Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Look at Twins Shortstops From a UZR Perspective

JJ Hardy was deemed expendable after the 2010 season because the Twins were looking for more speed. Many fans felt he lacked range in addition to having an average arm. I disagree with both of those arguments, but to each his own. Let's see where Hardy ranks defensively by looking at Minnesota Twins shortstops since Ultimate Zone Rating began as a defensive metric in 2002. I'm going to use a minimum of 500 innings played at shortstop to be included on this list. After going through the list of those that played shortstop for the Twins since 2002, seven seasons stood out.

Number 7: 2004 Cristian Guzman UZR 6.5 in 1,304 innings.

Number 6: 2008 Nick Punto UZR 8.1 in 530 innings.

Number 5: 2010 JJ Hardy UZR 8.1 in 858 innngs, gets nod over 2008 Punto because of more innings played.

Number 4 : 2007 Jason Barlett UZR 8.5 in 1,194 innings.

Number 3: 2006 Jason Bartlett UZR 11.6 in 879 innings.

Number 2: 2005 Jason Bartlett UZR 12.6 in 585 innings.

Number 1: 2005 Juan Castro (believe it or not) UZR 13.2 in 568 innings.
OK, so JJ Hardy wasn't the best shortstop to come through Minnesota. He wasn't too bad though. He was a better fielder than anyone else that's played shortstop for the Twins since 2002 not named Jason Bartlett...I guess Juan Castro too. Oh well, I hope 2011 goes well for JJ Hardy, he gets to be managed by Buck Showalter and play with Vladimir Guerrero. I still feel he deserved another season playing in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Twins HOF Member: Jim Perry

9, 6, 12, 11, 8, 8, 20, 24, 17, 13 This isn't the lottery. Those are the number of games Jim Perry won each year he played in a Twins uniform from 1963 through 1972. In ten seasons with he Twins Perry was 128-90 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 113 ERA+ and had 17 shutouts. His pinnacle was winning the Cy Young Award in 1970 with a stellar 24-14 record with a 3.04 ERA accomplished by starting a league high 40 games. He was a key cog in the starting rotation for the Twins as the team won the Western Division in both 1969 and 1970 and now he's been elected to Twins Hall of Fame. It's an individual accomplishment I'm sure Jim Perry will savior since he's often overshadowed by his Hall of Fame and spitballing younger brother Gaylord Perry. Together they won 529 games in the major leagues, which is the second most wins by two brothers. Only the Niekro brothers have more with 539 wins. Congratulations to Jim Perry, another forgotten Twin now gets the recognition he deserves. Now let's do the same for Camilo Pascual.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nick Punto: Best Twins Utility Player Ever

Nick Punto is finally gone. No longer will a prolonged Twins rally be snuffed out by Punto walking into the batters box. Yes, there will be moments when he's missed, usually when the Twins are in the field, but for everything that's been said about Nick Punto this is never mentioned: he's the best utility player the Twins have ever had. So who was he up against to gain such a lofty title? When the dust settles there are only two that can be considered in Punto's league: Cesar Tovar and Al Newman. Tovar played everywhere, stole bases and even struck out Reggie Jackson once, Al Newman was the utility infielder for two World Championship Twins teams. A few old time fans may say Tovar is better, but Pat Reusse told me via Twitter Punto beats out Tovar by a tick and since I never saw Tovar play I'll take his word for it. Now some may equate being the Twins best utility player to finishing 4th in the Olympic Trials, but there's more value in it than that. The value is he'll be remembered.

Let Alexi Casilla Be Himself

So Alexi Casilla is going to start at either second base or shortstop when the Twins open the 2011 season. I guess I can live with that, even though I feel JJ Hardy was a better option with a better bat, better glove, better arm... OK, Alexi Casilla can be successful, but he has to be allowed to play everyday. Ron Gardenhire has a tendency with Casilla to push the abort button far too quickly. He can't do that this year. Nick Punto is gone and Matt Tolbert can't be justified as being better than Casilla in anyway. Gardenhire needs to let Casilla become piranha-like: annoying and quick. He has to bunt, chop at the ball and become an aggressive base stealer. Casilla's been successful in 35 of 39 stolen base attempts in the majors (90% success rate). In the minors he stole 164 bases in 220 attempts (75% success rate, hey, he was still learning). Let him run, let him steal 40+ bases, let him irritate teams this year. I seem to remember Twins executives and the manager explaining how they wanted more speed on the team. Casilla can be that speed guy as long as he's allowed to play and even make some mistakes. Alexi Casilla deserves this full time opportunity, let's hope the plug doesn't get pulled on him too soon.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Einstein and the 2011 Twins

The 2011 Twins and Albert Einstein, an odd combination, yet they're connected. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is exactly what the Twins front office has done going into the 2011 season. The team has the same rotation, same key players, but probably took a step back in terms of the bullpen, second base and shortstop. It seems the Twins are hoping for a different result than what has happened over and over again, a quick playoff exit. A team can never turn over an entire team, but it's the rotation that worries me most. We shall see. There are 21 days until pitchers and catchers report, but really it seems the end result has already been determined. This year I say it's about 86 victories and third place in the division. Is that insane?

Give Lastings Milledge a Chance

It's very simple. Jason Kubel can't hit left handed pitching (.233/.312/.351 last three years). The Minnesota Twins could improve their 4th outfielder situation. Sorry Jason Repko. Lastings Milledge can hit lefthanded pitching (.292/.357/.434 last three years), play all the outfield positions well and has some speed. OK, more speed than Kubel. He's not a Twins kind of player, he's been said to have an attitude problem and has an anger issue at times. So be it. Sign Milledge, he'd be happy to join a contender after spending the past four years with the Pirates and Nationals and he would be cheap, probably less than $500,000.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carl Pavano's Future

Carl Pavano is a free agent. He'll be looking for a 2 year contract. I don't think the Twins should give him it. One year I'd be fine with, but I feel his gas tank is low. Something tells me getting another year like he had this year would be a tall order. The second half this year had him getting hard more often than fans would like to see. The signs are there. Although, at 34 years of age he's not ancient and his ERA+ this year was 111, his highest since 2004. The Twins still need to be careful here, a two year contract may be seen as a given by most fans, but I'd allocate those dollars elsewhere. That second year could have the Twins paying on a commodity they get little value from.