July 5, 2012

Twins Notes: Doumit, Blackburn, Hendriks, Minier, Mauer, and Plouffe

• Assuming the Twins decide to become sellers at the trade deadline Ryan Doumit likely would have drawn a decent amount of interest from contending teams, but instead they took him off the market with a two-year, $7 million extension that will pay the catcher/designated hitter $3.5 million in both 2013 and 2014. Handing out multi-year deals to 31-year-old non-stars isn't usually a great plan for a rebuilding team, but the price is right and Doumit is a good fit.

I liked adding Doumit on a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason because he essentially replaced Jason Kubel as a quality left-handed bat for a fraction of the price and was also a much-needed alternative to Drew Butera behind the plate in case Joe Mauer struggled to stay healthy again. Doumit has a good enough bat to be useful at DH and a good enough glove to be useful at catcher, and that's the kind of versatility the Twins needed.

He's been exactly what they hoped, hitting .282/.344/.449 versus a .271/.334/.442 career line and proving to be a more palatable defensive catcher than his awful reputation. His defense in the outfield and at first base is a different story, as Ron Gardenhire soured on Doumit there almost immediately and has used him for all of 52 non-catcher innings in the field, but the ability to basically have Mauer and Doumit alternate between catcher and DH has been ideal.

Doumit for $3 million this year was a nice pickup, so Doumit for $3.5 million in 2013 represents the same solid value and paying him $3.5 million in 2014 will hardly cripple the Twins even if he declines at age 33. Jason Marquis got $3 million for seven awful starts and Nick Blackburn is owed $5.5 million next year, so $3.5 million for a .750-.800 OPS hitter who can catch is enough of a bargain to be worth the risk of a multi-year commitment. And they can trade him later too.

• Speaking of Blackburn, yesterday he was dumped from the rotation and demoted to Triple-A for the second time since the Twins misguidedly gave him a four-year contract extension in March of 2010. I hated that signing at the time, noting that the Twins already had Blackburn under team control through 2013 via arbitration and his miniscule strikeout rate limited his upside and made him far more likely to decline than improve.

Sure enough since the Twins guaranteed him $14 million instead of going year-to-year he's got a 5.51 ERA and among all pitchers with 50-plus starts he has the fewest strikeouts per nine innings (4.2) and the highest opponents' batting average (.309) and slugging percentage (.500). Some of that can certainly be blamed on injuries, but that's one of the reasons to avoid making unnecessary commitments to mediocre pitchers you already control for years to come.

Had the Twins smartly chosen to go year-to-year with Blackburn via arbitration they'd have presumably already cut him, if not after his 5.42 ERA and demotion to Triple-A in 2010 than at least after his 4.49 ERA and forearm injury in 2011. Instead they're paying him $4.75 million this season and owe him $5.5 million next season, which would have been his final year under team control via arbitration anyway.

Liam Hendriks will be joining Blackburn in Rochester after struggling for the third time in three chances with the Twins. Hendriks came into the season as the team's top pitching prospect, but that was mostly by default and despite being the Twins' reigning minor league pitcher of the year his long-term upside has always been mid-rotation starter. He was rushed to the majors, much like Chris Parmelee, and is still 23 years old with 16 starts at Triple-A.

Obviously his 6.71 ERA through 12 career starts is ugly, but a 39-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 62 innings isn't far off from what you'd expect based on Hendriks' track record. He'll need to show better control because mediocre raw stuff and modest strikeout rates in the minors make it hard to imagine many missed bats, but his biggest problem was serving up 13 homers in 62 innings after allowing three homers in 94 innings at Triple-A. Don't give up on him yet.

• This season's international prospects became eligible to sign Monday and the Twins spent $1.4 million for one of the top-rated hitters in 16-year-old Dominican infielder Amaurys Minier. Ben Badler of Baseball America ranked Minier as the 12th-best international prospect available, saying the 6-foot-2 switch-hitter will likely shift from shortstop to third base and "has drawn attention for his bat speed and plus power from both sides of the plate." Here's a bit more:

He has some noise in his setup, but he has a smooth stroke with good balance and whips the bat head through the zone. With his power, he can put on a good show in batting practice. Scouts have reservations about his ability to hit in games, so his pitch recognition skills will have to improve. Many players with Minier's body type--thick lower half and below-average speed--are already at third base. ... He has a strong arm but will have to work on his infield actions to avoid a move further down the defensive spectrum.

In addition to Minier the Twins also spent $500,000 on 16-year-old Australian southpaw Lewis Thorpe, who Baseball America called the country's top prospect. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement they have $1 million left to potentially spend on international signings.

• Mauer has played 72 of 80 games while hitting .332 with a league-leading .420 on-base percentage and his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total of 2.8 leads the Twins while ranking 10th among the league's position players. If your reaction to his being selected for the All-Star team at baseball's thinnest position was anything other than "of course he made the All-Star team" then you're likely better off booing him at Target Field than reading this blog.

• Parmelee was recalled from Triple-A because he responded to a mid-May demotion by hitting .375/.500/.708 in three weeks there. Since rejoining the Twins he's started a total of four times in 26 games. How that helps him or the Twins in the short or long term is beyond me.

Danny Valencia had 23 homers in 266 games for the Twins. Trevor Plouffe has 18 homers in 39 games since replacing him on May 15. Plouffe has shown no signs of turning back into a pumpkin and Valencia is hitting .245/.286/.410 in 49 games at Triple-A.

• I somehow neglected to include this in my SABR convention recap, but I was at Target Field last Friday night to witness one of the better "security guards chasing an idiot who ran onto the field" moments in recent memory. Shockingly he wasn't part of the SABR group.

• Since the Twins changed catchers nine seasons ago Mauer has been on base 306 more times than A.J. Pierzynski while making 534 fewer outs.

Paul Bargas, the pitching prospect the Twins acquired from the Rockies for catcher Jose Morales in 2010, has died from brain cancer. He was just 23 years old.

Miguel Sano's high error total at third base has the Twins concerned about his defense at low Single-A, but his odds of sticking at third base have never been very high anyway.

• Pitcher wins are hilarious, part infinity: Jeff Gray is 5-0. He's thrown 35 innings with a 4.08 ERA and 18-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

• If you missed it last week, Dave Beal of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote a good article about the Twins' involvement with sabermetrics.

Michael Cuddyer is hitting .233 away from Coors Field for a 31-50 team while earning $10.5 million, but some things never change.

• When he's not riding elevators with me Jose Mijares has a 1.69 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 32 innings for the Royals, which is why cutting him loose for $750,000 never made much sense.

Frank Viola's daughter, Brittany Viola, made the Olympic diving team.

• Along with being one of MLB's best relievers Glen Perkins also has great taste in podcasts.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Curt's Salsa, a locally owned salsa company that believes in fresh ingredients and rooting for the little guy. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

48 Comments »

  1. I’ve been reading your blog for years now, and tend to agree with about 95% of your takes. But the very last sentence of Glen Perkins being one of the best relievers in baseball is just mind boggling. He is sporting a 1.37 WHIP and giving up over a hit per inning. He’s not even the best reliever on his own team, that would be Jared Burton. Glen Perkins is not in the same conversation as guys like David Robertson, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Sergio Romo, or Tim Collins.

    Comment by Kurt E. — July 5, 2012 @ 8:31 am

  2. First of all, why are you using WHIP to evaluate relief pitching? Second of all, really, it’s “mind-boggling”?

    Among all MLB relievers this season Perkins ranks 25th in FIP and 27th in xFIP. He was even better last season, ranking 10th in FIP and 16th in xFIP. So for the past 1.5 seasons he’s been among the top 20 relievers in all of baseball.

    And yet you think me writing that he’s “one of MLB’s best relievers” is “mind-boggling” because of his WHIP? C’mon.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 8:49 am

  3. Aaron
    When did Sano sticking at 3rd become a long odds?

    Sickels, Ryan and others think he has the talent to stay at 3b. Yet you who have not seen him play call it a longshot?

    Keep up those unfactual throwaway one liners and you and Souhan can share nickname.

    Comment by Michael L — July 5, 2012 @ 9:27 am

  4. When did Sano sticking at 3rd become a long odds? Sickels, Ryan and others think he has the talent to stay at 3b. Yet you who have not seen him play call it a longshot? Keep up those unfactual throwaway one liners and you and Souhan can share nickname.

    Some really excellent comments to begin the day! Thanks guys! (Sigh.)

    I’ve spoken to more more than a dozen writers, scouts, and people employed by MLB teams–including the Twins–who’ve seen Sano play frequently, both this season and last season, and the vast majority are convinced that he won’t be a third baseman in the majors. That’s been true from the moment he signed, which was my point.

    Is that “factual” enough, or do you still want to compare me to Souhan and act like I couldn’t possibly have based an opinion on anything?

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  5. I also said he’s given up over a hit per inning, which is well below average for a stud reliever. I could have also pointed out his pedestrian .265 opponent batting average this year, but as I said, he’s not even the best reliever on his own team, let alone the MLB as you said. You basically agree with me, anyway, because you said he’s a top 20 reliever in baseball. How can that make him among the best? If I’m writing/speaking about any player being among the best in the league, I’m talking about the top 8 maybe 10. The 20th best makes no sense, there’s 19 better than him! And don’t go telling me it’s the deepest position in baseball so the 20th guy out can be considered elite. My fantasy squad would beg to differ!

    Comment by Kurt E. — July 5, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  6. Re: “Pitcher wins are hilarious, part infinity”

    Wait — are you trying to tell me that it’s not five times better to have Jeff Gray than Cliff Lee? Madness.

    Comment by hrunting — July 5, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  7. My fantasy squad would beg to differ!

    Ah, it all makes sense now. Evaluating relievers by WHIP and mentioning your fantasy baseball team. Should have known.

    And yes, being one of the top 20 relievers in MLB is being “one of MLB’s best relievers.” I’m sorry that’s “mind-boggling” to you. It’s equally “mind-boggling” to me that this is even a conversation people are having, so I guess we’re even.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  8. I like Doumit but Kubel has been raking for the D-Backs. It’s odd to see the 2012 Twins lineup when just 3 years ago they had one of the, if not the, best lineups in baseball. Cuddy and Kubel are gone and Morneau might as well be. Time to look forward to the (potentially) great 3/4 combo of Buxton/Sano.

    Comment by John R — July 5, 2012 @ 9:55 am

  9. LOL! Are you being serious right now? First of all, don’t talk like WHIP is meaningless, you reference it often, and it is considered a highly regarded measure of a pitcher. Granted, Fielding Independent Pitching is better, I will give you that. But how can the 20th best reliever enter your mind and prompt you to write “one of the best relievers in baseball” I guess you may think even the 30th best reliever is considered elite, where as I don’t even want to know the 10th best. I’m only talking about the best and reference maybe the top 7th. I understand relief pitching goes deeper then say, 1st base, so when talking about the best first baseman, we’re only going out about 5 players until it drops a tier. With relief pitching, I’m not willing to go past 10th best, if you’re not in top 10, you’re a tier below the best, it’s that simple IMO.

    Comment by Kurt E. — July 5, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  10. LOL! Are you being serious right now? First of all, don’t talk like WHIP is meaningless, you reference it often, and it is considered a highly regarded measure of a pitcher.

    I have not referenced WHIP on this site at any point in the past 12 months and have not referenced it as part of any sort of analysis in at least 24 months.

    But how can the 20th best reliever enter your mind and prompt you to write “one of the best relievers in baseball”

    You and I clearly disagree with what qualifies as “one of the best.” That’s fine. My issue is with you calling it “mind boggling” as if I claimed the league’s 100th-best reliever was “one of the best.”

    it’s that simple IMO.

    I do not agree with your opinion, sorry.

    Speaking more generally, I just wish the comment sections of blogs didn’t so often turn into people posting exaggerated, aggressive responses to something totally innocuous like, for instance, someone writing that the 20th-best reliever in baseball is “one of MLB’s best relievers.”

    Or, for instance, saying “keep up those unfactual throwaway one liners and you and Souhan can share nickname” because someone shares a frequently held opinion that a 19-year-old third base prospect won’t stay at third base five years from now.

    Makes me sad, is all.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  11. Michael,

    As someone who didn’t get to see Sano in game action on my road trip to Milwaukee (he missed only his 2nd start this season on the one day I was there, go figure) but who *did* get to see him running through some fielding drills during their afternoon practice, I would have to agree that he won’t stick as a 3rd baseman. I watched as Sano wiffed on ball after ball that was thrown to him in a short hop drill. Sano was kneeling about 10-15 feet from his coach, who would throw the ball to him on a short hop. He couldn’t read a bounce to save his life. His instincts and ability to snag the hops that he was able to get a glove on was subpar to say the least. Can the guy mash? Oh yeah, but can he field? On my limited first hand viewing, and from the reports that I’ve read on his fielding skills, I would say that unless the guy really applies himself over the next few years, he’ll be below average at 3rd base.

    Also, Sickels has Sano’s ceiling at Miguel Cabrera, which is great if you are thinking offensively, but not so good if you’re thinking defensively. I just don’t see it. And seriously, I’m hoping that you’re referring to a scout named Ryan, and not Terry Ryan. I mean, really? What do you think he’s gonna say? “This guy sucks at 3rd?”

    Comment by D-Luxxx — July 5, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  12. 2 Things

    1. Kurt – Please give it up. You and Aaron disagree over what it means to be “one of the best relievers in baseball,” which is pure silliness and semantics.

    2. Aaron – I completly agree that it is unfortunate that the comments section of blogs so often turn into exaggerated, inflammatory nonsense. That said, sometimes it’s best to ignore those comments rather than validate them with a response.

    Comment by Dave — July 5, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  13. Considering that there are 30 MLB teams, and each carriers at least 6 relievers, then I’d say that being in the top 20 of 180 relievers would qualify someone as being “one of the best.” I can’t believe that I’m even writing this. Seriously, did you guys reach your free article limit over at the Strib? Nitpicking a comment like “one of the best?” That’s just silly.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — July 5, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  14. I don’t know man, I said mind-boggling, aka puzzling. I didn’t bash you or aggressively speak to you. Michael’s Souhan comment, on the other hand, was bashing and uncalled for and I agree with you on that. Our conversation is simply a disagreement with how many players fall under elite. To me, it’s 10, to you, it’s probably 30ish in the relief category. No big deal, keep up the good work. As I said, you see it clearly about 95% of the time, take that as a compliment.

    Comment by Kurt E. — July 5, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  15. I completely agree that it is unfortunate that the comments section of blogs so often turn into exaggerated, inflammatory nonsense. That said, sometimes it’s best to ignore those comments rather than validate them with a response.

    I very rarely respond to comments at this point, which is also unfortunate because there are often good comments that are worth responding to. For some reason today I decided to get involved, which mostly has reminded me why I no longer do that much.

    Oh well. I’ll get over it.

    And because it’s not fair of me to lash out over a couple comments: If anyone is interested I’ll check back in throughout the day and try to answer any questions/comments, good or bad. We’ll see how it goes.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  16. I didn’t bash you or aggressively speak to you.

    Just for future reference, these qualify as “aggressively speak to you”:

    But the very last sentence of Glen Perkins being one of the best relievers in baseball is just mind boggling.

    The 20th best makes no sense, there’s 19 better than him! And don’t go telling me it’s the deepest position in baseball so the 20th guy out can be considered elite. My fantasy squad would beg to differ!

    LOL! Are you being serious right now?

    You get the idea. If you said, simply, “I disagree that Glen Perkins is one of the best relievers in baseball” I certainly wouldn’t have even responded to the comment. Which I suppose is part of the problem. Non-aggressive, relatively reasonable comments don’t motivate someone to respond as much.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 10:38 am

  17. Also, just because FSN uses it, and DickBert asked the SABER pres about WHIP, doesn’t mean it is a “highly regarded measure of a pitcher.” That’s like basing an argument on Wins, or ERA. WHIP is only one metric used to evaluate a pitcher, but much like ERA is partially based on a pitcher’s defense. Walks are the only part of that equation that is soley based on the pitcher. It is a supporting statisitc at best.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — July 5, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  18. Aaron, what stats do you typically use to evaluate a relief pitcher’s performance? You mentioned FIP and xFIP, but are there other stats that are good indicators of a relief pitcher’s value?

    Comment by D-Luxxx — July 5, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  19. Aaron, what stats do you typically use to evaluate a relief pitcher’s performance? You mentioned FIP and xFIP, but are there other stats that are good indicators of a relief pitcher’s value?

    Sure, and it certainly doesn’t have to be as complicated or advanced as xFIP. Stuff like K/BB ratio and ground-ball rate are worth relying on. Basically anything that doesn’t revolve around batting average on balls in play (which WHIP and OAVG do) or inherited runners (which ERA does) should be the focus, because relievers have smaller samples of innings and are often asked to strand other pitchers’ runners and then have their own runners stranded for them.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  20. It’s too bad aaron doesn’t respond to comments and interact more, he’s an interesting guy….but alas, it doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. Oh well…..as for Sano at 3B, I’d bet good money he’s not at 3B by AA.

    Comment by mike wants wins — July 5, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  21. It’s too bad aaron doesn’t respond to comments and interact more, he’s an interesting guy….but alas, it doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.

    I spent years responding to comments on a daily basis, both here and elsewhere, and at some point came to the realization that it wasn’t a good idea from a time invested standpoint or an emotional standpoint. In an ideal world I’d write something and then hang out all day chatting about it with everyone, but that isn’t feasible for a number of reasons.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  22. Well, I’m just glad the great Gleeman speaks today!

    Comment by Kurt E. — July 5, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  23. I’m just glad that you said “Don’t give up on him yet”, in regards to Liam Hendriks. In all honesty, this is probably the first time I have read any Twins writer/blogger/etc. say this. I do agree that he has performed badly in the majors thus far, but I also believe that based on his minor league track record, he can stick in the rotation. And I do think he still has the potential to be a decent third starter, maybe fourth. At the very least, I can’t imagine him being equivalent/worse than Nick Blackburn. I just hope he can put it together soon enough so that the Twins have at least one more decent arm for next year.

    Comment by Jon W. — July 5, 2012 @ 10:59 am

  24. “And because it’s not fair of me to lash out over a couple comments: If anyone is interested I’ll check back in throughout the day and try to answer any questions/comments, good or bad. We’ll see how it goes.”

    Alrighty then!

    1) More likely: A) Sano playing a MLB game @ 3B, or NBC’s “Two broke girls” still being on the air when Sano debuts in MLB?

    2) More likely: A) Parmelee the opening day 2014 1B or B) Morneau the 2014 opening day 1B?

    3) More likely: A) Nick Blackburn pitching 25+ starts for the Twins in 2013 or B) You coming home tonight to find Mila Kunis sitting on your sofa.

    4) More likely: A) AG.com becoming a paysite in some form B) The twins finishing 2012 at or above .500

    Comment by Karl — July 5, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  25. Love the take on Mauer. The hatred of him by some of the local fan base is amazing and really calls for an evaluation of some peoples mental professionals. He is a HOF caliber player who is again having an outstanding year. People act as if because of his salary and becuse he does not hit more home runs he is a marginal MLB player. Hatred of him has developed into a cult like following. Sadly, even some in the local media have picked up on it.

    This is a great game, and one of the great things about the game is that it leads to many opportunities to second guess everything. However, sometimes, it is important to just stop, sit back, and enjoy the amazing things that people can do. Joe Mauer getting on base over 40% of the times he comes to the plate is amazing. This is a game, enjoy it.

    Comment by Gamescrows — July 5, 2012 @ 11:20 am

  26. 1) More likely: A) Sano playing a MLB game @ 3B, or NBC’s “Two broke girls” still being on the air when Sano debuts in MLB?

    One game at third base in the majors? Pretty likely, but that isn’t saying much. Also, “Two Broke Girls” is on CBS, not NBC.

    2) More likely: A) Parmelee the opening day 2014 1B or B) Morneau the 2014 opening day 1B?

    Parmelee, I guess. Morneau isn’t even under contract for 2014.

    3) More likely: A) Nick Blackburn pitching 25+ starts for the Twins in 2013 or B) You coming home tonight to find Mila Kunis sitting on your sofa.

    I haven’t given Mila her own set of keys yet.

    4) More likely: A) AG.com becoming a paysite in some form B) The twins finishing 2012 at or above .500

    I thought coming into the season that the Twins would be around .500 and that’s still not totally insane, I suppose. I’ve been doing AG.com for 10 years now and have never charged anyone a dime for anything, so …

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  27. 2) More likely: A) Parmelee the opening day 2014 1B or B) Morneau the 2014 opening day 1B?

    Parmelee, I guess. Morneau isn’t even under contract for 2014.

    Right – so you think the Twins would jettison/let Morneau walk after his current deal expires? That seems incongruous with the “Twins Way” no?

    Comment by Karl — July 5, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  28. Right – so you think the Twins would jettison/let Morneau walk after his current deal expires? That seems incongruous with the “Twins Way” no?

    As opposed to Hunter or Cuddyer or any number of other free agents to leave when their contracts are up? Morneau has been hurt, ineffective, or hurt and ineffective for going on three seasons now, hasn’t been a starting-caliber first baseman since mid-2010, and will be 33 years old in 2014. Seems odd to assume they’d re-sign him.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  29. Right – so you think the Twins would jettison/let Morneau walk after his current deal expires? That seems incongruous with the “Twins Way” no?

    Like it matters, Sano will be a 1B in 2014…duh :)

    Comment by Gamescrows — July 5, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  30. I did want to point out that Gray’s ERA if you take out his worst outing is 2.80. I am not giving him a vote of confidence as he could cave in at any time, but as the 7th man in the pen who has been somewhat effective, he has some value. Fortunaelty the Twins have a surplus of prospects here so we could trade some bullpen help for a prospect.

    I agree that Perkins is an elite reliever as he has been consistant, handled pressure situations, and has a high k rate and fairly low walk rate. I comp him as a left handed Jesse Crain the last few years.

    Since I haven’t seen Sano play yet outside of hitting displays on youtube, I don’t think I am qualified to guess where he’ll end up. But I think it makes sense to try him out at 3rd and he can always switch to 1rst, LF or RF or DH when he arrives or even after he arrives.

    I wasn’t a fan of letting Mijares go either as he could have been traded or had cheeply this season and next. Relievers stats change so much from year to year that is partly why some one like Gray can be successful is that the sample size is not very big. Also another arguement to back up Perkins is he has the talent of a top reliever as he throws upper mid 90′s and has the periphials of a top reliever compared to Gray and his 88 mph heater 16 walks vs 17 K’s Perkins has the talent to be more consistant where it would suprise no one if Gray has a 5+ era the next 2 seasons.

    Comment by doofus — July 5, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  31. I did want to point out that Gray’s ERA if you take out his worst outing is 2.80.

    He also has a 5.02 xFIP this season and a 4.59 xFIP for his career. He’s just not a good pitcher, as his terrible K/BB ratio shows.

    But I think it makes sense to try him out at 3rd and he can always switch to 1rst, LF or RF or DH when he arrives or even after he arrives.

    No one is saying otherwise. My point is that getting worried about his defense at third base now only matters if you think he’s going to be a third baseman in the future, and I do not.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

  32. Living in Chicago now, I’ve recently had to hear both the Brewers’ and White Sox’s announcers bash Mauer’s defense. I tried to look up some stats to get a handle on how he stacks up, but couldn’t really find anything. Are there any defensive metrics you like to look at for catchers?

    Comment by Paul — July 5, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  33. Are there any defensive metrics you like to look at for catchers?

    Evaluating defense in general is very tough, but evaluating catcher defense can be damn near impossible. Caught stealing percentage is always the first thing people look at, but that can be skewed heavily by pitchers (like, say, Carl Pavano) who’re terrible at holding runners. Catcher ERA varies wildly from year-to-year and is skewed heavily by which pitchers a catcher is working with.

    There are some studies on pitch-framing that add a lot of interesting stuff to the mix, but that’s obviously not something the average person can use for analysis on a day-to-day basis.

    So to answer your question … it’s tough. I’d certainly look at CS% and passed ball/wild pitch totals rather than going strictly on defensive reputation, but more so than any other position catcher defense is largely still a big question mark.

    Comment by aarongleeman — July 5, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  34. Re: Doumit extension. I was perplexed at first but came to see it as reasonable. He has performed well, and they like the guy. Sometimes it’s worth keeping the bird in the hand. In fact, if they had 10 Ryan Doumit types, for $35M, plus Joey and Justin Ms at their combined $38M, and $10M for the next 6-8 roster guys, that would still leave $20M to go get some elite pitching, all while staying around a $100M payroll. Point being, it’s fine to have some reliable vets on the team for $3.5M.

    (And a side note: While Kubel has been raking in the NL, he cost twice what they’ve signed Doumit for and he doesn’t play the OF well, let alone catch.)

    Comment by BR — July 5, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  35. Question on Mauer’s WAR, is it calculated assuming he is playing catcher or does it factor in that half the time he is at DH or 1B?

    Comment by Jesse H — July 5, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  36. Is Burnett actually improving, or is this scoreless streak really just smoke and mirrors?

    Comment by D-Luxxx — July 5, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  37. For people not familiar with this site, when Aaron jumps in to disagree, that means you wrote something really, really dumb. Not just wrong, but facepalm stupid.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — July 5, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  38. D-Luxxx: Did you watch/listen to/catch the game today? Bye bye scoreless streak.

    I found it interesting that Kurt kept using the term “elite” when Gleeman never used the description “one of the best”. Some people would see these terms as equal, synomyms, the same thing…. others might differ (myself included).

    Comment by ML — July 5, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  39. Speaking of pitchers getting wins, Bobby Lanigan of the Red Wings threw 3 pitches to 1 hitter in the 6th inning on Tuesday and got the win.

    Comment by Twins fan — July 5, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  40. Aaron,

    It’s OK to admit you are wrong about Perkins and simply note that it was a careless reference (it was, but so what). It’s also OK to not suck up to Mauer. I usually enjoy the column (less so when it is a series of links, rather than your own insight). Please, however, strive to become something other than the homage paying suck-up that your new friend PA thrives on being. That might be a ticket to something more than what you currently are doing, but it comes at the price of integrity. When you write based on your intuition, you seem to be most on track. That might mean acknowledging that, while Mauer certainly is an All-Star at a very thin position, his on-base percentage is over-hyped given that it comes largely through singles and walks–not what you expect of a player making the money that Joe does.

    Comment by Mauersania — July 7, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  41. Well said, Mauersania. While I don’t believe the Twins should bench/trade Mauer, I expect a little more offensive juice from him, especially because of his salary. It appears that anybody in the comment section of this site is shot down when the immortal Mauer is justifiably criticized. I love Mauer – he’s my favorite player. But I think he can – and should – do more. Very good player – not great.

    I’d like to see Mr. Gleeman give an honest assessment on Mauer’s empty OBP and BA. But he won’t.

    Comment by Heathcliff — July 7, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  42. Do you know the scene in the movie Billy Madison where Billy compares the Industrial Revolution to the book the Pokey Little Puppy? My reaction to the last two comments is the same as the reaction to Billy’s answer in that movie.

    If you evaluate players using statistical analysis (and use meaningful statistics) you would understand that this year Joe Mauer is one of the most valuable players in baseball. He has been not just good, but great. According to the Fangraphs website, if Mauer continues this pace, his $23 million salary will be a bargain. He’s been worth $12.6M for the first half alone. The criticism of Mauer isn’t justified at all – it rightfully should be shot down.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — July 7, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

  43. Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — July 8, 2012 @ 12:30 am

  44. Pedro,

    Your comment merely confirms what Heathcliff contended.

    It’s always useful to consider the statistics and precisely what they do and do not say. No statistic can translate dollar value as you suggest Fangraphs has done for Mauer–it is utterly preposterous. More to the point, if you insist on defending Mauer blind to his short-comings, you will always reach the conclusion that you apparently favor–that Mauer is worth every penny that he is earning. Mauer’s numbers suggest a prototypical lead-off hitter. Unfortunately, Mauer is a base-clogger because he has no speed. That means that he is not a prototypical lead-off hitter. I will trust my experience and my eyes, as well as the statistics, when concluding that Mauer is a very good on-base player with limited power. In my mind, that means that he is not worth one-quarter of the team payroll.

    Comment by Mauersania — July 8, 2012 @ 10:23 am

  45. “No statistic can translate dollar value as you suggest Fangraphs has done for Mauer–it is utterly preposterous.”

    Why determining a player’s monetary value based on statistics preposterous? How do you think teams decide how much to pay players? The only difference is that Fangraphs uses statistics that better correlate with a player’s actual value to a team.

    “More to the point, if you insist on defending Mauer blind to his short-comings, you will always reach the conclusion that you apparently favor–that Mauer is worth every penny that he is earning.”

    That isn’t true at all. Last year Mauer missed a lot of time and played poorly when he did, and wasn’t worth nearly what he was paid. My feelings about Joe Mauer have nothing to do with it – his value is based solely on his statistics this year, and his statistics make him worth his salary. If Mauer’s statistics show that he is worth what he is getting paid, I will defend him. If his statistics show that he is not, then I won’t. It really is that simple.

    “Mauer’s numbers suggest a prototypical lead-off hitter. Unfortunately, Mauer is a base-clogger because he has no speed. That means that he is not a prototypical lead-off hitter.”

    First, the logic behind that argument is so bad it makes my head hurt.

    Second, Joe Mauer is not a base-clogger. If you look at his baserunning statistics, he is and always has been an above-average baserunner. If you aren’t interested in statistics – making outs on the basepaths, taking extra bases, etc., and want to call him a base-clogger based on your “experience and [your] eyes” I probably won’t be able to convince you of that.

    Third, going back to the earlier Billy Madison-esqe comments, on base percentage is not the only statistic used by fangraphs. The determination of WAR (wins against replacement) and the monetary value derived from WAR includes both a player’s power and baserunning. Thus, Mauer’s lack of power and supposed (but not actual) poor baserunning is part of the determination of his value. The fangraphs people know all about Joe Mauer, “empty OBP” and all, and they still think he’s worth his salary based on their statistical formulas.

    “I will trust my experience and my eyes”

    That kind of gets into the whole argument about sabrmetics. Baseball is a game that produces a ridiculous amount of data. What people like Bill James and the fangraphs creators and others have done is gone and looked at what statistics really make a difference as far as wins and losses, and it is sigificantly different from the longtime baseball conventional wisdom. On-base percentage gets talked about a lot because it is a statistic that has been really undervalued over time.

    If you subscribe to sabrmetric analysis – that is, if you base your evaluations of players based on meaningful statistics, you would come to realize that your concept of what a prototypical lead-off hitter should be is just plain wrong. You would also come to realize that using your “eyes and experience” is an extremely poor way to evaluate players, as evidenced by your erroneous belief that Mauer is a poor base-runner. Its the difference between using data and anectdotes, between science and guessing.

    When I started reading this site years ago, I was pretty skeptical about sabrmetrics, and over time I came to accept it. As a longtime baseball fan, it wasn’t easy for me to accept that a lot of what I thought I knew about baseball is wrong. If you aren’t ready or never will be ready to accept sabrmetrics, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t be surprised when you get shot down on a site run by a sabrmetric junkie. You really also shouldn’t be accusing Aaron of sucking up or questioning his integrity because you don’t agree with or don’t understand his arguments.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — July 8, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  46. Pedro,

    You make several valid points.

    I went to Fangraphs and sorted by Isolated Power. Mauer ranks 113th. He’s tied with such monster power hitters as Angel Pagan and Sean Rodriguez. He’s behind hitters such as Michael Bourn, Jose Altuve, Delmon Young, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Chris Johnson, and many others.

    Regardless of WAR, I think I can safely say that Mauer is not a power hitter. OBP machine, great hitter, good baserunner (I agree with you on that), solid defender – as I stated earlier, Mauer is a very good player. But without the pop, he’s not a great one (regardless of what WAR indicates).

    Comment by Heathcliff — July 8, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  47. Pedro,

    Using statistics to attempt to assess value is not preposterous–nor did I claim it was. What I argued is that no statistic can do what you suggest–i.e., demonstrate that a player is worth the money he is getting paid based on his OBP. That cannot be possible, as OBP tells us little, in and of itself. It says nothing about slugging percentage, situational hitting, or hitting with RISP, and truly does nothing to correlate a player’s salary with what that means for the rest of the team–what percentage of the team’s salary is that player’s salary and how wedded is a team to some set salary cap of its choosing, for example.

    Please re-read, as well, the comment regarding experience and own eyes. As I note, that is informed, as well, by statistics. In short, while you appear willing to accept a purely statistical analysis on Mauer’s value, I am more inclined to weigh any statistic against what I see and what my experience, intuition, and other factors tell me that statistic might actually mean. As Heathcliff pointed out, such an inclination might actually compel closer scrutiny of the relevant statistic leading to a much different picture than what one might be led to believe upon first blush.

    Comment by mauersania — July 8, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

  48. Heathcliff, you lost me at “regardless of what WAR indicates.” I agree that Mauer is not a power hitter, but I believe that a player can be great despite a lack of power. Do you know why? Because the statistics tell me it can be so. Because Joe Mauer’s WAR is better than a lot of “great” power hitters despite his own lack of power.

    mauersania, I’m just going to let it go because unlike Heathcliff – who seems to understand sabrmetrics even if he doesn’t buy into them – you have made it abundantly clear that you don’t even understand WAR and sabrmetic analysis.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — July 8, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

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