After a month-long vacation far, far away John Bonnes comes back for this week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" and topics included life in New Zealand and Australia, the value of getting drugged up on long flights, cricket versus baseball, the Bar Mitzvah circuit, turning 30 years old, wanting the Twins to make some kind of effort for 2013, flirting with waitresses, why the Twins' free agent pitching decisions are confusing, and trying to ignore the Hall of Fame.
• On this week's episode we asked listeners to submit some designs for a potential "Gleeman and The Geek" t-shirt and so far I've received three of them. You can see one here and one here, and here's the third one just because I think it's the most amusing:
In a lot of ways that might be the most accurate portrayal of two people ever, but for now at least we'll keep looking. I'm offering $50 and a free t-shirt to the creator of any design we use, so if you want to put your skills to work please e-mail me.
• There's a lot of really good comedy coming to Minnesota soon. Nick Offerman will be at Mill City Nights on February 18, Tom Segura will be at Acme Comedy Company on February 23, and Bill Burr will be at the State Theatre on March 23. My dad has had a "poker club" for around 50 years and I'm thinking about starting a "going to comedy shows" club.
• Mystic Lake is also opening up a new comedy club in addition to the big showroom where I saw Artie Lange, Dave Attell, Jim Norton, and Amy Schumer a couple months ago. I'm sensing an oncoming battle between my love of stand-up comedy and my love of not leaving the house.
• I watched the fascinating, well done, and weird documentary/mystery "The Imposter," which tells the incredible story of a 13-year-old from Texas who went missing in 1994 and was found four years later in Spain, reuniting with his family. Or so it seemed. An artfully layered narrative of interviews, news accounts, and dramatic recreations shows nothing was as it appeared, from the disappearance to the return to the family's reaction. Highly recommended.
• Jonathan Abrams of Grantland has quickly become one of my favorite long-form writers and his latest gem is about the intertwined careers of Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse.
• Save the date: Twins Daily is planning a post-Twins Fest get-together on January 26 at Hubert's across from the Metrodome. I might be there doing some podcasting and I'll definitely be there doing some drinking.
• For some reason Louis Amundson botching the layup in the middle of a blowout loss makes this Ricky Rubio pass even more ridiculous.
Through his first seven games back Rubio has 25 points and 35 assists.
• "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners who enjoy when we're interrupted by a drunk person will be delighted by this week's episode, which also included Parker Hageman of Twins Daily joining me for a lengthy discussion of the Twins' involvement in sabermetrics.
• On a related note, I highly recommend the buffalo chicken panino at Panino Brothers in Eden Prairie. It was so good that I barely regretted going off my strict calorie limit and only forced myself to go twice as long as usual on the elliptical machine afterward.
• This tweet is more or less Twitter in a nutshell, complete with the inevitable your/you're error and so much more.
• Thinking someone is great looking is a powerful thing. For instance, I paid to watch Emily Blunt in "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen." And it wasn't bad!
Brian Duensing flopped as a full-time starter in 2011, posting a 5.23 ERA and .300 opponents' batting average in 28 starts, so the Twins moved him back to the bullpen and as usual he fared well. However, when injuries decimated the rotation Duensing was called on to start again and the results were worse than ever with a 6.92 ERA and .336 opponents' batting average in 11 outings. At this point it seems pretty safe to conclude that Duensing shouldn't be a starter.
He had some initial success starting in 2009 and 2010, but even those nice-looking ERAs weren't supported by strong secondary numbers and for his career Duensing now has a 4.57 ERA in 61 starts. As a starter he's averaged 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings while allowing opponents to hit .290 with a .455 slugging percentage. He simply doesn't have the raw stuff to miss bats or avoid big damage going multiple times through a lineup stacked with right-handed hitters.
As a reliever Duensing doesn't have to worry about facing the same hitter again and can also be spotted mostly versus lefties or at least to avoid righty sluggers. His strikeout rate as a reliever isn't any better than as a starter, but opponents have hit 55 points lower with 57 percent fewer homers. Even last year, as he was getting clobbered as a starter, Duensing allowed just one homer in 57 innings as a reliever and held opponents to a .236 batting average.
And there's no shame in that. Most successful relievers were failed or at least mediocre starters and in recent Twins history that includes Joe Nathan, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Juan Rincon, Matt Guerrier, and J.C. Romero. Glen Perkins, whose emergence as the Twins' closer opens the door for Duensing to replace him as the primary left-handed setup man, was himself a struggling starter as recently as three years ago.
I'm not sold yet on Duensing as a late-inning setup man, in part because his raw stuff seems unlikely to make the sort of jump in velocity/sharpness that Perkins discovered, but he's proven capable of getting outs as a reliever and just as importantly has proven incapable of being more than a mediocre fifth starter. Given the Twins' obvious and oft-stated focus of overhauling the rotation, if Duensing starts games in 2013 something went very wrong.
• Parker Hageman of Twins Daily interviewed Twins manager of major league administration and baseball research Jack Goin for a glimpse into the team's use of statistical analysis. Hageman co-hosted this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode and we discussed that topic quite a bit. Short version? While it's nice to see the Twins get more involved in statistical analysis my sense remains that they're merely dipping their toes in the water while other teams are swimming.
• Rene Tosoni, who the Twins dropped from the 40-man roster in August, has signed with the Brewers on a minor-league contract. Tosoni cracked my annual ranking of Twins prospects at No. 11 in 2010 and No. 14 in 2011, but he was sidetracked by injuries and then basically just stopped hitting. Now he's a 26-year-old corner outfielder who struggled in 60 games for the Twins in 2011 and hit just .224/.293/.315 in 81 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
• Clete Thomas, who briefly filled a bench spot while the Twins kept Ben Revere at Triple-A for a bit longer, has re-signed on a minor-league deal. Thomas struck out 16 times in 28 at-bats for the Twins and hit just .232/.281/.405 with a 109-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 109 games at Triple-A, so despite his big-league experience the 29-year-old outfielder now looks like little more than depth for Rochester.
• Free agent Brett Myers was linked to the Twins by various sources throughout December, but ended up signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Indians that includes an $8 million team option for 2014. And according to Wolfson the Twins never even made him an offer, which has become a familiar story this offseason and makes Kevin Correia's two-year, $10 million deal all the more confusing.
• And speaking of the Indians, they're the latest mid-market team to secure a new local television deal that significantly surpasses the Twins' current contract with FOX Sports North.
• Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPN New York and had an interesting little note related to the Twins, reporting that they would have taken Jefry Marte from the Mets with the No. 4 pick in the Rule 5 draft had Ryan Pressly of the Red Sox not been available. Marte is a 21-year-old third baseman who hit just .251/.322/.366 at Double-A last season and was not selected by another team, with the Mets later trading him to the A's for Collin Cowgill.
• Billy Bullock, the 2009 second-round pick traded to the Braves for the ability to stash Scott Diamond at Triple-A as a Rule 5 pick, was suspended 50 games for a "drug of abuse." He still throws hard with lots of strikeouts, but Bullock's control is awful and he's no longer a prospect at age 24. I hated that trade at the time and it's worked out very well for the Twins, although I still think they should have just kept Diamond as a long reliever and kept Bullock.
• On a related note, Diamond underwent minor elbow surgery to remove a bone chip and should be ready for spring training, but he won't pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
• In looking overMike Pelfrey's career it struck me how amazing his draft class ended up being. Pelfrey was the No. 9 pick out of Wichita State and among the players selected ahead of him were Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ryan Zimmerman. But wait, there's more. Other top-30 picks included Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin, Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus, and Matt Garza, who the Twins took No. 25. That's crazy.
• Jeff Clement was the No. 3 pick in that same draft--between Gordon and Zimmerman--and after hitting just .218/.277/.371 in 152 games for the Mariners and Pirates he'll likely spend this season at Triple-A for the Twins.
• After spending nearly all of last season in the Twins' bullpen despite adding to his lengthy track record of mediocrity with a 5.71 ERA and 26-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52 innings Jeff Gray was dropped from the 40-man roster in late August. He went unclaimed on waivers, became a free agent, and agreed to a minor-league deal with the White Sox.
• Kiley McDaniel, who formerly worked for several MLB teams, recently watched Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton play instructional league games and wrote very detailed, interesting scouting reports for Fan Graphs.
• Francisco Liriano's two-year, $12.75 million deal with the Pirates is in jeopardy because of an offseason injury to his non-throwing arm.
This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" welcomes Parker Hageman of Twins Daily as guest co-host for a vacationing John Bonnes and topics included learning more about the Twins' involvement in sabermetrics, projecting the Opening Day roster, why no one wants Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum and the best of the remaining free agent pitchers, saying something nice about Samuel Deduno, New Year's resolutions, and making friends with drunk women.
This week's blog content is sponsored by Paul "Fantasy Camper" Bennett, who'll be blogging and tweeting about his annual experience at Twins fantasy camp in Fort Myers the week of January 6. Please support him for supporting AG.com.
Get the 22nd edition of the New York Times bestselling Baseball Prospectus Annual. Edited by Aaron Gleeman, it features a foreword from Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, a Twins team chapter written by Gleeman and Parker Hageman, and 600 pages of analysis, projections, essays, rankings, and in-depth coverage of all 30 teams.