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Yahoo: Mike Pelfrey Defended

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:11 AM

Over at Yahoo, Tom Schreier looks at my story that criticizes the Mike Pelfrey signing and instead views it as part of a good foundation for the 2014 Twins. He raises some good arguments that supporters of the signing would echo, focusing much of his energy on Pelfrey as part of a stable clubhouse. He also likes it in the context in which it was made, viewing Pelfrey as an additional piece at the end of a successful offseason rebuilding the pitching staff:

"[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue]On the contrary, the Twins have laid a foundation for a good pitching staff. They finally went out and spent money, bringing in Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million). With Correia and Pelfrey also under contract, it creates competition for Gibson as well as two lefties, Scott Diamond and Andrew Albers, as well as Samuel Deduno, a player that truly is a gamble with his whacky fastball."[/FONT][/COLOR]


#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:20 AM

Part of what he says makes sense - I think part of the reasons the Twins wanted Pelfrey back were things not relating to his pitching days. He "toughed" it out, he wanted to pitch, etc things like that, I think the Twins (rightly or wrongly) like quite a bit. I always thought that Ryan brought Capps back b/c Capps pitched so much of the year with an injured wrist but wouldn't go to the DL. (I also happen to think Pelfrey is a good gamble at this point of his career and 6m or so per year on him looks safe).

And teammates probably do like stability in the clubhouse - I have no idea how much it affects them but I'm sure they like it and Pelfrey, as I heard it, was well-liked by the other pitchers.

#3 stringer bell

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:47 AM

Part of what he says makes sense - I think part of the reasons the Twins wanted Pelfrey back were things not relating to his pitching days. He "toughed" it out, he wanted to pitch, etc things like that, I think the Twins (rightly or wrongly) like quite a bit. I always thought that Ryan brought Capps back b/c Capps pitched so much of the year with an injured wrist but wouldn't go to the DL. (I also happen to think Pelfrey is a good gamble at this point of his career and 6m or so per year on him looks safe).

And teammates probably do like stability in the clubhouse - I have no idea how much it affects them but I'm sure they like it and Pelfrey, as I heard it, was well-liked by the other pitchers.

If they can get him to work faster, a lot of people would like Pelfrey more. I saw two of his games in person and he pitched OK in both, but got a loss (Twins were shut out) and a no-decision (Arcia hit a game-winning homer after Pelf left) in those starts. Obviously with his WHIP, he had a lot of runners on base and he worked at an iceberg pace with runners on. Also, he tended to nibble and run into a lot of long counts. Maybe more confidence in his stuff this year will make him more aggressive and assertive.

#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:55 AM

Yeah, he isn't the most fun pitcher to sit through.

#5 TheLeviathan

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:00 AM

Maybe more confidence in his stuff this year will make him more aggressive and assertive.


My understanding was that this was a trend even pre-injury with the Mets or was this a new phenomenon?

#6 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:08 AM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.
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#7 Dman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:30 AM

I am not sure I understand the article. Is he saying that keeping Pelfrey to create consistency in the clubhouse is why this was a good signing?

#8 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:56 AM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.


But what good player would you have signed to replace the Pelfrey signing? I guess the Twins could have waited to see how the Tanaka situation shook out to see if they could sign Garza (although as far as I'm concerned, they still have the money to sign him if they could entice him back to MN). E. Santana wasn't going to happen. Arroyo for 4 years instead of Pelfrey for 2? I think I'd rather take the 2 year risk (at lower money) for Pelfrey rather than being locked into another 4 year deal.

The Twins were in a position where they had to do something pretty early this off-season and I am so glad that we are not sitting here with Christmas fast approaching and no pitchers in the Twins' stocking. I didn't expect them to make giant leaps in one off-season. I'm satisfied with taking some decent strides toward a better pitching staff and in positioning themselves for some of the prospects to mature (we hope). I don't see anything that they've done so far this off-season as hampering themselves from making further improvements over the next year or two.

The Pelfrey signing may not be a great present but it's not one where I feel like I have to stand in the returns line, either. It may be one of those gifts you use for a while and then discard. And fortunately, the Twins could afford to do that.

Edited by JB_Iowa, 20 December 2013 - 10:59 AM.


#9 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

I'm not sure why people get upset about clubhouse chemistry. I've worked plenty of jobs where the team environment made working difficult... and in some cases toxic. It happens. I have no doubt that it can affect play on the field.

I do agree that winning can cure many ailments, but I refuse to pretend that clubhouse chemistry doesn't matter either.

#10 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

To go back to the original article, though.

The one thing that Pelfrey seems to bring to the clubhouse is a toughness and true desire to get out on the mound. (Maybe even pushing it faster than he should have).

Given the complaints we've all had about the "country club" atmosphere we've perceived in the clubhouse the last few years, that seems like a positive to me. A great reason to sign him? No. A contributing factor? Yep.

#11 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:08 AM

I would have signed an OFer, not another 4/5 starter. Now, all the good OFers are gone. I still don't get the idea of a stop gap starter, if you are not going to fix the offense. That's the part of the strategy I don't get.

Also, the comments I made were about the whole "chemistry wins games" part of the article......since I think that is somewhat bunk. Great players wins games, chemistry can help, but it isn't THE thing, imo.
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#12 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:15 AM

I am not sure that Pelfrey was defended (or needed defending for that matter) the Twins' signing was. And I am not going to comment on what was written at yahoo, in absentia of the author here, but I would have to agree that (and I commented on the article when it was posted here) that it really was one-sided and not any good data-driven arguments were given against the signing (other than ERA numbers) and most of the argument (that has been repeated here and in podcasts) was that the Twins were throwing away money because Pelfrey is perceived by someone(s) to be "horrible".

Some of us (including Nelson - twice here and here- and me) tried to look at the reasons with data that the Twins actually might had in mind when they signed Pelfrey and how this could potentially be a positive signing. On the other hand, all the arguments that we hear against the Pelfrey signing is (practically) that "he is horrible", "he is slow" and he had a "high ERA".

As as far as the Twins throwing money away gambling, Pelfrey's annual contact value is exactly what they paid Blackburn not to pitch last season and about half of what they paid Pavano the season before...
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#13 Dman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:24 AM

I'm not sure why people get upset about clubhouse chemistry. I've worked plenty of jobs where the team environment made working difficult... and in some cases toxic. It happens. I have no doubt that it can affect play on the field.

I do agree that winning can cure many ailments, but I refuse to pretend that clubhouse chemistry doesn't matter either.


I think club house chemistry is important but if it is the primary reason we are signing guys then I don't think we will have a very good team. I am sure there are lots of players with great personalities for the club house but they might not be great players.

Look I don't mind the Pelfrey signing and I think he will have bounce back year and prove himself but I don't think great clubhouse guy is the MAIN reason you bring him back. I expected more stats or analysis in the article.

#14 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:30 AM

I would have signed an OFer, not another 4/5 starter. Now, all the good OFers are gone. I still don't get the idea of a stop gap starter, if you are not going to fix the offense. That's the part of the strategy I don't get.

Also, the comments I made were about the whole "chemistry wins games" part of the article......since I think that is somewhat bunk. Great players wins games, chemistry can help, but it isn't THE thing, imo.


Fair enough on the OF. Obviously that wasn't a direction the Twins had in mind even before the season started. Maybe they'll be proved wrong on having enough outfielders in the pipeline. I know you've been vocal about how the Twins would be really competitive this year if they made the right moves. I guess I think they are further away than that so I don't have a problem with a lot of outfield auditions this year.

I don't necessarily believe that clubhouse chemistry wins games (although I think that at times it can lose them) and I probably disagree with the Twins on what kind of clubhouse chemistry is needed.

But I've noted since early in the off-season that I wanted to see the Twins sign players who WANT to be on that field each day (as was noted about the changes the Red Sox made last year, the kind of baseball rats who want to be on the top step of the dugout and are anxious to get on the field). Although a pitcher, I see that in Pelfrey -- someone who pushes himself. If he can have a year where he is pitching pretty well, I think that his attitude provides some good leadership qualities for the rest of the staff.

#15 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:35 AM

I think that's all fair, JB, and I understand why people think I'm on crack in thinking with one or two big moves they were a contender this year. I was pretty surprised to come to that conclusion myself. It might be the NFL fan in me, since you can turn a team around there so fast....
Lighten up Francis....

#16 big dog

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:37 AM

A lot of you are very well-informed about what players' lives are like in the minors, especially the low minors. I've got a good friend whose son is in the Midwest League. Things are financially even tighter for them than I thought, and my expectations were low to begin with. When Pelfrey went to Cedar Rapids for a start this summer, he paid for a prime rib clubhouse spread after the game. Most of those kids had never seen prime rib before. I bet he's a great guy to have on your team, and I'll cheer for him. Especially if he quits holding the ball so long.

#17 Oxtung

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:15 PM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.


The funny part is the author of the Yahoo! article makes the same argument. He buries this little nugget in the middle of that article.

The Twins succeed when they have enough talent on the team; they don't when they do not.


So in the end, for all his railing on "team chemistry", it even comes back to talent for him.

#18 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:06 PM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.


How do you explain Boston's 2012/2013 and the mediocre results of the LAA?

#19 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:28 PM

[quote name='mike wants wins']I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. .[/QUOTE]

I would not compare apples:
[quote name='mike wants wins']
Santana, Radke, Hunter, Liriano's magic year,.Mauer, Morneau pre-injury....[/QUOTE]

to oranges

[quote name='mike wants wins']Puckett, Hrbek, Knoblauch, Gaetti, [/QUOTE]

As far as winning goes.


And the different results of these 2 groupings make this false:

[quote name='mike wants wins'].it was about talent.[/QUOTE]

To go from being a competitive team for 4 seasons with one and outs in the post-season to wining 2 World Series in 4 seasons, apparently you need more than talent.

in 1987 and 1991, the Twins did not have the AL Cy Young and AL MVP play in the same team. In 2006 they did. Arguably, the 2006 team was more talented than either of the World Series teams. Why did they not win? Not because of talent it seems...

Heart, Chemistry and Desire to win are huge as well...

Or find me another explanation about the postseason Gardenhire loser teams, which does not involve "luck", "dice" or "the Yankees".

I am all ears.

Edited by Thrylos, 20 December 2013 - 05:31 PM.

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#20 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:29 PM

I'm not sure why people get upset about clubhouse chemistry. I've worked plenty of jobs where the team environment made working difficult... and in some cases toxic. It happens. I have no doubt that it can affect play on the field.

I do agree that winning can cure many ailments, but I refuse to pretend that clubhouse chemistry doesn't matter either.


In a business context, culture is the hardest thing to change. The largest turnaround I ever orchestrated started with the dismissal of two extremely talent individuals that simply refused to be team players. That company had a poor culture, a high turnover rate that was growing even higher, and was losing money. Three years later that had almost zero turnover, attracted the best talent in the region and had record profits. That company also went on to be recognized within that industry as the best organization of its kind in the US.

So, yes, count me in the camp that believes chemistry is important.

#21 drivlikejehu

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:47 PM

Baseball teams have extremely high rates of player turnover, so comparing corporate chemistry to the 25-man roster is prima facie invalid. Certainly personal characteristics have to be considered on some level, but because so few people are capable of playing Major League Baseball, organizations do not have a ton of discretion in this area.

The field staff (and front office) are a different story, since they are much more easily replaceable and turn over at a lesser rate.

#22 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:54 PM

Baseball teams have extremely high rates of player turnover, so comparing corporate chemistry to the 25-man roster is prima facie invalid. Certainly personal characteristics have to be considered on some level, but because so few people are capable of playing Major League Baseball, organizations do not have a ton of discretion in this area.

The field staff (and front office) are a different story, since they are much more easily replaceable and turn over at a lesser rate.


It might be prima facie invalid, but if you did deeper, clubhouse and team culture, as corporate culture, is determined by the leaders (who as you said turn over at a lesser rate; and at a painfully slow rate in the Twins case) and not the workers/players.

The front office can determine the type of culture they want to have and go get those kind of players. Apparently the MacPhail Front office has been more successful that the Ryan (and its derivatives) front office in creating a winning culture...
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#23 Dman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 06:33 PM

I would not compare apples:


to oranges



As far as winning goes.


And the different results of these 2 groupings make this false:



To go from being a competitive team for 4 seasons with one and outs in the post-season to wining 2 World Series in 4 seasons, apparently you need more than talent.

in 1987 and 1991, the Twins did not have the AL Cy Young and AL MVP play in the same team. In 2006 they did. Arguably, the 2006 team was more talented than either of the World Series teams. Why did they not win? Not because of talent it seems...

Heart, Chemistry and Desire to win are huge as well...

Or find me another explanation about the postseason Gardenhire loser teams, which does not involve "luck", "dice" or "the Yankees".

I am all ears.


If Heart, Chemistry and Desire were the main focus of GM's and winning teams we wouldn't be talking about ERA, FIP, Strikeouts, Batting average etc. because they would all be trumped by chemistry. If your premise is correct then all of baseball has it wrong. We shouldn't look for guy who throws 100 miles an hour but gritty guys with heart that throw 80. I am not aware of any organization that prizes such players.

I don't think anyone would argue that chemistry makes a difference, and no one has that I can see, but the Talent has to be there to win. You can have the greatest chemistry in your locker room and never make it to the playoffs. You can have the talent of the Yankee's and not make it to the playoffs as injuries, down years, and poor decisions come into play as well. In the end the baseball world searches for talent first and chemistry later.

#24 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 06:41 PM

I don't necessarily think that heart, chemistry and desire = clubhouse chemistry.

I think of clubhouse chemistry more as "getting along with one another" and in that context, while it may help smooth the waters somewhat during a long season, I'm not sure it leads to championships.

Give me someone who has talent AND a burning desire to win (even if he may not be the best-loved guy in the clubhouse).

(This is actually where I think the original writer of the post Bonnes cited went wrong. Pelfrey may be a good clubhouse guy but he also apparently WANTS the d*mn ball every 5th day. To me that is more important than whether his card-playing buddies like him).

#25 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:34 PM

If Heart, Chemistry and Desire were the main focus of GM's and winning teams we wouldn't be talking about ERA, FIP, Strikeouts, Batting average etc. because they would all be trumped by chemistry. If your premise is correct then all of baseball has it wrong. We shouldn't look for guy who throws 100 miles an hour but gritty guys with heart that throw 80. I am not aware of any organization that prizes such players.

I don't think anyone would argue that chemistry makes a difference, and no one has that I can see, but the Talent has to be there to win. You can have the greatest chemistry in your locker room and never make it to the playoffs. You can have the talent of the Yankee's and not make it to the playoffs as injuries, down years, and poor decisions come into play as well. In the end the baseball world searches for talent first and chemistry later.



Nah.

That is not the point. The point was what made the Santana Mauer and Morneau and Gardernhire and Ryan teams different than the Puckett, Hrbek, Viola, Knoblauch, TK and MacPhail teams.

They both had talent, so the "ERA, FIP, Strikeouts" etc were all taken care.

What made one group of TALENTED Twins' teams win 2 World Series in 4 years vs the other group of (potentially more) talented Twins' teams be one and out post-season losers.

This is the point of discussion.
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#26 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:39 PM

I don't necessarily think that heart, chemistry and desire = clubhouse chemistry.

I think of clubhouse chemistry more as "getting along with one another" and in that context, while it may help smooth the waters somewhat during a long season, I'm not sure it leads to championships.

Give me someone who has talent AND a burning desire to win (even if he may not be the best-loved guy in the clubhouse).

(This is actually where I think the original writer of the post Bonnes cited went wrong. Pelfrey may be a good clubhouse guy but he also apparently WANTS the d*mn ball every 5th day. To me that is more important than whether his card-playing buddies like him).


Totally agreed. I don't care about players getting along and being complacent and being ok with being losers (try to find and replay Cuddyer's postgame interview after the Twins lost game 163 to Thome and the White Sux)

That was my point. Desire to win and not accepting losing is the key. And the Twins for the last 20 years do not care. Heck, they lost 99+96+96 and blamed it all on Jerry and Stelly and gave a whole bunch of promotions to the front office.
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#27 jcphitman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 08:20 PM

I can see the guy's point about chemistry myself. The more you work with someone, the more it gels. I've been with my team over two years now managing a bank branch and we gel a lot easier than we did when we all came together. It's not great by any means, but it's very functional and we've been very successful.

As for Pelfrey, I think it's something more than chemistry. I think it's a sense of obligation from both parties:

1. I think the Twins feel obligated to give Pelfrey another shot. I almost wonder if Pelfrey was a rebound signing last year after Baker went to the Cubs. I wonder if the Twins FO felt hurt over Baker going and went to get another TJ recovery SP to see who did better. Pelf of course killed Baker last year even though he was pretty bad. The Twins now put up with the rough season of Pelf's recovery and now they feel obligated to bring him back and roll the dice when the better part of the recovery comes with the bionic arm (or so we hope). The Twins know Pelf, feel comfortable with him, and now want to reap the rewards.

2. I think Pelfrey feels obligated to the Twins in turn. The Twins took a chance on him last year, kept him in the rotation all year, and gave him every chance to succeed. He wasn't badgered even with a bad year. He felt relaxed here and ended up liking it here. He now wants to reward the team for taking a chance on him recovering from TJ to hopefully give them what could be two of the best years of his career post TJ (that's a big IF about the two years being two of the best). He's loyal because the Twins took a chance on him.

It's a marriage of one party wanting to stay with the other party due to what could be and being comfortable and the other party wanting to remain loyal.

We'll see if the marriage works if it ends in divorce.

#28 Dman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:16 PM

Nah.

That is not the point. The point was what made the Santana Mauer and Morneau and Gardernhire and Ryan teams different than the Puckett, Hrbek, Viola, Knoblauch, TK and MacPhail teams.

They both had talent, so the "ERA, FIP, Strikeouts" etc were all taken care.

What made one group of TALENTED Twins' teams win 2 World Series in 4 years vs the other group of (potentially more) talented Twins' teams be one and out post-season losers.

This is the point of discussion.


Thyrlos,

I love what you write and agree with you 9 times out of 10 and maybe we agree on this more than I realize or maybe I just have a bug up my rear I don't know. I'm just not buying the awesome chemistry that Pelfrey brings to the Twins. If he was so charismatic how is it the Twins managed to lose 90 games with him on the team? If Mauer and company are so devoid of chemistry shouldn't we be trading them for guys with the magical stuff? If the Twins of the past had so much chemistry why didn't they win the world series every year? I think the conclusions you are making cannot be made based on something that appears to happen randomly and or variably.

Is this not the chicken and the egg theory. Is it winning that creates chemistry or chemistry that creates winning? Is the world series winner the team with the most chemistry? How much more chemistry does Pelfrey bring versus Diamond or Albers? Is chemistry even quantifiable?

I can agree that chemistry helps a team and can be a powerful component in winning teams but the team with the greatest chemistry in MLB could be one of the worst teams and not the best so it doesn't automatically make you a winner. How many teams have bad chemistry? are they only the ones that are losing? How is it that teams with bad chemistry become winning teams even with virtually the same players on the team?

As for those that like the fiery personalities, those are often the ones that are the most divisive in the club house and are anti chemistry. So I am a little confused in that regard. As I stated early on in this thread I don't get the article and even after you have tried your best to explain it to me I still don't get it.

#29 ashburyjohn

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:25 PM

And the Twins for the last 20 years do not care.


Moderator's note: let's leave out the mind-reading, please, as well as the hyperbole.

#30 johnnydakota

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:27 PM

4.48/1065innings/607Ks/1.45 WHIP, and a good club house guy
or would you rather have
4.14/963 In/776Ks/1.23 WHIP?

Edited by johnnydakota, 20 December 2013 - 09:31 PM.