July 31, 2013

Listen to me on “The Sportive” podcast

the sportive logo

Last night I was a guest on "The Sportive" podcast with Jon Marthaler, Randball's Stu, Brandon Broxey, and Clarence Swamptown. I drank Surly Bender, swore a lot, talked about the Vikings, and said the phrase "boner pills" approximately 1,000 times, so I think you'll like it:

"The Gateway Drug Of Swears"


This week's blog content is sponsored by Ticket King, a local ticket broker that doesn't charge check-out fees, offers in-store pickup, and specializes in Twins tickets. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

July 29, 2013

Gleeman and The Geek #104: Bargaining, Benchings, and Babies

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included the Twins' options ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline, Miguel Sano's benching at Double-A, Justin Morneau's place in team history, what to make of Samuel Deduno (again), Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia going in opposite directions, the light rail pub crawl/Twins game on September 14, Joe Mauer's paternity leave, and answering mailbag questions from listeners.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 104

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Ticket King, a local ticket broker that doesn't charge check-out fees, offers in-store pickup, and specializes in Twins tickets. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

July 26, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Glen Perkins was definitely right: Converting a save with his fly down did guarantee him a spot in Link-O-Rama.

• I've spent most of the past couple years counting calories, so this photographic look at what 200 calories worth of various food looks like was fascinating.

• If you're going to have "fields of marijuana plants" worth $4 million Hinckley is as good a place as any, just because of the proximity to the donuts at Tobies.

• Friend of AG.com Alex Belth combined Greg Maddux and Al Green, which you know I loved.

• Speaking of which, I just realized that YouTube has my favorite album of all time available in full. You should listen to it, many times.

• Reading about how various people at the New York Times didn't appreciate or even respect Nate Silver hit a lot of familiar notes about old-school media.

• I've been wearing "dad jeans" for years, so it's good to see fashion trends are catching up.

• If this works I'm requesting that Otis Redding play at my birthday party next year.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we talked about Scott Diamond's demise and the notion of clutch, and then I revealed my plans to kill middle infielders via time travel.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Aubrey Plaza does a remarkable job making me want to see her new movie:

She also gave some amusing answers in a GQ magazine interview.

Parker Hageman of Twins Daily talked to Twins stat-head Jack Goin about what exactly goes into the trade deadline.

• Do the Twins even have any players other teams will want at the trade deadline?

• When it comes to Derek Jeter it's hard to tell the difference between news and fan fiction.

• Apparently a "specialty whiskey and craft beer store" is coming to my neck of the woods, which might suggest I've gotten a second job as a city planner.

Justin Morneau's out-avoiding slide Tuesday night must be seen to believe.

Samuel Deduno chewing on his necklace mid-pitch also go the GIF treatment.

• While at KFAN for my weekly half-hour appearance on Paul Allen's show I saw psychic/nutcase Gary Spivey roaming the hallways, but didn't have the guts to snap a photo of his ridiculous hair.

• On a related note, PA's preseason plan to bet $100 on the Twins in all 162 games has shown a $74 profit through 99 games. I have a spreadsheet tracking it and everything.

Chris Colabello might be pretty good if the Twins give him a chance.

• As someone who doesn't care about steroids, this was an amusing collection.

• Terminally ill "The Simpsons" co-creator Sam Simon is giving away his vast fortune to charity.

Geraldo Rivera made weird headlines this week, but one key thing to remember is that he got beat up by Frank Stallone on Howard Stern's show back in 1992:

Rivera was only 49 years old back then, so he wasn't yet the old 50 or the new 50.

• I'm going to ask for this look at Great Clips next time.

Never forget: "Kevin Correia pitching like an ace right in front of our eyes."

• Re-watching "The Sopranos" update: I looked up Johnny Cakes on Wikipedia and learned that the actor killed himself in 2008. Lots of sad, premature deaths among the show's great cast.

Jon Dore has become one of my favorite guests on the podcast circuit and he was lots of fun on "The Crabfeast" with Ryan Sickler and Jay Larson.

Bill Simmons did a nice job interviewing Anthony Jeselnik, who's gotten famous enough that his biggest claim to fame is no longer being Gregg Rosenthal's college roommate.

• Friend of AG.com Axel Kohagen makes the case for "End of Watch" as a horror movie. Sort of.

• I'm going to the Society for American Baseball Research convention in Philadelphia next week, so if any AG.com readers are going to be there let me know.

• Unlike the Twins last night I remembered having a really good time at Safeco Field when I was there in 2006, so I looked up this excerpt from my SABR convention recap.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "What happened to Drew Butera?"
- "Twins blogger Aaron"
- "Stepped on the scale get even fatter"
- "Notes to twin babies"
- "Justin Morneau shirtless"
- "Famous Jewish women celebrities"
- "Ryan Braun penis"
- "Matt Capps net worth"
- "How much do the Fox Sports North Girls make?"
- "Jon Taffer hair"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "If I Loved You" by Delta Rae:


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

July 25, 2013

What are the Twins’ trade deadline options?

morneau and perkins

As the Twins stumble toward a third consecutive 90-loss season next week's trade deadline is an opportunity to acquire young talent to aid the ongoing rebuilding effort. But will any of the Twins' obvious trade candidates be in enough demand to actually fetch significant long-term help? And does it make sense for the Twins to shop some not-so-obvious veterans in an effort to make a bigger splash? Here's my view of the players they might deal between now and July 31.


Justin Morneau: Sadly, at this point Morneau is little more than a recognizable name with an MVP trophy and a big salary. He hasn't been the same since suffering a concussion in mid-2010, hitting just .258/.319/.401 in 295 games over the past three seasons. This year he's been healthy after dealing with an assortment of major injuries in addition to the concussion, but his power has vanished and his .726 OPS is 50 points below the MLB average for first basemen.

Contending teams looking to add a left-handed veteran bat cheaply may have some interest, but even if the Twins are willing to cover the remaining $6 million on Morneau's contract they aren't going to get much for the 32-year-old impending free agent. He hasn't been an above-average first baseman since the concussion and has played poorly enough that draft pick compensation is no longer a realistic option, so it's either let him walk for nothing or settle for a modest return.


Glen Perkins: Trading relievers when their value is high usually makes sense because their role only involves throwing 60-70 innings per season and they often burn out sooner than expected. Toss in the "proven closer" aspect potentially inflating Perkins' perceived value a la Matt Capps and the Twins would be making a mistake if they didn't listen to offers. With that said, he's not an example of the closer role making a mediocre reliever look like a great one.

Perkins is legitimately great, with a 2.37 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 171 innings since moving to the bullpen full time, and because the Twins signed him before he became a "proven closer" he's priced more like a setup man. He's under team control at reasonable salaries through 2016, so even setting aside the fact that he's a native Minnesotan and fan favorite there's no reason to trade Perkins now unless they get big-time value back.


Jared Burton: Everything about trading relievers with their value high applies to Burton too, but like Perkins he's under team control for reasonable salaries: $3.5 million in 2014 and $3.6 million in 2015. Burton is also two years older than Perkins and has a lengthy injury history that allowed the Twins to acquire him cheaply in the first place, so there should be quite a bit more motivation to shop the 32-year-old around now.

Burton has a 2.71 ERA and 95-to-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 106 innings for the Twins and even after going through a rough patch recently his overall numbers this season remain late inning-caliber. If the Twins can get a solid position player prospect or a young pitcher with some upside for Burton they should absolutely consider it strongly, but he's cheap enough, good enough, and signed for long enough to hang onto unless the market is a decent one.


Mike Pelfrey: His early work coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery was ugly, but Pelfrey has looked much better recently and more or less resembles his pre-surgery self. Of course, he wasn't all that good before going under the knife, posting a 4.45 ERA and 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 97 starts for the Mets from 2009-2011. Since a brutal April he's started 13 games with a 4.38 ERA and 6.0 strikeouts per nine innings.

Pelfrey was signed in the hopes that he could eat innings for a rebuilt rotation, but he's gone more than six innings just twice in 18 starts and with the Twins already out of contention a 29-year-old back-of-the-rotation starter on a one-year contract carries even less value than before. He's owed about $1.5 million for the rest of the season, so teams that miss out on bigger targets might view him as an inexpensive fallback option.


Kevin Correia: Correia has been as advertised, posting a 4.17 ERA compared to the AL average of 4.05 while striking out just 5.0 batters per nine innings and serving up 18 homers in 19 starts. He hasn't been horrible, but he certainly hasn't been an asset and because the Twins felt the need to give him a two-year contract at age 32 he's owed $2 million for the rest of this season and $5 million next year.

None of their young rotation options have established themselves as quality big leaguers yet, so bringing back Correia for 2014 wouldn't be a terrible idea. However, there was nothing separating him from the various mediocre starters who signed one-year deals this offseason and the same type of starters will be available again this winter, so if the Twins can get a mid-level prospect in return while wiping his salary off the books that sounds pretty good.


Brian Duensing: After repeatedly flopping as a starter the plan was for Duensing to move back into the bullpen and rediscover his previous success as a reliever. Instead he's mostly struggled, against both righties and lefties, although his secondary numbers versus left-handed bats remain promising. Duensing is a decent middle reliever, but the need to be sheltered from right-handed power hitters will always limit his value.

Beyond that he's 30 years old and being paid $1.3 million this season, with the arbitration process all but assuring him a raise for 2014. If the Twins think he can bounce back to his pre-2013 relief work then Duensing would be worth keeping around for next season and they also have him under team control for 2015, but he's no longer a bargain and no longer has any real upside. If a team in need of left-handed bullpen help is willing to part with a decent prospect they should take it.


Ryan Doumit: When the Twins signed Doumit to a two-year, $7 million contract extension in the middle of last season it seemed like a fair price for an above-average hitter with some defensive versatility and one of the talking points was that the deal would make him easy to trade if needed. Instead he's hit just .237/.297/.388 in 87 games for the worst production of his career at age 32 and has struggled defensively as a catcher and corner outfielder.

Doumit is owed about $1.5 million for the rest of this season and $3.5 million next season, so his contract is hardly an albatross. Still, he was never perceived as being especially valuable to begin with thanks to his terrible defensive reputation behind the plate and Doumit's hitting has fallen off enough that trading him would probably be mostly about unloading the salary. He could be useful next season in a similar but reduced role if there's no market for him.


Trevor Plouffe: Plouffe is sort of the wild card in any trade speculation because he's 27 years old, making the minimum salary, and under team control through 2017. However, the Twins rightfully seem less than convinced that Plouffe's good but not great offense makes up for his awful defense at third base and 20-year-old stud prospect Miguel Sano will hopefully be ready to take over the position relatively soon anyway.

Plouffe could always slide across the diamond to first base, where his defense would be less of a negative and maybe even turn into a positive, but his .242/.305/.442 line at the plate since the beginning of last season would be below average among first basemen. On a good team Plouffe fits best as a part-time player who can fill in at a few positions and get most of his playing time versus left-handers, but if another team views him as an everyday asset the Twins should listen.


Josh Willingham: This time last season Willingham was in the middle of a career-year at age 33 and there were some trade rumors swirling, but the Twins opted against dealing him and then decided not to move him during the offseason either. It's impossible to say for certain what they could have gotten for Willingham in July or December, but whatever trade value he had is gone now and he'll be on the disabled list when the July 31 deadline passes.

Willingham had a strong April, but then hit .213/.338/.343 in 50 games from May 1 until the Twins finally shut him down in late June. In addition to the poor production at the plate he was also even worse than usual defensively in left field, limping around on what turned out to be a torn meniscus in his left knee. Willingham is due back in late August and it's possible the Twins could move him during the waiver trade period, but any chance of getting a significant return is long gone.


Jamey Carroll: Carroll went from useful, underrated role player to washed up in the blink of an eye, which is often what happens to 39-year-olds. His contract includes a $2 million team option or $250,000 buyout for 2014 that becomes a player option if he gets 401 plate appearances, but there's no chance of that happening. He's a goner anyway and might be headed for retirement, so if the Twins can save money or get a random minor leaguer in return it would make sense.


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

July 24, 2013

Chris Colabello needs a chance to show if Triple-A numbers are for real

Terry Ryan, Chris Colabello

Chris Colabello's first taste of the majors was brief, but now he's back with the Twins for what figures to be the 29-year-old's first and perhaps only extended chance. Undrafted out of college, Colabello spent seven years playing independent ball in the Canadian-American Association and then signed with the Twins after winning MVP honors in 2011. He was assigned to Double-A last season and was good but not great, hitting .284/.358/.478 with 19 homers in 134 games.

Colabello moved up to Triple-A this season and absolutely destroyed the International League, hitting .354/.432/.652 with 24 homers, 24 doubles, and 43 walks in 85 games. At the time of his call-up Colabello led the league in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, homers, extra-base hits, and RBIs. Here's where Colabello ranks among all Rochester hitters with at least 150 plate appearances since the Twins moved their Triple-A affiliate there in 2003:

                   YEAR      PA      OPS
Chris Parmelee     2012     282    1.102
CHRIS COLABELLO    2013     375    1.084
Trevor Plouffe     2011     220    1.019
Justin Morneau     2004     326     .992
Jason Kubel        2004     390     .958
Brian Buscher      2008     214     .915
Denard Span        2008     184     .915
Randy Ruiz         2008     456     .902

In terms of upside and prospect status Colabello is closer to Randy Ruiz and Brian Buscher than Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel or even Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe, but in terms of production he stands out as much as anyone on that list. Looking beyond Rochester to the entire pitcher-friendly International League, here are all the hitters to top a 1.000 OPS in 300 or more plate appearances during the past 10 years:

                   YEAR      PA      OPS
CHRIS COLABELLO    2013     375    1.084
Dan Johnson        2010     426    1.053
Marcus Thames      2005     314    1.106
Roberto Petagine   2005     336    1.088

There's some selection bias at play, because most of the time when a hitter posts an OPS above 1.000 at Triple-A they get called up to the majors before reaching 300 plate appearances. But the three guys to join Colabello in the 300/1.000 club fit a similar description as journeymen looking for a chance. Dan Johnson and Marcus Thames both had nice runs in the majors as solid role players and Roberto Petagine was one of the original stat-head favorites back to the 1990s.

Every season unheralded hitters who're too old to be prospects crush minor-league pitching and very few of them go on to do anything in the majors, often for good reason. Colabello may prove to be just another name on that long list of so-called Quadruple-A players, but I'm a big believer in non-contending teams like the Twins giving opportunities to previously ignored players who've performed extraordinarily well in the minors.

Most of the time those guys simply die on the vine without getting a shot, with Anthony Slama being the most recent Twins example, but once in a while they get a chance and take advantage like Pat Neshek or Lew Ford. No one ever mistook Neshek and Ford for superstars and even in the most optimistic scenario that's true for Colabello as well, but his following in their footsteps by becoming a valuable major leaguer would be a big help to the Twins.

There's really no significant downside, because Colabello struggling wouldn't set him apart on a roster full of hitters who aren't hitting this season. And if his Triple-A success translates to the big leagues even a little bit then the Twins will have found a useful, cheap right-handed bat who can provide the lefty-heavy lineup with a solid platoon option against left-handed pitching or take on a bigger role at first base and designated hitter.

All of which is no sure thing, of course. Colabello spent seven seasons playing in an independent league because no one with the ability to give him an opportunity thought he was worthy and while his Triple-A production is spectacular it's still just 85 games. He also struck out a lot and has an odd batting stance, standing very far away from the plate in an effort to drive outside pitches, which adds another layer of skepticism to Colabello's numbers.

Colabello is never going to be confused for an in-his-prime Morneau, but the question is whether he can provide similar production to the post-2010 version of Morneau and do so at a fraction of the cost. During the past three seasons Morneau has hit .259/.321/.402 in 293 games while being paid $15 million per year, so it's not a particularly high bar for a minimum-salaried Colabello to clear. Hopefully the Twins give him enough of a chance to see what they have.


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

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