox fan, so I know full well about big signing immediate impact players having a bad year. But calling him stuff like a "fat slob" doesn't help your argument at all, it just makes you sound like an idiot.

For whatever reason, some Twins fans act extremely pompous. Its like they win for a few years and become god's gift to baseball. I know winning is a very foreign concept in Minnesota.

This article is well written and makes a good point. No problem with that. And I do agree that their is a very real potential that Fielder does indeed age poorly. But does that not make a pretty important statement in itself? The best you can hope for is flukes?

Detroit has a very good window for the next 3 to 4 years and they have to win. Miggy at third is going to be terrible and Fielder is entering a pitchers park for the first time, but it is still very much Detroits to lose.

Illitch is an old man and wants that World Series. Old Owner with lots of money (look at how much the guy spends on his hockey team) is often a very dangerous thing for the rest of the division.

Laches said...

"For whatever reason, some Twins fans act extremely pompous. Its like they win for a few years and become god's gift to baseball. I know winning is a very foreign concept in Minnesota."

---And you're really representing Chicago fans well with that last comment, Chief.

SoCal Al said...

Nick what's your opinion on David Schoenfield Al Central position breakdown. It's quite depressing especially our pitching rankings.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/20267/al-central-showdown-position-rankings

professor mcilvane said...

i'm not saying the tigers are a lock. you guys are just not listening, it's hilarious! someone says something bad about the twins, and the reflex to defend, distort, delude kicks right in.

the tigers are not a lock, by any stretch of the imagination. but theyre better now than they were before fielder, and they'll be even better when martinez is back. that is not debatable. the twins are the same team they were before the tigers got fielder. thus, the tigers got better by signing fielder. nick's comment: if you think the twins had a chance 2 days ago, nothing should change that now. what????

and yet mike is still hammering away on the defense thing, as if the fielder deal actually makes the tigers a worse team! god its hilarious.

laches, youre right, i'm projecting a little bit for the twins club in terms of injury. thats a bit hypocritical and i apoligize for that.

i just think this fanbase needs to get real. if you look at pitching, injury concerns, depth, etc., i'm not sure the twins even stack up to cleveland, cws, and kc. at the least there's no 2nd place frontrunner among the bunch.
yet if you read this article and the comments, you wouldn't even know there's another team in the division besides the tigers. a touch of arrogance, innit?

Laches said...

No apology necessary, Professor. To the extent anyone is arguing that Fielder makes the Tigers worse, I agree that's just plain silly.

And I agree that when you look at rosters as they stand today, the Tigers are the clear favorite, and it's hard to pick the Twins to finish any higher than third in the division.

The only point I'm trying to make is that this was also true in '08 when the Twins were coming off a subpar season and watched key free agents walk away while Detroit made big offseason splashes and Cleveland was coming off a big year.

If you're ready to crown champions based on offseason moves (like the chap in commments to the last post who guaranteed the Tigers would be "the dominant team in the AL Central for the next half dozen years" and the myriad of people who assumed a Boston-Philly WS last year), you haven't been watching baseball very long.

As far as being realistic, this is a really hard Twins team to project because of so many question marks. If you asked me to predict a record, I'd probably say 78-84. I don't think this bunch will surprise people the way past Twins teams have. They did not do enough to help with defense and middle relief, which were the 2 things that cost them the most games.

But the Fielder singing notwithstanding, it's still a weak division overall. 88 wins might be enough to get it done, and while not a likely scenario, that's within the realm of possibility.

USAFChief said...

I think it's reasonable to expect Valencia, who's young, to improve defensively, as well as Revere to increase his arm strength. And likely Nishioka to be better adapted to MLB play.

Valencia is 27, he's not "young."

Revere has been playing professionally since 2007. There is almost zero chance at this point of any significant change in his arm strength.

Nishioka may or may not be better adapted to playing major league baseball, but IMO calling that "likely" is a pretty big stretch.

There's a very real chance the Twins defense isn't significantly better than Detroit's this year, and defense has become pretty overrated (especially by the SABER crowd) recently anyway, particularly OF defense. The Twins did just fine with Delmon in left, as did Boston with Manny Ramirez in left.

Can anything happen? Sure. But there can be little doubt the Tigers are a much stronger team today.

Anonymous said...

We finished LAST. We need to worry about the Royals before the Tigers. "We just need to get healthy" ... Yeah, we'll see.

Kevin said...

No other pitcher other than Verlander posted an above-average ERA? Fister's was 2.83 (better than anyone on the Twins). Fister was 5-0 with a .53 ERA in September. Good luck with that...

Ben S said...

Bunt, bunt, bunt, and then bunt some more. Cabrera at 3rd charging balls to throw errant throws to Fielder that he can't pick will be a good sight. Yeah the offense is terrifying, but that infield defense will be absolutely horrendous.