March 1, 2006
Eyre isn't a lefty, although his older brother Scott Eyre is. Instead, he's a 27-year-old righty who has been in the Twins organization since being drafted in the 23rd round back in 1999. Last season he went 10-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 56 relief appearances at Triple-A Rochester. Those numbers are good enough to merit considering for a spot on their own, but the two things that make Eyre really intriguing are that he struck out 74 batters in 82.2 innings and had a ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 2.78-to-1.
The combination of strikeouts and grounders is a great one for pitchers, and it's particularly valuable for a guy who might be asked to come into a lot of jams with men on base. The Twins have shown a willingness to give unknown right-handed relievers a shot over the past few years -- Guerrier, Tony Fiore, Joe Roa -- and it's worked out pretty well. I'd like to see Eyre join that list in 2006. As Gardenhire said, he "probably deserves a look."
The other day on his ESPN.com blog Buster Olney ran a chart of the Productive Outs leaders from last season. Productive Outs has more or less been proven to be a junk stat with no correlation to actual run scoring, and Olney quickly stopped touting it after an initial love affair. With that said, the Twins ranked second in the league with 184 Productive Outs, trailing only the Angels' 187. In other words, they moved plenty of runners over.
The Twins also ranked fourth in stolen bases and fifth in sacrifices, both of which typically fall under the category of "little things." What they didn't do enough of was avoiding outs, productive or otherwise, and hitting the ball into the gaps and over the fence. The Twins were 10th in on-base percentage, 12th in doubles, and 12th in homers, which is why I'm a whole lot more concerned about the "big things" this season.
The information about Castillo's switch-hitting roots is very interesting. However, following it up by saying that "Castillo is a career .293 hitter, including .287 from the left side" is simply misleading the reader. While technically correct, it would seem fairly important to point out that Castillo has the following career splits:
When Castillo first signed with the Marlins, in 1992, he was strictly a righthanded hitter.
"He didn't want to switch hit," [former Marlins manager John] Boles said. "He just wanted to hit righthanded. We said, 'No, no, no. With your speed, from the left side, you're going to hit .280 just with your legs.'"
As he enters his 11th big-league season, Castillo is a career .293 hitter, including .287 from the left side.
AVG OBP SLG OPS
vs RHP .287 .368 .325 .693
vs LHP .311 .378 .448 .825
This is the sort of stuff that we apparently need blogs and other non-mainstream outlets to tell us, although I'm really not sure why it has to be that way. Incidentally, I'd love to see someone ask Castillo about his extreme splits and question him about whether or not he'd have been better off sticking to hitting right-handed all the time.