Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Saturday, August 04, 2007

More on Cirillo

Marty has been a bit critical of my response to the Jeff Cirillo situation, and in the process of responding to some of his comments I discovered a few things and thought of a few more, so I've decided to put another post up on the subject. This is not meant as a hit piece on Marty -- but since he's the only one that posted on the subject, my thoughts are largely directed towards him. Here are a few assorted thoughts on Jeff Cirillo and his unceremonious departure:

1.) First, let me clarify -- I sort of understand why the Twins just let Cirillo go when he was claimed by the D-backs (essentially, they needed the roster space), but I don't really agree with it. Luis Rodriguez or Lew Ford could have been sent packing if the Twins really needed to make room for Cuddyer (because, let's face it, neither of those guys was going to bring back anything from anybody) while the Twins negotiated with Arizona on a price for Cirillo. I don't think they would have received much, but something would have been better than nothing. So, ultimately, I don't really approve of the way this was handled because there were better options available to the team.

2.) Marty's big point in the comments to the previous post is that Cirillo was the 5th best Twins hitter at the time of his departure. That's largely based on the fact that he had the 5th best OPS (.713) when he left, so it's not a completely absurd point. However, if you look at other factors (batting average, OBP, and raw stat categories like runs and RBI's), he didn't fare as well. This really is beside the point, however -- because the biggest problem with Cirillo is that he was often injured and never seemed to get a big hit. He simply was not an integral part of the team, whether as a part-time player or something else.

3.) Cirillo's numbers were inflated by one good week. Now, this happens to every player over the course of a season -- you can isolate stretches where a guy was on fire or where a guy was horrible, and usually it's fairly meaningless. In Cirillo's case, however, there weren't really "stretches" as you see with a lot of players -- there was one stretch. Cirillo had a week (June 17 - June 23) in which he went 12-for-20. That week alone accounts for 30% of his season total in hits. If you remove it from his season, he's hitting .210 on the year. With just 153 AB's on the year, that one hot stretch makes his offensive stats look better than they otherwise would have. The question, of course, is whether this is meaningful. One could argue that it isn't -- that this is statistical noise, and that since things even out his .261 batting average and .713 OPS are "accurate" reflections of his hitting ability. I make a counter-argument, however -- for the most part, I don't think Cirillo has seen the ball well or swung well. I think he had one week where everything clicked, and he got hot. I don't think it would have happened again this year (to me, he's looked terrible at the plate for most of the season). In other words, I think his offensive numbers are inflated, and if he played a full season (500+ AB's), I think his batting average would be much closer to .210 than it would be to .261. There's no way to prove this, but I think there's a much better case for my interpretation (Cirillo is washed up) than for Marty's (Cirillo was the 5th best hitter on the Twins).

4.) Finally, Marty also says that "everyone is throwing up white flags on this team, but come'on. Let's not shoot for 'embarrassingly bad' again." This has to be hyperbole, right Marty? I mean, seriously -- dumping a player who was hitting .261 (and, as I've mentioned, I don't think that was an accurate reflection of his hitting ability) and who had a grand total of 153 AB's this season with 2 months to go sets this team on the path to "embarrassingly bad?" If you really believe that, it astounds me! The Twins so far this season have traded Luis Castillo (a very bad 2B, based on the numbers) and Cirillo (a washed up backup) whose contracts were both expiring at the end of the year. That certainly doesn't put them on the path to embarrassingly bad. If anything, by freeing up money that can be used in the future towards a Torii Hunter or a Johan Santana (if he cools down from his previous angry comments), it could help prevent the team from becoming embarrassingly bad.



  • At Sat Aug 04, 12:55:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    These hit pieces are great, it's good for my anemic traffic.

    I would mention there is a sample size program when talking about Cirillo's stats this season.

    The Twins have played 31 games where the opposition's starting pitcher was left handed yet Cirillo has started 41 games (stats stolen from SBG). In essence, Cirillo was being overused.

    His numbers against left handed pitchers are good enough for me to suggest he still had a roll to play on this team.

    I could also make some snide comment about Nick Punto here but I won't.

    And do you really think 500,000 bucks is going to be enough to keep Santana and Hunter around? Heck, even combined with the money saved from Castillo there isn't enough cash around to sign Hunter without Pohlad opening up the checkbook.

  • At Sat Aug 04, 01:26:00 PM , Blogger JST said...


    There's no question that the $500,000 saved from Cirillo and the couple of million saved from Castillo is not enough to keep Santana or Hunter or anybody else -- but on a team with a relatively tight budget, every little bit helps. Money that isn't spent this year can be reinvested for the future, so I don't think freeing up the money is the worst thing in the world.

    Oh, and snide comments about Nick Punto are perfectly welcome. I'm personally hoping that Buscher, Casilla, and if the Twins are smart, Tolbert get the majority of playing time at 2B and 3B over the rest of the season, just so the Twins can evaluate what they have.


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