Friday, February 03, 2006
Whether it's a psychological ploy or a statement of the organization's thought process, Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said Wednesday night the team isn't making any trades.So yeah, either the front office keeps Dwane Casey completely out of the loop or he has absolutely no problem lying to reporters and/or his players. The former is probably a much bigger deal than the latter, I suppose.
I've seen Rider referred to as one of the biggest wastes of talent in NBA history, but that's actually far from the truth. He was a huge jerk and his actions eventually led to an early retirement, but he still managed to score nearly 10,000 points while playing eight full seasons. And this has little to do with anything, but I've referred to Rider as "Isaiah Junior J.R. Rider" for at least the past five years, despite being the only person I've ever met who finds it even mildly amusing.
MIN FGM-A FTM-A PTS
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The problem with that sort of reactionary thinking is two-fold. First, it's based on a really small sample of games and it's tough to draw meaningful conclusions that depend so much on things like Marcus Banks scoring 20 points in 21 minutes. Beyond that, the two wins were over horrible teams. I might be wrong about the trade, but it certainly wasn't shown by the Wolves beating a 15-28 Houston team that was playing without Yao Ming and then beating an 18-26 Boston team at home.
Of course, the flip side is that me being right about the deal certainly isn't shown by the Wolves losing big on the road to San Antonio and Detroit. We're still a long way from being able to judge the trade on results, but so far with the new guys the Wolves are 2-0 against horrible teams and 0-2 against great teams. I understand the excitement that comes from a win like the one over the Celtics, but sometimes it makes sense to let things play out a bit before you send the "you're an idiot" e-mails.
With that said, Sierra simply doesn't bring a whole lot of value to a team at this point. It's true that he's both a veteran and left-handed (in fact, he's a switch-hitter), which seem to be the two qualities Ron Gardenhire and Terry Ryan are constantly lusting after in a reserve. Sadly, the "bat" part is where Sierra comes up short, hitting .229/.265/.371 in 2005 and a combined .251/.302/.423 over the past three years.
The beauty of baseball is that anything can happen in a limited number of at-bats, so if the Twins actually limit Sierra to pinch-hitting duties he's as likely as most to get a few key hits and end up with a surprisingly solid season like the one Offerman had in 2004. That doesn't make signing a 40-year-old who has struggled to post a .700 OPS and has no defensive value a good idea, and the thought of Sierra and Batista on the same roster is depressing unless there's a time machine involved.
C Joe Mauer C Mike Redmond
- #40 Randy Bush
- #39 Scott Erickson
- #38 Eric Milton
- #37 Jimmie Hall
Once again, thanks to everyone for what has been an overwhelmingly positive response. If you enjoyed these first four, I'm sure you'll really like the next 36.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Top 40 Minnesota Twins: #37 Jimmie Hall
JIMMIE RANDOLPH HALL | CF/LF/RF | 1963-1966 | CAREER STATS
It wasn't quite Lou Gehrig replacing Wally Pipp, but Hall stepped in as the center fielder and had a great rookie year. At a time when the league as a whole hit a measly .247/.310/.380 and teams scored just 4.1 runs per game, Hall hit .260/.342/.521 with 33 homers in 571 plate appearances. Despite ranking among the league's top 10 in slugging percentage, homers, runs scored, total bases, and OPS, Hall somehow finished just third in the Rookie of the Year balloting behind Gary Peters and Pete Ward.
His 136 adjusted OPS+ in 1963 not only ranked seventh in the league, it is a higher OPS+ than any Twins regular has posted in a decade. What made Hall's rookie season particularly impressive was that he ended up with those outstanding overall numbers despite playing sporadically for the first two months of the season and performing horribly when he did get a chance for some at-bats. Then, from June 1 to the end of the year, Hall batted .273/.354/.556 with 31 homers and 77 RBIs in 116 games.
Hall's rookie campaign was more than enough for him to supplant Green as the Twins' center fielder going forward, and in the 13th game of the 1964 season Hall, Killebrew, Allison, and 25-year-old rookie Tony Oliva hit four consecutive extra-inning homers in a 7-3 win over the A's. While not a great defensive foursome (Allison played mostly first base that year), they combined to blast 138 homers on the season and the Twins led the league with 221 homers while no other team reached even 190.
Despite all the power, the Twins won just 79 games in 1964 because of a mediocre pitching staff and some bad breaks. Hall turned in a solid sophomore season, hitting .282/.338/.480 with 25 homers while making his first All-Star team, but was involved in an incident that may have led to his early decline. Playing center field and batting sixth in a May 27 game against the Angels, Hall led off the fifth inning and was hit in the cheek by a pitch from southpaw Bo Belinsky.
Hall immediately left the game, but returned to the starting lineup about a week later and played well for the remainder of the season while wearing a special protective flap on his batting helmet. However, there is quite a bit of speculation that the beaning ultimately led to Hall being timid and ineffective against left-handed pitchers, and may help explain why he was finished as a productive player by his sixth season. Of course, that theory has some holes in it.
First and foremost is that Hall struggled against lefties before the beaning, like many left-handed hitters do, hitting just .235/.297/.338 against them during his rookie season. Beyond that, whatever negative impact the incident had on his hitting ability certainly didn't show up for several years. In fact, Hall had arguably his best all-around season in 1965, making his second All-Star appearance and hitting .285/.347/.464 while setting career-highs in batting average, on-base percentage, and RBIs.
In large part thanks to Hall's excellent third season, the Twins went 102-60 in 1965 to win the American League pennant by seven games over the White Sox and then matched up against the Dodgers in one of the best World Series in baseball history. Because Los Angeles' three-man rotation included two dominant lefties in Sandy Koufax and Claude Osteen, manager Sam Mele decided to bench Hall in five of the seven games.
The move was somewhat understandable considering how good Koufax and Osteen were and how bad Hall's .240/.272/.333 line against lefties was in 1965. On the other hand, his replacement in center field, rookie Joe Nossek, was one of the worst hitters in the league and hit just .228/.262/.325 against lefties himself. Hall started the two games that righty Don Drysdale pitched, going 1-for-7 with five strikeouts, Nossek went 4-for-20, and Koufax tossed a Game 7 shutout to win the series.
Hall remained a power threat in 1966, smacking 20 homers in 356 at-bats, but hit .239/.302/.449 for his worst season in four years with the Twins. He was phased out in center field, giving way to rookie Ted Uhlaender while spending time in both outfield corners, and was used mostly as a platoon player and bench bat. That was Hall's last season in Minnesota. On December 2, 1966 he was traded to the Angels along with Don Mincher and Pete Cimino for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez.
Chance became the ace of the Twins' pitching staff for two seasons and Mincher went on to have a nice post-Minnesota career. As for Hall, despite being only 29 years old he had exactly one more productive season left in him. Hall hit .249/.318/.404 with 16 homers in 129 games for the Angels in 1967, which doesn't look very good until you consider that the league hit .236/.300/.351 in what was one of the lowest-scoring periods in baseball history.
Hall stuck around for another three seasons, playing for four teams while hitting .208/.277/.297 in 618 plate appearances. He flamed out quickly, but Hall's impact on the Twins was significant. He packed 98 homers into just four seasons in Minnesota despite playing at a time when big offensive numbers were rare, and played a passable center field while doing so. If you adjust his numbers with the Twins to today's hitting environment, they look something like .285/.340/.525.
TOP 25 ALL-TIME MINNESOTA TWINS RANKS:
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Top 40 Minnesota Twins: #38 Eric Milton
ERIC ROBERT MILTON | SP | 1998-2003 | CAREER STATS
While he likely would have spent at least another season or two in the minors had he stayed with the Yankees, following the trade Milton was immediately thrust into the majors as a member of the Twins' starting rotation despite a grand total of just 14 starts above Single-A. His big-league debut came on April 5, 1998 against the Royals, and Milton tossed six innings of shutout ball to pick up the win.
Milton continued to pitch fairly well during the first four months of the year, going 6-7 with a 4.64 ERA through July. Then, as you might expect from a 22-year-old rookie, he fell apart down the stretch. Milton went a combined 2-7 with an 8.10 ERA in 11 starts between August and September, and finished the season a disappointing 8-14 with a 5.64 ERA in 32 starts for a Twins team that went 70-92.
Despite a sub par rookie year, Milton had clearly shown flashes of potential and it was no surprise when he put things together in his sophomore season. While his 7-11 record was underwhelming, it was more reflective of the Twins' 63-97 record and league-worst offense than Milton's performance. In fact, Milton's 1999 season was arguably the best of his career, as he tossed 206.1 innings with a 4.49 ERA in a high-scoring environment, struck out 163 batters, and allowed opponents to hit just .243.
The highlight of Milton's second season was undoubtedly his no-hitter against the Angels. Milton was brilliant that afternoon, striking out 13 batters on his way to the fifth no-hitter in team history, but the game isn't exactly etched in memory of many Twins fans. Not only did the no-hitter come against an Angels lineup that was almost entirely made up of September callups, the game wasn't on television in the Twin Cities and the first pitch was pushed up because of a Gophers football game later that day. At most, 11,222 people saw Milton's gem.
After going 13-10 with a 4.86 ERA during his third year, Milton began the 2001 season 8-3 with a 3.73 ERA in the first half and was selected to his first All-Star team. The Twins came out of nowhere to lead the division by five games at the All-Star break, but ended up six games behind the Indians as guys like Milton faded badly in the second half. Even with the fade, Milton finished the year 15-7 with a 4.32 ERA in 220.2 innings and the Twins finished above .500 for the first time since 1992.
Milton was in the middle of what had become a fairly typical season for him in 2002, going 13-7 with a 4.60 ERA in his first 24 starts. Then, after a 131-pitch complete-game shutout against the White Sox on August 1, he reportedly heard his left knee "pop" while warming up for his August 6 start against the Orioles. He was scratched from the start, immediately went to the hospital, and underwent surgery to repair a tear in his lateral meniscus a couple days later.
He ended up missing less than a month of action, returning to the mound on September 2 as the Twins started him off slow and gradually increased his workload with an eye towards having him on track for the postseason. Milton struggled, going 0-2 with a 6.64 ERA in five September starts, but went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two playoff starts as the Twins made it all the way to the ALCS. Sadly, Milton was far from done with the injury.
After an offseason filled with stories about his surgically repaired left knee swelling up and Milton "toughing it out," the Twins finally announced in March that he would need a second surgery. It was initially reported that he would miss around two months, but instead Milton missed nearly six months and didn't make it back until the final two weeks of the season. He made just three regular-season starts and then pitched 3.1 scoreless innings as a reliever in Game 4 of the ALDS loss to the Yankees.
That was Milton's final game with the Twins. With one season and $9 million remaining on the four-year contract he signed in March of 2001, the Twins shipped Milton to the Phillies for Carlos Silva, Nick Punto, and Bobby Korecky on December 3, 2003. At the time of the deal I wrote that not having Milton's salary on the books had "a lot of value" considering his uncertain health status, and opined that the players Terry Ryan got in return were "just an added bonus."
Milton ended up posting a 4.75 ERA in 201 innings for the Phillies in 2004, but that certainly wouldn't have been worth $9 million to a small-market team. Meanwhile, Silva stepped right into the rotation for Milton, out-pitched him by going 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 203 innings, and made $340,000 while doing so. Silva has become a dependable middle-of-the-rotation starter who is every bit as good as Milton ever was in Minnesota.
In doing the research for this and other installments of my Top 40 Minnesota Twins countdown, I noticed some striking similarities between Milton and Scott Erickson, who I profiled last week as the 39th-best Twins player of all time. The most obvious comparison is between their actual numbers with the Twins, which were nearly identical:
GS IP W L ERA+ WARP WS
Even the differing returns the Twins received for trading each pitcher paved the way for the franchise's fate. Erickson was shipped to Baltimore for prospects who failed to pan out in a period defined by the team's inability to develop young talent. At the other end of the spectrum, Milton went to Philadelphia in a deal that brought back a young pitcher who immediately became a key contributor on a team that has been filled with prospects who blossomed together over the past five years.
The end result is the same for both pitchers -- just short of 1,000 innings of slightly above-average pitching over six seasons in Minnesota -- but the way they got there was very different. One was a right-handed ground-ball pitcher who peaked early and struggled with an arm injury, while the other was a left-handed fly-ball pitcher who developed gradually and struggled with a knee injury. At the same time, their Twins careers were striking in that they were each typical of the franchise at the time. It's probably fitting that they are back-to-back in these rankings.
TOP 25 ALL-TIME MINNESOTA TWINS RANKS:
... led the NL in homers allowed in both 2004 (43) and 2005 (40).
... has a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 career postseason innings.
... hit .300 in 20 career at-bats with the Twins, but then batted just .154 and .143 in two NL seasons.
... threw a no-hitter in the Cape Cod League while in college.
... was three outs away from a second no-hitter while with the Phillies on July 25, 2004, but Michael Barrett broke it up with a leadoff double in the ninth inning.
... signed a three-year $25.5 million free-agent contract with the Reds last offseason, and then went 8-15 with a 6.47 ERA in 2005.
... has a tattoo of each team he's pitched for, from the University of Maryland's terrapin to the logos for the Yankees, Twins, Phillies, and Reds.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Twins NotesBetween kicking off the top-40 countdown and breaking down a horrible Wolves trade, quite a few interesting Twins-related notes popped up in various places ...
That could mean they are looking at such players as Erubiel Durazo, Dave Hansen and Timo Perez. Hansen's agent has been in touch with the Twins, but it's unclear how much interest the Twins have in him. Perez has played in two World Series, in 2000 with the Mets and last season with the White Sox.Grouping Erubiel Durazo with Dave Hansen and Timo Perez is like grouping Albert Einstein with Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, in that it makes almost zero sense on any level. A healthy Durazo would be one of the Twins' best hitters, while a healthy Hansen or Perez would struggle to be Triple-A Rochester's best hitter.
The thing that makes little sense is Stewart leading off, rather than Castillo. Castillo has significantly less power and is far more of a base-stealing threat, which means you want him batting in front of the more powerful and less speedy Stewart. Much like Gardenhire playing Stewart over Lew Ford in left field over the past two years, this is another example of the manager not wanting to ruffle Stewart's feathers at the expense of actual performance.
The other thing that sticks out is that Justin Morneau's name is nowhere to be found, which means he's likely slated to bat sixth. The importance of a batting order is almost always overstated, so I don't think this is much of an issue aside from giving a glimpse into Gardenhire's thought process heading into the season. It's encouraging that Tony Batista's name is also absent from the first five spots. The bad news is that Batista's name will still show up in spots six through nine.
We both apologized. We're going to go out there and play the game. We're like brothers. We're together every day, and you're bound to disagree on something. It's about making up and we made up. It's like a marriage. Well, not like a marriage.In other words, they're like brothers who are married. Hopefully the makeup sex was good, because "the only thing you're gonna have better than makeup sex is conjugal visit sex."
It's not exactly what people admire in statistical analysis. I know that. I'm not so much concerned with home runs. I'm concerned with winning games. I'm concerned for our pitching and bullpen -- we need more (offensive) pressure, more threats.It seems to me that the people in favor of the Batista signing -- Ryan included -- are unable to separate one offensive skill from a player's overall offensive package. Things like drawing walks, hitting homers, and bunting for hits are just part of the total value a player can bring to the table offensively. In Batista's case, many people seem to be saying that his ability to hit home runs or put "pressure" on opposing teams makes up for the fact that he doesn't get on base and eats up a tremendous number of outs.
Not only isn't that true, it shows a lack of understanding about what leads to run scoring. Teams score runs not because they do certain things well -- like hit for power or draw walks or steal bases -- but because the overall makeup of their offense is good. The overall makeup of Batista's offense is horrible, and his ability to hit homers is accounted for within that.
Think of a hitter like a movie. There are a number of things that need to go right for a movie to be good, from the acting and directing to the script and cinematography. Batista is like a movie that has good actors, but they're doing scenes from a horrible script, being directed by someone who has no clue, and the whole thing is being shot with a camcorder.
That movie would have some positive aspects and people who wanted to defend it would say things like, "It wasn't a great movie, but the acting was good." Sure, but the overall product would still be sub par because it's not as simple as the good canceling out the bad. In other words, good acting and all, the movie still stunk.