July 4, 2005

Say No To Boone (and other Twins notes)

You'll find no one who has begged more for a new second baseman over the past few seasons than me, but not even I think acquiring Bret Boone for the remainder of this season is a good idea. From looking at his numbers and from reading the chronicles of his struggles over at USS Mariner, Boone (who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners) appears to be completely done as an above-average regular.

YEAR      AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS     IsoP
2003 .294 .366 .535 .901 .241
2004 .251 .317 .423 .740 .172
2005 .231 .299 .385 .684 .154

Never much for drawing walks, Boone's low batting average now makes him a major on-base percentage sinkhole, and his declining power has his slugging percentage below .400 for the first time since 1997. A four-time Gold Glover, his range defensively has also slipped significantly, perhaps even more than his bat.

YEAR       ZR
2001 .857
2002 .843
2003 .814
2004 .790
2005 .743

Now, Zone Rating is far from a perfect stat, but that sort of yearly decline for a second baseman who turned 36 in April is pretty self-explanatory. If it were a choice between Boone or Luis Rivas at second base, I would take Boone every time. But thankfully the Twins have a few decent second-base options beyond Rivas for once, some of whom actually get on base at a decent clip.

I think the best-case scenario for Boone at this point is that a move away from Safeco Field helps his offensive numbers and a move to a new team rejuvenates him a little bit. Still, something along the lines of .260/.320/.440 with mediocre defense is probably the best that can be expected, with a potential worst-case scenario that looks a lot like Juan Castro's numbers (.241/.266/.367).

Considering what Nick Punto has done when healthy (.277/.343/.400) and how much of a surprise Luis Rodriguez has been at the plate (.293/.353/.427), I don't think Boone is worth taking a chance on. Hell, Boone has been even worse offensively than Michael Cuddyer (.259/.339/.384) this season, which most Twins fans would probably tell you is impossible. I'm all for adding a veteran right-handed bat, but Boone isn't it.

Other Twins Notes ...

  • I'm not quite sure what this says one way or another about how competing newspapers cover the same baseball team, but it says something. On Sunday, the two major papers in the Twin Cities ran the following stories:

    - "LeCroy has girth, gout and a great attitude" (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

    - "LeCroy moves Richter scale" (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

    While doing my daily news-gathering gig over at Rotoworld, one of the things I have noticed about newspaper coverage is that multiple papers covering the same team tend to have nearly identical stories several times per week.

    I'm not talking about two papers covering the same injury, which is inevitable. I'm talking about two papers running feature stories on Matthew LeCroy on the same day. It becomes clear that the newspapers and the journalists covering the team are being fed story ideas and information by the team.

    I can't say that I blame them for taking advantage of what they are being fed, and I did enjoy reading about LeCroy, but it is interesting to see it in such obvious ways. And the two newspapers here are far from the worst offenders -- I've seen as many as four or five papers covering the same team in a bigger market run the same, seemingly random story on the same day about, say, a third-base coach.

  • I love LaVelle E. Neal (he is the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, after all), but he took a completely random and unnecessary shot at Todd Walker in an otherwise-solid article about the Twins' third-base prospects this weekend. In talking about Matt Moses, the Twins' first-round pick in 2003, Neal writes:

    The top third-base prospect in the organization, he is fifth in the Florida State League with a .325 average. He has a short swing with some power, and projects to be a very good offensive player. Now about that glove ...

    Moses looks raw and many balls are getting by him, for now. But this is not a Todd Walker situation. Moses cares about getting better and is working on his fielding.

    "I think a lot of the members of the staff are pleased at the way he's improved over there," Rantz said. "That only comes with time over there. He does have actions and shows some quickness over there. In fairness to him, he's done a nice job for the short time he's been there."

    Moses, 20, would be at Class AA New Britain by now if not for a sore hamstring that's slowed him recently. Don't be surprised if he's there before the season ends. He could debut sometime during 2006, but 2007 is more likely.

    Walker last played for the Twins back in 2000, and has since played almost 700 major-league games spread over six seasons, nearly all of them as a starting second baseman. And yet six years after he left Minnesota, Walker is still somehow held up as the example of bad infield defense. Talk about buying the company line ...

  • FSN's completely superfluous sideline reporter, Clay Matvick, reported during last night's broadcast that Ron Gardenhire calls Luis Rodriguez "L-Rod." I contend that the only way something like that could be considered newsworthy is if a manager had a player named "Luis" with the last name "Rodriguez" and he didn't call him "L-Rod."
  • I'm excited to see Scott Baker's first big-league start tonight. Baker, who was the Twins' second-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2003, has overtaken J.D. Durbin as the pitching prospect most likely to join the starting rotation full time in 2006. Take a look at his minor-league numbers:
    YEAR     LVL      G     GS       IP      ERA     SO     BB
    2003 A 11 11 50.2 2.49 47 8
    2004 A 7 7 45.0 2.40 37 6
    AA 10 10 70.1 2.43 72 13
    AAA 9 9 54.1 4.97 36 15
    2005 AAA 15 15 87.2 3.18 75 23

    The only real knock against Baker is that his strikeout rates haven't been earth-shattering -- 7.0/9 at Triple-A, 9.2/9 at Double-A, 7.9/9 at Single-A -- but the ERAs are very low and the strikeout-to-walk ratios are very high. I think Baker has an excellent chance at becoming a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, and I'd love to see the Twins let him work out of the bullpen as a long reliever during the second half.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Full Year Leaderboards (by Dave Studeman)
    - Two True Outcomes (by Steve Treder)

    Today's Picks (71-59, +$1,235):
    Oakland (Haren) -130 over Toronto (Towers)

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