Thursday, May 22, 2008
and Game Notes
In the Twins run of success over the past six or seven seasons, one constant has been the effectiveness of the bullpen. From Eddie Guardado and LaTroy Hawkins to Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan, the Twins have had some really strong bullpens that could be counted on. But it was more than those guys, there was always a group of four or five guys in the bullpen who just got the job done. Names like Tony Fiore and Juan Rincon, Matt Guerrier or even Hector Carrasco, Mike Jackson and Bob Wells. Getting the job done on a nightly basis is really important for a team that does not typically score a lot of runs and gets good starting pitching. The Twins bullpen has been a huge reason that the Twins have outplayed their Pythagorean Number over those years.
Last year when I did monthly grades, I started showing a statistic that I called Reliever Efficiency. Simply put, I look at the box scores and situations of each game played and look at whether or not each relief pitcher got his job done. For a closer, his job is to get a save and pitch well. An eighth inning set up man could be brought in with the bases loaded and a two run lead. If just one of the inherited runners score, he got his job done. Maybe Brian Bass comes into the game in the 2nd inning and gets the team to the 6th inning. Even if he gives up two or three runs, he does his job on that day. On the other side, a lefty specialist could be called upon to get the other team's top lefty hitter out with runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs. If he gives up a two runs single, he didn't do his job on that day even if he gets the next guy out and his line score says 1/3 of an inning and no runs scored. Or, how about a pitcher comes in to start an inning. He gives up a hit and two walks but no runs... did he do his job? I don't think so.
Reliever Efficiency is a debatable statistic. It's something I made up. It's something that isn't necessarily consistent from person to person. What I consider doing a pitcher's job (or not) may be slightly different that what you consider doing (or not doing) his job. So of course these percentages are subject to debate, but I think in general, it can tell a story. My main reason for it is because I think that ERA is vastly overrated for relievers. If a reliever has one of those games where he faces six guys and gives up three hits, a walk, hits a batter and all six score, his ERA will skyrocket. Even if he has ten or fifteen straight perfect innings, his ERA will still be high, so I don't think it's a good number to look at when in reality, he has done his job 10/11 or 15/16 appearances. So, take the statistic (a simple equation showing successful appearances divided by total appearances) for what it is worth. I do happen to think it's more valuable than ERA.
Why am I showing this today? Well, of late, there has been talk about how poorly Juan Rincon has pitched, not only this season, but really the last two years. Some think that he has actually not been too bad, so I quickly looked through Rincon's game log to see how he had done in this category. Last night, I actually went through the box scores from each of the Twins games through last night's loss and graded each relief pitcher in each game. They got either a G (for Good outing) or a B (for Bad outing). I think what I found is that this year's bullpen has definitely not been as consistent and trustworthy as it has been in the past. There are several reasons for that which I will talk about later, but first, let's take a look at how the Twins relief pitchers have done to this point:
*Through the Game played on May 21st.
|Name||April Good||April Bad||May Good||May Bad||Total Good||Total Bad||Reliever Efficiency|
|Joe Nathan||10||1||6||1||16||2||88.9% (16/18)|
|Pat Neshek||10||3||0||2||10||5||66.7% (10/15)|
|Matt Guerrier||7||4||5||4||12||8||60.0% (12/20)|
|Dennys Reyes||9||3||4||5||13||8||61.9% (13/21)|
|Juan Rincon||6||3||3||6||9||9||50.0% (9/18)|
|Jesse Crain||5||2||3||5||8||7||53.3% (8/15)|
|Brian Bass||4||3||5||1||9||4||69.2% (9/13)|
|Bobby Korecky||1||1||3||2||4||3||57.1% (4/7)|
So, what do we see here? First of off, overall, this bullpen has been bad. But looking specifically through 19 games in May, the bullpen has been horrible. Here are a couple of notes:
Last year, it was common for at least three, if not four or five, relievers would be over 85% each month.
Imagine this list and these numbers if not for Joe Nathan! Taking out Nathan's 16/18, the overall would fall to 65/109 (59.6%)
Dennys Reyes is being credited with having a very good 2008 season again... is he? Is he really? He had a good April, but May has been really bad.
Matt Guerrier has been quite disappointing to this point. This is surprising because he has been so good the last three years, and most importantly, he was excellent last year in the high stressful situations. That is why I am not worried about him.
Not as bad as Juan Rincon's May. Again, a lot of these numbers are bad, but if the Twins need to make some moves, my choice would be to Designate Juan Rincon for assignment. He hasn't been good for two years, so I really don't anticipate him getting better.
Jesse Crain was also bad in May. He was very good in April. I think part of that may be the recovery from his surgery. I'm sure he had some adrenaline going in April from coming back. I woudln't be surprised if he is hitting that 'dead arm' period that pitchers talk about. He's so young and has great stuff and work ethic which is why I'm not worried about him.
Brian Bass has been a pleasant surprise, even after called upon to pitch in more high leverage situations.
This bullpen dearly misses Pat Neshek!
So, when Scott Baker comes back to the rotation, the Twins really have a couple of options. First, they could option Kevin Slowey or Glen Perkins to AAA. Option Number 2 is to move Boof Bonser (who is out of options and certainly would be claimed) to the bullpen. If that is the answer, then something needs to give in the bullpen. Brian Bass could be sent down, but he would have to clear waivers first. I don't think he would, and I don't think they should try it. Bobby Korecky could be optioned to Rochester. Jesse Crain could be optioned to Rochester. But again, my thought is that the Twins should eat the remainder of Juan Rincon's contract and Designate him for Assignment.
Those are the options for when Scott Baker comes off of the DL. Then realize that at some point Francisco Liriano will come back to the starting rotation and a second move will have to be made. Fortunately those are decisions that do not need to be made yet, and it is possible that by that time, there could be an injury or someone will make the choice obvious.
Twins 1, Rangers 10
The Twins lost and made Sidney Ponson look good. I mean, you can blame Howard all you want, but this should really not be surprising to anyone. That's just what the Twins do. Ponson went all nine innings and gave up just six hits and one walk.
Nick Blackburn threw five shutout innings. If you had looked at his line score through five innings, it would have said, no runs on four hits and a walk. Then in the sixth inning, he gave up seven runs on six hits...
and an Error, on Alexi Casilla. Now, I saw the play several times and although the ball should have been caught, I didn't hear the announcers and I haven't read anyone right that the throw was noticeably on the right field side of 2B. Again, I'm not excusing Casilla, the ball should have been caught, but the throw to him by Adam Everett was not very good. But I also understand that Casilla is one of the whipping boys for Gardy and for the media, specifically Dick Bremer.
But that is not to excuse Nick Blackburn. He got absolutely rocked after that point, the rest of the inning. At some point, he needed to develop the mental toughness to bear down and get people out.
By the way, have I mentioned that, to this point, Nick Blackburn has proven John Manuel and Baseball America right. He is making their ranking of him (#1 Twins Prospect) look pretty good.
I know he was just 1-4, but did anyone else find Carlos Gomez's hustle double a great thing to watch!?
Joe Mauer with another two hit game. He is now up to .336 on the season. It just amazes me what a pure hitter he truly is!
Do you recall earlier in the season when Mauer was struggling (I think his average got down to about .270) and he was hitting a lot of groundballs to 2B. I asked if people thought he should be nicknamed "4-3" or "4-6-3". Well, I am starting to think that a good nickname, along those same lines, for Michael Cuddyer would be "5-3." Seriously, sit back and drive the ball the other way. I think he's grounded out to 3B no less than four times in the last couple of games. I would consider moving the 2B over to the left side of the infield when he is batting. The one hit he does have in the series was a double down the RF line. There is no question that Michael Cuddyer has been the team's most disappointing player to this point in the season... I say that knowing that means that he will have three or four hits when the team's play again this afternoon.
This afternoon, the Twins and Rangers will play at noon with Livan Hernandez going against Vicente Padilla.
Any other thoughts on the Twins or this game?
Twins Minor League Updates
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Wilson Ramos, Ft. Myers Miracle
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Oswaldo Sosa, New Britain Rockcats
Wednesday - Red Wings – No Game Scheduled
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Game 1 - Rockcats 2, Harrisburg 6 – Errol Simonitsch made his second start for the Rockcats. This one didn't go so well. In five innings, he gave up three runs on seven hits and four walks. Armando Gabino then gave up three runs on six hits in just two innings. The Rockcat bats managed just six hits. Drew Butera hit his first homer of the year. David Winfree and Trevor Plouffe each hit a double.
Wednesday - Game 2 - Rockcats 2, Harrisburg 1 – Oswaldo Sosa finally had a start that reminds us of why we ranked him so highly. In this game, the large righty went the first six innings. He gave up one run on two hits and two walks while striking out five. Ben Julianel struck out the side in the seventh for his seventh save. The Rockcats again managed just five hits in this game as well. Matt Moses had an RBI triple, and Jeff Christy had an RBI double.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 4, Jupiter 3 – In a starting rotation with four highly regarded prospects, Cole DeVries just keeps getting the job done. In this game, he gave up one unearned run on four hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out four. Matt Fox gave up two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings. He struck out three. Robert Delaney recorded his tenth save with 1.2 shutout innings. He walked one and struck out three. Danny Valencia is ready for AA! He hit his 15th and 16th doubles in five at bats. Wilson Ramos went 2-4 with his sixth homer. Yangervis Solarte went 2-5 with his second double. Edward Ovalle was 2-4 with his second double and fifth stolen base. Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-4 with his second stolen base.
Wednesday - Snappers 2, Clinton 7 – A Chris Parmelee two run homer was about all the Snappers offense could muster. They accumulated just four other hits in the game. Brian Kirwan started and gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. Blair Erickson gave up a hit and two walks, but no runs, in 1.1 innings. Steve Hirschfeld gave up a run on three hits in two innings. He struck out four.
That's it for today! Have a great Thursday!|
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