Friday, September 23, 2005
One More E-mail
Seth's Cy Young Thoughts
Seth's Big Bat Thoughts
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
MAILBAG AND MORE...
Good Morning! There are a number of fairly diverse topics here today. There will be plenty of e-mails from readers. I answer a couple of questions that I thought were very interesting directly. There are some Twins Thoughts. I have my thoughts and predictions on the Vikings game this weekend against the Saints. And as with all Friday's during the football season, our NFL "Expert" Picks are back for Week 3. I really hope that you enjoy it today. If you have any thoughts or comments or questions, please e-mail me. Have a great weekend!
From time to time, I like to do a Mailbag issue. Every day, you come to this site and read my thoughts on different topics related to the Twins or other topics. Well, sometimes, I think it is good to turn the tables. I love to hear your thoughts and opinions on different topics too. I won't claim to agree or disagree with them all, but if you have an opinion you would ever want to share, please e-mail me and tell me what you think. You never know, you may get published. This week, I had a few main articles to go with other sports thoughts. Tuesday, I discussed Jesse Crain's lack of strikeouts. Wednesday, I did my analysis on the pitching performance of Francisco Liriano and followed that up on Thursday with a look at Scott Baker's pitching performance. You had some thoughts on each of those, and more, so let's get to them, and thank you again to everyone who makes doing this site so enjoyable for me by interacting with me via the e-mails.
YOUR JESSE CRAIN THOUGHTS
Great post today on Crain. I don't have any answers for you, but it appears that the Twins are near the bottom of the league in K/9 at 5.8. Crain is not alone for low K/9 numbers:
and not to be excluded,
It seems that the starters, other than Santana, largely don't strike guys out. The first-line relievers, other than Crain, do.
Maybe Crain could be a starter down the road??
I'm ambivalent towards K's by the starters, frankly. I like Silva's game where he works fast and gets everyone to hit it on the ground. Relievers need to K people in order to work out of jams, though, so maybe Crain is walking a fine line unless he is used only to start innings or with no one on base.
Interestingly, though, a quick check of his splits tells me he's still quite effective with runners on base (OPS against = .600). But he tends to walk guys WAY, WAY more often (about 6x!) when there are men on base compared to bases empty.
It looks like Silva and Crain may be the only ones back next year, though, and the others should be replaced by guys with higher K rates. So the Twins will probably move up in that category next year.
I like you have been a fan of Crain's since watching him in the playoffs while at Houston. I also don't have a clue about the lack of K's. On the other hand, if we have a reliever that wins 8-10 games vs. 3-4 losses each year with an era of 2 something or better...do we care? I know that in some instances a K can be big...but he has done a wonderful job his first full year in the league.
Also, his numbers this year would be unbelievable if Romero hadn't let every guy he put on base score...there is a real problem for this team (JC). Plus, this is just instincts talking...but haven't most of his few bad outings been in the second inning of an appearance?
Interesting summary of Jesse Crain. I will say that I heard they changed something about his form that makes him a more Carlos Silva type pitcher. Because he can often come on with men on base (in fact, this year he's come in for situations that included 40 men left on base by the previous pitcher, and he's only allowed 11 of them to score), he needs to be as efficient as possible in getting outs. This year he had a six-pitch inning, that included two hits, and two balls. Not quite as impressive as Silva's three-pitch inning that included a hit, but still very, very impressive to those of us who like odd stats.
However, I think you might be onto something with control, too, because of late he's seemed to walk a larger number of people. Let me check my stats again...28, 6 intentional. In all fairness, both Romero and Rincon have walked more guys in less innings and Jesse has a lower ERA than both of them. However, I also note here that Jesse is the only pitcher to have walked more guys than he's struck out--25--which raises the eyebrows for me. On the other hand, Santana has sixty quadrillion strikeouts, but also has 40 walks to go with it.
I'm not sure if his K rate needs to be corrected. However he manages to do it, he's getting the outs. Again, I am a tad concerned about his walk rate, because he's a pitcher that allows the ball to get into play. There's too much room for balls to get through the infield (as I witnessed in his loss in KC), or sacrifice hits. Walks given up by Twins pitchers seem to haunt.
I don't think he should be traded by any means. I also don't think he's ready for a closer role. In fact, I think that role's been dropped from his foreseeable future; as a middle-relief/clean-up man, he's doing his job. If you're looking for K's, look to the gentleman who is scheduled to pitch tonight. Or last year's Cy Young winner.
Again, thanks for your insightful and well-written columns!!
I thought I read in an article about a month or so ago, forgive me for not being able to remember exactly when and the source, that the reason why Rick Anderson played with his delivery was because they always had concern it was too violent and could lead to injury. He had some shoulder discomfort in the spring if I remember right so they immediately worked to put less stress on his arm. I want to say the article said that he's throwing more 2 seam fastballs this year to get more groundball outs.
Strikeouts are nice. Getting the job done is nicer, and obviously the big thing that matters. As far as changing Crain's delivery, I know that the Twins did that once he got to the big leagues. I don't know exactly why. I mean, that's like the Angels altering the delivery of Francisco Rodriguez!
THE ROOKIE PITCHERS
The high Liriano pitch count is not unexpected, as you predicted, when he's facing the A's. They made Radke throw an immensely high number for him just the previous game, so they would certainly key on Liriano and do the same.
The A's hitters are patient, but they also get the benefit of almost all the calls. Radke should have been out of the second inning Monday when Crosby walked on two consecutive changeups over the knees. Liriano's first walk to Ellis featured several borderline pitches. And in the fourth, I thought Hatterberg looked at two sliders that were strikes and ended up walking an a 3-2 pitch. Those are key at bats and it just seems the umps don't want to call A's hitters out on third strikes because of their patient reputation. I was surprised when Liriano was able to get one strikeout looking, but he had to really work for his other swinging strikeouts, which leads to high pitch counts and long innings.
When I was a kid, if you had two strikes on you, you better be swinging at anything close because the ump expanded the strike zone over the black. Now you have to throw it down the middle to get a called thirds, especially against these A's hitters.
Excellent analysis of Scott Baker! I hardly doubt I can give a fair analysis of Scott Baker, since I've been a fan of his since spring training. I forget off-hand how many starts he had in spring training, but I know he made at least one, and after that I was hooked on the kid.
I don't picture him as the Santana-esque ace. Liriano might be able to do that, but Baker won't. Baker will be another Bradke. If he becomes an ace, it will be in a Bradke-type way: solid performances. He won't do anything fancy, but he'll manage to do what needs to be done to keep the team in the game. From what I hear, he's learned to adapt to the hitters (as the hitters are trying to adapt to him), keeps his composure, and just works on throwing strikes. It's not fancy: it's good, solid baseball. And chicks dig that. ;)
I believe that Baker will be an excellent #4 for the Twins in 2006 and settle in at #2-#3 for many years in the future. Long-term, I suspect that Liriano will be the ace and one of the younger guys will eventually slide ahead of Baker (perhaps Rainville, Slowey, Mullins, one of these guys). Looking at 2009 (when we all hoped the stadium would be built)...the rotation could be Santana (new contract)...Baker...Liriano...Blackburn...Rainville.
ONE MORE E-MAIL
Thoughts on the CY Young and wins. I agree that wins are way over-rated. Look at what Roger Clemons has been doing - an ERA of under 2.00 all year (I don't know where he is at currently) but he barely had a .500 record because the Astros score less runs than the Twins. And all the talk I heard from the NL CY Young (which I'll admit isn't a lot) was about Carpenter for the Cards. He has a lot of wins, but the rest of his numbers are not even close.
Your thoughts on how close the Twins could have been to a dynasty (yes - a mini dynasty) if they (Pohlad) would have spent the money on a big bat 3-4 years ago to go with the great pitching? Lets say for example that they went out and got Jim Thome when he was a FA, or Beltre or even a Griffy Jr. (not that I'd agreed with that big a contract, but you get my idea). If they would have got that one BIG bat in the middle of the lineup, would they have made it to the World Series in the past 3 years and/or in future years? I believe that a Thome hitting fourth would not only protect other hitters and give them more good pitches to hit (Mauer) but would also take a lot of pressure off certain guys and help them produce more (Morneu).
Your thoughts on that?
To the question regarding the Cy Young Award: My opinion, as you know having been to this site frequently, is that Wins mean nothing when it comes to quality of pitching. Unlike the MVP Award, where the term "Valuable" is certainly up for debate, the Cy Young Award is meant for the best pitcher in the league. The best pitcher does not always have the best record though! So, I have to think about which pitching stats do matter, or are things that a pitcher can control. I came up with seven categories: ERA, WHIP, K/9, K/BB, IP, BAA, OPS. Then I considered that in my mind, there are four National League pitchers worthy of Cy Young consideration. I will mention their names later to kind of make my point. I looked at the numbers for each of the four pitchers for those seven categories and ranked them. I added together their seven rankings, and the pitcher with the lowest ranking will be my current choice for NL Cy Young (with a couple of starts each remaining, this is certainly subject to change):
ERA WHIP K/9 K/BB IP BAA OPS
Pitcher A 1.89 1.00 7.93 3.05 204.1 .197 .541
Pitcher B 2.42 1.00 7.93 4.32 230.1 .220 .593
Pitcher C 2.44 1.09 6.19 3.10 225.1 .235 .642
Pitcher D 2.82 0.95 8.63 4.43 217.0 .203 .594
Now let's look at these numbers by ranking:
ERA WHIP K/9 K/BB IP BAA OPS Total
Pitcher A 1 2 2 4 4 1 1 15
Pitcher B 2 2 2 2 1 3 2 14
Pitcher C 3 4 4 3 2 4 4 24
Pitcher D 4 1 1 1 3 2 3 15
So, it is a very close race between three of the four pitchers. Let's put the names of the pitchers with their ranking to find out who I would vote for for the NL Cy Young today:
Pitcher B = Chris Carpenter (21-4)
Pitcher D = Pedro Martinez (15-8)
Pitcher A = Roger Clemens (12-8)
Pitcher C = Dontrelle Willis (22-9)
Roger Clemens gets so much credit, and don't get me wrong, it is completely deserved. However, I think that it comes at the expense of Chris Carpenter. Yes, Carpenter has more wins as a result of a better offense, but his other numbers match up with Clemens quite well. This is a case where the guy with the best record is also the best pitcher. I think that Pedro Martinez has been vastly underrated this season. Dontrelle Willis has been very, very good, but in comparison to the other three, you can see he falls short. And, hitting doesn't help in the Cy Young voting. Did you see the Willis batted 7th for the Marlins last night is their 2-1 win over Pedro Martinez and the Mets? Willis went 1-4 and is hitting .250 on the season. He batted ahead of rookie 2B Joe Dillon and rookie SS Robert Andino.
Quickly, let's take a look at where the five American League candidates rank today:
ERA WHIP K/9 K/BB IP BAA OPS
Pitcher A 2.98 0.97 9.22 5.44 217.2 .211 .615
Pitcher B 3.34 1.13 6.31 3.73 212.2 .248 .668
Pitcher C 3.51 1.17 4.46 2.40 207.2 .257 .696
Pitcher D 2.97 1.23 6.74 2.63 179.0 .249 .692
Pitcher E 3.28 1.22 5.55 3.70 222.0 .269 .690
Now let's look at these numbers by ranking:
ERA WHIP K/9 K/BB IP BAA OPS Total
Pitcher A 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 9
Pitcher B 4 2 3 2 3 2 2 17
Pitcher C 5 3 5 5 4 4 5 31
Pitcher D 1 5 2 4 5 3 4 24
Pitcher E 3 4 4 3 1 5 3 23
So, this is nowhere near as close of a race. Let's put the names of the pitchers with their ranking to find out who I would vote for for the AL Cy Young today:
Pitcher A = Johan Santana (14-7)
Pitcher B = Bartolo Colon (20-7)
Pitcher E = Mark Buehrle (15-8)
Pitcher D = Kevin Millwood (8-11)
Pitcher C = Jon Garland (17-10)
This is a case where the best pitcher does not have the best record. Santana is head-and-shoulders better than other AL pitchers. Of course, the question here is, where does Mariano Rivera fit into this system? To be honest, I don't know. However, I would point out the Rivera has recorded 225 outs this season. Santana has recorded 653 outs. Rivera has been great. He is 7-4 with a 1.32 ERA. He has 41 saves and a WHIP at 0.84. If I had a vote, I would probably give him my third place vote. By the way, is it not interesting that of the five pitchers above that I considered as Cy Young candidates, four of them reside in the AL Central Division?
What do you think about this theory on the Cy Young voting? E-mail me.
To the question regarding the Twins acquiring a big bat. No, I don't think it would have helped. The Phillies signed Thome to a huge contract and now they would give anything to get rid of such an albatross. Thome has been hurt and it could be a chronic. He may have been good, but his contract each of the next three years would be about 33% of the Twins payroll. Griffey signed a seven year deal for over $100 million. How much time has he missed? How many surgeries has he had? How much money is he still owed? Adrian Beltre? What did the Mariners get in Year 1 of his 5 year, $55 million contract? Not much! Troy Glaus got big money and he is usually hurt. Richie Sexson is having a good power season, but leads the AL in strikeouts. He may have earned his money this year, but will he stay healthy for the next four years? The Twins signed Torii Hunter to a 4 year, $32 million deal. Next year, $10.75 million. Is he worth that, or are the Twins trying to rid themselves of that contract.
Yes, I would love to see the Twins be able to sign a big named, big talent free agent. But generally, these players become free agents at age 30-31. If they're a big name, they will likely get between four and six year deals. They may be worthwhile in years one and two, but will they be able to maintain their value (with increased pay) as the years go by? Unlikely! I like the idea of the Twins being able to sign those second-tier free agents to one or two year deals, with options. It really protects them from a bad, long-term deal that would be a complete drain on the payroll.
No, I think that the Twins are doing it the right way, building from within. That said, they do need to develop more bats in their minor league system to go with their pitching prospects. The Twins have those types of self-developed high-ceiling potential hitters in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel. Who knows, maybe Denard Span, Alex Romero and Matt Moses will be big impact players in the next couple of years. Look at some of the other top teams in baseball. How many rookies played and contributed to the Atlanta Braves this year? Philadelphia has been able to lean on the big shoulders of Ryan Howard to go with Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. Florida signed and developed Monster Miguel Cabrera. Cleveland got many of their young players through trades while they were in the minor leagues and they developed them into the hitters that they are now. In other words, we just have to be patient with the young players and hope they develop into top caliber players that we think that they can be. They can develop and provide a lot of production for a cheap amount, allowing the Twins to sign a few mid-level free agents.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Are there other ways that this should be looked at? Send me an e-mail.
In last night's game, Johan Santana bettered his case for the AL Cy Young, but the team probably decreased his chances even further by not scoring for him and leaving him with another no-decision. Johan gave up only a Joe Crede home run in eight innings of work. He gave up four hits and a walk. He struck out a low-for-him three batters. His season ERA drops now to 2.98, but unfortunately he stays at just 14 wins. Hopefully the voters look beyond the most over-rated statistic in baseball, the Win, and still vote for the league's best pitcher.
The White Sox lost, and the Cleveland Indians won. That means the the Indians are just 1.5 games behind the Sox in the AL Central. The Yankees won, and the Red Sox had a day off, so the Yankees are one full game ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. How great would it be is both the White Sox and the Red Sox somehow did not make the playoffs!?
Bobby Jenks took the loss last night, allowing three runs in the 11th inning. After being so good much of the last six weeks or so, his last three outings have not been good. He blew saves in his last two outings, which is noticeable particularly because those were against Cleveland.
Jacque Jones had a couple of big at bats. He hit his 23rd homer in the 7th inning. Then, in the 11th inning, after Matthew LeCroy singled in the go-ahead run, Jones drilled a double to center that scored two more. He also did a nice job playing centerfield.
Juan Rincon pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth despite giving up two hits and a walk!
Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless 10th and recorded his 11th win.
Joe Nathan came in and got his 39th save with a scoreless 11th inning.
Brandon McCarthy is the Sox version of Scott Baker. He probably isn't quite in the Francisco Liriano category, but he is very good. The Sox 17th round pick in the 2002 draft is just 22 years old. He's also tall, at 6-7. The Twins have not done well against tall pitchers this year, namely Kameron Loe or Chris Young. Last night, McCarthy gave up just one run (the Jacque homer) on four hits and a walk in eight innings.
Carlos Silva had what is being called successful knee surgery, having part of his meniscus removed. That is good news, and hopefully his rehab will go smoothly too!
Lew Ford was essentially benched the last couple of games because of some poor defense of late. The same thing happened earlier in the season. Then he came into a game late and contributed heavily to a win. Last night, he came into the game late as a pinch hitter and walked. Then he led off the 11th inning with a double. Sure, it was really just a big pop-up that neither the 2B or CF could get to, but he hustled out of the box and made it to second easily.
Ever wonder what the Twins listen to before games on their iPods? Click here.
Terry Tiffee started again at 3B. He went 1-3 with a walk and his average is still just .216. In the 10th inning, there were runners on 1st and 2nd and one out. There was a grounder to Tiffee who fielded the ball, touched third and threw to 1B for the inning-ending double play. I mention it because Tiffee looked so calm, so relax, and just very smooth over there. I was really impressed. Of course, Gardy then took him out of the game and put Juan Castro there for the 11th inning.
Our friend "Roger" is quoted a couple of times above, but he also posted his Elizabethton Twins season review over at Twins Territory. Remember, the E-Town Twins won the Appalachian League title earlier this month!
QUESTION FOR THE WEEKEND - Can anyone out there tell me the name of the junior college that Jason Bartlett attended for two years before going to the University of Oklahoma? If so, please e-mail me.
Anyway, here are the pitching matchups for the weekend series at home against the White Sox:
Friday - 7:05 - Kyle Lohse (9-12, 4.16, 1.46, .297) vs Jose Contreras (13-7, 3.79, 1.27, .233)
Saturday - 6:05 - Joe Mays (6-9, 5.26, 1.52, .313) vs Freddy Garcia (12-8, 4.01, 1.27, .261)
Sunday - 2:05 - Francisco Liriano (0-1, 7.59, 1.22, .231) vs Mark Buehrle (15-8, 3.28, 1.22, .269)
Any thoughts on the Twins, White Sox, Indians, the playoffs or anything, please e-mail me.
VIKINGS THOUGHTS AND PREDICTIONS
So, I've gone from thinking that the Vikings might be a Super Bowl contender to thinking that 0-4 and a head coaching change is far more likely. Daunte Culpepper has turned the ball over so many times. There are already injuries including Sam Cowart, Nate Burleson and half of the defensive backs. The offense is going to count on the likes of Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, Troy Williamson and even Koren Robinson. Michael Bennett will be starting, but you have to assume that he will be given little leeway again this weekend. Mewelde Moore started against the Saints last year, his hometown team, and went off for a huge game! But it will all be predicated, as always, on the ability of the offensive line to provide some holes to the runners and Culpepper the time to view the field.
Defensively, the Vikings will have to find a way to nullify the running of Deuce McAllister. That is the key for the Saints offense. They are full of very talented offensive weapons like QB Aaron Brooks and WRs Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth. But they are incredibly inconsistent.
For the Vikings to win, they will have to be able to control the ball and the clock. The defense has shown that it can be good. However, because they have had to be on the field so much, it probably is not fair to judge them yet. If they can play less, they should be able to play better... I think. At that point, we can better judge them!
But I do think that the Vikings will be able to run a little, and if they can do that, the passing game will hopefully open up a little. For the Vikings to win, I believe that they have to keep the score low.
PREDICTION: Vikings 16, Saints 14
What do you think? Can the Vikings win? What do they need to do? Will the Saints have more divine intervention? How will they perform in an actual road game? What is your prediction? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Everyone is still hoping to improve, some more than others. Let's see how we do in predicting the Week 3 games. We're down to just 14 games this week because four teams are on their byes.
Seth Stohs Stick & Ball Guy Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman Grant Balfour Kevin Slowey SethSpeaks.net Stick & Ball Guy Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Minnesota Twins Pitcher Twins Pitching Prospect Atlanta @ Buffalo Falcons Bills Bills Falcons Falcons Falcons Cincinnati @ Chicago Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bears Bears Jacksonville @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jaguars Jaguars Jets Jets Oakland @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Tennessee @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Titans Rams Titans Dallas @ San Francisco Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys 49ers Dallas Carolina @ Miami Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Dolphins Cleveland @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Browns Colts New Orleans @ Minnesota Vikings Saints Vikings Vikings Vikings New Orleans Tampa Bay @ Green Bay Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Packers Buccs Arizona @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks NY Giants @ San Diego Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Giants Giants New England @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Kansas City @ Denver Chiefs Broncos Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs
Will Young Trevor Born Brent Hanson Cory Hepola Mike Brasel Melissa Lien Will's Twins Weblog Twins Junkie BrentNet KTVH-TV Fantasy FB Guru SethSpeaks.net Atlanta @ Buffalo Falcons Falcons Bills Bills Bills Falcons Cincinnati @ Chicago Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Jacksonville @ NY Jets Jaguars Jaguars Jets Jaguars Jets Jets Oakland @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Tennessee @ St. Louis Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams Dallas @ San Francisco Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Carolina @ Miami Panthers Panthers Dolphins Panthers Panthers Panthers Cleveland @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts New Orleans @ Minnesota Saints Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Tampa Bay @ Green Bay Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Packers Packers Arizona @ Seattle Cardinals Seahawks Cardinals Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks NY Giants @ San Diego Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers New England @ Pittsburgh Patriots Steelers Steelers Patriots Steelers Steelers Kansas City @ Denver Chiefs Broncos Chiefs Broncos Chiefs Chiefs
Looking at the selections of the 12 panelists, here is who the collective "We" think will win each game:
Atlanta @ Buffalo - Falcons 7-5
Cincinnati @ Chicago - Bengals 10-2
Jacksonville @ NY Jets - Jets 7-5
Oakland @ Philadelphia - Eagles 12-0
Tennessee @ St. Louis - Rams 11-1
Dallas @ San Francisco - Cowboys 11-1
Carolina @ Miami - Panthers 10-2
Cleveland @ Indianapolis - Colts 11-1
New Orleans @ Minnesota - Vikings 9-3
Tampa Bay @ Green Bay - Buccs 9-3
Arizona @ Seattle - Seahawks 10-2
NY Giants @ San Diego - Chargers 10-2
New England @ Pittsburgh - Steelers 10-2
Kansas City @ Denver - Chiefs 9-3
And on that note, I will call it a day and a week. I certainly hope that you have found plenty of things worth reading. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.