October 11, 2005

Twins Notes

  • Third-base coach Al Newman left the Twins last week to take a job as an advanced scout for the Diamondbacks. I was never particularly enamored with Newman's decision-making ability, but he seemed like a good guy. In fact, I know someone who is very good friends with Newman and has nothing but extremely good things to say about him.

    More than anything else what bothers me about Newman leaving is how he left, or rather what he said when leaving. I don't blame Newman for airing a little dirty laundry, but the fact that the Twins seemingly have more and more dirty laundry to air with each passing day is concerning. Here are some of Newman's comments on the way out:

    I chose to go somewhere because it was apparent that there were difficulties here. If there were some difficulties here, I wished they would have addressed them before it came to this. ... I don't want it to appear than I'm the fall guy.

    And then add to that what Ron Gardenhire had to say about Newman leaving:

    I knew with conversations with some people that he was disappointed with some things. And I know that Newmie and I had our moments during the course of the year. We had problems, not some of those knockout, drag-out things, but different theories and stuff like that. Newmie did his job, and we worked.

    Now, it's certainly possible that the source of all these problems was Newman, but it sure seems like there have been an awful lot of clubhouse "issues" over the past few months. At some point Gardenhire has to be held accountable for that.

    Incidentally, Newman will reportedly stay in Minnesota while working for the Diamondbacks, scouting teams that play the Twins while actually receiving a raise over what he was paid to coach third. Not only does that sound like an incredible gig for Newman, it has a chance to be interesting, as he figures to be around the team quite a bit in some capacity.

  • I expect to have some more thoughts on this subject in the coming weeks, but in the meantime add me to the growing list of Twins fans who wouldn't mind seeing hitting coach Scott Ullger replace Newman coaching third base. As for who would replace Ullger as the hitting coach in that scenario ... well, I'm not sure. The easy answer is Paul Molitor, but he didn't exactly thrive in his short stint as the Mariners' hitting coach. In fact, like the Twins this season the Mariners ranked dead last among AL teams in runs scored in 2004.
  • I noticed something odd while looking over Matt Guerrier's stats for this season: The Twins lost 10 of the last 11 games he appeared in, including 10 in a row from August 20 to September 29. Actually, considering Guerrier was basically the team's mop-up man this season, it's not so much odd as simply interesting.

    Of his 43 total appearances, the Twins won just 11 times. That's a pretty crazy stat, but I think it tells you an awful lot more about roles on the pitching staff than it does about Guerrier specifically. After all, he pitched really well this year, tossing 72.2 innings with a 3.39 ERA while letting just five of the 20 runners he inherited score. And he went 0-3.

    At the other end of the spectrum is Joe Nathan. With a 2.70 ERA in 70 innings Nathan was more or less as effective at keeping runs off the board as Guerrier was, but the Twins went 61-8 in his 69 appearances and he won seven games. I don't really have a point here, other than to say that this is the sort of stuff I tend to find amusing when there isn't another Twins game on the schedule for a while.

  • Terry Ryan signed Joe Mays to a four-year, $20 million contract following the 2001 season. During the life of the deal, Mays went 18-26 with a 5.81 ERA. Imagine how things could have been different if a) Mays would have continued to pitch as well as he did in 2001 (which I thought was doubtful from the very beginning) or b) the Twins could have used that $20 million on another player or two. You know, like offering this guy arbitration or something.

    Mays' contract is another data point in favor of long-term contracts for non-superstar players being too risky for small-market teams. After all, how's that three-year contract the Twins gave out to Shannon Stewart looking right about now? And we've already discussed Torii Hunter's four-year deal plenty over the past couple weeks.

  • It is just me or does Chris Heintz look like a serial killer in his MLB.com mugshot?
  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Playoff Preview: Cardinals-Astros (by Brian Gunn)

    Today's Picks (118-102, +$1,540):
    Houston (Pettitte) +155 over St. Louis (Carpenter)
    Los Angeles (Washburn) +180 over Chicago (Buehrle)

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