January 15, 2009
The first is that being fat, losing a huge amount of weight, and becoming fat again is significantly more depressing than simply being fat and remaining that way the entire time. The other is that previously having lost 92.5 pounds makes me all too aware of just how long it will take to do it again. However, the signs are all pointing to me needing to drop some pounds again even if being successful means losing Hall of Fame eligibility.
Assistant general manager Rob Antony brought up my comment on the air a few days later while being interviewed by LaVelle E. Neal III and noted that the Twins do in fact use stats in their decision-making. However, my suggestion was never that the Twins completely ignore stats, because that would be silly. Rather, my point was that for better or worse they don't employ the more advanced statistical tools that have become available recently and are now in fairly wide use among other teams (like the Mariners).
In other words, my point was about things like PitchFX and Zone Ratings rather than home-road splits and fielding percentages. There's a big difference, so in an effort to clear the air I sent Antony an e-mail. To his credit he responded with an explanation of the Twins' stance on the issue, but also confirmed that they indeed "do not have a department devoted to statistical analysis" and are not using the type of advanced tools I was talking about. Whether that's good or bad is up for debate, but it's definitely true.
At the time my suggestion was that the Twins should offer Gagne a one-year contract worth $3 million plus incentives, but given how the non-closer reliever market has played out since then that's probably more than they'd need to spend. Gagne is far from a sure thing, but there's a decent shot that he has 60 innings of a 3.50 ERA in him and the Twins are in obvious need of another capable option to bridge the gap from the starters to Joe Nathan.
Eric Gagne was baseball's best closer from 2002-2004, posting a 1.97 ERA with 365 strikeouts in 247 innings while converting 152-of-158 save chances (96.2 percent, including 55-of-55 in 2003). Tommy John elbow surgery followed and Gagne pitched just 15 innings over the next two years before signing with Texas in 2007. He converted 16-of-17 save chances with a 2.16 ERA for the Rangers, but fell apart after a midseason trade to the Red Sox and continued to struggle for the Brewers this year.
Gagne is coming off the worst year of his career and has an ugly 5.82 ERA in 65 innings dating back to the trade to Boston, which along with the injuries and inclusion in the Mitchell Report makes him a big risk. However, it also means that he'll be cheap and Gagne quietly had a 20-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio from July 1 on while allowing zero runs in 24 of 30 games. He's a shell of his old self, but look closely and he still has more upside than anyone in his price range.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website is among the best when it comes to content, layout, and innovation. All of which is why online managing editor Will Tacy resigning may quietly be the most significant of the newspaper's growing number of departures. Most of the Star Tribune's audience has surely never heard of Tacy and just about everyone is understandably far more concerned about what's happening with the columnists they read than the guy who puts the website together.
However, in the midst of steadily declining print circulation and a rapidly changing industry landscape the Star Tribune has made tremendous strides with its online presence recently. I'm certainly not in a position to say how much impact Tacy has had or predict what his loss means to the newspaper, but there's zero doubt that the massive gap in quality between the Star Tribune's website and the Pioneer Press' website has shaped my reading habits, and that's more than can be said for any single writer.
UPDATE: Even better news from Sepinwall: Stringer Bell and Michael Scott, together on The Office. As a wise man once said: "Giggity, giggity."
Reusse's odd rants against bloggers annoy me and his storytelling has always been much better than his attempts at analysis, but he also clearly stands above the rest of the Twin Cities' barren wasteland of sports columnists. It's ironic that someone who rails against bloggers has cut back on a newspaper column in part because he doesn't want to travel or report as much, but more than that it'll be a shame if Reusse lessening his workload simply clears even more space for Sid Hartman and Jim Souhan.
He cut back to half-time at the Star Tribune, but will still write Thursday and Sunday columns. ... Reusse originally wanted out of newspapering; he asked to be part of the Strib's recent buyout, but was turned down. Sportswriters weren't eligible, so half-time was the compromise.
Reusse doesn't deny that the Strib's precarious economics were a factor in taking on more radio work, but there were other reasons. "I don't want to get on a plane and go do stuff anymore," he says. "Travel is a pain in the ass. And frankly, I wasn't sure if what I do is what my [newspaper] bosses were looking for."
Earlier this week Jim Rice was inducted into the Hall of Fame by receiving almost as many votes as Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines combined, and the dozens of columns explaining why were filled with so much of the anti-intellectualism Kaufman described that it can't be a shock that Rickey Henderson was left completely off the ballot by 28 of those same voters.
In what other profession do practitioners brag about their ignorance regarding current events and developments? In what other area of journalism is lack of awareness a mark of distinction? Cut it out, fellow writers. Do your job. Engage with your material. Stay current. Learn about things you don't understand. Ignorance isn't a virtue. It's not something to brag about. It's something to fix.
I'm sure that hiring Mariotti will bring more eyeballs to AOL Fanhouse because he's always been able to drum up an audience. However, sports fans getting fed up with guys like Mariotti in newspapers is a big part of why people flocked to blogs in the first place and now that online media has gained some serious footing in the marketplace it's unfortunate to see him land a job simply for being a controversial figure with a recognizable byline. Let the newspapers have him, because we don't need him. Oh well.
All of which is a long way of saying thanks for not only reading AG.com, but for checking out the various other sites that I've plugged on the sidebar. I've intentionally kept the number of sidebar links small, so you can be certain that any site found there is legitimately part of my daily reading routine and definitely worth reading. That makes me some enemies at sites not found on the sidebar, but the alternative is flooding the page with dozens of links and that seems silly if I'm not even reading them.