Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Unasked For Opinions: If I owned the Twins

Posted by verywellthen on October 6, 2014

It’s that time of the year when everyone offers up their opinions on how they’d improve the Twins if they owned the team.   Just like everyone else (including George Steinbrenner in real life), I’m going to ignore that the role of owner is distinct from the roles of general manager and manager.  Why let facts get in your way?

Here is goes. If I owned the Twins…

If I owned the Twins I would make Target Field the first carbon neutral ballpark in the country. The grounds crew would use push mowers, the concessions would run on wind powered from Twins’ bats whiffing, and the lights would be powered with solar panels on the empty seats. I would also buy carbon offsets to power Brian Dozier’s hairdryer.

If I owned the Twins I would fine anyone who bunts. I would fire any manager who orders a bunt. If the Twins get to a World Series, I would not use bunting to decorate Target Field. I just might trade away Bryon Buxton because his last name is an anagram for “bunt xo” – which sounds to me like someone who loves to bunt.

If I owned the Twins I would clone Joe Mauer. Everyone always says they’d improve their team by cloning its best player.   Well, I’ve been watching that Canadian show Orphan Black on Netflix so I think I know how I can get it done.   I’d hire someone who knows something about genetic sequencing, but I’d get to pick the types of Joe’s we’d clone.   It’d be just like the show except on a baseball field: a street-smart Brit Joe in left field, a smart scientist Joe at catcher, and a psychotic Ukranian Joe as closer.   I wouldn’t need to make a suburban soccer mom Joe Mauer, because we kind of already have that with the Real Joe Mauer.

If I owned the Twins, to attract a more diverse fan base I would redesign one of those two big white guys in the center field neon sign. I’d make over one of them (probably Minnie) from the big lug that he is to some sort of big ambiguous multi-ethnic amalgam of a lug.

If I owned the Twins I would hire Johan Hill as manager. In Moneyball he showed he had a brilliant baseball mind, in The Wolf of Wall Street he showed be could be a loyal member of a management team, and in SuperBad he showed he could draw real funny penis pictures. Those lineup cards would be something.

If I owned the Twins I would sign Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and whoever else they have playing with them these days just to test out a theory – that every major league baseball player, from Mike Trout to Chris Herrmann, would have a Wins Above Replacements of 162. (Though if I could play Bob Stinson in his prime, Chris Herrmann’s WARs would drop to around 155, I figure – though it’s hard to judge players of different eras.)

If I owned the Twins I would cut salary to league minimum and put the savings into a Swiss bank account. My money would be two vaults over from the money Carl Pohlad stashed there from 1994 to 2001.

If I owned the Twins I would use advanced statistics like xFIP and Swing Percentage to rate all the free agent pitchers in the major leagues. Then I would realize I couldn’t afford any of the pitchers at the top of my ranking because all the other teams use those advanced stats too.   Then I’d sign Kevin Corriea. I’d be able to sleep at night, because I tried.

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | Leave a Comment »

The 2013 Twins Lineup Challenge

Posted by verywellthen on March 13, 2013

I need to promote my blog a bit.  I tried calling those Entertainment 720 guys from Parks and Recreation to help me out, but they said my site wasn’t dope.  Or something like that.  So I’m left doing my own promotion.

So I decided to create what I’m calling the 2013 Twins Lineup Challenge.*     The challenge is for you to pick the Twins predominant lineup for 2013.  More on what “predominant” means.

* I’m calling this a “challenge”, not a “contest”.  For me, the term “contest” is forever associated with something George Costanza won.  You go elsewhere to be master of your domain.  This is a “challenge”. 

The prize for the winner:  one t-shirt of your choice from the Diamond Centric collection.   If you best predict the Twins lineup, you get a t-shirt.  And it costs you nothing to try.  (I am unaffiliated with DiamondCentric.  But their t-shirts make fine Twins-related swag.)

I’m not looking for the opening day lineup.  I’m not looking for the most used lineup card.  I’m looking for the lineup that shows who played the most for the Twins in 2013.

Okay, what I’m really looking for is for you to predict what the Twins 2013 Baseball Reference Page will look like at season’s end.

Baseball Reference fills in the predominant lineup of the team — generally, whoever plays the most at any position gets that slot on the BR page.    The pitchers are classified as the starters based on some formula of games started and innings pitched, while the relief pitchers appear to be ranked on innings pitched alone.    Check out what the BR page looked like for the 2012 Twins.

So this challenge is for you to pick (as Baseball Reference lists them at season’s end) the following:

  • the 9 position slots (includes DH)
  • the top 5 reserve batters
  • the 6 starting slots
  • the 1 Closer slot
  • the top 4 additional relief pitchers.

That’s a 25 man roster — so 25 points available in this challenge.  For the challenge, the order does not matter for the the 5 reserve batters or the relievers.  For the starters, the order does not matter except as a tie breaker — explained below.  The Closer is its own slot (if you have Perkins as your closer and Burton gets the most saves, you do not get a point for Perkins even if Perkins makes the list of 4 relievers).

The Rules:

1.  Pick 25 roster slots, as set forth above.  One point for each slot you get right, as determined by Baseball References 2013 Twins page.  The person with the most points win.

2.   The first tiebreaker is the number of correctly-ranked starting pitchers for your entry.  For example, for 2012 if you guessed the order of the six starting pitchers for the Twins would be Diamond, Blackburn, Liriano, Duensing, Hendricks and De Vries, I would have called you a lunatic.  And you would have received 2 points in the tie-breaker for correctly having Diamond as the #1 starting pitcher and Hendricks as the #6 starting pitcher.

3.  The second tiebreaker is the time-stamp of your entry.

4.   You can also enter “Other”, if you choose a player that is not in the Twins System at the time of your entry.  If Oswaldo Arcia starts the season in the minors but gets the most PA’s to be Right Field, you only get a point for the RF slot if you guessed Arcia.  A minor league Twin is not an “Other”.   But if the Twins trade for JJ Hardy to be their shortstop two days after you made your entry and you put “Other” as your shortstop, you get a point.  For entries made after such a hypothetical trade, you would only get a point if you had Hardy as your SS.   See how it works?

5.  You must make your entry in the comments section of my blog.   Entries made in the comments section of Twins Daily do not count, nor do entries made in tweets, written on bathroom walls, or whispered to a dog.    While you’re at my blog, I recommend that you follow me on Twitter (@Very_Well_Then).  Throughout the season I’ll try to make a few updates on the state of this contest.  And hopefully I’ll have some other blog entries to let you know about.

6.  One entry per person.  Don’t use several different emails.  Take a shot at this.  Get on with your life.

7.  Entries must be submitted before first pitch on opening day.

8.   You have to do better than me to win.  It’s my challenge.  This post counts as the entry with the earliest time-stamp.  I already win the second tie-breaker.

9.  Void if prohibited by law.  (I thought I’d better say that.)

Here’s my entry:

Hitters
C Mauer
1B Morneau
2B Dozier
SS Florimon
3B Plouffe
LF Willingham
CF Hicks

RF Parmalee
DH Doumit
Reserve Hitters
Carroll
Mastroianni
Butera
Escobar
Benson
Starting Pitchers
1 Pelfry
2 Worley
3 Diamond
4 Corriea
5 Gibson
6 Hendricks
Relief Pitchers
CL Perkins

RP Burton
RP Swarzak
RP Duensing
RP Other*
 
* I’m being bold.  I’m picking an “other”.  My guess is that the Twins will pick someone up on the waiver wire at the end of spring training — perhaps another lefty. 
 


Now, go ahead and take your guess in the comments section.

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | 1 Comment »

Brian Harper’s Index — 2012 Minnesota Twins by the Numbers

Posted by verywellthen on October 15, 2012

Harper’s magazine begins each issue with a list of number-oriented factoids called Harper’s Index.   Below is VeryWellThen.Com’s third annual series of number-oriented factoids about the Twins baseball season.   Here on the Twin-ternet, such a list has to be called “Brian Harper’s Index.”

The single-season homerun record for Target Field (set by Josh Willingham in 2012): 21

Number of Twins wins at Target Field: 31

Twins team rank in Major League Baseball for home wins: 30

Number of Twins winning streaks of 4 or more games: 3

Number of Twins losing streaks of 4 or more games: 9

Twins team rank in American League for stolen bases: 1

Denard Span’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as calculated by Baseball Reference: 4.8

Rank of Denard Span’s WAR among Twins Players: 1

Twins team rank in American League for OPS by Center Fielders (Span’s primary position): 12

Twins team rank in American League for OPS by Catchers: 2

OPS for Joe Mauer while playing catcher:  .952

OPS for Joe Mauer while playing any position other than catcher: .767

OPS for Justin Morneau against right hand pitchers in 2012 and in his career: .902/.904

OPS for Justin Morneau against left hand pitchers in 2012 and in his career: .569/.728

OPS and home run total for Trevor Plouffe in 55 games between May 16 and July 19) : .997/18

OPS and home run total for Trevor Plouffe in all other games: .565/6

Twins team rank in American League by starting pitching for ERA, Wins, Quality Starts, Strikeouts and Innings Pitched:  14

Number of wins by Jeff Gray: 6

Jeff Gray’s rank on Twins for most wins : 2 (tied with Sam Deduno)

Number of Twitter Followers that I have, rounded up to the nearest million: 1,000,000

[Follow me on Twitter at Very_Well_Then]

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Revere in Third Place for Batting Title

Posted by verywellthen on August 6, 2012

Ben Revere does not yet qualify for the Batting Title.   His 4 for 5 evening against Cleveland sent his batting average up to .331  — which would be good enough for second place in the American League.    Except that to qualify for the leader board, he needs 3.1 plate appearances for every game his team has played.   The Twins have played 109 games, which means that his 331 plate appearances fall 7 short of qualifying.

So in just a few days he should debut on the charts with a bullet, likely landing in the top 5.

But wait!  If you apply the “Tony Gwynn Rule” he’s already near the top of the charts.   In one of my favorite obscure baseball rules, a batter can win the batting title if he remains in the lead even if he goes hitless in those missing plate appearances.    Official Major League Rule 10.22(a).

I wrote about this back in 2009 — when Mauer missed April to injury but stormed into mid-summer with a batting average over .400 but not enough plate appearances to qualify on the leader board.  Here’s what I wrote then:

Call it the “Tony Gwynn” rule, if you will.  The rule has been around since 1967, but it was Tony who benefitted from the rule in 1996 — a season where he ended up 5 plate appearances short of the batting title threshold of 3.1 plate appearances per game.

Tony’s season ending average was .353, ahead of Ellis Burks’ .344.   Ellis had the highest batting average of any National Leaguer who qualified for the batting title.  Did he take home the batting crown?  No.  The rule allows for trading in a player’s deficient PA’s for outs.  Apply a theoretical zero-for-five day to Tony’s stats to get him to 503,  and Tony’s batting average would have been .349, keeping him ahead of Ellis. [...]

As of close of business today (Sunday, June 14, 2009), Joe Mauer’s batting average is .413.   His 181 plate appearances leave him 21 short of the 202 necessary for the Twins’ 65 games to date.   Adding a hypothetical O-fer 21 streak to Joe’s season gives him a .364 [average].  Ichiro has a batting average [...] of .360 as I type this.    A season-ending strike breaks out overnight and Joe is the champion. 

 

So for Revere, add an O-fer 8 to his stats and he stands at .3238.  Which would place him third on an adjusted Batting Title board, behind only Mike Trout (.346) and Miguel Cabrera (.3241).
Perhaps this is just the sign of a dismal Twins season — when I take a contrived rule and apply it to establish a hypothetical third place standing on a list for a Twins player who will be on that same list in just a few days.

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | Leave a Comment »

2012 (Bobby) Darwin Award — for Best Start to Twins Season

Posted by verywellthen on April 15, 2012

It’s time for the Second Annual Bobby Darwin Awards, issued by this very website: VeryWellThen.Com.

The award goes to the Twin with the fastest start within the first week to ten days of the season.   The award gets its name from  Bobby Darwin  — who debuted with a hot start as a 29 year old rookie center fielder for the Twins in1972, right around the time I was forming my first baseball memories.

Darwin arrived with the Twins from the Dodgers organization for his first chance to play outfield at a major league level.  He hit 5 home runs in his first 8 games.

My cousin Bobby was an early baseball mentor to me.  Despite sharing a first name with Darwin, he told me not to get too carried away with Darwin’s fast start.  Cousin Bobby, in his ten-year-old wisdom, warned me that every year some Twin would start off really hot, but would crash back to earth.   Here, at 7 years old, I was receiving my first lesson with “regression to the mean.”

Darwin hit his 6th home run in game 12, but didn’t connect with his 7th of 1972 until game 45.   Cousin Bobby had it down.  In the end, Darwin had a respectable season — with 22 home runs and an OPS+ of 123.   The Twins traded Darwin away in his fourth season with the team — perhaps tiring of his league-leading strike-out totals.

Interesting aside: Darwin debuted for one game with the Dodgers as a pitcher at age 19.  He would get 3 more pitching appearances with the Dodgers at age 26 before going back to the minors to reinvent himself as an outfielder.

With last year’s atrocious start by the Twins, I had to look really hard to find someone to give the First Annual Bobby Darwin Award.   I settled on Nick Blackburn for two early acceptable outings.  That was for a team that started 3-6.

This years’ Twins have started even worse.  Three series into the year and the Twins stand 2-7.

However, it is much easier this year to select the fast-starter.   In a Bobby Darwin worthy start, Josh Willingham has 4 home runs, is batting .444 and his OPS is in the stratosphere at 1.508.    According to an Aaron Gleeman tweet, he is only the fourth Twin to home 4 times in the first six games of the season.    The other three: Kirby Puckett, Tony Oliva and, of course, Bobby Darwin.  That’s two legendary Twins — Puckett in 1987 and Oliva in 1966 — having years where they were in the discussion for MVP.   And one Twin who had a season that one young fan remembered enough to grow up and make up a silly blog award about.

How do you think Josh Willingham’s season will turn out?

Congratulations to Josh Willingham as the Second Annual VeryWellThen.Com Bobby Darwin Award winner.

[Haven't had enough of my blinding insight? Follow me on Twitter at Very_Well_Then]

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The 2012 Twins: Don’t Get to Know ‘Em, They Might Not Be Around Long

Posted by verywellthen on April 5, 2012

Let’s cheer for the Minnesota Twins today.  Because these Minnesota Twins – the 2012 Minnesota Twins – might not be around tomorrow.

I just took a look at the Opening Day lineup and I’m struck by how few players I see — at least in the starting lineup — as a reliable part of the Twins future.   The same thing goes for the projected starting rotation (my feeling is amplified with newsflash update of Scott Baker lasting 3 batters in his minor-league start today).

The Twins are very much a team in transition and in just two short years they may barely resemble what you see here at the beginning of 2012.

Take a look at the 2012 Opening Day starting lineup and the projected five man rotation and who do you reasonably expect to be on the team in two years, when the 2014 season starts up?

2012 Starting Lineup

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Ryan Doumit, RF
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Chris Parmelee, 1B
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

2012 Projected Rotation

Carl Pavano
Francisco Liriano
Nick Blackburn
Scott Baker
Jason Marquis

Well, Joe Mauer won’t be going anywhere – there will still be 5 more years at $23M per owed to him.   He’ll  still do the 2014 ceremonial opening day squatting at catcher, but will likely start seeing more and more time at other positions.

Who else?

Josh Willingham will have one more year on his contract.

And then?  Well…

Ryan Doumit is committed to just one year.   Call him a  ‘Journey-man’ –  he’ll be going his Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).

Jamey Carroll is committed to two years plus an unlikely-to-be tapped  2014 option.  He certainly won’t be an everyday middle infielder at age 40.

It’s reasonable to question whether either of the Concussion Twins will be every day Twins in 2014.   Justin Morneau will be a free agent and 2014 will be the final non-option year of Denard Span’s contract.   The Twins are as loyal as an MLB team gets, but extending on Morneau makes little sense from today’s perspective.  Span is the more likely of the two to be starting on Opening Day 2014, but that’s a dicey proposition, too.

Alexi Casilla will be a free agent and likely not worth the pursuit.

Valencia will be entering his first year of arbitration (translation: muy caro) – right about the time that super-prospect Miguel Sano will be knocking down the door of third base.

Parmalee will still be cheap – the question remains if he has what it takes to be a full-time bat at first base or DH.

That’s the 2012 opening day starting lineup.

Projecting any current starters onto the 2014 rotation isn’t a good bet either.   Pavano and Liriano  will be free agents* after this season, Baker after the next.    Marquis is probably a one year gap-filler.  Blackburn has a 2014 option that I hope the Twins will recognize as over-priced.

* For all the free agents, remember that under the new collective bargaining deal, offering arbitration is a much worse bet for teams since only really expensive team offers (i.e. no Twins offers) will bring back any compensation picks.   So the Pavano-style one-year-at-a-time deal at arbitration prices is a thing of the past.

So the starting Twins of 2014 might only have Mauer and a lame-duck Willingham from 2012’s opening starters.    Of course the Ghost of Opening Day Future will contain spirits from the Ghost of Baseball Season Present, as likely 2012 contributors Plouffe, Dozier, Benson and Hendricks will be asked to step up to lead roles by 2014.

Still, that’s not a lot of continuity.   On the bright side, the Twins will have flexibility with only 14 Million non-Mauer dollars presently on the 2014 books.

[Contract info for this post comes from: Cot's Baseball Contracts at Baseball Prospectus]

[Haven't had enough of my blinding insight? Follow me on Twitter at Very_Well_Then]

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MLB Replaces All-Star Game with First Annual MLB Hunger Games

Posted by verywellthen on February 22, 2012

Below are excerpts from various sources regarding today’s shocking announcement from MLB.

Press Release: First Annual MLB Hunger Games

MLB.Com – 7 hours ago

The Capitol (AP) —  President Selig announced today that Major League Baseball is replacing its annual All-Star Game with the First Annual MLB Hunger Games, to be held in Kansas City from July 9 through July 11, 2012.       Each MLB team will be required to provide one position player and one pitcher to participate in a winner-take-all fight to the death.

The team providing the winning “tribute”  — as each participant is called — will get the expanded wild card play-off spot for the 2012 season.    The league represented by the winning tribute will also get home field advantage in the World Series.

As President Selig, wearing a white rose in his lapel, explained to an enthusiastic press corps:  “This time it really counts.”

The Business of Sports Weblog: Forum on MLB Hunger Games

WallStreetJournal.Com – 3 hours ago

Heyman:  My sources say that the owners made this move in frustration over years of being unable to impose a salary cap.

Stark:  Yes, you can see how President Selig meticulously paved the path for today’s announcement.   First, he gets the Player’s Union to agree to require all players to appear in Kansas City for All-Star Weekend, no matter what.    Then, he gets the extra playoff slot in place as the fan incentive in rooting for their tributes in the Games.

Rosenthal:  The union was caught completely off guard by today’s announcement. I’m hearing that they’re preparing a complaint for the Labor Relations Board.  But the complaint won’t be based on the allegation that subjecting union members to death by hand-to-hand combat  constitutes an unfair labor practice, but rather, that any change in the way that World Series home field advantage is determined requires union consent under the collective bargaining agreement.

Stark:  I see this as a brilliant marketing move by MLB.   Just look at the popularity of the bloodlust sports — cage fighting and the UFC — especially amongst the young demographic.

Neyer:  I think MLB is totally misreading its fan base.  I could see this working in the NFL.  Definitely, the NHL.   But baseball is the pastoral game, it’s about coming home.

Heyman:  I think those are outdated notions, Rob.

Neyer:  May I remind you that baseball has zero teams named after a bird of prey, but three teams named after songbirds.*

* The last words spoken by Rob Neyer before being turned into an Avox. 

Twins Pick First MLB Hunger Game Tributes

Minneapolis Star Tribune – 1 hour ago

Minnesota was the first district to select its participants in the First Annual MLB Hunger Games, to be held this summer in Kansas City.    In today’s selection process to the MLB Hunger Games – known as the “reaping” – Twins owner Jim Pohlad drew the names of Carl Pavano and Justin Morneau, as the pitcher and position player to represent the Minnesota Twins as Hunger Game tributes.

In a surprise move — and in an apparent effort to put to rest lingering questions about his toughness — Joe Mauer volunteered to replace Justin Morneau as a tribute.

“Even if Justin won, he was going to have a tough time coming back to help the team after the rigors of the Hunger Games, I figure,” explained Mauer on why he volunteered to replace Morneau.   “You just can’t mess around with concussions.”

Ron “Haymitch” Gardenhire will be mentoring the Twins tributes, Pavano and Mauer, at the Hunger Games.  He had several initial thoughts on his tributes’ chances.

“I think Joe stands a pretty good chance.   [Kansas City’s] Kaufman Stadium doesn’t favor the home run hitter so much, so he should be able to use his gap power.   And, as a catcher, he’ll have a leg up on most everyone with his familiarity with the use of the protective gear.”

“Pavs, well he’s not going to blow his competition away.  He’s going to have to survive on craft and guile.   We’ll definitely want him to pitch to contact.”

“There’s no way we should be going head to head with the big boys from Boston or New York.   I think we’ll look to form some alliances with some small market teams, let the teams from the East beat each other up, and see if we can get a survivor from there. “

The other MLB teams will be selecting their tributes as the preseason progresses.

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | 1 Comment »

Rewriting Twins “Source Code”

Posted by verywellthen on October 19, 2011

If you could alter Twins history — what would you change?

Joe Posnanski recently listed his “Top Ten Sports Code Moments” – ten hypothetical ‘do overs’ from the sports world.   His inspiration comes from the movie, “Source Code,” where Jake Gyllenhayll is the subject of a military science project that sends him back to recent history to learn things that could alter the future.

For Posnanski’s “Sport’s Code” moments, the basic concept is you can’t change the outcome of events, only the inputs leading up to the event.   You can’t know how the situation will play out, but you can make a few tweaks in hoping the situation plays out differently, at least.

I finally saw the movie on Netflix, no wait …Qwikster, no wait …Netflix, and I was expecting a slightly different premise based on Posnanski’s “Sports Code” premise.  Oh well.  Each are a bit different.  In the “Sports Code” premise you can go back in time and change things.  However, you can’t change the outcome of events, only the inputs leading up to the event.   You can’t know how the situation will play out, but you can make a few tweaks in life’s source code in hoping the situation plays out differently, at least.

Posnanski came up with ten Sports Code moments for sports generally.  I’m going to present 5 Twins Source Code moments — historical rewrites to change the history of the Minnesota Twins.*

* After this lost season, I’m not the only one whiling away my time playing what-if games about Twins history.    Check out Nate Gilmore’s excellent Twins’ hypotheticals.

1)  Kirby’s bean ball.   Moments before Dennis Martinez threw the last regular season pitch ever to Kirby Puckett, I’d somehow induce Kirby to call for a timeout.   I’d tinker with the source code to allow for just a few seconds for everyone to regroup themselves, Martinez to regrip the ball, Kirby to refocus.  With my source code change, I believe Kirby would finish that final game of the 1995 season and be in great shape to start out 1996.

Kirby and the Twins have always formally insisted that Kirby’s subsequent onset of glaucoma was not a result of the beaning.  But it’s not an explanation that sits well.   During a pressbox visit in the late 1990’s, Kirby himself allegedly slipped off the official party line when he said, after watching a batter avoid an inside pitch, something like, “if I would have ducked, I’d still be playing.”

Twins fans got cheated out of several more years of quality Kirby time.  I’m especially disappointed in not seeing him play beside Paul Molitor in 1996 when Molitor had a revival year returning to his hometown.

Mind you, Kirby likely would have continued in the fade from his peak years – who knows how fast?  Twins fans did avoid the pain many fans feel when seeing their heroes hold on when the magic has dissipated.    Of course, there was plenty of pain in seeing Kirby’s life unravel in the years after baseball was taken away from him.   I can’t help but feel it would have all played out much better had Kirby ducked.

2)  Tony Oliva’s Knee Injury

My memory of Tony Oliva was mostly that of a rickety designated hitter that everybody said: “you should have seen just a few years ago.”    The culmination of this memory of Aching Tony was the brief and woeful experiment in the spring of 1976, where Tony served as the leadoff hitter in the first few road games.  He would bat once and get replaced by a pinch-runner should he reach, and then walk over to the first base coaching box to take up coaching duties for the remainder of the game. Tony reached base only once in the four times the experiment was used.

To get a longer-lasting Oliva, I’d have to rewrite June 29, 1971 — the day that Tony wrenched his knee late in a game against the A’s.  I guess I’d get Ron Perranoski to throw something different to Joe Rudi, so Rudi wouldn’t have lined one to right field, where Tony stumbled on the wet turf.  After missing a few weeks, Oliva returned to hold onto his batting title for the 1971 season, but he was never the same player after that.    After missing most of 1972, he returned as the Twins first DH when the AL adapted the rule in 1973.

3)  The Strike

As a baseball fan, the one great avoidable tragedy  of my lifetime was the 1994 strike.  There probably aren’t enough software programmers in the world to reprogram all the egos that collectively accounted for the 1994 strike, but I’d try.  For the Twins – well they weren’t going anywhere that season (final record: 53-60) – or anytime soon.   Knoblauch was on his way to a phenomenal season – on pace to challenge the double record.   We all would have gotten more Kirby-in-his-prime.  Shane Mack had a great season, but with the strike, would take his talents to Japan.

After the strike, the economics of baseball changed and the small-market/crappy-stadium Twins were going to be buried for a while.

4) Morneau’s Slide

Justin Morneau was wonked on the head by the knee of Toronto shortstop John McDonald* on July 7, 2010 and his career has been in the hazy fog of a severe concussion ever since.   Justin was having his best year yet, carrying an underachieving team through the first half of the 2010 season.  The 2010 Twins would carry on fine without him for the remainder of the 2010 season, but his major bat was missed in the playoffs and he’s had another lost season for the floundering Twins of 2011.

My source code change?  I’d send some signals from the bench on that day in Toronto – send Justin on a hit and run, perhaps – something to alter the arrival at second base.  The routine play would remain routine.  Justin might have another MVP.  The 2011 Twins might not have been so wretched.  And the future of the Twins would be so much more in focus.

* I beam with pride in seeing my baptismal name in major league box scores – even if the box scores don’t look too pretty.

5) Mauer

As a final piece of source code edit, I’d go back to 2001, Joe Mauer’s first season as a minor leaguer.  There I would reprogram the minds of the Twins think-tank to reposition Mauer as an outfielder.     I fully believe that Mauer’s best “value” to a baseball team is as a catcher.  But one of the fun things about programming is that you can tinker with some code, run the experiment and then re-program and re-run the code, over and over again.

And I’m just so curious as to how this would go.

There is no guarantee that he’d stay healthy as an outfielder (just ask Kubel or Oliva), but could a career in the outfield mean a real shot at seeing Mauer make a run at .400?   At the very least, it would be a joy to see a fully healthy Mauer applying that sweet lefty swing more predictably.    Of course, with a healthy Mauer, Souhan would have to find another reason to get up in the morning.

Those are my five rewrites.   What are yours?

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Brian Harper’s Index — 2011 Twins by the Numbers

Posted by verywellthen on October 6, 2011

Harper’s magazine begins each issue with a list of number-oriented factoids called Harper’s Index.   Below is VeryWellThen.Com’s second annual series of number-oriented factoids about the Twins baseball season.   Here on the Twins-ernet, such a list has to be called “Brian Harper’s Index.”

[It’s said that baseball’s 162 game season isn’t a sprint, but a marathon.  For the 2011 Twins it was a triathlon.   The Twins almost drown in the opening “swim “stage (the first 54 games), cranked it like Lance Armstrong with a tail wind in the middle “bike” stage, and stumbled like a hamstrung Molina in the homestretch “run” stage.   Reflecting this triathlon of inconsistent quality, several stats from this season’s “Brian Harper’s Index” are divided into thirds.  ]

Brian Harper’s Index:

Assorted Numbers on the 2011 Twins Season

Twins wins in each third of season: 17/33/13

How each third of season would project in wins over 162 games: 51/99/39

Percentage of games started by season opening rotation for each third of season: 96/93/60

Games per third with Joe Mauer available: 9/41/33

Games per third with Justin Morneau available: 54/1/18

Days of season not spent in 4th or 5th place: 3

Positions played by “Utility Player” Joe Mauer (listed by Baseball-Reference.com as “UT” rather than meeting site standard for single position) : 4

Twins Rank in AL of Catcher OPS in 2010 : 1

Twins Rank in AL for Catcher OPS in 2011: 14

Number of positions where Twins finished last in MLB by team OPS: 3 (C, 2B, LF)

Number of positions where Twins finished in top ten in MLB by team OPS: 2 (1B and P (in 20 At Bats))

Number of RBIs for Delmon Young as a Twin (84 games) compared to RBIs as a Tiger (40 games) : 32/32

Games Started at Second Base for Tsuyoshi Nishioki : 6

Number of players in MLB history named “Rene” : 8

Probable number of put-outs in MLB history from one Rene to another Rene: 1 (Tosini to Rivera (7-2 putout) on August 30)

Number of hits given up by Carl Pavano: 262

Total salary paid to all pitchers who earned one or more of Twins’ 32 team saves: $19.45 Million

Final team OPS for the Twins 2011 (Really!) :  .666

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Glen “the Wolf” Perkins: “I Solve Problems”

Posted by verywellthen on July 5, 2011

I propose a nickname for Glen Perkins.

“The Wolf.”

As in Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction: Winston “the Wolf” Wolfe.

You might remember the Wolf showing up for a little Sunday morning crisis management in the film.

“I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems.”

 

Matt Capps left another mess tonight, not dissimilar to the Travolta/Jackson mess from Pulp Fiction.  A two run lead was halved by one pitch to B.J. Upton.  A single, two deep outs and a walk later,  and for the third Capps appearance in a row, the save no longer belonged to Matt.

Thankfully, Gardy has been willing to do what he’d do in any other inning – take the ball away from an ineffective reliever.    The manage-for-the-save mentality would usually mean it’s the closer’s game until the bitter end of the ninth inning.   But with Capps imploding on Saturday, Gardy gave Capps a short leash on both Sunday and Tuesday and Capps ran to the end of it in short order.

Perkins has revived his career as a calm, cool force out of the bullpen, ready to take on any high-leverage situation presented to him.   His ERA is down to 1.78 with particular effectiveness against lefties.  He also possesses the last two Twins’ saves.

 

Saturday vs. the Brewers: two on, one out, two run lead.  Time for the Wolf.

Tuesday vs. the Rays: two on, two outs, one run lead.  Time for the Wolf.

 

Here’s the scene on the mound with Perkins relieving Capps, as Tarantino might imagine it:

The Wolf:  Matt, I’ll take the ball. Boys, let’s get to work.

Capps:  A please would be nice.

The Wolf: Come again?

Capps: I said a please would be nice.

The Wolf: Get it straight buster – I’m not here to say please, I’m here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you’d better f***ing do it and do it quick. I’m here to help – if my help’s not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen.

Mauer: No, Mr. Wolf, it ain’t like that, your help is definitely appreciated.

Capps: I don’t mean any disrespect, I just don’t like people barking orders at me.

The Wolf: If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please… with sugar on top. Let’s get out of this f***ing inning.

 

 

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