Sunday, August 01, 2010

OtB Twins Notes

With the non-waiver trade deadline coming to a close on Saturday, the Twins proceeded into August having made only one maneuver, trading for Nationals closer Matt Capps to fortify a bullpen that had been taxed in July. While the Twins were looking for starting pitcher, discussing left-hander Ted Lilly with the Cubs, they ultimately backed down as Chicago was seeking players that the Twins were unwilling to give up. Although Lilly has pitched much better than his depressing 3-8 record would indicate, as a fly-ball oriented pitcher, his addition to the rotation would not have played to Twins’ defensive strengths. Another target that would have plausibly fit better into the Twins’ defensive asset would have been Houston’s Brett Myers. Myers, who has continually thrown six or more innings in each start, has been impressive so far this season, throwing his slider more frequently to induce more groundballs. Word from the Twins front office in the early part of the week was that they were not considering Myers a trade candidate at all (perhaps because of personal makeup) but changed direction at the trade deadline and attempted to see what it would take to get him relayed Joe Christenson. However, the Astros apparently valued Myers immensely as on Sunday Houston extended Myers through 2013.
One of the most obvious reasons Capps was sought out over Toronto’s Scott Downs or Jason Frasor or other late inning relief candidates is Capps ability to consistently pound the strike zone. The Twins’ demand of command not only out of their starters but out of their bullpen as well. The team’s relief arms have issued the fewest walks in baseball (81) and have the lowest BB/9 in the American League (2.57). To his credit, Capp’s current total (9) is tied for sixth while his BB/9 (1.57) is the tenth lowest in baseball making his style a very good fit for the organization’s philosophy.

Fox Sports writer/reporter/shorter than Adam Wainwright Ken Rosenthal believes that the Twins may be a potential team to pursue Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. While this may have seemed plausible in June, the times have changed for the Twins and the need for someone like Lowell as dissipated. In addition to injuries and drop off in production outside of Fenway, there is another big reason the Twins should not have that much interest in Lowell: Since July 1st, Danny Valencia has now gone 28-for-59 (.474) with 13 runs batted in. Only twice in the month of July did he fail to record a hit in a game. With his right-handed stick in the lineup, the Twins now have three right-handed forces (Valencia, Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer) to subdue left-handed pitching.

While his defense comes into question, Denard Span has slowly improved his numbers since the beginning of the season. According to John Dewan’s Plus/Minus system, Span is now the fourth-best defensive center fielder in the American League (+8). This certainly helps lift the Twins from the position of having the worst outfield in baseball. The Twins’ outfielders have managed to track down just 133 balls out of zone, the third-worst in the American League, which helps explain why the pitching staff is the owner of a .167 BABIP on fly balls, 20 points higher than the AL average of .142.

Since the All Star Break, Francisco Liriano has thrown 21 innings, racking up a 3-0 record with a solid 25/6 K/BB ratio and has yet to relinquished a run. Yes, this sort of output should have been expected.

Speaking of Liriano, him and Carl Pavano’s 42% of off-speed pitches chases out of the zone lead the American League in that category (average 30%). They have filthy stuff.

For the season, Delmon Young has a .376 batting average on fastballs, the third best in baseball. Not surprising, coinciding with his murder-death-kill of American League pitching, his amount of heaters has decreased dramatically. In June, 56.1% of his pitches seen were of the fastball variety. In July, a month in which Young hit a massive.434/.455/.736, he was thrown fastballs just 39.9% of the time - by far the least frequent in baseball. This is just another sign that Young has been adjusting with the pitchers that have tried to adjust to him.

If you have $2.99 million lying around (like most people), you can purchase Brad Radke’s Greenwood, MN home on Lake Minnetonka. If you do happen to buy the house, the real estate company would like you to know that the house usually settles in during the third inning.