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    PeanutsFromHeaven

    Those who seeks out more writing about the Minnesota Twins clearly care about the team. They have opinions aplenty about the best direction the franchise could take. They think about it, they weigh pros and cons, and they argue with passion when they feel like they are right.

    Image courtesy of Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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    In that regard, there's very little that separates blog readers from the Twins front office. But in the last few weeks a fount of frustration has welled up, particularly as regards recent roster decisions. I am no kind of astute baseball analyst (I mean, a large number of my posts turn in to abstract satires of North Korea...), but I think I know why this is.

    It all comes back to a key division between baseball fans: the fans of words, and the fans of numbers.

    Fans of words like the story-telling aspect of the game: The heartwarming narrative of a player coming into his own or coming back from injury; the mythical prowess of a 100 mile per hour pitcher or a Ruthian Home Run machine; the emotional love of the game.

    Fans of numbers like the statistical and factual aspect of the game: the value a player brings to the field, his role in creating runs and wins, his failure to avoid defeats, the logical appreciation of the game and its players.

    While I normally think about the separation between fans within the stands, the same split occurs when we try to evaluate players, and can be expanded to apply to when anyone evaluates someone else.

    Think of it like this: if you work in a job where you get performance reviews, and I'm struggling to think of a job where you wouldn't, your boss might highlight your productivity by saying something like this:

    Quote

    "Wow Johnson, your coworkers and supervisor have been telling me all the great things you're doing this year. They rave about your contributions to the Snarflebargle Project and from what I've seen of you during meetings, I think you're ready for a step up."

    Or they could highlight it by saying something like this:

    Quote

    "Wow Johnson, you've been incredibly productive this year. You've been averaging 50 hours of work a week, and the Snarflebargle Project has contributed to a 32% increase in our Doohicky sales alone! I think you're ready for a step up the ladder."

    But in reality, they probably have a mix of both the words that colleagues use to describe you and the statistics that they can measure. (As a school teacher I admittedly have no earthly clue what business meetings sound like, but I do know that I'd rather be judged by both comments from other teachers and student performance on standardized tests than just one of those. I suppose I'm hoping that other people have similarly rational evaluations.)

    http://www.gstatic.com/tv/thumb/dvdboxart/30400/p30400_d_v7_aa.jpg That's really what we argue about when we talk about who is ready and who isn't ready for the major leagues. We're used to the Twins scouting department (a more word savvy crew) running the show, basing judgements off of what they see in the minors and what the manager sees during spring training. Meanwhile, many of the fans (including those who seek out articles to read on-line) are hungry for a more number-friendly crew. But for as much as we talk about the Twins' statistical analyses (or lack thereof) as a catchall for the team's failings, we have to remember that there are benefits and drawbacks to both ways of evaluating people.

    Word lovers may be able to accurately describe a person's character, demeanor, attitude and potential, but they risk falling so in love with a concept of performance that actual performance means nothing. (After all, if word lovers like me ran teams, somebody would be fieldng a nine-man team of Air Buds)

    Number lovers may have a more accurate measurement of a player's performance on the field, comparisons with others their own age, and insights into areas for growth, but they risk turning an individual strength or weakness into a career- defining fact. (After all, if statistical measurements of skills were 100% infallible, Moneyball favorite Jeremy Brown would have been an All-Star, and Ryan Leaf would have proven more mature, intelligent and effective than Dan Marino).

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ae/Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpg/765px-Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpgThe best case scenario is as old as Aristotle: moderation in all things and extremity in none. Evaluations should mix words and numbers, and while there's certainly anecdotal evidence to suggest the Twins could use more numbers, that doesn't mean that words are totally irrelevant to evaluating a player.

    There is far more that unites us Twins fans and the team management than divides us. Fans and management want a good team. We may have different ways of approaching that goal, but just as we accept both written and statistical performance reviews in our own jobs, just as we enjoy a beer with fans who talk about VORP as much as those who talk about "intangibles", we are better when we use both together.

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    the problem with the business analogy is that making money is kinda different than winning ballgames. baseball is pretty straightforward with who wins and who loses. the team with the most runs wins.

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    Excellent article.  I found your use of metaphors colorful, your tone challenging but conversational, the theme relatable, and your word choice musical.

     

    Also, you used effective though not rigid meter, a digestible word count, clear but not overly simplistic sentence structure, and your font type and size along with your line spacing prove you have exceedingly clear but sympathetic vision.

     

    I found the illustrations aeshetically pleasing and subtly thought provoking.  Also, you used appropriate ratios of contrasting colors.

     

    All in all, your writing demonstrates that most elusive of skillsets--the rare, true, "ten tool" baseball writer.

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    Yes I believe we have this difference in how people perceive how the Twins run the organization. I also think the Twins run organization is more looking at long cost of having a player come up from the minors. If Twins develop that player completely in the minors and he comes up at later age they have him for his optimum years at the optimum price. They have brought up players earlier but for most part that has not been as successful as they would have liked. "The last example of this is Hicks. They tried with Hunter too and it took several reboots before that worked out. The biggest fault I see in Twins is they seem to not draft the high end pitchers or are looking at different factors when drafting pitching. I can't remember when the Twins developed hard throwing pitcher that dominated baseball. Even some the most successful pitchers for Twins have come from other organizations. Santanna, Milton, Reed,, Nathan, Loyse, Young, Tapani, Agrilara, Larino and Jack Morris, In that same time the pitchers the Twins developed and kept for awhile were Frank Viola and Brad Radke  both very quality pitchers but more know for control and their change up. There may be more reasons for this but I look at Washington Nationals, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, and some of other teams they keep bringing up these hard throwing pitchers that just dominate the majors leagues and we have hard time to develop one of these pitchers every 10 years. To me this is where the Twins need to address their organization is type of player they are drafting to become pitchers. They have been very successful in developing skilled players over years that have become elite players of major leagues but not at the pitching level.

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    The Twins do have some arms coming up that could dominate.

     

    And they did start Hicks, but they also have given a lease to Arcia, who could basically be expensive for the team when he reaches Hicks' current age.

     

    It is a tough game. There are elite players, but not always a whole lot of them. A player can also become MORE elite if the team he plays for has a good mix of players behind him to go with his own talent.

     

    Again, it is a tough job. Line-up construction. How you put together a rotation (which pitcher pitches against which pitcher...should your strong arm pitch against a possible stronger arm, or should you try to dominate the backend of someone else's rotation).

     

    What makes Mauer a #3 hitter now. Why is Hunter hitting 4th. Is Dozier the perfect #2. 

     

    How do you construct a bullpen...a fly ball pitcher, a groundball pitcher, just lots of speed to get the batters swinging and pray that someone catches it, or someone slow and crafty. Of course, not having to use the bullpen more than 2-3 innings average is the perfect solution.

     

    And what is the organization feel, or in our case "The Twins Way," and why is or isn't it working. You can be your own island and not change and keep going, hoping to get the breaks and such. But sometimes you have to look at what others are doing, at how players change and the programs you draft them from have changed in itself, and make adjustments. 

     

    The wonderful decision of finding the right faculty for your minor league stops.

     

    And then, you have to sell tickets!

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    I love this thread, PeanutsFromHeaven rocks! 

     

    I would like to add that some people who love the numbers also can enjoy the game from the story-telling, player narrative view as well. As long as said narrative is even close to reality.  To me, the game is majestic, magical, and something I will love forever.  It was my first true love.

     

    If it was just numbers for me, I wouldn't watch it.  But my passion for the game MAKES me want to dig deeper to have a better understanding of the game. It doesn't ruin the game for me, it enhances it.

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    Loved this, Peanuts, thank you.

     

    Made me think of my years in the asset management racket, listening to portfolio managers and stock traders not hearing each other. On one side of the table, which was not round, you had the portfolio guys talking about people in companies making decisions about strategies.

     

    On the opposite side the traders were seeing the ticker tape and the statistics, convinced the portfolio managers were about to make a bad call and they'd have no control over it. Kind of like fans.

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    I am not sure the dichotomy has to do with numbers vs. words, but more individual vs. team. People of numbers and words get caught up in discreet skills a player brings to the game. Some articulate it as slash lines others by prodigious power at the plate.

     

     

    What I don't think people consider is how it is the mix of skills among 25 guys that makes a difference on a winning team. More importantly, from management's point of view, it is who can consistently deliver on their unique skills game after game for 162 games.

     

     

    I find those frustrated by roster decisions not understanding that while Trevor May has great stuff and has shown glimpses of brilliance, he does not have the consistency that Tommy Milone has shown at the major league level.

     

    I choose to trust management on these decisions until there are the words or numbers to prove them wrong.

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    the problem with the business analogy is that making money is kinda different than winning ballgames. baseball is pretty straightforward with who wins and who loses. the team with the most runs wins.
    baseball is a business. The Twins are an entrepreneurial enterprise. Winning games will help the team make more money, but it is a means to an end.
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    My biggest issue is the fact that we are a losing team, but we continue to backfill like we have a few holes and we can compete while the message from the organization has been (year 5 now) look at all we have in the minors.  The Twins attendance has floundered.  They depend on a lot more ticket buyers than those of us who read and respond to blogs, but they do not use their 20 - 25 roster spots to appeal to those who want to see the great minor leaguers in the major leagues.  This is pure business public relations misses and sports are business.  

    Even if the players come up, go back down, and have some lumps in the majors it is better than putting our a product where the response is boredom.

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