Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I didn't get to finish the Demographic Surveys last night because I just had to watch the two-hour season finale of October Road (Great Show!). There were several things that people found both positive and negative. On one hand, sometimes people are frustrated that you rarely see a real strong opinion thrown here, rarely controversial. On the other hand, many others seemed to see the site as a place with a more positive tone than found other places. I think I have the reason for that, and it is really all about perspective.
Something about me that you may know if you've been reading here for some time is that I don't overreact to many decisions. Don't get me wrong. That doesn't mean I'm not passionate about the Twins, not at all. However, I choose to look at things from several different angles before determining my opinion. I like to think that I do that in my daily life as well. But things happen, decisions get made, lineups are written up, roster changes are determined, and the list goes on and on. When it comes to baseball, I think that every decision has to be considered from no fewer than seven perspectives, and believe me, I am certain you could come up with more.
I have been a baseball fan as long as I can remember. There are pictures of me in a living room in a diaper with the TV in the background on a baseball game. I collected baseball cards from the time I was six and even occasionally still buy some. I also am an analytical person and that's why, I think, I can look at many perspectives before determining how I really feel about any topic. Sometimes people want a more rash decision. Sometimes it is better to be a little more rational.
I am going to start a potential on-going series called Seven Perspectives in which I will take Twins topics (or other baseball related issues) and try to look through the eyes of seven people or groups. I am not saying I know exactly what each person is thinking. I don't have any inside information on any of this. It is really just my opinions on what I think their thoughts and opinions may be. So, what are the groups?
First, ownership. Obviously that is a person or group that has a role.
Second, the General Manager. That is Bill Smith for the Twins and he had a lot of very difficult decisions to make in the offseason.
Third is the manager, and as you know for the Twins, that is Ron Gardenhire. I have done plenty of coaching in previous years and try to always understand what a manager is thinking at any time.
I think the GM and the Manager are the two perspectives that make baseball blogs live. Second-guessing is a big part of the game and we all want to be a GM or Manager and make decisions. Those are definitely interesting and very important perspectives.
Next, would be the players' perspective.
SABRmetricians always have an opinion and one that gets viewed a lot on blogs. Statistics are obviously very important in baseball.
In-Season Only Fans - These are the people that we all know that like to say they are Twins fans, but just the other day they asked you who this 'Brandon' Harris guy is. They're the ones that clearly read the newspaper article or watched a couple of innings of the game the night before and have opinions on why Matt Guerrier was brought in to face Alex Rodriguez in a one run game in the 7th inning. I think we all know a few examples of these.
SethSpeaks - I think that bloggers and those who frequent sites to find Twins news year-round have a tendency to fall into several of the above categories with their opinions. For me, I'm a fan of the Twins first. I want the team to do well. I do think that stats are important and that there are times where they should be used. I also understand that sometimes a manager makes a decision based on something he feels at a particular time. There is room for that in baseball. I have my opinions, but I like to think that I can back them up and speak to them in part because I understand what other parties are thinking.
So today, in the first Seven Perspectives column, I am going to discuss the Twins CF situation. I would welcome your thoughts and opinions as I understand that neither my opinion or any one of the above perspectives exactly mirrors your opinion and we are all welcome to our thoughts and opinions, so be sure to post yours in the Comments below. Also, please let me know what you think about this series and even what other positions or questions we could consider using this methodology.
CF position Ė Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, Jason Pridie
Owner Ė I donít really care. I mean, I know I gave Span $1.75 million almost five years ago, and I would hate to get no return on that investment. But I also know that we traded Johan Santana and need something to show for it right away or we have a potential issue with fan backlash.
GM Ė Denard Span has been in our system for a long time. It would be nice to show him some loyalty. But Carlos Gomez is the gem of our trade of Santana. Fans wonít understand if none of the players we got for the two-time Cy Young winner even made the opening day roster. But, if we keep Gomez in the minors for 2-3 more months, we get an extra year of Gomez at the pre-arbitration rate. We picked up Jason Pridie to compete for the centerfield job in case we did not get a good offer for Santana and decided to just keep him. In reality though, we knew that we would trade Santana and that a centerfielder would be part of any deal. Pridie becomes a stop gap in center or in the worst case, heís an upgrade over Jason Tyner as the teamís potential fourth outfielder.
Manager Ė I need to win now. I hate losing. Last year was tough, being under .500 for the first time in my tenure as Twins manager. So, I want to put the player out there who will give us the best chance to win. Who is that? Iím still not sure. Denard Span has speed and he knows how we do things here. He plays very solid defense in CF. He is probably the best pure leadoff hitter of the three but he still isnít great with the bat and despite his speed, he isnít a great base runner. Jason Pridie is solid and plays really good defense. Like Span, not a great arm. With the bat, he has an idea of what he is doing in each at bat. He has a little pop. He can play all three OF positions. Carlos Gomez is immensely talented. He is the fastest player in baseball and does a nice job on the base paths. That speed will really help cover the gaps and he has a strong , albeit uncontrolled, arm. Offensively, he wonít take a lot of walks, but he hacks and he can hit the gaps. He just swings and misses a bit much for me right now. He will be a good one though.
Players Ė We want to win now too. We need a CF and a leadoff hitter. We want the player that will give us the best chance to win. However, we also want someone who will fit into our clubhouse. We know Denard. We like Denard. He is a great guy and a great teammate. But Pridie is certainly solid and Carlos Gomez has some pretty impressive talents!
SABRmetricians Ė Jason Pridie had not posted an OPS of over 797 since he 2002 in rookie league. He doesnít take a lot of walks, posting an Isolated Discipline of right around .050. Last year was really the first time he showed much pop in his bat. But his best performance came in his half season at AAA when he had 30 extra base hits in just 63 games. So, who is the real Jason Pridie? Aside from 49 games in Ft. Myers, Span has not had an OPS of over 700 in any of his stops. He does do a decent job of getting on base when he doesnít get a hit, the problem has been in batting average. No power. Think Juan Pierre. Ouch! Carlos Gomez walks about as much as Pridie. He swings a lot. He also swings and misses too much for a leadoff hitter. Scouts keep saying that he will develop power. But to this point in his young career, Gomez has not shown much power. In fact, he has not posted an OPS of over .780 at any of his stops. Of course, the Mets have pushed him very fast, probably too fast, so his struggles at the Major League level make a lot of sense. However, SABRmetrics would also tell us that none of these three options profiles into having a very good 2008 season for the Twins.
In-Season Only Fans Ė Well, when I watched the game on TV the other day, Dick and Bert told me that Carlos Gomez came over in the Johan Santana trade, so he better make the team. They also says he has a lot of tools but a lot to learn. Denard Span walked four times and we need a leadoff hitter. Heís also really fast. They barely said anything about Jason Pridie except that he was with the Twins, in spring training, two years ago. But if he wasnít good enough then, why would he be now. Phil Miller wrote an article on him a couple months ago that I saw while looking for a story about the Vikings that made him sound alright though. But there have been a ton of articles written this spring about how Span is going to show that he should be the starter. So, maybe he can!
SethSpeaks Ė With the season less than three weeks away, I still donít have a complete answer to this question. I do have several thoughts though. Clearly the future is Carlos Gomez. He is the fastest player in baseball and that means great things on defense and on offense. His swing tells me that he will hit for some power in his career. I also acknowledge that he has things he can work on and he isnít ready to be great right now. When you also consider the financial benefit of sending Gomez down to the minors for a couple of months, it makes the most sense to do that. It could also be the best thing for his long-term future to get a little bit better. I still donít completely buy what Jason Pridie did offensively in 2007, particularly in AAA. I do believe that he will be a very solid baseball player. I certainly think he is significantly better offensively and defensively (even now) than Jason Tyner ever was. Heís got three options remaining so he could move up and down in 2008 and take over the full-time fourth OF spot in 2009. Denard Span. I truly believe that another half-season of AAA might be the best thing for him. I think that what he did in the second half of the season makes him worth remembering. I also think that for those couple of months that Denard Span probably makes the most sense. My reasoning has more to do with the ďotherĒ things that a lot of times I donít agree with. I think that Gomez should spend two months in the season for financial reasons. I think that the difference between what Span could do for two months and what Pridie could do for two months are negligible. For that reason, I think that the Twins should go with what they know. This is Spanís seventh season in the Twins organization. Most of the core players on the Twins roster have played with him at some point. Span would fit in. He would be given a shot. He could showcase his skills. And in two months, letís see where we are and at that time, put the best option in terms of talent out there on the Twins field.
So, what do you think? Of course, my opinion is also subject to change or adjustment over the next three weeks, and so is yours. Thoughts on the Twins CF position battle, or the Seven Perspectives series?