Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday Flotsam (12.19.08)

  • Among the recent minor league free agent signings, La Velle notes that the Twins have resigned Joe Gaetti.  After being drafted by Colorado and putting up solid numbers in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Sally League, hitting .257/.353/.457 with 16 home runs.  The following season, in 2004, he was moved to the California League, a league that swings to the opposite extreme of the Sally League.   While there, the 22 year old Gaetti hit .332/.418/.602 with 21 home runs.  Gaetti continued to climb the ranks, but as a corner outfielder/designated hitter type in the Rockies organization, G-Man Junior was block by two All Star candidates in Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday.  Prior to the 2008 season, Oakland signed him as a minor league free agent and was sent to AA.  After 24 games for Midland, the A's sent Gaetti to Sacramento where he homered in his first at-bat with the River Cats, reaffirming his power potential.  Oakland, like Colorado, had a glutton of corner outfield types in Chris Denorfia and Matt Murton in AAA with Ryan SweeneyTravis Buck and Jack Cust in the bigs. The Twins acquired Gaetti from the Oakland organization - a team that knows a thing or two about power and patience - in August 2008 for future considerations and assigned him to AA New Britain where he, like in Sacramento his first at-bat, homered in his first at-bat then proceeded to tear his Achilles rounding the bases.   Gaetti has proven that he can hit minor league pitching to the point where he deserves a roster spot on a team.  Especially left-handed pitching.  In 419 career minor league at-bats against southpaws, Gaetti had hit .315/.401/.556.   By comparison, Randy Ruiz has hit .300/.375/.537 in 536 lifetime minor league at-bats versus lefties.  While I was initially disappointed that the Twins failed to secure Ruiz, who was signed by the Blue Jays, they may have kept a more useful component in that Gaetti has shown that he can play a serviceable part in the outfield and not be limited to a designated hitter.  Frankly, the Twins, like the Rockies and A's, have an overabundance of corner outfielders, but keeping Gaetti around will give the Twins a player that might be called upon if another right-handed power bat is needed.  Also, he does a mean impression of his dad.


  • There are times when I really like Fox Sports' Dayn Perry.  His book "Winner: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones" is a must read and his articles in "Baseball Between the Numbers" by Baseball Prospectus is equally as insightful HOWEVER, his latest column on falls far short of the bar set by the previous high-quality analysis and, frankly, lackadaisical reporting.  His article outlines several non-events that transpired during the Winter Meetings and their implications, such as the Padres not moving Jake Peavy and the Yankees not upgrading their offense.  His last paragraph is poignantly directed at our hometown organization entitled "Twins Still Don't Have A Third Baseman".  Perry notes that the Twins showed interest in Adrian Beltre ($12 million in 2009 plus a recent no-trade clause adding the amount necessary to acquire and the Mariners request of Kevin Slowey in return), Kevin Kouzmanoff (Gardy no likey the no defense), Jorge Cantu (see Kouzmanoff) and Ty Wigginton (see Cantu) then punctuated the necessity to make a move by saying "the Twins ranked 11th in the American League in OPS and this was the primary reasons they missed out on the postseason".  The conclusion Perry draws is that the Twins are putting themselves in a detrimental position by not obtaining another third baseman.  Yes, between opening day and June 14th when Mike Lamb was the starting third baseman and he hit a horrid .225/.264/.304 (.568 OPS) in 212 plate appearances, the Twins suffered.  Following June 14th, Ron Gardenhire opted to use a platoon of Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher who in 484 plate appearances after the transition combined to hit .294/.346/.436 (.782 OPS).  What Perry fails to mention when he quickly dismisses Buscher as not the long-term solution (omitting Harris altogether) and deemed Beltre's "thump and stellar defense" as the logical solution to the third base woes was that Beltre's 2008 .783 OPS was no better than the Twins duo.  From a strictly operational vantage point, why would a mid-market team bother trading (yet again) a young, up-and-coming pitcher for the one-year loan of a third baseman that has similar productions of a low-cost tandem that stands to make $11 million less?   


  • Speaking of overpriced third basemen, Joe Christensen recently took a closer inspection at Ty Wigginton's numbers while with the Astros in 2008. What has been highlighted the most when dissecting his undoubtedly inflated final line of .285/.350/.526 with 23 home runs was that at home in Minute Maid Park, a hitting haven, he hit .343/.390/.691 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs.  In addition to this factor skewing his overall statistics, it should be noted that Wigginton's ridiculous performance in August also pushed those numbers higher than they will be in 2009.  In 109 plate appearances in August, Wigginton hit an unworldly .379/.394/.806 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.  To summarize, more than half of his home runs and RBIs occurred in one month.  This, coupled with the numbers procured at the offensive generator in Houston, indicates that Wigginton's numbers will decline in 2009.  The Astros recognized this and decided that Wigginton was not worth the near $6 million a year he will command.  Instead, the franchise will use the switch hitting Geoff Blum and the right-handed Aaron Boone to field a low wage platoon at third.  Hopefully the Twins will also reach this conclusion. 


  • Finally, Seth Stohs' 2008 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - a book that was reviewed in this space in November - now has two versions for sale, a paperback and a paperless for those eco-friendly readers.  The PDF version costs $8 - saving you $3 dollars (a great value for the college students out there on a tight budget) - and contains the same information on the entire Twins farm system in the paperback edition without those scary papercuts to worry about.