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Article: Finding Optimism in the Offense

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 09:51 PM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...e-Twins-Offense

#2 Willihammer

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:15 PM

Mastroianni too. People seem to forget he OPSed nearly the same as Hicks last ST, when he was healthy.

#3 Jdosen

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:41 PM

Mastroianni too. People seem to forget he OPSed nearly the same as Hicks last ST, when he was healthy.

I think suggesting Mastroianni could have a (relative) bounce back year is fair, but to cite his spring training numbers (or anyone's for that matter) is misguided in my opinion. It's such a small sample size and the outcomes have such high variation that a good or bad spring training numbers-wise is likely just noise.
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#4 Brandon

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 11:05 PM

Plouffe, Parmalee or Colabello could have a break out season as a DH, bench or at 3B. Sano could come up and add to the offense too. I expect several of these things to happen, but will there be enough improvement on the offense to put us into contention.

#5 Otwins

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 11:08 PM

No AB's for Clete Thomas and Doug Bernier will help. If Plouffe and Parmelee are struggling again they can be replaced easier this year by Sano, Kubel. If Centerfield is as bad as last year they may just bring up Buxton. So I think there is some hope for improvement by subtraction.

#6 Physics Guy

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 11:20 PM

Nice article Nick. I tried to make some of the same arguments in the Florimon thread. I'm curious to see how others respond. I had forgotten completely about Kubel. Hopefully he provides some insurance in case Parmelee finally proves he can't cut it (which I'm starting to feel is true).

#7 Kwak

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 11:49 PM

It appears we fans will have to suffice with the tone of this story--"they can't all be as bad as they were last year!" After some weather as brutal as the baseball, hope is starting to look pretty good right now.

#8 jokin

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 12:01 AM

Nice article Nick. I tried to make some of the same arguments in the Florimon thread. I'm curious to see how others respond. I had forgotten completely about Kubel. Hopefully he provides some insurance in case Parmelee finally proves he can't cut it (which I'm starting to feel is true).


I have my doubts about both of them. I hope to be proven wrong. Kubel's swinging numbers decline is concerning and Parm's ship appears to have sailed- this was a guy that needed to play everyday to answer the question once and for all, it never happened- with Mauer now at 1B (not that Parm was great there) and Kubel and Hicks (eventually) needing playing time and saving the 4th OF spot for Presley- I wouldn't be surprised if Parm is DFAd in ST.

#9 Miraclemat

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 06:08 AM

Seems to me the only realistic "hope" is a full year of Arcia. The rest are based around the improvement of guys who have a proven track record below that improvement level.

#10 dgwills

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 06:28 AM

Seems to me the only realistic "hope" is a full year of Arcia. The rest are based around the improvement of guys who have a proven track record below that improvement level.


I don't think you use the title "Finding Optimism" if you really believe the offense will be greatly improved, but the points are valid. Willingham just needs to move towards his career averages. With the young players you just never know. Most likely they will struggle. I think most Twins fans would be happy with a league average offense.

#11 cmathewson

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 06:59 AM

Joe often talks about the toll catching takes on his hands. The year he won the MVP, he came in May 1 driving the ball like we've never seen him, which he attributed to "fresh hands". That is as much of a benefit to moving out from behind the plate as stronger legs, especially the way he hits.

Besides Arcia, who will surely benefit from more ABs and a better understanding of the league, I look to regression to the mean. In most cases, they performed well below their career averages last year, so regression looks much more like progression. Willingham is the best example. His year was wrecked by injuries. Kubel and Suzuki also had injury-plagued years. I don't know what to make of Plouffe, but he has to be a bit better. Both Dozier and Florimon performed better than their career averages last year, so regression looks like slippage to me. Then again, I don't expect a lot from them anyway.

#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 07:15 AM

Joe often talks about the toll catching takes on his hands. The year he won the MVP, he came in May 1 driving the ball like we've never seen him, which he attributed to "fresh hands". That is as much of a benefit to moving out from behind the plate as stronger legs, especially the way he hits.

Besides Arcia, who will surely benefit from more ABs and a better understanding of the league, I look to regression to the mean. In most cases, they performed well below their career averages last year, so regression looks much more like progression. Willingham is the best example. His year was wrecked by injuries. Kubel and Suzuki also had injury-plagued years. I don't know what to make of Plouffe, but he has to be a bit better. Both Dozier and Florimon performed better than their career averages last year, so regression looks like slippage to me. Then again, I don't expect a lot from them anyway.


I agree with the rest but I really hate that people are using Dozier's entire 2013 and predicting regression. It's only a piece of the story.

Dozier was abysmal the first two months of the season, posting a .609 and .513 OPS in April and May. Then he changed his stance with Bruno and posted an OPS around .800 for the rest of the season. That wasn't a fluke. You can draw a line in the sand the day Dozier made that change to his approach and he was a different player after that day.

He finished the season with a .726 OPS. Given what happened last season, if he stays healthy, I think a .710-.730 OPS is his floor with a ceiling of around .800. Predicting regression below .726 doesn't make any sense given why he improved last season.

#13 tobi0040

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 07:33 AM

he mauer

Joe often talks about the toll catching takes on his hands. The year he won the MVP, he came in May 1 driving the ball like we've never seen him, which he attributed to "fresh hands". That is as much of a benefit to moving out from behind the plate as stronger legs, especially the way he hits.

Besides Arcia, who will surely benefit from more ABs and a better understanding of the league, I look to regression to the mean. In most cases, they performed well below their career averages last year, so regression looks much more like progression. Willingham is the best example. His year was wrecked by injuries. Kubel and Suzuki also had injury-plagued years. I don't know what to make of Plouffe, but he has to be a bit better. Both Dozier and Florimon performed better than their career averages last year, so regression looks like slippage to me. Then again, I don't expect a lot from them anyway.


I think this is good article, however I think you have to view Mauers move as a net neutral. We are basically changing out Morneau for Suzuki-Pinto. I expect Mauer to be better because he will stay healthier and play more, but we can't assume .270 with 17 hr out of this platoon.

#14 halfchest

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 09:20 AM

I like the offenses chance to be a bit better but nothing makes me think they're going to improve too much. Hoping Mauer stays healthy for 150 games I the number 1 way to improve the offense. Also no one is really due for regression except maybe Pinto. Dozier won't likely be the guy we saw the second half but I'd bet his overall numbers will resemble last years and could improve a bit.

Even slight improvements at 3B and outfield positions could be huge and seem realistic to expect. The real improvements should be 2015.when the roster consists of some combination of these players:

Outielders
Hicks, Buxton, Arcia, Pressly, Rosario, Parmelee

Infielders
Dozier, Sano, Santana, Florimon, Escaobar, Mauer, Parmelee, Rosario, Plouffe

C
Pinto, Hermann? Turner in AA or AAA maybe?

DH
Parmelee, Arcia, Plouffe?

Could be a nice lineup out of that crew come 2015. Also depending on what the Twins do for spending the rest of this offseason, they could likely afford to add a Free Agent either to solidify SS or add a power bat at DH. (Still have my fingers crossed that Plouffe or Parmelee could help us out there)

#15 TheLeviathan

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 09:38 AM

I would suggest that if this is the best optimism we can find within the organization (I think it is), that the results of Nick's search is the strongest evidence yet that the team needs to go outside the organization for help if it believes it can contend.

#16 Winston Smith

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:29 AM

Better players would help!

#17 Heimer

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:44 AM

Just a gut feeling. I can see the twins scoring 100 more runs next year. I don't see them contending until 2015 but they be around .500. I expect Mauer, hammer, CF, and Arica better but i can see him go down to AAA once or twice during the season.

#18 Rosterman

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:49 AM

Arcia will be familiar with the league, but the league will also be more familiar with him.

2015 promises to be big, but it would help if the propsects of that year get lineup time this year.

The Twins have not stop striking out so much, move runners, MAYBE steal some bases, and ALL hit for their average or better. That's a lot to ask.

Hopefully the starters will keep the team in the game better than last year, yet the batters must also help the rotation out by putting more early runs on the board, too...which brings up the question when playing another team...who DOES have the best starter on the mind today. The Twins still lack a super starter to go against another (co
ntending) club's super starter.

#19 dwintheiser

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:00 AM

That's part of the problem of living in Minnesota -- even if you've got the hot water of optimism, by the time you throw it in the air, it freezes into the snow-and-ice of reality. Point by point:

- Mauer may end up stronger at first base then he's been at catcher, but people seem to keep forgetting that Mauer's MVP year happened in the Metrodome and that Target Field simply isn't the same kind of ballpark for offense. Plus, Mauer's going to be 31 next year -- he's still got some good seasons left in him, for certain, but predicting a breakout season past 30 is a sucker's bet. Speaking of which:

- Predicting that Willingham will rebound is extremely optimistic, given his age. The two big problems with older players is that 1) they lose skills, especially hand-eye coordination, and 2) they have a harder time staying healthy and recovering from injury. Willingham's 2012 should not be considered a baseline; it's the healthiest he's ever been in a big league campaign and the best season of his career. Willingham is much more likely to 'rebound' to a 115 OPS+ than a 130, which while improved, won't be so far improved that you'll notice much.

- If you think Josmil Pinto is going to be the opening day starter at catcher, you' haven't been watching this team while Ron Gardenhire has been the manager. With very few exceptions (Mauer, primarily), Gardenhire strongly prefers veterans to young players, which means that unless Suzuki washes out in spring training, he's almost certainly going to be given the starting job for the first two months of the season. Given Suzuki's career OPS+ of 86, I'm not expecting he'll set the offense on fire.

- You might think center field should get better, but as recently as 2011, center was a serious offensive weakness, despite the presence of Ben Revere (72 OPS+) and Denard Span (90 OPS+). The club scored 619 runs that season, versus 614 last year. Yes, injuries were a factor, but they always are -- the collection of players available for 2014 simply isn't deep enough to withstand any problems.

- Hey, I want to believe that Kubel's return to the Twins is the harbinger of a return to 'good old days', but there's little reason to think it will. For starters, with the Twins carrying 12 or even 13 pitchers on their roster, there simply isn't room for a platoon DH who can't play the field, so it's possible that Kubel won't even be on the roster to start with. Even if he is, as a part-time player and pinch-hitter (and Kubel has been a horrible pinch-hitter in his career, with a BA/OPS of .220/667 in the role), he's simply not going to play enough to make much of an impact.

Even with all that said, the offense could easily still improve from the barely-above-600 runs it has scored two of the last three seasons. But the Twins scored 700 runs in 2012 and still lost 96 games. Unless the changes to the pitching staff bring a ridiculous increase in the Twins' ability to prevent run scoring (akin to the 671 runs scored they allowed in 2010), even a hundred-run improvement in the offense isn't going to give the team a winning record, much less put them in playoff contention.

The rebuilding continues...

#20 cmathewson

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:31 AM

I agree with the rest but I really hate that people are using Dozier's entire 2013 and predicting regression. It's only a piece of the story.

Dozier was abysmal the first two months of the season, posting a .609 and .513 OPS in April and May. Then he changed his stance with Bruno and posted an OPS around .800 for the rest of the season. That wasn't a fluke. You can draw a line in the sand the day Dozier made that change to his approach and he was a different player after that day.

He finished the season with a .726 OPS. Given what happened last season, if he stays healthy, I think a .710-.730 OPS is his floor with a ceiling of around .800. Predicting regression below .726 doesn't make any sense given why he improved last season.


Good point on Dozier. At times he was the Twins best hitter last year. It would be great if he can continue the strong hitting he had in the last four months. I just know that much of a hitters' success is based on luck, so statistically, he should regress. It's a lot better story to say he will regress from the last four months than from his whole season of stats.
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#21 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:51 AM

Good point on Dozier. At times he was the Twins best hitter last year. It would be great if he can continue the strong hitting he had in the last four months. I just know that much of a hitters' success is based on luck, so statistically, he should regress. It's a lot better story to say he will regress from the last four months than from his whole season of stats.


He will probably regress power-wise (nobody saw that coming) but his BABIP was only .278. If anything, he was slightly unlucky on batted balls in 2013.

#22 Thrylos

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 01:15 PM

He will probably regress power-wise (nobody saw that coming) but his BABIP was only .278. If anything, he was slightly unlucky on batted balls in 2013.


here comes that BABIP conversation again ;)

Dozier's BABIP in 2013 (.278) was very similar to his BABIP in 2012 with the Twins (.267) and Red Wings (.270). 2011 at Fort Myers and New Britain was around .350, 2010 was .294 in Fort Myers and .304 in Beloit, and in 2009 it was .395 in Etown. Not sure whether the ones around .280 are who he is vs the ones around .350, but because they are the more recent, I tend to believe that he is one of those medium-low BABIP guys.

If you look at the difference between the 2012 Dozier and the 2013 Dozier, you will notice very similar BAs and higher OBP and SLG%. He doubled his walk rate and close to doubled his HR/FB rate (walks and HRs are not Balls In Play) Interestingly enough, his LD% remained the same, which means that, if anything, if he regresses power-wise, he will be around a .650 (vs .600 in 2012) OPS guy. That's why the Twins should not turn Rosario into a full-time OF, despite what fans want, quite yet...
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#23 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 01:35 PM

here comes that BABIP conversation again ;)

Dozier's BABIP in 2013 (.278) was very similar to his BABIP in 2012 with the Twins (.267) and Red Wings (.270). 2011 at Fort Myers and New Britain was around .350, 2010 was .294 in Fort Myers and .304 in Beloit, and in 2009 it was .395 in Etown. Not sure whether the ones around .280 are who he is vs the ones around .350, but because they are the more recent, I tend to believe that he is one of those medium-low BABIP guys.

If you look at the difference between the 2012 Dozier and the 2013 Dozier, you will notice very similar BAs and higher OBP and SLG%. He doubled his walk rate and close to doubled his HR/FB rate (walks and HRs are not Balls In Play) Interestingly enough, his LD% remained the same, which means that, if anything, if he regresses power-wise, he will be around a .650 (vs .600 in 2012) OPS guy. That's why the Twins should not turn Rosario into a full-time OF, despite what fans want, quite yet...


I don't think Dozier is likely to improve significantly on BABIP, just pointing out that he wasn't very lucky in 2013 so regression is not likely to come from that area.

#24 birdwatcher

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 06:14 PM

That's part of the problem of living in Minnesota -- even if you've got the hot water of optimism, by the time you throw it in the air, it freezes into the snow-and-ice of reality. Point by point:

- Mauer may end up stronger at first base then he's been at catcher, but people seem to keep forgetting that Mauer's MVP year happened in the Metrodome and that Target Field simply isn't the same kind of ballpark for offense. Plus, Mauer's going to be 31 next year -- he's still got some good seasons left in him, for certain, but predicting a breakout season past 30 is a sucker's bet. Speaking of which:

- Predicting that Willingham will rebound is extremely optimistic, given his age. The two big problems with older players is that 1) they lose skills, especially hand-eye coordination, and 2) they have a harder time staying healthy and recovering from injury. Willingham's 2012 should not be considered a baseline; it's the healthiest he's ever been in a big league campaign and the best season of his career. Willingham is much more likely to 'rebound' to a 115 OPS+ than a 130, which while improved, won't be so far improved that you'll notice much.

- If you think Josmil Pinto is going to be the opening day starter at catcher, you' haven't been watching this team while Ron Gardenhire has been the manager. With very few exceptions (Mauer, primarily), Gardenhire strongly prefers veterans to young players, which means that unless Suzuki washes out in spring training, he's almost certainly going to be given the starting job for the first two months of the season. Given Suzuki's career OPS+ of 86, I'm not expecting he'll set the offense on fire.

- You might think center field should get better, but as recently as 2011, center was a serious offensive weakness, despite the presence of Ben Revere (72 OPS+) and Denard Span (90 OPS+). The club scored 619 runs that season, versus 614 last year. Yes, injuries were a factor, but they always are -- the collection of players available for 2014 simply isn't deep enough to withstand any problems.

- Hey, I want to believe that Kubel's return to the Twins is the harbinger of a return to 'good old days', but there's little reason to think it will. For starters, with the Twins carrying 12 or even 13 pitchers on their roster, there simply isn't room for a platoon DH who can't play the field, so it's possible that Kubel won't even be on the roster to start with. Even if he is, as a part-time player and pinch-hitter (and Kubel has been a horrible pinch-hitter in his career, with a BA/OPS of .220/667 in the role), he's simply not going to play enough to make much of an impact.

Even with all that said, the offense could easily still improve from the barely-above-600 runs it has scored two of the last three seasons. But the Twins scored 700 runs in 2012 and still lost 96 games. Unless the changes to the pitching staff bring a ridiculous increase in the Twins' ability to prevent run scoring (akin to the 671 runs scored they allowed in 2010), even a hundred-run improvement in the offense isn't going to give the team a winning record, much less put them in playoff contention.

The rebuilding continues...


Very strong arguments here, hard to find issue with any of this. Please post more often!

#25 DocBauer

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 09:54 PM

I know it sounds like an over simplification, but really, the offense can't be worse than last season, and should be better simply from a better health standpoint, and at least a small influx of talent that may not be over yet.

Mauer doesn't need a sudden surge, though it could happen of course. Just being healthy and producing at a rate he was last year, but over a full season would show improved production in itself. Now, fresher legs and hands certainly could show at least some improvement.

Willingham healthy, and just hitting at or close to his "career norm" would also be a marked improvement. He doesn't have to duplicate 2012. And I still believe a transition to DH is in order, and he has a perfect mentor in Molitor.

Arcia will no doubt prove streaky. But the talent is wonderful. And when the smoke clears and dust settles, I believe his numbers will be solid and a bright future is ahead.

i am on board with Dozier. Even if the power regresses, and it might not, in another posting I commented on other players who develop power later and make adjustments, but even if it does and he shows an increase in Avg and OB%, which he showed n the minors, you've got a really solid contributor.

Now Presley is nothing special. But there is no question he has more upside than the Clete Thomases of the world. I'm hoping he, or he and a healthy Mastro, can keep the lead off spot from being a black hole until Buxton arrives.

I see a decent 1 through 5 with some questions in the lower half. The optimistic side of me sees Hicks down there somewhere, as previously stated, showing some speed and power, (with defense) and improving his Avg at least 20-30 points. If so, his combination of skills can still help as he continues to gain experience and find his game. Plouffe is an enigma who is still young enough and talented enough to provide at least a little hope, especially if we can find a nice complimentary player to spell him from time to time and hit LH. Floriman and Escobar as a platoon might bring up production at 9. And while I don't expect Pinto to set the world on fire immediately, there is no question the kid has talent and knows how to hit. Without heavy wear and tear, Suzuki can hit and help at least a little.

As much as I would love to put faith in Kubel, I can't. He could turn out to be a real steal as a buy low possibility. But unless the Twins go out and sign Drew, or make some other move at SS, I feel the best course of action is a nice role player or two to come off the bench and fit in; e.g. Baker, Betemit, Young, etc.

The future is very bright with Sano, Buxton, Arcia, Pinto, Rosario and others further down the line. But in the meantime, a healthier lineup of what we have, a couple good role players, and I think we will see at least decent improvement. Someone mentioned a 100 run improvement. Perhaps optimistic, but not unrealistic.

#26 jokin

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:08 PM

I know it sounds like an over simplification, but really, the offense can't be worse than last season, and should be better simply from a better health standpoint, and at least a small influx of talent that may not be over yet.

As much as I would love to put faith in Kubel, I can't. He could turn out to be a real steal as a buy low possibility. But unless the Twins go out and sign Drew, or make some other move at SS, I feel the best course of action is a nice role player or two to come off the bench and fit in; e.g. Baker, Betemit, Young, etc.

The future is very bright with Sano, Buxton, Arcia, Pinto, Rosario and others further down the line. But in the meantime, a healthier lineup of what we have, a couple good role players, and I think we will see at least decent improvement. Someone mentioned a 100 run improvement. Perhaps optimistic, but not unrealistic.


How about trying to improve the offense by going both ways, acquire the big positional name (Drew) and one or two of the role players? To me, this is the only course of action to have a shot at getting that 100 run improvement (ie, upgraded production is going to have to come from multiple sources, as C/1B/DH combined production is almost certain to drop year over year without a player upgrade).

#27 cmathewson

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 06:32 AM

How about trying to improve the offense by going both ways, acquire the big positional name (Drew) and one or two of the role players? To me, this is the only course of action to have a shot at getting that 100 run improvement (ie, upgraded production is going to have to come from multiple sources, as C/1B/DH combined production is almost certain to drop year over year without a player upgrade).


That's bit strong. What you suggest would increase the odds of an 100-run improvement, but it neither guarantees it, nor does standing pat preclude it. If you take the two- year average of this team with what was essentially the same offense, 50 extra runs is close to regression to the mean. Add Arcia and possibly Sano and you get closer. A Hicks breakout or unexpected Kubel resurgence and you're there. It's not all that likely, but it is possible.
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#28 mike wants wins

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 08:42 AM

"the pitching can't be any worse than it was last year"....said everyone on the planet before last year.....
Lighten up Francis....

#29 TheLeviathan

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 09:54 AM

Add Arcia and possibly Sano and you get closer.


Counting on production from young players is extremely shaky ground.

#30 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 10:48 AM

Counting on production from young players is extremely shaky ground.


Sano, yes. But I think it's pretty safe to predict at least a 100 OPS+ from Arcia at this point.