Tag Archives: Francisco Liriano

The AL Walter Johnson Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), and the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever). Now we’re starting to get down to the big boys, as I take a look at my vote for the American League’s top pitcher, the Walter Johnson award recipient.

2010 was definitely a season for top tier pitching, and the American League definitely had its’ share of excellent pitchers. The hard part for me is that there is no clear cut pitcher who is head and shoulders above the rest of his counterparts. Before going into the candidates themselves, let’s go over a bit of what I think the top pitcher should represent:

Wins, Losses, and Run Support

The top pitcher doesn’t necessarily need to lead the league in wins, as they are pretty clearly not a great indicator of how a pitcher actually fared. That said, they aren’t worthless either, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the goal of the game is to win. But with the shift to specialists out of the bullpen, I think that a pitcher has less control than he has ever had over wins. While we as baseball analysts try to find a way to establish what a pitcher is truly responsible for and what he is not, it is impossible to ignore that run support given to a pitcher also plays a key piece of wins. A pitcher could throw a perfect game, but if the team doesn’t score any runs for him in the game, he won’t necessarily still earn himself a win.

ERA, WHIP, FIP, SIERA, and WAR

I’ve discussed before why ERA is a deceiving statistic, and I think it will definitely show itself to be true as we review the cases for the top pitchers. But coupled with advanced statistics like FIP, SIERA, and WAR, I think we start to get an idea of whether or not a pitcher was truly dominant, a bit lucky, or somewhere in between. They provide value to look at, but can’t be the end all of statistics to look at. WHIP falls a bit in the same category for me as well.

Strikeouts, Walks, and Innings Pitched

Strikeouts and walks are really two of the few things that a pitcher can really exert control over. More strikeouts generally are a good thing, and less walks are always a good thing. They are also taken into the picture by me and are given weight along with the other statistics. Innings pitched to me represent not only the trust that the manager of their team places in their ability to get out of jams, but also their ability to get outs.

Intangibles

There’s always a little bit of the human element to pitching, and I think it’s important to look at some of the things that aren’t necessarily measurable. These can include, but are definitely not limited to: whether the pitcher is in the playoff race, what kind of stories are occurring around the team, and even the role that the pitcher is being asked to fill.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the AL Walter Johnson award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 5 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Name Team W-L ERA WHIP K BB IP SIERA FIP WAR
Jon Lester BOS 19-9 3.25 1.20 225 83 208 3.20 3.13 5.6
C.C. Sabathia NYY 21-7 3.18 1.19 197 74 237 2/3 3.75 3.54 5.1
David Price TAM 19-6 2.72 1.19 188 79 208 2/3 3.82 3.42 4.3
Justin Verlander DET 18-9 3.37 1.16 219 71 224 2/3 3.43 2.97 6.3
Francisco Liriano MIN 14-10 3.62 1.26 201 58 191 2/3 3.02 2.66 6.0
Cliff Lee SEA/TEX 12-9 3.18 1.00 185 18 212 1/3 3.03 3.06 7.0
Trevor Cahill OAK 18-8 2.97 1.11 118 63 196 2/3 4.16 4.19 2.2
Jered Weaver LAA 13-12 3.01 1.07 233 54 224 1/3 2.97 3.06 5.9
Felix Hernandez SEA 13-12 2.27 1.06 232 70 249 2/3 3.19 3.04 6.2

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Original Draft Series – Team # 20 – San Francisco Giants


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #20: San Francisco Giants

General Managers(since 1994)

Bob Quinn Sr (1994-1996): 190-231
Brian Sabean (1997-Current): 1120-984

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
0 1 4 3 6 3 3 1

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Buster Posey 2008 – 1st Rd (5) 2 27 gm, .269/.299/.366, HR, 7 RBI, 10 R Currently with Org.
1B Pablo Sandoval Int’l FA – 2003 7 261 gm, .319/.370/.513, 34 HR, 144 RBI, 7 SB, 139 R Currently with Org.
2B Matt Downs 2006 – 36th Rd 4 46 gm, .214/.291/.328, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 12 R Currently with Org.
3B Pedro Feliz Int’l FA – 1994 13 874 gm, /.252/.288/.433, 109 HR, 418 RBI, 12 SB, 346 R Free Agency – 10/29/07
SS Emmanuel Burriss 2006 – 1st Rd (33) 4 156 gm, .262/.328/.301, HR, 31 RBI, 24 SB, 55 R Currently with Org.
LF John Bowker 2004 – 3rd Rd 6 183 gm, .238/.285/.394, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 2 SB, 47 R Currently with Org.
CF Fred Lewis 2002 – 2nd Rd 8 326 gm, .277/.355/.420, 16 HR, 81 RBI, 34 SB, 169 R Traded to TOR – 4/15/10
RF Nate Schierholtz 2003 – 2nd Rd 7 235 gm, .280/.323/.406, 7 HR, 54 RBI, 10 SB, 74 R Currently with Org.
SP Tim Lincecum 2006 – 1st Rd (10) 4 2008-2009 NL Cy Young Award Winner
2 All Star Appearances
48-19, 2.90 ERA, 789 K, 256 BB, 699.1 IP, 1.160 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP Francisco Liriano Int’l FA – 2000 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MIN – 11/14/03
SP Matt Cain 2002 – 1st Rd (25) 8 1 All Star Appearance
50-56, 3.39 ERA, 797 K, 379 BB, 972.1 IP, 1.229 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP Kevin Correia 2002 – 4th Rd 6 14-22, 4.59 ERA, 289 K, 168 BB, 398 IP, 1.492 WHIP Free Agency – 10/14/08
SP Jonathan Sanchez 2004 – 27th Rd 6 26-35, 4.49 ERA, 511 K, 253 BB, 497 IP, 1.408 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP David Aardsma 2003 – 1st Rd (22) 2 1-0, 11 gm, 5 K, 10 BB, 10.2 IP, 2.813 WHIP Traded to CHC – 5/28/05
RP Scott Linebrink 1997 – 2nd Rd 3 0-0, 11.57 ERA, 2 BB, 2.1 IP, 3.857 WHIP Traded to HOU – 7/29/00
RP Clay Hensley 2002 – 8th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SD – 7/13/03
RP Bobby Howry 1994 – 5th Rd 3 + 1 2-6, 3.39 ERA, 46 K, 23 BB, 63.2 IP, 1.147 WHIP Traded to CHW – 7/31/97
RP Brian Wilson 2003 – 24th Rd 7 1 All Star Appearance
13-13, 106 SV, 3.49 ERA, 233 K, 93 BB, 219 IP, 1.320 WHIP
Currently with Org.
CL Joe Nathan 1995 – 6th Rd 8 24-10, 4.12 ERA, 200 K, 142 BB, 266.1 IP, 1.378 WHIP Traded to MIN – 11/14/03
BN Travis Ishikawa (1B) 2002 – 21st Rd 8 206 gm, .266/.332/.409, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 3 SB, 68 R Currently with Org.
BN Carlos Villanueva (P) Int’l FA – 2002 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MIL – 3/30/04
BN Sergio Romo (RP) 2005 – 28th Rd 5 10-6, 2 SV, 2.94 ERA, 99 K, 24 BB, 95 IP, 0.937 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Madison Bumgarner 2007 – 1st Rd (10) 3 0-0, 1.80 ERA, 10 K, 3 BB, 10 IP, 1.100 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Jack Taschner (P) 1999 – 2nd Rd 9 8-4, 5.01 ERA, 124 K, 73 BB, 140 IP, 1.571 WHIP Traded to PHI – 3/27/09
BN Dan Runzier (P) 2007 – 9th Rd 3 2-0, 3.06 ERA, 32 K, 22 BB, 32.1 IP, 1.485 WHIP Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Giants have clearly had some excellent success stories out of the draft with regard to pitching. Tim Lincecum is arguably the best pitcher in the majors right now, and leads an excellent pitching staff that also includes draft picks Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. The relief core made from players they have drafted is excellent also, with 3 pitchers currently closers in the majors (Nathan, Aardsma, Wilson). Unfortunately, the success that they have had with pitching has not translated to the fielders. This is a team that has clearly not had a lot of success on their field with these fielders. With the exception of probably Buster Posey, none of the major league position players would be considered anything particularly exciting.

International Free Agency

The Giants have had a few international signees, with Pablo Sandoval probably having the most success for the Giants. Francisco Liriano has been mildly successful, but unfortunately was a part of the abortive A.J. Pierzynski trade that the Giants made back in 2003.  Clearly, this is an area that has not translated to a lot of success in development for the Giants.

Overall Grade

C. As with the Marlins, there are a few elite players here (Lincecum, Sandoval), but there’s a lot of players who quite simply are not Major League caliber, or barely that. The pitching staff for the Giants from this is very good, but the position players as a whole are so generally bad that I was very tempted to move them back down further in my rankings.

Trade Retrospective: A.J. Pierzynski


This week’s trade retrospective concerns an oft-discussed trade: A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser on 11/14/2003.

The Background

The Twins were waiting for the coming promotion of top prospect catcher Joe Mauer. Mauer had spent 2003 split between High-A and AA, posting a combined line of .338/.398/.434 with 5 HR and 85 RBI. They had a solid if not amazing player at that position in AJ Pierzynski. Pierzynski was going to be a free agent within the next two seasons, and they figured that they would want to move him at some point to make space for Mauer.

The Giants had been to the World Series two years prior, and had won 100 games in the 2003 season. Despite winning all those games, they had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champions, the Florida Marlins. The catcher for the Giants that year had been Benito Santiago, who was 38 years old, and also a free agent.

The Moving Pieces

A.J. Pierzynski was slotted in to be the everyday catcher for the Giants, and it was hoped would hold down the position for many years.

Joe Nathan was slotted into the bullpen for the Twins, and immediately was named as the closer for the team. Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano were both sent to the minor leagues.

What Happened Next

Pierzysnki had a solid season for the Giants, hitting .272 with 11 homeruns and 77 RBI. The team fell short of its goal of a return to the playoffs, as they finished a game back in the race for the Wild Card in spite of winning 91 games. However, he was not well liked in the clubhouse by the Giants pitchers. As a result, he was not tendered a contract by the Giants after the season, and became a free agent.

Joe Nathan took to his role as the closer immediately, saving 44 games in 2004, posting a 1.62 ERA, and finishing 4th in the Cy Young voting for the American League. He helped to lead the Twins to the AL Central division title, although they were eliminated in the first round by the Yankees.

Boof Bonser spent the 2004 season split between AA and AAA for the Twins, posting a 13-9 record with a 4.24 ERA in 161 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 153 and walked 57 batters in that time.

Francisco Liriano spent the season split between High-A and AA, posting a 9-9 record with a 3.79 ERA in 156 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 174 and walked 60 batters.

The Net Moves

Giants – First Level

  • Pierzynski only spent the 2004 season with the Giants, posting a .272/.319/.410 with 11 homeruns and 77 RBI
  • He was not tendered a contract after the 2004 season, and became a free agent. He signed with the Chicago White Sox.

Twins – First Level

  • Nathan has been a cornerstone closer for the Twins. In 6 seasons, he has posted 246 saves, a 1.87 ERA, and 518 strikeouts in 418 2/3 innings pitched. He is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, and is not expected to return to the team until sometime in 2011.
  • Boof Bonser did not make his major league debut with the Twins until 2006, and was in the starting rotation for 3 seasons. He posted a lackluster 18-25 record with a 5.12 ERA in 391 2/3 innings. He was traded to the Red Sox on 12/10/2009 for minor leaguer Chris Province.
  • Francisco Liriano made his debut in 2005, and had his first full season in 2006. He missed the 2007 season due to having Tommy John surgery. He appears to have put it back together in the 2010 season so far, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.63 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched. To date, he has a 28-24 record with the Twins, 412 strikeouts and a 3.97 ERA in 405 1/3 innings pitched.

Overall Reactions

This trade has widely been viewed as a complete disaster for the Giants. As well it should be. Nathan had been an effective reliever with the Giants, notching 12 wins in the season before the trade. However, the Giants didn’t view him as a closer, and the Twins did. This trade may have been slightly better had the Giants retained Pierzynski for longer than the single season. However, Liriano continues to be a high-upside, high-risk pitcher for the Twins, and will hopefully be able to stay healthy and effective for the whole season this time around.  Pierzynski has become a solid catcher for the White Sox, and for the most part they have been happy with the time he has spent there.

The Month in Review: April 2010


Well, we are a little over 1/6th of the way through the season, and we’ve seen quite a bit already. At the end of each month, I will go over  some of the larger stories, name my season-to-this-point All-Star teams, and my season-to-point award winners.

All-Star Teams

I plan on following the same guidelines given to the managers of the All-Star game when selecting my teams for each month. Those would be:

  • 34 man rosters, 21 position players, 13 pitchers
  • Each team must be represented

Beyond that, I plan on not necessarily using any voting that may or may not have occurred yet, because to me, the voting is always biased toward the larger market teams.

American League

Starters
C – Joe Mauer (MIN): .345/.406/.500, 1 HR, 13 RBI
1B – Paul Konerko (CHW): .297/.413/.784, 11 HR, 21 RBI
2B – Robinson Cano (NYY): .400/.436/.765, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB
3B – Evan Longoria (TAM): .341/.400/.602, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB
SS – Derek Jeter (NYY): .330/.354/521, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB
OF – Vernon Wells (TOR): .337/.396/.717, 8 HR, 16 RBI, SB
OF – Carl Crawford (TAM): .337/.390/.551, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 7 SB
OF – Nelson Cruz (TEX): .323/.419/.758, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 5 SB
DH – Jose Guillen (KC): .304/.337/.609, 7 HR, 19 RBI, SB

Reserves

C – Jorge Posada (NYY): .310/.394/.638, 5 HR, 12 RBI
1B – Miguel Cabrera (DET): .344/.427/.615, 5 HR, 25 RBI
1B – Justin Morneau (MIN): .347/.490/.640, 5 HR, 17 RBI
1B – Kendry Morales (LAA): .295/.347/.523, 6 HR, 16 RBI
2B – Dustin Pedroia (BOS): .302/.343/.573, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB
IF – Ty Wigginton (BAL): .308/.395/.631, 6 HR, 12 RBI
SS – Alex Gonzalez (TOR): .289/.317/.629, 7 HR, 19 RBI
OF – Shin-Soo Choo (CLE): .317/.429/.500, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB
OF – Brett Gardner (NYY): .323/.397/.385, 6 RBI, 10 SB
OF – Austin Jackson (DET): .364/.422/.495, HR, 7 RBI, 5 SB
OF – Scott Podsednik (KC): .350/.418/.375, 8 RBI, 8 SB
OF – Andruw Jones (CHW): .259/.394/.630, 6 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB

Pitchers

Matt Garza (TAM): 4-1, 2.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 34 strikeouts, 35 IP
Francisco Liriano (MIN): 3-0, 0.93 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 27 strikeouts, 29 IP
Jered Weaver (LAA): 3-0, 2.53 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 34 K, 32 IP
Colby Lewis (TEX): 3-0, 2.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 38 K, 32 2/3 IP
Zack Greinke (KC): 0-2, 2.56 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 27 K, 31 2/3 IP
John Danks (CHW): 3-0, 1.55 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 26 K, 29 IP
Ricky Romero (TOR): 2-1, 2.25 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 31 K, 36 IP
Felix Hernandez (SEA): 2-1, 2.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 31 K, 36 1/3 IP
Justin Duchscherer (OAK): 2-1, 2.89 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 18 K, 28 IP
David Aardsma (SEA): 0-1, 8 SV, 2.79 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 11 K, 9 2/3 IP
Jose Valverde (DET): 0-1, 7 SV, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6 K, 12 IP
Mariano Rivera (NYY): 0-0, 7 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 9 K, 9 IP
Jon Rauch (MIN): 1-0, 7 SV, 1.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7 K, 10 IP

National League

Starters

C – Geovany Soto (CHC): .340/.500/.528, 3 HR, 7 RBI
1B – Albert Pujols (STL): .345/.430/.655, 7 HR, 19 RBI, SB
2B – Kelly Johnson (ARI): .313/.404/.750, 9 HR, 18 RBI
3B – Pablo Sandoval (SF): .368/.433/.575, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB
SS – Rafael Furcal (LAD): .309/.378/.420, 6 RBI, 8 SB
OF – Ryan Braun (MIL): .355/.430/581, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 6 SB
OF – Colby Rasmus (STL): .323/.463/.708, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB
OF – Andre Ethier (LAD): .329/.407/592, 6 HR, 19 RBI
DH – Kosuke Fukudome (CHC): .344/.443/.641, 5 HR, 16 RBI, SB

Reserves

C – Miguel Olivo (COL): .291/.333/.600, 5 HR, 13 RBI, SB
1B – Adrian Gonzalez (SD): .288/.408/.563, 6 HR, 16 RBI
2B – Chase Utley (PHI): .275/.431/.550, 6 HR, 15 RBI, SB
2B – Dan Uggla (FLA): .295/.364/.534, 5 HR, 14 RBI, SB
3B – David Wright (NYM): .273/.430/.506, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB
3B – Jorge Cantu (FLA): .311/.354/567, 5 HR, 23 RBI
SS – Ryan Theriot (CHC): .337/.370/.386, 12 RBI, 5 SB
SS – Troy Tulowitzki (COL): .304/.350/.435, 1 HR, 13 RBI, SB
OF – Matt Kemp (LAD): .278/.333/.546, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 3 SB
OF – Marlon Byrd (CHC): .348/.366/.584, 4 HR, 16 RBI, SB
OF – Andrew McCutchen (PIT): .299/.352/.443, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 10 SB
OF – Jayson Werth (PHI): .325/.402/.584, 3 HR, 14 RBI, SB

Pitchers

Ubaldo Jimenez (COL): 5-0, 0.79 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 31 K, 34 IP
Tim Lincecum (SF): 4-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 43 K, 35 1/3 IP
Roy Halladay (PHI): 4-1, 1.80 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 33 K, 40 IP
Mike Pelfrey (NYM): 4-0, 0.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 19 K, 26 IP
Barry Zito (SF): 4-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 24 K, 35 1/3 IP
Josh Johnson (FLA): 2-1, 3.19 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 34 K, 31 IP
Tommy Hanson (ATL): 2-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 33 K, 29 IP
Jamie Garcia (STL): 2-1, 1.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17 K, 26 IP
Adam Wainwright (STL): 4-1, 2.13 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 30 K, 38 IP
Heath Bell (SD): 1-0, 7 SV, 1.80 WHIP, 1.40 WHIP, 16 K, 10 IP
Matt Lindstrom (HOU): 0-0, 6 SV, 2.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 11 K, 10 IP
Francisco Cordero (CIN): 1-1, 9 SV, 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13 K, 13 1/3 IP
Matt Capps (WAS): 0-0, 10 SV, 0.68 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 15 K, 13 1/3 IP

Overall, both of these teams ended up being a pretty fair representation I think. For most of the teams, there was at least one clear All-Star. Only with the Athletics and Astros did I really struggle particularly. It is interesting to see just how many excellent performances there were in April.

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP – Evan Longoria (TAM)
NL MVP – Albert Pujols (STL)
AL Cy Young – Francisco Liriano (MIN)
NL Cy Young – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)
AL Rookie of the Year – Austin Jackson (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Jason Heyward (ATL)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

April 4-11
April 12-18
April 19-25
April 26-May 2

To me, the stories that really dominated baseball were the emergence of the new rookie class (Austin Jackson, Jason Heyward, Mike Leake), Big Carlos Zambrano being sent to the bullpen, and the struggles of the Red Sox early on. Feel free to look through the weekly links to see some of the other top stories last month. We also saw the hot start of the Rays, and a no-hitter from Ubaldo Jimenez. Nothing quite like baseball.

The Week in Review: April 26th – May 2nd


If the Playoffs Started Today

New York AL (16-8) (WC) vs. Minnesota (16-9) (C)
Texas (13-12) (W) vs. Tampa Bay (18-7) (E)

San Francisco (16-10) (WC) vs. St. Louis (17-8) (C)
Philadelphia (14-10) (E) vs. San Diego (16-9) (W)

This Week’s Top Performers

Albert Pujols (STL) – .571/.654/.857, HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, SB
Adrian Beltre (BOS) – .520/.556/.640. 3 RBI, 2 R
Austin Jackson (DET) – .483/.531/.655, HR, 2 RBI, 9 R, 2 SB
Kosuke Fukudome (CHC) – .476/.633/1.048, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R
David Freese (STL) – .440/.481/.760, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 R, SB
Alfonso Soriano (CHC) – .400/.500/1.100, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
Robinson Cano (NYY) – .440/.481/1.000, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – .391/.444/783, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R, 3 SB

Zack Greinke (KC) – 15 IP, 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 11 K
Francisco Liriano (MIN) – 2 W, 15 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 19 K
Josh Johnson (FLA) – 2 W, 15 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 20 K
Justin Verlander (DET) – W, 14 IP, 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 14 K
Yovani Gallardo (MIL) – 2 W, 13 IP, 0.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 15 K
Clay Hensley (FLA) – 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP, 13 K

Roster Movement and Job Changes:

Disabled List:

  • Returning this Week: Ian Kinsler, Aaron Rowand
  • Going On the DL: Brett Anderson, Nelson Cruz, Jorge de la Rosa, Jason Hammel, Pat Neshek, Curtis Granderson

Promotions and Demotions:

  • Coming: Wilson Ramos, Brad Bergesen, Mike Aviles, Alfredo Simon, Max Ramirez, Jhoulys Chacin
  • Going: Jim Johnson, Alex Gordon, Taylor Teagarden, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • On Monday, it was announced that the Cubs and White Sox would play their interleague series for the Crosstown Cup trophy. The winner would be whichever team won the most games, or if they tied, who won the last game. To me, this is just posturing, as this rivalry was pretty intense. I’ve been in Chicago the weekend of one of these series, and you can feel the tension in the air.
  • Also on Monday, the Phillies announced that they had signed slugging 1B Ryan Howard to a 5 year, $125 million contract extension. The reaction across baseball seemed to be that this was a terrible signing. The bigger impact seems to be what this does for other free agent 1B after 2011 like Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols. I think as a result of this we could very well see our first $30+M annual average contract, and even potentially our first $300 M total contract.
  • Dents are starting to show in the armor of one of the greatest closers ever, as Trevor Hoffman proceeded to blow 2 saves in as many days to the Pirates on Tuesday and Wednesday. Manager Ken Macha said he will be sticking with him, and I would think that if anyone has earned the right to an extremely long leash, it’s Hoffman.
  • MLB and the Players’ Union approved changes to the All-Star Game, but nothing of particular substance. Included: DH every season, an extra player (bringing the rosters to 34 with 13 pitchers). The most important change is that pitchers who pitch on the Sunday prior to the All-Star Break will be replaced on the roster with pitchers who have not pitched that day. Overall, some decent changes. Could this be a small enough break that we may see the NL push to adopt the DH full-time as well?
  • Jeff Passan over at Yahoo Sports wrote up a very interesting article about the impact that the new immigration law passed in Arizona could have on baseball at large. I am not sure exactly whether or not this SHOULD be impacting baseball, but it has already started to some extent, as there were protesters at the Cubs-Diamondbacks game in Chicago over the weekend. This is probably an issue that will not be clear of baseball anytime soon.

Tomorrow I will have a month-in-review post up for the recently completed April. It will also include my All-Star teams after one month.

Team Preview – Minnesota Twins


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Joe Mauer SP 1 Scott Baker
1B Justin Morneau SP 2 Carl Pavano
2B Orlando Hudson SP 3 Nick Blackburn
3B Nick Punto SP 4 Kevin Slowey
SS J.J. Hardy SP 5 Francisco Liriano
LF Delmon Young Bullpen
CF Denard Span CL Joe Nathan
RF Michael Cuddyer RP Matt Guerrier
DH Jason Kubel RP Jose Mijares
Bench RP Jesse Crain
DH Jim Thome RP Jon Rauch
IF Brian Buscher RP Clay Condrey

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SS J.J Hardy Trade (MIL) CF Carlos Gomez Trade (MIL)
2B Orlando Hudson Free Agency SS Orlando Cabrera Free Agency
DH Jim Thome Free Agency C Mike Redmond Free Agency

Top Prospects: Aaron Hicks (OF), Ben Revere (OF), Carlos Gutierrez (P), Wilson Ramos (C), Danny Valencia (3B)

2009 Review

The Twins had a pretty good season in 2009, posting an 87-76 record en route to an AL Central division title. They spent the month of April without their all-star backstop, Joe Mauer. Not that you could necessarily tell, since he posted a career year. Mauer won the AL batting title with a .365 batting average, hit a career high 28 homers, and drove in 96 runs en route to winning the AL most valuable player award as well. The Twins were also led on offense by RF Michael Cuddyer (32 HR, 94 RBI), DH Jason Kubel (28 HR, 103 RBI), and CF Denard Span (.311, 23 SB). 1B Justin Morneau had a solid year as well (30 HR, 100 RBI), although not necessarily quite to the standard of his MVP season.

The starting rotation was a complete mixed bag last season, as they only got 200+ innings from Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn. Late season additions to the rotation of Carl Pavano and Brian Duensing both helped the Twins stay in the race until they finally caught the Tigers during the last weekend of the season. The bullpen pitched extremely well last season, with Joe Nathan (47 sv, 2.10 ERA), Matt Guerrier (5-1, 2.36 ERA), and Jose Mijares (2-2, 2.34 ERA) all posting excellent seasons in relief.

The Twins won the play-in game against the Tigers, but unfortunately were no match for the eventual World Champion New York Yankees. They were swept in 3 games by the Yankees.

Team Outlook for 2010

As has become the standard for the Twins, they didn’t make a lot of flashy moves this offseason, but did make some excellent moves which will help to improve their team for the 2010 season. The trade to acquire SS J.J. Hardy could pay off hugely, as he will likely provide some more power for the Twins, and all it cost them was a player that had essentially been passed on the depth chart. Resigning SP Carl Pavano should also help to bring some stability to a rotation that is sorely in need of it. I particularly like the signing of 2B Orlando Hudson, as it takes a position where the Twins have been weak the past two seasons and brings in a professional hitter who can also provide some solid defense as well.

Unless it gets done during the season, the biggest topic of discussion during the season will be whether or not the Twins can get C Joe Mauer signed to a contract extension. It seems at this point like both sides want to get this done, and that they’re likely to before the season starts. I think it’s really important that they get this done, as Mauer is probably more representative of his organization than practically anyone else in the league right now. Joe Mauer is the face of the franchise for the Twins, and it would be a gigantic hit to the organization if he ends up walking away from the Twins.

The Twins are also moving into a new outdoor stadium at the start of this season. It remains to be seen how it is going to play, but I think that the Twins lose a major home-field advantage that they had with the Metrodome. That roof was the bane of quite a few visiting outfielders’ existence, as the ball would get lost in it on a fairly consistent basis. That said, I think that the Twins still are the class of the AL Central at this point, and should do pretty well in 2010.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

All sorts of good fantasy players here, with C Joe Mauer leading the way. RF Michael Cuddyer, DH Jason Kubel, RP Joe Nathan, and 1B Justin Morneau will all end up owned in nearly every league. And of course, there is everyone’s favorite high-risk, high-reward starting pitcher in Francisco Liriano. Liriano has been reported that he pitched well at winter ball, but he is a definite buyer-beware type of pitcher for fantasy.

Prediction for 2010

I think that this Twins team is actually better than last year’s version, and remains the class of the AL Central division. I think that barring a huge rash of injuries, the Twins should win the division pretty easily.

87-75, 1st in the AL Central