Wednesday August 6, 2003
Discussion of the Week
I recently read that the definition of a BLOG (or web log) is to take and share some information and discuss it. Today, I chose to take a look at the new issue of Baseball America and share my thoughts on their Best Tools rankings of Twins players. I know I don’t go into too much depth on stats and stuff like that, but I just like the raw information.
In the book Moneyball, Michael Lewis writes about how Billy Beane will draft based on statistics and on-base percentage and not on “tools.” Billy Beane was a high school player with all the tools when he was drafted in the first round of the 1980 draft. He didn’t have what it takes to be a major leaguer.
He struggled in the minor leagues and eventually made it to the big leagues and struggled even more there. When he was through with one of his contracts, instead of signing another minor league contract, he asked to be put into a front office position. A few years later, he was the A’s General Manager, and is working with a new philosophy that, because of the book, is now the talk of baseball circles. A philosophy based on stats that he deems important to the organization.
By contrast now, the “old school” baseball scouts look for tools. How fast can the player run? How fast can a pitcher throw? It’s all about project-ability. How good do they envision that player being in the big leagues? Baseball America in the past year has been debating back and forth as to which is better to project the future of a player, ‘tools’ or ‘stats’?
Each year, Baseball America polls the managers of all of the major league teams on many of the “tools” of the game. Best hitter, Best Power Hitter. Best Baserunner, Fastest Baserunner. Best Fastball, Best Curveball, Best control. Best Infielder and Outfielder. Best Infield Arm and Outfield Arm. And many more.
I’m just going to look at where the Twins players rank (BA ranks the top 3 in different categories) and briefly discuss my thoughts on them. So here we go:
Hitting categories - No Twins hitters made the list. Surprise! Surprise, huh?
Baserunning categories - No Twins make the lists. Cristian Guzman has made the “Fastest Baserunner” top 3 list the last few years, but it’s hard to argue with Ichiro, Carl Crawford or Rocco Baldelli!
Pitching categories -
Kenny Rogers ranks as having the #3 Best Pickoff Move, behind the Yankees Andy Pettite, and the Indians Brian Anderson. Pettite will always rank #1, so being on the list is still very good!
Defensive Categories - Now this is where the Twins showed up!
Best Defensive First Baseman - #1 - Doug Mientkiewicz (ahead of John Olerud and Scott Spiezio) - It’s interesting that he is #1 again this year. It is really sad that offensive output does, in fact, play a role in the rankings of defensive categories. Mientkiewicz is again having a good offensive year, so his defense is more appreciated!
Best Defensive Second Baseman - #3 - Luis Rivas (behind Bret Boone and Mike Young) - Rivas has little range, despite his speed, but since the All-Star break, since he’s been hitting better, and his defense has definitely improved too. Aside from Boone, I don’t think anyone makes the pivot better on the double-play.
Best Defensive Third Baseman - #3 - Corey Koskie (behind Eric Chavez and Troy Glaus) - I think Koskie has turned into a great defensive third baseman (regardless of his 2 errors last night!). I think that Eric Chavez is the best defensive third baseman, but I would put Koskie ahead of Glaus. Glaus just has a better arm, and maybe that’s what puts him ahead of Koskie.
Best Defensive Outfielder - #2 - Torii Hunter (behind Ichiro, ahead of Mike Cameron) - Despite his pitiful offensive year, Hunter remains the best CF in the AL (my opinion), and this poll shows that too. It’s hard to compare a RF in Ichiro to a CF like Hunter and Cameron.
Best Outfield Arm - #3 - Torii Hunter (Behind Ichiro and Raul Mondesi) - Now that Mondesi is in the National League, Hunter would essentially be the #2, although, Jose Guillen is the #2 Outfield Arm in the NL, and he’s now in the American League. Anyway, I think Torii Hunter has a rocket for an arm. So, I think he warrants this spot.
So, was anyone missed? I don’t think so. In the past, Rick Reed and Brad Radke have appeared on the Best Control list. Two years ago, Joe Mays was the #3 Best Pitcher in the American League (remember when…???) But, clearly no pitchers deserve to be on any of the lists.
I should note here that I love Baseball America. I can see major league highlights on Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter, major magazines, the internet, but I am also interested in prospects, minor leaguers, the draft, and for that information, Baseball America is the best source!
Moving on to the Minor League portion of the Best Tools portion of the current issue of Baseball America. Managers from the minor league leagues rated the tools of the minor league players within their league.
AAA International League
This one should come as no surprise to any Twins fans. Justin Morneau was named the Best Power Prospect. Morneau spent about six weeks in the major leagues starting in June, and after getting off to a hot start, Ron Gardenhire suddenly stopped playing him, completely ruining his hitting! Finally, and mercifully, Morneau was sent down to AAA again. Since returning to Rochester, he is now 3-27 hitting (.111), thanks to the wonderful tutelage of Ron Gardenhire and Scott Ullger.
AA Eastern League
Jesse Crain was named as having the Best Fastball and being the Best Reliever. Again, Twins fans who pay attention to the minor leagues have see Crain move from single-A, to double-A, and is now continuing to pitch well, and dominating, in AAA. Last week, before the trade deadline, I wrote that the Twins should have traded Eddie Guardado to the Atlanta Braves for Wilson Betemit and a non-Adam Wainwright pitching prospect. Here’s why I wrote that it makes sense for the Twins:
“What could the Twins do at closer for the rest of this year? One option is obviously LaTroy Hawkins. He’s a far better pitcher now than when he lost his closer job to Guardado in 2001. But, I think the Twins should take a shot and call up Jesse Crain! I would love to have a guy come in to close games who throws 98! He’s moved quickly up the Twins farm system and is continuing his dominance in AAA. It’s time! I see this trade as the Twins saving some money, not losing much in their bullpen, and getting a couple of prospects as well. “
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Twins give Crain a September call up!
A Florida State League
Joe Mauer was named the Best Batting Prospect and the Best Defensive Catcher. A pretty good foundation for a potential big-time star! Great hitter, great catcher! Mauer moved up to AA after the Florida St. League All-Star game and is hitting about .360 up there! The feature story of the Double-A section is on Joe Mauer moving up to that level and not missing a beat! His hitting was obvious, that was going to happen. Manager Stan Cliburn, a former major league catcher, is more impressed with his defensive skills and game calling and his leadership.
JD Durbin was credited as having the Best Fastball. After posting great numbers, he was called up to AA with Mauer and has continued his success there!
Jason Kubel was named as having the Best Outfield Arm. Kubel is another in the long line of good outfield prospects that Twins have throughout their farm system.
So, there is a brief summary of how the Twins fared in the Best Tools issue of Baseball America. I always find it interesting to see where Twins players rank.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on today’s posting. Let me know if such topics are of interest to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Send me an e-mail!
Last night, I watched ESPN’s Dan Patrick argue with Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban, about the comments the billionaire owner made regarding the Kobe Bryant situation. To paraphrase, Cuban basically said that the Bryant situation was good for the financial side of the NBA.
He is being bashed in the media for those comments, but I think part of the reason for that is because he is Mark Cuban. My opinion is that Cuban was right. Especially considering that he is stressing that he doesn’t think what Bryant did was right at all, and from an image standpoint, it hurts. But, the NBA is now in the news every single day, even in the offseason. It’s good for shoe companies finances, and it’ll be good for the television networks that discuss the NBA. Having one of the biggest names of the league talked about every day throughout the off-season can only be good for the financial well-being of the league.
I totally understand that Commissioner David Stern had to react as he did. What Bryant is accused of doing is very wrong, and it would be wrong for an owner to suggest at all that it is OK. However, that is not what Cuban is doing. He’s not advocating that type of action in the least.
I think that this story has been blown far out of proportion, and it’s something the media really shouldn’t waste its time on!
New Buck Leader
Terry Porter is expected to be named the new coach of the Milwaukee Bucks today, replacing the recently released George Karl. I think this is a great hiring. Porter has had just one year of time as an assistant coach following a great career. But, Porter was always known as being such a great leader on the court, that I think becoming an NBA head coach was just in his future. And, that future apparently will begin today!
Also, don’t forget the Question of the Week! I’d love to get even more responses to the following questions, so please e-mail me your thoughts before Thursday!
1.) If you could go back in time and have a conversation with any former major league player, who is now deceased, who would you most want to talk to, and what questions would you ask?
2.) If you could talk to one former big leaguer, who is still alive, who would you talk to, and what would you most want to know?
3.) If you could talk to one current major league ball player, who would it be, and what would you ask?
I think these are really interesting questions. I have received some great responses on these questions, and I’d love to get more.
So again, here are the “rules”:
1.) Think through the above questions.
2.)with your thoughts.
3.) That’s it! It’s that simple. You can then just keep checking back to this site for an upcoming article where I will use some of the responses I get.
Have a great Wednesday!
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