78 thoughts on “December 16, 2015: Triberious”

  1. Paul Molitor says Trevor May will stay in the bullpen. If the Twins have five better starters than Trevor May, they should have a pretty good rotation.

    1. He seemed to do much better out of the pen last year, so I find myself in agreement with the decision. A rotation of Santana-Hughes-Duffey-Gibson-Milone sounds pretty solid, especially with Berrios looming.

      1. I agree he was better out of the pen. I just think it's too early in his career to give up on him as a starter. It also makes all those statements last year about wanting to put him back into the rotation seem a little suspect.

      2. Nearly every starter does better out of the pen though. From Poz's article about Hoffman yesterday,

        On this year’s ballot, you have starter Mike Mussina and closer Trevor Hoffman. There is no doubt Hoffman will get much more support. But, if the two switched roles, who would have the better chance of success? Is there even a question? It’s not hard to imagine Mike Mussina having Trevor Hoffman’s career. It is all but impossible to imagine Hoffman having Mike Mussina’s career.

        1. Interesting thought exercise, but I don't see the big deal. Switch a marathoner and a sprinter; who'd have a better shot at success? And who cares? (besides the sprinter)

          1. But what if marathoners made way more money and you preferred being a marathoner, but your team high school had you be a sprinter for a week and then you were never allowed to be a marathoner again?

          2. Terrible analogy. If you switched an elite marathoner with an elite sprinter, they'd both be awful in their new roles. If you switch an elite starter to the bullpen, 99 times out of 100 they are going to be an amazing reliever. And if you look at how their careers develop, early on runners are either sprinters or long distance runners, but in pro baseball, nearly every pitcher was a starting pitcher in high school, college, and very often the minors.

            I think it's a big deal because it's like positional adjustments for position players. Joe Mauer was a HOF-caliber catcher, but if he'd put up the same numbers playing first base his entire career, he'd be Don Mattingly--a very good but not HOF 1B.

            For reference:
            .307/.358/.471, 127 OPS+ -- Mauer
            .313/.394/.451, 129 OPS+ -- Mattingly

            Probably an even better analogy is in the outfield--corner outfielders are failed center fielders just like relief pitchers are failed starters. Hence the bar for hitting as a corner outfielder is higher than the bar for hitting as a center fielder.

            1. No, I'm saying an elite marathoner would have times much closer to world class sprint records than an elite sprinter would to a marathon record. And an elite marathoner's times for the mile, for instance, would be much better than his one-mile split in a marathon. Poz asked which would have the much better chance for success, and I think it would be safe to say the marathoner running sprints. Not world class success, but still.

              1. Poz is talking about elite performers, though--Mussina and Hoffman. Mussina could literally have world class success as a relief pitcher. No elite marathoner could have elite success as a sprinter.

                I think it's an important point to the Hall discussion because the voters need to figure out where to set the bar for relief pitchers now that they have become so much more common in the game. Same thing with the DH. I think Edgar Martinez was good enough as a hitter that he should be in the Hall despite not being able to productively field a position for much of his career. But being a DH means there's a different bar for him because he obviously was bringing nothing to the table with his glove.

                So you look at someone like Hoffman, and while he was definitely a very good reliever, I think there's an argument that he fits into the Don Mattingly category.

                1. I think Mattingly is not a good comparison to Hoffmann (besides the obvious positional difference) in that Mattingly was a great player for a short time and his career was cut short by injuries while Hoffmann was a very good player for a long time.

                  1. I largely agree, but I can't totally quit it. I'm curious about how the big logjam of qualified candidates will sort itself out and also how the DH and closer situation plays out. But I don't think about it nearly as much as I used to.

      1. If Trevor May turns out to be Wade Davis, I'll be quite happy. At this time, however, I'm not persuaded this is going to happen.

      2. Mariano Rivera came up as a starter and look where he ended up. Make everyone a reliever!!!!

        Wade Davis was converted to a reliever by the Rays first. Prior to 2012, he started every game he appeared in. He had positive rWAR in 2009 and 2010, but negative WAA so still below average, and negative rWAR in 2011. The Rays then, because he wasn't that good as a starter, converted him to a reliever in 2012 and he posted is highest rWAR yet despite appearing in only 70 innings. He was traded to the Royals and they promptly turned him back into a starter in 2013; he started 26 of 31 games. He was terrible, posting a -2.1 rWAR. Then he was turned into a reliever again and succeeded.

          1. Nathan and Aguilera were both 28 when they became full-time relievers. Plus, Aguilera was not a bad starting pitcher at all. Throw out 1996, when the Twins tried to convert him back to starting at age 34, and his record as a starter was 32-23, 3.75, 1.29 WHIP.

      3. For potential starters, you have Hughes, Santana, Gibson, Duffey, Milone, Nolasco, Berrios, and May. Berrios likely won't be called up until during the season, so while he's probably my favorite choice out of these guys, I don't think he's going to be in the rotation at the beginning of the season. I'd definitely take May over Milone or Nolasco. Duffey is exciting, and I definitely want him in the rotation (and if he can't hack it in the rotation, move him to the bullpen). None of Gibson, Santana, or Hughes excite me all that much. All have had stretches of dominance, but all seem to be mid-rotation guys. I wouldn't be sad if one of them lost their starting rotation spot to May.

        I'd perhaps feel differently if the Twins were drowning in an embarrassment of riches at starting pitcher, but they have a handful of guys who are mid-back rotation guys and Berrios waiting in the wings. I'm not saying May would assuredly be better than that, but he's got some potential, he's young, and he pitched well last year. Add into that the fact that it's a lot easier to turn a failed starter into a bullpen arm, and I just don't see why they're thrusting this upon May already. Improving the rotation is probably going to be the best way to improve the bullpen, but that doesn't seem to be their thought process at all. It's pretty frustrating.

        1. I'm not exactly sure how they improve the rotation right now though. Outright Nolasco and move May in? Swap May and Nolasco? Same for Milone?

          I'd probably go with that option - May over Milone for the rotation - but you've really got the same problem then, only in reverse. The only real reason I like that option better is because May came through our system for a little while, and I have more emotionally invested in him. But it's a flip-a-coin decision really, right?

          1. May strikes out more people than any other Twins starter, he also walks a reasonable number of people. I'd say he's a direct upgrade over at least Milone and Nolasco, and possibly has higher upside than Gibson. Who knows how he'd do as a starter if given some time?

            Sure, he made a great reliever, but Clayton Kershaw would make an excellent reliever, too (yes, that's a bit of a strawman). Everyone realizes on some level that starter are more valuable than relievers, we just seem to forget that fact when dealing in the margins that a decent-to-good starter is way more valuable than a great setup man.

            1. I'm not of the mind that May's value in the pen is reason to keep him there - I think the Twins would be leaving a lot of value on the table if they did that. I'm just suggesting that there's equal (or close enough to equal) reason to say "hey, why are wasting Milone/Nolasco in the pen?" if that's the decision that gets made. Indeed, you can take that position with any non-failing starter, even those back-end-of-the-rotation guys, provided they're better than replacement level.

              Really the question should be about maximizing value. If Pitcher A gives 5 wins in the rotation and 2 wins in the bullpen, and Pitcher B gives 3 wins in the rotation and 1 win in the bullpen, Yeah, you put A in the rotation and B in the bullpen. But if Pitcher A gives 5 wins in the rotation and 4 wins in the bullpen, and Pitcher B gives 3 wins in the rotation and 1 wins in the bullpen, you should got with B in the rotation.

              It's all speculative, but where would we peg those levels? I absolutely think May's value in the rotation is higher than Nolasco or Milone. I just don't see that the solution is so cut and dry, because we're speculating about relative values, and one way or another we're assigning a "lesser value" position to a player who can fill a higher value position.

          2. From LENIII's article linked to by the Padre:

            But the Twins are not going to lock May in as a reliever just yet. He will report to spring training with the intentions of landing a spot in the rotation, because it’s easier to switch from starter to reliever than the other way around.

            “We have six or seven names who will compete for that spots in the rotation,” Molitor said. “I thought he was a very valuable asset coming out of the bullpen in the late innings.”

            Molitor then added: “Unless something changes, he is going to probably be a guy I want to keep out in the bullpen.”

          3. Well, if I was the GM I would have gone hard after Jordan Zimmermann or Johnny Cueto in the offseason. Sure, that's a lot of money. But I'd rather have Zimmermann or Cueto than two of Santana, Hughes, and Nolasco. Obviously, they can't just get rid of contracts like that, but I think signing a handful of decent guys on mid-range deals instead of paying one very good guy is penny wise and pound foolish*. I think the best option that's still out there this year (and, honestly, the only SP that's an exciting FA next year I think is Strasburg) would be to pay the posting fee for Kenta Maeda and sign him, but it sounds like the Twins aren't even considering that an option.

            So, with that in mind, their options are pretty limited. I'd hold on to Nolasco through Spring Training and see if an NL team who gets devastated by injuries will take on some of his salary, otherwise outright him. He's a sunk cost. I was okay with the signing at the time, but in retrospect it was not good, and there's no sense in wasting a roster spot or playing time because of money they're going to pay the guy anyway. Happy trails, Ricky. I'd probably have Milone as the mop up guy out of the pen, though I do have some concern that every starter would be right handed in that scenario.

            None of the options are great, but I think that's an indictment of the roster construction more than anything.

            * Santana got 4/$55 million last year, and they gave Hunter a 1 year deal for $10.5. The AAV for Scherzer's contract was $30 million. That gets pretty close. I understand years, etc. but it's frustrating to see the team spend their limited free agent dollars in the way they have

            1. I will happily give you the roster construction issues. So many dollars spent on #4 pitchers. I was not particularly excited with Nolasco when they signed him (though I was excited they were doing some free agent spending).

        2. Barring trades or injuries, Hughes, Santana and Gibson are locks for the rotation. That's the reality of what the Twins have shown. Given how he pitched in the last 6 weeks or so, I think Duffey is pretty much locked in as well. I think it will come down to just Milone, Nolasco, Berrios and May for the final spot, with Taylor Rogers possibly getting an extended look. Milone has a better track record, so I think the Twins view him as a better option right now than May (plus left-handed) and Berrios has the better long-term potential. My guess is Milone will be the fifth starter, May and Nolasco to the bullpen and Berrios and Rogers to Rochester to start the season. If someone really underperforms or overperforms, that could change, but this is my prediction as of now. Nolasco has a decent K rate. He could get a boost going to the bullpen and be pretty good if used correctly. The Twins might let him start if they are trying to build up his value for a possible trade.

    2. They way I look at it that its a win-win. Win, the Twins have a bullpen guy who can actually get a strikeout. If he is a starter, win because the Twins have a starter who can strike someone out. But to me, he was destined to be a starter that goes 6 innings and thats about it.

      1. And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this is the stupidest decision a team ever made or anything. I can understand why Molitor is thinking that way. It's just not how I'd do it, at least not without giving May more of a chance as a starter.

        1. Oh yeah, dont get me wrong. I would give May a chance at starter too. But I guess Im not up-in-arms about a move to reliever as others. The Twins need good arms there too.

        2. Also, considering how many power-armed relievers they've drafted in the past 4 years (Corey Williams, Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, JT Chargois, Nick Burdi) I'd rather they plug May into the rotation for long-term development. Better that than an attempt to solidify the bullpen for parts of the 2016 season at the expense of developing a 2/3-level starter.

    3. First of all, let's not act like this is a young Johan Santana being banished to the bullpen like at the start of 2003 (which turned out just fine anyways). May has a career ERA as a starter of 5.61 and an OPS against of .817. Yes, May has better defense independent numbers, but at some point those need to translate into actual results (I'm looking at you, Ricky Nolasco). Also, I think the Twins are looking at the model the Royals used of mediocre starting pitching and a dominant bullpen to win the World Series.

      1. The Royals formula also needed excellent defense, speed, and OBP. The Twins have basically none of these right now as configured. Also, Volquez, Cueto, and Ventura are better than any of the mediocre pitchers on the Twins' staff. And the Royals lost the World Series in 2014 largely because of an outstanding performance by an elite starter.

        If that's what the Twins think is going to get them a championship, I have even less faith in the direction the team is headed. Especially given that they have yet to add a major league reliever to the roster.

        1. Especially given that they have yet to add a major league reliever to the roster

          This. I do not think the Twins are going the Royals route. I think they're focusing on scoring runs, knowing their pitching is hard to improve right now. Hence their off-season moves.

          1. I don't think the Twins are going the Royals route. I just have no idea what route they are going.

            This, much more than any individual moves, has been my problem with the management of this team since Terry Ryan "retired". I don't see any coherent plan for how the Twins are trying to build a contending team. Are they a power and OBP team? Are they a speed and defense team? Are they a young team? Are they a veteran team? Are they a team built on strong starting pitching? Are they a team built on their bullpen?

            The answer to all those questions is no. They have some of all those things, but not a lot of any of it. They're a team that's a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of nothing.

            Maybe, as the young players develop, this will change. Again, it's not that they don't have any good players, and it's not that they don't make any good moves. It's that I can't see what direction they're trying to go. Yes, I'm excited to see Berrios and Buxton and Kepler and the other young guys. But until I see what management is actually trying to do, it's going to be hard for me to get excited about the team as a whole.

        2. OBP was not a strength of the Royals. They were essentially league average despite a batting average that was 1 point behind the AL-leading Blue Jays. The Royals were dead last in the AL in walks by far.

          1. The 2015 Royals were the first AL team to have the fewest walks and still be above average in runs scored since the 2004 Angels. The 2007 Mariners were last in walks and exactly average in runs scored. Other than that, teams last in walks were below average and usually well below average. The Royals have been last in walks in three of the last four years. I would expect them to regress offensively next year, especially given their lack of HR power.

          2. They may not walk a ton, but their OBP was 7th in the AL, and 11th in MLB. The Twins were dead last in the AL, and 28th in MLB. That's a pretty stark difference. Here's the 2015 OBP of the 9 guys in the starting lineup in game 1 of the World Series:

            1. Escobar, .293
            2. Zobrist, .364
            3. Cain, .361
            4. Hosmer, .363
            5. Morales, .362
            6. Moustakas, .348
            7. Perez, .280
            8. Gordon, .377
            9. Rios, .287

            So first of all, let me get this out of the way: I still can't get over how stupid Yost is for batting Gordon 8th, holy crap. They have six batters with an OBP of .348 or higher in that lineup. The Twins only had 7 players, all year, (min. 200 PA) who had an OBP over .300: Sano (.385), Mauer (.338), Nunez (.327 as a utility guy), Hicks (.323 and now a Yankee), Escobar (.309), Dozier & Plouffe (.307). The averages may not come out to be all that far apart on a team level; the Royals seem to have a bunch of guys who are excellent, and then a bunch who are bad whereas the Twins have one elite guy (Sano would be in the top 10 for OBP if he qualified), a couple okay guys, and a bunch of below average guys, but there's only so much shifting you can do with the deck chairs they have in this lineup. And, because of their excellent sequencing last year, they're due for an offensive regression.

            1. If you're willing to hit Gordon as low as 8th, you almost might as well make him the 9th hitter so the top of your lineup has more guys on base.

              Having a 2-5 of .360+ OBP guys is really, really solid, too, especially if you're following that up with a guy OBP'ing .348.

            2. Gordon missed most of July and all of August. When he came back, he hit .250/.327/.365 in September. Based on just OBP, I'd bat him seventh.

            3. Yost tried it a different way (and with Escobar not leadoff) and the team didn't play well for a few games and let Toronto back into the HFA race.
              Then Yost went back to the "if it ain't broke" batting order.
              Suboptimal mathematically but not a big difference any way.
              And players aren't just Strat-o-matics. They're irrational and may react in weird ways to optimalization.
              Good on GMDM to put Yost in a situation to succeed no matter the batting order.

    1. 1. Isn't it fun to imagine Papelbon trying to pick a fist fight with Sano?
      2. It's a good thing he won't be here to sully the Twins' chances of signing Harper in free agency!

    2. The Phillies signed him and they never finished above .500. Nationals traded for him on July 28. They lost that day to be 52-46. From there on they went 31-33.

  2. So, fun game at The X last night ... eh?

    Four point night for each of Vanek & Koivu
    Three point night for Parise
    29 saves for Keumper
    Three power play goals in five chances

    After a 4-5-2 November
    they're 5-0-2 in December

    Good for a tie for 4th place in the Western Conference.

    1. That was a good ol fashioned whoopin.
      Ryan Miller is not going to buy his defense any meals after that performance. Woof.

      1. Agreed. My favorite was Parise's three chances, back-to-back-to-back for his goal. I mean, we know he's pretty tenacious, but someone needed to get a body on him.

        1. 100% this. All four guys standing in a box in front of the net while Parise pumps one, two, three shots at Miller.

            1. No winter up here, my man. Should continue to be above freezing through the end of December. I'm questioning whether to even do the backyard rink this year.

    1. I have been most impressed by the Wolves swiftness in destroying any good basketball will generated from the hot start, mostly perpetrated by Mitchell's bass ackwards gameplans/rotations.

      1. I thought he did a better job last night (at one point it was Rubio/Lavine/Wiggins/Gorgui/KAT) its just that the second quarter the shooting went cold and no one wanted to guard Aaron Afflalo.

    1. Martin's value has fallen to the absolute basement. I mean, who wants an old guy who has one skill, a skill that has rapidly deteriorated? The best thing about trading Martin is clearing the roster space.

      1. The best thing about trading Martin is clearing the roster space.

        1 and 1a: clearing the roster spot and opening minutes for Wiggins/LaVine at shooting guard:

        There is plenty of evidence to suggest that both Wiggins and LaVine are best suited to play the shooting guard position. Right now, Martin’s presence is impeding that development. His 575 minutes currently ranks third on the team and nearly of them have been spent at shooting guard.

        This is not a difficult argument to make. Not counting Sunday’s loss to Phoenix, which hasn’t yet been computed in the Basketball Reference data base, Wiggins has performed most frequently in two five-man lineups. In the 99 minutes he plays shooting guard alongside Towns, Rubio, KG and Tayshaun Prince, the Wolves are 9.2 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions. In the 96 minutes the Wolves swap out Prince for Martin and move Wiggins up to small forward, the Wolves are 6.3 points worse than their opponents per 100 possessions.

      2. I dont know much about other teams, but Martin could still help a team that needs a scorer, or the threat of a scorer.
        But if the Wolves get anything for him I'd pull the trigger now.

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