December 21, 2006
The week started with my being mentioned and quoted (sort of) in a Bill Simmons column over at ESPN.com, under what can best be described as odd circumstances. Then, as if that hadn't already made my month, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer stopped by the house Monday afternoon to interview me for several hours. Seriously. A couple days later the pitcher whom I've watched start more games than any other retired after a dozen seasons in Minnesota. All of that, and it's not even Christmas yet.
This probably isn't the last AG.com blog entry of 2006, since I'm sure I'll be back blogging at some point next week, but at the very least these links will have to hold you over until Tuesday ...
I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the internet.
Now, the good news is that hanging out with Hilton typically leads to being pictured drunk and without various articles of clothing (see: Spears, Britney). On the other hand, the bad news is that hanging out with Hilton almost can't help but lead to fewer and fewer people actually wanting to see you pictured drunk and without various articles of clothing (see: Spears, Britney). I think Cuthbert is at the start of a Dale Murphy-like decline and things could get ugly for her in 2007. It was fun while it lasted, though.
LEADERS PCT TRAILERS PCT
Joe Nathan 47.0 Ryan Dempster 28.0
Jonathan Papelbon 45.5 Francisco Cordero 29.3
Huston Street 41.3 Francisco Rodriguez 30.1
J.J. Putz 41.0 Chad Cordero 32.8
Takashi Saito 41.0 B.J. Ryan 33.3
Joe Nathan leading all closers with 47 percent of his innings ending 1-2-3 probably doesn't surprise anyone who watched him flawlessly slam the door on late leads so many times last season, but it's always interesting to see something you've observed laid out in actual numbers. I'd love to see what Eddie Guardado's 1-2-3 percentage was from his days as Twins closer, because the perception was that he often had to wriggle out of jams to get his saves.
I clicked the link, as I usually do when I see a new commenter, and discovered the blog of someone who appears to be my soulmate. OK, that's a massive overstatement and I don't mean to sound so stalkerish, so instead I'll just say that the blog is written by an attractive-looking college-aged girl who apparently reads (and comments on) this blog, describes herself as an "avid fan of Minnesota Twins baseball," and appears from her writing to have a good sense of humor and a similar taste in music.
I bring this up not because I'm trolling for dates in the comments section of my own blog--although I'm not completely opposed to that, in theory--but because it never ceases to amaze me the wide array of people who read this site. I've met many of you and the majority look like older/younger/fatter/skinnier versions of me. You know, guys. Yet for every thousand of us, there are apparently a few Shelleys too. I knew being brave enough to admit to being a big John Mayer fan would pay dividends at some point.
Much like the contract that originally brought White to Minnesota last offseason, it's a complicated, incentive-laden deal that limits the Twins' risk and potentially gives them a solid hitter at a bargain price. I liked bringing White in last winter and, even after a disappointing season, I approve of the decision to bring him back. That's not something I expected to be saying in July or even September, but given the current market and the way he played down the stretch it seems like a relative no-brainer.
The Twins have essentially committed to paying White $3 million in 2007, which isn't the type of money that buys much in terms of viable corner-outfield bats. Guys like David Dellucci, Jay Payton, and Frank Catalanotto all received multi-year deals and most one-year signees got significantly more than White. Of course, some would question whether White himself is a viable corner-outfield bat after hitting a measly .246/.276/.365 last season, but a look at his overall totals doesn't tell the whole story.
Whether because of shoulder problems or something else, White was a complete mess in the first half. However, he came back from a two-week demotion to Triple-A hitting like the Twins expected him to from the start, batting .321/.354/.538 in 45 second-half games. White hit a combined .289/.341/.476 in the previous three years coming into 2006, so I'm inclined to believe the guy we saw in the second half is closer to what the Twins will get in 2007 than the guy who hit a homerless .182 in the first half.
White prefers to play left field rather than designated hitter, which shouldn't be a problem given Jason Kubel's knee issues. He has one of the few throwing arms that could give Shannon Stewart a run for the "worst in baseball" title, but White has more than enough range for the position and likely grades out as above average overall. Given Kubel's health situation and the Twins' lack of power and outfield depth--Jason Tyner and Lew Ford are the current backups--it's a move that was begging to be made.
One, cut a hole in a box. Two, put your junk in that box. Three, make her open the box.
Before someone inevitably accuses me of giving my blog audience less than a full effort, I want to make it clear that I wrote the Radke piece solely for this site and only agreed to have it run on NBCSports.com when my editor read it here, liked it, and asked if he could use it as well. I'm not one to turn down a byline and Radke deserves the added attention, so I agreed.
Way back in 2003, Matthew Namee (who was then Bill James' assistant) and I were chatting one day when we decided it'd be a good idea to create a website featuring baseball analysis from a lineup of columnists that included the two of us and some of our favorite online writers. Namee eventually left the site, at which point Studeman stepped in as my co-owner, and in the years since I'm proud to say that THT has thrived while developing into far more than I ever could have imagined.
The biggest change of the year, however, is that our co-founder and spiritual leader, Aaron Gleeman, is no longer involved with the site. Aaron has parlayed his baseball-writing-from-bed habit into a full-time gig at NBCSports.com, covering football, baseball and who knows, maybe curling too. Aaron had the vision and set the tone for THT early on, and although he didn't contribute many articles the past year he was still editing the site. Alas, Aaron will have to give up any involvement with THT at all, due to the demands on his time from people who actually pay him.
We would wish Aaron luck in his new endeavors, but we know that would be redundant to how he's actually going to do. The key thing for you to know is that THT will not only continue without Aaron, we will continue to grow.
I'm sad to leave the site at a time when it's flourishing--THT's third book was released earlier this month and readership continues to rise--but I'm confident that the leadership that remains in place will keep it headed in the right direction. In a perfect world I'd still be writing for and leading THT, because it was incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun, but the opportunities presented to me at both RotoWorld.com and NBCSports.com were too good for me to pass up at this stage in my life.
I'll continue to support THT in any way that I can and I'll continue to make it my first stop each morning in my never-ending search for good online baseball writing. It's a tremendous site featuring the work of talented writers who're also baseball nuts and great guys, and co-creating it years ago is one of the my biggest accomplishments. My hope is that one day someone will look at the success THT is having and compare my exit to Shelley Long leaving Cheers or David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue.