Friday, February 10, 2006
Link-O-RamaBefore I get to this week's link dump, I have some writing-related news to share.
First, in addition to being syndicated over at FoxSports.com, my Rotoworld.com columns will now also appear at USAToday.com. For instance, my "Channel Surfing" column from last Friday is available at Rotoworld.com, FoxSports.com, and USAToday.com. The beauty of it is that if you click on those links, you can see that each version looks completely different and has gone through vastly different editing.
It's an odd feeling to see the same piece appear at three different places, but how many people can say they write for Fox Sports and USA Today simultaneously? It looks good on a resume, that's for sure.
In addition to that, I wrote a fairly lengthy article for an interesting magazine that is coming out next month. It's called the Maple Street Press 2006 Red Sox Annual, and along with my article there are also pieces from Paths to Glory co-author Mark Armour, Boston Sports Media Watch publisher Bruce Allen, and The Hidden Game of Baseball co-author Pete Palmer.
I'm most excited about seeing my name alongside Palmer's because he's sort of a sabermetric legend, but the entire lineup of contributors is extremely impressive. The magazine obviously appeals most to Red Sox fans, but there is enough quality analysis included about baseball in general to make it a good read for just about everyone. If you're interested in ordering a copy, click here.
With that little bit of self-promotion out of the way, here are some links ...
When you're looking at 45 percent of students binge drinking on a campus of 50,000 people, that's a lot of people drinking.The very first party I ever attended as University of Minnesota student was billed as a "dry party." That supposedly meant there was no alcohol involved, which is why they were allowed to openly invite freshmen like me just a few days after we moved in. Well, I got there, eventually made my way downstairs, and was met with perhaps the largest supply of booze I have ever seen in one place before or since. And no, I don't really have a point.
Several years ago, he was sitting at a hotel bar when a scantily dressed woman sidled up to him and said, "Hey, honey, I'll do anything you want for $100." Replied Woody: "Sounds good. I'm in Room 123. Go up and write a column and a sidebar."Nothing beats corny sportswriting humor.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Krivsky to CincinnatiI came to an odd realization yesterday after hearing the news that Twins assistant general manager Wayne Krivsky left the team to take the general manager job with the Reds. Basically, I don't know much of anything about Krivsky. Sure, I know that he's been in charge of negotiating contracts and I know that he was Terry Ryan's right-hand man, but beyond that it's pretty much a blank slate. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even recognize Krivsky if I ran into him on the street.
Do we know which big moves Krivsky has specifically been instrumental in over the years? Do we know what his strengths are in the big picture? Do we know what portion of the Twins' short-term and long-term planning can be traced back to him directly? Other than vague mentions of Krivsky's place within the organization here or there, I'm not sure we can really answer any of those questions with much confidence.
In fact, solely from an outsider's perspective it has always seemed as though both Jim Rantz and Mike Radcliff have had higher-profile roles with the Twins. That's not to say Krivsky won't be missed a ton or that the Reds made a poor hire. Quite the opposite actually, because if you go strictly by Krivsky's apparent reputation within baseball and Ryan's effusive praise of him, he seems to be an excellent fit for the job of rebuilding a mid-market team.
This situation is an example of how little we know about the men running teams as opposed to the men playing on teams, which is probably the opposite of how it should be when you really think about it. Is one player -- even someone as good as Johan Santana or Joe Mauer -- any more important to the Twins than Ryan over the long haul? I doubt it. I'd say something similar about Krivsky, but to be honest I have no clue if it's true because he's had such little media attention paid to his job.
Shocking as it may sound, the most I've ever read about Krivsky's actual role may have come from one solitary paragraph written by the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, La Velle E. Neal, in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Krivsky negotiated many multiyear contracts, including ones for Torii Hunter, Brad Radke and Johan Santana. He helped prepare cases for arbitration and was well-versed on the rules concerning waivers, rosters and the basic agreement. Krivsky also scouted the National League and the Twins' minor league affiliates. Krivsky was the most prominent of Twins officials who believed Joe Nathan could become a closer, leading to the trade for Nathan in 2004.If there's any good news that comes along with Krivsky's departure it's that the Twins have likely just picked up a pretty willing trade partner in the other league. What makes that especially nice is that the Reds are fairly loaded with hitters throughout their organization, yet are completely lacking in quality pitching. That could add up to a great fit should Ryan and Krivsky decide to make one of those "both teams win" deals in the near future.
My dream scenario would involve Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns or Edwin Encarnacion, or maybe even Felipe Lopez or Wily Mo Pena. A slightly more realistic scenario is that Krivsky was the person in the Twins' front office most in favor of keeping Kyle Lohse around for another year and might be willing to swap a lesser hitter like Ryan Freel for him once Ryan is confident in Francisco Liriano being ready for the starting rotation.
Come midseason, when Tony Batista has proven himself incompetent as an everyday player, the Twins could make room for Liriano every fifth day while also grabbing Freel to replace Batista at third base. Hey, a boy can dream, right? Actually, I suppose my real dream scenario would involve Ryan deciding that he should replace Krivsky with some kid who blogs about the Twins from his bedroom. You know, because I think it's time that Twins Junkie got his shot.
Statistically, the people in "Moneyball" books and Sabermetricians won't like what they see. But if you put him in the 7-8 hole and he gives you 20-plus homers and 80-plus RBI, I think that would probably be OK.First of all, it's interesting to note that Ryan has been quoted as saying essentially that same thing in about a dozen different places over the past couple weeks. Second, who exactly are these "people in 'Moneyball' books?" That's an odd thing to say unless you haven't actually read the book -- and despite what Ryan may think, there is only one book with that title -- although I suppose it's encouraging to know that he's at least aware of the existence of sabermetrics.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Top 40 Minnesota Twins: #36 Dave Boswell
DAVID WILSON BOSWELL | SP | 1964-1970 | CAREER STATS
Boswell made the team as a long man out of spring training in 1965, and after seven shutout innings in relief of Dick Stigman on May 11 was given a shot in the rotation. He pitched well, going 5-3 with a 3.53 ERA in 12 starts, but was shifted back to the bullpen in the second half after reportedly coming down with mononucleosis. Boswell made just one appearance in the Twins' World Series loss to the Dodgers, throwing 2.2 innings of relief when Jim Kaat was knocked around early in Game 5.
A full-fledged member of the rotation in 1966, Boswell went 12-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 169.1 innings, leading the league with a .706 winning percentage and ranking second with 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. At just 21 the future looked bright, and sure enough over the next three seasons Boswell was among the most durable pitchers in the league. From 1967-1969 Boswell went 44-37 with a 3.27 ERA in 669 innings of work, striking out 537 batters while allowing just 525 hits.
He was at his best in 1969, teaming with Jim Perry to give the Twins two 20-game winners on their way to a division title. Boswell ranked among the league leaders in wins (20), innings (256.1), and strikeouts (190), but along with his overpowering stuff also had some trouble with his control. He walked 99 batters, threw 10 wild pitches, and hit eight batters to rank among the AL's top 10 in each category.
Boswell also stepped up in the postseason, as the Twins matched up against a 109-win Orioles team that led the league in runs allowed and ranked second to the Twins in runs scored. In Game 2 Boswell somehow managed to keep a lineup led by Frank Robinson and Boog Powell (who finished second and third behind Harmon Killebrew in the MVP balloting) scoreless for 10.2 innings, while Baltimore 20-game winner Dave McNally held the Twins off the board for 11 innings. Unfortunately, the tie was broken in the bottom of the 11th.
With two runners on base and two outs, manager Billy Martin yanked Boswell in favor of closer Ron Perranoski, who had saved a league-leading 31 games with a 2.11 ERA. Baltimore skipper Earl Weaver responded by sending Curt Motton in to pinch-hit for Ellrod Hendricks, and Motton delivered a game-winning single to right field. Not only was Boswell's amazing outing wasted, he was tagged with the loss despite recording 32 outs without actually allowing a run to score.
He didn't get another chance against the Orioles, as Baltimore finished off the three-game sweep with a blowout win in Game 3 before eventually losing to the "Miracle Mets" in the World Series. And while no one knew it at the time, that ALCS extra-inning loss to the Orioles essentially marked the end of Boswell's days as an effective pitcher despite the fact that he didn't turn 25 years old until a few months later.
Boswell went 3-7 with a ghastly 6.42 ERA in 68.2 innings in 1970, and did not make an appearance in the Twins' second straight three-game ALCS sweep at the hands of the Orioles. He was released by the Twins before throwing a single inning in 1971 and immediately signed with the Tigers, who cut him loose after three poor relief outings. Boswell then latched on with the Orioles and finished his career by going 1-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 24.2 innings as a mop-up man.
And just like that, a career that began at 19 and peaked at 24 was over by 27. It's hard to pin Boswell's early decline on that 10.2-inning ALCS start, because pitching past the ninth inning was fairly routine in 1969. In fact, that start wasn't even Boswell's longest of the season -- he lasted 12 innings in a 4-3 win over the White Sox in mid-July. Of course, that he was worked harder in regular-season starts isn't exactly a positive thing given how his career fizzled.
Would Boswell have lasted past his 27th birthday had he not logged nearly a thousand innings and completed 37 games through the age of 24? Perhaps, but while his workload would be considered obscene by today's standards it wasn't particularly out of the ordinary back then. Interestingly, Martin was fired as manager after one division-winning season not because he worked Boswell so hard on the mound, but because he reportedly knocked Boswell out during a bar fight that August.
While Boswell's Twins career was disappointing considering the promise he showed at such a young age, his numbers actually look a lot more impressive than they were. In putting up a 3.49 ERA with the Twins Boswell was aided tremendously by pitching in one of the most pitcher-friendly eras in the sport's history. To add some context to the extreme environment he pitched in, consider that Boswell's 3.32 ERA in 1968 was actually worse than the league average of 3.10.
For his entire time in Minnesota the league's adjusted ERA was an incredibly low 3.48, which is why despite a much lower raw ERA Boswell stacks up pretty equally with the two pitchers who proceeded him in this "Top 40 Minnesota Twins" countdown, Scott Erickson and Eric Milton:
TOP 25 ALL-TIME MINNESOTA TWINS RANKS:
Monday, February 06, 2006
Open Chat: Batista Stinks in Four CountriesHere's an e-mail I received over the weekend from Jorge, a reader in the Dominican Republic:
I am a Dominican fan from the team where Tony Batista plays winter ball. I just wanted to say to you how badly he played this year. Sure, he has hit a few homers, but after that he did nothing to help the team win.First of all, I always enjoy e-mails from people in places where they describe defensive range in meters. Second, I believe we now have confirmation that Tony Batista stinks in the United States, Japan, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.