May 30, 2014

Link-O-Rama

• New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara recently learned what Jews have known all along: Bar Mitzvah parties can be really fun.

• "Nation-wide whiskey shortage" is the scariest thing I've ever heard. I'm stockpiling.

Lance Stephenson blowing in LeBron James' ear has been my favorite moment of the NBA playoffs so far and James' response when asked about it afterward was pretty great too.

Louis C.K. bought Babe Ruth's old house for $2.5 million.

• Twins fans may not want to believe it, but Carlos Gomez is one of the dozen best players in baseball and that might actually be underselling him at this point.

• What happens when a social media manager takes 45 days to build the "perfect" tweet and no one cares even a little bit?

• I watched a grown woman literally start to cry while looking at this video.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we previewed the Twins' top-five draft pick with Jeremy Nygaard and Kate Butler introduced John Bonnes to Wu-Tang Clan.

• I would have bet a whole lot of money against it ever happening, but Ben Revere hit a home run that traveled over the fence:

Shoutout to Reid Brignac for quickly convincing the entire Phillies dugout to give Revere the silent treatment afterward.

• Are the Twins doing the right thing by letting Aaron Hicks give up switch-hitting?

• I chatted with Paul Allen on KFAN for a half-hour Thursday and topics included Hicks, Joe Mauer, sabermetrics in mainstream media coverage, and whether it's acceptable for non-Jews to describe someone's hair as a "Jewfro." So, you know, the truly important stuff.

• I can't believe they let this "Steve Neuman" character on television like he's a real person.

• Old friend Pat Neshek is healthy again and thriving with the Cardinals.

• I'm not really into steakhouses and actually liked the food at Uptown Cafeteria, but I'm getting more and more excited about James Beard award-winning chef Tim McKee opening Libertine a couple blocks from my place.

• It turns out that Don Draper had a brief MLB career.

• All-Star voting has always been questionable.

• New restaurant recommendation: Louie's Wine Dive just opened on Lake Street in Uptown and I had one of the best meals I've ever eaten there. Pork gnocchi and pork shank, plus some lobster macaroni and cheese. Nice place, great food, friendly staff. Go check it out.

• I have a couple openings in my "Hardball Dynasty" league on WhatIfSports and the new season begins next week. Click here for details.

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

- "Trevor Plouffe trade rumors"
- "Jim Thome shirtless interview"
- "Al Newman baseball reputation"
- "Can't stop thinking of food"
- "Adrian Gonzalez big bulge"
- "Fat old man"
- "Who is Joe Nathan's wife dating?"
- "Man wearing football socks"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is John Mayer covering "XO" by Beyonce:


This week's blog content is sponsored by R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 28, 2014

Aaron Hicks gives up switch-hitting

aaron hicks september1

Aaron Hicks' extreme platoon splits were a potential red flag dating back to his days in the low minors, when it quickly became clear that the lifelong switch-hitter was far better from the right side of the plate. He quieted some of those concerns at Double-A in 2012 by posting an .881 OPS as a right-handed hitter and an .828 OPS as a left-handed hitter, but unfortunately that progress from the left side of the plate failed to carry through to the big leagues.

Hicks was lost as a left-handed hitter for the Twins, flailing his way to a .184 batting average and .552 OPS with a 67/17 K/BB ratio in 247 plate appearances. He wasn't especially productive as a right-handed hitter either, but by comparison his .224 batting average and .728 OPS from that side of the plate looked great. And so in the middle of his second MLB season, at age 24 and after seven professional seasons, Hicks has abandoned switch-hitting to bat exclusively right-handed.

Switch-hitting is a tremendous asset for hitters, as it affords them the platoon advantage in every plate appearance and leads to a career full of favorable matchups. However, it doesn't do much good to be a switch-hitter if you're inept from one side of the plate and it's particularly useless if that side of the plate is where about two-thirds of the playing times comes from. Hicks and the Twins were understandably hesitant to make the change, but at this point it can't really hurt.

Hicks is a much different and much better hitter from the right side of the plate, where his swing is much more capable of doing damage and his approach revolves much less on coaxing walks from pitchers. However, it's hardly a guaranteed solution. For one thing his production from the right side has been nothing special thus far. Beyond that, even the mediocre production from the right side has come with the platoon advantage attached.

In other words, if Hicks could be expected to post, say, an OPS around .750 as a right-handed hitter facing left-handed pitchers he should also be expected to post an OPS lower than .750--and perhaps much lower than .750--as a right-handed hitter facing right-handed pitchers. That's just how platoon splits tend to work and it's why plenty of questions remain about Hicks' ability to turn his patience into a strength and blend it with the power potential he showed in the minors.

Hicks wasn't ready for the majors when the Twins decided to trade both Denard Span and Ben Revere in the same offseason and hand him the Opening Day center field job last season. Even now, 14 months and 450 plate appearances later, he doesn't look any more ready and the Twins deserve plenty of criticism for failing to collect any semblance of center field depth behind Hicks on the depth chart.

They rushed him to the majors, putting him in a position to struggle, and then continued trotting him out there to fail over and over in large part because they couldn't be bothered to acquire any plausible alternatives. Hicks always had some sizable flaws as a prospect and it's possible that he would have struggled regardless of the timeline, but the Twins did him no favors then and letting him adjust to batting exclusively right-handed on the fly and in the majors is more of the same.

Hopefully he can overcome it, get back on track, and become a solid major leaguer. He's only 24 years old, after all. Still, after 119 games of .194 hitting and shaky defense the prospect shine has vanished and the window for Hicks to work his way into the long-term plans is closing rapidly. He's not the first player to ditch switch-hitting--Shane Victorino did it last season, for instance--but I'm very curious to see how he adapts to same-side pitchers and an increased dose of sliders.


This week's blog content is sponsored by R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 26, 2014

Gleeman and The Geek #147: Previewing the Draft and Saving the Offense

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham being ready to return, what the Twins will do with the No. 5 pick in the draft, how much time Aaron Hicks has left to show something, Alex Meyer and Trevor May doing well at Triple-A, biting someone's ear off, Glen Perkins' underrated excellence, Pat Neshek bouncing back in St. Louis, back-to-back Tinder dates, not having good stories any longer, and scouting college and high school players with special guest Jeremy Nygaard.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 147

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 R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 23, 2014

Link-O-Rama

Adam Platt wrote a lengthy Twin Cities Business Journal article about my podcast co-host John Bonnes and the rest of the Twins Daily crew. It's worth reading just for the photo shoot.

• Of course Brad Pitt tossed Matthew McConaughey a beer when he spotted him across a balcony in New Orleans.

Dr. Seuss meets Ludacris is magical.

Drew Butera is not afraid to absolutely destroy a little kid in a dodgeball game.

• I have a couple openings in my "Hardball Dynasty" league on WhatIfSports and the new season begins next week. If you're interested in joining, please read this first.

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included lots of talk about the Twins calling out Aaron Hicks through the media and Brian Dozier turning into one of the league's best players.

Kurt Suzuki's inside-the-park home run that wasn't actually an inside-the-park home run was lots of fun to watch:

Bert Blyleven's laugh afterward is priceless.

Phil Hughes is looking like a very good investment so far.

• "How to Meet the Love of Your Life on Twitter in a Few Easy Steps" is one of the best/sweetest things I've ever read.

Miguel Cabrera in Zubaz and a "Turn Down For What?" t-shirt is very enjoyable.

• Facebook's new "relationship button" seems like nothing but trouble and weirdness.

• Old friend Danny Valencia is now the Royals' starting third baseman.

• Old friend Francisco Liriano is struggling again. Sort of.

• Old friend Justin Morneau is a middle-of-the-order monster again, even away from Coors Field.

• I predict this kid will either go on to live the world's most miserable life or become president:

They should have taken him home, honestly.

Maggie LaMaack is a spectacular dancer.

• Local pizza and beard aficionado Gigi Berry is now contributing to LOLOMG.

• What percentage of people have bitten off a co-worker's ear at work?

• I think I might have found me a good one.

• I've been branching out a little bit more lately, so I made some sweeping changes to the Uptown Bar Power Rankings.

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

- "Aaron Gleeman Twitter"
- "Jared Burton fun facts"
- "Dan Gladden's daughter's wedding"
- "Joe Mauer as a baby"
- "Jim Thome nude"
- "Jon Rauch fastball speed"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris:


This week's blog content is sponsored by R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 19, 2014

Gleeman and The Geek #146: Quarter-Season Analysis and Media Call-Outs

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included the Twins' surprisingly decent first quarter of the season, management calling out Aaron Hicks through the media, Brian Dozier being one of the league's best players, Oswaldo Arcia going back to the minors, Chris Colabello turning back into a pumpkin, Kurt Suzuki proving to be a fine investment, and whether the Twins have found something in Eduardo Escobar.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 146

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 R.F. Moeller Jeweler's repair department, which is recognized as the premier jewelry repair facility in the Twin Cities. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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