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Welcome to the first installment of Advance Scout.

I figure we here at BB can look up stats -- especially the zombies among us -- and pitching probables on our own. My job will be to provide anecdotal reports, combined with probable batting orders and bullpen usages. Enjoy the weekend series, though the Twins aren't looking like a team ready to cut the Jays any breaks after the Yankees debacle this week.

On Opening Day, Brad Radke threw "about as well as you can throw a baseball," according to Ron Gardenhire, who said that Radke was furious at being lifted in the 7th in the Twins' 3-1 win over the Tigers...Joe Mays was also "very bitter" about being taken out in the sixth in a blowout win over the Tigers on Wednesday; Gardenhire simply said that he had "seen enough" of Mays and was satisfied he was healthy...Jeremy Bonderman described the Twins as a "good fastball-hitting team," so maybe Doc's deuce won't be as much to their liking...Jacque Jones went long and short Wednesday, with a home run and bunt single in the same game...Kyle Lohse retired his first 16 batters on Thursday, and survived Gardenhire's hook until he was through eight...Lohse worked quickly enough that his performance, aided greatly by no walks allowed, was the driving force behind Thursday's game lasting not a minute more than two hours...Manitoba's Corey Koskie, an outstanding defensive third baseman, sat out Monday and was replaced defensively by Denny Hocking in the late innings on both Wednesday and Thursday due to a sore back...Eddie Guardado was a college teammate of Coach's favourite Blue Jay -- Ken Huckaby -- and vociferously defended Huckaby's collision with Derek Jeter as a "good, hard play"...Mop-up man Tony Fiore is the only Twin reliever not to make an appearance, and given his role, he says he doesn't mind if he never has to pitch...Gardenhire, that noted disease control expert, says he hopes the team doesn't make the trip to SkyDome next weekend "[i]f that [SARS] stuff is in Toronto."

Probable Batting Order (Note: this is against righthanded pitching, since Hendrickson is not scheduled to make a start.)

7 Jones
6 Guzman
8 Hunter
5 Koskie
DH LeCroy/Kielty
3 Mientkiewicz
9 Cuddyer/Mohr
2 Pierzynski
4 Rivas/C Gomez

Bullpen Usage

Long: Fiore R
Short: Santana L, Fetters R
Setup: Romero L, Hawkins R
Closer: Guardado L

Advance Scout: Twins, April 4-6 | 23 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Lucas - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 11:22 AM EST (#91479) #
Hey Guys -

This series makes me very nervous. After playing Detroit, Toronto's offense is going to look like the '27 Yankees and our pitching, especially Reed in tonight's game, might be in for a rude awakening.

I am hoping for a lot of balls in the gap off of Tanyon!
_Chuck Van Den C - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 11:39 AM EST (#91480) #
In this day and age of ZLCers, it's nice to see someone old school like Ron Gardenhire in the opposition dugout.

Instead of leveraging Mientkiewicz's OBP, Gardenhire elects to bat the more "traditional" Guzman in the two-hole, despite his glaring deficiencies in this regard. Yes, he's faster than Mientkiewicz and he is a shortstop (meaning, presumably that he's born with an innate ability to bat second), but...

And what of choosing Mientkiewicz over Ortiz in the first place? I guess if you were a (s)crappy player, when you become a manager you tend to favour those same type players.

That said, the Twins are an organization brimming with young talent and should be the front-runners for their division, Gardenhire not withstanding.

Still, you look at the roster and there are a lot of free swingers. Not sure how Halladay matched up against them last year, but he looks like the type of pitcher who could take advantage.

And speaking of Halladay, is the correct pronunciation not "holiday" (as I've read somewhere)? And if so, isn't it time that the media get on board with this?
Craig B - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 11:51 AM EST (#91481) #
Incidentally, Aaron Gleeman and I will be undertaking the very first Batter's Box/Baseball Blog co-production on Sunday. We'll be "covering" Sunday's game via chat, and will post the (hopefully heavily edited) transcript here and on Aaron's Baseball Blog on Monday.

We hope that this prime example of international co-operation will be a shining beacon unto all the world in these troubled times. Plus, we get to make fun of Luis Rivas.

Weather permitting, but given that we'll be in the Met it should be OK. We're hoping we have something interesting to say, and we're hoping to be able to get another baseball-savvy person or two to come along for the ride.
Coach - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 12:00 PM EST (#91482) #
Great idea, Craig and Aaron, except for the editing. I'd enjoy the unadulterated version even more, but I look forward to the transcript. I'll even put in my two cents ($0.013 US) if you want.

Chuck, I've given up hope that people will start pronouncing Doc's name correctly. Even the Blue Jay brass gives it the "hal" sound, so I guess Roy doesn't mind. It's like Joe Bowen creating KABBER-law (rhymes with Holy Mackinaw) out of Ka-BEAR-luh. Wrong, but hard to correct after it's become common usage. And I'm not doing song lyrics anymore; it was fatal last time.

Radio only tonight for most Jays fans, though three superstations have TV games; I might be channel flipping, but will probably do some advance scouting of my own, watching the Red Sox/Orioles on WSBK. Both the Sun and the Star have the obvious Sturtze story; Allan Ryan's is good, but I laughed out loud at this lead by Mike Ganter:

Tanyon Sturtze has had a long time to think about his first start for the Blue Jays. After losing a major-league high 18 games last season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, to call that wait an eternity is not overstating things.

Even longer than an eternity is the wait for good prose in everyone's favourite local tabloid.
_M. Webster - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 12:04 PM EST (#91483) #
And speaking of Halladay, is the correct pronunciation not "holiday" (as I've read somewhere)?

Nope, it's Hal-a-day, but because his nickname is Doc, everyone assumes his last name is pronounced "holiday."
_Chuck Van Den C - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 12:20 PM EST (#91484) #

I always thought the "Doc" nickname was a stretch since Hal-aday is too different than Holiday. But then I read somewhere (here maybe?) that the "Hall" in Halladay is pronounced hall, as in deck the halls, and not hal, as in what are you doing David?.

I can see Bowen mispronouncing a foreign name, especially for reasons of showmanship, but if a guy's last name is really pronounced holiday -- and that sure rolls off the tongue more easily than hal-aday -- then the whole Doc Holiday thing works so much better.
Coach - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 12:33 PM EST (#91485) #
When I first started calling the harness races at Orangeville, I pronounced a young trainer-driver's name as Brian Tro-PE-a, complete with both vowel sounds at the end. Later that day, Brian showed up in the booth, and introduced himself as TRO-pea, the second syllable like the legume. I shook his hand and said, "Do you know you're pronouncing that wrong?" We became good friends anyway. Broadcasters should ask, even when it seems obvious; some Smyths are Smiths, others are Smythes.
Mike D - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 12:48 PM EST (#91486) #
Chuck, don't forget Minky's outstanding glove, and the fact that the Minky/Ortiz choice doesn't even matter much with Justin Morneau getting close. If you need a one-year bridge, you can do worse than a well-liked player who's more durable than Ortiz and has infinitely more range -- useful on a groundball staff like the Twins that relies very heavily on infield defence. Minky doesn't suck; he's just not the power source that you want at 1B, or that Morneau will be very soon.
_Chuck Van Den C - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 01:54 PM EST (#91487) #
Minky doesn't suck

The one from 2001 didn't. But a 1B who slugs under .400 has to add tons of other items to his CV to be of any use. I'm not sure that he currently adds enough.

An Ortiz/LeCroy platoon doesn't look better as a short term bridge to Morneau than does Mark Grace lite?
Mike D - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 02:29 PM EST (#91488) #
LeCroy and Ortiz in the Twins' infield? Ouch!

I try and remember BBTJG: Billy Beane Traded Jeremy Giambi. It should stand for the proposition that there *must* be some necessary evaluation of a player that goes beyond two specific statistics (OBP and SLG). Players that bring utterly nothing to the table besides OBP and SLG are fine if their OPS is world-class (see Big G.) But if they're only decent (see Little G) offensive players, their OPS, even if superior to a competitor for the same position, cannot suffice in all instances to immediately proclaim them to be a more valuable player -- not to mention Ortiz' injury problems. David Ortiz is not Jason Giambi or Rafael Palmeiro, and not a superstar by 2003 American League standards, so a more thorough inquiry is needed.

I don't know if I would have kept Minky around myself, but I can see Terry Ryan defending the decision based on defence. Moreover, thanks to ESPN The Magazine, Minky is close pals with Jacque and Torii. Can't quantify it, but seems like value added to me.
_Jurgen Maas - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 03:04 PM EST (#91489) #
Craig and Aaron,

I also hope I get to see the unedited transcripts.

Glad to see that my two fav non-multinational corporation funded or subscription based baseball sites are in cahoots.

Who's paying for BP out there?
robertdudek - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 03:29 PM EST (#91490) #
Being a Minnesotan and an all-round nice guy, Aaron deserves honourary Canadian status.

BTW, I took the plunge today and signed up for MLB.TV. I watched Jake Peavy pitch on the archives (he's on my DMB team). His stuff is great: everything's got movement on it, and it reminded me of Justin Miller with a few extra MPH added. He's going to have problems with the pitch count this year, so I expect a lot of 5 and 6 inning starts.
_R Billie - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 03:40 PM EST (#91491) #
A bit of a thread hijack here. Baseball America is reporting that David Bush and Justin Maureau are officially part of Dunedin's rotation.

"The Blue Jays are moving righthander David Bush and lefty Justin Maureau, both products of their 2002 draft class, into the rotation at Class A Dunedin.

Bush (2002 2nd rounder) has always been a closer so this is an adjustment for him. Maureau (2002 3rd rounder) was a starter in college and pitched relief as a pro last year.
Lucas - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 04:01 PM EST (#91492) #
Being a Minnesotan and an all-round nice guy, Aaron deserves honourary Canadian status.

Well, thanks Robert! Is it okay if my Canadian status is honorary and not honoUrary though, we like to spell things properly here in the states! :)

I've actually been to Canada...once. I walked across the border near International Falls when I was like 13 or so. Me and 2 friends. We walked around after having exchanged all our money (we thought it was so cool) and looked for stuff to buy. Then we realized CDs were like $5,000 dollars each and we ended up not spending any of it.

On the way to this CD store we walk by this group of girl scouts or boy scouts or something, trying to sell hotdogs for $1 each (Canadian). My buddy Jeremy buys one and after he eats it he proclaims "this is the best hot dog I have ever had."

So after we get done not buying CDs, we walk past them again and start talking to them. Jeremy tells them how great the hot dog was and they tell us that he's the only person that bought one all day.

They end up giving us the entire tray of hot dogs, must have been at least 2 dozen. So we take them back across the border and eat them back in the good old USA.

But on the way back, we get stopped at the border and strip-searched...seriously! Jeremy's mom's boyfriend (who owns a little shop near the border)called ahead to one of his buddies and told them to stop the 3 kids with the baggy shorts and boatload of unspent Canadian money.

Basically, I spent like an hour in Canada, wasted money paying for exchanging my money, got about 25 hot dogs for the price of 1 and had the honoUr of being stip-searched, Canadian style.

By the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with baseball, but it's my only Canada story, so I figured I'd share it! :)
_EddieZosky - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 04:29 PM EST (#91493) #
Ha! What a great story!

Did the border guards confiscate your weiners?
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 04:36 PM EST (#91494) #
LOL Eddie. I read your comment in a Butthead voice. I really need to grow up. :)


yeah.. weiner.. yeah.. yeah...
_Chuck Van Den C - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 04:57 PM EST (#91495) #
Mike D: It should stand for the proposition that there *must* be some necessary evaluation of a player that goes beyond two specific statistics (OBP and SLG).

It sounds like all you are tring to say is that Mientkiewicz's net value (offense+defense) is superior to that of an Ortiz/LeCroy platoon.

I'm all for factoring in defensive value when assessing a player's worth, but I still have trouble imagining that Mientkiewicz is so good defensively that he can get away with a 756 OPS, as he did in 2002.

And maybe you're right that Ortiz/LeCroy are so bad defensively that Mientkiewicz is the better option. I certainly don't pretend to be able to categorically refute that.

But if my 1B is 21st at his position in OPS (as was Mientkiewicz in 2002, out of the 30 1B with 400+ PA's), I'm thinking that there have got to be better options.

And with respect to Mientkiewicz being well-liked, that goes to my characterization of Gardenhire preferring players sharing attributes he had (scrappy, team oriented, likeable, yada yada yada). Many will argue that such attributes are not without value. I guess I'm just less inclined to give credit to things that don't clearly seem to affect the bottom line.
robertdudek - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 05:18 PM EST (#91496) #

Sure, you can spell it your way, but keep in mind that the blokes who invented the language spell it our way.
Craig B - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 05:19 PM EST (#91497) #
Well, Mientfhgwgads did have an OPS+ of 104, which was slanted towards to the more useful (on-base) side.

The Twins do not have a lot of OBP in the lineup, so he's also useful in that way. (The Twins, though, do not rely on their infield defense as much as Mike D indicated, as they have an extreme flyball pitching staff...)

As far as defense at first goes, MGL's very advanced UZR rating system likes him, giving him +7 runs above average per 162 games. Not terrific, but good. He also has an excellent rep at scooping throws, which isn't counted in the UZR totals.

All in all, I'd say Mientfhgwgads is a good option for now. 21st of 30 starters at first, in an off year, isn't that bad. I would have kept Ortiz and tried to trade Mientfhgwgads, which I think would have netted something, but keeping him is perfectly defensible - particularly if they still try to trade him during the year, looking for a second baseman who can play the field some and an opportunity to plug in one of their good young hitters.
Coach - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 05:35 PM EST (#91498) #
Having read Aaron's Canada story, I'm now in favour of editing Sunday's chat. :)
_Chuck Van Den C - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 06:05 PM EST (#91499) #
Well, Mientfhgwgads did have an OPS+ of 104.

Of course OPS+ compares a player to overall league average, not average at his position. All first basemen damn well better have an OPS+ greater than 100.

After banging away in Excel using data from Lee Sinins' encylopedia, I get a non-park adjusted average OPS for 1B of 848 (just for the 30 1B with 400+ PA).

This would give Mientfhgwgads a POPS+ of 89.
Mike D - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 07:26 PM EST (#91500) #
On behalf of everyone with Slavic surnames...I demand the use of "Minky."
Craig B - Friday, April 04 2003 @ 08:33 PM EST (#91501) #
Chuck, I know. Mientkiewicz doesn't hit like a lot of first basemen... like Delgado, or Giambi, or Bagwell-Olerud-Thome-Helton-Sweeney.

That isn't the point. I think that really misses the point almost completely. Saying he has a POPS+ of 89 means he's below average... just as about 50% (usually more) of first basemen have to be. (A more comprehensive measure of offensive prowess, like EqA, lets Mientkiewicz come out slightly better... even his bad 2002 comes out to a .276 EqA, with an average across first basemen of .283.) Now that's not as good as the average first baseman, but it's probably better than what most can grab for free or a low cost and plug in.

In the Twins' case, that's not necessarily true, because they have lots of good young hitters. I'll get to that in a sec.

The offensive difference between playing Mientkiewicz all 162 games, and playing Ortiz (for example) all 162 games, is about ten runs... an amount that Mientkiewicz may easily make up with his defense (have you ever seen Ortiz with the glove? Ouch.) Also, Mientkiewicz brings more OBP instead of more power, which is something the low-OBP Twins need... this team has a lot of power but not a lot of high on-base percentages. (As an aside, Ortiz was going to be more expensive this year, and the Twins like most other teams have a budget).

Teams who win pennants need players like Mientkiewicz, players who aren't too expensive and are a couple of wins better than replacement level. No one has all-stars at every spot, no one even has above-average players at every spot year-in and year-out. You need some guys who are just average players. A bit below-average offensively (average in a good season), a bit above-average defensively... he's average, just OK, one of the "middle ten" among MLB starters, probably closer to the bottom than the top. That's useful.

You would *like* a first baseman who would hit better. That does not make him a bad first baseman. He's an incredibly useful player in the right place, ideally as a platoon player, perhaps in an offense/defense platoon with someone like Matt LeCroy, but he's even valuable as a full-time starter in a lot of situations. I am not suggesting they should re-sign him... he's going to command a couple million dollars a year and that's too much for a player like him. But for this year, and for last year, he was the best guy for the job.

It's great to point to the large numbers of young hitters the Twins have, and say Mientkiewicz has no place at first for them. But look at what those players did last year, in Edmonton and in Minnesota. I'll use Baseball Prospectus' EqA... because they also have a minors-to-majors equivalent, MLEqA.

Doug Mientkiewicz, MIN : .276

Dustan Mohr, MIN : .265

Michael Cuddyer, MIN : .261
Michael Cuddyer, AAA : .268

Matt LeCroy, MIN : .257
Matt LeCroy, AAA : .289

Todd Sears, AAA : .262

Lew Ford, AAA : .261

Michael Restovich, AAA : .255

Justin Morneau, AA : .242

Which of these players is going to replace Mientkiewicz's contributions offensively and defensively? I am not suggesting that he projects better than these players. Ron Gardenhire's job is to win ballgames right now, because the Twins were in and are in and will be in a pennant race. Mientkiewicz plays first for him on merit.

And Mike... don't tell me what to do or I'll start referring to you Mike Dennis.
Advance Scout: Twins, April 4-6 | 23 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.