Sunday, April 13, 2008

Twins Notes from The Sidler

I'm back to talk Twins, even though I haven't had a chance to watch over half of their games.  It looks like I'm really down on the squad, but that's not entire true, I just have low expectations and some of those are being met.

1. STOP BUNTING.  For the love of God, just because a player is fast doesn't mean he should try to lay down a bunt 1/2 his at-bats.  Gomez isn't going to develop much power at this rate.  Guys like Rod Carew and Brett Butler got on base 50-60% of the time on a bunt hit attempt, but other speedsters like Chone Figgins and Harold Reynolds have been far less successful (think 15-20% in their worst seasons).  Gomez isn't Puntonian squaring around to bunt, but he's far from a sure thing.  Sadly, it isn't just Gomez laying down bunts too often.  Funny that the bunting leads directly to my next two points...

2. The Twins offense is letting pitchers off the hook.  Bunting the first pitch back to the pitcher doesn't help...take a pitch or two, fellas.  I know this is going to bring out the "walks are for pussies" crowd, but it seems like opposing pitchers are getting through 6 innings with 70 pitches on a nightly basis.  For a team that focuses on how bad walks are for their own pitchers, the Twins sure don't seem interested in how it can help their offense.

3. Where is the extra-base power?  No right-handed HR yet, only two guys with HR, and a 28th ranked Slugging % and HR total.  Unfortunately they're also bottom-third when it comes to doubles and triples.  Of course bunting twice every time through the lineup will knock the SLG% down quite a bit...  This team has also been ridiculously ground ball heavy so far, led by Delmon "Tyner" Young.  Just think how much worse it would be without The Kube. 

4. I'm thrilled with Livan's performance so far, but I'm sticking with the Livan ERA > 6 prediction.  Remember this--Razor Ramon Ortiz had a 2.57 ERA at the end of April last year and was mercifully removed from the rotation in mid-June after his ERA ballooned to 5.75.

5. The infield defense has taken a step back.  Punto's much better than Lamb at 3B and Castillo was much better than Harris.  Tolbert isn't really a SS, but he's worse than Bartlett and Everett hasn't been as impressive as I thought he'd be.

6.  Twins broadcasting is terrible; maybe I should say baseball coverage in this town sucks.  Dick & Bert are ridiculously bad, Gladden should never do play-by-play on the radio (otherwise I don't mind the actual radio broadcast), and KSTP has a bunch of grade-A morons providing their "analysis."

7.  The young pitchers are showing some positive signs.  I'm only writing about one of them, but Baker and Bonser have been solid, too.  Blackburn's minor league stats and peripherals suggest he's a 4/5 starter, but if he can keep striking guys out at the rate he is, he can be much more than that and he's one of the few groundball pitchers on the roster.


r. coomer said...

God you're a negative nancy. They are 6-6 and in the thick of the early division race and have a bunch of young players who look promising. Enjoy it for what it is, don't gripe about all the little things you don't like.

"You don't look at the things you have, you only look at the things you don't have." - Rob, "Swingers"

WWWWWW said...

The good news is the American League Central and the AL in general looks pretty wide open this year.

The bad news is that the Twins need to improve in a lot of areas if they're going to contend. There's no question they're doing well right now, and they are performing to their pythagorean W-L projection thus far ( a stat that projects what a team's record should be based on runs scored and allowed) but there are some glaring holes that I believe won't allow the Twins anywhere near the playoffs unless they fix them.

The team ranks 25th in runs, 26th in HRs, 28th in OBP, 28th in slugging, and 29th in OPS. Of course, on the flipside they rank 6th in ERA, 3rd in OBP against, 8th in OPS against, 3rd in WHIP, and first in K/BB.

If you believe this pitching staff can keep it up, they have a chance. I'm out in New Jersey and have beer in the room, so I'll probably drink some beer and type more later.

Anonymous said...

Stupid Blogger isn't working right, so I can't sign in as The Sidler...

YES! I always enjoy buzzed W posts!

I wish I could be more positive, but I just can't. Despite the .500 record, there really aren't any positives, statistically speaking, other than the pitching and Kubel (and he's just better than the rest of the options).

The offense is awful and while it will improve, it isn't going to be much better compared to the rest of the league--this is a bottom-5 offense. And I don't expect the pitching to maintain this pace, particularly Livan on a Prayer.

That = more losses than wins

One non-statistical positive is that Go-Go Gomez is damn exciting to watch. Even this soulless analytical mind enjoys watching him steal bases despite the marginal benefit.

Anonymous said...

Again, stop with the fucking bunts. Awful execution by Gomez on multiple occasions tonight.

I didn't expect Blackburn to regress to the mean in the span of one inning...