Thursday, August 31, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
Fantasy Football Mock Draft
IT STARTS AT THE TOP
Good morning everyone, and thank you for stopping by the site again today!
Today, I am going to talk about a topic that kind of annoys me. As I have mentioned numerous times before, one of the best things about this site is that I get to communicate with Twins fans all over the world. I agree for the most part with the readers, but it is also a lot of fun for me to read opinions opposite to mine, especially if it is presented intelligently. Frequently, however, people will come to me with blanket statements, or the Twins radio or TV announcers will make a comment without really supporting it. It is just something that they believe and is generally accepted. It is as if they read it somewhere or it has been truth in the past, and it is just engrained in their minds that it must be true.
Today, I am going to discuss one of those blanket statements. Can you tell me how many times you have heard any of these statement? "Shannon Stewart is vital to the Twins offense." "Shannon Stewart is a great leadoff hitter." "Shannon Stewart is an instigator!"
I have heard all of those statement so many times that I couldn't count them is I used all of my fingers and toes, and all of those who will read this, their toes and fingers too. Is it true? Is Shannon Stewart the Twins best hitter? Has he really been the sparkplug atop the Twins lineup this year? Is his presence in the lineup really that important to the Twins success?
To answer some of those questions, I had to first ask myself what makes a good leadoff hitter? What qualities should a leadoff hitter possess if he is going to help instigate a team? Well, I came up with a couple. First, although batting average is very nice, a leadoff hitter needs to get on base. A leadoff hitter should have a high on-base percentage. Secondly, we hear that a leadoff hitter should see enough pitches to allow his teammates to see what the pitcher throws. That can be measured by looking at the number of pitches per plate appearance.
So, how does Shannon Stewart rank in those two categories? Well, I took a look at the numbers of all 14 of the American League team's leadoff hitters to see where Stewart ranks. Here are the results (All stats through Monday's games):
Player Team On-Base Percentage
Placido Polanco Detroit Tigers .391
Derek Jeter New York Yankees .390
David Dellucci Texas Rangers .384
Brian Roberts Baltimore Orioles .384
Johnny Damon Boston Red Sox .373
Julio Lugo Tampa Bay Devil Rays .361
David DeJesus Kansas City Royals .359
Scott Podsednik Chicago White Sox .344
Grady Sizemore Cleveland Indians .344
Ichiro Suzuki Seattle Mariners .344
Chone Figgins Los Angeles Angels .339
Jason Kendall Oakland A's .337
Reed Johnson Toronto Blue Jays .335
Shannon Stewart Minnesota Twins .333
14th out of 14 in the American League! I would be remiss if I didn't say, "That's not Good!" Where would that rank among the 16 National League leadoff hitters? The Pirates Freddy Sanchez (.328), the Giants Randy Winn (.328), the Phillies Jimmy Rollins (.307), the Rockies Cory Sullivan (.306) and the Mets Jose Reyes (.300) are the only leadoff hitters in all of baseball with lower on-base percentages than Stewart. So, that ranks him 25th out of 30 in Major League baseball.
So, Stewart must 'instigate' the Twins offense by taking a lot of pitches so that his teammates can see the entire repertoire of the opposing pitcher, right? Let's look:
Player Team Pitches/Plate Appearance
David Dellucci Texas Rangers 4.24
Jason Kendall Oakland A's 3.99
Scott Podsednik Chicago White Sox 3.90
Reed Johnson Toronto Blue Jays 3.89
Chone Figgins Los Angeles Angels 3.89
Grady Sizemore Cleveland Indians 3.82
Derek Jeter New York Yankees 3.79
David DeJesus Kansas City Royals 3.77
Johnny Damon Boston Red Sox 3.67
Brian Roberts Baltimore Orioles 3.65
Julio Lugo Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3.61
Placido Polanco Detroit Tigers 3.59
Shannon Stewart Minnesota Twins 3.57
Ichiro Suzuki Seattle Mariners 3.52
13th out of 14. Only Ichiro in the AL sees (and lets his teammates see) fewer pitches. And Shannon Stewart is no Ichiro! First, I think it shows just how incredible a year David Dellucci is quietly having in the Dallas Metroplex. As for where Stewart ranks among all 30 leadoff hitters in this category, he is 24th out of 30.
While Ron Gardenhire continues to bash and ridicule his young players, the veterans who have failed, or at least not improved, over the past years seem to get a free pass. You will never hear a bad word uttered about Shannon Stewart. You will rarely hear a negative thought about Jacque Jones or Torii Hunter. I'm not saying that Gardy should start bashing them, I just think a little consistency in his message would be called for.
I realize that these are just numbers, just statistics. That is the argument that many will try to use to fight my contention that Shannon Stewart does not instigate the Twins offense. If you hear someone tell you these positive things about Stewart, ask them what Stewart has done to earn such compliments. I am very curious what types of responses you'll get. I suppose some may say that he was just starting to hit again when he got hurt. Well, Twins fans should be the first to know that getting hurt is a big part of Stewart's game too, so that isn't a good argument.
I am the first to tell people that statistics don't tell everything. However, at some point, they have to mean something. How can you argue these? What else can a leadoff hitter do?
So the next question is Who should be the Twins leadoff hitter? Who does get on base the most, and who takes the most pitches?
Twins Top On-Base Percentage Hitters this year: Joe Mauer (.374), Matthew LeCroy (.355), Torii Hunter (.337), Lew Ford (.335), Jacque Jones (.334).
Twins Top Pitches/Plate Appearance Hitters this year: Matthew LeCroy (4.22), Jason Bartlett (4.00), Brent Abernathy (3.97), Nick Punto (3.96), Lew Ford (3.92), Joe Mauer (3.87), Michael Cuddyer (3.87), Michael Ryan (3.80), Luis Rodriguez (3.66), and Jacque Jones (3.61) see more than Stewart.
What does this tell us? Well, it says that based on numbers this year, there are three guys that could be leading off in place of Stewart. They are Joe Mauer, Matthew LeCroy and Lew Ford. Joe Mauer is the team's best hitter, by far, so he has to hit third. I just don't think that LeCroy really fits the typical leadoff hitter's profile, so I don't think that is a real option. My suggestion is that Lew Ford should be the Twins leadoff hitter! His average is down this year, but what impresses about Ford is his isolated on-base percentage of .076.
Now, in no way am I saying that Shannon Stewart is a bad hitter. My point is that he isn't what the media and many people want us to believe that he is. He is not a great leadoff hitter. He does not instigate the offense. My secondary point is just that he should not be in the leadoff position. I really believe that Jason Bartlett is the right guy to bat in the #2 spot, but to keep the pressure off of him the rest of the year, I would leave him at #9. I think that Shannon Stewart should just drop to the 2nd spot. So, what is my ideal lineup for the Twins right now?
Lew Ford CF
Jason Bartlett SS
Joe Mauer C
Matthew LeCroy DH
Justin Morneau 1B
Shannon Stewart LF
Jacque Jones RF
Michael Cuddyer 3B
Luis Rodriguez/Brent Abernathy 2B
So, what do you think about all fo this? Am I crazy for thinking these things about Shannon Stewart? Just as important, am I wrong? If you think so, I would love to hear from you. What do you think? Feel free to e-mail me.
Seven Runs!?! Are you kidding me? The Twins offense scored seven runs! yes, it is true. They got offense from the obvious source, Joe Mauer. He was 3-5 with a single, double and a triple. He had two shots at a cycle, but in each case he got out on hard-hit liners. He scored twice and drove in two. They also got a big hit from what has become an unlikely source, Justin Morneau. The burly lefty came up in the bottom of the 7th inning with runners on 1st and 2nd. After getting behind 0-2 to lefty Jimmy Gobble, Morneau took a couple of tough pitches before unloading a pitch well over the fence in right centerfield. It was his 18th home run and gave him 64 on the season.
Carlos Silva was rather solid again through six innings. The home run ball has really been the only thing to hurt him this year, and because he doesn't walk many and gets a lot of grounders, most are of the solo variety. In the first six innings, he gave up two runs on two solo homers. Unfortunately, Silva came out for the 7th inning and gave up two more runs. His fastball just did not have the same movement as earlier in the game. JC Romero got an out. Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless 8th. Joe Nathan let a couple of base runners on, but bore down and got the final three outs to record his 34th save. With two outs and two on, Terrence Long thought he tied up the game. He hit a Nathan fastball and dropped his bat and struck a pose. I thought he got it too, but Jacque Jones made the catch on the warning track to end the game.
For a very detailed account of the Twins offensive struggles, please head over to the Third Base Line where she announced the winner of her contest was Frightwig, of Sundappled Wood. He wrote a great, detailed description of the problems.
At 1:10 today, the Twins and Royals will finish their series. It will be Kyle Lohse against Mike Wood.
If you have any thoughts on the Twins, please e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
ROCHESTER RED WINGS
Tuesday - RED WINGS 2, Buffalo 3 - Francisco Liriano took his second loss for the Red Wings last night in a rain-shortened, seven inning game. He went six innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out ten. He gave up two homers, to Jason Dubois and Dusty Wathan. Beau Kemp pitched a scoreless seventh. The Red Wings managed just four hits. Garrett Jones hit his 22nd homer.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Tuesday - ROCKCATS/Akron - Nine hour drive to Akron on Monday. Rained out on Tuesday!
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Tuesday - MIRACLE 6, Tampa 3 - Scott Tyler picked up his seventh win of the season. In 5.2 innings, he gave up three runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out five. Chris Schutt gave up just a hit in 2.1 innings. Jay Sawatski notched his 13th save and struck out two in his inning. Jake Mauer led the offense going 2-3 with a walk, a double, and an RBI.
Tuesday - SNAPPERS 6, Peoria 0 - Matt Garza evened his record at 3-3 with six two-hit innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Josh Hill gave up just a hit over the final three innings for his fourth save. Johnny Woodard was 2-4 with a double. Jeremy Pickrel, Korey Feiner and Caleb Moore each had two singles.
Tuesday - E-Twins 9, Princeton 6 - Armando Gabino got roughed up, I'd say. In 2.2 innings, he gave up five runs on ten hits. Ryan Gehring came in and in 6.1 innings, he gave up just a run on four hits. He didn't walk any and struck out nine. Erik Lis led the offense. He was 3-4 with his ninth and tenth home runs and four RBI. Juan Portes and Edward Ovalle each hit their 13th double.
FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT #1
Baseball is, by far, my #1 sport to watch. NBA basketball comes in a distant second. The NFL falls down the list in terms of preference, however, like over 80% of the country, I play fantasy football and absolutely love it! As I have done in the past, I will be posting the results of my drafts here. It is essentially a free mock draft for anyone who happens to find it. Last night, I participated in my first of two drafts. The other is next Tuesday.
This particular league draft consisted of taking 2 QB, 4 RB, 4 WR, TE, K, DEF, Extra. Each week, we play QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, TE, K, DEF. Points for RB and WR are 3 points for 70 yards (total offense), and an additional point for every 10 yards after that. 6 points for a TD. For a QB, it is 4 points for 250 yards, and a point for every 25 yards after that. Six points for a TD pass. Rules beyond that are pretty standard. This is a ten team league, and I ended up with the third pick. Here are the results of the draft, with very brief comments on the picks I made:
1- Ladanian Tomlinson - RB - San Diego Chargers
2 - Shawn Alexander - RB - Seattle Mariners
3 - Willis McGahee - RB - Buffalo Bills (Seth's Thoughts - I probably could have drafted 8th and 9th and got McGahee, but I really believe that he will stay healthy and be more productive than Holmes or James. Obviously at #3, I wanted a running back, and took the one that I feel was best available.)
4 - Priest Holmes - RB - Kansas City Chiefs
5 - Edgerrin James - RB - Indianapolis Colts
6 - Peyton Manning - QB - Indianapolis Colts
7 - Randy Moss - WR - Oakland Raiders
8 - Daunte Culpepper - QB - Minnesota Vikings
9 - Jamal Lewis - RB - Baltimore Ravens
10 - Donovan McNabb - QB - Philadelphia Eagles
11 - Terrell Owens - WR - Philadelphia Eagles
12 - Marvin Harrison - WR - Indianapolis Colts
13 - Deuce McAllister - RB - New Orleans Saints
14 - Corey Dillon - RB - New England Patriots
15 - Domanick Davis - RB - Houston Texans
16 - Julius Jones - RB - Dallas Cowboys
17 - Clinton Portis - RB - Washington Redskins
18 - Kevin Jones - RB - Detroit Lions (I really wanted Julius Jones to fall to me here. I think he will get a huge load of carries for the Cowboys this year. I think that Kevin Jones is another guy who could see a lot of carries this year, and if their passing game comes together, Jones will help that dramatically.)
19 - Ahman Green - RB - Green Bay Packers
20 - Rudi Johnson - RB - Cincinnati Bengals
21 - Torry Holt - WR - St. Louis Rams
22 - Stephen Jackson - RB - St. Louis Rams
23 - Chad Johnson - WR - Cincinnati Bengals (I thought that Stephen Jackson or Rudi Johnson would fall to me here. I wanted to draft three top running backs right away. When both of them were gone, I went with the next best WR. Johnson is as good as any.)
24 - Tiki Barber - RB - New York Giants
25 - Nate Burleson - WR - Minnesota Vikings
26 - LaMont Jordan - RB - Oakland Raiders
27 - Curtis Martin - RB - New York Jets
28 - Javon Walker - WR - Green Bay Packers
29 - Antonio Gates - TE - San Diego Chargers
30 - Mike Anderson - RB - Denver Broncos
31 - Chris Brown - RB - Tennessee Titans
32 - Brian Westbrook - RB - Philadelphia Eagles
33 - Joe Horn - WR - New Orleans Saints
34 - Tony Gonzalez - TE - Kansas City Chiefs
35 - Laverneus Coles - WR - New York Jets
36 - Andre Johnson - WR - Houston Texans
37 - Reggie Wayne - WR - Indianapolis Colts
38 - Michael Clayton - WR - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Right before this pick, I started showing a friend who I wanted with each pick. Why? Because it seems that every guy that I wanted went one or two before it was my turn. This pick, I really wanted Nate Burleson, but he went long ago. As it got closer, I wanted Reggie Wayne or Andre Johnson. Note the two previous picks!)
39 - Darrell Jackson - WR - Seattle Seahawks
40 - JJ Arrington - RB - Arizona Cardinals
41 - Drew Bennett - WR - Tennessee Titans
42 - Anquan Bolden - WR - Arizona Cardinals
43 - Carnell "Cadillac" Williams - RB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (For my third RB, I still want a guy who will get the majority of their team's carries. Although he may platoon early, the high draft pick will likely get a lot of carries as the season goes on.)
44 - Hines Ward - WR - Pittsburgh Steelers
45 - Fred Taylor - RB - Jacksonville Jaguars
46 - Jimmy Smith - WR - Jacksonville JAguars
47 - Cedric Benson - RB - Chicago Bears
48 - Ronnie Brown - RB - Miami Dolphins
49 - Marc Bulger - QB - St. Louis Rams
50 - DeShon Foster - RB - Carolina Panthers
51 - Steve Smith - WR - Carolina Panthers
52 - Kevan Barlow - RB - San Francisco 49ers
53 - Roy Williams - WR - Detroit Lions
54 - Eric Moulds - WR - Buffalo Bills
55 - Ashley Lelie - WR - Denver Broncos
56 - Trent Green - QB - Kansas City Chiefs
57 - Jerry Porter - WR - Oakland Raiders
58 - Larry Fitzgerald - WR - Arizona Cardinals (I wanted Roy Williams, but Fitzgerald was my next choice, so I was very happy that he was still around. I think Fitzgerald will take a big step forward this year.)
59 - Tom Brady - QB - New England Patriots
60 - Jerome Bettis - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers
61 - Kerry Collins - QB - Oakland Raiders
62 - Lee Evans - WR - Buffalo Bills
63 - Matt Hasselbeck - QB - Seattle Seahawks (With this pick, I wanted Kerry Collins. Hasselbeck was then the last QB that I really wanted to have. By this league's rules, Michael Vick is basically useless. Hasselbeck has big game potential!)
64 - Donald Driver - WR - Green Bay Packers
65 - Isaac Bruce - WR - St. Louis Rams
66 - Michael Bennett - RB - Minnesota Vikings
67 - Michael Vick - QB - Atlanta Falcons
68 - Mike Vanderjagt - K - Indianapolis Colts
69 - Warrick Dunn - RB - Atlanta Falcons
70 - Chris Chambers - WR - Miami Dolphins
71 - Derrick Mason - WR - Tennessee Titans
72 - Larry Johnson - RB - Kansas City Chiefs
73 - Lee Suggs - RB - Cleveland Browns
74 - David Akers - K - Philadelphia Eagles
75 - Ricky Williams - RB - Miami Dolphins
76 - Keenan McCardell - WR - San Diego Chargers
77 - Brett Favre - QB - Green Bay Packers
78 - Jason Witten - TE - Dallas Cowboys (At this point, I wrote down names of possible fourth RBs. Tatum Bell, Mewelde Moore and Travis Henry were at the top of my list. But then I figured that at least one of them would still be around with my next pick, so I went with a top TE instead to fill that positional need.)
79 - Adam Vinieteri - K - New England Patriots
80 - Deion Branch - WR - New England Patriots
81 - TJ Duckett - RB - Atlanta Falcons
82 - Brandon Stokely - WR - Indianapolis Colts
83 - Mewelde Moore - RB - Minnesota Vikings (I was thrilled that Moore was still available here. The other teams booed when I made this pick, which I love! I think that Moore will receive at least half of the playing time at the beginning of the season, and will be the featured back soon after.)
84 - Travis Henry - RB - Tennessee Titans
85 - Matt Stover - K - Baltimore Ravens
86 - Marshall Faulk - RB - St. Louis Rams
87 - Baltimore Defense
88 - Dallas Clark - TE - Indianapolis Colts
89 - Eddie Kennison - WR - Kansas City Chiefs
90 - Todd Heap - TE - Baltimore Ravens
91 - Thomas Jones - RB - Chicago Bears
92 - Jason Elam - K - Denver Broncos
93 - New England Defense
94 - Rod Smith - WR - Denver Broncos
95 - Drew Brees - QB - San Diego Chargers
96 - Jeremy Shockey - TE - New York Giants
97 - Jake Plummer - QB - Denver Broncos
98 - Tatum Bell - RB - Denver Broncos (Well, Travis Henry went right after my Moore pick, but Tatum Bell was still around here, so I picked him as my Extra. The Broncos RB situation scares me, but Bell may be their most talented option.)
99 - Reuben Droughns - RB - Cleveland Browns
100 - Alge Crumpler - TE - Atlanta Falcons
101 - Sebastian Janikowski - K - Oakland Raiders
102 - Philadelphia Defense
103 - Carson Palmer - QB - Cincinnati Bengals (By this point, you have to start thinking kicker and defense. To me, the kickers are a crapshoot. High scoring teams' kickers may only get extra points. Top defenses may give up three points and only allow 100 yards of total offense with no turnovers caused where a bad defense will be on the field a lot more often with more opportunities for turnovers. So, I decided to go with my backup QB at this point. I truly believe that Palmer will take off this season, and am happy to take him here.)
104 - Michael Pittman - RB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
105 - Plaxico Burress - WR - New York Giants
106 - Keyshawn Johnson - WR - Dallas Cowboys
107 - Steve McNair - QB - Tennessee Titans
108 - Travis Taylor - WR - Minnesota Vikings
109 - Muhsin Muhammed - WR - Chicago Bears
110 - Aaron Brooks - QB - New Orleans Saints
111 - Domanick Rhodes - RB - Indianapolis Colts
112 - Donte Stallworth - WR - New Orleans Saints
113 - LaBrandon Toefield - RB - Jacksonville Jaguars
114 - Santana Moss - WR - Washington Redskins
115 - Ryan Longwell - K - Green Bay Packers
116 - David Carr - QB - Houston Texans
117 - Pittsburgh Defense
118 - Mike Williams - WR - Detroit Lions (I was strongly considering TJ Houshmandzedah, Greg Lewis and Kevin Curtis here too. Didn't go with TJ because I already had his teammate Chad Johnson. Decided on Williams because his size makes him a threat for a lot of touchdowns.)
119 - Eric Johnson - TE - San Francisco 49ers
120 - Kurt Warner - QB - Arizona Cardinals
121 - Brandon Lloyd - WR - San Francisco 49ers
122 - Jake Delhomme - QB - Carolina Panthers
123 - Shayne Graham - K - Cincinnati Bengals (Graham was the kicker I had actually targeted in about the ninth round, so I was happy he was still around here. I just had the kicker and defense to draft, and I think that the Defense points are more lucky than the kicker, so I went with Graham.)
124 - Jeff Wilkens - K - St. Louis Rams
125 - Duce Staley - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers
126 - Minnesota Defense
127 - Dallas Defense
128 - Byron Leftwich - QB - Jacksonville Jaguars
129 - Buffalo Defense
130 - Carolina Defense
131 - Jeff Reed - K - Pittsburgh Steelers
132 - Chad Pennington - QB - New York Jets
133 - TJ Houshmandzedah - WR - Cincinnati Bengals
134 - Willie Parker - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers
135 - Bubba Franks - TE - Green Bay Packers
136 - Atlanta Defense
137 - Jermaine Wiggins - TE - Minnesota Vikings
138 - Cincinnati Defense (I was really hoping that the Buffalo Defense, a turnover machine last year, would fall this far, but they didn't. I figure with Marvin Lewis at the helm, the Bengals Defense should be decent, so I took them. After picking them, I realized that I also had the Bengals QB, #1 WR and Kicker, so I am putting a lot of proverbial eggs in their basket!)
139 - Maurice Morris - RB - Seattle Seahawks
140 - Tampa Bay Defense
So, what do you think? How did I do? I'm happy with my roster. I like my quarterbacks. Hasselbeck was fine when healthy. I think Palmer will take a big step forward this season. At Running Back, I am young and inexperienced. However, I think McGahee showed in the second half of the season just how good he can be. Kevin Jones did the same for the Lions with some big games. Cadillac Williams doesn't have a lot of competition in Tampa. Mewelde should be the starter for the Vikings, at least a couple of weeks into the season. Same thing with Tatum Bell, although there is a concern about platooning all season. At Wide Receiver, Chad Johnson is one of the best in the league. Michael Clayton and Larry Fitzgerald were both solid as rookies last year and should improve upon that in year two. And Vikings fans still think that the team should have taken Mike Williams instead of Troy Williamson. He should see the ball thrown his direction a lot near the end zone. I really don't care much about the kicker and defense as their numbers from week to week are fairly arbitrary. I think that Jason Witten was good for the Cowboys last year, and with Bledsoe at QB this year, a short passing option would seem to be pretty important. I think I've got a young team with a lot of potential. So, the season could go either way for this team.
Any thoughts or fantasy football questions? E-mail me.
With that, I am going to call it a day! I hope everyone has a good one! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
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