Fire Gardy

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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

6 Comments so far

  1. Texas May 31st, 2008 10:22 am

    I’m not sure I agree with you on Gomez’s defense. He has made a few outstanding catches, but his reads to balls has so far this season been sketchy at best and terrible at worst. And like Posanski I’m not sure any first base men can play 60 defense, but Morneau over at first has been surprisingly good (and noticeably absent when he is DHing), so maybe a 55.

    And what about Nathan? I would say he’s a 60 closer!

  2. sirsean May 31st, 2008 10:30 am

    Gomez has definitely made some mistakes on his reads, and he needs to learn what he’s doing out there a little better, but his range is fantastic and if he gets to within 10 feet of the ball he can dive and catch it. I’ve been really impressed by that.

    This game really only applies to the traditional “five tools” for position players, so pitchers don’t really count. If they did, the Twins would probably have some more on this list, what with all Nathan’s pitches, and the plus command for all their young starters. But they’re not part of the game.

  3. Texas May 31st, 2008 11:29 am

    I suppose in Dayton’s scenario you’d be correct.

    I still don’t buy that Gomez is a all-star caliber defender, yet. Not to say that he doesn’t have the tools to develop that, but as it stands right now he isn’t. Poor reads and missed cut-off men (while the instances of those have gone down) burn a little to close to memory for me to put him at that level.

    Something to think about is if all of these players develop to their potential how many 60 tools are we looking at in 2010? 12-15?

  4. sirsean May 31st, 2008 11:36 am

    2010? 2012? I think that’s way to far out to try to predict. I mean, people could develop well and Gomez could be hitting 30 HRs and Plouffe could be doing the same from SS. Or Gomez could be exactly the same as he is today and Plouffe could wash out.

    I’m nowhere close enough to the organization to know what they think about it, but there’s definitely some talent potential here.

  5. UncleBumpa June 2nd, 2008 10:44 am

    I agree with Tex re Gomez’ defense. It’s another loose cannon in my opinion. One of these days he’s going to run head-first into Cuddyer or Casilla! Or the 2nd base umpire.

  6. sirsean June 2nd, 2008 11:00 am

    I suppose we’re looking at the concept of “defense” from two different angles here.

    One angle covers speed, athleticism, glove, and arm strength. Basically, toolsiness.

    The other angle is polish, intelligence, accuracy, and consistency. Basically, skill.

    It’s the question of Derek Jeter vs Jason Bartlett. (Defensively only.)

    Jeter can’t get to any balls in the field, doesn’t have a very strong arm, and has ever-decreasing speed. However, when he gets to a ball he always fields it cleanly and makes a good, accurate throw to first.

    Bartlett gets to just about everything on the left side of the infield, can move equally well in both directions, makes strong throws (that sometimes miss their mark). He’s got all kinds of physical tools, but not the polish on this game.

    Jeter’s defensive reputation is stunningly mixed, as is Bartlett’s.

    The media considers Jeter to be a great defender, and Bartlett to be a poor defender. This opinion seems to be based on “number of Gold Gloves won” and “number of errors.” However, neither one of those has anything to do with actual defense or defensive ability.

    The stats guys measure how far a player had to travel to get to a ball in play, how many balls in a player’s “zone” did he get to, how many plays he made that other people at his position DON’T make, and how many plays he failed to make that other people at his position MADE. Every statistical benchmark agrees that Jeter is the worst defensive SS in baseball, while Bartlett is among the best.

    Ultimately, this is a question of tools. Not of polish, or of skill. It’s not even a question of whether or not Gomez is currently a plus defender — merely “does he have the physical talent to be a plus defender.” (That’s what “tools” are. Delmon Young has all kinds of tools, according to scouts. But until he actually demonstrates a LITTLE bit of those tools, I’m not going to run around touting them. Gomez has been demonstrating his tools from day one.)

    So missing the cutoff man and making poor reads and bad decisions has nothing to do with tools. Those are things you can be taught.

    Running down a line drive and making a fantastic diving catch that looked impossible the entire time the ball was in flight — that kind of talent cannot be learned.

    “You can’t teach speed.”

    That’s the basis of the Dayton Game. Tools. Not skills.

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