April 22, 2003

Mr. Popular

You know how I can tell that this blog is getting more and more popular? [No Aaron, how can you tell?] Because I have a backlog of emails like you wouldn't believe. [That's it? That's the punchline?! Geez.]

Back when I first started writing this thing in August, I was desperate for emails from readers. If I got one in a day, I was the happiest man on earth. And I would always ask for reader mail, with the promise that I read and responded to every single one, sometimes with tremendously long replies.

Since the start of the baseball season, this site's readership has grown approximately 25-35% on an everyday basis. In addition to the new visitors, the old visitors have now been reading my stuff for quite a while now, which means they are more comfortable with emailing me - which is a great thing, for sure.

But guess what? I am no longer at the point where I can answer every single email I get with a response as in-depth as it deserves - at least not without spending a very long time each day doing so. I'm definitely not complaining, and I would love even more emails. I am just saying this so that the people that have sent me really good emails in the last couple of weeks don't hold a grudge against me for not answering them with great responses or even responses at all (in a few cases).

All that said, I think I have found a new practice for emails that will help me read/answer more.

I use AOL, which means the mail I get stays in my "mailbox" for 7 days after I read it and then it is automatically deleted. In the past, when I was getting like 5 or 10 emails a week from my readers, in addition to the normal amount of emails I get from non-readers, it wasn't a problem keeping track of stuff.

Sometimes I read my emails right when I wake up in the morning or right when I get home from classes or right when I am going to bed, so I don't always feel like responding to them immediately. So, I would read them and leave them in the mailbox for a while and get back to them later, which was no problem when there were only a dozen or so emails in there at a given time.

Well, this way of doing things has proven unsuccessful of late. The more emails I have been getting, the more I have been reading and not responding too immediately. I'd still leave them in the mailbox to respond to later in the week, but now there are hundreds of emails in there at any given time and some emails just get lost in the shuffle.

How did I come to realize I was losing some emails and not responding to each and every single one anymore? Well, I got a really good email that I wanted to use for a future "mailbag" entry, but I didn't respond to it right away, with the thought that I'd email the guy later in the week and tell him that I'd be responding via an entry on the blog. A week passed and then a couple more days apparently, and when I went to go find the email to write the entry about it, it was gone. Lost in cyberspace forever.

I figure if I lost one email that I was intentionally saving for later, there must be plenty of others that have disappeared too. It's not such a big deal I suppose, although I feel horrible not responding to someone that is a reader of this site and took the time to send me an email. I recognized that I needed a new plan of action and I think I have found one.

Everyday, when I go through my new mail, I will read each and every single email and, when I see one that I want to save or respond to at a later date, I will put it in my "personal filing cabinet," which is an AOL feature that I didn't know existed until like 3 days ago. In the filing cabinet, the email gets saved for more than 7 days and it is put into a place where only the emails I feel deserve responses/attention go. In other words, it doesn't get lumped in with the notes from my mom telling me to do my homework or the notes from the people in my Diamond-Mind keeper leagues asking me to trade them Jim Thome for Enrique Wilson.

Then, when I have some free time, I will open up the filing cabinet and go through the emails that I have decided deserve attention and respond to them. Sometimes I put off an email even at that point, which is okay, since it goes back into the filing cabinet and is saved for another day (which can still be more than 7 days away).

Sounds pretty good right? I hope so, because I really do appreciate all the emails I get from you guys and it makes me feel awful that I haven't responded to every one of them over the past month or so.

With that in mind, let's clear out the old "personal filing cabinet" and do a little "reader mailbag," shall we?

I posted this picture of myself here last week and said the following:

"So what do you think? Am I not the best looking 20 year old baseball blogger in Minnesota or what? And yes ladies, the man in that picture is 100% single! I told my mom that I was going to put a picture of myself up today and she suggested I not do it, because 'I might scare away my audience.' Aren't moms wonderful?"

To which "Gracie," one of my many female readers (seriously, I'd say there are at least 15 of them, and those are just the ones that have emailed me!) replied:

Honey, you are simply adorable. You look like a very sweet young man. There are lots of girls out there who are looking for a nice young man who loves baseball. I know, because that's the sort of boy I married many years ago. Your mom is wrong, for once. My granddaughter (no, she's too young for you) likes your column too.

Keep up the good work. I am very glad to hear that you are not gambling with real money. I know your mom is, too.



What a great email!

A few things...

First of all, this is going to make my mom's day, because she gets all excited every time I mention her on this site. And now Gracie has mentioned her twice in one email (although she did say she was wrong).

Secondly, I like how Gracie brings up her granddaughter and then immediately tells me "no," like she just knows I was going to ask about her! I'm not saying I wasn't going to, but it's still funny.

And yes, it is true. I am very adorable and a very sweet young man. Seriously, my mom even says so.

I'm sure my mom is glad that I am not gambling with real money and am instead making pretend "picks" on games each day and tracking my winnings/losses. However, I am not real thrilled about it right now, seeing as though I am currently up $1,225 dollars since the start of the season! Of course, I fully realize that as soon as I start betting with real money I will start losing money left and right, so it's a bit of a catch-22.

As long as I am covering emails from female readers, let's do another one. I actually got this one yesterday morning, in response to yesterday's entry where I said the following about the Twins' 15-1 loss to the Yankees:

"With the game well out of hand, Bobby Kielty led off with a double and LeCroy singled 2 batters later to put runners on the corners with 1 out. Cuddyer and Dustan Mohr each flew out to end the game."

Lisa, who was actually at Monday's game, took exception and said the following:

I know you're not a Dustan Mohr fan but I really wish you could at least give the guy a little bit of credit where credit is due...

After all, he is the only Twin who did manage to hit a homerun against the Yankees. He broke up David Wells shutout and what mention does he get in your column?? His flyout to end the game.

I was at the game yesterday...he was definitely the one bright spot in the game for the Twins. He had a great game defensively (as usual...we don't see him making glaring errors in the field like Cuddyer so often does), a throw from left field to home plate that was within a half a step of being an out, and compared to his consistent strikeouts lately (due to the fact that the guy should be a starter, not a bench player, which was proven yesterday) I'll take 3 long flyouts and one homerun to piss off David Wells. That and the Mondesi plunking were the highlights of the game.

Just my 2 cents...


(yes, I am female...and I'm old enough to be your mom...I've been a Twins fan since the Killebrew/Blyleven/Oliva/Carew/Kaat days...)

Thanks for the email Lisa. Why is it that every female that emails me has to put in some line about their age or the age of one of their female family members?! The entire female race must live in constant fear that I am going to hit on them or something...

Anyway, getting back to the topic of the email, one Mr. Dustan Mohr.

No, I am not a Mohr fan, you're right. I don't dislike him, as much as I like Kielty (and Cuddyer, LeCroy, Jones, Hunter, etc) a lot more.

I guess he had a good game Monday, but a homer in a 15-1 loss isn't such a big deal either way, so I didn't mention it. The fact that he was like like 0 for his last 1,000 at bats, including a strikeout to end the one game we had a chance to win against New York....well, you get the idea.

As for him "being a starter" and not a bench player...I disagree. He is the epitome of a 4th outfielder. He can't hit well enough to start in LF or RF everyday and he isn't good enough defensively to play CF everyday. He plays good D in the corners, can play CF occasionally and hits a little bit, which is what a good 4th OF does.

He definitely didn't "prove" that he was a starter Monday, just as David Wells didn't prove he was Sandy Koufax and the Twins didn't prove they were the worst team in baseball history. You know what I'm saying? You can't prove you are anything in a single game, especially a single game that your team loses 15-1 and that you go 1-4 with a homer in, to raise your season batting average to .125.

In 153 career MLB games Mohr has hit .255/.310/.408 with 14 homers, 36 walks and 115 strikeouts. Those are simply not the numbers of a starting outfielder.

In case you are wondering, here is what the "average" player hit at each position last year for MLB, overall:

Left Field - .271/.355/.452

Center Field - .268/.336/.428

Right Field - .271/.353/.458

As you can see, Mohr is even quite a ways from being an average-hitting centerfielder and he'd have to really step it up to be an average corner outfielder. I like him, despite what I say about his play. He is a "scrappy" player and I like good defense and hustle as much as the next guy, but he's just not a good enough hitter for my taste.

Hopefully I haven't upset you (too much) with my Mohr-bashing! 🙂 I love the fact that I have about 15-20 female readers that have contacted me and I really hope you'll keep checking out the website. And tell all your friends too!

On a slightly different topic...

I have always spoken very highly of Michael Cuddyer (I rated him as my #4 prospect in baseball) and I think he is going to be an excellent player for the Twins for many years to come. That said, he has been absolutely awful this season and he wasn't particularly impressive in the short stint he had with the Twins last year. But you know what? As completely horrible as Cuddyer has been in his career so far, he has been just slightly worse than Dustan Mohr:

Mohr has 506 career plate appearances, while Cuddyer has only 202. If we adjust Cuddyer's playing time to equal Mohr's, here is what their stats look like:

Player       PA     AVG     OBP     SLG    HR    2B    3B    BB     SO    SB   CS

Mohr 506 .255 .310 .408 14 25 2 36 115 7 4
Cuddyer 506 .239 .299 .391 13 23 5 38 123 10 0

Actually, they have been remarkably similar. Cuddyer has 1 fewer homer, 2 fewer doubles and 3 more triples. He has 2 more walks and 8 more Ks, and he's been a bit better stealing bases. His batting average is about 15 points lower and so are his OBP and SLG. Basically, if Cuddyer had a couple more bloop singles drop in, their stats would be damn near identical.

What's my point? Well, a lot of people seem to be "defending" Dustan Mohr and some, like Lisa, even think he should be a starter for the Twins. On the other hand, Michael Cuddyer is getting ripped left and right for his poor play (and rightfully so). But really, it all just comes down to perception. They have both played at almost exactly the same level offensively in their careers, but somehow Mohr has tons of supporters and Cuddyer doesn't (aside from me).

Sure, Dustan is a better defensive outfielder, but Cuddyer is 3 years younger, has a better pedigree and is a much more accomplished minor league hitter. Check back in another 300 plate appearances or so and I think, by that time, Cuddyer will have made Dustan Mohr look like...well, Dustan Mohr.

Turning to the other gender (notice I didn't say "better gender" - well, actually I just did say better...oh, nevermind), I got the following question/comment from "Pat," a long-time reader and very frequent emailer:

Why would you play Michael Cuddyer, a mediocre fielder at best, in right field and have Bobby Kielty, a superb fielder, as your DH? It almost cost them the game in the last game of the Detroit series. Gardy does go brain dead sometimes, doesn't he?

Why did I chose to answer this question on the blog? Well, for one, Pat emails me all the time and I am pretty sure my "batting average" on responding to him is dipping below the Mendoza-line. In addition to that, I have a very simple answer for it. Michael Cuddyer plays right field and Bobby Kielty DHs because the Twins want Michael Cuddyer to be their everyday right fielder for the next 10 years or so, whereas they are just now coming around to the idea that Bobby Kielty deserves to play more than twice a week.

Having Cuddyer DH isn't going to help him improve his defense, which is important if he's going to be playing right field for them for a long time. In addition, as much as I love Bobby Kielty (and really, is there anyone not in the Kielty family that is as big a Kielty-supporter as I am?), I really don't think he is a "superb fielder." Sure, he's an above-average corner outfielder and an average center fielder, but he's not a gold glove-caliber fielder by any means. I also think Michael Cuddyer is a lot better in right field than people give him credit for, and I think in time he will be a good right fielder.

Here's an email from "Matt," who also appears to be in the "Gardy goes brain dead sometimes" camp:

I think Gardenhire might be the worst manager in baseball, or at least among the worst. I don't doubt you follow the Twins more closely than I do, but a manager's most important job is to play his best players, and I'm pretty sure that Kielty is the Twins best position player and Santana is their best pitcher, and neither are used in correct "roles". To me thats the mark of a really bad manager.

I obviously agree about Kielty and Johan and I would agree that not using your best players is a bad thing for a manager to do. Also, I have said in the past couple weeks that I have been disappointed with the way Gardenhire has used his lineup/bench, both this season and last.

In fact, here is exactly what I said about it most recently:

"The Twins have an awful lot of depth throughout their organization. However, that depth isn't going to do them a bit of good if they don't identify which players can help them win the most games and right now I am not exactly pleased with the way Ron Gardenhire is identifying."

Since then, Kielty has started 7 games in a row and appears to have finally gotten his point across to Gardenhire, who, to his credit, was eventually willing to put him in the lineup everyday (even if it did take way too long).

I would never say that Ron Gardenhire is the best manager in baseball, or even among the top 5. I would also never say he is the worst, or among the worst. I think it is pretty rare for the worst manager in baseball to win 90+ games and make the playoffs, no matter how good the team may be.

You should also remember that yesterday was Gardenhire's 180th game as a major league manager, so it is probably too early to make complete judgments on him. I don't like that it took him so long to realize Kielty's potential, I wish Johan was in the rotation and I wish he'd use his bench to his advantage in platooning and pinch-hitting situations more. At the same time, Jacque Jones is a better player now than he ever was with Tom Kelly. Same with Torii Hunter. And it appears as though Gardy is a lot more willing to give young players a chance to play, even if it takes him a while. Plus, the players really seem to like him and, for all you'll hear me and other "statheads" say about that not being all that important, it still matters.

He's not the best, he's not the worst. Where exactly does he fit in? I think it's too early to tell. Give him a little more time.

Just remember, Tom Kelly went the last 10 years of his tenure with the Twins without making the playoffs and finished above .500 two times in that span. I'm not saying Kelly was bad, but when a manager leads that same team to 94 wins and the playoffs in his first year like Gardenhire did, I tend to cut him a little bit of slack, even if I disagree with the way he does some things.

Thanks for stopping by today and feel free to send me an email. It might take a little while, but I'll get back to you eventually!

Today's picks:

St. Louis (Morris) +110 over Atlanta (Maddux)

Arizona (Dessens) +120 over Montreal (Hernandez)

Chicago (Colon) -155 over Baltimore (Johnson)

Minnesota (Radke) -110 over Kansas City (George)

Total to date: + $1,225

W/L record: 43-40 (1-4 yesterday, but amazingly still up over $1,200!)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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