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  • The Curious Case of Anthony Slama

    It's not clear what Slama needs to do to earn a promotion, but it isn't "pitch really well."
    The last two seasons have been rough for the Twins as the team has posted back-to-back horrible win-loss records. But some positive things came out of this madness. For instance, in this past June's amateur draft, the Twins selected Byron Buxton, arguably the best player in the draft.

    Also, all of the losing and injuries to pitchers have allowed the team to get an in-depth look at pitchers in their own organization and to bring in arms from other organizations for a test run. But one player that hasn't been given much of a chance just finished his fourth year at the Triple-A, all for the Twins, and he has been dominant at every stop along the way.

    Anthony Slama joined the Twins as a 39th round draft pick out of the University of San Diego in the 2006 Draft. As a 23-year old in his first professional season, he split time between Elizabethton and Beloit by posting a combined 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched with 49 strikeouts and only 10 walks. He would move to Fort Myers for all of 2008 where he lowered his ERA to 1.01 in 71.0 innings with 110 strikeouts and 24 walks. His next year, Slama spent time with New Britain and Rochester but most of his innings were at the Double-A level. He ended the year with a 2.67 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 81.0 innings pitched.

    Every year since that point, Slama has made a return trip to Rochester to play out another minor league season. From 2010-2011, he has posted an ERA under 3.00 with more walks than strikeouts. He isn't going to blow batters away but he gets the job done and his coaches have had enough confidence in him to let him be the closer at multiple levels in the minors.

    This season was one of his best as a professional with a ridiculously low 1.24 ERA at the Triple-A level with 56 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. He got his 100th career minor save in Rochester's last game of the season, which seems like a very dubious distinction to earn. No player wants to stay in the minor leagues long enough to rack up 100 saves because it would be much better to be earning a big league paycheck.

    Slama has gotten a very brief taste of the big leagues in 2010 and an even shorter stay in 2011. In his first trip to Target Field, the rookie didn't inspire. He threw in five games and he allowed a run or more in three of those appearances. One of the outings in Baltimore was especially rough as he allowed two earned runs and a home run over the course of his inning. This lead to his only decision as a big leaguer, a loss and a blown lead in the late innings. Last year, there were plenty of opportunities for the Twins to test out different arms from the minor leagues but Slama only appeared in two games. He hasn't seen the big leagues since that point and it doesn't look like the 28-year old relief pitcher will be making it back with the Twins in 2012.

    On Monday, word came out of the Twins organization that the team would only be making two September call-ups. Right-hander Luis Perdomo and Eduardo Escobar will be the lone men making the trip from Rochester to the Chicago as the Twins take on the White Sox. There was plenty of speculation around Brian Dozier, Anthony Slama, Oswaldo Arcia, or Aaron Hicks making appearances for the Twins in the last month of the year but this wasn't the case.

    It sounds like the team wants to focus on the players currently comprising the roster while getting an extended look at some of the players that could earn a spot for 2013. Terry Ryan told reporters, "We only have so many innings or so many at-bats to give people." This left Slama with an early end to his season after what he deemed "a tough year" for himself.



    The Twins refusal to give Slama a legitimate shot at the big league level is perplexing to say the least. He has shown the ability to have very good success at the minor league level and it seems that the natural progression would be to give him more of an extended look with the major league squad. Over the last two seasons, there have been plenty of questionable arms that were used out of the bullpen so it seems curious to not give Slama a chance. He is getting close to turning 30, so his chance at being a regular at the big league level might have already passed him by.

    In some updated quotes from Ryan last night, it sounds like the Twins already know what Slama brings to the table and a pitcher like Perdomo is more of a question mark. He would go on to state that Slama will get his chance but it's hard to imagine that it will be with the Twins. He can't be a free agent until after next season but he will be subject to the Rule 5 Draft this December since he is not on the 40-man roster. His best option at this point in his career might be to turn to another organization and hope they need bullpen help at some point in 2013 because it doesn't seem like the Twins will give him a shot. The Rule 5 Draft could give him this opportunity if another team sees something in the right-handed relief pitcher.

    Yesterday, a petition was started at Twins Daily to try and get some answers from the front office of the Twins organization. If you feel that Anthony Slama deserves more of a chance with the Twins, go to the link and lend your name to the petition. The Twins have plenty of holes to fill for next season but it would be nice for Slama to get a longer look at the big league level.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Curious Case of Anthony Slama started by Cody Christie
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. ScottyB's Avatar
      ScottyB -
      "has posted an ERA under 3.00 with more walks than strikeouts."

      Make that more strikeouts than walks
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I totally agree with this, with the exception of this little thing:
      He isn't going to blow batters away but he gets the job done
      as a matter of fact his k/9 ratio indicated that he has been blowing batters away in every level. Even in his much maligned MLB SSS 7 IP he has a 10.3 K/9
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      When we eventually lose Slama - these will be my parting words for him:

      "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      It really isn't a curious kind of situation. This organization is stuck in the 20th century. It believes in seeing-eye scouting predominantly. Statistics "lie" is clearly the mantra.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      It really isn't a curious kind of situation. This organization is stuck in the 20th century. It believes in seeing-eye scouting predominantly. Statistics "lie" is clearly the mantra.
      I am all for giving Slama a chance. Your line is preposterous. Metrics alone do not predict major league success. David McCarty comes to mind as he tore up the minor leagues, fizzled at the majors. There is a clear difference between the skill levels of the players at different levels . To the Twin's credit they are not public about their perceptions of what is lacking in Slama's pitching. On the other hand, they must still be interested in him when discussing winter baseball option.
      .
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      It really isn't a curious kind of situation. This organization is stuck in the 20th century. It believes in seeing-eye scouting predominantly. Statistics "lie" is clearly the mantra.
      Having studied statistics in school (I was a math major) I know that statistics can be made to say just about anything you want. They can be a helpful tool, but I would never trust them completely in making decisions. They are an aid to the decision-making process, but not the sole (or even the most important) aid.

      About the article, well written and cogently argued. That said, how many more "Free Slama" articles are we going to have? At what point does this become dead-horse-beating?
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Hope nobody lights a match, all those straw men will burn down.

      Another Slama thread, really?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Hope nobody lights a match, all those straw men will burn down.

      Another Slama thread, really?
      It's an article, not a thread. Articles are automatically generated as a forum topic.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      At what point do we just rename the site: SlamaDaily?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      At what point do we just rename the site: SlamaDaily?
      Parmelee and Slama are the only interesting topics on the Twins right now. It's not surprising that many of the TD writers want to take a shot at interpreting the situation.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      At what point do we just rename the site: SlamaDaily?
      Parmelee and Slama are the only interesting topics on the Twins right now. It's not surprising that many of the TD writers want to take a shot at interpreting the situation.
      A RP who can't even hit 89 on the radar gun? I guess we have different opinions on what is interesting.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      The title of the article is clear. If you didn't want to read another take on the handling of Slama, you didn't need to read it. And you didn't need to comment.

      It doesn't surprise me that Cody wrote a piece about Slama for his blog, "North Dakota Twins Fan" and I appreciate that his blog entries are also posted here at TD.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      A RP who can't even hit 89 on the radar gun? I guess we have different opinions on what is interesting.
      What's interesting about Slama is his situation, not necessarily the pitcher himself. He could fail as a MLB reliever. The interesting question is "why isn't he getting a shot instead of Gray/Perdomo/scrub reliever?"
    1. biscuit's Avatar
      biscuit -
      Slama really did not look good in his two stints with the Twins. But there are guys who look a hell of a lot worse who get longer looks. I think he must have insulted the manager in some way: maybe called him 'fat, balding.'
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Does anyone remember the circumstances under which Slama was called up in 2011? Just went and saw that he had 2.1 IP with 0H, 0R, 2 BB, 1 WP and 3 SO.

      Wondered what happened that he only got in 2 games. Was someone just out for a day or two? Again, with how bad this club was, it seems just downright weird that they didn't keep him with the club for more than 2 games. I know they hate walks but it's not like their other relievers were all that effective -- maybe Matt Capps didn't walk anybody but it seemed like he always put at least 1 runner on base before he worked his way out of an innning.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      A RP who can't even hit 89 on the radar gun? I guess we have different opinions on what is interesting.
      What's interesting about Slama is his situation, not necessarily the pitcher himself. He could fail as a MLB reliever. The interesting question is "why isn't he getting a shot instead of Gray/Perdomo/scrub reliever?"
      The team has answered that question several times. The question has become do fans know more than the Twins FO on player development?

      This actually sorta reminds me of the Kila Ka'aihue situation in KC. KC fans demanded that Ka'aihue be brought up - he had dominated the minors (although prospect sites weren't as heavy on him). He got 12 games in the majors at 24, spent all of his age 25 season back in AAA, as well as most of his age 26 season. In 5 seasons at AAA (over 400 games) he had an OPS over .900 while drawing nearly as many walks as strike outs. KC fans were going crazy that he didn't get a shot since KC sorta sucked while letting vets like Mike Jacobs play first base. Things from the FO like his defense is horrible, he has plate issues, he can't hit ML pitching were part of some vast conspiracy by a FO afraid of stats. Of course, he was a disaster at the ML level, traded for a crappy relief pitcher and DFA'd by Billy Beane.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Does anyone remember the circumstances under which Slama was called up in 2011? Just went and saw that he had 2.1 IP with 0H, 0R, 2 BB, 1 WP and 3 SO.

      Wondered what happened that he only got in 2 games. Was someone just out for a day or two? Again, with how bad this club was, it seems just downright weird that they didn't keep him with the club for more than 2 games. I know they hate walks but it's not like their other relievers were all that effective -- maybe Matt Capps didn't walk anybody but it seemed like he always put at least 1 runner on base before he worked his way out of an innning.
      I think someone came back of the DL and then Slama was sent back to AAA and got hurt and missed a lot of time.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      A RP who can't even hit 89 on the radar gun? I guess we have different opinions on what is interesting.
      What's interesting about Slama is his situation, not necessarily the pitcher himself. He could fail as a MLB reliever. The interesting question is "why isn't he getting a shot instead of Gray/Perdomo/scrub reliever?"
      The team has answered that question several times. The question has become do fans know more than the Twins FO on player development?

      This actually sorta reminds me of the Kila Ka'aihue situation in KC. KC fans demanded that Ka'aihue be brought up - he had dominated the minors (although prospect sites weren't as heavy on him). He got 12 games in the majors at 24, spent all of his age 25 season back in AAA, as well as most of his age 26 season. In 5 seasons at AAA (over 400 games) he had an OPS over .900 while drawing nearly as many walks as strike outs. KC fans were going crazy that he didn't get a shot since KC sorta sucked while letting vets like Mike Jacobs play first base. Things from the FO like his defense is horrible, he has plate issues, he can't hit ML pitching were part of some vast conspiracy by a FO afraid of stats. Of course, he was a disaster at the ML level, traded for a crappy relief pitcher and DFA'd by Billy Beane.
      No matter what you think of Slama, this team kept Jeff Gray on its roster for a good portion of the season. Jeff Gray is an awful major league baseball pitcher. We knew that from day one. Nothing he did had any indication that he would stick in the majors (literally, zero indication), yet the team stuck with him for at least two months.

      If the team wanted to see Perdomo so badly, why didn't it happen earlier and why isn't Slama getting a shot in September? Why did the front office stick with a guy who was so freakin' awful that even the most casual fan could tell he was not major league material? On that basis alone, Slama deserved a shot after the "scholarship" comments when JR returned to the GM spot.

      I don't care that much about Slama. He could fail spectacularly. That's not the point. The point is that a guy who earned a shot at the majors is not getting it in favor of playing a combination of talentless scrubs for a good portion of the season.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by sbknudson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      It really isn't a curious kind of situation. This organization is stuck in the 20th century. It believes in seeing-eye scouting predominantly. Statistics "lie" is clearly the mantra.
      Having studied statistics in school (I was a math major) I know that statistics can be made to say just about anything you want. They can be a helpful tool, but I would never trust them completely in making decisions. They are an aid to the decision-making process, but not the sole (or even the most important) aid.

      About the article, well written and cogently argued. That said, how many more "Free Slama" articles are we going to have? At what point does this become dead-horse-beating?
      So what distortion is being made about Slama's statistics? No one is saying that they should be "trusted completely" but rather that perhaps we should be able to get some more Slama statistics . . . as in his major league stats.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      At what point do we just rename the site: SlamaDaily?
      Or, WhatDaveApprovesOfDaily?
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