Fire Gardy

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Archive for May, 2008

Let’s Play The Dayton Game

Joe Posnanski, a writer for the Kansas City Star and a great Royals blogger, has a post up about The Dayton Game.

It’s apparently called that because Dayton Moore, Royals GM, showed it to Posnanski. But here’s what it is: Just list off all the 60 tools on your team. Not 60 players; 60 tools. (Based on the scouting 20-80 scale. A 60 tool is an All-Star caliber tool.)

Given that Posnanski’s list for the Royals had two tools on it (that’s right … two), I’m kind of stunned that Dayton Moore described this as a “fun little game.” For him, isn’t it more along the lines of “depressing little insult?”

So I decided to play the game for the Twins:

  1. Mauer’s hitting
  2. Mauer’s defense
  3. Morneau’s power
  4. Cuddyer’s arm
  5. Young’s arm
  6. Gomez’s speed
  7. Gomez’s defense
  8. Casilla’s speed
  9. Casilla’s arm
And … that’s it. Lamb, Harris, Everett, Monroe, Redmond, Tolbert, Punto … no 60 tools among them. Naked batting practice doesn’t count.

I considered Mauer’s arm … but he’s only thrown out 7 of 27 base stealers this year. I know they’re stealing off the pitchers, but that’s still pretty pathetic. So Mauer has to earn that 60 back.

I considered Morneau’s speed — gotcha! I thought that was a good one.

I considered Young’s hitting and power and speed; after all, he’s supposed to be a 5 tool player and the scouts love his tools. Except he can’t hit, when he does it doesn’t go anywhere, and he runs like his shoes are too heavy. So … no. He can throw.

I considered Kubel’s power. I did. But until he starts showing it off more consistently, I can’t put him on this list. A big part of that probably has to do with increased playing time. But he’s not getting that, so I’m not just going to put him here as if he deserves it. Hit some home runs, Jason. Make Gardy look like even more of an idiot, and you’ll get your power listed on here. (But that grand slam was awesome.)

Gomez probably has the best tool on the team — in fact, some scouts say he’s the only 80 speed in baseball. And his defense has proved to be awesome out there. His arm is strong enough, but it doesn’t make this list until he can hit the broad side of a barn.

I think it’s funny that Casilla makes up 22% of this list. But he can really run, and every time he throws the ball I wonder if it’s going to put a hole in someone’s glove. (Honestly, Alexi, you’re 10 feet away. Take a little heat off those throws!) He hasn’t learned how and when to use it, but a strong and accurate arm has to be a 60. Casilla is grossly misused as a second baseman.

But … nine tools? That’s it? I was really hoping for more. And I find it especially worrying that only two of them (Mauer’s hitting and Morneau’s power) have to do with offense. I mean, Loose Cannons I & II have the speed to cause chaos and help the offense, but they’re not strictly offensive tools. I think you need more than nine 60s in order to field a playoff caliber team. (I don’t know how many you need. But nine doesn’t seem like very many.) We could add a few offensive tools to this if/when Kubel and/or Delmon starts hitting — but that’s beginning to look like it’s no guarantee.

So, before I get too frustrated with this, I’m just going to think about how Gardy would play this game. Punto and Tolbert, the perfect players, obviously have 10 tools between them. So Gardy already won the game, I guess.

Did I miss any tools? Overrate any?

6 comments

Let’s Play The Dayton Game

Joe Posnanski, a writer for the Kansas City Star and a great Royals blogger, has a post up about The Dayton Game.

It’s apparently called that because Dayton Moore, Royals GM, showed it to Posnanski. But here’s what it is: Just list off all the 60 tools on your team. Not 60 players; 60 tools. (Based on the scouting 20-80 scale. A 60 tool is an All-Star caliber tool.)

Given that Posnanski’s list for the Royals had two tools on it (that’s right … two), I’m kind of stunned that Dayton Moore described this as a “fun little game.” For him, isn’t it more along the lines of “depressing little insult?”

So I decided to play the game for the Twins:

  1. Mauer’s hitting
  2. Mauer’s defense
  3. Morneau’s power
  4. Cuddyer’s arm
  5. Young’s arm
  6. Gomez’s speed
  7. Gomez’s defense
  8. Casilla’s speed
  9. Casilla’s arm
And … that’s it. Lamb, Harris, Everett, Monroe, Redmond, Tolbert, Punto … no 60 tools among them. Naked batting practice doesn’t count.

I considered Mauer’s arm … but he’s only thrown out 7 of 27 base stealers this year. I know they’re stealing off the pitchers, but that’s still pretty pathetic. So Mauer has to earn that 60 back.

I considered Morneau’s speed — gotcha! I thought that was a good one.

I considered Young’s hitting and power and speed; after all, he’s supposed to be a 5 tool player and the scouts love his tools. Except he can’t hit, when he does it doesn’t go anywhere, and he runs like his shoes are too heavy. So … no. He can throw.

I considered Kubel’s power. I did. But until he starts showing it off more consistently, I can’t put him on this list. A big part of that probably has to do with increased playing time. But he’s not getting that, so I’m not just going to put him here as if he deserves it. Hit some home runs, Jason. Make Gardy look like even more of an idiot, and you’ll get your power listed on here. (But that grand slam was awesome.)

Gomez probably has the best tool on the team — in fact, some scouts say he’s the only 80 speed in baseball. And his defense has proved to be awesome out there. His arm is strong enough, but it doesn’t make this list until he can hit the broad side of a barn.

I think it’s funny that Casilla makes up 22% of this list. But he can really run, and every time he throws the ball I wonder if it’s going to put a hole in someone’s glove. (Honestly, Alexi, you’re 10 feet away. Take a little heat off those throws!) He hasn’t learned how and when to use it, but a strong and accurate arm has to be a 60. Casilla is grossly misused as a second baseman.

But … nine tools? That’s it? I was really hoping for more. And I find it especially worrying that only two of them (Mauer’s hitting and Morneau’s power) have to do with offense. I mean, Loose Cannons I & II have the speed to cause chaos and help the offense, but they’re not strictly offensive tools. I think you need more than nine 60s in order to field a playoff caliber team. (I don’t know how many you need. But nine doesn’t seem like very many.) We could add a few offensive tools to this if/when Kubel and/or Delmon starts hitting — but that’s beginning to look like it’s no guarantee.

So, before I get too frustrated with this, I’m just going to think about how Gardy would play this game. Punto and Tolbert, the perfect players, obviously have 10 tools between them. So Gardy already won the game, I guess.

Did I miss any tools? Overrate any?

No comments

KC Sweep: Kind of like beating up a child

Sorry its been a while since I made a post, I was in Vegas and almost gambled away the ownership of this site. 

Its always nice to sweep a divisional opponent. Even if it is the Royals.  Blackburn and Slowey looked great, Livan not so much. Tuesday’s win was a little deflating considering we tried to give the game away, but on the flipside Wednesday’s game was the opposite. Not sure why Hillman didn’t bring in a lefty to face Morneau. If I were a Royals fan, I would be pretty upset. But if Royals fans know anything its patience. Patience and losing. 

A few musings from the series: 

  • I’m really starting to come around on Craig Monroe. Is he overpaid? Yes. However, having a power bat off the bench is something this team hasn’t had in a while (if ever) and it sure is nice.
  • What percentage of Mike Lamb’s hits produce RBI? Its gotta be pretty high.
  • Did anyone see how Harris looked turning the DP at short yesterday? He seemed much more fluid than when he was at second. What say you to ending the Adam Everett experiment and using Harris as the everyday SS?
  • I noticed Mauer was sporting a bit of a beard, as was Cuddyer. Apparently they are going to grow them until they homer. Someone get Delmon Young in on that too.
  • I think Punto is coming off the DL sometime this weekend, how much does Gardy increase his playing time? I bet he is in the game somewhere, either short, second or, third, everyday. Gardy has been unusually anal about the defense, even for him. Lamb’s defense hasn’t really bothered me, and I think he is starting to turn a corner at the plate. But I’ve said that before…
  • A while back we made a post that used a phrase “Gardy’s addiction to scrappy middle infielders” or something like that and we had a comment from a blog on addiction who found us from that phrase, I wonder what kind of readers today’s headline will attract.
  • So we have 4 against the Yankees starting tonight. Monday’s game is on ESPN at 6pm local time.  It will be nice to hopefully take three. We have Perkins going tonight, and the Yankees have a handful of lefties in their everyday lineup. Matsui, Giambi, Abreu, Cano, and Damon. Not sure if Girardi will start all five of them, but I don’t know what other options he has. Shelly Duncan? Ok.
  • Is Baker due back this weekend, or is Boof going to make another start. I don’t want to see him try to get the Yankees out. He has really disappointed me. I was hoping for a good year out of him.

2 comments

Santana’s Troubles Make Wild Bill Look Good

Rumblings have started to come out about Johan Santana’s arm. They’ve been quiet, under the surface since December, when people pointed out that his numbers were drastically down over the last six weeks of the season. Until yesterday, when Buster Olney mentioned that some evaluators have been saying that Santana’s velocity is down and that his mechanics are off — he’s short-arming the ball, indicative of shoulder problems. Today, Olney harnessed an explosion of reactions from scouts who agree wholeheartedly that something is wrong with Santana.

“The Mets were asking around about that in spring training, about what his true [velocity] baseline was,” said one talent evaluator. “They were concerned.”

Said an AL scout who has seen Santana this month: “His stuff isn’t even close to what it was [with the Twins].”

One explanation for his diminished numbers at the end of last season was that he didn’t care as much since he was playing for a non-contender. I didn’t buy it, of course, since Santana’s a competitor and would want to try to win no matter what, and the idea that he “didn’t care” about winning those games just doesn’t make sense to me. That said, I was a little dubious at that point that there was anything wrong with him.

That is, until he started demanding the 7 year mega-deal extension, as a stipulation of waiving his no-trade clause. He wanted free agent money even though he wasn’t a free agent — which hurt the Twins, but not as much as it would have hurt had we signed him to the rumored 5/$100M deal and he didn’t live up to it. The question I kept asking was: why is he demanding this contract now?

He was one year away from free agency. He would have been in a free agent market with CC Sabathia, with many teams desperate for a big time starter — notably all the big spenders. A big contract was going to be available after 2008 … so what was the rush? Why would he be so eager to forgo the inevitable bidding war?

The only explanation I could think of was that he knew something was wrong. The fact that the Mets were concerned about his velocity in Spring Training indicates that they were also concerned — albeit a little bit too late.

I had been against signing Santana to the mega-deal, and especially against increasing the deal to whatever it would have taken to sign him. That isn’t a popular opinion among Twins fans, of course, since everybody loves Santana and having the best pitcher in baseball is worth quite a bit. And it was worth a lot to the Twins to have him (.700 winning percentage when Santana starts, .500 or so when he doesn’t). But that contract would look like a pretty bad albatross if given to someone who was NOT the best pitcher in the game. And I thought it was pretty unlikely that Santana would be that good for another 4-5 years — his previous 4 years rank pretty well among the best 4 year peaks of the best pitchers in history … and there’s a reason they rank by 4 year peaks: pitchers can rarely keep it up past 4 years.

It’s starting to look like history will end up being right again. If Santana has significant wear and tear on his shoulder and continues his homer-happy ways (the most homers given up since the start of 2007), it’s going to be pretty bad for the Mets. And the Twins are going to end up looking pretty good in the deal, as Carlos Gomez improves from his “already-replacing-Torii-Hunter” status.

This serves as further evidence as to why it’s a bad idea to sign a starting pitcher to a long term contract (as if Barry Zito, Kevin Brown, and Mike Hampton hadn’t been enough); as vindication for those of us who’ve been vilified for being pro-Santana-trade; and as a major source of frustration for CC Sabathia, who may have just lost out on a LOT of money after the season.

And it makes the Twins’ front office under Wild Bill look pretty damn good.

1 comment

The Demise of Fundamentals

Yet another embarrassing loss, and the Twins reputation as a small ball team that does the little things right continues to look more and more ill-gotten. This team can’t advance runners on the bases and does little, if anything, right. From the game recap:

“I hope that would be our ugliest game of the year,” Gardenhire said. “I hope we never have to deal with something like that again, missing pop flies and failures to get runners in and execution, the whole package.

“I don’t know how you prepare for those things. We’re not used to seeing it and it’s embarrassing for this organization and our fans. I put that on my shoulders — that’s my baseball team out there.”

Frankly, I was fully expecting Gardy to stick with the “We didn’t get the job done, the other team was the best team in the history of baseball, we need to focus on the little things” mantra that he says to the media after every bad performance, but he went one step further this time. He actually took responsibility for how badly the team played. Although I don’t know how much responsibility he really put onto his shoulders, given that he started the sentence by saying he doesn’t know if there’s anything that can be done about it.

All I can say is that he’d better figure something out. It seems more and more like Gardy just says things to the media but that doesn’t get passed along to the players. Does Gardy ever talk to the team? To the players individually? Does the team even practice?

Howard Sinker said it extremely well:

The former manager, Tom Kelly, imbued his teams with the fundamentals and Gardy’s division-winning teams were in large part the result of Kelly’s ways of doing things. The current group has lost the right to carry that banner.
Indeed, ever since Gardenhire took over the team, the “fundamentals” have existed only in the press room, kept alive in the minds of Gardy and the media, but not in the minds of the players or on the field. And it seems that it’s been getting worse as the years progress. At some point, Gardy simply has to realize that he’s not actually putting together a major league caliber defense, and that “pitching to contact” only works if there’s an excellent defense on the field. And that if a player isn’t good with the glove, he has to be able to hit — if not, why is he on the team? (Quick, name five position players on the team who can neither hit nor field. That shouldn’t have been so easy.)

And offensively?

“Honestly, though, he wanted to walk us,” Gardenhire said. “He tried to throw the balls in the dirt. We just kept swinging. I credit their pitcher to keep doing that. If they’re going to keep swinging, keep throwing them down there.”
I feel like I’ve written about this a few times before. And I also feel that Gardy has claimed on multiple occasions that he’s talked to the players about waiting for their pitch and not swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. It’s just … nothing has changed. Either Gardy hasn’t talked to the team, they didn’t listen, they’re not practicing it, or for some reason it’s simply not translating into the games. If Gardy considers himself the manager of the team, it’s high time he steps in and tries to fix this on the field.

I can’t be the only one who’s had enough of hearing one thing from Gardy and seeing the opposite on the field.

2 comments

The Worst Thing About Ron Gardenhire

Scott Ullger.

If ever there were more despicable words to utter, I have not heard them. A little history is in order, I think. Ullger’s playing career was with the Twins, and he played 35 games as a light hitting first baseman in 1983. He managed minor league teams in the Twins’ organization in the late 80’s through the mid-90’s, until he became the Twins’ first base coach in 1995.

When Ron Gardenhire became the manager in 2002, perhaps his first order of business was to promote his good friend “Scotty” Ullger to the position of “hitting coach.” Only Gardenhire would make the mistake of thinking that a first baseman with a career hitting line of .190/.247/.241 (with an OPS+ of just 33 — meaning that he was one third as productive as the average hitter) could be a successful hitting coach.

After the team put together OPS+ of 103, 102, 95, and 88 through his first four seasons as the hitting coach — and numerous complaints by the team’s promising young hitters, most notably Justin Morneau, who thought Joe Vavra down at AAA would be a better option — Gardenhire apparently came to the conclusion that Ullger may have been over-exposed as a hitting coach. After the 2005 season, Ullger’s proven ineptitude as a hitting coach got him promoted to third base coach, where he now reigns as Gardenhire’s second in command and right hand man.

Ullger’s abilities as a third base coach are perhaps even worse than his abilities as a hitting coach. He shows no ability to judge a baserunning situation, and appears to nothing about the throwing arms on the other teams’ outfielders or the speed of his own players. He repeatedly holds fast runners at third before the ball has been fielded in the gaps, and — much more frequently and much, much worse — sends slower runners home as the ball is returning to the infield, leaving them to get thrown out at home by dozens of feet.

This ends rallies prematurely, yes, but even worse it endangers our players. Last year, Morneau was hospitalized with a bruised lung after a particularly rough collision at home with Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo — Morneau was a sitting duck in the basepaths, and admirably tried to tackle the catcher and knock the ball loose. The point is that he never should have been in that situation, and Ullger needs to learn that Morneau is not one of the speed demons on this team. Of course, he did not learn from this experience, and has continued to send Morneau home when it’s obvious that he’ll be thrown out easily.

Ullger’s unreliable calls, and perhaps an inability to effectively communicate with the players, resulted in Kubel running through a “stop sign” and being thrown out at the plate on a pop up to the short stop. Ullger claimed he put up the stop sign, and Kubel claimed he looked and didn’t see one, instead seeing Ullger “just kind of standing there,” and decided to make a go of it. It was a piss poor decision on Kubel’s part, but I find it hard to blame him, given Ullger’s known incompetence.

One would assume that this kind of stuff would come up in some kind of annual, or quarterly, performance review. Or that someone — like the manager — would at least tell Ullger to improve his decision-making and stop killing rallies and injuring the players. Alas, no, this has not happened. Instead, Gardy has repeatedly, continually stated that he fully expects Ullger to replace him as manager when he steps down (whenever that happens), admirably continuing the royal managerial lineage.

Ullger’s continued presence in the dugout and on the third baseline is perhaps the most damning testimony against Gardenhire’s judgement of talent and managerial ability. At best, it is simply a case of nepotism gone wrong — at worst, Gardy simply cannot evaluate the performance of those underneath him.

And worst of all, Gardy fully plans to deliver one final punch by recommending Ullger as his replacement. Haven’t we endured enough? Hasn’t Ullger demonstrated that he gets worse at his job the higher he gets promoted? Shouldn’t, therefore, he stop being promoted?

It’s time to get Ullger off the field and out of the dugout. For the benefit of the team and the safety of our players.

2 comments

Canadian Sweep

Stupid filthy Canadians.

If Delmon Young doesn’t hit a homer in colorado he needs to be benched. If our pitchers come out of the weekend with more homers than Young, he needs to be benched.

Did anyone read Souhan today? He claimed that Harris and Lamb were failing to equal the offense production of Nick Punto. That is just flat out wrong. Lamb has about 500 doubles this year, and Harris has been excellent and his defense seems to improve daily at second. Granted, it still isn’t good, its better. I’ve watched Mike Lamb play many games at third and I am very impressed with his defense over there. I think people overestimate how much range you actually need to play third. You need good reflexes, and a good arm. Lamb seems to have those. Having a good shortstop to cover lots of ground helps too. However, I do not think we are losing games because of Lamb’s “subpar” defense. He has shown good ability to snag hard it liners to third. He has a high baseball IQ (something Gomez does not have, but that is for a different time), and he is a productive hitter.  Souhan was accurate in describing Young as “a muscular singles hitter”, but its only May. Granted, he should have at least more homers than Adam Everett, and perhaps a benching will light a fire under him, but its too early typecast him as a singles hitter. Derek Jeter and Ichiro are singles hitters, because they have been doing it for years. (Note: being a singles hitter isn’t a bad thing, but if you are either striking out or hitting a single, its bad).

Also, where did the notion that Delmon is the ultimate power hitter come from? He only hit 13 homers last year and he played in every game. Kubel had about 13 homers last year and he didn’t play in nearly every game. I’m not familiar with Youngs complete minor league stats, but was he a sweet power hitter in the past? I think Rick Ankiel is more of a power hitter than Delmon Young. Wait, no. Rick Ankiel is more of a power hitter than Delmon Young, that wasn’t my opinion.

That is all.

1 comment

Delmon Young Rumblings

It’s time to continue grumbling about Delmon Young. He played all 162 games last year, and has played every game so far this year. That’s admirable … but at the same time, he’s not producing. Despite getting two hits last night, he came up short in perhaps his most important at bat — bases loaded, nobody out. An RBI Fielder’s Choice is not what we want out of our prized young slugger in that situation.

But is the Young Delmon in danger of riding the pine?

“He told me the other day, he doesn’t like to miss an inning,” Gardenhire said. “And I told him to get some hits, and he won’t.”
It sure sounds like Gardy’s noticed that Delmon isn’t living up to his hyped hitting ability. He has only 4 XBH so far this season (including 0 HR), for a IsoP of just .036 — which is shockingly Tyner-esque. (Last year, Tyner’s IsoP was .069.)

So while Gardy wants him to “get some hits,” I don’t think that’s the message that needs to be sent. Delmon answered by getting some singles, and raising his average to .271 … but the real problem is that he needs to put a charge into the ball. Delmon needs to be crushing line drives and putting the ball over the fence.

Would benching be a viable option? Would it do what we want, and light a fire under his ass? Would it have the same effect it had on Gomez? Or would it anger Delmon, starting a player-manager fight in the same vein as Young v. Maddon a year ago?

It’s impossible to say. But something needs to change, and I’m an advocate of sitting him down and telling him that if you want to be in the lineup, you have to produce. Just take it easy for a day, and when you come back start swinging harder — we don’t need our young players taking bat-speed lessons from Mauer (while ignoring the strike zone lessons, apparently).

6 comments

Weekend Recap

Not a bad weekend, win two of three (with one to go) against the stupid red sox (that is the official firegardy.com name for the baseball team from Boston). Friday was great. Nothing like taking papplebon (also, none of their players names deserve capitalization) down a peg or two.  Very exciting, too bad we couldn’t carry that momentum over into Saturday.  Perkins looked ok for a while, but our pitchers just couldn’t seem to keep the ball in the park.  Granted the stupid red sox have a very powerful lineup, we just can’t allow them to do that.  On sunday Craig Monroe had one of his best games as a Twins, does anyone hear rumblings of benching the punchless Young and playing Monroe and Kubel at LF and DH?  They aren’t too loud, but such rumblings have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is here. And probably lots of other places too.

I really thing Gomez has turned a corner in his development as a hitter. Since that game a few weeks back when he was benched, he has been tearing the cover off the ball. He still strikes out too much, but he is young and is progessing MUCH faster than I thought. He takes some questionable routes to the ball in the outfield, and until last night he was able to use his speed to make up for his inability to read balls off the bat (his speed can’t make up for his inability to read books, but that is neither here nor there). Isn’t the first thing you learn in little league taking a few steps back when a ball is hit in the air because it is easier to move in on a ball at the last second than to have to move back? I don’t get why his first steps are forward everytime. Ullger isn’t our outfield coach, is he?

In other news, no Nick Punto for about two weeks. That is awesome. I hope Casilla gets some playing time, but not sure where they would put him. I think Gardy likes him as a SS, so will he play on days that Everett rests? Harris is supposed to be ready to go for tonights game, and since he has been out for a while I get the feeling he will be starting several games in a row there, just to get back into the swing of things. 

Did anyone else notice last night that Tolbert is a terrible secondbaseman? He made two bad throws while turning potential DPs. On a ball hit down the left field line he ran over to third to cut the ball off. Was there a reason for this? He was about 10 miles out of position , and if the ball got away from the 18 guys we had on the left side of the infield, only Morneau was on the right side to back anything up. I hope that was just Tolbert being dumb, not the coaching staff telling him to take cutoff throws from the left fielder as a secondbaseman.

We have Livan tossing tonight. On ESPN, can’t wait to hear what Joe Morgan has to say.

6 comments

Baseball Offense: Old School vs New School

This week, I wrote about how a small strike zone always seems to hurt the Twins. My explanation was fairly simplistic:

“The strike zone may have been consistent for both teams, but the Twins react terribly to it, and have for years. First, it hurts the pitcher because the corners aren’t called for strikes — meaning he’s giving up more walks and more hard hit balls than he’s used to. That isn’t consistent for both teams, however, because of the Outside Swing Percentage problems the Twins have: namely, they swing at everything that moves and won’t draw any walks regardless of how friendly the strike zone is.”
I wanted to think about this some more. Especially in the context of a conversation we had yesterday: “The way I see it, there are two basic philosophies for building an offense: walks + power, or consecutive hits + speed.”

I’m not about to debate whether these are the only two basic philosophies of building an offense. But what I am going to do is walk through a (rather longwinded) thought about which of these two philosophies produces the better offense — and how that affects the enjoyment of the game.

When you watch an old baseball game, one of the striking things about it is how large the strike zone is. When you’re taught to play baseball, you’re told that the strike zone is “from your armpits to your knees,” and the umpires actually used to call it that way. As a result of the large strike zone, batters had to protect the plate a lot more, and swing at anything that was near the corners, otherwise they’d just strike out.

When you’re swinging like that, it’s supremely difficult to put any power into your swing. (I know this from personal experience — when I played, I never hit a home run, but I also rarely struck out … or walked. Classic Old School Twins Player.)

As a result, old games tended to take less time, and a player’s value was tied directly to his batting average, as opposed to his OBP. (Because it was so much more difficult to walk, a player’s ability to make contact WAS his ability to get on base.) In order to score runs, a team had to sustain a rally. You had to get three or four hits in an inning in order to score a couple of runs. The suspense in these games is palpable (which is funny, considering the fact that they happened decades ago), and the players were forced to trust the players ahead of them and behind them in the order. The BB-K-HR model individualizes the game much more — each of those players was trying to hit his own home run, not sustain a rally for his team.

How does this effect the Twins and their organizational philosophy? The most famous Twins players were swing away hitters. Some of them could put it over the fence, some couldn’t. Some made more contact than others. But none of them kept the bat on their shoulder.

The Twins mastered the art of the old school offensive strategy close to the time it became outdated — and won a pair of World Series for their efforts. Even players who weren’t part of those teams, but were predecessors and part of the mold of “a Twins Player” remained in the public’s consciousness and hearts. Oliva, Carew, Puckett, Hrbek … free swinging, fun loving, old school baseball players. These are what a Twin is supposed to be.

And nothing changed since then. The ownership is the same, just older. The front office is the same, each GM naming his successor and keeping alive the victorious lineage of the ‘87 and ‘91 champions. The curmudgeonly manager of those championship teams finally retired and named his successor, keeping alive THAT victorious lineage.

Of course, the second championship was followed by a decade of dark, dark times. Exactly the kind of times a franchise could use for some serious soul searching, to figure out what direction the organization is going to take. To determine whether or not the game has passed them by, and that changes are necessary.

This soul searching didn’t happen. Nothing changed — instead, after a decade of futility, a new band of young Twins emerged, forged from the mold of old, Classic Old School Twins Players. They swung at everything, and they managed to do it in a row enough to score runs. The Twins re-mastered the art of the old school offensive strategy, just as other teams were mastering the new offensive strategy — walks and power.

The Boston Red Sox — certainly one of the most successful of the new school offenses — represent perhaps the perfect juxtaposition with the Twins. They didn’t maximize their walks + power offense until they added the ultimate DH … a certain David Ortiz. He stepped into their lineup and immediately started blasting balls over the fence and striking fear into the hearts of pitchers everywhere. Before DOrtiz was this feared hitter, he was with the Twins, where he was “forced to swing like a little bitch.” (His words.)

But, at the end of the day, is this Old School Offense that the Twins are employing such a bad thing? The Twins offense won’t score as many runs or be as consistent as the more modern teams, and they’ll probably amass a worse record over the course of the season than the teams willing to spend 2+ times as much money (that’s what it costs to get the good “Three True Outcomes” players). And another World Series may be hard to come by (although anything can happen).

I don’t personally watch baseball every day because I EXPECT my favorite team to be the best one that’s ever been constructed, every day of every year. That’s a bit of an East Coast mentality that’s a bit too oppressive for my tastes. I watch baseball because I enjoy it, it’s entertaining and fun to watch, and it recalls my memories of playing baseball as a kid. And when you’re a kid, not many people are able to hit a home run and everyone hates it when kids are getting walked around the bases.

I don’t LIKE watching a baseball game where every at bat is most likely to be a strike out, walk, or home run. That type of play tends to take a long time, and encourages both the batter and the pitcher to draw out each pitch as long as possible. The “greatest rivalry in sports,” Red Sox versus Yankees, produces nothing but unwatchable games. Every game takes over four hours, and there’s little suspense in wondering which team will amass the most home runs (following walks) over the course of these particular nine innings. I would MUCH rather watch a 2.5 hour game in which 4-5 hits could happen in a row at any time, and whenever someone manages to get on base you have to sit on the edge of your seat as a rally may be about to start. (And because of that, I can get over the fact that the rally only actually starts about 20% of the time. If that.)

I think the modern walks + power offense is a “better” way to go about it. I’d like to see the Twins adopt some aspects of it. But at the same time, I love and appreciate the fact that I root for a throwback team that eschews these modern lessons and plays the game “the way it’s always been played.” There’s something comforting in that.

(And I’m not even old.)

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