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  1. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Peter Gray – the one armed Major Leaguer   
    As you probably know, if you have been ready my blogs, I like the stories that are part of the lore and history of baseball more than the gold rush for free agents. Maybe it is because I am old I like to think about players who really loved the game and not the agents and owners. I recognize the talent and the ability of the Hall of Famers and even those who struggle for years in the minors without making it to the big spotlight. In fact I have my own strange sense of hall of fame with deaf, one legged, and one armed players, players who had a double life as spies and players who lost prime years to the service and still put up great careers. So I thought I might put up some profiles of these personal favorites over the next couple of months starting with Peter Gray who was born in Pennsylvania in 1915, as Peter Wyshner, and lost his left arm at age six when he fell off a farmers wagon and got his arm caught in the spokes of one wheel.
    Still he continued to play his favorite game and play it well. He was known for his speed which certainly helped him, but speed alone does not make up for the loss of one arm. He played on local teams and even semi-pro teams like the Canadian-American League where, in 1942 he hit 382 in 42 games!
    This performance got him into the minor leagues which most of you know was much different in those days where we had so few major league teams. Many of the minor league teams were close to major league – check out Joe DiMaggio’s success and records with the Seals in the Pacific League. He almost did not want to go to the majors, but that is a different story.
    Gray caught on with the Memphis team in the Southern Association in 1943, played centerfield and hit 281! That got everyone’s attention and allowed him to continue at this high level where he hit 344 with 5 home runs and 68 stolen bases in 1944, giving him recognition as the minor league player of the year.
    Then in 1945, he made the majors as a St Louis Brown. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=graype01 Yes, this was the war years and they needed bodies to fill out the rosters. He might not have made it if not for WWII, but never-the-less he did make it. I wish I could say he blew everyone away with an amazing line of statistics, but he didn’t. He got in to 77 games and hit 218 with 13 RBIs and 5 stolen bases.
    He was done in by the breaking ball, with one arm he could not alter his swing as other batters could. His best hitting weapon was the bunt – he would tuck the end of the bat into his side and guide the bat with his hand. But of course he could not bunt every at bat and both infielders and outfielders played in to take away his speed and hits
    His fielding was still exceptional and his managers – Luke Sewell said, "He shows us something everyday. You really don't believe some of the things he does. Believe me, he can show plenty of two-handed outfielders plenty." The statistics do not back up this quote as he had 7 errors in 61 games.
    “As he played, Gray wore a glove without the padding. When the ball was hit to him, he made the catch with the glove directly in front of him -- normally about shoulder height. As the ball hit the glove, he would roll the glove and ball across his chest from left to right.
    Somehow, in this process, he learned to separate the ball from the glove. In the motion, this glove would come to rest under the stump of his right arm and the ball would end up in his left hand.
    In handling ground balls, he would let the ball bounce off his glove about knee height in front of him. He would flip off the glove and grab the ball while it was still in the air.
    Some said this process allowed Gray to field balls faster than other outfielders he was playing with who didn't face the same handicap. When he was backing up another outfielder, he would drop the glove and be ready to take the ball in his hand.” http://http://www.historicbaseball.com/players/g/gray_pete.html As I read this quote I thought about Jim Abbott, another player on my list who was a one armed pitcher with some real success in the majors, and how he handled his glove.
    That wartime effort was not appreciated by all the players – in fact many resented it and considered it a stunt to get bigger gates as his New York Times obituary stated, “''He didn't belong in the major leagues and he knew he was being exploited,'' his manager, Luke Sewell, recalled in ''Even the Browns'' by William B. Mead (Contemporary Books, 1978). ''Just a quiet fellow, and he had an inferiority complex. They were trying to get a gate attraction in St. Louis.''
    He was evidently resented by some teammates: ''Some of the guys thought Pete was being used to draw fans late in the season when the club was still in the pennant race and he wasn't hitting well,'' Don Gutteridge, a Browns infielder, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1994. ''But I certainly marveled at him. He could do things in the outfield that some of our other outfielders could not.''
    He was sent down after that 1945 season with veterans returning from the military and he would not play major league ball again, however, he did not give up. He hit 290 Elmira in 1948 and played on barnstorming teams into the 1950s.
    His effort was an inspiration to many, but especially to injured service men who were returning to learn how to succeed in a peace time world. Gray visited many of them in their hospital wards. His numerous visits to Walter Reed hospital gave a lot of veterans hope.
    He lived out his live in Nanticoke where he suffered depression and alcoholism for years until he turned his life around with his biography and a television movie. He never married and died in 2002.

    This short film gives you a glimpse of Pete as a professional. 
    If you want to know more about him try – the 1986 television-movie A Winner Never Quits, starring Keith Carradine and Mare Winningham;
    and Gray's biography, One-Armed Wonder: Pete Gray, Wartime Baseball, and the American Dream written by William C. Kashatus, published in 1995 by McFarland & Company.  
    His glove is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
  2. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, I do not want Darvish, but thanks for disagreeing.   
    I do not know how to make this case for TD except in this short blog. I love the ability to discuss, debate and disagree without antagonism.
    ​As you have seen and responded to - I am the anti Darvish guy, at least in years 3 and beyond and the likes and the responses have been wonderful. This is what a sight like this is best at doing.
    I choose to be the contrarian and I have tried to express that as many ways as I can. Should I pull all of my statements together here?
    ​But that is not my point. It is the wonderfully civil discourse that has happened that really pleases me. Do I care if you all agree? No. I just want an ability to challenge the prevailing attitude.
    ​I want to say no without being angry or responding to your disagreement in an angry way.
    All of the comments are spread throughout the various posts and dialogues and I have truly enjoyed every argument and challenge.
    ​Thanks to all of you and to TD.
  3. Like
    nclahammer reacted to jharaldson for a blog entry, New Approach on Signing Yu Darvish   
    It is no secret that this offseason has been particularly slow. Judd Zulgad and Phil Mackey had a conversation about it this week on their radio show because the lack of news was taking the excitement out of the offseason. ESPN has set up a free agency tracker and only 2 of the top 10 free agents have signed and only 7 of the top 20 overall. The 4 top pitchers in this market are unsigned as well (Darvish, Arrieta, Cobb, Lynn). This glut of unsigned talent this late in the offseason leaves teams with unique opportunities.
    I think the Twins can take advantage of how the market has played out to do something innovative with Yu Darvish. Here are some baseline items I believe are contributing to his unsigned status:
    The Yankees and the Dodgers are staying out of the market due to a desire to reset the luxury tax threshold and by doing so they are creating a void that has yet to be filled.
    Darvish has likely not received any 5 or 6 year offers at this point or I think he would have signed.
    The world series performance by Darvish may be leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many clubs.

    Here are some baseline items in regards to the Twins:
    The Twins have a large bubble payment of $50-68 million coming in Q1 2018 from the MLB sale of BAMTech (Correct Source)
    The Twins need pitching help in the starting rotation, preferably someone with top of the rotation potential.
    The Twins are adverse to long-term free agent contracts which I am putting at anything over 4 years.

    My idea is for the Twins to offer Darvish a massively over market contract for 1 year. Here are the details:
    1 year/$40 million
    Vesting team option for a second year at $15 million if Darvish does not pitch at least 100 innings.
    Majority of the $40 million is in the form of a signing bonus so as to allow a tax favorable payment to Darvish with his current residency being in Texas, a state with no income tax.

    This deal is advantageous to both parties given the current climate. Darvish gets a number of positive outcomes:
    Extremely high salary for 1 year.
    Significant tax savings.
    The ability to re-enter the market in 2019 when the Dodgers and Yankees will theoretically be back in the mix.
    The chance to put the bad World Series performance out of teams minds.
    Ability to play with a team with good outfield defense and that is on the rise.

    The Twins get a number of things in return as well:
    They get the services of a potential ace pitcher, similar to what they did in 1991 with Jack Morris.
    The Twins are not on the hook for a massive 5+ year contract.
    The Twins have a dedicated funding source (BAMTech money) to fund this initiative. If they don’t spend it in this fashion it is likely just going to go to the Pohlad family and won’t improve the team.
    The Twins are protected in case of injury due to the team option provision.

    Will the Twins try to innovate in this fashion? I am not certain. This would be the highest per year contract ever given out in MLB history. The current leader is Greinke with a per year average of $34.5 million. The Pohlad’s have not shown a willingness to be big spenders on the open market and Falvine have yet to show it as well. Darvish may also have some apprehension. He may decide that a 4 year/$100 million offer provides more security. He may blow out his arm at any point in 2018 and want the security of the long term contract, even if it is not as long term and as valuable as he might have hoped.
    What are your thoughts? Do you like this 1 year approach? Who do you think says no? Please leave comments, thanks!
  4. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Minnesota Jumeaux – Eh!   
    With Justin Morneau returning to Minnesota it just seems to fulfill destiny. The Canadians have only two teams – Toronto (officially) and that offshoot of Ontario called Minnesota with the Twins (Jumeaux). Canada should celebrate both and we should take pride in straddling the border with both temperature and hockey to welcome our northern kin.
    Morneau was a natural and Colorado was just a blip on his resume. Now he is coming back home. Welcome Justin – you can let your o’s get longer and slip in an Eh! Or two.
    While baseball in Canada does not get the same respect as Venezuela or the Dominican Republic or a few other slightly warmer places, it is still a viable location for our favorite sport. In fact, they have a Baseball Hall of Fame - http://baseballhalloffame.ca/
    Since we have had such a great success with Justin I thought I should give it some additional perspective – who else has come from Canada to be Twins? We might have made MLB history when we replaced one Canadian pitcher – Scott Diamond with another Canadian call up – Andrew Albers. Add in Jesse Crain and we had a plethora of Canadian arms.
    On February 4, 2015 Cordel Leonard (Corey) Koskie was named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame! I suspect that Morneau will join him soon. Most surprising to me was Corey’s real name. For some reason I do not think I ever heard it.
    Koskie had 936 hits 124 Hrs, and a career 825 OPS. http://m.mlb.com/player/136731/corey-koskie He was a good player! Justin Morneau 1603 hits, 281 BA, 247 hrs, and 828 OPS. Damn good player. Imagine Justin and Joe without concussions!
    Not all our Canadians were stars – remember Rene Tosoni? I was rooting for him. And, of course, we crossed the border the other way too – Paul Molitor was a star for Toronto in the World Series.
    We were not the only destination for Canadians, but we came out near the top. George Selkirk, a Yankee who played with Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Dickey is considered the greatest of Canadian Players, but maybe they will reconsider. I would put Ferguson Jenkins up for that honor and Joey Votto is moving up the list and Larry Walker is the most under rated.
    And should you still need some Canadian love – look up Tip, The Woodstock Wonder, O’Neill, the Canadian Babe Ruth!
    All I can say is Bienvenue (welcome back). By the way is a translation needed: jumeaux = twins.
  5. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Welcome to the Hall Jack - to ESPN, get over it!   
    It’s the Hall of Fame selection, not the president of the United States that is being chosen. Its time for all the sabrematricians and the modern sports writers to get off their rocking horses and forget the angst. Jack Morris is in the Hall of Fame. He almost made it in the regular selection process and should have if I chose, but there was no hesitation on the veteran committee. He is in because he was a big game pitcher. He was the head of the rotation, he played for good teams and made good teams into winners. Stuff the ERA and other statistical nonsense. He was a winner and I like winners. I like the horse – the man who is willing to take the ball and give you as many innings as you need.
    How Jack Morris Complicates Future Hall of Fame Selections is an essay on ESPN http://www.espn.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/85069/how-jack-morris-complicates-future-of-hall-of-fame-pitcher-selections
    The fact is, I consider it nonsense. Do we really elect by comparison? The man who shines in any decade or period of baseball history does so because he meets the demands of his own time. I know that NY is mad because Jack is in and Mussina is not. But do you realize that the narrative was never the same. They did not talk about Mussina like they did Morris. They did not rely on Mussina like that did Morris. Nice pitcher Mussina, but I never thought of you as HOF.
    Morris does not present any problems, the limit on how many can be voted on never created any problems. The problem for the voters is that they have to really think about who they are voting for. If there were so many great HOF candidates they could have put in 5 – 7 a year, but they did not. Because someone wants Bonds and someone else does not matters little in the long run. Shoeless Joe, Pete Rose, Clemens and Bonds are getting more press for not getting in than they would have if they had slid in and we had moved on.
    Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are not in because their resumes are weak. They had chemical induced homeruns, but nothing else. Move on. Frankie Frisch manipulated the committee to put in a number of questionable players – that’s done. We have no vote them out. They set low bars. So what. Move on.
    When I think HOF I think of players that had great careers, but also players who stepped up in big moments, players who shifted our perspective. I am not looking to compare HOF players, I simply want the best of our generation in with the best of previous generations. I want Jack, I do not want Mussina. I want Thome, not Vlad, I want good stories and if some that I disagree with make it in, so what. I am fine with that. The HOF is about stories and the election process is a story in and of itself.
    To those who obsess over Jack Morris – Buster Olney – I say give over it. Make your vote and move on. To Jack, I can only say I am delighted that you made it and proud to have you in the hall.
  6. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Hosken Bombo Disco for a blog entry, On acquiring Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole   
    On Monday, Rhett Bollinger of MLB wrote that the Minnesota Twins are still more likely to upgrade their pitching rotation for 2018 through free agency than by trade.
    And on Tuesday, MLB Trade Rumors reported off of a 1500 ESPN tweet that pitchers’ agents were getting the sense that the Twins (i.e., Derek Falvey and Thad Levine) were putting off talks until Yu Darvish announces his decision to sign.
    Reading between the lines, one can interpret these reports to mean that the Twins have not been in much communication with free agent pitchers waiting to sign contracts this offseason.
    But does an absence of communication mean that the Twins are failing to communicate?
    A story Thursday in the New York Times (h/t dougd) suggests that Levine is one of the more skilled baseball executives in using alternative means to communicate (such as text messaging) with players, agents, or other major league personnel.

    "...today, we negotiate hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts and make massive trades without ever picking up the phone and speaking directly with one another, let alone meeting face to face,” Levine said. “You kind of learn the personalities of guys—who needs a phone call, who can do it on text, who prefers emails, who likes to be lighthearted.
    "The art of the negotiation has almost been trumped by the art of communication."  
    This makes the news that the Twins have not met in person with Darvish much easier to take.
    Meanwhile, back in December, the Twins were reportedly offered Gerrit Cole in exchange for prospects Nick Gordon, Zack Granite, and Tyler Jay, according to the news site Pirates Breakdown.
    Many Twins fans, including myself, liked this trade idea. (See here, here, here, or here —and the proposals offered by Twins fans in these threads were actually not far off the mark in terms of value.)
    The stat we know as WAR is not how we evaluate pitchers during the season, but it can be a good, broad gauge of general value.
    In terms of fWAR, the two sides of a Cole/Gordon/Granite trade match up well. Fangraphs projects Cole to provide 3.8 fWAR in 2018; let's add 3.8 fWAR more for 2019. That makes 7.6 fWAR for the final two team-controlled seasons of Cole coming from Pittsburgh. How much fWAR will the Twins prospects provide? The 2017 midseason KATOH+ projections estimate that Granite will contribute 6.8 fWAR through his six team-controlled MLB seasons, while Gordon will accumulate 6.3 worth of fWAR across his six seasons. Throw in a generous 2.0 fWAR for Jay as a relief pitcher, and the total contribution of the prospects coming from the Twins is 15.1 fWAR.
    In such a Gerrit Cole trade as proposed above, the Twins would trade away a future 15.1 fWAR in exchange for Cole’s 7.6 fWAR as a starter for the next two seasons.
    That looks unequal, but posters on the Dozier trade discussion threads last winter found that MLB-for-prospect trades often lean heavily to one side in this way. A risk premium on the speculative nature of unpredictable prospects, perhaps.
    In any case, the barstool argument in favor of the trade may be more effective than the mathematical or financial analysis. Gordon and Granite are good players, but their production can be replaced. The Twins have Jermaine Palacios and Royce Lewis playing shortstop in the minors behind Nick Gordon, and have Jorge Polanco and other capable shortstops on the Major League team already. As for Granite, I would not count on him getting enough playing time to contribute much fWAR anyway, the maturing young Twins outfield being what it is. And the bottom line is the Twins badly need starting pitching in 2018.
    Now compare Cole to Darvish. Fangraphs projects Cole for 3.8 fWAR in 2018, while Darvish is projected only for 3.6 fWAR in 2018. Consider that Darvish’s contract will fetch more than $20 million per season for each of the next five or six seasons; Cole will not earn $20 million over the next two seasons together. Moreover, Cole might be motivated to pitch his best in order to increase his value in free agency following 2019.
    Through the quiet offseason to this point, and assuming Pittsburgh is still interested in a trade, Cole has looked like a solid alternative to Yu Darvish, maybe even better. Cole is younger and will not tie up salary beyond 2019, and might even present a July trade opportunity for the Twins if the 2019 season goes sideways.
    Beyond 2018 and 2019, the success of the Twins will depend on their ability to develop their own starting pitching. Darvish might help win some games in future seasons, but those wins will cost a lot of money, and possibly at the expense of extending one or two of the Twins young outfielders.
    Levine’s "negotiation" with Darvish this winter has put me at ease somewhat. Levine's knowledge of Darvish from their days in Texas suggests to me that the Twins are not concerned about Darvish’s health, nor his motivation to pitch after he signs this nine-figure deal. And a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow; figure on that annual salary at the end of Darvish’s contract to not look so bad as it does now, once those latter years finally arrive.
    I still prefer a trade for Cole, combined perhaps with a signing of Alex Cobb. But if the Twins really do sign Darvish — and my gut gives them a better than 50/50 chance at it — I imagine I will be amazed, thrilled, and fired up for the 2018 season. Such a signing will instantly put Minnesota almost on par with most other teams in the American League, and will give them a dependable arm for the next several seasons.
    But it's Darvish’s decision to make. If Levine has misjudged Darvish and Darvish chooses to sign with another team, and other subsequent options fail to break for the Twins, the Twins would find themselves going into 2018 without the addition of a single starting pitcher. For a young, talented team that made a strong run in 2017, this would be quite a blow. To borrow a great metaphor from another TwinsDaily poster in another thread, the Twins are playing a game of musical chairs, and if Darvish signs with another team, the Twins might find themselves without a chair when the music stops.
    Let's hope the personal relationship and commitment Thad Levine and Yu Darvish have together is real. My gut tells me it is.
  7. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Matthew Lenz for a blog entry, Mauer's Future   
    This article was originally posted back in January, but with Mauer's 2000th hit Tom wanted various Mauer articles. I haven't changed much, but have added more data to support my opinion. I'd also just like to mention that I did not change my opinion on a potential salary for 2019 and beyond despite his torrid start to the season.
    It's no secret that Joe Mauer is entering the final year of his 8 year, $184 million contract extension signed in 2010. It's also not a secret that Mauer isn't the player he was in 2009 or in the years leading up to that MVP season. What does seem to be a secret, is what thoughts "Falvine" has on Mauer's future past the 2018 season. There are really only three options, which I will breakdown below.
    1. Stay with the Twins
    Personally, I think this is the most likely scenario. He's from here, his family is here, he's spent his entire career here, his personality and demeanor (although frustrating to fans) fits well with the "Minnesota nice" mantra, and the Twins are starting to become contenders. So what will it take for the Twins to keep him here?
    Since his move to 1st base (2012) Mauer has played 813 games as a first basemen, which is good for 13th most among 50 qualified players. In that same time he has provided a 14.7 WAR which is good for 10th best:
    The "good": he's staying healthier, he's getting on base (6/50 in BA and 5/50 in OBP), and he's become one of the best defensive 1B in the game (#1 in UZR in 2017 among 21 qualified players).
    The "bad": he'll be 36 in April of 2019 (only 6 qualified players were 36+ years old in '17), he provides no power as a 1B/DH (42/50 in SLG from 2012-2017), despite being healthier he's still good to miss at least 20 games/year not including the days provides no defensive value as a DH.

    I think it's fair to assume that 2017 is the ceiling of what we can expect from Mauer in 2018 and beyond, although he has been lights out so far this season. Looking at salaries for players who are currently 36+ years old, 2017 and 2018 contract agreements, and salaries of other 1B around the league I would be looking for the Twins to give Mauer a 2-3 year deal at $8-$10 million/year not including incentives or player/team options. Again, I believe him signing with the Twins is the most likely scenario.
    I came up with the $8 - $10 million range from looking at the following data.
    Yonder Alonso signed with the Indians for $8mil per year. Comparatively to Mauer, he provides a little more power, less OBP, and a lot less defense. He's younger, coming off a career year, and also fits the "launch angle" ideal that so many hitters are trending towards. Ultimately, my opinion is that the pros and cons of both players provide a similar value to a team although the type of value they provide are different. I think that provides a sort of base line going into next offseason.
    I also looked at players that signed in 2016/2017 offseason who were 36+ years old and although the median salary was 7.75 million a few of those guys are getting paid $13 & $16 million.If I were to include 35+ year olds, which is technically how old Mauer will be at the start of the 2019 season, the median is at $8 million and includes Yadier Molina (a career long Cardinal) getting paid $20 million. Although the median is lower, I think the higher deals give Mauer/Shapiro some room to negotiate an above the median salary. Especially if Mauer performs similarliy to how he did in 2017 and/or is able to hit like he currently is for a majority of 2018.
    2. Sign Elsewhere
    I don't see this happening, but obviously this is a possibility. Assuming Mauer only has a few more years in the big leagues, he could be looking for a team to win now. Now being 2019 or 2020. Depending on what the Twins FO does in free agency over the next couple years the Twins may or may not be legit world series contenders in 2019 or 2020. I hate to say it but with Greg Bird not being able to stay healthy the Yankees may have an opening at first base that would be a good fit for Mauer. Teams like Houston, Boston, Chicago (NL), Dodgers, Indians and Nationals are also obvious contenders, but currently have a player who is under contract at 1st base.
    3. Retire
    From what I have read/heard, there hasn't been any rumblings that Mauer is ready to hang them up. Doesn't mean it's not something to consider. Honestly, I almost think Joe would be more apt to retire than he would be to sign somewhere else. Moving somewhere else obviously would mean either moving his family or moving away from his family, which I don't think he would want to do.
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