Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Notebook Dump (Exhibition Style)

Game:  Twinks 5, Red Sux 2
Spring Training Record: 1-0
The Quote:  "He needed to clean up his habits. Just a young guy who didn't really have a plan yet. ... He was just stubborn. He could be lazy in his fundamentals, but it was also that line with Perk where it was just the way he did things. It's not that you're lazy. It's just that his mannerisms looked like he was." - Ron Gardenhire
The Quiz: 
You are the manager of the Twins and you need to take one of the two starting pitcher's listed below north with you as your fifth starter.  Who do you take?
Player A (2008) - 153 innings, 4.66 FIP, 69/32 K/9, 22.9% LD%
Player B (2008) - 151 innings, 5.14 FIP, 74/39 K/9, 22.3% LD% 


The Commentary:
At various points last year, Perkins pitched like a trust-fund baby, coasting through the season on the 6.23 run support bestowed upon him by his offense while opposing teams tagged him for 4.83 runs per game.  Did he earn his 12-4 record?  No, not really.  He was not deserving of his 4.41 ERA either when you consider his 5.14 fielding independent metric.  You supply 2008 Perkins with league average run support and his record would began to equalize like the scales of justice.  The reality is that if Perkins continues to pitch as he did in 2008, his 2009 will see an inverse of his record and an ERA north of 5.00.   
    In 2008, Perkins had a high line drive rate (22%), a large frequency of flyballs clearing the fence (11.7% HR/FB), and a small amount of strikeouts-per-nine-innings (4.4). For most pitchers, these are not good indicators.  They add up to crooked numbers.  Fortunately for Perkins, his minor league track record may suggest that these numbers are in for a change in 2009.  
    According to, in 311.3 career innings charted (he has thrown over 367 MiLB innings), Perkins has maintained a line drive rate of 16.0%, well below his totals in 2008.  Over the course of his developmental career, Perkins was about 40% each ground ball/fly ball making him neither type of pitcher.  Because he is such a neutral-type pitcher, it stands to reason that his batted ball statistics will eventually regress in 2009.  
    If there was one area of pitching in which Perkins was unlucky, it would have been in having to watch flyballs sneak over the fence and it certainly seemed that he had to do it a lot considering that he allowed nine home runs in a five game stretch at the end of the year (amazingly the Twins won three of those games).  Nevertheless, Perkins had 11.7% of his flyballs carry over for home runs while the rest of the league only had to watch 8.7%.  Perkins, because he is not necessarily a fly ball pitcher, should see his HR/FB percentage decrease in 2009. 
    Gifted with a low-90's fastball and one that is throw against the earth's rotation, Perkins lit up the minor leagues, striking out 9.3 batters per nine innings.  In his brief encounters with major league hitting as a reliever in 2006 and 2007, Perkins showed that he could induce empty swings.  After shoulder problems in 2007 sidetracked his progress, Perkins was giving a starting role.  On the course to throwing more innings then he has in any given season, Perkins saw his strikeout totals sink.  At the conclusion of the season, he had struck out just 4.4 batters per nine innings.  Given that he was one season removed with arm problems and has a minor league track record of striking batter's out, Perkins stands a good chance of inflating that 4.4 K/9. G
    Given these factors, 2009 looks like it has potential for Glen Perkins. 
The Stat:
With a minimum of 150 innings pitched, the top ten lowest K/9 read as such:




L. Hernandez



K. Kendrick



C. Silva



A. Cook



P. Byrd



J. Garland



Z. Duke



K. Rogers



S. Feldman



G. Perkins



    You want to know what all of the pitchers in this list with winning records had in common?  Run support above league-average (4.78).  Glen Perkins and Livan Hernandez had the two highest amounts of run support, above six runs per start.  The Phillies Kyle Kendrick was close to that with 5.93 runs per start.  Poor Paul Byrd somehow managed to eek out 11 victories while recieving 3.99 runs per game of support.  The point is, pitchers that have a low strikeout rate find themselves on the mercy of their offenses.  Unfortunately, the offense does not have any control over which starting pitcher they provide more runs to from year-to-year.  Needless to say, Perkins is going to have to make bats miss if he wants have a winning record in 2009.  
The Notes:  
  • Wednesday's lineup may have been an early indicator of how Gardenhire might construct his lineup if he were to use Michael Cuddyer over Denard Span in right field on certain days. Simply going off of last year's numbers, Alexi Casilla (.333 OBP) is a much more suitable -- yet far from ideal -- candidate for the leadoff spot over Carlos Gomez (.296 OBP) (assuming he would be in center instead of Jason Pridie). 
  • The Twins accumulated 11 hits but just two extra base hits: Justin Morneau and Brian Buscher each had a double. 
  • Sigh. Nick, now you are being just effin' stubborn.  
  • The Twins signed former Royals prospect Justin Huber to a minor league contract on Wednesday.  Huber, an native Australian, was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent catcher in 2000 but was traded to the Kansas City Royals for utility man Jose Bautista (the Mets then flipped Bautista with Ty Wigginton and minor league reliever Matt Peterson for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger).  Huber had a great introduction to professional baseball, hitting .314/.381/.528 with 7 home runs while in rookie ball in 2001.  The following season he split the year better the Mets' Sally League (A) team and their Florida State League (A+) where he hit .286/.368/.453 with 14 home runs in 430 at-bats.  Despite his defensive shortcomings behind the dish, his bat carried him in his third season, hitting .274/.337/.468 and getting his first Double-A action of his career.  His 21-year-old season in 2004 would be his last as a Met but he would prove that he could hit Eastern League (AA) pitching as he would bat .271/.390/.487 with 11 home runs in 236 at-bats.  In 2005, his first in the Royals organization, Huber performed at Wichita (AA) and Omaha (AAA) hitting .326/.417/.560 with 23 home runs, that they called the 22-year-old up for a sampling late in the year.  In just 78 at-bats, Huber hit just .218/.271/.256.  In 2006 and 2007, Huber received just 20 big league at-bats and the organization that hope he would secede Mike Sweeney as a power-hitting first baseman, finally traded to San Diego for a player-to-be-named-later in March 2008.  The Padres had him with the big club in May but he lasted until just mid-June, hitting .246/.303/.393, before they sent him back down to their Triple-A affiliate.  Huber, listed at six-foot-two and two hundred pounds, will certainly fill out the Rochester roster nicely, replacing the departed Garrett Jones at first base.  He strikes out a ton but has a very good record of mashing left-handed pitching, batting .332/.402/.519 in his minor league career against southpaws.