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Today's Philosophical Question: Can we even recognize good baseball anymore?

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#41 birdwatcher

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 09:38 AM

I side with you on this, birdwatcher, but if we really have this good amount of talent, then how can we be 15 games under .500 and in last flippin' place!!!

As Levi has so competently pointed out, the answer is that it takes awhile for new talent to dry off their wings at this level. Gaetti, Hrbek, Puckett and gang were involved in bad baseball in 1980.


#42 birdwatcher

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 09:59 AM

Birdwatcher I think you're arguing a strawman in part.I think everybody agrees that there are positive signs for the future.I think everybody agrees that this team is better to watch and more enjoyable than previous iterations.I think everybody agrees that next year should hopefully be better and the following year even more so.That said the point is that even though things are better there is a long way to go still.So while there is hope we are still way below .500, have a terrible starting rotation currently and are at best mediocre on offense. 

 

Hope and enjoyment? Yes.A long ways to go still to make the playoffs?Yes.

Not a strawman, Ox.  My main point, from the start, was that it couldn't be more obvious that we're still seeing some bad baseball. I am pushing back on the argument that anyone here is confused about that, and saying that perhaps some should be less begrudging in acknowledging the clear reality that the baseball is already better and not always bad, and hardly ever really bad anymore. So, to them I say quit your damn whining and quit stating the obvious.:)

 

You just described the rotation as terrible. I completely disagree!! It's not terrible, it's just pretty bad, my friend, but on TD, it often gets described as terrible. My Lord, how many teams would be happy to insert Hughes, Gibson, or probably a healthy Nolasco into their rotation? How many teams would pass on taking May off our hands? So let's be fairer, shall we? The results in 2014 have been terrible, but we don't have a "terrible" rotation now. It lacks a #1-2 caliber starter, and that of course is once again stating the obvious. We can all agree that, absent a #1-2 starter, it will probably continue to be a pretty bad rotation.

 

So, that's my point, you see. No pollyanna, no cherry-picking. Oh, and I also believe the improvement will be more rapid than you. We are not a long, long way from being in contention. Depending on what Ryan does this winter with all the shekels at his disposal ( and again I admit to optimism here), we could very well win the division in 2016, and in the meantime, 2015 should be great fun to watch, probably even involving some "good baseball".

Edited by birdwatcher, 22 August 2014 - 10:11 AM.


#43 birdwatcher

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:25 AM

Tell you what. friends, Ryan needs to find external solutions to a couple of problems this winter, IMO. If he gets us a decent corner OF and a top-of-the-rotation arm, maybe a young Travis D'Arneaud-type catcher, wouldn't that make 2015 a fun year for us?

 

Most were surprised by the Nolasco/Hughes deals, but I wasn't, because the budget was there. This winter, not only is the budget there, but for the first time in about a decade, we have a few trade chips..not many yet, but a few.

 

So, if Ryan doesn't make any significant moves to fill the gaping holes that can't be filled internally, I'll be right there with you, saying we have a long, long way to go to contend.

 

Maybe this clarifies why I'm a bit more optimistic, huh?


#44 birdwatcher

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:49 AM

Sure, Mauer has been uninspiring, many of those names are enormous regression risks for future seasons, Hicks has been a miserable failure thus far, Arcia is still working through his issues, Nolasco has been terrible, and there is the pile of flops the team has since cut bait with that contributed much to this season.

 

Again, there is reason for hope because there has been roster turnover for the better.  I've said before I think we're starting to see the climb uphill beginning just based on the fact that we've shed a lot of the 30+ filler.  But that climb uphill is still going to include a lot of bad baseball on the way to developing these kids for the biggest jump.  The question posed here in this thread is about the quality of baseball being played by the team and this season has not been "good" by many measures.

 

I would caution against confusing the idea of increasing hope with increasing quality of play.  At some point they will intersect, but it ain't now.

Interesting, isn't it, that two passionate and informed fans can look at the same thing, see the same thing, even understand the same thing, and then describe the thing so very differently. Two good people, neither more "right" than the other.

 

I see the intersection of increasing hope and increasing quality of play right now. In every game now. Now. And I'm not at all confused by the two ideas, not in the least. Sickles ranked 14 other prospects higher than the C+ grades he gave to Vargas and Santana, both of whom are improving the quality of baseball right now. 

 

So, here's how I describe the same things you've described above:

 

1. Mauer's having a crappy year. He's at serious risk of a bounce-back year, maybe an enormous one.

 

2. I see a few regression candidates, and not necessarily for enormous regression. Suzuki, Hughes, Escobar, maybe Santana. I wouldn't describe that as "many", and it certainly fits in a normal range for any ball club. But history tells me that only a percentage of regression candidates actually regress.

 

3. Hicks lit up AA, is doing very well in AAA. His floor may be 4th OF, not the end of the world. Here's hoping Ryan doesn't make the mistake of counting on him again, even if he's matured and improved his attitude and work ethic. If Ryan fails to get us a corner OF this winter, usually an easy FA fix, that'll make me nervous.

 

4. Arcia's taken his lumps, but he's been crushing it in August. Here's hoping Vargas can mentor him a bit. :).

 

5. Nolasco fared poorly and is overcoming an injury. There's some hope and we saw a few positive signs in his last outing. Sure wouldn't mind him in 2015 as my #4-5 starter.

 

6. Finally cut bait on some of those base-clogging dullards like Morales and Willingham. 

 

So you see, we don't disagree at all. :)

Edited by birdwatcher, 22 August 2014 - 10:59 AM.

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#45 SwainZag

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 12:39 PM

The 2000 Twins had an average batter age 1.5 years younger than the 2014 Twins, and 3.1 years younger for pitchers.  The average batters and pitchers on the 1986 team were also each over a year younger than their 2014 counterparts.

 

Both of those teams also already had an ace starting pitcher.  Actually, the '86 team may have had two workhorse aces although Viola had a down year.  The 2000 team also had 4 young SP who all had enough experience and past success to be potential contributors from day 1 the following year.  The '86 team had 2-3 star/superstar position players too.  And back to the point of this thread, there were several not terribly young guys who had decent, average-ish seasons on those teams who ultimately played little or no role in the team's quick resurgence.

 

In addition to those 4 starting pitchers, a big part presaging the 2000-2001 turnaround was Hunter and AJ (24 and 23 years old, respectively, at the time) coming back up from minors in August 2000 and playing well down the stretch and continuing those contributions from day 1 the following season.  Who could be those players now?  Hicks?  Pinto?  Would love to see them get that chance.  Mientkiewicz was another, although he didn't see much action in 2000 thanks to the Olympics.

I've stated it before but I'll say it again, using the "average" age of the team is very misleading, misguided and really doesn't tell you anything about the future.

 

Position Players over 30:

Morlaes 31: Gone - Traded

Willingham 35: Gone - Traded

Fuld 32: Gone - Traded

Colabello 30: Gone - DFA'ed

Kubel 32: Gone - Released

Bartlett 34: Gone - Retired

 

Mauer 31 - Under Contract

Susuki 30 - Under Contract

 

Pitchers Over 30:

Correia 33: Gone - Traded

Guerrier 35: Gone - Released

Pelfrey 30: Hurt entire season

Deduno 30: Likely gone at end of the year

Pino 30: Likely gone at end of the year

Burton 33: Likely gone at end of the year

 

Nolasco 31: Under Contract

Perkins 31: Under Contract

Fien 30: Under Contract

Duensing 31: Arb eligible, could be gone.

 

Out of all the guys who make the average age on the team go way up, 5 under are under contract next season, 9 of them are gone already off the roster and 3 others probably won't be here next season.  It's not like this is a team full of veterans under long term contract.  

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#46 Mike Sixel

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 12:56 PM

It also isn't filled with young guys with huge upside. It is a meh team, for me anyway.

I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#47 SwainZag

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 01:32 PM

It also isn't filled with young guys with huge upside. It is a meh team, for me anyway.

How many teams are just filled with young guys with huge upside?  I'll give you answer: Not a one.

 

Having 3 players at age 23 getting regular AB's and starting everyday isn't enough right now?  Throw in Escobar who is 25 and Hicks who very well could be starting by the end the season and that's 5 of 9 starters 25 and younger.

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#48 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 01:51 PM

As Levi has so competently pointed out, the answer is that it takes awhile for new talent to dry off their wings at this level. Gaetti, Hrbek, Puckett and gang were involved in bad baseball in 1980.

 

In 1982 the Twins finished 60-102.

 

In 1984 the Twins competed for a division title in a weak AL West.

 

In other words (and note to Pohlad), it only "takes a while" if all the interested parties convince themselves that it's going to take a while. So I continue to disagree with the majority of posters here on how the Twins should be performing this year. In my opinion? The Twins should be at least .500 right now. Maybe just barely, but certainly not 15 games under. 

 

In an earlier post here you praised all the talent the Twins currently have. That's what I'm trying to agree with you on.

:)

It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All Star

Game and an old timer's game. - Vin Scully


#49 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 01:54 PM

The Twins should be at least .500 right now. 

 

How? Those early 80s teams didn't build themselves on free agency and the only way the 2014 Twins are a .500 club is if they went out and spent a bunch of money.

 

If that's your argument, so be it... But either way, a comparison to the 1984 squad is not a good one. Those teams had Puckett, Gaetti, and Hrbek on them. Their 2014 equivalents (Buxton and Sano) have suffered lost seasons in the minor leagues.

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#50 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:29 PM

I am thinking of the little things. The largely-unnecessary outfield debacle in mid-May. Missing out on the occasional face-palm-obvious favorable match up that certain posters share in the game threads. The famous resurrection of Pedro Florimon -- in mid June no less, after he had already been banished to AAA and cleansed from the memories of 99% of Twins fans. (Think Flormion starting those games in Boston that the Twins lost each by 1 run.) A few other glaring mistakes.

 

In fairness, we had a really good start in April, we've got the best out of guys like Escobar and Santana, and a few other good things.

 

Ok, maybe not flying above .500, but I just don't think the Twins are getting the best out of their guys. All my opinion of course.

It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All Star

Game and an old timer's game. - Vin Scully


#51 TheLeviathan

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:33 PM

I see the intersection of increasing hope and increasing quality of play right now. In every game now. Now. And I'm not at all confused by the two ideas, not in the least. Sickles ranked 14 other prospects higher than the C+ grades he gave to Vargas and Santana, both of whom are improving the quality of baseball right now.:)


Bird, it's hard not to see you conflating hope and reality when you cite prospect depth. That's a hope thing, not a reality.

I get the desire to feel optimistic, I just think you're convincing yourself of a reality that isn't true yet. I do share your optimism that it's coming and the signs will get more and more frequent from here. But right? The team is just bad with a few bright spots.
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#52 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 03:00 PM

I am thinking of the little things. The largely-unnecessary outfield debacle in mid-May. Missing out on the occasional face-palm-obvious favorable match up that certain posters share in the game threads. The famous resurrection of Pedro Florimon -- in mid June no less, after he had already been banished to AAA and cleansed from the memories of 99% of Twins fans. (Think Flormion starting those games in Boston that the Twins lost each by 1 run.) A few other glaring mistakes.

 

In fairness, we had a really good start in April, we've got the best out of guys like Escobar and Santana, and a few other good things.

 

Ok, maybe not flying above .500, but I just don't think the Twins are getting the best out of their guys. All my opinion of course.

There were obvious mistakes made along the way but your first paragraph is worth maybe four wins combined.

 

That's still a long way from .500.

 

This team isn't going to win until the roster has 8-10 above average prospects playing to their potential. That's all there is to it.

 

The good news is that Santana, Gibson, Vargas, and Arcia look pretty good. The bad news is that the Twins need five more of those guys.

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#53 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 03:16 PM

There were obvious mistakes made along the way but your first paragraph is worth maybe four wins combined.
 
That's still a long way from .500.
 
This team isn't going to win until the roster has 8-10 above average prospects playing to their potential. That's all there is to it.
 
The good news is that Santana, Gibson, Vargas, and Arcia look pretty good. The bad news is that the Twins need five more of those guys.

The decision making throughout the season and leaving training camp regarding the 25-man roster has cost us wins. No way to know how many, but some. Add those to your 3 or 4 and you're above .500.

It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All Star

Game and an old timer's game. - Vin Scully


#54 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 03:24 PM

The decision making throughout the season and leaving training camp regarding the 25-man roster has cost us wins. No way to know how many, but some. Add those to your 3 or 4 and you're above .500.

 

You realize you're talking about 10+ wins. You're essentially arguing that the Twins' mistakes cost them 1.5 Mike Trouts.

 

That simply isn't realistic.


#55 Mike Sixel

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 04:32 PM

Over the last three years.....I would argue they have made 10 wins worth of mistakes. And that means they are more years away from "buying the last piece"

I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#56 birdwatcher

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 04:48 PM

Bird, it's hard not to see you conflating hope and reality when you cite prospect depth. That's a hope thing, not a reality.

I get the desire to feel optimistic, I just think you're convincing yourself of a reality that isn't true yet. I do share your optimism that it's coming and the signs will get more and more frequent from here. But right? The team is just bad with a few bright spots.

And I think the same about your viewpoint, Levi. Is it based more on reality or more on some desire to be a tad pessimistic? I'm not conflating hope and reality. The Twins have six prospects ranked among the best 40 in all of baseball!! Probably a dozen prospects in the top 100 or so over the last two years. Detroit currently has none. Incredibly, Vargas and Santana aren't even a part of that group of a dozen or so. They have payroll flexibility in spades, and for the first time in many years, they can trade from surplus. Prospect depth (and more important, numerous high-ceiling prospects) is NOT a hope thing. It's a significant reality. 

 

So Levi, it's hard not to see you conflating pessimism and reality when you cite these few dim spots.:)

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#57 TheLeviathan

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 04:52 PM

The Twins have six prospects ranked among the best 40 in all of baseball!! Probably a dozen prospects in the top 100 or so over the last two years. Detroit currently has none. 

 

These things have nothing to do with the product on the field for the Minnesota Twins right now.  Nor does anything else, save Vargas and Santana, in your response.

 

I think we're at an impasse because you prefer to talk about oranges in a thread about apples.

Edited by TheLeviathan, 22 August 2014 - 04:53 PM.

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#58 DocBauer

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:30 PM

To the actual topic of the thread...yes...I think we can recognize good baseball. For two reasons.

1) most of us are intelligent and experienced enough as baseball fans to remember when competitive, quality baseball was like in Minnesota. I mean, come on, it seems like an eternity but it's really only been 4 years. Hello Cubs fans! Hello Astro fans!

2) having seen 3 previous seasons of bad and losing baseball helps qualify what better baseball looks like.

Which brings us to this year.

Forget the record for a moment. And really, if you want honest perspective, you have to.

The last couple of years, despite being a die-hard, lifelong Twins fan, I would turn on the radio or catch a game, see that we were behind 5+ runs in the 3rd or 4th inning and just turn the game off. This year is not the same. It starts with Hughes and Gibson and Nolasco. I don't care that it's been a disappointing season for Nolasco. He's going to turn out to be a great addition yet. And from there we go to Plouffe, Escobar, Dozier, Santana, Vargas, the late push from Arcia and many other points. Almost any game, any series, this team...for the first time in 3 years...actually plays competitive ball and is the game and series. They make me want to listen, watch, wait and hope like they haven't in a few seasons.

The 2 months lost to Meyer last season affects 2015 to at least some degree. The full season lost for Sano, and almost full season lost to Buxton has defiantly affected the time frame of the Twins. No way you're top 3 prospects having lost time or seasons can't affect your rebuild. But there's been a lot to like this season. And for the first time in a while, I'm actually enjoying Twins baseball in August, and looking forward to September.
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#59 Thegrin

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 11:49 PM

II see Santana or Arcia take a bad rout to catch a hard hit ball and I know I am seeing inexperienced baseball. 

When outfielders miss the cutoff man I know I am seeing bad baseball. 

When left fielders blunder around to find the ball in the corner, or right fielders missing the bounce off the wall, I know I am seeing the home field advantage.

When I see a throw missed by the third basement that bounces into the dugout I know that someone didn't back up the play. That is bad baseball.

When I see fly balls missed in Oakland due to the "high sky" or in the Metrodome I know I am seeing baseball luck.

When I see a Dozier to Escobar double play, I KNOW I am seeing good baseball.

Just because we are Twins fans doesn't mean that we don't know a good play from a bad one. 

Having hope that Arcia and Hicks will "get it" doesn't mean that we don't know the difference between good baseball and bad baseball.

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#60 birdwatcher

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 10:02 AM

It also isn't filled with young guys with huge upside. It is a meh team, for me anyway.

 

The pipeline is filled with young guys with huge upside. More than all but maybe five other teams in all of baseball. If what you're saying is that the 25-man roster is not filled with young guys with huge upside, you're stating the obvious of course. The glass is half full, not half empty.

 

If this team is meh for you, mike, is it because you are "meh" about Hughes, Gibson, May, Arcia, Santana, Vargas, Mauer, Dozier, Perkins, and Fien?  Plouffe, Pressly, Escobar, Suzuki, Thielbar, Nolasco, Milone, Nunez, Burton, and Parmelee are "meh", I agree.  The glass is half full, not half empty.