Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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Posts about Twins transactions

Ryan says Gibson close, but not quite ready

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 24, 2013 - 3:00 PM
I was speaking with Twins general manager Terry Ryan about a column that I’ll have in the Sunday Star Tribune when I asked about a more topical subject: Kyle Gibson.
Gibson is the best pitching prospect at Class AAA Rochester. He’s 3-5 with a 3.25 ERA. He’s pitched two complete-game shutouts. The Twins have opted to call up Sam Deduno and P.J. Walters instead of Gibson in the last week. Deduno is a journeyman with good stuff and poor control; Walters is a grinder whose stuff is not considered good enough for him to succeed over the long term as a big-league starter.
Gibson is a former first-round draft pick. When a team calls up lesser prospects, the team is accused of trying to save major-league service time to avoid losing the player a year earlier in free agency, or paying the player more because they become a ``Super 2’’ player who qualifies for free agency a year earlier than their service time would otherwise allow.
I asked Ryan whether the decision not to promote Gibson was made for baseball reasons, or financial reasons. He noted that if he was worried about service time, he wouldn’t have been so eager to put Aaron Hicks on the opening day roster or call up another rookie, Oswaldo Arcia, so early in the season.
``If I was worried about all of that, I wouldn’t bring up Hicks and Arcia,’’ he said. ``Any GM in any organization knows you’re always going to get that question. In every decision, it comes down to baseball factors first. Can you bring up Gibson now? Yeah. Sure you could. But I guess you’d be sending him back pretty quick, and I don’t want that to happen.
``There’s no hiding a guy who’s in your rotation. I’d like to tell you when we bring up a young guy that it’s for good. Gibson is getting there. He’s been inconsistent. His last outing was very good and I’m hoping he’ll back that up with another one.
``Every start for him is important, and so far he’s been good, bad, good, bad, good, bad. He’s close, but he’s not quite there yet. We’re looking for him to string together four or five of those good one. That would give us confidence that it’s time for him to come up here.
``I saw him recently and he hit a wall in the fifth inning.''
Whether coincidence or planning, Ryan's baseball judgement will align nicely with the Twins' long-term financial interests. By the time Gibson pitches well for four or five starts in a row, he will likely have missed the opportunity to be a ``Super 2'' qualifier in arbitration two years from now.
 

Interesting view of Jack Morris

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 28, 2012 - 12:45 PM

As a longstanding member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, I have a Hall of Fame vote. I often wish I didn't. I'm not sure any of us are qualified to judge who belongs in the Hall. I don't really want the responsibility, and I frequently disagree with my brethren about judging athletes linked to steroids or rumored to have used steroids, and about our fitness to judge the ``character'' of a candidate.

But I vote because I feel it is my responsibility. In recent years, I've been voting for Jack Morris. I felt that even though his statistics make him a borderline candidate, I recognize him as a dominant pitcher who performed his best in big games and ate up an incredible number of innings. I greatly value innings, because having your ace on the mound is a great advantage to your team. Call it VORP: Value over Relief Pitcher.

While I've voted for Morris, I have not campaigned for him, because I understand the arguments against him: He did not dominate in vital categories like ERA and strikeouts, and he pitched for mostly good teams, which elevated him in the dubious category of pitcher victories.

In a piece writte by Stuart Miller for the New York Times baseball blog, Miller notes that Morris may be about to get his lucky break. He's on the same ballot as a number of players tainted by steroid use or rumors. Morris, who received 66.7 percent of the votes last year, may make it because he is viewed as a clean player.

I disagree with that approach. I will vote for players regardless of their reputations because I don't believe I, or any of my peers, are qualified to discern who used performance enhancing drugs and who didn't. We just don't know and we shouldn't pretend that we do.

More interesting about Miller's piece is that he writes something that contradicts what I've heard from many sabermatricians.

The longstanding argument in favor of Morris has been that he pitched just well enough to win, meaning he would pitch to the situation, giving up more runs and hits when he was far ahead, which could damage his stats without hurting his team.

The longstanding argument from stat-heads has been that pitchers do not pitch to the situation, and that there was no proof of Morris doing so.

Here's the key portion of Miller's piece: 

``(Morris) has fallen short for 13 years because he is a classic borderline case, with plenty of arguments both for and against him. He never was dominant in terms of E.R.A., WHIP or strikeouts — in the American League, he finished in the top 5 in E.R.A., WHIP and strikeouts per nine innings just twice each — but he knew how to win. That sounds a bit like an intangible, and it is, but Morris won 254 games by pitching to the situation — when his team gave him more run support he pitched to contact, striking out and walking fewer batters, allowing more hits and more runs.

The closer the game, the lower the opposing team’s batting average against him. And most significant, he rarely missed a turn and almost always went deep into games, averaging 33 starts and nearly 7 1/3 innings per start from 1979 through 1992.

That also was invaluable to his teams, since he kept lesser starters off the hill and allowed the bullpen to rest. (This was a guy who rang up 64 complete game losses.) He also led the 1984 Detroit Tigers and the 1991 Minnesota Twins to World Series, turning in one of baseball’s greatest performances with his 10-inning Game 7 shutout in 1991.''

That is the best summation of Morris' career I've ever seen, and it bolsters my reasons for voting for Morris for the Hall of Fame.

-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today with Reusse and Mackey, and on with Tom Pelissero at 6:40. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib

Why DL Span?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 30, 2012 - 4:16 PM

So why would the Twins place Denard Span on the disabled list two days before they're allowed to expand their roster for September callups?

I think there are two reasons.

1. They want to bring up Matt Carson, a corner outfielder who played well in his brief stint with the team. Because they sent Carson down a week ago, they can't call him up again unless he's replacing someone who is headed for the DL. Thus, the move.

2. Reading between a lot of lines, I also think the Twins are tired of waiting for Span, who has been ``day-to-day'' for a long time. This is a way of telling him that he's driving them nuts and that they'd rather play other people at this time, anyway.

Other notes from the Twins' 5-4 loss to Seattle:

-Twins lost 8 of 190 against Seattle this season.

-The Twins have lost 17 of their last 21 against the Mariners.

-Josh Willingham had two bat at-bats with runners in scoring position early in the game, then dropped a line drive in the sixth that prolonged the Mariners' four-run sixth. He also hit his 32nd home run.

-Brian Duensing's record is now 3-10 with a 5.26 ERA.

-I'll be on 1500espn at 6:30 tonight and 2:05 tomorrow. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Next year's infield?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 30, 2012 - 3:25 PM

Watched Trevor Plouffe and Pedro Florimon take the field for early infield practice today. It's one of those little things that could be meaningless but indicates a willingness to work on their craft.

The morning of a day game following a night game, they might have been tempted to sleep in or relax in the clubhouse with their teammates. Anyway, while watching them, I started to project what the infield will be next year.

Trevor Plouffe is the third baseman. Ron Gardenhire keeps pushing him to work on his fielding and concentration, but let's be honest - the guy has hit 20 homers in 321 at-bats. He's going to be in the lineup.

I think Florimon has a chance to stick as the shortstop. He's talented and athletic, with a strong arm and speed, and the Twins don't believe he's going to be a classic bottom-of-the-order out.

Brian Dozier, I'm guessing, will, be given a chance to compete with Florimon next spring, and if Florimon holds the job, Dozier might be the leading candidate to play second if the Twins don't spend on that position in free agency.

Eduardo Escobar is likely to become a utility infielder.

Justin Morneau is the obvious choice at first base, but Chris Parmalee's big season at Class AAA gives the team options.

Between catcher, DH, first base and the three outfield spots, the Twins will have Joe Mauer, Morneau, Parmalee, Ryan Doumit, Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Darin Mastroianni and a handful of prospects like Arcia and Hicks.

To me, that glut, or potential glut, points to a trade this winter of Span, if the Twins can aquire enough pitching to justify sacrificing a good offensive player. Trading Span would open centerfield for Revere, who belongs there, and rightfield for Parmalee or one of the prospects.

The Twins could trade Morneau, too, which would open first base for Parmalee and free payroll to pursue pitching.

 

Twins nearing danger zone with Perkins

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 29, 2012 - 11:19 PM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire admitted he didn't want to use Glen Perkins on Tuesday. Perkins had pitched in three of the four previous games, and owns one of the most valuable arms in the organization. He's signed to a three-year contract and will probably be the team's closer by the end of July and perhaps for the two years following this one.

The Twins are likely to try to trade closer Matt Capps in July, and Perkins would take that role.

Maybe being a closer would allow him to get some rest. He's pitched in 22 of the Twins 49 games and four of the last five.

Gardenhire is desperate to win every possible game, so he threw Perkins into a game his team was trailing 2-0. That's a scary trend. Perkins should be saved for games when the Twins are tied or ahead. This franchise can't afford to have a pitcher of Perkins' caliber burned out.

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Baseball is one of the stranger games. The Twins bore everyone to death with a 3 1/2-hour game in which they manage no runs until...with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Josh Willingham hits a game-winning three-run homer.

Willingham's average has leveled out, nearing his career norm. He's still a great signing. He's hit nine home runs, tied for the team lead, and has shown no qualms about hitting in Target Field.

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Wrote a column ripping the 10 things I hate about baseball (a game I otherwise love). I left out a lot of good candidates, like using one closer, throwing waste pitches when up 0-and-2 in the count, and failing to use instant replay to overturn obvious umpiring mistakes.

But, in one night, the Twins demonstrated a handful of my pet peeves, including: Bunting (it was a particularly bad night for bunting, in idea and execution); jumping on home plate, risking a broken leg, after hitting a walk-off homer; the dreaded Marriage Cam; attacking a teammate who is doing a postgame interview on TV; and smacking a teammate in the head after he hits a walk-off.

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My Wednesday column is about how we should view Joe Mauer.  Call it sportswriter's luck: On a day I try to ease fans' feelings about Mauer, he goes 0-for-5. That doesn't change the larger point: He's playing every day this season, and he's really not a power hitter, so accept him for what he is.

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I don't know how anybody can call San Antonio boring. The Spurs are the most entertaining team in the league, and I can't wait for their finals matchup with the Heat.

Think about Popovich devising defenses to frustrate the best player in the game (LeBron James) and the best sidekick (Dwyane Wade), who are playing beautifully together.

-----------------------------------

I'll be hosting Tom Pelissero's show from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday on 1500espn. The last  segment of the shiow will feature Ask Jim Anything. Tweet questions to the hashtag #AskJimAnything and I'll answer on air.

My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

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