Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #13

Nice to see the Twins let off some offensive steam and beat up on Jeff Weaver. Even better to see that they refused to make Weaver look like a Cy Young candidate, as they've done a bit too often with bad pitchers recently (see, i.e., Carl Pavano & Casey Fossum). Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Ramon Ortiz finally gave up a couple of homeruns today, but in a sign of how well he's pitched, they were both solo shots. I'd much rather see a run score on a solo homer than on a series of walks and base hits, because it uses up a lot fewer pitches and is not in any way indicative of how a guy is pitching overall. He was in control for most of the seven innings he pitched tonight, and very much deserves the 3-0 record that he currently sports. And how many of us honestly would have predicted that the first 3 win player on the team would be anyone other than Johan Santana? I wasn't completely opposed to the Ortiz signing, but I certainly didn't expect him to pitch this well. Terry Ryan and Rick Anderson are both looking like geniuses right now.

2.) Dennys Reyes and Pat Neshek managed to get through 2 innings of work without allowing a run, but if you want to panic a little bit (and I'm usually opposed to panicking), you need only look to the fact that both gave up some solid shots. Josh Rabe caught a solid line drive for an out that could have been trouble (remember Crawford's inside-the-parker a couple of days ago? I was having flashbacks). Ultimately, however, it didn't matter -- the guys did their job and went 2 scoreless, and that's the bottom line. On a side note, MLB.tv had the Mariners announcers on, and they made a great point after Neshek nearly got beheaded by Jose Guillen's drive back up the middle: Neshek's funky motion puts him in a horrid position to field the ball when he's done with his delivery, and he really is in a defenseless position on the mound when he finishes up. Let's hope this is never an issue (I'm not worried about anything other than him getting conked in the head -- his pitching certainly justifies the delivery).

3.) Hopefully Torii's injury is mild enough that he can play tomorrow. With King Felix on the mound for the Mariners, the Twins will need all the offensive ammunition in their arsenal, and Torii has certainly been very solid this season. He continues to shun singles, picking up yet another double and that fantastic Grand Slam tonight. And seriously, with a guy who's hitting this many balls hard, was it really a good idea for Weaver to walk Morneau to face Hunter? It just didn't seem like a great move when it was made, and Torii proved the point.

4.) Joe Mauer laid down yet another bunt today, probably driving Marty apoplectic. Once again, however, I can't really fault Mauer for the decision. For one thing, it moved both runners into scoring position for Cuddyer. Even more to the point, however, as even Marty acknowledges, Mauer does one of two things in at-bats with a runner on first: he either gets a hit, or he hits into a double play. How many times have we seen him roll his hands over and hit a grounder to second, perfectly setting up the DP? This does not, of course, mean that he should always bunt in that situation (heaven forbid he develops a complex about the issue). However, leading by just two runs (at the time), and with runners at 1st and 2nd rather than just at 1st, this move made sense to me. Besides, that was a very good bunt, and Johjima had to make a solid play to get him out. Mauer could have ended up with a base hit on that play without too much craziness happening. Maybe I'm softening up, but I just don't see this as a bad decision.

5.) Rondell White is eligible to come off of the Disabled List on Friday, and assuming he's ready to go I would expect Josh Rabe to get sent down. There really isn't a reason to keep Rabe over Alexi Casilla, both because White is an outfielder, AND because Rabe hasn't done much. I like the guy, and I think he could develop into a fine Major League hitter, but unfortunately he hasn't proved that on this trip through the Majors. I would be very, very surprised if he didn't get sent down when White is activated -- but I'd be just as surprised if he didn't find himself back at the big league level sometime this year.

6.) Did anyone else start cheering when Tyner turned on a pitch and nearly took it out of the park? He's convinced he's going to hit a homerun this year, because Joe Vavra has been working with him on turning on the ball and whacking it into right field. Based on the results over the last couple of days, with near homeruns both in the Dome and tonight, I'm starting to believe him that this is a real possibility. I'm pulling for ya, Jason Renyt Tyner!

7.) Carlos Silva can't possibly beat Felix Hernandez tomorrow, right? I mean, seriously . . . Of course, most of us would have thought it impossible that the Devil Rays would end Johan Santana's home winning streak a couple of games ago, as well. Felix is due for a let down, so I think he'll give up 3-4 runs tomorrow night in 7 innings of work. Will Carlos continue to perform effectively enough to get a win in those conditions? It'll be tough -- most of us are expecting a return to 2006 form at some point, at least for awhile. Still, there's no denying that Carlos should be 2-0 right now, and would be but for bad luck. Maybe he'll make win #1 really special by beating King Felix tomorrow night.

8.) Finally, a Magic Number note. The more observant amongst you may notice that the Magic Number counter on the right side of the blog (which started as a gag, but which I'm going to keep up all season just because I like it) went down by 2 tonight. At first blush, that might seem odd, since the first place Tigers won their game, and the counter is a "generic" counter taking into consideration the whole division rather than a one-on-one counter. However, because the Indians have played so few games and actually had only 3 losses going into play tonight, they are actually the team that is setting the Division magic number right now. The formula is simple: (163 - Twins wins - losses by the team with the fewest losses in the division). That means tonight's Twins win, coupled with the Indians loss to the Yankees, reduced the Magic Number by 2 despite Detroit's victory and continued grip on 1st place. Normally, the 1st place team (or 2nd place team, if the team whose Magic Number is being determined is in 1st) will set the "generic" Magic number, but this is one of the weird situations in which that's not the case.



  • At Wed Apr 18, 12:15:00 AM , Blogger Marty said...

    There is no such thing as a productive out.

  • At Wed Apr 18, 10:36:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    I think that's a pretty extreme position for you to take. You're saying an RBI Sac Fly isn't a productive out? Considering the point of the game is to score runs, how do you defend that position?

    Further, I think you would agree that a strikeout is less valuable to a team than any out that advances a runner. If you don't take that position, then you're arguing that advancing runners is of no use, and that's a pretty untenable position as well, I would think.

    In other words, while your original proposition that sac bunts are almost always of no use actually has some validity, the outright assertion that "there is no such thing as a productive out" is an extreme position that seems obviously false.

  • At Wed Apr 18, 11:24:00 AM , Blogger Marty said...

    Based on the numbers I have, even a Sac fly only makes sense in a limited situation (runner on third and one out).

    Strike outs are unusual, they actually have a slightly positive correlation to run production as striking out is more positive than GIDPs.

    Think of it this way, while you want the best possible result from an out (i.e. moving runners into scoring position) outs in general are not productive as you are given a limited number of outs in each game, while you have an unlimited ability to score runs.

  • At Wed Apr 18, 12:35:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    outs in general are not productive

    I don't think anyone is going to argue that. We don't really need any "numbers" to prove it.

    But, since even the best players make outs almost 1/3 of the time, the question is really how much difference is there between outs. Are there situations in which those differences are important enough that playing for a "productive out" is more likely to get the desired results than that same player swinging away without regard to the situation.

    I think there are and I think that is obvious on its face. The argument is not whether there are productive outs, but whether it was productive in a particular situation.

    The other question is whether particular players tend to get more productive outs than other players. Does it matter if a lot of a player's outs are long fly balls that advance runners instead of ground balls to the shortstop that are turned into force outs or double plays? Can they hit to the right side behind a runner? How much difference does that make. I think it is actually an important difference between players. Largely because the situations in which a player is called on to do that the run is often more critical than in situations where they are swinging away.

  • At Wed Apr 18, 12:38:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    That should be the best hitters make outs 2/3 of the time, not 1/3.


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