Sunday, January 31, 2010

OtB Twins Notes (01.31.10)

Joe Christensen at the Star Tribune reported on his blog that Nick Punto would need minor surgery on his right wrist (throwing wrist). According to Christensen, GM Bill Smith said it as a minor procedure in order to get it “cleaned up” and will be ready by the time the Grapefruit League games start.

  • ANALYSIS: As it stands today, Nick Punto figures to be the Twins’ starting second baseman. Yes, there is obviously room to upgrade in either Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez but at the same time Punto is a very serviceable option for an organization that is encroaching on their budget limitations. I do not think I am going out on a limb predicting a better 2010 season at the plate either. In the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, I wrote that “Lipsticking the pig, Punto hit better than his demoralizing batting average would suggest. Hitting line drives on nearly 20 percent of the balls in play, his BABIP was a suppressive .281. Couple that with an improved walk rate (8.6 to 13.9 percent) and Punto did not deserve the overall numbers bestowed upon him in 2009.” How much better will he be in’10? That remains to be seen. While he will be restrictive offensively because of zero power (career .076 ISOP), he could turn in a batting average around .280 with a .340 on-base percentage if his BABIP this coming season is north of his career .301 average. On the field, he’s potentially the best defensive infielder on the roster. In 510 innings at second in 2009, Punto held a very solid 9.4 UZR/150 (7th best in a minimum of 500 innings). The Plus/Minus system paints a fairly different picture of his glove, noting that he  is very adept at going to his left but is -8 runs when it comes to defending up the middle.  Under this system, Punto was the 22nd-best second baseman in baseball. Nevertheless, Punto was the only second baseman with 500 or more innings to not commit an error. He’ll be a value menu item that you are surprised it how underappreciated it is. Still, you kind of wonder if manager Ron Gardenhire’s comments towards Orlando Hudson and the timing of this surgery doesn’t inspire Bill Smith to acquire some form of back-up plan in the event Punto does not rebound quickly post-surgery.

Both Tom Powers at the Pioneer Press and Joe Christensen have heard that the Twins seem unlikely to go through the Joe Crede Injury Experience again in 2010. Powers relayed that it seems that the Twins are “unwilling to go through the Joe Crede ‘day to day’ thing again” while Christensen tweeted that he “got hints that Joe Crede won’t be back, even with another incentive-laden deal.”

  • ANALYSIS: Imagine you were running a business and you had little to no idea if one of your employees would show up for his shift. You would certainly let him go even if he was one of the best shelf-stockers or burrito-wrappers even while working at a below-standard wage. It is that kind circumstance that playoff-caliber teams have to concern themselves with when team-building. Whether you are using WAR or VORP or whatever, Crede gave the Twins an above-average contribution but at the same time, without any semblance of stability post-June 1. Despite all the value that Crede can provide when healthy, the uncertainty and the developing Daniel Valencia beckons the organization to move on. In this context, Brendan Harris’s multi-year deal now makes more sense even if he is a lateral move. Outside of Harris and Valencia, the Twins could go with Luke Hughes, Matt Tolbert or Nick Punto.

A potential backup outfield option in Eric Byrnes as been taken off the table. Byrnes signed with the Seattle Mariners after being released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

  • ANALYSIS: I don't think it was a very realistic target for the Twins nor do I particularly like his fit with the team. It’s interesting to watch the reaction of the baseball community after Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik does anything. He’s certainly getting the Emperor’s New Clothes treatment from the vast majority of analysts. Is this a naked situation or is he strutting around in fine garments? Yes, the 34-year-old Byrnes had suffered injuries and missed substantial portions of the season since 2007 except that he’s cheap and has hit left-handed pitching well in his career (.284/.345/.511) so he could wind up being a useful platoon partner with Griffey Jr if he can remain healthy. Then again, a right-handed bat at Safeco is not the best environment for one with marginal power.

Charley Walters spoke with the recently acquired JJ Hardy about his horrific 2009 season. Hardy offered this as his diagnosis for his offensive woes: “Pushing off my backside a lot, kind of jumping toward the pitcher. And when you do that, it makes your backside get really long; you can't get to inside pitches. Then you start cheating on them, and you get out in front of off-speed pitches. That was the main problem for me last year; that caused everything.”

  • ANALYSIS: Hardy’s own assessment is fairly consistent with the one Alex Eisenberg provided a few months ago. Eisenberg’s video breakdown revealed that Hardy was slowly opening up his stance over several seasons – which is him “cheating” at the inside pitch. Commented Eisenberg “He looks like he strides more in the direction of the shortstop, which might cause his hips to fly open, leaving him susceptible to pitches on the outside corner of the plate.” Reviewing some of his pitch-by-pitch breakdown at Inside Edge, we find that Hardy’s biggest weakness was when left-handed pitchers worked him away. Back in November, I detailed this, showing that all his power was drained as he was unable to elevate pitches the way he did in previous seasons. Step one for Hardy is identifying the problem and step two is correcting it. Although I am predicting a bounce back year of sorts for Hardy in 2010 (there’s just no way it could get worse), he’s got a lot of work to do this spring to correct this inconsistency in his swing.

The Twins are keyed up about Francisco Liriano’s winter showing reports Kelly Thesier. Says Thesier “Liriano also was displaying a trimmer physique at TwinsFest. He said that he's lost some weight since the end of last season by placing more of a focus on his physical conditioning -- including running more often. The Twins have taken notice of the changes and are pleased by what they've seen.”

  •  ANALYSIS:  Liriano has been the talk of the Twins blogosphere following his unbelievable showing in Game 9 (yes, 9) of the Dominican League series broadcasted on In addition to looking trimmer, his velocity was up and his slider had some vicious bite more reminiscent of ‘06. “Confidence” seems to be the tag word thrown around along when it comes to Liriano’s ’09 season, however, that’s more of a catchall jargon used when results are bad (“He’s lost his confidence”) or when they suddenly reemerge (“He’s throwing with confidence out there”). Typically, there is a physical change that a pitcher cannot adapt to which leads to the poor output. In Liriano’s case this was his surgery. Prior to the TJ, Liriano would cock his elbow well above his shoulder (here is a clip from BTF from ’06). This is scap loading or the dreaded Inverted W. Since his surgery, Liriano has adjusted this to load with his elbow below his shoulder when in the cocked position (Andrew Kneeland of has a good video collection to view of this motion). Liriano had trouble adjusting to this new arm action (think about all the new muscle memory he had to learn in a short span). The Dominican performance shows that he can keep his new arm action and find success. The “confidence” is just a byproduct of him adapting. Rant notwithstanding, the strides that Liriano has taken should give the Twins confidence that they could have the division’s best rotation.      

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's Next for Neshek?

Ever since he burst onto the scene as a dominating set-up man in 2006, striking out 53 in just 37 innings of work, people have debated Pat Neshek's motion. Due to its unique quality from start (where he does not raise his lead leg) to finish (after the arm's whipping action concludes with him seemingly firing an imaginary gun in the air), his mechanics became a polarizing subject. One group focused on his biomechanics and chain-fluidity questioned whether he could remain healthy in spite of little to no power generated from the bottom-half of his body; the other group favored the results over the process said don't fix what's not broken.

Without question, Neshek’s unorthodox delivery raises plenty of eyebrows. It’s funky, quirky and seems to hypnotize opponents. Yet somewhere in that organized chaos, there was something putting undue stress on his elbow. By his own admission, Neshek is incapable of changing his delivery. According to Kelly Thesier, while traveling on the Twins’ Winter Caravan, Neshek was asked on more than one occasion if he had designs on altering his deliver since the injury. Neshek said "I can't really throw another way. Everything is going to be the same. Some people think I got injured because I throw a funny way."

If he cannot change, what does this mean for him and the organization?

What stands out to me the most about his mechanics while re-watching this clip from, is that Neshek does a significant amount of scap loading. Essentially, scap loading is when a pitcher forcibly pulls his shoulder off of the acromial line, exerting effort to move their arms towards first base (if they are right-handed) or third (if left-handed) and the north-south invisible axis between second base and home. You should be able to pick this out in the pitching clip above but certainly the photo below. This disrupts timing and often puts stress on the shoulder and elbow. This, more than anything else, is his biggest problem.

Admittedly, the merits of implementing this type of arm action have been contested. Carlos Gomez, a one-time contributor to, is a major advocate of this. In a 2007 write-up on Jake Peavy, Gomez tried to explain why he is in favor of scap loading by taking the reader through an exercise to illustrate his point: Stand up, elbows at shoulder height (or slightly below), forearms parallel to the ground and at a 90 degree angle with the upper arm. Now, imagine someone is behind you and slowly elbow that person without rotating your torso. Feel that stretch in your pec/shoulder? That elastic loading and subsequent unloading of the shoulder (and the correct timing of it) is a big driver of arm speed. Think of it as stretching a rubber band and then letting it go.”

This can generate velocity. No question. For someone who used little of his lower body in his mechanics, Pat Neshek was able to reach around 90-mph on his fastball. Still the real issue is, at what cost? 

Kyle Boddy at, on the other hand, is staunchly against it's use. Boddy used some weightlifting science to reaffirm his belief that scap loading is detrimental to a pitcher’s arm. Boddy writes: “For those people who are educated in the field of exercise science and weightlifting, they will all tell you that proper bench press form involves stopping when the elbow is right at (or just beyond) the shoulder line and no further. Why? It is simple: This position of shoulder horizontal abduction is mechanically weak.” Similar to Gomez, Boddy continues by referencing an article from Real Weight Lifting to educate why, mechanically, this is not suited for the body:  “[I]magine you were lying on the bench press. Put your arms up in front of you and hold the imaginary bar. Flair your elbows out to 90 degrees, like most people do on the bench press. Now, pull your elbows back and stretch your chest as if you were lowering the bar down. You’ll find that it’s hard to pull your arms back past a certain point, and you feel a stiffness or tension in the back of your shoulders, behind the rear delt. That feeling is your rotator cuffs being compressed against your shoulder blades, and telling you that the shoulder is not meant to flex in that direction.”

Meanwhile Chris O’Leary, another pitching mechanics guru, believes that scap loading’s use falls somewhere in-between those stances. By his account, O'Leary suggests there to be a correct way to scap load and a dangerous way to scap load. In his dissertation on the practice, O’Leary identifies numerous pitchers whose mechanics have a variation of scap loading. On the list are Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Tom Seaver. What trait all these pitchers’ share is that they keep their throwing elbow below their shoulder. The riskiest method of scap loading, says O’Leary, is just the opposite: when a pitcher raises his elbow above his shoulder line creating what he refers to as the inverted W. In the essay, O’Leary names several pitchers who are guilty of this method including Anthony Reyes, Jeremy Bonderman and Mark Prior. All of those pitchers have had extensive arm and shoulder issues and major corrective surgery (Tommy John and rotator cuff). Looking at the picture below, you can see Pat Neshek belongs in this group. 

Neshek’s method of scap loading surely qualifies as an inverted W. Unfortunately there is an extended trail of scar tissue that originated from pitching like this. He has already admitted he will not make any adjustments. Without any alterations to this approach, I suspect that he is highly susceptible to a slew of injuries, more so now that he’s closing in on his 30’s and he ages.

From the organization’s standpoint, the Twins have navigated through almost two complete seasons without his assistance and do not seem to be convinced that he will (1) return to his pre-injury form or (2) stay healthy. In fact, they built their bullpen anticipating future hiccups. Acquiring set-up Jon Rauch at the trade deadline in ’09 demonstrates this mentality. Unlike some of the other potential trade targets, Rauch’s contract extended through 2010 giving the organization additional cushion if Neshek never fully rebounds. Likewise, although some payroll could have been cut by allowing Jesse Crain walk, instead the Twins offered him arbitration. The Twins are prepared for life without Neshek.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thome Reactions.

For $1.5 million and some change, you can hardly find much to criticize about the signing of Jim Thome. Is he ideal? No. He’s one-dimensional, not a two-hitter nor a second or third baseman. I still maintain a cautiously optimistic stance that if you limit his exposure strictly to right-handed pitching, he’ll give you an above-average boost of power when needed and give the Twins roughly one additional win. However, judging from some of the evidence in his ’09 season that I highlighted recently, there are some hints that Thome could (emphasis on could) be in for a sharp decline in ’10. That’s where the cautious part comes in. Yet at $1.5 million, I’m more than willing to take on that potential risk for a high reward.

But let's look at other reactions:

On Twitter, Jonah Keri, a distinguished baseball mind found at Baseball Prospectus and many other places, declared the Thome acquisition to be the best of the off-season thus far. More so that Jack Z's Cliff Lee maneuvering. That's a ringing endorsement. Still, I'm leery that Thome would get the necessary prerequisite at-bats in order to meet Keri's vaunted expectations. According to Joe Christensen, Bill Smith's statement was that the front office's expectation was to have Delmon Young as the everyday left fielder, Jason Kubel DHing and Thome available off the bench. Of course the message from the field general was a tad different. Kelly Thesier,'s Twins beat writer, tweeted that Ron Gardenhire said that Thome won't just come off the bench, he'll get plenty of time at DH. Either way, between divvying up plate appearances among Kubel and Young, his injury potential and general decline, 250 plate appearances seems like a reasonable expectation.

At Bleacher Report, Dan Wade made some critical point regarding the AL Central bullpen structure: all of the closers are right-handed. Having Thome on the bench and calling his number rather than Brian Buscher, Alexi Casilla or Jose Morales gives the Twins a large weapon to deploy at a critical situation. Meanwhile John Bonnes details the probability of having one-run games in the ninth inning and what that Thome home run would mean to the Twins. This is the element that makes me consider this a very solid acquisition. Thome obviously upgrades the bench and in key situations. And Thome feels like he can improve upon his recent foray into the realm of pinch hitting by returning to the AL Central: "The one thing that was a little difficult for me is I never knew the relievers," Thome said. "I wanted to get back to the American League, but I also wanted to be back in the division where I knew the relievers."

Matthew Steuck, otherwise known as Ubelmann at, dices up last year's pinch hitting moves by Ron Gardenhire and analyzes what this means for Thome. By Steuck's account, the Twins pinch hit for righties 42 times in '09 - using mostly Brian Buscher (22) and Jason Kubel (13) as the left-handed pinch hitters. So Thome can possibly see 35-40 pinch hit calls in '10.

Meanwhile, Aaron Gleeman implores the Twins to give him a more substantial role that just pinch hitting. Along those same lines, Nick Nelson mentioned that the Central has some very solid right-handed starters. With the likes of Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Jake Peavy and Justin Masterson waiting in each series against division opponents, the Twins would be served by a lineup that had the right-handed mashing Thome.  That's roughly 60-70 plate appearances right there without including righties outside of the division. 

While most people are inclined to say Delmon Young and Jason Kubel are similar defensively, ESPN's Rob Neyer notes that Young is a better defensive option of Kubel (but goes on to say Kubel will make up for his lack of defense with a potent offense). I like to bring up too, that Neyer also chastised the Twins for signing Jason Kubel for multiple years last winter. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Thome Paradox

Reports emerged first from a Chicago radio station then later confirmed by Joe Christensen that the Twins were indeed considering bringing in the mammoth slugger, Jim Thome. According to the Star Tribune reporter, a Twins official reiterated that the team has “real interest” in the 39-year-old and “haven’t ruled out their chances of signing him.”  This recent development has sent Twins fans agog for the first time since the news about Jarrod Washburn broke.
Thome’s role in the overall puzzle isn’t exactly defined.’s Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier later tweeted that the expectation would be to limit Thome to 200-300 plate appearances. In a follow-up article on the Twins website, Thesier noted that, as it stands, the organization will enter the 2010 season with a backup catcher, a 5th outfielder (possibly Jason Pridie), an additional infielder (likely Matt Tolbert) and one additional vacancy of which Thome would fill.
In an ideal world, Thome would become the Twins equivalent of Cliff Floyd for the Rays in 2008. Two years ago, the Rays had a very young roster and decided they needed an injection of expertise to be a leader in the clubhouse and be able to fulfill designated hitter duties against right-handed pitching. Bringing in the often-injured Floyd, and they gave the 35 year old 284 plate appearances, the bulk of which was against righties (272), and he responded by hitting .268/.353/.466 with 11 home runs that year. Overall, he supplied Tampa Bay with 0.6 WAR for $2.8M contract. Thome, in comparison, has been much better against right-handed pitching then Floyd. In ’09 at 38 years old, Thome hit .262/.383/.498 with 18 home runs in 329 plate appearances in those favorable match-ups. If able to produce a similar line for the Twins, it could easily give the team a 1.0 WAR role player.
If the Twins do bring in Jim Thome, there are some inalienable truths that need to be accepted.
In the twilight of his career, Thome has witnessed numerous other skills erode. First it was his defense. This was not exactly a surprise as the lumbering lug would have had to improve during his prime years to even be deemed adequate. The Indians tethered him to first base in the late 1990’s, hiding his defensive shortcomings, where he stayed until 2006. Since being signed by the White Sox, Thome has been on the field with his pitcher for all of 28 innings. So he could play first in an emergency just like a skateboard could get you across country if necessary, but god, why? He’s a designated hitter or pinch hitter. Period. End-o-story. Essentially, what this means is that the Twins now have TWO left-handed designated hitters in Jason Kubel and Jim Thome. If Ron Gardenhire wants both of them in the lineup against a right-handed starting pitcher, Kubel becomes an outfielder at the expense of either Delmon Young* or Michael Cuddyer. Simply put, Kubel  is a slightly worse defensive outfielder than either Young or Cuddyer. The Twins already had the second worst defensive outfield in baseball last year. More playing time for Kubel means an incrementally worse defensive outfield next season. Did with not learn anything from Detroit or Seattle? Upgrade, not downgrade, your defense.
*Were we not led to believe the underlying message sent when trading Carlos Gomez that Delmon Young would see more time and thus find a groove at the plate that he was unable to because his playing time was so chaotic? Now the Twins are considering once again removing him from the lineup two or three times a week? Am I on crazy pills?
In the same vein, if there is an inverse for terminal velocity, Thome’s reached that. He’s so slow that the laws of physics will not allow him to go any slower. According to the “skills assessment” section, Thome is in the 11th percentile for running. This isn’t surprising considering each one of his legs weighs the equivalent of a dead sun. There has been a pattern that shows his ability to motor around the bases is becoming difficult without the assistance of a segway. In ’07 he netted -7 bases. The following year, it was -11. On the bases this past season, his net gain was -15. Likewise, his speed score, a statistic developed by Bill James, is at a new career low of 1.0 (Adam Dunn’s 0.8 was ’09 worst while Michael Bourn led baseball at 8.6). So once he does get on base, the odds that he will circle the set entirely without the assistance of a long ball are slim (he scored just 19 times without the help of a home run in ‘09). While his on-base percentage has remained outstanding as he still has the capability of drawing walks, however once on base the Twins will be forced to decide if they need to use a pinch runner or suffer the slow-moving consequences.
Nobody is suggesting that Thome still can’t hit for power - after all he's strong like bull and has been well-above average every year in that department since 1993. Even so, there are developing indications that while flirting with 40-years-old, the power is primed to decrease. His slugging and isolated power numbers have dropped considerable since 2006. As you can see, with the exception of his injury-riddled 2005 season, Thome’s isolated power has started its grand descent, potentially ripe to drop from the "Good" area to the league-average line:
Jim Thome ISO : Season Stats Graph
Furthermore, with all this aging comes a reduction in bat speed. Signs that Thome’s swing is starting to slow down can be seen at by referencing his home run distribution maps. According to his home run chart, Thome pulled just four of his 23 home runs to right, hit seven to center while 12 went to left field (47% to right/center):
This is a stark discrepancy from 2008 when 24 of his 34 home runs were to right and center (70% right/center):
Overall, bringing in a Jim Thome who is a one-trick pony limits the team’s versatility. The need of a pinch runner on the roster is a necessary. And, as shown above in his power, there are questions regarding how much the trick pony has left. The Athletics rekindled Frank Thomas’s career in 2006 in his age-38 season which allowed him to parley that into a two-year deal with Toronto. However, as Thomas slipped into his age-40 season, his skills ebbed beyond the point of being serviceable. I highlight this because Thome happens to be the third most similar player to Thomas as well as entering his age-40 season. Players of a certain age regress hard.
Certainly he could be a useful piece. Keep in mind that “useful” and “right piece” are two entirely different things. What would be a better fit is targeting a right-handed hitter, one who can supply defense in some capacity, to give the team more flexibility instead of limitation. If the Twins’ investment is small ($4 million or less) and the expectations are low (Cliff Floyd-like implementation) then acquiring Thome would be a useful piece to the puzzle.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Twins sign Harris for two years.

In the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, we went through the exercise of reviewing the previous year’s roster and supplying a grade based on their performance. Utility infielder Brendan Harris was labeled a “C”. In the corresponding write-up on Harris, I noted that:

“As bench-fillers go, Harris can play just about everywhere in the infield well, but not well enough to merit starting him. Whereas Punto and Casilla are quick-footed, slick fielders, Harris is downright stoic. But unlike the switch-hitting Punto and Casilla, Harris has been able to hit left-handed pitching (770 OPS) providing value when facing port-siders. Being arbitration eligible makes him in line for a raise over his $400K salary in ’09. Does his positional versatility and one-trick stick provide justification to bump up his allowance?”

Apparently, it does.

On Tuesday, the Twins and Brendan Harris agreed to a two-year, $3.2 contract with a series of performance bonuses that could drive his compensation every hire contingent on reaching 450 plate appearances. For a team that has considered looking at cost-saving measures, re-upping on Harris is a transaction that goes against that philosophy. This is an interesting decision that has positive and negative ramifications. Do the Twins have substantial plans for Harris extending into 2011 or was the additional year simply an impulse buy?

The total dollars itself isn’t in question. The $1.45M in ’10 and $1.75M in ’11 is not an unreasonable amount to dedicate to a bench player. Bench players are often integral parts to a championship team, and having that someone who can contribute just about everywhere when starters go down for extended periods of time helps bridge that gap. Having played in five different positions last year (short, second, third, first and DH), Harris represents just that sort of player – in theory.

For example, in May, Harris filled in at short for the injured Nick Punto and hit a robust .282/.326/.417 with 3 home runs in 178 plate appearances. Enjoying the rare offensive production from the middle infield, Ron Gardenhire slid Harris over to third after they acquired Orlando Cabrera. There, Harris’s defensive shortcomings were amplified at the less demanding of his previous two positions. In just over 300 innings at the hot corner, Harris committed six errors and failed to turn a single double play. On top of that, he hit .280 (14-for-50) in 60 plate appearances and was lifted in favor of the rookie Matt Tolbert in the season’s final stretch. By comparison, Tolbert provided the Twins with very stable defense, turning five double plays in his 190 innings at third and hit .313/.347/.448 in 76 plate appearances. In final 20 games, the manager called on Harris to start just once in the field (rather using him as a DH six times). Clearly, on the manager’s defensive hierarchy, Harris fell to the bottom.

Because of his versatility and the volatility of two of the infield positions, it was apparent that Harris would be retained by the front office that was looking at the larger picture heading into the 2010. I understand the Twins mindset: who’s at second, what’s at third and, holy crap, what if Hardy never resurfaces from his ’09 numbers? But what is so vital about Harris that it a price needs to be fixed for ’11?

Since the Twins acquired him in 2007, Harris has submitted below average offensive seasons. In a Twins uniform he’s hit .263/.319/.379 (86 OPS+) in slightly under 1,000 plate appearances. This has been marginally better than Nick Punto (81 OPS+) and Alexi Casilla (73 OPS+). If the Twins were looking for an offensive infield upgrade, Luke Hughes at Triple A Rochester hit .259/.344/.481 in 157 plate appearances. Giving the 25-year-old another season to mature and some September at-bats would allow for a low-cost infield bench player in 2011. Then again, Hughes is basically a third baseman by trade.

As mentioned above, Harris provides little in terms of a defensive upgrade.  On his career, both of his UZR and Fielding Bible metrics have been the illustration of a below average fielder. At 30 years old in 2011, that isn’t likely to spike either. There are several defensive option internally. Tolbert can play just about everywhere on the infield diamond above average and switch hits. Ditto for Casilla. Either player in a reserve role would give Ron Gardenhire solid options to replace more capable starters in the event of an injury. (That said, it assumes the fact that the Twins will keep Hardy, bring Valencia up midseason and find a higher quality second baseman. Maybe I’m assuming too much.)

Ultimately, signing Harris beyond 2010 could signal the beginning of the end of the Punto Era in Minnesota as Harris can fulfill most of his duties at a reduced price. To many, this is addition by subtraction. The Twins must have asked themselves if they would rather pay $1.75M for a poorer fielder, better hitter in Harris or fork over $5M for a better fielding, poorer hitting Punto. This is a low risk proposition, but it reveals that the Twins have little cohesiveness towards roster building between the field management and the front office. The organization could have look outside and inside for alternatives for several hundred thousand dollars cheaper.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kouzmanoff to Oakland

During the Winter Meetings in December, reports emerged that the Twins attempted to extract the 28-year-old Kevin Kouzmanoff from the San Diego Padres by offering the organizationally ostracized lefty Glen Perkins.  On paper and in theory, sending a pitcher with major league experience that has a skill set that would play well in the spacious Petco Park in exchange for a player with tools best suited another stadium and on the verge of getting expensive for a bottom-dwelling club appeared like feasible transaction. That pipedream came to an abrupt conclusion on Friday as the Oakland Athletics sent outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham to San Diego for Kouzmanoff and prospect Eric Sogard.

 Kouzmanoff, who will be 28 years old in 2010, was far from an ideal piece for the Twins – a fact that I’ll touch upon later. Without question, Kouzmanoff represented an upgrade for the Twins in 2010 but would be dubious in the long-term, big picture. Admittedly, obtaining him for a disposable component like Perkins would have been a coup. Even though they were well publicized sellers with few potential buyers, San Diego had a higher sticker price in mind and would not cooperate with the Twins attempted robbery. Even though Oakland’s offer was far from a kingly sum, it was a significantly better package than Glen Perkins-for-Kouzmanoff and addressed a glaring need for the Padres.

To be sure, when Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer rebuffed Bill Smith’s original offering of Perkins, the Twins were realistically all but out of contention for Kouzmanoff. With an overabundance of major-league ready outfielders, the A’s had plenty of trading chips to move. This was an offseason requirement that San Diego had to address to help their young pitching staff. Both Hairston and Cunningham allow for Chase Headley to move from the outfield to the vacated third base opening where he is better suited. This alone upgrades their outfield coverage.

Hairston, traded from San Diego to Oakland midseason a year ago, was once viewed as a fast-moving prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization. His tenure at the major league level has been punctuated by substandard plate discipline (career 6.8% walk rate) but with the capability of putting a charge into the ball (career .202 ISOP). Defensively, he’s an above average fielder in the corner outfield (although does not have the matching offensive qualifications to be an elite player) and is serviceable in center. Now entering his 30’s, the future for Hairston is muddled as his arbitration eligibility status will increase his salary over his reasonable $1.25 million from a year ago. Future cost notwithstanding, Hairston is a short-term but immediate solution to a nagging outfield problem in southern California.

Meanwhile Baseball Prospectus recently compared Cunningham to a right-handed hitting version of Travis Buck, which speaks volumes as is. Essentially, Cunningham is a fairly redundant player with Hairston only several years younger and minus the pop. Like Hairston, Cunningham projects to be an above average defensive corner outfielder (with a questionable arm) but does not come with the necessary prerequisite power supply. What was probably appealing to Hoyer was that he has a quality that neither Hairston nor the majority of the Padres have:  the ability to get on base. In his minor league career, Cunningham posted a .382 on-base percentage. This is a tad misleading however. Even though this is a fantastic rate, this number was mostly attributed to an exaggeratedly high batting average on balls in play rather than via walks (a rather average 8.7% walk rate).

Is the Twins farm system equipped with better offerings than the package Oakland sent? Without a doubt. Do any of them come shrink wrapped and ready for major league playing time? No. With the exception of pitching, the Twins do not have a surplus of any players able to contribute at the big league level immediately. And, again, pitching was not San Diego’s biggest need. With Kevin Correia, Chris Young, Clayton Richards, Mat Latos, Wade LaBlanc and Sean Gallagher, the Padres had more than enough arms to feel stable for several seasons. How appealing can a routinely injured pitcher with an abysmal strikeout rate be? Certainly not enticing enough to swap for a third baseman of Kouzmanoff’s pedigree.

What’s more is that at 28-years-old Kouzmanoff is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get finished product. He’s got the potential of producing some hefty numbers outside of the suppressive Petco Park environment, yet his development ceiling has been reached. He doesn’t walk (career 4.9% walk rate, .308 OBP) and swings at everything. In ’09, Kouzmanoff offered at 52% of the total pitches seen, well-above the baseball average of 45%. This component of his game makes him less attractive inserted into the Twins lineup, more so when you consider that he is an infield version of Delmon Young. Furthermore, now that he’s reaching arbitration years, he’s poised to see an escalating salary. To the Twins who has someone like Danny Valencia near-ready for big league play, investing in a player whose skills are marginally better than the in-house candidate but exponentially more expensive would be a waste of resources (both financially and prospect-wise). Minnesota does not need more power; it needs better on-base presence (preferably a player with both).

Although there is little indication that the Twins are prepared to do so, acquiring a second baseman that can fit into the number two spot in the lineup with a sustainable on-base percentage is a much more pressing need. After all, as John Bonnes relayed this week, Baseball America’s John Manuel described the Twins’ infield as their biggest Achilles’ heel, no more so than at second. Passing on Kouzmanoff should give the Twins ample opportunity to deal with the larger need through free agency. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

All You Need to Know About Glen Perkins

You could ski down this shit

Glen Perkins `K/9` : Season Stats Graph

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Twins Minor League Skills Assessment: Walk Rate

Top BB% Gainers

BB | 08

PA | 08

BB% | 08

BB| 09

PA| 09

BB%| 09

Improve. %

DeSanMiguel, Allan








Benson, Joe








Portes, Juan








Ortiz, Yancarlos








Lis, Erik








*Min. 200 plate appearances.

(5.) Erik Lis | 1B/DH | AA New Britain

The 25-year-old Lis’s second stint in the Eastern League was incrementally better than his original tour in ’08. Two seasons ago the left-handed hitting Illinois native managed to coax just 27 walks in 437 plate appearances while striking out in 21.3% of the time. Overall, Lis hit .271/.318/.462 with 50 extra base hits. This past year, Lis’s on-base percentage jumped to .353 after working 18 additional walks in just 82 more plate appearances. Another factor in the increased on-base percentage: Lis’s hit-by-pitch totals jump from zero in ’08 to eight in ’09.

(4.) Yancarlos Ortiz | SS | AA New Britain

The 24-year-old switch-hitting shortstop from the Dominican saw his walk rate jump from 6.9% to 9.9% after transferring from High-A Ft Myers to AA New Britain. That was about the only positive. Ortiz’s OBP in ’09 was a paltry .307. While he showed a steady improvement in the walks department, Ortiz was still striking out in north of 20% of his total plate appearances and holding a .282 batting average on balls in play. So far in his minor league career, he’s hit .242/.314/.280. A slight improvement in his walk totals is not enough to propel his career forward.

(3.) Juan Portes | UTL | AA New Britain

In his first exposure to High-A ball in ‘07, then 21-year-old Portes hit .269/.336/.410 with 31 extra base hits in 552 plate appearances.  The following season, his zone acumen declined as his walk rate dropped from 8.1% to 5.7% resulting in his on-base percentage decreasing from .336 to .319. However, in the season’s final 12 games Portes hit safely in 11 of them, going 17-for-48 and raised his average from .260 to .270 with the last minute offensive splash. At the time, Portes noted that he was experiencing some mechanical problems – notably moving his hands and feet too much. Pushed up into the Eastern League, Portes was used in a utility capacity (playing right field, left field and third) because of a lingering hamstring injury at the onset of the season as well as an overabundance of infielders. The 23-year-old continued to hit, finishing the year with a .297/.366/.434 batting line. Just as importantly, Portes pushed his walk rate back up towards 10%.

(2.) Joe Benson | OF | HA Fort Myers

When you think of the Twins’ abundance of outfielders, Joe Benson’s name is usually drowned out by the Aaron Hicks and the Ben Reveres of the system. In July of ’08 a stress fracture in his back (not unlike what Justin Morneau went through in ’09) sidetracked Benson’s development. This past year, Benson enjoyed one of the best offensive seasons of his career, hitting .285/.414/.403 in 80 games. Part of his on-base success is due to a highly inflated .380 batting average on balls in play, but you cannot ignore his 14.4% walk rate. If he’s able to remain healthy and continue to improve on that discipline, Benson gives the Twins another solid right-handed hitting outfield prospect.

(1.) Allan De San Miguel | C | HA-AAA

The Australian catching prospect has been languishing in the Twins system since ’05 yet was only 21-years-old last season. De San Miguel, a defensive specialist, was placed in the Eastern League to start the season but hit just .190 in limited duty and was eventually sent back to Beloit in early May. When Jose Morales was recalled to the Twins, de San Miguel was moved from Ft Myers all the way to Rochester to back up Drew Butera before being sent back down to Florida. By July, the Aussie catcher back in New Britain. The one offensive trait he has mastered is being able to draw a walk. If he can provide good defense and continue to get on base at a near 40% clip, he’ll enjoy a decent minor league career. 

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Flotsam (01.08.10)

Jim Souhan reminds us how much we need to resign Joe Mauer. Wrote the Star Tribune columnist on Friday "He is the rare catcher who can dominate with his arm, bat and eye. While there are plenty of first basemen and outfielders who make an offensive impact on the game, Mauer gives the Twins an unparalleled advantage because of the position he plays." This is quite the about-face from the scribe's sentiments on the local catcher as recently as 2007. Back in September of that year, Souhan opined and advocated for Mauer's relocation to third writing "It would be easier and cheaper to find a catcher to share time with Redmond than to sign an everyday third baseman, and Redmond is hitting and producing runs about as well as Mauer this year, anyway."

Speaking of Redmond,'s San Diego Padres beat writer, Cory Brock, notes that the Padres are interested in bringing in the elderly backstop. Over the past three seasons, Redmond has watched his offensive skill deteriorate at a breakneck rate. This past season, his three pulled hits, a new career low, was a strong indication that his swing as atrophied greatly. If you are looking for a silverlining, you can say he take "professional" at-bats, as he rarely strikes out and has moved runners along the base paths. But at 39-years-old it is clear he is extremely unlikely to provide anything except 40 games of offensive disappointment playing in reprieve of the starting catcher.

San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser says that the A's may have interest in bring back shortstop Orlando Cabrera - only to be considered for the third base vacancy. Oakland's 2009 offense averaged just 4.69 runs per game, a below average amount. Re-acquiring Cabrera would seemingly exacerbate the issues, not resolve it. Especially if it is in a third base capacity. In 101 games with Oakland last year, Cabrera hit .280/.318/.365, which was well below the league's third base average line of .269/.338/.423.

After the Twins released Bobby Keppel, winning pitcher of Game 163, the Nippon Ham Fighters signed him to play in Japan. Keppel's replacement is right-hander Clay Condrey who was released by the Phillies in December

Twins beat writer, Kelly Thesier, announced from her Twitter account that the Twins will be inviting 14 non-roster invitees to spring training including Ben Revere, Anthony Slama, Rene Tosoni and Chris Parmelee.

Star Tribune's La Velle E Neal uncovered the truth behind the Jarrod Washburn rumors. According to his sources inside the Twins organization, the Twins indeed offered the 35-year-old lefty a one-year, $5M contract that was turned down by his agent, Scott Boras. Neal continues by saying the Twins may attempt to follow through with their initial offer as the offseason wears on. Furthermore, the message relayed to Neal was that the Twins would be hesitant to sign any free agents to multi-year deals because of the impact Mauer's impending contact will have on future budgets.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Around the Central (01.06.10)

News and notes from the Twins interdivision rivals:
Chicago White Sox
Newly acquired JJ Putz, fresh off of a year which was cut short due to bone chips in his pitching elbow, is elated by the makeup of the White Sox bullpen.  ''Obviously, we have a great closer in Bobby Jenks and a great left-handed set-up guy in Matt Thornton,'' Putz said, ''so I'm thinking going into it, I'll be a seventh-, eighth-inning guy with the right-handers and Matt with the left-handers, trying to hand the ball to Bobby as often as we can.''

· ANALYSIS: Putz is correct in assuming that the White Sox could, on paper, have one of the better combinations of set-up men and closer in baseball. But it is certainly a flawed trifecta.  Putz, signed to a one-year, $3M contract, has slowly seen his stuff become increasingly hittable since his ’06 year in which opponents but just 69.7% of his balls in play. Returning from surgery and 33 years old in 2010, the probability that he will return to his dominate ’06 or ’07 form appears unlikely. Bobby Jenks has been enigmatic the past several years, having his strikeout rate drop drastically in ’08 then surrendering 9 home runs in 53 innings, which appears to be a product of using his fastball more often than previous years.  His six blown saves in 35 opportunities opened the door for speculation that Jenks would be out of Chicago in ’10. Meanwhile, Thornton has been about the most reliable form of relief on the South Side. For the past two seasons, Thornton has struck out 164 in 139.2 innings pitched (a 10.6 K/9 ratio) while walking just 39 (a 2.5 BB/9 ratio) as opponents have hit just .207 off of him in 144 games.  If Jenks is unable to satisfactorily put away hitters in 2010, anticipate that Thornton, not Putz, gets the save opportunities.

In an otherwise minor transaction, Chicago claimed Tiger reliever Freddy Dolsi.

· ANALYSIS: Dolsi spent the majority of the ’09 season at AAA Toledo, the Tigers’ top affiliate. In 51.2 innings of relief, the 26-year-old Dolsi struck out 31 and walked 19 while maintaining a 4.74 RA.’s White Sox beat reporter, Scott Merkin, notes that Dolsi is one of a handful of candidates to replaced DJ Carrasco who was non-tendered by the Sox. He’s got a mid-90s fastball and complimenting 85-mph slider. In his brief experience in the majors dating back to 2008, Dolsi has allowed a ton of contact and shown erratic control (career 4.94 BB/9 rate).

The White Sox still don’t have any left-handed power bats. In 2009, Jim Thome gave Chicago 417 plate appearances from the wrong-handed batter’s box and slugged .493. After his departure at the waiver deadline, Guillen was hard-pressed to find the same-sided pop on the bench. AJ Pierzynski and his 13 HR and .425 slugging percentage were as close as it got.

· ANALYSIS:  The Sox have a limited payroll but this really isn’t a problem for Chicago. Considering the amount of players still remaining on the diluted market, it appears that the left-handed DH unemployment rate mimics that of the US economy in general at 10%. Tons of workers, few jobs. This pool of jobless left-handed DH includes but is not limited to: Hank Blalock, Russell Branyan, Carlos Delgado, Eric Hinske, Aubrey Huff, Mike Jacobs, Jim Thome and Jack Cust.

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes gives his approval for the Tribe’s pursuit of free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes.

· ANALYSIS: Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro made his intentions on acquiring a right-handed power bat known at the GM meeting but since then has been quiet. Cleveland wants to give their new manager, Manny Acta, some lineup flexibility. Gomes outfield defense is atrocious so he is better suited for a designated hitter spot. His 20 home runs in 314 plate appearances demonstrated remarkable power (15.7 AB/HR). Of course, he was playing in a very hitter-friendly at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark which skews his totals. A prevalent fly ball hitter, his 22% HR/FB rate suggests that his totals will come down to reality in 2010 when his HR/FB rate regresses back towards his career average at 15%. This effect would happen much quicker if removed from the offensive generator (1.176 HR/G) in southern Ohio versus the northern Ohio stadium that muted the most home runs (0.670 HR/G).

In the same article, Hoynes outlines the Indians logic in why they signed Travis Hafner to a 4-year, $57 million extension in 2007. According to Hoynes “When Shapiro signed Hafner to a four-year, $57 million extension during the 2007 season, most of the fan reaction was positive. Hafner, 30 at the time, was putting together his fourth straight season in which he drove in at least 100 runs. The Indians, in researching Hafner's performance before signing him to the extension, realized his production would drop toward the end of the deal, but they did not anticipate it falling straight off a cliff so quickly. Injuries played a big role in that, but with the benefit of hindsight it's easy to assume Hafner's career is damaged beyond repair.”


· ANALYSIS: Travis Hafner may be a textbook example why you do not sign a one-dimensional player to far past the age of 30. Prior to signing his contract extension in ’07, his existing one would have lasted through his age-31 season. Instead, based upon his 2004-2006 performance in which he hit .308/.419/.611, outright superstar numbers, the Indians bumped him up a tax bracket and locked him in until his age-36 season.  Could he have maintained a torrid pace like his ’06 numbers for several more years? Sure, but the odds were very much against it. Of course, injuries expedited Hafner’s evitable decline as he has hit just .244/.336/.416 since signing his contract and averaged 308 plate appearances per season.  It’s unfortunately that you can’t unring that bell.’s Indians beat writer, Anthony Castrovince, writes that it is almost a foregone conclusion that Cleveland will be shopping their 33-year-old closer in Kerry Wood by midseason.


· ANALYSIS: Not a bad idea. After dominating the NL Central in his first stint as a closer, striking out 84 in 66.1 innings of work and saving 34 games, Wood signed a hefty two-year, $20 million contract to finish out games for the Indians.  The hard-throwing righty transitioned from a team that had the fourth highest total of save opportunities (68) to one that had the league’s second lowest (43). For whatever reason, Wood abandoned his effective slider and was worse for the wear.  He put up strong strikeout numbers but walked far too many and blew six of his 26 save opportunities, fourth highest in the league, and allowed seven home runs. The Indians did not have to pay top dollar for that kind of output. While Cleveland did not expect the team to be as bad as it was, the investment was like putting premium gasoline into a jalopy – it’s not worth the expense.  With $10 million due in 2010 and tight budget, Mark Shapiro will look to unload Wood if he can regain value in the first-half of the season.

In efforts to provide some right-handed options, the Indians signed Shelley Duncan and Austin Kearns to minor league deals with invitations to spring training.

· ANALYSIS: Again, without much maneuverability financially, Shapiro was forced to cull through the bargain bin. He may have found two steals though. After launching 7 home runs in 74 plate appearances with the Yankees in 2007, Duncan appeared to have the making of a serviceable platoon hitter.  Then he came out slow in 2008 and was shipped back to Scranton. He was recalled last September and utilized mainly as a pinch hitter in his 15 plate appearances. With 170 home runs in the minors, Duncan’s got power but he has yet to be given over 100 plate appearances in the majors to prove it. Kearns on the other hand, sped through the Reds system as a highly touted prospect and had a .407 OBP in 435 plate appearances his rookie year in 2002. Since then, his production has never matched the projections and has been on-and-off of the DL.  Unlike Duncan, Kearns plays an above-average right field (career 9.8 UZR/150) so if he can stay healthy, he can provide defense as well as being able to hit lefties. For a dime store price and no strings attached, the Indians acquired two potentially decent pieces.

Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Free Press reported that the Tigers were targeting free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, a favorite target of Twins fans, but was later refuted as just a rumor by’s beat writer, Jason Beck.

· ANALYSIS:  After trading away Curtis Granderson under the premise of freeing up cash for the long-term, going out only to spend the $5.5 million owed to the fan favorite on a free agent second baseman did not quite add up. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski reiterated the club’s desire to use Scott Sizemore as the starting second baseman. Said Dombrowski We expect him to be our second baseman. We have not changed on Sizemore." The 25-year-old Sizemore lacks any major league experience but has hit .296/.383/.441 in nearly 1,700 plate appearances.  Without a doubt, Detroit will miss Polanco’s defense and presence in the lineup but Sizemore appears to be the future of the infield for the Tigers.

Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his brother, Brandon Laird, who plays in the Yankees system, were arrested in Phoenix after an altercation at US Airways Arena. The two were cited for disorderly conduct for starting a brawl. According to reports, the security at the arena club was trying to arrest a suspect for disorderly conduct when the brothers assaulted the security guards and interfered. The situation was described by on-lookers as a “melee.”

· ANALYSIS:  Gotta love a good melee. Laird had a Gold Glove-caliber season behind the dish, throwing out a league-high 42 base runners and had one of the league’s best caught stealing percentages (42%).  Of course, with a high dosage of fastballs (65%) and baseball’s hardest throwing staff (92.7-mph) gives Laird a distinct advantage.

With Fernando Rodney signing with the Angels and Brandon Lyon with the Astros, the Tigers are inspecting the market for proven replacements. Jason Beck speculates that Detroit is considering Jose Valverde, Kevin Gregg and Octavio Dotel as suitable candidates for the open position.

· ANALYSIS:  Of the three, Valverde represents the best option.  In the past three season in Houston and Arizona, the righty has struck out 217 in 190.1 innings (10.3 K/9) while walking just 70 (3.3 BB/9) and opponents have hit just .210 off of him. At TwinsCentric, we identified him as the best closer option on the market yet interest in Papa Grande has been surprisingly quiet – probably because as a Type A free agent, the signing team would have to forfeit a draft pick.  Detroit may be hesitant to sacrifice a draft pick after the sheer plundering of their farm system to get Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria. The Pirates and Orioles are two other organizations that are interested in acquiring Gregg or Dotel (who has not closed since 2007).

Kansas City Royals

The Royals signed two left-handed minor league relief pitchers in John Parrish and Nelson Payano.  Neither pitcher threw a pitch stateside in 2009. The 32-year-old Parrish has seen major league work in off-and-on since 2000 with the Orioles and Blue Jays but missed all of 2009 with a torn labrum. Payano, 26-years-old, has bounced from the Atlanta organization to Seattle in 2008 and was signed by the Chunichi Dragons in 2009 but spent a lot of time injured as well.

· ANALYSIS:  Well, instead of investing a ton of money at an overpriced left-handed reliever (cough, Ron Mahay, cough) the Royals are attempting to fill the void at a discounted rate.  So you have to admire the mentality, however, these might not be the right acquisitions. Parrish is a soft-tossing lefty who was barely hitting 88.3-mph in ’08 but couldn’t get anyone to miss on pitches out of the strike zone (which judging from his career 6.0 BB/9 rate, that’s where he’s locating it).  In his six minor league seasons, Payano has struck out 276 in 246 innings but like Parrish, Payano has had his command issues, walking 159 (a 5.8 BB/9 career rate).

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bert Belongs Voting List (Updated)




Bill Conlin (Phil Daily News)

Jon Heyman (Sports Illustrated) 

Bob Dutton (Kansas City Star)

Pat Caputo (Morning Sun)

Rick Telander (Chicago Sun) 

Bill Christine (LA Times)

 Mark Topkins (Tampa Times)

Danny Knobler (CBS Sports) 

Bob Sherwin (AP)

 Terry Pluto (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

 Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle)

Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe)

Richard Griffin (Toronto Star)

Mike Dodd (USA Today) 

Mike Klis (Denver Post)

 Ken Davidoff (Newsday)

Tim Brown (Yahoo) 

 Ken Rosenthal (FOX Sports)

Bob Smizik (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) 

 Scott Bordow (East Valley Tribune)

Dave van Dyke (Chicago Tribune) 

Tom Keegan (Lawrence Journal World)Jeff Blair (The Globe and Sun)
Philip Hersh (Chicago Tribune)Murray Chass (
Bill Kennedy (Trenton Times)Buster Olney (ESPN)
Hal McCoy (Dayton Daily News)Michael Kinsley (ESPN)
Sean McClelland (Dayton Daily News)Pedro Gomez (ESPN)
Lynn Henning (Detroit News)Tony Jackson (ESPN)
Dan Coughlin (Cleveland Leader)Carrie Muskat (
Bill Madden (NY Daily News)Mark Newman (
Jeff Fletcher (AOL FanHouse)Marty Noble (
Fred Mitchell (Chicago Tribune)Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune)
Jeff Schultz (Atl Constitution)

Charley Walters (Pi Press)

Phil Arvia (Southtown News)

Carl Steward (Oakland Tribune)

Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune)

Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune)

Gerry Brown (Mass Republican)

Tracy Ringolsby (FOX Sports)

Mel Antonen (USA Today)

Seth Livingstone (USA Today)

Bob Nightengale (USA Today)

Tom Pedulla (USA Today)

Barry Bloom (

Earl Bloom (OC Register)

Jim Caple (ESPN)

Bernie Miklasz (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

Jack Curry (NY Times)

Bob Klapisch (The Record)

Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune)

Larry LaRue (Seattle News Tribune)

John McGrath (Seattle News Tribune)

Joe Henderson (Tampa Tribune)

Bruce Miles (Chicago Daily Herald)

Bob Sansevere (Pioneer Press)

Henry Schulman (SF Chronicle)

Mike Silverman (Boston Herald)

Larry Stone (Seattle Times)

Dan Graziano (Newark Star Ledger)

John Perrotto (Odgen Newspapers)

John Romero (St Petersburg Times)

Jerry Cransick (ESPN)

Jayson Stark (ESPN)

Hal Bodley (

Bob Markus (unknown)

Drew Olsen ( 

Tom Haudricourt (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Dan Shaughnessy (Boston Globe)

Stan McNeal (Sporting News)

Scott Miller (CBS Sports)

Joe Capozzi (Palm Beach Post)

Mike Shalin (At Large)

Evan Grant (Dallas News)

Joe Posnanski (SI)

Brendan Roberts (ESPN)

Gordon Edes (ESPN)

Howard Bryant (ESPN)

Tim Kurkjian (ESPN)

T.J. Quinn (ESPN)

Mike Bauman (

Peter Gammons (

Ken Gurnick (

Tom Singer (

Lyle Spencer (

Jim Street (

T.R. Sullivan (

Chris Haft (

LaVelle Neal (Star Tribune)

John Hickey (AOL FanHouse)

Terence Moore (AOL FanHouse)

Ed Price (AOL FanHouse)

Kevin Modesti (LA Daily News)

Mike Peticca (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


On this small sampling of the 500+ BBWAA voters, 80 of the 102 (78.4%) admitted voters have casted their ballots in favor of Bert Blyleven. (Of course, if all six of the the voters that choose not to reveal their votes swing towards Blyleven, he'd be at 83.3%.) Keep in mind that this is just roughly 20% of the total voters and is very preliminary. 

By the way, John Heyman, Danny Knobler, Bruce Jenkins, Tim Brown, Murray Chass and Buster Olney all voted for Jack Morris but not Bert Blyleven.