September 10, 2014

Twins Notes: Santana, Escobar, St. Peter, Thorpe, Mauer, and May

Danny Santana Twins

Danny Santana picked a bad season to be a .320-hitting rookie center fielder, because White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is hitting .317/.378/.590 with 33 homers and will run away with the Rookie of the Year award. However, assuming that he doesn't go into a prolonged slump down the stretch Santana's performance would be enough to make him a deserving Rookie of the Year winner in quite a few previous seasons. Last season, for instance.

Last season's winner, Wil Myers of the Rays, hit .293/.354/.478 in 88 games as a right fielder. Santana has hit .320/.358/.475 in 84 games as a center fielder/shortstop. They've been nearly identical as hitters and Santana has large edges in base-running, defense, and positional value. Looking at Twins history, Marty Cordova won the award in 1995 while hitting .277/.352/.486 in 137 games as a left fielder in a much higher era for offense.

Here's where Santana currently ranks among Twins rookies in Wins Above Replacement during the Ron Gardenhire era of 2002-2014:

                    YEAR     WAR
Francisco Liriano   2006     4.5
Lew Ford            2004     4.5
Denard Span         2008     4.3
Bobby Kielty        2002     2.7
DANNNY SANTANA      2014     2.7

Longtime readers of this blog will probably remember that I thought Bobby Kielty was destined for stardom. He was not.

• Santana was thrust into center field without ever playing there regularly before and has done reasonably well, but assistant general manager Rob Antony recently said: "I think he's going to be our shortstop of the future. Any opportunity we get to play him at shortstop is a good thing." Which is fine, except with Aaron Hicks back in the majors the Twins are still going out of their way not to play Santana at shortstop, even using Eduardo Nunez there instead of him.

• On a related note: Since a strong start Eduardo Escobar has hit just .247/.292/.365 in his last 85 games. He's now a career .253/.299/.363 hitter in 761 plate appearances as a big leaguer.

• For most of the past four years the Twins' bullpen has been a strength amid the team's overall struggles, but now the relievers are struggling too. In the first half the bullpen had a 3.21 ERA with a 13-10 record. In the second half they have a 4.92 ERA with a 6-10 record, including a 5.81 ERA during the past month. Their season totals now include ranking 22nd in ERA, 29th in xFIP, and dead last in strikeout rate. Of course, the rotation has still been worse.

• Twins president Dave St. Peter apparently didn't mind Keith Olbermann ripping the team to shreds on ESPN, but he predictably did mind me saying their brand survey was "tone deaf." On a related note, we spent a large portion of this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode discussing the Twins' increasing assurances of "we get it" in the face of mounting evidence that they don't.

• Pitching prospect Lewis Thorpe, an 18-year-old left-hander from Australia with 144 strikeouts in 116 career innings and one of the highest-upside arms in the Twins' farm system, has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. For now the Twins are insisting he'll be fine, but UCL injuries are what lead to Tommy John surgery.

Jose Berrios had one of the 10 best starts by any pitching prospect this season, according to Baseball America.

Joe Mauer has a .405 on-base percentage with more walks than strikeouts in 28 games since returning from the disabled list. During that time he's got an .848 OPS. His career OPS is .861.

Kurt Suzuki has hit .235/.279/.337 in 27 games since his two-year, $12 million extension. He hit .237/.294/.357 in 477 games from 2010-2013.

Tommy Milone allowed 21 runs in 21 innings for the Twins after coming over from the A's in exchange for Sam Fuld and now he's hurt. (Fuld has hit just .218/.269/.307 in 35 games since the trade.)

• Since his disastrous MLB debut Trevor May has a 24/12 K/BB ratio and three homers allowed in 27 innings. It'll take a while for his ERA to not be hideous, but he'll be just fine.

• After nine seasons as the Twins' minor-league hitting coordinator and 14 total seasons in the organization Bill Springman has been let go.

• At one point this season the Twins were 23-21. Since then they are 39-61.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Uber, which is offering a free ride to first-time users who sign up with the promo code "UberGleeman."

March 26, 2010


  • After more than seven years of using Blogger to run, last week's disaster-inspired switch to WordPress has gone pretty smoothly thanks to Than Tibbetts' hard work behind the scenes. Still a few kinks to work out, but I'm happy with how things are looking and the new setup should allow me to eventually do a lot more interesting stuff in terms of content presentation. Plus, now the RSS feed is actually fully functional.

    We're definitely still in overhaul mode and some stuff isn't quite right yet, but if anyone has suggestions for ways to improve the blog's layout, look, presentation, or basically anything aside from "write better" please let me know.
  • Sure, the actual games are nice and all, but my favorite part of this year's NCAA basketball tournament might be the Gus Johnson soundboard. "Rise and fire!"
  • Mila Kunis has not let her recent ascension to Official Fantasy Girl of go to her head and continuing to give 100 percent after receiving the greatest honor of her life provides an excellent example for Joe Mauer to follow after signing his $184 million contract.
  • Would any Lost fans not watch a buddy cop spin-off show featuring Sawyer and Miles?

    Actually, some sort of high school drama starring Ben Linus wouldn't be bad either.
  • I've likely spent several thousand dollars on lemon chicken from Leeann Chin, so the actual Leeann Chin dying at age 77 made me sad.
  • As someone in the midst of yet another weight-loss effort, this news got my attention: After tipping the scales at 340 pounds Jets coach Rex Ryan recently underwent surgery to shrink his stomach. I've actually thought about doing that, but am literally too lazy and clueless to go through the necessarily steps. So far, so good losing weight the old-fashioned way this time around, as I'm down 50 pounds since February 1.
  • One of my favorite stories this week is beat writers Anthony DiComo and Jordan Bastian challenging each other to a half-mile race, which turned into a mini-event called the "Dot Com Dash" that raised some money for charity. You'd think the competition might have inspired me to challenge a fellow baseball writer to something, but even down 50 pounds I got winded just watching the video of their race.
  • Surprisingly, there's apparently a limit to how excited people are about the new ballpark.
  • UFC president Dana White recently shot a video blog while flying to Canada on a private jet and the star was former Rookie of the Year and Twins outfielder Marty Cordova, who forgot his passport because he didn't realize Toronto was in another country:

    I've spotted Cordova in White's videos before and they're apparently close enough friends that White feels free to goof on him non-stop for an entire flight.
  • It sounds like HBO is canceling Joe Buck Live, which technically ran for nine months but might be the shortest-lived talk show of all time with a grand total of three episodes. Joe Buck is the only person who could make Chevy Chase feel good about his hosting career.
  • Friend of and former KFAN staffer Phil Mackey officially joined KSTP-1500 as Patrick Reusse's sidekick this week. I was skeptical about the pairing, since they're about 40 years apart with an even bigger gap in preferred styles of baseball analysis, but after listening to the first show I think it could actually work. KSTP also hired Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette to run its soon-to-be-revamped website and he comes with a good rep.
  • I'm a huge fan of Scott Huff, Joe Stapleton, Jackie Bray, and the always entertaining "Two Jacks In The Hole" podcast, so check out the show's recently re-launched website for tons of good content.
  • My weekly podcast-listening routine includes the aforementioned Huff, Stapleton, and Bray trio along with Adam Carolla, Bill Simmons, Joe Rogan, Kevin Smith, Ricky Gervais, and of course Seth Stohs. Any recommendations for other podcasts that are worth trying?
  • Speaking of Carolla, there's a lengthy article about him in Fast Company magazine.
  • Here's what happens when two good, legitimately funny talk-show hosts discuss Jay Leno:

    Of course Leno still beats both of them in the ratings, which makes me sad about mankind.
  • If you have a fantasy draft over the weekend please check out Rotoworld's award-winning Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, which has up-to-date rankings, projections, and write-ups for 1,000 players along with a couple dozen strategy columns and all kinds of other good stuff.
  • New blog to check out: That's Twins Baseball.
  • Some of the highlights from my blogging this week:

    - What kind of damage can Heyward do as a 20-year-old rookie?
    - Mauer deal has other catchers licking their chops
    - Giants send struggling Bumgarner to Triple-A
    - Pujols has got milk and a sledgehammer
    - Dodgers surprisingly tab Padilla for Opening Day
    - Rays pick Davis over Sonnanstine as fifth starter
    - Comeback complete: Edmonds makes Brewers
    - Don't call it a setback: Bedard cancels bullpen session
    - Marcum gets Opening Day nod after sitting out 2009
  • Finally, this week's music video is Eddie Vedder doing a live cover version of "My City Of Ruins" by Bruce Springsteen: