# May 2, 2012: Apathy

I never got around to turning the game on last night. I meant to, and then it was 3-0, and then…well, it never happened. I should probably just accept that this is who the Twins are, and they’re the only Twins I’ve got.

### 186 LTEs written in response to May 2, 2012: Apathy

• This season has gone so poorly, even Ubes has turned into a snark machine!

• SBG

The more troubling thing is that socaltwinsfan has been broken. This guy was unfailingly positive during last year’s 99-loss debacle, but now he’s just beaten down like the rest of us. I am upset about this.

• When New Guy starts predicting things like, “THE TWINS ARE GOING TO HAVE A BASERUNNER TONIGHT!!!” then it’s time for an intervention.

• freealonzo

Pretty soon he’ll be relegated to THE TWINS ARE GOING TO HIT IT OUT OF THE INFIELD TONIGHT!!

• bhiggum

I am really enjoying the ubes snark, though. The crack about Hoey’s pitches in last night’s gamelog was priceless.

• AMR

Wait, Hoey’s on the Jays, right? I’ll need to read the gamelog, I guess.

• AMR

Likewise, I’ve been looking forward to the West Coast Series because I can listen while I feed the baby around 11ish. But last night it was 4-0 at that time and I figured my iPod would be better.

• On the lost wedding ring front: I’ve dismantled the recliner enough to have serious doubts that the ring is there. The Runner family is befuddled.

• brianS

look for paper bags in the trunk of her car.

• her car has no trunk, smarty-pants

• Twayn

When we were newlyweds, my wife lost her ring. Looked all over for it. I finally had her retrace her steps from that afternoon. Turns out she ate watermelon off a paper plate shortly before noticing the ring was gone, and she’d already taken out the trash. After about 15 minutes of dumpster diving, I found the ring firmly adhered to the bottom of a paper plate sticky with watermelon juice.

I feel like I am usually pretty contrarian. I look at the positive when things are negative and negative when things are positive.

It is real tough to find the positive right now. It feels like the whole thing needs to be blown up. We have a pitch-to-contact staff with bad defense. I still think the offense can be average to above average but that is dependent on people staying healthy.

I have no faith that the manager will start players based on the matchup. The manager asks the veterans where they want to play instead of putting them where it benefits the team.

Are there positives somewhere? Mauer is having a good year but the fans allow their opinion to be formed by Souhan and Barrio so I can’t even enjoy that.

Help!

The fans would be so much better off just having their opinions formed by Barrio. Fans drunk on margaritas are much more likely to be laid-back and to love Joe Mauer.

I was trying to spell it like Denny used to pronounce it.

Denny really needs his own reality show.

• socaltwinsfan

Actually, the Twins are 12th in baseball and 5th in the AL in UZR. I believe B-Ref metrics support this as well. The defense has improved to a little above average. The walk rate has also dropped but it can’t make up for a 5.1 K rate, which is almost a full K worse than last year’s staff, which was dead last in the AL.

• Yeah, BB rate is down, and 4/9 of our lineup has a pretty good BA going right now.

I’d rather have Revere’s one infield hit per game than a black hole in the non-Span/Willingham spot in the lineup. Still, starting pitching is the problem child.

Is UZR statistically significant at this point of the season?

• sean

No, but then none of the offensive metrics are either, except for maybe walks and strikeouts.

But don’t defensive metrics take even longer to be significant than offensive metrics?

• I think UZR is more significant than just saying the Twins have bad defense. Besides some corner outfield antics, can we really say that our defense is below average? I haven’t seen it. Even the media boys would look at Errors and say that the Twins were average.

I think eyesight is a better judge of defense than statistics after one month. I am a believer in offensive statistics but even the creators of defensive statistics say you need a lot of data to know anything.
I would say we are terrible at corner outfield and below average at 3b. The middle infield is average.

• I haven’t seen the missed DPs like we had constantly last year. I think our D is close enough to average to not make it a scapegoat for all the other insanity going on. Pitch to contact isn’t as much of a problem as pitch to keep it inside the ballpark — 36 HR, good for a “first place” tie with Toronto. (And somehow Washington has only given up 6!)

• sean

I think eyesight will almost always be worse than statistics. Especially if you’re watching TV since you lose contextual clues (like where the player actually is) and miss the first half second or more of each play. You don’t need lots of defensive data to know anything, but rather to know anything confidently. After a month, you can likely figure out terrible and awesome from average. Determining more requires way more detailed data, which doesn’t exist outside of San Francisco right now.

We already know Willingham is a bad left fielder, so nothing has changed there. Right field, however, has too many part-time players to be able to know how it is. Plouffe probably isn’t good there now, but he has 140 innings in right so far, and just 68 this year. A bad shortstop is still better than a bad right fielder. Doumit is -4 according to TZ and average according to Plus/Minus, but that’s in 532 innings, mostly from 2007. I would say the Twins are bad in right field, but could easily improve just by letting Plouffe play there a lot.

• sean

Oh, I should add that for 2012 (and maybe 2011, I don’t know), BIS has improved their data quality*. Before, it was suspect but probably still useful. Now I think it’s definitely useful and the best we have until FieldF/X is available.

* Plus Minus/Defensive Runs Saved (DRS on FanGraphs) and UZR both use BIS data. TotalZone (the Rtot numbers from B-R) uses data from Gameday 2005-present and Retrosheet before that.

• punmanbowler

I’m blaming it on Gardy winning Manager of the Year in 2010. Ever since that award (which he probably deserved in any other year more than that one) the Twins have been playing like crap.

• Philosofer

So let’s blow it up.

Relevant questions: Who do we keep/cut? What can we get from trades/free agents after the year? And maybe biggest… what year are we building towards and what pieces will we have at that time?

I say we’re looking at 2014 at the earliest, but let’s say 2015. Key pieces we’ve currently got: Mauer, Sano, Gibson. Others?

Who else do we try to keep in that time? Lots of question here. But I think it’s a worthy discussion.

• bhiggum

I’d add in Hicks, Benson and hopefully Rosario by then. Pitching-wise, Hendriks, DeVries and Diamond should still be around, right? I don’t have a lot of hope for most of the starting minor league pitchers, but there’ll be a couple who get a shot by then, I’m sure.

• Perkins is locked up for a while now. I’m assuming he’ll be closing.

I think they really need to lock up a good starting pitcher, either through trade or FA, who is going to be here for a few years after this season. I’d sure like to see Greinke in a Twins uni, but I don’t know if the Braintrust would drop that kind of coin for a starting pitcher. It would be nice to bring in someone who can stabilize the rotation, and put a little less pressure on Gibson & whoever their draft pick is this year to lead the rotation right away.

• Given the FO’s usual MO of hiring dull clubhouse guys, I’m guessing Greinke’s anxiety history will be a prohibitive factor.

Plus, Grienke sounds like he is pretty smart. That’s another knock against him in the Twins’ eyes.

• Philosofer

Do we really believe in Hicks and Benson? I’m not quite willing to go there yet on either, though I’m high on Benson (Cuddyer-level offense with better defense? Might be too bullish on his offense).

• Jeff A

When we’re talking about three years out, and especially about guys who haven’t even established themselves in AAA yet, it’s pretty hard to believe too much in anybody. I have hopes for all the guys mentioned, along with some others, but hope is a long way from expectation. Many of them could be good players, but the chances are not that many of them will be.

• ubelmann

If Hicks is playing decent defense in center, then he’s basically on Span’s path to the majors. Scouts like him, he’s hitting alright. Of course, any number of things could go against him, but it looks like he’ll be above replacement level.

• sean

Plus Dozier, Michael, and Arcia.

• Philosofer

Wow. You guys are really high on our prospects, huh? I can see the case for Dozier. Michael hasn’t done anything yet to let us know. I don’t know enough about Arcia.

• sean

If you mean star players, then no. If you mean likely possibilities for 2015, then yes, add those players. Though, Arcia would probably be in AAA then. All of them will be cheap and capable in 2015, so just time is needed to see how good they will be.

• Philosofer

I mean players who can capably fill out a major league roster and we won’t be looking forward to their replacements somewhere down the line.

• sean

Then I think the players listed by myself, bhiggs, and you all count right now. Except Diamond, unless he transitions to relief or is the fifth starter. Come 2015, I’m guessing half of them won’t.

• Philosofer

I still think Michael is too unknown to put on that list.

• sean

I won’t disagree there. He was a decent/solid player in college, but with just 21 games at A+, I’m fine with waiting a year before forming an opinion of him.

• socaltwinsfan

Pitching should include Gibson, Wimmers and whoever we draft in June, hopefully. Looking at stats, just noticed the guy the Twins traded for, Daniel Turpen, and Deolis Guerra have a combined 31-1 K/BB rate in 27 2/3 innings. Guerra really seems to have blossomed in the bullpen.

• ubelmann

I’m not a believer in long-term rebuilds. Make the 2013 team better than the 2012 team. Make the 2014 team better than the 2013 team. Etc.

• Philosofer

I just don’t see that as possible for most teams, given the way talent is acquired.

• bhiggum

given the way talent is acquired.

And that’s why I responded with a list of our prospects, I guess. There’s a lot of free agents I’d like the Twins to get in the next couple years, but the only pieces we can count on being available would be the players under team control.

• ubelmann

I don’t see long-term rebuilds as possible for most teams. People remember the teams that have long-term rebuild plans and succeed, but it’s easy to forget all of the times that long-term rebuilds don’t work out.

Besides, at least the way I look at it, the implication in a long-term rebuild is that you start off with a decent team and “blow it up.” The Twins don’t have anything to blow up right now.

Look at the Tigers and the Indians. After 2002, the Indians decided to “blow it up,” trade off veteran assets, let some guys walk, and go on a long-term rebuild. In the following nine seasons, they’ve made one playoff appearance. Six of those nine seasons have been below .500, another has been at .500, and their attendance is brutal right now.

After the Tigers’ historically bad 2003, they had nothing to blow up. Was Dombrowski’s big move that off-season to get even younger? No, his big move was to acquire a HOF catcher on a long-term contract. This move was criticized by some pundits at the time, because they figured Detroit had so many holes, they should try to patch them all at once, rather than making a bold stroke to acquire a good player. Then after a somewhat better 2004, Dombrowski went and signed Magglio Ordonez. Of course there have been dozens and dozens of other moves on Detroit’s roster, but those are the ones that stick out to me. Faced with a bad team, Dombrowski went out and added good players. He didn’t have an artificial timeline on which to acquire these players--he wasn’t waiting for the final year of a long-term plan to add the expensive vets, he just saw good players and got them. The Tigers have been above .500 4 of their 8 years since the disaster of 2003, they’ve had two playoff runs, and their attendance is good.

I liked the Willingham acquisition because it reminded me more of the Tigers than the Indians. The Twins saw a good player on the market and they signed him. Sure he’s not perfect and the Twins probably won’t compete this year, but he makes the team better and eventually if you make enough moves that improve the team, you’ve got a good team. The Twins also ought to have enough room in the payroll to act like the Tigers, even if they can’t act like the Yankees or the Red Sox.

• Jeff A

I’m with ubelmann. I remember Bill Veeck saying years ago that five-year plans tend to lead to more five-year plans. I’m not saying we should completely mortgage the future, of course, and I know ubes isn’t, either.

• Philosofer

I’m not talking about a 5-year plan, I’m talking about a candid assessment of the team right now and in the near future, meaning “what pieces do we really have?” I’d be ok with the Twins trading off talent that would make them better this year/next year if it means being better in 2015, because realistically, from the way it looks now, that’s the arrival date of chance at a good team. Sure, let’s go sign a great free agent next year, but only if he’ll be around in 2015 too.

• ubelmann

I don’t see why you wouldn’t sign a great free agent to a two-year contract just because he doesn’t fit an artificial time line. If you sign him on a good contract, there’s always the chance you can move him for value during the second year of the contract, and the biggest thing that motivates payroll is attendance and the biggest thing that motivates attendance is wins. Even a middling team is going to draw better than a terrible team, and that gives you more resources to work with.

• Philosofer

Opportunity cost. Your argument here seems to be that revenue will go up if you sign a great free agent to a two-year contract. And there are times that’s probably true (Jim Thome?). But I’d argue that those times are rare. The kind of player you can sign on a two-year contract is probably going to be a +5 WAR at best. So let’s say that really translates to 5 more wins. Add those to a 70 (or fewer) win team and you’re not going to draw that many more people to the ballpark, such that it’ll offset the contract price.

Now, if you’re pulling an Oakland A’s, where you sign a guy like that and flip him for prospects, sure, I’m all for it. But I’d rather the money be banked, or spent on development/acquisition.

• sean

I have never heard of an MLB team that banks the money in recent years. It’s spend now or profit for the owners.

• Philosofer

The Twins last year, when they cut payroll, talked a lot about how the year before they’d gone over budget. That’s the same principle, just with the years reversed.

And it should happen, even if it doesn’t.

• sean

Well yeah, teams go over budget now and then when they think they have a better chance of winning. I doubt they weren’t profitable though.

• Philosofer

I have no doubt they were still profitable. Banking money like I’ve suggested wouldn’t make them significantly less profitable in they year they banked it. But banking money could make them significantly more profitable in the year they spent it (and subsequent years if it leads to significantly more victories) because of the effect ubelmann suggested.

My argument is that a few more victories per year doesn’t result in more profit, a lot of victories in one (or more) years leads to more profit. Banked payroll is an investment opportunity.

• sean

I don’t think we disagree at all. I just, unfortunately, don’t see it happening. Possibly ever.

• Philosofer

I’d suggest that the right GM could make it happen.

• sean

The GM has no control over this I think. The right owner though, could. Why some don’t, I don’t know. Maybe the Rays do and we just don’t know about it because the budget is so small anyway. And the Yankees don’t because they print money.

• Philosofer

Point taken. The right GM/Owner tandem is needed.

• ubelmann

I do think that there would be a reasonable bump in interest if you brought in a 5-WAR player. That’s a pretty damn good player, and if he comes in and plays well, that gives fans more reasons to follow the team. Sure, maybe it doesn’t immediately translate into butts in seats, but it probably translates into more eyeballs on screens, and keeps the team relevant deeper into the season. It also gives fans more reason to believe that you can identify good free agents and a reason to believe in the players that are signed in the future.

Plus, there’s the you-never-know factor. What’s the opportunity cost of punting on a season? The 2008 team really had no business going to Game 163, and they could have easily decided “hey, it’s a rebuilding year, let’s trade Nathan for some long-term assets,” but they didn’t and making it to Game 163 gave them a ton of interest in their product for a full year. Yes, you want to be realistic about what the team will probably do, but at some point predicting that this isn’t the year becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there is a way to make the team better today, you’d better have an awfully good reason to pass up that opportunity.

And I know this is a bit of a soft reason, but I think you have to keep certain standards up in an organization from year to year. Once losing becomes the expectation, it’s easy to get stuck there. Any team that can go .500 has an outside shot at the playoffs, especially in the AL Central. And there are a million ways to build a .500 ballclub that don’t involve mortgaging the future.

• Philosofer

But realistically you’re not going to find many 5-WAR players available on 2 year deals at a value below the revenue they’ll bring in.

I’m not advocating being ok with losing, I’m advocating understanding the cycle.

• ubelmann

But “the cycle” means trading near-term wins for longer-term wins. It’s about doubling down on a future that often never comes to fruition.

• Philosofer

I don’t agree with that at all. It’s about using the resources you have now (monetary, player) to acquire greater resources in the future, such that you can maximize your opportunities to win championships.

I think that a lot of teams appear to double down on futures that don’t arrive, sure, but I would argue that a lot of them don’t really understand the cycle and/or their organization.

• ubelmann

But using the resources you have now on the future rather than the present means that you are sacrificing wins now for potential wins in the future.

• Philosofer

If you want to say it that way, sure. I’d call it investment. If done intelligently it’ll work. If done poorly it’ll fail. The problem isn’t with the approach itself, like you’ve been arguing, the problem comes in the execution.

• ubelmann

I think it’s a highly risky strategy and it is not easy to execute.

• ubelmann

For instance, Billy Beane is a pretty forward-thinking guy, and while he’s not perfect, he’s had success as a GM. I would have a hard time labelling him as a below-average GM. The A’s haven’t been over .500 in the last five seasons, and this year could easily be their sixth.

• Philosofer

But Beane isn’t doing what I’m advocating. He’s doing what you’re advocating (add a guy on a short term contract, trade him if you can, try to be better each year, etc.).

I would compare the risk to investment vs. savings. You’re saying “let’s save what we’ve got, play it safe, try to keep adding to that nest egg and maybe someday we’ll be where we want to be.” I’m saying “take calculated investment risks with your capital and you’ll get further ahead if you’re smart about it.”

• ubelmann

bS can probably set me straight on this, but I feel like Beane is always doing the classic “rebuilding trades” sending out one or two players of value to get a handful in return, in the hopes that one or two of the handful turns out. (Like the Gio Gonzalez deal this last December.)

Your investment analogy utterly fails. Bigger returns require bigger risks, so sure, if you go on these “cycles” you increase the chance that you’ll hit the jackpot, but you also increase the chance that you are penniless in the gutter. There are a lot of people who have failed in finance who believed that they had made calculated risks that weren’t going to go bad on them.

• Philosofer

First off, re: Beane. It isn’t just trades we’re talking about, it’s signings and spending and player development and all of that. What Beane does routinely is sign older +WAR players to short term deals and trade them -- exactly as you advocated. What that results in is a team that holds steady (or backslides, depending on their division) because you aren’t gaining anything. Beane gives me the impression of treading water.

Second, the analogy investment is sound. So much of baseball and economics overlaps. So much. You’re talking about competing in a marketplace, limited resources, etc. Yes, people fail. It’s not an exact science, so you need to take calculated risks. Your approach is what leads to .500 ball, not championships. Especially because you’re only looking at the “rebuild” phase, totally forgetting that that’s only the first part of the puzzle. You also need to have the pieces in place to trade for/sign the big guys who will put you over the top in your target years. I’m not saying “don’t buy proven players,” I’m saying “don’t waste your money buying a proven player in a year when it’s not going to net you anything.”

• ubelmann

I don’t think you understand as much as you claim about investments. High volatility investments are priced lower than low volatility investments because in the long run, it is preferable to have a consistent low yield return. Consider two investments: one gives you a 10% return every year, and the other gives you a 30% return once every three years, but you lose 10% in the other two years. Which investment would you rather have? Trading for young, high upside players is the equivalent of the latter investment, and there’s no way to mitigate your risk on those deals. You either have to give up a lot of value to get a lower risk player, or you give up less value for a higher risk player.

I’m saying “don’t waste your money buying a proven player in a year when it’s not going to net you anything.”

This is where I think your argument goes off the rails. You don’t know when that next win is the one that sends you over the edge. What reason did the Twins have to bring in Jack Morris and Chili Davis in 1991? There was no reason to expect that team to be a WS contender. By your rationale, they shouldn’t have been going after proven players because ’91 should have been a rebuilding year.

The whole idea of having a cycle around which to build presupposes that you have way more control over the future than you can realistically have. The reason that teams are willing to trade away multiple prospects for proven players is that the prospects are risky, high volatility investments. Maybe you hit the jackpot, but mostly you wind up with duds.

And even if my strategy gets me stuck at .500, I’d rather be stuck at .500 than .400.

• meat

And even if my strategy gets me stuck at .500, I’d rather be stuck at .500 than .400.

Amen, brother, amen.

• Philosofer

Let’s take the 1991 Twins, because that’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. See, I disagree that the Twins thought of, or should have thought of, 1991 as a rebuilding year. Just because they placed last in 1990 doesn’t meant they didn’t have the pieces they needed for 1991 to be an on year. When I look back at their history, I’d say that’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. They had Knoblauch and Erikson coming up and Tapani had hit the year before, to go along with Puckett/Herbek, etc. The Twins knew what their arrival time-frame was and went for it. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. They knew their system, spent to fix the problems in a target year, and let’s be honest, the organization is still reaping benefits form it. I have no clue what kind of stuff you’re projecting on me.

• ubelmann

There’s no way that the Twins knew that ’91 was their year. If they were that good at predicting the future, they’d never have years like 1990.

• Philosofer

That’s exactly the point -- there’s a cycle to these things. 1990s happen. You will have good years and bad years. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to capitalize on those good years.

• brianS

“good years and bad years” do not a “cycle” make. A cycle is a predictable sequence of good and bad years.

/pet peeve about the use of “cycles”

*Why, yes, I used to be enamored of the works of Kondratiev on economic “long cycles” and Schumpeter on “business cycles”, before I started this twelve-step program. Why do you ask?

• Philosofer

And I would argue that a team properly managed will have actual cycles.

• Philosofer

I think one of the problems here is that ublemann is treating my use of the word “investment” in a different way than I am. He’s seeing individual players as high-volatility investments. I’m not using the word to refer to individual players but rather to specific systems of organizational development. The less you spend on your major league roster, the more you can spend on international signings or player development. Likewise, in years you want to focus on the big-league club because you believe you stand a good chance at making the playoffs, trading prospects for vets is “investment” in the major league team. I’m saying you need to take a systematic approach with calculated investments in the various parts of that system. Ubelmann apparently disagrees because betting on prospects at times is too risky for him.

• brianS

“properly managed” depends on the objectives of the owners/managers, but I don’t see why cycles would follow from a “proper” strategy.

I presume your claim is that clubs rise and fall through draft success. Crappy teams get higher draft position, which leads, after a lag of several years, to having better talent and having worse draft position, which then leads, after another lag, to being crappy again.

But all this logic really implies is that the good/bad times don’t last forever. It doesn’t provide much theoretical support for actual, regular “cycles” of rising success, cresting, declining success, bottoming out, rinse-and-repeat. And it ignores the time-shifting effects on any potential cycles of trades and free agency.

• Philosofer

Well no, I’m not really talking about just the draft. I’m talking about a team knowing where it’s at in it’s model. So, for example, the 1991 Twins had 3 key players coming up from the minors (Tapani the year before, Knoblauch and Erikson). Let’s suppose the best free agent on the market would have been a 2B. It was have been lunacy for them to go get him, because they had Knoblauch coming up, and that would have been money they weren’t spending on pieces they needed (Davis and Morris). There are opportunity costs to bringing in talent/retaining talent/not-trading talent. If the 1991 Twins spent on a 2B, then they couldn’t have spent on Morris and Davis. If teams take the long view, they’re better able to adjust for these opportunity costs.

So right now, the Twins know they’ve got a 3B of the future in the minors (let’s just posit that Sano sticks at third). They’ve got Valencia there now. He can probably stick until Sano is ready, right? So it’d be crazy for the Twins to sign A-Rod this offseason, right? Well, what if they were just a third baseman away from winning it all next year? Then it might make sense even given the other facts. But if they’re not at that point in their team development, then pass, and spend the resources in other ways.

I don’t want to get into the investment analogy too much but the appropriate investment definitely depends on the situation. If signing a free agent means you go from second place to a division championship, that is a huge payoff. If it means you go from a 75 win team to a 79 win team, it is meaningless.

On the other hand, the economics of baseball encourage putting off the debuts of young players. If signing filler for a year or two gives you another year or two of a young players prime years, there is real value.

What I am really trying to say is …what were we talking about again?

• ubelmann

Right now, does Gardy have any options to start players based on a match-up? I mean, sure, I agree with you--Gardy’s not really a platoon guy and I don’t see him being particularly smart with match-ups. But last night Gardy’s entire bench was Plouffe and Butera. Effectively the only way to get Butera into the game is to sub him in for Parmelee and move Doumit to 1B. I can’t think of any situation where that would make sense. Otherwise, Butera is just sitting around waiting in case Doumit gets hurt. Then you’ve got Plouffe, but once you use him, if anyone on the team gets hurt, then Butera goes in the game and your bench is empty.

At this point, even rotating the DH to rest guys, the position players--especially the marginal position players, of which there are a few--are going to get run into the ground playing every day.

I feel like, relative to most “stats guys,” I will argue in favor of an establishment position, but the size of pitching staffs these days is just out of control. I feel like I live in a world gone mad. I was looking a bit at the Twins’ bullpen stats last night. Take Duensing. He’s no world beater, but I look at the names in the bullpen, and Duensing looks to me like he should be a decent long reliever. He was good enough as a starter that he should be able to eat some innings in the bullpen. Maybe you put in a rule that Dunce doesn’t face anyone twice, but he should still get you an inning or two at a time. As it stands, he’s got fewer innings pitched than appearances. And if he was pitching long relief, he’d be “stretched out” in case you need to move him to the rotation (which doesn’t seem like the craziest move these days.)

Basically, I’m arguing that Duensing should be used more or less like they’ve been using Swarzak, which seems reasonable. And if you used Duensing like that, you could ditch at least one of the other relievers.

Anyway, I really didn’t pay that much attention to the bullpen going into the season, but I’d guess you could whittle it down to Capps, Perkins, Duensing, Swarzak, Burton, and then keeping one of Gray, Burnett, and Maloney. That gives you two more roster spots to go find a couple of platoon hitters, and then Gardy might actually have some options.

• bhiggum

That makes a lot of sense, ubes. I like the idea of at least two long relievers in the pen, so they wouldn’t ever have to pitch back-to-back days but the Twins still have some innings-eating options.

• ubelmann

Also, I know we tend to stay away from the sports psycho-babble around here, but on some level, pitching to one or two batters at a time has to detract from a relief pitcher’s mindset. There’s less responsibility for poor performances when 2-3 pitchers combine to give up runs, and there’s a level of mistrust in pitchers when you’re constantly taking them out to take advantage of platoon match-ups.

Now, of course there’s a place for playing the match-ups, but it should be more about “the next hitter has extreme platoon splits” rather than “the next hitter bats from the opposite side of the plate.” Rather than burning through our own bullpen to play the match-up game, it’d be nice to have some pinch hitters that “force” the other team to burn through their bullpen.

• Jeff A

Effectively the only way to get Butera into the game is to sub him in for Parmelee and move Doumit to 1B. I can’t think of any situation where that would make sense.

I can’t think of any situation where getting Butera into the game would make sense.

• Twayn

I can think of one: Food poisoning outbreak leaves only 8 position players available.

• DK

I don’t necessarily agree with your line of reasoning with regard to Duensing. One of the main reasons he’s in the bullpen at all is because he gets shelled against RHs. On the other hand, his numbers against LH indicate he’d make a good lefty specialist. Now, I understand that part of the basis of your argument is that fewer lefty specialists should exist in general, and I don’t disagree with that in general. With Duesning, though, as a long guy, he’d have to face plenty of RHs and he’ll get rocked. Now, if your argument is also that it doesn’t matter if the long guy gets rocked, I’ll buy that (or, I mean, I wouldn’t push against that).

Having said all that, even if Duensing were used as a specialist, I agree there are too many pitchers. If Duensing were in that role and Swarzak is in a long role (and one of Burnett/Gray in a longish role) there is completely no need for Maloney (and not much use for the other of Burnett/Gray, and if Waldrop were healthy I’d rather see him in that role than either of them anyway).

• ubelmann

I don’t really disagree with you. I was generalizing. I think there ought to be enough room in a 6-man bullpen where you can have Duensing specialize in tight games and pitch long relief in not-close games.

I also see now that you pointed it out that platoon splits really have been Duensing’s major problem--his performance the second and third time through the order didn’t really drop by much. This seems kind of funny. I’d guess that a pitcher who had big platoon splits lacks a pitch to get opposite-handed hitters out, but I’d also guess that a pitcher who does a decent job the second and third time through the order has a decent repertoire of pitches.

I feel like the roster problems are at least partially on Gardy. Based on his quotes, it sounds like he loves Butera, loves scrappy middle infielders, etc.

• ubelmann

I don’t doubt that he is part of the problem, but it’s so hard to say how much of the problem. I guess in this case, I’d rather place the blame more broadly on the “brain trust” of GM/Manager/Front Office at large than specifically have a go at Gardy. Maybe he likes some aspects of having 13 pitchers or Butera or a 3rd catcher in general, but it wasn’t always that way, and I feel like the FO would be able to talk him down on some of this stuff if they really thought he was out to lunch.

• socaltwinsfan

One problem with the Twins’ bullpen is it appears Gardy is trying to keep Perkins and Burton from going back-to-back days, especially since Perkins came down with a sore arm earlier this season.

• ubelmann

I can understand accommodating one pitcher that way, but it seems a little unreasonable to keep two of them around. There’s nothing that’s so important about these games--or those pitchers--that they need to stretch their resources this way. Put one of them on the DL and let them heal up.

• Jeff A

That’s not the Twins’ way. The Twins’ way is to keep a guy on the roster but have him unavailable for two weeks, then put him on the DL while insinuating that he’s really a wimp for not being able to play through the injury.

Jeremy shut down the Twins last night, but the original Jeremy was also in the news.

• brianS

He affeldt down and couldn’t get up.

• If anyone is managing (or on) a softball team this summer and interested in free access to the software I use to handle stats, availability and scheduling, please get in touch. (barry {at} bjhess {dot} com) Would love to get a few more people into the beta. Thanks!

• hungry joe

which platforms is it for?

• Strictly web-based right now. I don’t have interest in giving my phone/tablet to players on my softball team, so I use a regular scorebook and transfer stats when I get home.

Will probably tune the mobile browser views down the road.

• hungry joe

i don’t keep track myself, but i’m sure my coach would be interested (he’s pretty tech saavy).

• Feel free to drop me an email and I can pass some info on to you.

• I noticed there’s no game recap for last night’s tilt, but maybe the hometown nine has to score a run to deserve one?

• I went to bed immediately following the game last night, and plan on doing… something this afternoon. But I’m not sure they really deserve much the way they’re playing right now.

• bhiggum

Maybe a bunch of pictures of Butera?

• Haven’t we been suffering enough?!

• hungry joe

The Twins certainly did hit worse than most of their backup catchers. Even Butters’ career slash-line is better than the team’s from last night.

Sheenie and I were just invited to attend the May 11th game in a suite (I believe that one of our Citizens works for the company who leases the suite, but the BKAC archives are gone so I can’t confirm).

• hungry joe

damn, i’ll be in a suite on the 13th. speaking of, anyone else going to that sunday game?

I am taking my mom to that game.

• Philosofer

Here’s what bothers me about 3 catchers… you’re sacrificing a better chance at winning every game (by having a thinner bench) to have a slightly better chance at winning one specific game that may or may not happen (the game when both catchers go down and you lose your DH). It’s not just that Butera is on the roster, it’s that if someone goes down to injury/whatever, you can fly Butera there the next day in time for the game, so it’s just one game that you’re sacrificing your bench for.

• We’re the choir, friend.

• Philosofer

That’s why I put my last line in there.

• ubelmann

Honestly, I think a bigger problem right now is just that Doumit isn’t hitting. Even if he was up to his career average wOBA, that’d be a big improvement on what he’s done so far. There’s no reason that can’t happen--in fact, it might be one thing to look forward to--but if Mauer is going to spend a lot of time at DH and 1B, and Doumit is going to spend some time not catching, I don’t completely hate the idea of having a third catcher on the roster. What I hate is that Drew Butera is our third catcher.

Plus, as I am fond of saying these days, it’s not like they’d need to sacrifice the third catcher to get more offense on the roster--jettison some of the pitching flotsam.

Let’s take a step back on the catcher issue. Currently the Twins have Mauer--who is good against LHP and great against RHP. They also have Doumit, who ought to be meh against LHP and good against RHP. If the Twins had a third catcher who was respectable at hitting lefties, then you can sit Doumit against LHP and play Mauer at DH (or 1B), and you’ve got a decent bat off the bench in Doumit.

Instead, we’ve got Butera whose only use is as a defensive replacement at one position. He’s just a very bad, very limited player.

• Junior Seau apparently committed suicide? It was just TMZ but now it’s others as well…

• Ugh. I really hope the NFL is going to get serious about concussions.

• People do stuff for all sorts of reasons, but the mere fact that is everyone’s first thought is a huge problem for the NFL.

• Well, exactly. I don’t know if that’s what it was, but it’s become too much of a pattern for me to assume otherwise.

• Well, apparently he shot himself in the chest so I’m thinking where there’s smoke…

• ubelmann

I don’t even know that it’s a problem that the NFL can really solve. Obviously they can do more than they have done, and they seem to be moving in that direction, but can you really take the concussions out of football any more than you can take the concussions out of boxing?

• Though if the choice for football is radical change or end up like boxing, I’d imagine they would take radical change.

• SBG

No kickoffs is coming.

• sean

Why not adopt how the CFL does it?

In contrast, there is no fair catch rule in Canadian football: instead no player from the kicking team, except the kicker or any player who was behind him when he kicked the ball, may approach within five yards of the ball until it has been touched by an opponent.

This would need to be modified some, but it seems like kick return injuries would be much rarer if defending players weren’t allowed to be within five yards of them until they touched the ball.

• That’s essentially the rugby rules for what in American/Canadian football would be a punt. You can’t hit the reciever unless you

a) are the kicker,
b) were behind the kicker when he kicked it (being onside),
c) having started in front of the kicker, he (the kicker) passes you going forward (being put onside), or
d) the receiving player advances 10 meters.

• The big hits are certainly a big part of the problem, but apparently so are the lower impact repeated hits (think linemen). I would like to see some sort of weight limit. These guys wouldn’t make it in the league today.

• ubelmann

Rather than a weight limit, they could have a battery of bodyweight strength tests. Something along the lines of requiring everyone to test out on 10 strict pull-ups before the season starts, halfway through the season, and then just before the playoffs. That would probably eliminate the embarrassingly tubby dudes.

• ubelmann

Yeah, I suppose they have a better chance at radical change than boxing because they are a more unified organization that can make unilateral changes.

• Jeff A

It still seems like there ought to be a way to make a football helmet that can protect the head better while not being able to be used as a weapon.

• ubelmann

I agree that it doesn’t seem like it’d be that hard. What if they just added something soft but durable to the exterior of the current helmets? I guess I have a hard time believing that players would try to ram their heads even harder into other players, but maybe?

• brianS

that would help a little, but the problem is that the brain is still subjected to the laws of physics. Soft, floaty brain, hard skull, limited energy-absorbing lining between brain and skull.

• ubelmann

I don’t really disagree. I both wonder if it’s a problem that you can really solve, but I also think it’s a problme they haven’t really fully tried to solve. If they can do something to decrease the deceleration of the skull, then the brain-skull impact will be softened. Not eliminated, but softened. I mean, boxers are better off with gloves and headgear than they are in a bare knuckles fight, right? That still doesn’t make boxing safe, but it makes it less suicidal.

• FirstTime "hitman" LongTime

Maybe this is a silly thought on my part but what if they just didn’t wear helmets at all? Or maybe something like this (for adults)? If the players aren’t wearing armor they can’t use it as a weapon.

• brianS

lots of players get concussions in soccer. Not at the same rate as in football, but still pretty significant rates.

• FirstTime "hitman" LongTime

In soccer the concussions aren’t as much a result of head to body/head contact as heading soccer balls, I’d imagine, no?

• brianS

If that were true, Buffalo, high schools and youth clubs would have banned headers by now. I’d guess that improper heading accounts for only a fraction of the observed concussions.

Soccer is a physical game. Collisions happen.

• brianS

I don’t disagree, Algonad. Just suggesting that headers are more like the lower-level, repetitive hits endured by football linemen than knock-out blows (although my daughter got what was probably a mild concussion from a ball to the head — not a header — several years ago in a tournament game).

• FWIW, I saw something about the rate of concussions in rugby being higher. Helmets were initially designed to prevent skull fractures. They are really good at that. Eliminate the helmet and you would still need to address skull fractures somehow.

• FirstTime "hitman" LongTime

Point noted.

• sean

Continuing from ubes’ talking of possible mistrust in the Twins pitchers, Jon Krawcynski interviews Baker:

While Scott Baker worked through elbow issues over the past two seasons, the Minnesota Twins right-hander heard the whispers both inside and outside Target Field.

“I knew I wasn’t crazy,” Baker said Friday. “I knew there was some speculation that maybe I was babying it or taking it easy, but good grief. I did everything I possibly could to get better and to try to pitch with it. But that just wasn’t going to happen.”

He admitted not being completely open with team athletic trainers and doctors early on, and said the injury couldn’t have been discovered until he had surgery.

• cheaptoy

I can’t say I blame him in any way for not being open with this team’s athletic trainers and doctors. Also, I’ll be sad when one of my favorite Twins of the last 10 years or so leaves for greener pastures which seems about 1000% certain now.

• SBG

Headlines (paraphrased) from the strib website right now:

Saints’ Vilma, others suspended for bounty scheme

Governor, Republicans sparring over Vikings stadium

• Given headlines 1 and 2, is 3 all that wise? I’m only about 80% certain there will even be an NFL in 30 years.

• ubelmann

To the extent that public sports teams provide marginal value to an area (and don’t just shift economic activity out of different sectors), it seems like taking an NFL team out of Minnesota wouldn’t cost much to Minnesota, given the relatively crowded sports market. There are plenty of other ways for Minnesotans to spend their sports dollars, and I doubt that there are many Vikings fans who are just going to take their season ticket money and put it in their piggy bank.

• Yeah, I don’t think that 3 is all that wise to begin with.

• ubelmann

There’s even precedent for this, though I haven’t heard of any studies done on it--how was the TC economy impacted by the loss of the North Stars?

• The only real tangible benefit is income tax on player salaries (which is not insignificant). The rest is civic pride type stuff -- not nothing, but probably not worth going out of our way for.

• ubelmann

Presumably, though, the revenue that goes to the Vikings (and then trickles down to the players) is going to go to other companies, which will increase someone else’s income, which ought to increase personal income elsewhere. It’s at least not obvious to me that this is a benefit for the state.

There is always a level of substitution but it isn’t a one-to-one relationship. The Mall of America took some business from Southdale and Burnsville but it also created revenue that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

• ubelmann

Sure, it’s not a one-to-one relationship, but the business created isn’t anything close to enough to justify spending multiple hundreds of millions of dollars. There is always the civic pride/intangibles angle which one can use to justify just about any deal, and I’m not trying to argue against that here, I’m just saying that the economic benefit of the Vikings to the state is a lot less than the NFL always tries to argue.

• ubelmann

And in particular, given that Minnesota has so many professional sports teams--plus a D1 college--the economic blow to Minnesota would probably be less than somewhere like, say, Jacksonville.

• I’m not a great financial mind, but that $140MM in payroll is paid to 53 guys, most of it at the highest rate. It’s real money that wouldn’t easily be replaced. It’s way less than what the state is talking about shelling out, so it’s still a bad deal…but it’s a real consideration. • ubelmann It’s also enough money for those guys to hire fancy accountants to shelter their money in various ways to get around paying taxes. If the money went straight to middle class workers, more of it would probably get spent and go elsewhere in the economy. But sure, it’s a consideration. • brianS Dennis Coates is one of the leading economists studying professional sports. His take: sports franchises are net negatives for communities. Dissecting the economic justification for such projects remains of particular interest to taxpayers and existing businesses because most professional sports construction projects receive substantial governmental subsidies. Coates and Humphreys build on existing studies as they systematically examine data from 37 cities that have or have had professional football, baseball or basketball franchises. Their findings include: Professional sports have a small positive effect on the earnings of employees in the amusements and recreation sectors of the economy — those working for theaters, race tracks, golf courses and amusement parks as well as the sports franchise. Earnings for those working for eating and drinking establishments — which are typically expected to benefit from the sports franchises — fall slightly or by about$44 per year.
Generation of new spending tends to be very localized near the new stadium and does not provide a positive multiplier effect through the rest of the city’s economy.

Results of the study call into question the validity of economic multipliers used to assess the overall impact of sports on the economy. “The ripples and earnings creations from the sports environment are like those of a little pebble tossed into the ocean on the tides, inconsequential in any practical sense,” Coates and Humphreys write. Also, their evaluation suggests that sports reduce real per capita spending because of substitution effects — money spent at the stadium rather than in existing businesses — and because of the creation of new jobs which pay less than the average prevailing wage.

• brianS

Here is a nice little piece Coates did on sports arenas/stadia for a popular press venue.

• cheaptoy

I can’t say that the NFL just going away would upset me very much. Sometimes I think it might even make this us stronger as a nation.

Imagine the headlines if Joe Sensor was the person who randomly would get up and leave and drive all over the place unannounced because “that’s just Joe.” People might think he had a traumatic brain injury, too.

• socaltwinsfan

If you’re looking for hope for the Twins’ future, this might be worth checking out.

• ubelmann

It’d be nice if Valencia could put together a couple of nice seasons with the Twins as Sano develops. That would give the Twins a situation similar to the Pierzynski-Mauer scenario which got us Boof!, Liriano, and Nathan.

• SBG

OMG. Clemens trial update:

With two short answers, Andy Pettitte called into question the validity of his testimony against Roger Clemens, part of a discouraging day for prosecutors in the retrial of the seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

After stumbling its way to a mistrial of Clemens last year, the government is struggling again in the retrial — to the point that the crux of Pettitte’s testimony might be tossed out. First, the exasperated judge criticized the questioning of Pettitte on Wednesday, then he ruled against prosecutors in another matter. Finally he cried out: “You’re taking positions that are totally absurd to me.”

During cross-examination, Clemens’ lawyers got exactly the answers they wanted.

Might Pettitte have misunderstood when Clemens supposedly acknowledged using human growth hormone to Pettitte in a conversation during the 1999-2000 offseason?

Is it fair to say there is a “50-50″ chance that Pettitte misunderstood?

“I’d say that’s fair,” Pettitte replied.

The government tried to salvage their witness, but prosecutor Steven Durham’s follow-up questions were lacking — at least in the minds of Clemens’ lawyers and, more importantly, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Clemens’ lawyers moved to strike Pettitte’s testimony about the 1999-2000 conversation as “insufficiently definitive.”

The judge seemed to agree, openly wondering why Pettitte wasn’t asked for a current, definitive recollection of the conversation. He repeatedly berated Durham, who was also part of the government team last July when prosecutors showed the jury a snippet of inadmissible videotaped evidence, prompting the mistrial.

“I was waiting for you to ask, and you didn’t ask that,” Walton said.

“My understanding is that (Pettitte’s) position is at this time, he is conflicted. … His testimony now before the jury is I don’t know,” the judge continued. “I thought that what we would hear is, Mr. Pettitte, currently, what is your memory of what Mr. Clemens told you back in 1999?”

In other words, the jury might have concluded that maybe Pettitte did “misremember” the conversation, as Clemens has claimed.

You are kidding me with this, right?

• ubelmann

Personally, I always have a hard time remembering those conversations when my teammates tell me they are cheating by using illegal drugs. It’s difficult keeping all of them straight.

• SBG

Personally, I have a hard time with prosecutors who don’t ask their witnesses questions like that before putting them on the stand. Are they aware that the defense is allowed to confront the witnesses?

• Philosofer

I’ve been shocked at how bad these cases have gone for the government too. It’s almost like they’re not really trying.

My evidence class somehow missed the Confrontation Clause. Seriously.

• Philosofer

While we’re on this subject, isn’t a witness’ refusal to testify grounds for getting around the hearsay rule with documents?

Nope, if a witness is unavailable (through a refusal to testify), documents aren’t automatically admissible. Instead, what becomes admissible is 1) the witness’s prior testimony (depending on the context of the hearing; in a criminal case, it has to be a retrial); 2) statement made thinking the witness was about to die; 3) statement against the witness’s interest; or 4) statement about the witness’s personal/family history.

I’m not sure what document you would be trying to admit to impeach (and it’s impeachment evidence, not substantive evidence so it wouldn’t go with the jury to deliberations anyway), but it likely won’t fit within those exceptions unless it’s the witness admitting to a crime.

• Philosofer

I’m thinking of the Bonds case, and Greg Anderson’s calendars. Those seemed to me to have every indicia of reliability, but because Anderson refused to authenticate them they couldn’t be admitted. Everything else on the document was known, it was just the authentication question. That felt wrong to me, though I admit not having spent a ton of time thinking about it.

• Pettitte, you cowardly bitch.

• Clemens threatened him with a shard of bat.

• SBG

Actually, Craig Calcaterra says that this testimony was consistent with his earlier statements and that the government should have expected exactly this result.

• davidwatts

evening everyone. good conversation in the ol Cup o’Joe today.

• bhiggum

I was thinking the same thing. I suppose when the gamelogs are so tough to stick with, we have to get it all out somewhere.

• Ugh, the promotion has hit a huge hitch. A couple of people at corporate are trying to block it because my wife is considered “too old” to be part of the program (she’s 31). A co-worker of Cathy’s is stirring the shit because she can’t stand people leapfrogging her. Everyone else in this location knows this, and more people are in Cathy’s corner than are out of it, but what seemed so certain a couple of days ago now almost looks like a long shot. My wife is notoriously quick to lose hope in these situations, though, so I’m not sure just how bad it is.

I am sure that I’m sick of the two of us being jerked around. I’m going to be on edge for a while here and it’s already manifesting a little, so outside of this game of Werewolf, I might be a little off the grid for a bit. We’ll see if I can stick to that.

• New Britain Bo

The Dude: Walter, ya know, it’s Smokey, so his toe slipped over the line a little, big deal. It’s just a game, man.
Walter Sobchak: Dude, this is a league game, this determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?
Smokey: Yeah, but I wasn’t over. Gimme the marker Dude, I’m marking it 8.
Walter Sobchak: [pulls out a gun] Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.
The Dude: Walter…
Walter Sobchak: You mark that frame an 8, and you’re entering a world of pain.
Smokey: I’m not…
Walter Sobchak: A world of pain.
Walter Sobchak: [shouting] Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!

• cheaptoy

It sounds like your wife works with a bunch of f*cking morons. (also defined as “corporate”.) I would think if someone hates getting leapfrogged, then maybe they need to find a line of work where they don’t suck enough to get leapfrogged. Gawd I dislike office politics.

Best of luck to you Spoons. I hope this shit gets straightened out the correct way that benefits the dairy.

• As far as I can tell, she works with two morons, and those morons work side-by-side and kill morale on a daily basis. They’re not taken seriously on a store level, but corporate doesn’t have much more to go on. So, if they’re looking to cut out my wife because she’s so fucking ancient that she’s on her deathbed, a little nudge by these two morons could be a big deal.

Good luck.

• SBG

• sean

Edit: video.

Edited pt 2: Updated with direct link.

• New Britain Bo

No brainer, there.

• SBG

Fit him for clown shoes.

• Jeff A

Why are umpires so hesitant to ask for help in that situation? Is it just a macho thing? And why didn’t one of the other umpires step in when the call was that obviously wrong? I know they don’t want to be overruling each other all the time, but when someone misses one that blatantly, why shouldn’t the others correct him? Isn’t the point to get the call right?

I do give mlb.com credit for posting the video.

• I’ll look at it the other way: what did that ump do to the others that they let him hang out to dry on that call?

• brianS

So, I missed the game except for the last two outs. But I made a bitchin’ dinner.

Tofu Banh Mi sammiches (for the veganistas) and Corned Beef Banh Mi sammiches (for me and the boy)

I braised the corned beef in apple juice yesterday (all day on low), then cooled the beef overnight.

for the tofu sandwiches, I pressed and drained one piece of extra firm tofu for 20 minutes, then cut it horizontally into two square-ish patties. I fried these in olive oil until nicely browned on both sides.

Meanwhile I pickled half of a thinly sliced onion, a cup of shaved carrot, and some slivered ginger in 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar brought to a boil with a tablespoon each sugar and salt, plus a pinch of chile flakes and a pinch of crushed coriander seed. I turned the heat off, stirred in the veggies, and let them macerate for a few minutes, then added a few ice cubes to cool the whole mess down to preserve some crunch.

I sliced up a jalapeno, iceberg lettuce, and some peeled and seeded cucumber, and chopped some cilantro. I toasted bread for the sandwiches and spread on mayo and hot chili sauce (e.g., Thai or chinese chili paste), then layered on the tofu or thinly sliced corned beef, pickled veggies, and fresh veggies.

these would have been better had I remembered to get french rolls or hoagie rolls at the store tonight, and if I’d had time to marinate the tofu with some asian flavors, but were still very good on toasted multigrain. And the corned beef played well too.