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Article: Only One Spot to Address for 2015?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:32 AM
At a glance, the title of this article might seem a little outrageous. How could one suggest that a team on track for 90 losses needs so...
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Liam Hendriks tomorrow

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:22 AM
Royals starter Ventura was scratched for tomorrow.  Instead, the Twins face ex-Twin Liam Hendriks, who has pitched well at the Royal...
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Article: Twins in Arizona

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:12 AM
On Thursday afternoon, MLB announced its 2014 Arizona Fall League rosters. Six Minnesota Twins were announced as members of the Salt Rive...
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Article: Trevor Plouffe: Third Base or Utility Role

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:09 AM
Trevor Plouffe has been the Twins third baseman since the middle of 2012. He is the Twins' longest-serving starter at his current positio...
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (8/26): Turner Lifts M...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 08:59 AM
Byron Buxton is heading back to the Arizona Fall League. At least that is the hope of the Twins organization as rosters were announced fo...
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The Store

These Ain't Your Old Twins

Answering the same question over and over again had to be growing tiresome for Twins officials.

Because baseball fans in general are becoming increasingly analytical in the way they watch the game (this site serves as a great example), and because the organization has earned a reputation for taking a more traditional, scouting-based approach, seemingly every interview with an exec or front office member has included some query on the Twins' progress in the area of statistical analysis.
This placed Terry Ryan, or Rob Antony, or Jack Goin, or whoever, in the tough position of needing to reveal enough about their internal process to satisfy skeptics while withholding enough so as not to give away any kind of competitive advantage.

The refrain has always been the same: We do have a statistics department, they do have influence and we are not as behind the times as everyone seems to think.

Yet, while that all sounds nice, it's been hard to buy into because the actions simply have not matched the words. With a pitching staff that was already drastically out of line with the league-wide proliferation of high-strikeout arms, the Twins last year signed two more contact-heavy hurlers whose peripheral numbers suggested little upside.

This year has been a much different story. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes aren't superstars, but they are certainly the type of pitchers that a club leaning on deeper statistics might be expected to target.

Nolasco's career 4.37 ERA isn't too impressive, but for many years he has been a darling of the sabermetric community because of his consistently strong fielding independent marks. In all but one of the past six seasons, his xFIP has been lower than 3.70, thanks in large part to his outstanding K/BB ratios.

The superior secondary numbers haven't frequently translated into top-tier performance, but if you're going to take a chance and make a large investment in a guy, he's a sound choice based on the underlying indicators.

Attached Image: philhughes.jpg The same can be said for Hughes. He's got his obvious warts -- he's exceeded 150 innings in a season only once, he has been extremely homer-prone and he's coming off a 5.19 ERA -- but there's plenty to like about this signing.

As a fly ball pitcher, Hughes was miscast in Yankee Stadium, where pop-ups seem to sometimes find the seats. This was reflected by a 1-10 record and 6.32 ERA in the home yard this past season.

Pitching in spacious Target Field should alleviate some of the righty's gopher ball issues while hopefully allowing his strengths to manifest. A former first-round draft pick and top prospect, Hughes throws in the mid-90s and is capable of missing bats, albeit not at a spectacular rate. Much like Nolasco, his secondary numbers are the most appealing thing about him.

These signings weren't about simply getting guys who can go out and throw 180 innings, as we've seen too often in the past. These were about bringing in established arms with real, meaningful upside.

That's precisely what needs to be done at this point. I've been as disenchanted with the front office as anyone over the past couple years, but this past week has really restored a lot of my faith. I like the aggressiveness, I like the approach, I like the decisions.

Are these moves guaranteed to work out? Of course not. But if they don't, the Twins can say they tried and based their investments on good science. And they've still got lots of offseason left to continue demonstrating their seriousness.

If Ryan is walking with a bit of a strut when he shows up at the Winter Meetings in Orlando next week, he'll have earned the right.

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