After reading this news, I'm willing to sell an AG.com internship for the low, low price of $10,000 and I'll even let you do my laundry.
Earlier this week I wrote a lengthy entry about why Carlos Gomez should be playing more often than Delmon Young thanks to the big gap defensively. Friend of AG.com Thor Nystrompens a mainstream version of the same analysis while subbing for Kelly Thesier over at MLB.com and Nick Nelsonhelps explain the numbers by way of a situation from yesterday's game. Meanwhile, LaVelle E. Neal IIIreports that Young will be away from the team for a while because of a family emergency.
Here's the video of Bert Blyleven eating worms on the air last weekend to raise money for charity:
Never before have I liked someone so much and become annoyed with their announcing so easily.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, former Timberwolves point guard Pooh Richardson "is now a central figure in an obstruction-of-justice investigation built around a phone call he that made to a local drug kingpin warning him that he was about to be arrested." Tyrone Corbin, Randy Breuer, and Tony Campbellcould not be reached for comment.
Between hisappearances on Bill Simmons' podcast, interviews like this one with Jonah Keri, and a bunch of amusing Facebook updates I've become such a huge fan of Houston general manager Daryl Morey that I'm rooting for the Rockets to win the NBA title without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
I've long complained about the St. Paul Pioneer Press' website being so horrendous from a usability standpoint that it actually keeps me from reading articles that I'm interested in, like Phil Miller's strong work covering the Twins. They've failed to improve the website in several years, leaving readers to sift through error messages and missing content, yet now they're planning to charge for access. Brilliant!
My favorite part is that Howard Stern spent this week bringing on various sports figures to discuss just how horrible the pitch was and the New York media covereditlikeactualnews.
I'm quite certain that I had absolutely nothing to do with this, but a couple months ago I encouraged some of my bosses at NBCSports.com to expand the site's relationship with PokerRoad ... and now they have. My job won't be complete until Scott Huff and Joe Stapleton replace Jay Leno. Yes we can!
I'm very pleased with how Circling the Bases has gone thus far. Traffic is steadily rising after we started from scratch last month, I've become increasingly comfortable with the all-afternoon posting schedule, and we're finding a nice groove in terms of topics and tone. Plus, within the past week I've managed to quote both Mase and Elvis Costello, which I believe to be a first in the history of NBC and GE.
Finally, in honor of Houston's improbable playoff run this week's AG.com-approved music video is Elton Johnsinging a live version of "Rocket Man":
My opinion of the Joe Crede signing was lukewarm at best, but it sure is nice to be getting power and great defense from third base. After last night's walk-off grand slam in the 13th inning Crede is batting .237/.304/.462 with five homers and six doubles through 25 games, which is basically identical to his .256/.306/.447 career line and when combined with truly exceptional defense makes him one of the 3-4 most valuable players on the team 20 percent into the season. Sure beats Tony Batista.
UPDATE: There's a full slate of afternoon games today, so I'm going to be live blogging/chatting over at NBCSports.com beginning at noon.
Blogging throughout the day over at NBCSports.com has made it tough to find time for live chats here, but starting this afternoon I'm hoping to make it a regular occurrence again. The chatting will start right at 3:00 p.m. central time, but I'll open the doors 15-20 minutes before then for pre-submitted questions and plan to keep going until you guys stop asking me stuff. If all else fails, we could probably spend a couple hours just talking about how Joe Mauerisn't human. Seriously: .500/.571/.917.
Carlos Gomez was in the lineup yesterday for just the fourth time in 17 games, as Ron Gardenhire has decided that Delmon Young in left field, Denard Span in center field, and Michael Cuddyer in right field is his preferred outfield alignment. Gardenhire has shown that he figures to start Span and Cuddyer nearly every game, so he's basically chosen Young over Gomez as the "other" starting outfielder. There are two problems with his decision, one of which is short term and one of which is long term.
For most fans and far too many media members, benching Gomez for Young looks like an easy move. After all, Gomez is batting .218 and Young is batting .288. Easy call, right? Actually, no. Young's batting average is incredibly empty, as 21 of his 23 hits have been singles and he's drawn four walks in 87 plate appearances. Yes, the fact that he's "hitting" .288 looks good at first glance, but his .333 on-base percentage and .338 slugging percentage are an awful combination for a corner outfielder.
Gomez has been even worse offensively, hitting just .218/.259/.327 in 58 plate appearances, but unlike Young his value goes far beyond his production at the plate. Gomez is one of the elite defensive center fielders in baseball, saving the Twins a tremendous number of runs with his glove. His presence in center field also means that Span slides over to left field, where he's also one of the elite defenders in the game.
Young is a better hitter than Gomez right now, but the gap isn't anywhere close to as big as their batting averages suggest and pales in comparison to the gap defensively. Last year Young hit .290/.336/.405 and Gomez hit .258/.296/.360. This season Young is at .288/.333/.338 and Gomez is at .218/.259/.327. In both cases the difference is about 80 points of OPS and even that figure is inflated by not accounting for Young's propensity to ground into double plays or Gomez's superior speed on the bases.
Based strictly on their production offensively as members of the Twins, Young has been about 15 runs better than Gomez per 600 plate appearances. In some circumstances a 15-run gap offensively would be a lot, but not here. According to Ultimate Zone Rating as a duo Gomez in center field and Span in left field (or right field) has been 30-35 runs above average per 150 games. Meanwhile, as a duo Span in center field and Young in left field has been 45-50 runs below average per 150 games.
The latter total is inflated by Span's unsustainably horrible numbers in limited action as a center fielder, but even if you ignore them to give him credit for being exactly average in center field--which at this point is far from a safe assumption--the Young-Span alignment is 40-50 runs worse than the Span-Gomez alignment. In other words, by benching Gomez for Young the Twins are gaining 15 runs offensively and losing 40-50 runs defensively. All of which is why focusing on their batting averages is silly.
In the short term benching Gomez for Young is costing the Twins a significant number of runs, but the move could have even costlier ramifications long term. Gomez is six months from his 24th birthday and has great athletic ability, world-class speed, and little idea what he's doing at the plate. While with the Mets he was rushed through the minor leagues, playing at Double-A as a 20-year-old and debuting in the majors as a 21-year-old after all of 36 games at Triple-A.
Gomez was rushed through the normal development process for a prospect, getting promoted to the majors far sooner than his minor-league performance warranted and then sticking in the big leagues at least in part because he was the centerpiece of a franchise-altering trade. Certainly none of that has helped him mature as a player, but compounding those mistakes by now relegating him to the bench makes even less sense.
Young was born just a few months before Gomez in 1985 and also would benefit from regular playing time, which certainly makes juggling outfielders difficult for Gardenhire. However, even before planting Gomez on the bench Gardenhire found playing time for Young by starting him against all left-handers and some right-handers. Young started nine of the first 15 games, totaling 35 plate appearances. On the other hand, Gomez has four starts and 18 total plate appearances during the past 17 games.
For all his faults Gomez is a significantly more valuable all-around player than Young right now, but by focusing on batting averages and paying zero attention to advanced defensive metrics the Twins have a difficult time wrapping their heads around that. However, even if you're convinced that Young is the superior player right now and benching Gomez doesn't hurt the team in the short term, why in the world would you want your incredibly raw 23-year-old center fielder getting one or two starts per week?
If the Twins aren't going to play Gomez, they ought to at least let him continue to develop at Triple-A. By benching him for Young and keeping him in the majors to make a start every 4-5 games, they're hurting the team in both the short and long term. With his great defense Gomez would become an incredibly valuable all-around player simply by developing into a mediocre, slightly below-average hitter. With his horrible defense Young would need to develop into a great hitter just to have the same type of value.
It's certainly clear which scenario I'd bet on, but more importantly there's no reason for the Twins to take an either-or approach yet. Given their fly ball-heavy pitching staff using a Span-Gomez-Cuddyer outfield with Jason Kubel or Young at designated hitter depending on the handedness of the opposing pitcher remains the best alignment on most days, but if the Twins can't or won't recognize that then at least let Gomez play regularly at Rochester without wasting his development and service time.