Even in the midst of this very exciting Gopher basketball season, and a fun college hoops season in general, the other day I found myself looking forward to opening day for YOUR Minnesota Twins (This is Twins Territory, after all). Perhaps influenced a bit by the Hall of Fame Inductions today, whereupon the inimitable Rickey Henderson and overrated Jim Rice got in, but our very own beloved birthday-lover and compulsive circler Bert Blyleven fell short again, I am very much in a baseball mood.
I don't really feel like breaking down the arguments for and against Blyleven (should be in), Black Jack Morris (out), Tim Raines (in), Tommy John (out), Mark McGwire (in), Andre Dawson (out), Lee Smith (out), Alan Trammell (in) and the rest. I also can't really break down any major Twins happenings, since that roster has seen less action than the Todd so far this winter. The only moves of even the slightest note were the Punto signing, which shouldn't have happened - not for that much money, and the R.A. Dickey signing which I already blogged about, less than enthusiastically. Although I could mention that the Egyptian was on the same plane as Punto last month, and unfortunately couldn't quite place who he was, at one point wondering if he was mildly retarded.
So what's a brother to do? I think I'll just play around with both baseball reference and Minor League Ball and see what happens. I should also note I'm having a drink right now (vodka & cranberry - with lime - naturally) but I don't plan to get drunk so this probably won't be all that funny.
- Speaking of funny, don't forget that we here at Down with Goldy are proud sponsors of the Scott Stahoviak page at baseball reference.
- Do you know who is the career leader in home runs amongst Hall of Fame eligible players other than Mark McGwire? It's Jose Canseco, with 462 steroid-free home runs. Ozzie Canseco hit zero; although he did hit 49 in his minor-league career. I read his book by the way, Jose's not Ozzie's, and it was ok. There's no review of it on this page because I finished it on February 13, 2007 but didn't start the blog until April of 2007. It was mostly Jose bitching about how the league didn't treat him fairly, very much like the Pete Rose book, actually. A lot of whining in both.
- If you're wondering how I know the exact date I finished the Canseco book, it's because I keep a very nerdy list in Excel detailing all the books I read. Yes, I'm fully aware how nerdy that is, but I don't care. For the record, it was 52 books in 2006, 62 in 2007, 43 in 2008 (stupid baby), and 1 so far this year (Zero: the biography of a dangerous idea by Charles Seife - if you like math I fully recommend it, if you're a typical mouth-breather who reads this crappy blog, stay far way and stick to your Maxim).
- The non-HOFer with the most career RBI is Harold Baines with 1,628 which surprises me a bit. He had more RBI in his career than George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, Joe DiMaggio, Tris Speaker, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, and Jim Rice, among many others. That's impressive. More impressive if RBI was a stat that wasn't so largely dependent on good teammates and opportunity, but still.
- Corey Koskie had more RBI in his career than Mike Pagliarulo, although Pags kicks the Canadian's ass in non-sensical blog entries.
- How about batting average, since I know you people are so in love with it. Don't have to look far down the list, as Lefty O'Doul ranks fourth all-time with a career average of .349 and he is not a HOFer. Pretty good player, but was only around for like seven years or so, amassing just 1,140 career hits. He was basically Matt Holliday if Holliday's career ended right now, but with a higher average and slightly less power.
- By the way, I just want to let it be known that Luke Harangody cannot guard Samardo Samuels, and I mean at all.
- How about OPS+, that's a good one. You know who the top 5 guys in OPS+ all-time are? Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig, and Rogers Hornsby. Yeah, it's a pretty good talent evaluator. Interestingly, Albert Pujols ranks tied for seventh on that list, I guess he's been pretty decent. The leader not in the hall of fame is Pete Browning, with an OPS+ of 162 which is tied with McGwire and better than Stan Musial, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Of course, Browning's last game was played in 1894 so his numbers are a bit weird, although his 9 home runs in 1885 were third in the American Association.
- Here's something interesting I stumbled upon: Ned Williamson hit 27 home runs in a 112 game season in 1884 for the Chicago White Stockings, a record that stood for 35 years until some fat ass named Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. However, "Williamson benefited from a very short outfield fence in his home ballpark, Lakeshore Park. During the park's previous years, balls hit over the fence in that park were ground-rule doubles, but in 1884 (its final year) they were credited as home runs. Williamson led the pace, but several of his Chicago teammates also topped the 20 HR mark that season. Of Williamson's total, 25 were hit at home, and only 2 on the road." Interesting, looking a bit deeper, the previous year he had just 2 home runs, but 49 doubles. I'm guessing most of those were at home.
- I love how the parks were all quirky back in the day, which is why I loved the crazy hill in center field at Enron, but nothing could compare to the Baker Bowl. The home park of the Phillies until 1938, the Baker Bowl had a wall in right field that made the Green Monster look like a little girl. It was 60 feet high and was just 280 feet from home plate, compared to the Monster which is just 37 feet high and 310 feet away. So it was about 20 feet higher and 30 feet closer than the Green Monster. Crazy. And basically the reason Chuck Klein destroyed the league from 1929 - 1933.
- Ok, enough about with the history lesson. Let's take a page from Doc Brown's book and look to the future, but I warn you it's bleak.
- The Twins top 20 prospect list is out from John Sickels of Minor League Ball, and I warn you it ain't pretty. Look:
1) Ben Revere, OF, Grade B+: Picking between Revere and Hicks is tough, but I went with the guy with the bigger track record. Kenny Lofton possibilities here.
2) Aaron Hicks, OF, Grade B+. Could flip with Revere due to higher power ceiling.
3) Wilson Ramos, C, Grade B: Good glove, strong bat.
4) Shooter Hunt, RHP, Grade B: Some worries about his command.
5) Danny Valencia, 3B, Grade B-: Might have strike zone problems.
6) Jose Mijares, LHP, Grade B-: Terrific arm, erratic, has command and personality issues.
7) Kevin Mulvey, RHP, Grade B-: Exact opposite of Mijares, okay stuff but with strong command and makeup.
8) Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, Grade B-: Not going to bet against this guy after the Twins proved to be right about Revere.
9) Rob Delaney, RHP, Grade B-: Is this too high? Should he be a C+?
10) Chris Parmalee, OF, Grade C+: Got hurt, low batting average, but still young, lots of power and walks.
11) Angel Morales, OF, Grade C+: Great tools, power, but plate discipline a big problem.
12) David Bromberg, RHP, Grade C+: High ERA masks strong K/IP ratio, looks interesting to me.
13) Tyler Robertson, LHP, Grade C+: Would rank higher if not for arm problems.
14) Anthony Slama, RHP, Grade C+: Good solid relief arm.
15) Luke Hughes, 3B, Grade C+: Worried about the strike zone with this one.
16) Anthony Swarzak, RHP, Grade C+: Check out the component marks in Triple-A; they are more important than the pretty ERA.
17) Steven Tolleson, INF, Grade C+: Intriguing player, could rank higher depending on what you want to emphasize.
18) Jeff Manship, RHP, Grade C+: Could have been victim of bad luck in Double-A, as K/IP and K/BB remained steady.
19) Jason Pridie, OF, Grade C+: Interesting mix of strengths and weaknesses, still seem him as a fourth outfielder.
20) Charles Nolte, RHP, Grade C+: Favorite of ground ball fetishists.
21) Bobby Lanigan, RHP, Grade C+: Sleeper from the 2008 draft.
Before I talk about who is on this list, let's talk about who is NOT on this list: Deolis Guerra. Remember him? The second big prospect from the Santana trade (other than Carlos Gomez who Snacks says has the most talent of any Twin and that includes Mauer and Morneau) who was ranked the #2 prospect in the Mets system by Baseball Prospectus and instantly became the #1 Twins prospect? Uh, yeah, it's not good. A little deeper digging shows that Guerra had some serious problems this season, not just in his numbers - 5.47 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, disgusting 1-1 BB/K ratio - but also in his mechanics and ability. Apparently his fastball has fallen down to the 86-88 miles per hour range, and had several starts where he didn't touch 90 on the gun. What this means is the Twins pretty much traded Sandy Koufax for Vince Coleman, Les Straker, Brien Taylor (or Todd Van Poppel), and David West. THAT'S SO AWESOME.
- Should I live blog a movie again? I enjoy doing it, but is it entertaining to read?
- Back to that Santana trade, it looks like Mulvey still has a shot at least, coming in as the #7 prospect, but Humber is nowhere to be found. THAT IS ALSO SO AWESOME.
- #15 on the list, 3B-man Luke Hughes is intriguing, mostly because he was first pointed out to me by Dawger in this post. As Sickels mentions, Hughes strikes out a ton (once every 3.8 ABs last year in AA/AAA) but he still really made some leaps in hitting the baseball last year. With the black hole that seemingly will not be filled at third base, if he can duplicate his AA numbers from last year (.319/.385/.551 and 15 homers in 285 ABs) at AAA this year, we could see him with the big club. I guarantee he's better than Tony Batista.
- #11 on the list Angel Morales could be an absolute stud. He's just 18 years old, but led the Appalachian League in home runs last season with 15 in 183 at bats, racking up a line of .301/.413/.623. Seventy-two strikouts in 185 at bats is a bit troubling, but he can hit for average, takes walks, and hits for power and to the gaps. Keep your eye out for this dude.
- Lastly, you'll notice Jason Pridie at #19 despite sucking badly. Eduardo Morlan, who the Twins traded back to Tampa in that deal, checks in at #13 for the Rays and continues to put up excellent numbers as a reliever in the minors. That's depressing. Not as depressing as Matt Garza winning NLCS MVP, but still.