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Friday, October 31, 2008

Turn on the Hot Stove

With the World Series out of the way the 2009 Hot Stove season has officially begun. Here's one of my favorite baseball reporters, Buster Olney, starting up the stove...

In news that maybe only I care about, the Chicago White Sox declined an option of Ken Griffey Jr. leaving the 38-year old future Hall of Famer a free agent this offseason. With Griffey's rapidly declining numbers, a name still commanding somewhere around $6-8 million a year, and a (deserved) desire to play for a championship contender you got to wonder where Griffey will land this summer. Too bad he doesn't fit with the Twins in any way. I'd be the first in line to purchase that Griffey Twins jersey!

LEN III documents all the players that filed for free agency yesterday. As expected, Eddie Guardado, Nick Punto, and Dennys Reyes file for the Twins. If I were a betting man, I'd guess that only Punto returns.

And now for something completely different...

MLB.com's Kelly Theiser got to take a tour of Target Field this week. Her article isn't too exciting, but it's worth checking out the two picture galleries to see the park start to shape.

Have a great Friday Twins fans!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 Crowns a Champ

As I watched the Phillies mob Brad Lidge on the mound and celebrate their World Series victory I couldn't help but think of opening day last April at the Metrodome. I was remembering the falling snow and the blowing wind as Twins fans packed into the always fair weathered Metrodome ready to embark on a 2008 season with many pending question marks. Gone were the mainstay stars like Johan Santana and Torii Hunter. In were new unfamiliar names like Carlos Gomez and Kevin Slowey. Expectations were low but excitement was high.

The 2008 season closes its doors with an unlikely champ in Philadelphia and an even more unlikely runner-up in Tampa Bay. But this 2008 MLB campaign can be summed up as nothing less than unlikely. The Yankees missed the playoffs; the heavily favored Detroit Tiger and New York Mets struggled. The Milwaukee Brewers made the playoffs for the first time since 1982. New stars emerged like Evan Longoria, Cliff Lee, and Geovanny Soto and old stars reached milestones like Griffey Jr's 600th homerun. The All-Star break saw a Minnesota Twin win the Home Run Derby, what? And that next night the same guy scored the game winning run in 14 innings to steal another American League win from the National League. AL stars jumped leagues like CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez, and Rich Harden. The list of 2008 surprises goes on and on.

But what made 2008 not only a surprising year, but an exciting year was the play of the 2008 Minnesota Twins. After a disappointing 2007 season, this year seemed set up for the same result if not worse for this young club. Yet Ron Gardenhire rallied the young boys and put together what can truly be called a team. In a complete team effort these '08 Twins made baseball exciting in Minnesota this summer and had such a thrilling season that it took 163 games to call it quits!

The Twins may have fell just short of the their goal, but it was a great year to be a Twins fan. As the new ballpark begins to take shape and the always exciting offseason begins full of rumors, trades, free agents, and my favorite hobby of talking about baseball, I congratulate the Minnesota Twins on a great season and the Philadelphia Phillies on a well deserved title!

The countdown beings to Monday, April 6th at 7:05 CST as the Twins host the Seattle Mariners for Opening Day 2009!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elmer Fudd and the Flap Caps

Has anyone else noticed the new hats with weather flaps sporting the field in this wet and wild World Series?

A few nights ago in Game 4 I noticed Joe Maddon in the dugout and I thought, does that hat have flaps? Maddon never flapped down his flaps over his ears but I immediately saw this odd looking cap and was wondering if this was a special order for the little boys from St. Pete who were foreign to the brisk Philly Air. But last night in Game 5 the Elmer Fudd look could be found on the field by BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett, Shane Victorino, and Jimmy Rollins.

I did some research and it seems as if the caps, made by MLB hat maker New Era, were released this spring during Spring Training but had not been debuted on a field until the World Series. There is no official word from New Era or MLB.com on how to order a flap cap, but with winter vastly approaching I'm guessing they will be a hot item in the weeks to come.

I'm still undecided on what's being called the "Elmer Fudd" look. Part of me thinks, "Wow, that's kind of cool. I can support my Twins pride and stay warm in the freakin cold Minnesota winter!" The other part of me thinks, "Wow, those are really nerdy!"

Let me know what you think of the funky caps. Leave a comment below... would you wear one?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Off the TePoel

Phive Reasons I Chose the Phillies

Heading into the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays had become America's team. The can do kids just knocked around the reigning champs. Ernie Johnson, Jr. of TBS had just concluded his piercing interview with ALCS MVP Matt Garza, who at 24 is the youngest pitcher in Major League history to win such an award. Johnson's final question: "Matt, what was on your iPod before the game?" Garza amazingly left baseball fans with this insight; I summarize: "Yeah, I was listening to Tupac. He's the man, and that's all I can say." The end.

Really? That's it? Nothing like, "Well, I was listening to Tupac, but you know Ernie, I'm really proud of this team and what we've accomplished. We'll celebrate tonight, but after that there's a tough team over in Philadelphia and we've gotta get ready for them in what should be a great World Series, and hopefully we'll be bringing home one more trophy." Nah. 

Garza did admit earlier in the interview that he hoped he had just won Game 7 of the World Series, but the ALCS would have to do. Besides, they just beat the Red Sox, their season long nemesis since brawls busted out in Spring Training. The Rays had home field advantage and David Price. Certainly the National League opponent would be a pushover.

Without further ado, here are my Phive reasons for choosing the Phils:

1. Maturity

The Phillies were trounced last year by the Rockies in the ALDS. Ryan Howard was pitiful, Chase Utley went silent, and 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins was nowhere to be found. 3 and out. Not this year. The Phillies handled the Brewers with ease, and quickly blew out the sparks of a Dodgers comeback in the NLCS when veteran Matt Stairs hit a clutch 2 run homer to bring the Phils within one win of the Dance. Most importantly, they rested and remained focused during their extended wait for Game 1. (Honorable Mention: Jamie Moyer in Game 3. He was up way past his bedtime, but what a performance.)

2. Immaturity

The Rays have been impressive all season long. Who seriously thought they would win the division after tailing off heading into the all-star break? Then they showed incredible mettle by sustaining their throne through key injuries down the stretch to Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford. The ALDS win over the White Sox was to be expected, and their trouncing of the Red Sox in games 3 and 4 and two-thirds of 5 was almost a ceremonial and symbolic changing of the guards in the AL East. But after the collapse of the bullpen in game 5, the pitching held on while the bats produced just enough to prevent another unbelievable Boston comeback. But this is where the accolades end. Longoria and Pena, through the three games (and have been pitiful in game 4) are a combined 0 for 22. And what happened to the Rays' defense? That too, has gone to the wayside.

3. Cole Hamels

This man has been insane all postseason. He is young too, but he has the maturity some Rays may lack. In a press conference leading up to the World Series Hamels was focused on pitching and nothing else. The hoopla surrounding the Series was just that to the southpaw, distractions and shenanigans. His job didn't change - the only difference is the extra attention from the media and friends and family. As a baseball purist, I loved it when he told his family they could celebrate during the holidays, but now was no time for show-and-tell. "So this is where Ryan Howard sits...no, he can't get us any free Subway, Dad."

4. MVPs

The Phillies are loaded with them. Howard in 2006. Rollins last year. Utley, arguably the first-half MVP and Howard is deserving of another one in 2008. The Rays had too many opportunities to win Game 1 and they didn't do it. These MVPs were anything but in the first two games of the World Series, as the Phillies went something terrible like 1-31 with runners in scoring position. Horrendous, and the Rays let them get away with it, and you knew it wouldn't last. Howard is hot, Rollins is rolling, and Utley is ubiquitous(ly on base? that's weak). Either way, these MVPs have been supported by the late-blooming Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth (who?) and America is now seeing just how much these guys can hit. 

5. Bullpens

Ryan Madson and JC Romero setting up Brad Lidge. A winning formula right there who had shown no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, the Rays bullpen had done an excellent job piecing it together to get to the World Series. But once they made it there, you had the feeling the starters were only going to give them 5 or 6 innings each night and eventually these guys would get lit up as they did against Boston in game 5 of the ALCS. Without a closer it's awfully tough to win in the postseason. The bullpen has become critical to Major League Baseball. The Rays' have a great bullpen, that's why they're in the World Series. The Phils are just better.

After all this I'm left wondering why I thought it would take the Phillies 7 games. Cole Hamels closes it out tomorrow night. And if Ryan Howard hits another homerun, he might steal away the MVP.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Twins 4 Holliday!

As a blogger, I feel it is my duty to sometimes say what people are afraid to say or don't think about. Because bloggers are "journalists" with no editorial or contractual commitments we have the luxury to freely speak our mind and say whatever ridiculousness we want. And with the spirit of election season I'm going to start my campaign: Twins 4 (Matt) Holliday! Pretty ridiculous huh?

This past June during the season I wrote a post about why I thought the Twins should trade for Adrian Beltre of the Seattle Mariners. At the time this move seemed pretty ridiculous to other Twins bloggers and fans but to me really seemed to make sense. This potential trade was perhaps out of the normal realm for the Twins but seemed to make sense both as a good fit for the team and a trade with true possibility. Today the Beltre rumor is regarded as a true possibility for the Twins.

Now I'm not trying to say I told you so or that I have all the answers because I also thought that the Detroit Tigers would defeat the New York Mets this year in the World Series. But today I'm straying away from a rumor that is both a good fit for the team and a plausible reality. This is one of those rumors that although may be very far from plausible is a great fit for the team and makes you wonder... what if? It's one of those ridiculous rumors.


Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes that the Colorado Rockies have stated to rival executives that Matt Holliday is available. Before you start thinking we won't need another outfielder, why would we want Holliday? Think about why we would want Holliday!

The 28-year old leftfielder is entering the prime of his career. He's a righthanded power bat (which is exactly what we need) who hit .321 with 25 homeruns and 88 RBIs in 2008. The 6'4'' 235 lb slugger even stole 28 bases last year. That would put him 2nd in SB behind Carlos Gomez for the Twins. Plus, imagine the right hander hitting in the cleanup role, sandwiched between fellow All-Stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Dangerous!

So as I argue, Holliday would be a great fit for this team that could be the missing piece with a healthy bullpen to take this team to the World Series. Now what would we have to give up to get him (besides money, we'll get to that!)...

In my head I'd like to believe a package of D.Young/D. Span/G.Perkins would be enough. Perhaps, a Boof or a P.Humber would have to be included because the Rockies desperately need arms. This may seem like a lot, but Holliday would be three times more valuable than Young in leftfield and I personally think given Span's minor league track record there may never be a better time to trade him. We would definitely miss his leadoff ability and his defense, but Holliday is an upgrade defensively over Young and Cuddyer in right isn't too shabby. Throw the speedy Gomez, who caught more balls than anyone last year, in between Holliday and Cuddyer and the Twins have a very solid outfield defense. As Brett noted in his Matt Cain rumors, I think Perkins would be expendable and could be replaced with another arm.

However, the Denver Post says that Colorado is looking for an elite pitcher in return. We may not have "an elite pitcher" to trade but I don't think the Rockies will get that from anyone because they aren't going to trade Holliday to San Diego for Jake Peavy. So another possible package could be K.Slowey/D.Young/P.Humber. The Rockies would get two young arms and a great arm in Slowey (although his flyball rate could be dangerous in Coors Field) and get a young back with potential in Delmon. Slowey would be a big loss for the Twins but we could either move Boof back into the rotation or would still have an extra outfielder in Span or Cuddyer to move for pitching or middle infield help.

Here comes the part of the deal that makes this rumor ridiculous. If you think my trade package to the Rockies seems impossible and that Colorado will never take it, you must realize that Matt Holliday is entering his final year of his contract and if traded will probably require a multi year deal of roughly 5-years for $90-100 million. Do the Twins have that kind of money??? I believe they do, but it's a question of whether or not they will spend it. The deal would beat Morneau's franchise record 6-year of $80 million. But what a better way to make a run for the title in 2009 and enter the new ballpark in 2010 built around a core of Mauer, Morneau, Holliday, Nathan, Baker, Liriano, Blackburn, Gomez, and Casilla.

So as I said, because I have no editorial or contractual commitments I'm going to start this ridiculous (but smart) rumor and get those little ideas planted in your head. Just think about that potential lineup next year? And on November 4th vote: Twins 4 Holliday!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Garza in Game 3

The World Series is back on the ticket tonight with game 3 in Philadelphia. I don't know what I'm going to do at night when the playoffs are done??? I'll be lost, until Lost returns I guess.

Everyone's favorite missed Twin at the moment, Matt Garza, takes the bump tonight for the Rays against Jame Moyer, the oldest player in Major League Baseball. What an intriguing matchup? The hotheaded kid with wicked stuff versus the lazy ole lefty who lulls hitters to sleep. The two hurlers will both be making their first World Series appearance.

Tonight's game can certainly throw the momentum in either direction for these teams. If Philadelphia can take a 2-1 lead they get to play the next two games at home with a chance to clinch the title. Yet Tampa has looked like the better team throughout the entire series despite the current 1-1 tie. The Phillies need to hit better with runners in scoring position and the Rays need to continue to put pressure on Philly with their speed.

Either way, this is starting to have the makeup of a very good series.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Thoughts

Here are my thoughts for Friday, October 24:

  • Bill James, a pioneer in statistical analysis and a baseball mastermind, ranked the Minnesota Twins #1 in terms of youth talent within the organization. Certainly an item of note! James ranked Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Carlos Gomez, Nick Blackburn, Jason Kubel, Denard Span, and Glen Perkins in the top 150 young players. "The average team has five players in the top 150; the Twins have 10," James said.

  • In an announcement that is close to home for me, the Twins announced that Daktronics Inc., based out of my hometown Brookings, SD, will construct the new scorebard for Target Field set to open in 2010. The board will be the 4th biggest in Major League Baseball. You got to love the idea of a 101 x 57 foot HDTV!

  • Matt Garza gets the start in game 3 of the World Series. He's looked great during these playoffs, but I feel that for every great game he pitches on the national stage Bill Smith and Twins fans feel more and more compelled to trade Delmon Young. I admit being a fan of the Cain rumors, you can read my comments below on Brett's post, but you got to have a short term memory as a general manager and as a fan. Because don't get me started on David Ortiz!

  • The Seattle Mariners announced their new GM, Jack Zuduriencik, who is known for his great drafts and scouting success. In this article, Rob Neyer, uses the Minnesota Twins as a great example of what the Mariners could be with a new approach. In contrast to the Seattle organization Neyer says, "What happens if you take the Twins' scouting success and add $40 million to the budget?" Good question Rob??? I do think this new rebuilding, youth emphasis in Seattle may make it easier for the Twins to pry Adrian Beltre out of Seattle.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Delmon Young and Matt Cain

MLB Trade Rumors has a a Twins-related Trade Rumor that has gotten a bit of discussion elsewhere also: Delmon Young for Matt Cain, a SF Giants RHP who just turned 24 and has pitched ~200 innings/year in 2006-2008 after coming up at the end of 2005 (yes, he was 20 then). Cain's career ERA is 3.74,

Discussion of this rumor has ranged wildly, and I believe troublingly. My hypothesis at the outset was that this might be a good trade for both sides, but then having looked closer, I felt it would be a mistake for the Twins. Finally, after discussing this with my brother Mark (his thoughts at the bottom), I'm now interested again. So here's my closer look at Delmon Young and Matt Cain (along with a few other trade-pieces). Your thoughts and comments are quite appreciated (especially any Giants fans out there).

Preliminary Summary
Matt Cain is a great young pitcher and could be a good fit for the Twins. A trade of Delmon Young and Boof Bonser for Matt Cain seems to be a fair deal for both sides. Matt Cain and Delmon Young are both young, cheap, and productive players with upside (though neither has lived up to expectations or reached their projected numbers yet).

Matt Cain

The question for me surrounds whether Cain can be a #2 or higher starter. People who consider him as good as Lincecum or King Felix need to recheck their numbers. Right now in comparing the oppositional hitting, I don't see Cain as being as good as some pitchers the Twins already have: Liriano, Baker, and Slowey. Therefore, anyone who expects the Twins to trade one of those three along with anyone else seems foolish (at least to me).

Delmon Young
The question about Delmon Young is whether he can live up to his projected production.

In terms of Twins bloggers, Aaron Gleeman thought when the Twins acquired him and still thinks Delmon projects worse than most other analysts and hopeful Twins fans, and Nick Nelson is telling people not to sell low (and give up on) Delmon just yet. And Seth says we should keep all the OF/DH options and put a rotation in play.

So what does this mean?
The questions for Twins fans should be: Is (a) Delmon good enough to be trade bait for a good pitcher, while remaining (b) not so good that the Twins hate Bill Smith for trading him away? I think he probably fits well between these two concerns. I think he might not be quite proven enough to get Cain straight up (and most commenting fans at MLBTR seem to agree). Projecting the value of pitchers and hitters on the same metric is almost impossible (at least for me), but because of their similar ages, time the team has cheap control of the player, performances, and upsides, I think that the two aren't too far off. In other words, I don't think getting Cain will require too much more than Delmon and an MLB ready starting pitcher.

If the Giants require a pitcher of some sort to go with a batter like Delmon, I might choose to part with Perkins first, but I'd be fine with Boof. In fact, the Giants may prefer Perkins, but they would be wise to choose Boof. Here's a simple explanation of why:

Cain's ERA (like Perkins') looks good, but both Cain and Perkins lose a lot when you consider fielding independent variables like tRA and xFIP. On the other hand, Boof would be expected to do better than he has. Additionally, Cain's Swinging Strike% looks better than these three Twins (and similar to Liriano, Baker, and Slowey), but he's in the National League facing pitchers, which appears to bump up this percent. Cain throws hard (FB = 92.4mph compared to Baker at 90.7 and Blackburn at 91.2), so it's no wonder that he throws more balls and has a worse K/BB ration than any of the Twins except Perkins. The biggest thing that stands out is Cain's K% which is higher than these three Twins and in the range of Liriano, Baker, and Slowey. But Boof's is better than the other two, which again tells me Boof should be more desirable to the Giants than Perkins or Blackburn.

Balls and Called Strikes
To address this question in more detail, consider the following three charts with Balls and Called Strikes. I find that I can predict good pitchers using these numbers pretty easy. In the AL, a pitcher should get swinging strikes on at least 8% of their pitches and limit their balls to 34% of their pitches. The other options (called strikes, foul balls, and in play) seem to be less important. In the NL, the pitcher should get a higher percentage--maybe 2% higher--of swinging strikes (because they face pitchers a couple times each game).

Note: I color-coded things from green (good) to yellow to red (bad) for some of these stats, just so you can easily pick out what stats I think are important.

ERA, xFIP, and tRA
Now consider a similar set of three charts that shows first the AL, then the NL, then the Twins. As you can see, Liriano, Baker, and Slowey are the Twins' best pitchers by most metrics, and Boof is probably the fourth. Again, this could be due to Blackburn and Perkins being rookies, but from the Giants' perspective, that should mean little. They're just looking for a pitcher to fill out their rotation while picking up a young, cheap, high-upside batter. Boof fits the bill. So does Perkins. So does Blackburn.

I sorted these by the AVG08 (average of xFIP and tRA), but you can see how well these numbers line up with K% and GB%, two good indicators of how well a pitcher is doing. But they also follow the Swinging Strike% numbers pretty closely. The Twins should be worried about Perkins (and maybe Blackburn) if the whole rookie thing isn't factored in.

Boof Bonser
The unfortunate situation with Boof is that he's probably out of options with the Twins. I mean that not just from the technical standpoint (he can't be sent back to the Minors, nor should he be), but also from the organizational standpoint: Boof is probably not going to get another chance to be a starting pitcher with the Twins (though his numbers suggest maybe he should).

In other words, he is a good trading chip for the Twins, a great trading target for any team looking for a good SP option, and someone with whom the Twins ought to recognize as a more valuable trading chip than many fans might realize. Even Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors has Boof as a likely candidate for breaking out next year, especially if he ends up in the NL West.

Glen Perkins

I've made my case about Glen Perkins before. Yes, he was a rookie as a starting pitcher this year (having been a late relief guy in '06-07). So like Slowey and Baker before him, he could do better next year as he settles in (we can't expect everyone to take the MLB by storm like Liriano did in 2006). The same thing can be said for Blackburn, who also had a solid rookie season. This is reason enough for avoiding any trade that gets rid of our starting five without bringing in another good pitcher. I get this. But by the numbers, Perkins worries me, as does Blackburn, only more so with Perkins. Besides, if the Giants choose Boof rather than Perkins, the Twins could still trade Perkins to Seattle or Milwaukee to get a left-side infielder (Beltre or Hardy).

Final Summary

Cain does not appear to be a franchise player, much to the chagrin of Giants fans I'm sure. And it reinforces a Young + Boof for Cain or Young + Perkins for Cain deal. So I hold by the earlier comment that Twins fans should be happy enough with this trade.

Most of these trades are going to come down to whether DY or Cain are considered a better player, both in general and for the organization. They are both quite young for their MLB experience. They both have done quite well already in their careers (though neither has performed to the level critics have expected). They both have room to improve (Delmon with power, Cain with a better K/BB ratio). Delmon is not yet a franchise outfielder. Cain is not yet a #1, and to this point has been a stretch at #2, but he seems to be moving toward #2 status. But those are the potential upsides that both have.

Trade Option #1: Straight up: Matt Cain for Delmon Young
MN: Opens OF spot, gets young pitcher, but risky if Young turns out good (this point could be made for all other options)
SF: Upgrades the offense, but downgrades the pitching--very risky if Delmon doesn't live up to projections (and so far, he hasn't)

Trade Option #2: Matt Cain for Delmon Young and Boof Bonser
MN: Opens OF spot, gets young pitcher for guy who wasn't going to get much of a chance with MN
SF: Great chance to improve the offense while possibly getting just as good of a pitcher (though older) in return

Trade Option #3: Matt Cain for Delmon Young and Glen Perkins (or Nick Blackburn)
MN: Opens OF spot, switches young pitchers in a likely upgrade
SF: Upgrades the offense without losing much pitching (pretty good deal, but watch out for Perkins if 2008 was not just a rookie year)

Trade Option #4: Matt Cain for Delmon Young and Kevin Slowey
MN: Opens OF spot, gets young pitcher, but loses young pitcher who is just as good or better (in other words, this is dumb)
SF: This would be a steal

What I hope happens
I'd really like for the Twins to pursue this. I would try Delmon for Cain first, but I'd be quite willing to try Delmon and Boof for Cain. And if my general rule for proposing a trade as a biased party holds (make sure that you feel like the other team has a decent, even good chance of getting the better part of the deal, and that they might therefore make the trade), then I could see this happening.

I'll let MVB give his take in the comments section since I know he's been thinking a lot about this possible trade also, but in the mean time, here's my brother's take.

Mark Werner's Analysis

I've always been a big fan of Cain (though this might be because he was a nice fantasy pickup when he was the best pitcher with so few wins). I would generally be in favor of trading for years 24, 25, and 26 of Cain.

First, Cain is younger than any of the current twins rotation, already has years of MLB experience, and still seems to be improving each year.

Second, his deficiencies could well be ameliorated by the twins system. He pitches much like Baker with the only downside being his high walk rate, something the pitching staff could easily temper.

Third, while his xFIP isn't too appealing, his FIP is excellent. This is due to him having a very low HR/Fly ratio. Can he keep this up? I would argue yes. Cain has consistently defied the weight of xFIP, in his four years, always being around a point below with his FIP. Remember, xFIP is still an experimental stat. Some pitchers can keep flyballs in the ballpark and some can't. And it's not just pitching in SanFran since Cain's road HR rates are similar. You see similar defiance of xFIP in pitchers like Oswalt, Pedro, and Lackey until this year.

Fourth, his pitching style suits the Twins. If Cain keeps flyballs in the park, his high flyball rate plays right into our defence of Gomez and Span. So it's likely his ERA would drop with an exceptional outfield backing him up, catching more balls and turning some doubles into singles.

Of course, some people out there would say Cain isn't a pitcher that can win, being just 15-30 in the last two years. But as your spreadsheet shows, his run support has been awful.

I made a spreadsheet with the most similar 7 pitching lines to Cain's own from the last two years.

From that, you could expect Cain to go 14-8 with average run support, flipping his 1 to 2 win to loss ratio around. On the spreadsheet, you also see Cain pitching solid seasons comparable to much older pitchers. Danks probably had the most similar year to Cain this year. I would argue he is already a #2 starter, potentially joining Liriano, Slowey, and Baker as legit top-end starters. I wouldn't consider Boof, Blackburn, or Perkins at that level.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Game 1

Here we go, the moment 30 teams have been working for since last February. Alas, only two teams can be here. And I can honestly call anyone a bold face liar if they would have predicted those two teams to be the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tonight's matchup pits a pair of stud lefties against each other. The NLCS MVP, Cole Hamels, for the Phillies and the Rays 24-year old "veteran," Scott Kazmir. 

I picked Kazmir to be my series MVP (see below) so I need him to have a good game. If the Rays can beat Hamels in game 1 they will be in the driver seat for the rest of this series, but if the Phillies can win a huge game 1 on the road that would be even bigger. You can predict your World Series winner with the poll on the sidebar.

Only time will tell...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MVB's World Series Predictions

The 2009 World Series will mark the first fall classic for this blog, so to honor this event we brought the whole team out to make their bold predictions for the series.


Winner: Tampa Bay - 5 games  MVP: Scott Kazmir

Major League Baseball's feel good story will be feeling good after a quick 5 game series. The Rays not only represent the superior American League, but they had to battle a great Red Sox club through 7 games as 
well as prove over the course of 162 games that they were for real in the toughest division in baseball despite having a meager payroll. 

Great to see former Twins Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Grant Balfour all play key roles for this young club. The star of this series though is the franchise leader in wins, Scott Kazmir. Kazmir pitches 2 gems to win the MVP. Upton and Longoria both hit 3 homeruns each.

Brett Werner

Winner: Tampa Bay - 6 games  MVP: BJ Upton

Just like the Twins have Mauer as a great batter at an otherwise weak batting position, the Phillies have Utley and J-Ro at weak batting positions in the field (to go with Burrell and Howard, not to mention Victorino who is having a great postseason). This gives them a dramatic advantage against other NL teams.

But the Rays are no NL team: they have a stronger overall bullpen than Philadelphia (who have Lidge et rien) even if the closer position may be falling to Price in the WS. And they have as good or better hitters at nearly every position, guys who can get to anyone except maybe Hamels. I give the Rays' starters a big edge once you get past the Phillies' ace.

The Phillies are better rested, but obviously that didn't help last year's Rockies. Two off days is more than enough for the Rays to recover.

The Rays have been on a run all year, have been on the verge of losing it for most of the last month or two, and they haven't yet. I don't think they lose it now. 

Mark Werner

Winner: Tampa Bay - 5 games     MVP: James Shields

The Phillies may have a strong, bopping offense but, if their inter-league games are any preview, they will struggle against the Rays rotation. Although it is a small sample size, the Phillies batted just .220 against the American League this year for an OPS of .682. The Phillies lost every series against AL teams, finishing 4-11. On the flip side, the Rays were 12-6 against the NL. While the Phillies were busy getting shut-out by the Rangers, the Rays were sweeping the Cubs.

Like the Rockies last year who had a payroll 66% below league average, the Rays arrive at the final stage having a payroll 50% below major league average--and one fifth the size of the long-idle, much-maligned Yankees. Unlike the Rockies, the Rays will prevail, taking the series in 5 games. Where the Rockies were overdependent on their thin-air hitting, the Rays have a sturdier foundation in their pitching: a young rotation and an experienced bullpen capped by a talented rising star in Price.

In stark contrast to the Twins, the Phillies slug 40 points higher against LHP. Unfortunately, the Rays rotation features just one lefty in Kazmir. Righties Shields and Garza will combine for three wins. Your World Series MVP: James Shields (and not the semi-transient 19th century senator from Minnesota)


Winner: Tampa Bay - 7 games  MVP: Evan Longoria

As college basketball analyst Dickie V says, "They got the big M.O. baby!" M.O. referring to momentum, and its ironic Dick Vitale is arguably the biggest Tampa Bay fan on this planet. Therefore I gotta say the Rays win this series in 7 games. The World Series MVP goes to boy wonder Evan Longoria.

PS. Is anybody else sick of EVERY ANALYST saying the key part to the Delmon for Garza trade was Jason Bartlett because he "shores up the Tampa defense?" He is terrible at short! He led all AL ss in errors for the Twins in 2007, and seems to make errors in every other game in the playoffs! I just don't get it, but it is nice to see two former Twins playing key roles in the playoffs.

Dain TePoel

Winner: Philadelphia - 7 games MVP: Cole Hamels

I hate to say it, but I want to be the guy who takes a chance on the Underdog in this situation....But really, the Phillies? World Series Champs? They haven't played a game in a long time, especially by Wednesday.

Hmm...I'll roll with it.

Feel free to leave your predictions for series winner and MVP in the comments section.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Werner Bros. Offseason Guide and Notes: Part V

Wow, I just got done watching an amazing game 7 of the ALCS and get to see the Tampa Bay Rays punch their ticket to the World Series. It's tough not to like a team like Tampa, but it is hard to watch Matt Garza win the series MVP and wonder where the Twins would have been with him in the rotation and not Livan Hernandez. Here's to hoping Delmon continues to improve! Look for a MVB World Series Preview before Wednesday's game 1. Until then, the summary, the final installment of Brett's Offseason Guide. He'll look at the nine scenarios he described yesterday and try to predict what may happen. Please leave comments and let Brett know your thoughts to his guide.


Feel free to offer your own scenarios, and to give feedback on my reasoning here. Personally, if I could choose the scenarios to make the team I want…

Scenario #9: Sign Dunn and Hudson, Trade for Beltre
Scenario #7: Sign Hudson, Trade for Beltre
Scenario #3: Pursue Top Young Player (at the cost of SP), maybe Chris Davis
Scenario #6: Sign Hudson and Blake
Scenario #4: Sign Hudson
Scenario #5: Sign Blake
Scenario #1: Do Nothing
Scenario #2: Go For Broke
Scenario #8: Sign Cabrera or someone else I don’t like

Predicted Likelihood:
Scenario #4: Sign Hudson
Scenario #7: Sign Hudson, Trade for Beltre
Scenario #1: Do Nothing
Scenario #6: Sign Hudson and Blake
Scenario #8: Sign Cabrera
Scenario #5: Sign Blake
Scenario #9: Sign Dunn and Hudson, Trade for Beltre
Scenario #3: Pursue Top Young Player (at the cost of SP), maybe Chris Davis
Scenario #2: Go For Broke

After doing these analyses, I would say that adding Hudson is probably our best single improvement, especially given that we can afford to platoon Buscher and Harris one more year if Valencia and/or Hughes can be good MLB hitters at 3B. But if we want to open up a spot in the OF/DH and trade Boof, then Beltre and the Mariners are a good match (but they should give us more than Beltre for Boof + either Kubel or Delmon… in fact, they should give us their #1 or #2 prospect, or a #5-10 prospect in their system and pay half of Beltre’s salary).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Werner Bros. Offseason Guide and Notes: Part IV

Now Part IV is where things really get interesting. Based on CRAP and the Twins offseason riches, Brett creates 9 possible 2009 Twins lineups. Check out and leave your opinions...

Scenarios for the 2008-9 Offseason
For each of these I tried to make it clear about what a 25-man roster would be to start the season. There are combinations of these along with a number of others I didn’t consider (and which are probably much more likely than what I address).

What is important is that the Twins do something to decrease the bottleneck in the outfield and starting pitching positions. They should be looking for a RHBs who can hit LHP, who can protect Morneau (and still hit RHP), who play SS or 3B, and play good defense. If they don’t improve their numbers against LHP and their slugging, they are unlikely to do as well in 2009 as 2008 (with a chance of injury to a key SP, Mauer, or Morneau), not to mention a likely drop in average with RISP.

Here are some options to build your lineup:
Lineup Options  -  OBP  -  SLG  -  OPS (Career)  =  OBP  -  SLG  -  OPS (2008)
Span (OF)   -  387  -  432  -  819   =  387  -  432  -  819
Mauer (C)   -  399  -  457  -  856   =  413  -  451  -  864
Morneau (1B)   -  348  -  498  -  846   =  374  -  499  -  873
Young (OF)   -  326  -  413  -  739  =   336  -  405  -  741
Cuddyer (OF)  -  344  - 441  -  785  =  Only 249ABs  330  -  369  -  699
Casilla (2B)  -  310  -  336  -  646  =  333  -  374  -  707
Punto (SS)   -  319  -  332  -  651  =  344  -  382  -  726
Gomez (CF)   -  295  -  350  -  645  =  296  -  360  -  656
Kubel (DH)   -  326  -  445  -  771  =  335  -  471  -  806

Tolbert (IF)  -  322  -  389  -  711  =  Only 113ABs  322  -  389  -  711
Harris (IF)   -  330  -  408  -  738  =  327  -  394  -  721
Buscher (3B)  -  335  -  373  -  708  =  340  -  390  -  730
Redmond (C)  -  348  -  365  -  713  =  Only 129ABs -  321  -  333  -  654

Beltre (3B)  -  327  -  459  -  786  =  327  -  457  -  784
Dunn (DH)  -  381  -  518  -  899  =  386  -  513  -  889
Hudson (2B)  -  346  -  433  -  779 =  367  -  450  -  817
Hardy (SS)  -  329  -  446  -  775  =   343  -  478  -  821
Blake (3B)  -  334  -  447  -  781  =  345  -  463  -  808
Cabrera (SS)  -  322  -  399  -  721  =  334 -  371  - 705
Prince (DH)  -  370  -  533  -  903  =  372  -  507  -  879
Furcal (SS)  -  352  -  412  -  764  = Only 143ABs  -  439  -  573 - 1012

Scenario #1: Do Nothing.

We had a good team in 2008, and while we might not be improving dramatically for 2009, we will at least not have Livan starting every 5th game. In other words, we’ll have a healthy Liriano, Cuddyer, and Neshek to start the season. If all of them play as well as they could (Neshek and Cuddyer like 2006, 2007, Liriano like 2006), and everyone else plays as well as in 2008, we could easily compete for the ALC (even if, as Gleeman says, 89 wins gets us 3rd in the ALC).

Scenario 1 Lineup
Span (OF)
Casilla (2B)
Mauer (C)
Morneau (1B)
Cuddyer/Young (OF)
Kubel (DH)
Buscher/Harris (3B)
Punto (SS)
Gomez (CF)
Bench: Young, Harris, Redmond


Mulvey/Duensing (AAA)
Swarzak (AAA)

Nathan (Closer)
Neshek/Mijares (Setup)
Crain/Guerrier (Key)
Breslow (LOOGY/Long)
Humber/Boof (Long)

Scenario #2: Go for broke.

Trade Perkins, Kubel, Humber, Young, Boof, and Pridie for Beltre and Hardy, and sign Dunn. This raises our payroll significantly, but not outside what the team can handle (especially given the savings from the last couple years), and we improve our lineup enough that teams would fear us. A lot. So could we get both Hardy and Beltre for the players listed above, and what would our team look like if we did?

I would try to trade Young and/or Boof (and prospect/Humber) to the Mariners for Beltre. I’m guessing they would jump on Delmon (a high-upside OF, whose age and OPS hint at Delmon producing like Beltre over his career, which could make this trade a mistake for the Twins). We’d probably be able to get another player thrown in if we gave them Delmon, and certainly a good one if we gave them both Boof and Young. Summary: Young + Humber for Beltre OR Young + Boof for Beltre and SP prospect.

Then I would try to trade Perkins and Humber (and maybe Kubel) to Milwaukee for Hardy. They get an MLB SP (Perkins is young, cheap, and did pretty well for a rookie, what they want) and they could get a corner OF with a lot of power from the left side in case they trade Prince (or a trade chip with another AL team who wants a DH/OF since Hart and Braun fill their corner OF pretty well). In fact, we might be able to get Milwaukee to make the trade for Perkins (or Blackburn) straight up or with low-level prospects included (a safety measure in all trades in case the centerpieces don’t pan out). Summary: (2A) Perkins + Humber for Hardy OR (2B) Perkins + Kubel for Hardy and high-level prospect OR (2C) Blackburn + Robertson + Humber + Kubel + Parmelee for Hardy + Prince. Then Prince could be our 40 HR-hitting DH, and we wouldn’t need to worry about getting Dunn.

So yes, I think that the trading part is do-able. I think the Twins have already improved their lineup immensely with two established RHBs rather than Delmon and Kubel. If we didn’t do the crazy trade involving Hardy and Prince, I’d think about signing Dunn (remember this scenario is going for broke). Dunn would help a ton (especially if we do trade Kubel). If we are not including Kubel in the Milwaukee deal, then the need for Dunn is much lower. But if possible, I would trade Kubel and sign Dunn. The other nice thing about this scenario is that we keep Beltre for one year, and then we have Valencia/Hughes ready for 3B in 2010, and we get the 2 (or maybe 1) draft picks from Beltre walking. Or we could move Hardy to 3B in favor of another SS. There would be options.

Scenario 2 Lineup
Span (LF)
Mauer (C)
Dunn/Kubel/Prince (DH)
Morneau (1B)
Beltre (3B)
Cuddyer (RF)
Hardy (SS)
Casilla (2B)
Gomez (CF)

PH: Redmond, Buscher,
Punto/Tolbert, Harris

AAA: Duensing
AAA: Swarzak

Nathan (Closer)
Neshek/Mijares (Setup)
Crain/Guerrier (Key)
Breslow (LOOGY/Long)
Humber (Long)

Scenario #3: Pursue Chris Davis (or someone similar: young, high OPS, fills a need).

I may sound like I’m really tied to Chris Davis, and I guess maybe I am. But really, all I’d like is a great young hitter who can play 3B or SS, someone who isn’t just cheap with high upside or a proven veteran middle infielder (we’ll get to that in #4). I’d like a hitter who can play a position the Twins need, and can protect Morneau if he bats fifth in the order (or 3rd with Mauer 2nd and Cuddyer 5th). To get Chris Davis, I expect the Twins would need to trade at least Boof and Perkins/Blackburn, maybe Humber (as another possible MLB pitcher) and Valencia/Hughes (whomever Texas likes better as a future 3B after Blaylock is gone). I think this is a big deal kind of trade, and if we did it, I wouldn’t expect any other deals from us this summer. It would fill our hole at 3B this year and for at least one more before Davis might have to get moved (to OF, DH, 1B). By that time, the non-traded Valencia/Hughes would be at 3B.

Scenario 3 Lineup
Span (OF)
Mauer (C)
Davis (3B)
Morneau (1B)
Cuddyer (OF)
Kubel (DH)
Casilla (2B)
Punto (SS)
Gomez (CF)

Bench: Redmond, Delmon, Buscher, Harris


AAA: Swarzak

Nathan (Closer)
Neshek/Mijares (Setup)
Crain/Guerrier (Key)
Breslow (LOOGY/Long)
Duensing (Long)

Scenario #4: Pursue Veteran Middle Infielder (hopefully Hudson, not Cabrera)

If we decide to pursue a veteran middle infielder as our main offseason move, I do hope it’s Orlando Hudson. He is coming off an injury, but could be a good 2B for us, with some power and good defense (which we need). If we did this, it would mean moving Casilla to SS and keeping Punto around in case Casilla doesn’t adjust well. But this seems like a legitimate and likely scenario.

Scenario 4 Lineup
Span (OF)
Hudson (2B)
Mauer (C)
Morneau (1B)
Cuddyer/Young (OF)
Kubel (DH)
Buscher/Harris (3B)
Casilla/Punto (SS)
Gomez (CF)

Young, Redmond,
Harris, Punto


Mulvey/Duensing (AAA)
Swarzak (AAA)

Nathan (Closer)
Neshek/Mijares (Setup)
Crain/Guerrier (Key)
Breslow (LOOGY/Long)
Humber/Boof (Long)
Scenario #5: Pursue Casey Blake, and
Scenario #6: Pursue Hudson and Blake

You can guess what these two would look like. Since they don’t involve trading, it’s pretty clear how they would change our team. I still think the Twins sign Punto in either case as a swing-man. I don’t think they trust Tolbert to be as good as Punto defensively, even though Tolbert would be cheaper.

Scenario #7: Sign Hudson and Trade for Beltre

I actually see this happening because I think the Twins want more year with Hughes/Valencia in the minors. They can afford to (and want to) trade Boof, Humber, and maybe a high-level prospect in order to get a year of Beltre and the draft picks when he leaves via Free Agency.

Scenario #7 Lineup
Span (OF)
Hudson (2B)
Mauer (C)
Morneau (1B)
Beltre (3B)
Kubel (DH)
Cuddyer/Young (OF)
Casilla/Punto (SS)
Gomez (CF)

I actually like how this lineup looks, and if I had to go for an offseason with less going on (and less risk) than scenarios #2 and #3, then I would choose this one. It gives our lineup balance, prevents too much pressure from being put on Morneau/Mauer (who had to carry this team in 2008) and Cuddyer/Young (who were responsible for not giving enough RHB protection to M&M). If we could find a place to trade Kubel, then I’d still like to sign Dunn, but that might be asking too much.

Scenario #8 (this would be awful): Sign Orlando Cabrera

Please don’t do this, Bill Smith. Please. So I’ll end with…

Scenario #9: Trade for Beltre and Sign Dunn and Hudson

Under this scenario, the Twins would trade Boof and Kubel to the Mariners for Beltre and a high-level prospect. They would then sign Hudson to play 2B and Adam Dunn to be the DH and let Gomez, Span, Cuddyer, and Young split time in the outfield. Starting pitching and relief would be pretty similar to most of the above (wouldn’t lose any of the five starters who ended 2008).

Scenario #8 Lineup OBP/ SLG/ OPS (Career)  =  OBP/ SLG/ OPS (2008)
Span (OF) 387/432/ 819  =  387/ 432/ 819
Hudson (2B) 346/433/ 779  =  367/ 450/ 817
Mauer (C) 399/457/ 856  =  413/451/ 864
Morneau (1B) 348/498/ 846  =  374/499/ 873
Beltre (3B) 327/ 459/ 786  =  327/ 457/ 784
Dunn (DH) 381/ 518/ 899  =  386/ 513/ 889
Young/Cuddyer (OF) 326/ 413/ 739 (DY) 344/ 441/ 785 (MC)
Casilla (SS) 310/ 336/ 646  =  333/ 374/ 707
Gomez (CF) 295/ 350/ 645  =  296/ 360/ 656

I think that lineup would be amazing. And it’s quite possible. It would also allow moving Span to the bottom part of the order if he starts 2009 with a lower OBP. The Dunn part might not be probable, but quite possible. I’d be fine with scenario #7 (without Dunn), but our production would take a hit (but we’d save a lot of money). Possible differences you can mix and match:

Kubel (DH) 326 445 771 335 471 806
Hudson (2B) 346 433 779 367 450 817
Hardy (SS) 329 446 775 343 478 821
Blake (3B) 334 447 781 345 463 808
Cabrera (SS) 322 399 721 334 371 705
Prince (DH) 370 533 903 372 507 879
Furcal (SS) 352 412 764 Only 143ABs 439 573 1012

For example… Check out Going for Broke #2C (Getting Prince, Hardy, and Beltre)

Scenario #2C Lineup OBP SLG OPS (Career) OBP SLG OPS (2008)
Mauer (C) 399 457 856 413 451 864
Prince (DH) 370 533 903 372 507 879
Morneau (1B) 348 498 846 374 499 873
Beltre (3B) 327 459 786 327 457 784
Span (OF) 387 432 819 387 432 819
Hardy (SS) 329 446 775 343 478 821
Cuddyer (OF) 344 441 785 Only 249ABs 330 369 699
Casilla (2B) 310 336 646 333 374 707
Gomez (CF) 295 350 645 296 360 656

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Werner Bros. Offseason Guide and Notes: Part III

Hope you enjoyed reading about CRAP yesterday. (Hopefully I'll never write that again on the blog) By the way, how about that ALCS game last night? Let's hope the Rays don't choke this one away. In Part III, Brett will look at what the Twins have to offer in any offseason moves...

Offseason Riches

OF (Cuddyer, Young, Gomez, Span, Kubel, Pridie, etc.)
Having addressed the offseason targets (both common and those I’d like to see), it’s worth asking what the Twins have as trading potential. Moving ahead with Cuddyer, Young, and Kubel (Corner OF and DH options) and Gomez and Span (CF and corner options) means that at least one of these guys will not play every day. From a defensive standpoint, it would be nice to have both Kubel or Cuddyer off the field every day (like most of the 2008 second half). From an offensive standpoint, it would be nice to have Gomez out of the lineup (unless he becomes more consistent at the numbers he had in May and September with an 800 OPS, which could happen, this along with his best-in-the-majors defense being the two main reasons why the Twins are hesitant to trade him).

Seth is endorsing a rotation where each of the five guys play their OF spot and DH some (no DH for Gomez or Span, no OF for Kubel). I can support that if the Twins don’t do anything in the offseason. But instead, I would try to trade Delmon and Kubel, and pick up Dunn to fill the OF/DH spot. I’m not the only person that likes both Delmon and Kubel (free them, etc.) but still sees the logic in trading either Delmon or Kubel, but I may be the only person who has said to trade both. So far my plan is going to be more expensive than Seth’s, but with more production and likely more defense (by freeing up the outfield for Span and Gomez). We lose the cheapness of Kubel’s arbitration years, and we lose the potential production of Delmon (along with his age: he’s still quite young, but this is why he may be valuable to other teams). When I look at the Twins Minor League prospects, I think that at least one of Morales, Revere, and Hicks (not to mention Parmelee, Tosoni, and Benson) will be able to step up in a few years once Cuddyer’s contract is up and either Gomez or Span hasn’t produced the way we’re now hoping (after all, it’s just the 2008-9 offseason: both have only played about a year in the majors). In other words, the Twins don’t need Delmon and Kubel if they get the production out of Dunn and Cuddyer, and they get the defense (and potential production) out of Span and Gomez. In summary, the Twins outfield is too full, and it only gets worse if the Twins sign a player like Adam Dunn (like I recommend above).

OF/DH available (2 of the three, and Pridie in any case):
Cuddyer (RF/DH)
Kubel (OF/DH)
Delmon (OF)

SP (Baker, Liriano, Slowey, Blackburn, Perkins, Boof)
6 MLB starters return (including Boof, but not even including Humber) and a wealth of SP at AAA/AA (Swarzak, Mulvey, Duensing, Manship, Mullins, possibly Pino)

Name (RHP/LHP, Age09) - InningsMLB - WHIP - ERA - xFIP - K/BB-  GB% - HR/G
Scott Baker (RHP, 27) 172 - 1.18 - 3.45 - 4.25 - 3.4 - 33 - 1.1
Francisco Liriano (LHP, 25) 76 - 1.39 - 3.91 - 3.40 - 2.1 - 42 - 0.8
Kevin Slowey (RHP, 24) 160 -  1.15 - 3.99 - 4.14 - 5.1 - 36 - 1.3
Nick Blackburn (RHP, 27) 193 - 1.36 - 4.05 - 4.55 - 2.5 - 45 - 1.1
Boof Bonser (RHP, 27) 118 - 1.48 - 5.93 - 4.31 - 2.7 - 41 - 1.2
Glen Perkins (LHP, 26) 151 - 1.47 - 4.41 - 5.05 - 1.9 - 38 - 1.5
Philip Humber (RHP, 26) 12 - 1.37 - 4.63 - 5.30 - 1.2 - 50 - 3.1
Liriano w/o April 66 - 1.19 - 2.74 - ? - 3.2 - ? - 0.95

2008 Minors League Pitchers (by level)
Francisco (AAA) 118 - 1.13 - 3.28 - ? - 3.7 - ? - 0.8
Humber (AAA) 136 - 1.42 - 4.56 - ? - 2.2 - ? - 1.4
Mulvey (AAA) 148 - 1.35 - 3.77 - ? - 2.5 - ? - 0.97
Duensing (AAA) 139 - 1.33 - 4.28 - ? - 2.3 - ? - 1.0
Manship (AA) 77 - 1.49 - 4.46 - ? - 2.6 - ? - 0.9
Manship (A+) 79 - 1.12 - 2.86 - ? - 3.2 - ? - 0.0
Mullins (AA) 148 - 1.54 - 4.31 - ? - 1.7 - ? - 1.1

The table above summarizes some pitching statistics I find useful when evaluating pitching (when the stats are available), stats that SABR-metrics researchers seem to like (xFIP to ERA, etc.). The table indicates to me that the Twins may have a better pitcher in Boof than his trading value is going to indicate. Conversely, Perkins may have more trade value than is likely to be sustainable with his numbers (he just finished his rookie season with a 12-4 record, a 4.41 ERA, and learned to pitch in a good system). Whether or not the Twins recognize it, we have a number of good pitchers available who are probably MLB ready (at least the six in the majors aside from Humber, and including Mulvey). I will say that whoever put Slowey as a comparable pitcher for Mulvey didn’t look at the same things I’m considering. Because Mulvey hasn’t yet pitched in the majors, I have the career minor league (all levels) numbers for the MLB pitchers and Mulvey, just to give you an idea of where they fit.

Name (RHP/LHP, Age09) - Innings Minors - WHIP - ERA - K/BB
Scott Baker (RHP, 27) - 486 - 1.09 - 3.02 - 4.25
Francisco Liriano (LHP, 25) - 608 - 1.21 - 3.42 - 3.25
Kevin Slowey (RHP, 24) - 367 - 0.85 - 1.94 - 6.94
Nick Blackburn (RHP, 27) - 701 - 1.20 - 3.68 - 2.82
Boof Bonser (RHP, 27) - 884 - 1.30 - 3.63 - 2.30
Glen Perkins (LHP, 26) - 368 - 1.27 - 3.50 - 2.66
Philip Humber (RHP, 26) - 426 - 1.27 - 4.25 - 2.80
Kevin Mulvey (RHP, 23) - 321 - 1.27 - 3.37 - 2.55

The Twins tend to focus their drafts on starting pitching and fast/defensive CF. In times like the 2008-9 offseason, the Twins can and should use those starting pitchers as trading potential. The last few years the Twins have brought in 1-2 awful veteran Free Agent starting pitchers, none of whom have worked out well. I don’t think they should need to do that this year with the number of potential starters they have. The question is how many pitchers to trade. They could do zero, stick with the five starters they had at the end of 2008, and hope that both Boof and Humber adjust to roles in the bullpen. They would have available long relief or guys who could switch to starting if anyone got hurt (like Slowey in the last week, which was our first starting pitcher to get injured once the season began: Slowey and Baker had late starts to the season). But this leaves little to no opportunity for the pitchers at AAA to move up, at least on a steady basis, and the Twins have had a lot of success lately when guys started in AAA and moved to the Twins in May or June (see Slowey, Garza, Baker in ’07 or Perkins in ‘08). This usually comes from the veteran Free Agent problem mentioned above (Ponson and Ortiz in ’07, Livan in ’08), but also with younger pitchers missing starts (Liriano, Baker, and Slowey in early ’08). In any case, having a chance for the AAA pitchers to move up is good, whenever it happens.

It seems like the club would like to trade Boof so that he could be a SP somewhere rather than a RP with the Twins. I think we should be open to that if we can get value out of him. Otherwise, as in, if we could get value for Blackburn or Perkins that we can’t for Boof, I’d be fine with trading Blackburn or Perkins, keeping Boof to be our 2009 Livan/Boof (hopefully we give him chances until the end of May like Boof ’08 rather than until the end of July like Livan ’08). This would allow Boof one more chance to prove himself (his fielding independent numbers were as good as Perkins in ’08), and an easy opening for a younger pitcher that could emerge in early 2009 in Rochester. We could then trade Boof midseason after trading the Perkins/Blackburn option in the offseason, maximizing our trade potential. If nothing else, this allows us to call Boof our “innings-eater” for a while (and the innings he eats allows a pitcher at AAA to emerge as in ’07 and ’08).

Beyond that, I try to build my pitching staff for the next few years around Liriano, Baker, and Slowey. I try to buy out at 1-2 years of free agency with each of these guys with a longer-term contract (also avoids arbitration mess), which can backfire if they get injured, but it’s at least as safe of a bet as signing someone like Ponson, Ortiz, or Livan for $5 million for a year.

What this means for players I’d make quite available:
Kubel (OF/DH)
Delmon (OF)
Boof (SP/RP)
Humber (SP/RP)
Blackburn or Perkins (SP)—though probably not both, unless both got me Davis (maybe more)
Pridie (OF)
Slowey, Baker, or Liriano (SP)—only if someone offered me a superstar and then some

One final note: I think it’s important to point out how good Twins players look to other teams. Our free agents and trades end up with player friendly contracts (they get much more money than the Twins would ever offer, and sometimes it works out: Torii and Johan, and other times it doesn’t: Castillo and Silva). Additionally, I think that the Twins lost more Minor League prospects to the draft last year than any other team, which says something about either the Twins minor league system, or about the Twins front office and how they manage the 40-man roster (not protecting the right players). I think that most teams do well to protect their top threatened players, and it’s a question of how many players they can’t protect. In the end, I think this should be an indication to the Twins front office that teams value what the Twins have, and they should use this to their advantage.

Trading Targets (Teams)
Rangers (Great Hitting, Weak Pitching: Target is Chris Davis)
Mariners (In Need of Major Overall: Target is Beltre)
Brewers (In Need of Pitching with loss of Sheets/Sabathia: Target is Hardy)

Free Agent Targets
Adam Dunn (OF/DH)
Orlando Hudson (2B)
Casey Blake (3B)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Werner Bros. Offseason Guide and Notes: Part II

In Part II of Brett's Offseason Guide he introduces his personal method of evaluating offseason acquisitions and comparing the gain/loss from player to player. Maybe Bill Smith should pay attention to this...

I’ve been trying to develop a very simple acronym for player evaluation (as a free agent signing, and to a lesser extent a trade). I call it CRAP. Each of these variables can be weighted based on team needs (making it specific to what a team might need at particular positions, or might have as constraints on salary). For instance, the Twins have contract/salary limitations far greater than the Yankees (who are often just operating on the RAP acronym), and while the Twins need a 3B or SS, the Yankees have those already (see A-Rod and Jeter) and would prefer starting pitching.

C = Contract Expectations (this includes both years and salary/year, along with bonuses/options)
R = Risk (injury risk is most important, but attitude is key, esp. for Twins: see Dukes or Bradley)
A = Age (players peak in their late 20s & often regress afterward, in addition to increasing cost)
P = Production (or Performance if you factor in defense—I use OPS as a good indicator here)

So this gives us CRAP, and whether you want to just use pluses and minuses, or positive and negative numbers, or even weights and positive or negative numbers, you can come up with a fair indication of whether your favorite team should sign a particular player. For instance, I was looking at free agents with high HR production in 2008 (on MLBTR), and I rated some hitters using CRAP.

Tex’s CRAP = -9 +6 +0 +9 = +6
Manny’s CRAP = -6 –5 –4 +10 = -5
Bradley’s CRAP = +2 –9 –1 +10 = +2
Dunn’s CRAP = -5 +4 +0 +8 = +7

Because all of these players could potentially DH, and the Twins could upgrade at DH (by trading at least one of, and likely two of Delmon, Kubel, Cuddyer, Gomez, or Span), I think all of these players are legitimate Twins for 2009. They range in terms of contract (lengthy and expensive for Mark Teixeira to short and expensive for Bradley given his risk), in terms of risk (Bradley is very risky for both injuries and attitude, and Dunn/Tex is less risky), in terms of age (Manny is getting old, but most are around or just past their likely peak years), and in terms of production (but given that I was just looking at very productive players, they’re quite homogeneous).

So, let’s look again at the Twins trade targets, using CRAP as a starting point. I then offer some additional insight into what a particular player’s presence might mean to the Twins (trading current players to open up spots or acquire players currently under contract, moving players into other positions, etc.)

Orlando Cabrera (Free Agent SS) RHB 721 (713 / 744) 705 (688 / 754)

CRAP = -15
C = +2 (if the Twins could get him for $30 over 3 yrs, but drops fast beyond that)
R = -5 (mostly on attitude rather than on injury—don’t like his attitude at all)
A = -7 (34 years old, a bit much for a starting SS with little chance to play other positions)
P = -5 (not that great on offense, defense is generally pretty good)

Other Notes: It could be that I’m being more harsh on the OC because of his attitude and batting, but if the Twins want someone with Cabrera’s production, why not sign Punto (better OPS in ’08 and as good in ’06, though perhaps not as consistent overall) who is better in the club house and as good at defense. I think this would be a major mistake on the part of Bill Smith, and I wouldn’t think it would be tough for him to see that. It also was very surprising to me that JoeC seemed optimistic and HowardS called him the people’s choice (though Sinker later redeemed himself by looking into Cabrera’s personality). See Furcal note under Hudson.

Adrian Beltre (1 year left on contract 3B) RHB 786 (779 / 806) 784 (704 / 994)

CRAP = +16
C = +5 (one year contract, while expensive is short—caution: see trades below)
R = +2 (little injury risk in one year)
A = 0 (29 years old, but having him for only one year )
P = +9 (great numbers, especially against LHP, and Gold Glove caliber defense)

Other Notes: The nice things about Beltre are he’s a power-hitting RHB with great defense we would only need to have him for a year (at $12million), and it would be a contract year before Free Agency (meaning he should produce, and that we would get draft picks if we lost him, likely as a Type A Free Agent). The difficult thing is that the Mariners will surely require a back of the rotation starter (MLB ready) for him, if not more (for only one year of Beltre). I’m guessing they would trade Beltre for Perkins/Boof/Buscher, but I may be off. If so, I’d do it (unless I could get Chris Davis). I’d guess that Beltre could give Morneau a rest at 1B with better results than Lamb in 2008.

JJ Hardy (Arb Elig Brewers SS) RHB 775 (716 / 938) 821 (764 / 977)

CRAP = +17 (SS) or +13 (3B)
C = +2 (under team control, but in arbitration years, would likely want to give him 4yr contract)
R = +3 (missed most of 2006 with an ankle injury, but solid aside from that)
A = +4 (26 years old)
P = +8 as a SS, or +4 as a 3B

Other Notes: He’s a RHB that can hit HRs and drive in runs. Probably the most important thing about Hardy is that he would be a good SS for another year or two, though may not be quite as good defensively as Everett or Punto, but could easily move to 3B any time and still has enough offensive production that it wouldn’t matter. The same cannot be said for Cabrera. Additionally, though Hardy’s price is starting to increase, he remains a good option from now until the end of his arbitration years, whether we want to buy out any of his free agent years with a contract or not. The downside of Hardy (like Beltre and Davis) is that he will require trades.

Orlando Hudson (Free Agent 2B) SWIT 779 (805 / 703) 817 (862 / 720)

CRAP = +4 or +2 depending on contract expectations
C = 0 (if we could get him at $32 over 4 yrs) or -2 (if $40 / 4yrs or $30 / 3yrs)
R = -2 (plays ~140 games/yr except for 2008 when he had season-ending wrist surgery)
A = -2 (31 years old)
P = +8 (good production for a middle IF, and Gold Glove defense)

Other Notes: If we pick Hudson up, it would be for his defense up the middle, along with good offense for a 2B. However, this would mean moving Casilla to SS (possibly to compete with Punto or others), which may work (it is Casilla’s natural position, but not one he has played much lately). The nice thing about Hudson beyond his production and defense is that we do not have to give up any trades for him. I could probably add Rafael Furcal to the list of middle infielders (much better SS option than Orlando Cabrera), but he’ll be out of our price range I think.

Casey Blake (Free Agent 3B) RHB 781 (765 / 823) 808 (803 / 823)

CRAP = -1
C = -3 (will be paying him free agent money, but he won’t be expensive for a FA)
R = +5 (seems good for 150 games, has been a Twin before, knows the ALC)
A = -6 (35 years old)
P = +3 (decent production)

Other Notes: I confess to not knowing what to say about Casey Blake except that he’s a good option and likely the kind of signing the Twins would do in the past (maybe slightly better). He is my lowest pick ask a 3B option of those addressed here. However, in a year when 3B options are limited, Casey Blake will have a number of suitors, and he’s a good player. I’d put a maximum offer of 2 years and $18 million and be comfortable with getting him for 2 years and $12million.

Here’s where it gets interesting…
Chris Davis (young Rangers 3B) LHB 952 in Minors 880 (866 / 916)

CRAP = +27
C = +10 (cheapest option available, under team control for cheap for a while)
R = +1 (Young, but unknown… if only I were a scout)
A = +9 (23 years old)
P = +7 (still unknown, but if his minor league numbers are any indication, along with his short MLB season, he should be quite productive).

Other Notes: Davis would be the least proven player out of those highlighted here—the youngest, with only 2/3 of a season in the majors. He’s another LHB to go with Mauer and Morneau, but he’s similar in age to Gomez and Delmon, would be cheap and available for a number of years, and has the potential to hit like a superstar (OPS of .952 in minors compares to Mauer’s .830 and Morneau’s .902). Even if he can’t stay at 3B forever and might need to be moved in a year or two to 1B (pushing Morneau to DH), a corner OF (following Cuddyer), or DH (pushing Kubel out of the picture), the Twins have options. The biggest problem is that according to some Rangers fans’ view, Davis is untouchable, which means trading for him would cost the Twins dearly (maybe Blackburn/Perkins, Boof, Duensing, Pridie, Robertson, and Valencia, maybe even a better package, perhaps with both Blackburn and Perkins, and maybe Boof and Valencia). But the good news is that the Twins and Rangers are trading partners made in heaven (Rangers with great and plentiful batting and troublesome pitching, the Twins with great and plentiful pitching and batting in need of a boost).

Adam Dunn (Free Agent Corner OF/DH) LHB 899 (931 / 833) 899 (951 / 773)

CRAP = +13
C = -6 (maybe -7 given he’s a free agent)
R = +7 (quiet, maybe not a vocal leader, but plays 155+ games/year)
A = +2 (29 years old)
P = +10 (out of the options we have to improve the team’s offense, Dunn is by far the best)

Other Notes: Dunn is going to require a contract much bigger than the Twins have given before, at least on par with Morneau and perhaps even more given that he’s a free agent around (or just passing) his prime. Dunn consistently hits 40 HRs (and I do mean consistently) and has 100 Runs Batted In. While he would be another LHB to go with Mauer and Morneau, his splits are good enough that it wouldn’t matter (he’s as good of a hitter as Morneau). He would offer the kind of protection to Morneau that Twins fans could only dream of in 2008. Landing him would likely mean trading Kubel and perhaps Delmon (to open up an OF/DH spot or two), but this could be addressed in other ways. He would likely add $16-18million per year to our payroll for 4-5 years (similar to Morneau). If we could get him for $64 over 4 yrs, he would be a steal I think. I might try for $75 over 5 years. Basically, if the Twins could move him to the DH (and part time OF) spot while keeping the young cheap guys (and Cuddyer) in the outfield, we could have the best of both worlds in production and defense.

Putting these options together, we have to make sure we don’t end up:
Getting Orlando Cabrera (I don’t like him)
Getting both Dunn and Davis (both great hitters, but both LHB, crowding the corners)
Getting both Hudson and Hardy (we should be able to cover one middle IF internally)
Getting Davis and Blake (both 3B) or Davis and Beltre, etc.

CRAP Summary
First of all, what do you think of the CRAP rating system? Is it helpful to you in making decisions about trades and free agents? There are two alternative formulations I’m considering. One is that you use CRAP for free agents (who require contracts) and TRAP for trade targets (where you have to give up players from your system). The second is a way of combining the two to make CRAPT. It is the same as CRAP but adds in T for Trades (players you’d lose to get the target player). In a way, this does even out some of the desirability of trade targets over Free Agents, and it might end up working.

T = Trade Equations (never positive unless you can get rid of another bad contract)
Davis = -9
Hardy = -5
Beltre = -6
Dunn = 0
Hudson = 0
Blake = 0
Cabrera = 0

CRAP Ranking (as done by me, but you should use the system and rank them yourselves):
Chris Davis +27
JJ Hardy +17 (SS) or +13 (3B)
Adrian Beltre +16
Adam Dunn +13
Orlando Hudson +4
Casey Blake -1
Orlando Cabrera -15

CRAPT Ranking
Chris Davis +18
Adam Dunn +13
JJ Hardy +12 (SS) or +8 (3B)
Adrian Beltre +10
Orlando Hudson +4
Casey Blake -1
Orlando Cabrera -15

Just as importantly as thinking of these CRAPT ratings is to think how another team views our guys and their ratings. This is a reason why Cuddyer, who is a good hitter (in ’06 and ’07) with a reputation for good defense (mostly just his arm) is a difficult player for the Twins to trade after we gave him a bigger contract than he was worth (at least so far—if he returns to ’06 levels in ’09, he’ll improve the contract’s worth).

How do your rankings compare? Who else do you include? Where would someone like Manny fit in? I’m guessing he’ll get a big contract over 4-5 years, that he’s an attitude risk (perhaps injury also, though he’s stayed in good health), he’s old, but he can hit. He might work at DH, but I would rather put my money on Adam Dunn.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Werner Bros. Offseason Guide and Notes: Part I

The following is the first installment of a five part series analyzing the 2009 offseason for the Minnesota Twins. This is another exciting new addition to MVB written by a good friend Brett Werner with help from his brother, Mark Werner. The Werner Brothers (WB) are devoted Twins fans who look at the game in a SABRmetric scope. Brett's detailed analysis will certainly intrigue.

2008 Recap

To consider some trade options for the Twins in the 2008-9 offseason, I start with the Twins 2008 batters and the OPS numbers (On-Base + Slugging). OPS isn’t a perfect statistic (none are), but it does gauge overall productivity pretty well.

Player (position): Bats / CareerOPS (vs. RHP/LHP Split) 2008

Justin Morneau (1B) LHB 846 (899 / 739) 873 (928 / 778)
Joe Mauer (C) LHB 856 (910 / 744) 864 (826 / 939)
Jason Kubel (DH/OF) LHB 771 (790 / 688) 806 (833 / 704)
Delmon Young (LF) RHB 739 (721 / 790) 741 (720 / 791)
Michael Cuddyer (RF) RHB 785 (772 / 812) 699 (700 / 694)
To be fair, Cuddyer was injured in 2008 so … 2007 789 (759 / 865)

Depending on their positions, players have adjusted expectations or benchmarks for OPS. The players who defend the middle (C, 2B, SS, CF) have lower OPS expectations than those playing the corners or not at all (1B, 3B, LF, RF, DH). A player with an OPS of 850 of higher is usually an All-Star (see Mauer and Morneau), much more so if he plays down the middle. A corner player has slightly higher expectations.

OPS - Middle - Corner/DH
600-650 - Defensive Sub - AAA or retirement
650-700 - Off Year? - 4th OF or worse
700-750 - Good, Solid - Off year? Maybe look elsewhere
750-800 - Very good - Solid
800-850 - All-Star - Very Good
850-higher - Superstar, chance at HoF - Extremely good, likely All-Star

Looking closely at batting strengths and weaknesses, 2008 was a decent year because we had three batters with an OPS over 825 (and Morneau over 925) against RHP, but we also had Mauer hitting LHP at a 939 clip (a reversal of his career split, almost 200 points higher against LHPs and 85 points lower against RHPs). Unlike Morneau who has a large split but still quite good on his off-side, a player whose splits make him very good against RHP and bad against LHP (or the reverse) will usually be a platoon player, pinch hitter, or in the minors. A good example of this is Brian Buscher, who did very well against RHP, but awful against LHP (a reason why the Twins can’t afford to keep him as an everyday 3B (he would at least platoon with Harris).

Brian Buscher LHB 708 (764 / 454) 730 (799 / 455)
Brendan Harris RHB 738 (711 / 800) 721 (725 / 714)

If you had enough roster spots to keep both Buscher and Harris, to platoon them at 3B, and they both performed somewhere in between their career and 2008 numbers, you’d have a very good 3B situation (if you could split the OPS at 780 / 775 or so). But finding a 3B who can hit in the 775 (760 / 790), splitting this way in hopes of a RHB as the Twins are LHB heavy. But this is what makes 3B a great place to look to improve your roster. Not only can you use one roster spot rather than two, you might be able to improve on these expectations offensively or defensively.

This also brings up the question of defense. Given that the Twins have a particular team pitching style (throw strikes, don’t walk anyone, let them put it in play), the Twins absolutely need to have a stronger than average defense behind their pitchers, especially up the middle, but everywhere. This is why the Adam Everett signing made sense: even if he batted the way people expected him to (which he did), he’d still have been a good choice for our team if his defense had also been as expected (which it wasn’t). His shoulder injury caused a lot of troubles for the Twins middle infield, but if his shoulder was to improve by 2009, I’d definitely give him a shot (especially if we could improve team OPS elsewhere (Everett’s career OPS is 653, which is only MLB quality with amazing defense, which he had).

Finally, it’s worth noting that if Cuddyer could have stayed healthy and batted fifth with an OPS vs. LHPs of 865 (like he did in ’07) or 894 (like ’06) with solid numbers against RHPs, the team would have been in pretty good shape. Similarly, if Delmon had batted with the upside the Twins Front Office was hoping for, the Twins would have again been in good shape. But any team that faced the Twins this year could use LHPs and pitch around Mauer, leaving the Twins with a bottom of the majors lineup. This is one good reason to hope that the Twins can have another strong year in 2009 even if someone else gets hurt or they can’t keep the team batting average with runners in scoring position above .300 or if any of their young pitchers have a sophomore (or junior) slump.

Off-season Targets

Having given a quick update on what the Twins did this year OPS-wise, I move on to offseason targets and possibilities. There are three ways to “acquire” players in the offseason: (1) sign a free agent, (2) make a trade for players, or (and this is why I put “acquire” in scare quotes) (3) promote from the Minor League System. The Twins are set at 1B, C, OF, and likely 2B (if that’s where Casilla ends up). They have utility infielder options (either Punto or Tolbert), a pair of players destined for a trade or platoon duty in the infield (Harris and Buscher), and a few holes. The Twins are lucky to have one of their better hitters at the Catcher position, which gives them a little flexibility for finding other good hitters (they can look in the normal places and build with batting beyond the corner positions).

The Twins have a well-known history of signing weak free agents (won’t even mention them), but Twins fans can safely expect a better free agent signing this year given that the Twins saved money in 2008 (down to $57 million from $71 million in 2007) with a chance for contracts to go as high as $80 or so million in 2009 and beyond (especially with the new ballpark coming online in 2010). I’ll get to how I generally approach offseason targets in a bit, but here are a few of those targets.

Offseason Target Positions: 3B / SS /RP(?)
Offseason Excesses: OF / SP(?)

The following guys are improving in the Minors at 2B, SS, and 3B (allowing for the possibility of Casilla at SS). They may be options for the Twins to “acquire” them (bring them up from the minors out of spring training or during the year). They are also people that should be considered if we are signing free agents or making trades. Do we keep them around as backup plans (see Punto, Buscher, and Casilla for Everett, Lamb, and Harris). Do we try to trade them, or do we release them? Rather than going into detail for the minor leaguers, I’ll just post their OPS numbers in the Minors and send you to Seth’s site for his take on their performances (I follow these things, but not quite as closely as he does). Look for Gleeman and Baseball Prospectus to have prospect lists sometime soon also.

Luke Hughes (3B/2B/CF, RHB): Seth’s #9 Twins Prospect
Career OPS 746
2008 AAA OPS 936
2008 AA OPS 778

Danny Valencia (3B, RHB): Seth’s #4 Twins Prospect
Career OPS 846
2008 AA OPS 920
2008 A+ OPS 819
2008 AZ Fall OPS 488 (in only 20 ABs so far)

Trevor Plouffe (SS, RHB): Seth’s #11 Twins Prospect
Career OPS 699
2008 AAA OPS 712
2008 AA OPS 735

Plouffe doesn’t look like he can bat well enough to play everyday in the Majors. Both Hughes and Valencia have shown some promise somewhere along the way in the minors, but only Valencia appears to be the kind of hitter the Twins need on the left side of the infield. Valencia may be ready in 2009, but is likely a better bet for 2010, which means maybe the Twins should go after a 3B for one year (or stick with the platoon option mentioned above). If we trade for a younger player, we might want to use Valencia as part of the trading equation. The question is: how do the options mentioned to this point stack up against the guys below?

Offseason Target Players
(Status, Position, Bats) OPS (vs RHP/LHP Split) 2008

Orlando Cabrera (Free Agent SS, RHB) 721 (713 / 744) 705 (688 / 754)
Adrian Beltre (1 year left on contract 3B, RHB) 786 (779 / 806) 784 (704 / 994)
JJ Hardy (Arb Elig Brewers SS, RHB) 775 (716 / 938) 821 (764 / 977)
Orlando Hudson (Free Agent 2B, SWIT) 779 (805 / 703) 817 (862 / 720)
Casey Blake (Free Agent 3B, RHB) 781 (765 / 823) 808 (803 / 823)
Chris Davis (young Rangers 3B, LHB) Minors 952 (? / ?) 880 (866 / 916)
Adam Dunn (Free Agent Corner OF/DH, LHB) 899 (931 / 833) 899 (951 / 773)

The top five are guys I’ve seen mentioned on other blogs and news sites. My most worrisome moments are when the Star Tribune guys are talking up Orlando Cabrera. I wish that more fans and blogs were talking up the guys I’d like to see the Twin pick up via trade or free agency. My preferred order would be: Chris Davis, Adam Dunn, JJ Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Casey Blake, and Orlando Cabrera. Out of the names on this list, I would be most disappointed if the Twins signed Cabrera given the full package of expected contract, the risk (attitude and injury), his age, and his production/performance.

Come back tomorrow for part II of Brett's series to hear about potential offseason acquisitions, including Brett's own developed model to observe potential gain/loss to acquiring new players.