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Article: TD Top Prospects: #2 Stephen Gonsalves

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Hammond Happenin

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Reusse makes case for Danny Santana at shortstop

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Blind faith vs. evidence and reason

Attached Image: Anthony Slama 600.jpg
When coming to form one's beliefs or making evaluations about things, the rather vast ocean between blind faith and evidence sets up a stark contrast in reasoned (or un-reasoned) judgment. This post is not about evolution or theism, but about something much less important in the grand scheme of things.

This post is about the Twins' evaluation of Anthony Slama.
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]Let's first examine the evidence, sticking to Slama's minor league and major league statistics. In parts of four seasons in AAA Rochester, Slama has 146 2/3 inning pitched, a 2.21 ERA, 183 K, 72 BB (2.54 K/BB), and a 1.152 WHIP. In 2012, Slama has improved upon the K/BB rate (3.0) with a whopping 15.1 K/9 together with a 5 BB/9. Let me repeat, this year he has been striking out 15 batters per 9 innings.

With such impressive AAA stats (and much the same or better at the lower levels in the minors), certainly Slama has seen ample time up with the Twins, right? He pitched 4 2/3 innings in 2010 and 2 1/3 innings in 2011. Yes, the guy striking out AAA batters at an incredibly high rate has only seven total innings up with the Twins.

So, clearly stats lie, in the view of the relevant decision makers for the Twins.

What, then, are the Twins basing their evaluation of Slama on instead? I submit that it is blind faith, but more importantly it is blind faith in their (the Twins' decision makers) ability to evaluate players and make projections into the major league future. Slama does not "have the stuff" and Gardenhire himself has made the claim that Slama's fastball is too straight vertically and horizontally for the majors, or in his eloquent words, "up here you've got to make it do something."

Instead of using the evidence of Slama's AAA success to make a reasonable projection about his MLB projected performance, the Twins would rather rely on the faith they have in their seeing-eye assessment of Slama's stuff. AAA batters are actually pretty well-equipped to hit straight fastballs as well (in fact, that is usually the one thing hitters in AAA can do, even if they can't hit anything else and never make it to the majors).

I could perhaps forgive this blind faith evaluation (in their own talents as evaluators, not in Slama) if the Twins A: had a bullpen full of better pitchers who were going to mean something for the Twins in the future, and B: if the Twins were in a division or wild card race and couldn't afford 20 innings given to a reliever they were leery of promoting.

But neither A or B are true. While, Alex Burnett has been incredibly lucky not to get destroyed this year, he does have an option left and that should not be burned this season (it will next season, trust me!). But Jeff Gray is a pitching abomination. He (like Burnett) walks almost as many as he strikes out and he isn't striking many out to begin with. He has somehow been given 51 2/3 innings to pitch this year. And Gray has no future with the Twins, isn't getting better, and will be 31 in a few months.

It is mind-boggling to me to consider the thought process involved in keeping Jeff Gray on the roster instead of Anthony Slama. Now, plenty of people at Twins Daily will wonder why one might complain about the last bullpen spot on a horrible team. Well, first, I am for improving the team at all roster spots if possible and it never matters how good or bad the team is in the first place. Second, is that there has to be some kind of justice in the baseball world! Anthony Slama deserves an opportunity with the Twins. We are also talking about livelihoods here as well.

I have come to the point where I actually believe that the Twins are not promoting Slama because they are scared that he will succeed. That would prove them wrong and would make them have to question how they evaluate pitchers. The faithful do not like either of those two things happening.


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