Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • 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.

    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.
    This article was originally published in blog: These Ain't Your Old Twins started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 64 Comments
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      Good point on Mauer's contract. Sometimes it's easy to forget that his contract will someday end, despite being a "Twin for life."

      Still, our starting budget and commitments were so low, we have room for another incremental signing this offseason within our budget, and we'll get back more "wiggle room" next offseason with a few expiring contracts too. Another Nolasco type contract or even something a little bigger won't slow us down in the least.

      Think of it this way: we've barely made any significant contractual commitments since 2010. Take 3 years off any incremental process, and the next increment can (and perhaps should) be larger.
      I'm not against the Twins picking up more players, I'm just not sure who they should pick up and I'd prefer it to be shorter-term than Matt Garza.

      I'd love for them to be playing in the 3 year, $20-25m range but given the positional talent available this offseason and the Twins difficulty in deciding who stays and who goes, I'm not sure if there's really anyone for them to pursue right now.

      I was against the Salty signing but honestly, he was probably the best option out there in that range... I just hate the idea of paying that guy based on a .372 BABIP season.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Yeah, I don't know who'd you sign anymore either. Didn't like Salty or most position players, and we've already got two SP.

      I guess I'd try to stay in the mix for the remaining pitchers, in case the market doesn't quite explode for them. Maybe I am just searching for the comfort of a non-xFIP-based pitching acquisition.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      One way the A's were good last year was by not throwing away any of the 24 spots. They made small improvements across the board. The Twins need to decide if they are going that route (e.g., making some small signing of guys they know can add some value), or if they are going to give some of the young guys already here a shot to provide more data about their ability to play.

      I'd think there are guys that are much likely to be better than Doumit, Parms, Hicks/Mastro/Pressley were last year available. Do you roll the dice on the guys you have, or bring in some vets to maybe be better and send the guys to AAA or packing?

      The Yankees now need a 2B....if you think Rosario can be your guy starting in 2015, do you deal Dozier for prospects (I have no idea if the Yanks have any prospects)?
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      One way the A's were good last year was by not throwing away any of the 24 spots. They made small improvements across the board. The Twins need to decide if they are going that route (e.g., making some small signing of guys they know can add some value), or if they are going to give some of the young guys already here a shot to provide more data about their ability to play.

      I'd think there are guys that are much likely to be better than Doumit, Parms, Hicks/Mastro/Pressley were last year available. Do you roll the dice on the guys you have, or bring in some vets to maybe be better and send the guys to AAA or packing?

      The Yankees now need a 2B....if you think Rosario can be your guy starting in 2015, do you deal Dozier for prospects (I have no idea if the Yanks have any prospects)?
      Sure there are guys out there who are more likely to be better in 2014 than the group of semi-prospects you listed. On the other hand incremental improvement isn't going to do the Twins much good in 2014. Also there is some chance that Hicks and perhaps Plouffe and Parmelee could provide more than incremental improvement at some point.

      I think Nolasco will provide some help. Who knows what Hughes might do. If the Twins pitching is significantly better in 2014 it will likely because guys like Gibson, Meyer and maybe May get to the majors and pitch to their preceived talent, quickly. Alternatively, perhaps Worley, Deduno and Diamond might build on their somewhat limited major league success. But counting on Nolasco and Hughes to be more than what they have been at their best, mid rotation starters is not realistic.

      So what is realistic? Let's find out about guys like Hicks and Pinto. Maybe Plouffe and couple of the other slow developing guys as well. Maybe we see Sano and Buxton at some point as well. The starting pitching is unlikely to be good enough in 2014 to carry even an average offense. So lets look at some guys who might be above average someday, and hopefully some who have a good chance to be well above average. If some small improvements are out there maybe you take them, but I want to see the guys who have at least some chance of being better than that.

      Finally comparing what the A's did last year to what the Twins should do now isn't really that useful. Small improvements for a good A's team in 2012 made a lot of sense. Small improvements for a bad 2013 Twins team aren't going to turn the 2014 Twins into anything. Maybe some large improvements by some existing Twins and soon to be Twins will move the Twins in the right direction.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.