Happy Groundhog Day! Pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers in just 16 days, no groundhog, or his shadow, can change that. Last weekend was a great time to be a Twins fan, especially if you had the privilege of heading over to the Metrodome to experience TwinsFest. While I did not make the trip to Minneapolis for the event, many Twins bloggers did, and shared their experiences with their readers (including this very awesome Kirby Puckett jacket). TwinsFast has come and went (Here is a great TwinsFest vlog from Drew Butera and with Spring Training right around the corner, and unseasonably warm weather throughout much of the Midwest, it is hard to think about anything except baseball.* The rest of the baseball blogosphere must be similarly entranced by proximity of Spring Training because there were many great baseball articles to link to this week!
*Not that you couldn’t have thought about something besides baseball. I spent one sleepless night earlier this week pondering the loss in lifetime earnings potential that could be created by not receiving an annual raise in salary. Numbers, combined with time, are scary things. This has been the first installment of “Things that Keep Me Up at Night”.
Anyways, on with the links:
While I guess this is technically ANOTHER TwinsFest story, this one, even more than the others, really embodies what TwinsFest is all about: making connections with your favorite baseball players, and creating memories that last a lifetime. Lindsey Seavery from CBS Minnesota reports on a Missing Jersey that was reunited with Twins great Tony Oliva, 25 years after he lost it.
David Schoenfield of ESPN’s Sweetspot spent part of the last week pondering Over/Under lines for a couple of MLB vets, including Justin Verlander (Wins, over or under 20), and Alex Rodriguez (Home Runs, over or under 30). I took the under for both guys, Verlander because I just cannot stand to predict Tiger success, and Rodriguez because A-Rod is getting old, and he’s breaking down.
Last week at the Diamond Awards the Minnesota Twins announced they were retiring the number 10 in a tribute to long time Minnesota Twin Tom Kelly. Jim Crikket’s article on Kelly was not only one of the first on the web, it definitely has the coolest photo.
For all the praise heaped upon Terry Ryan since he took over for his replacement (took over for his replacement?… Yup.), Nick Nelson wonders in Ryan was took quick on the trigger when he jettisoned Kevin Slowey and signed Matt Capps. Nelson argues that Slowey’s value was never lower, and after the Rockies flipped him to Cleveland that definitily appears to be the case, and that Matt Capps was vastly overpaid, especially considering some of the free-agent closers still on the market who are projected to sign for less than half of what the Twins signed Capps for. Who are some of those closer types? Aaron Gleeman has the answer, and he tips his hat to Axl Rose.
I wish the Chicago Cubs still had a mascot. Theo Epstein, make this happen.
Last Friday the Nodak Twins Fan caught everyone up on the Twins Minor League action with his Friday Links-N-Thinks. Roger13 of TwinkieTown had a Minor League Report of his own last week, looking at 7 players that need to have a big season in 2012. Levi Michael, while certainly another Twins Minor Leaguer, is certainly not a Texas Ranger, the NoDak Twins Fan investigates.
In other Minor League notes, Seth Stohs continued his series or Organizational Depth, ranking Middle Infielders and Outfielders. From the Two groups, I think that Jamey Carroll and Josh Willingham will have the greatest impact in 2012.
As a younger baseball fan, I’m often drawn to the Sabermetrics of baseball. Andrew Walter, Twins Fan From Afar, looks at the Plain Meaning Rule, and compares the legal world and the baseball world.
Not only do the Cleveland Indians have Kevin Slowey, but they just signed Dan Wheeler, and they signed him to a Minor League Contract! If only the Twins had not invited every and their 25 cousins to Spring Training they would have had space for someone like Wheeler to fill a spot in a bullpen full of question marks.
Bringing 25 non-roster invitees to Spring Training not only kept the Twins from signing Wheeler, but, as Edward Thoma writes, it makes it hard for the Twins to evaluate the 31 pitchers invited to Spring Training.
FanGraphs superstar, Dave Cameron, looks at the value of relief pitching, and wonders if teams are benefiting from their relievers pitching less. Since 1982, relievers are certainly striking out more batters, but overall they’re not really faring any better today than they were 20 years ago. Following up a couple days later, Cameron suggests that in 1996, MLB perfected bullpen usage, his name was Mariano Rivera.
The most recent episode of the Gleeman and the Geek podcast, is significantly light on the Geek. Aaron Gleeman flies solo, discussing, among other things, his new Macintosh computer, the Twins outfield alignment, and congratulating Tom Kelly.
Part of the Twins’ new outfield is Josh Willingham, who is, John Shipley reports, is ready to try right field. Another piece of that outfield, at least a couple days a week if he can continue to hit, will be Trevor Plouffe.
Over the Baggy ponders the value of playing Ben Revere in center field in place of Denard Span. While Hageman concludes that preventing hits, via Revere’s defense, is more valuable than keeping base runners from advancing, via Revere’s arm, he never really comes to a conclusion on the best set up for the Minnesota Twins, as Denard Span’s CF defense is also above average, and Revere can prevent plenty of hits in left field as well.
Outside of the Twins world, Maury Brown of Baseball Prospectus, speculates on the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and what it might mean for the St. Louis Rams. Baseball, despite taking a back seat to the NFL in terms of popularity, can still drive NFL owners to move their team across the country.
Now that the excitement of the Prince Fielder signing has worn off, the real analysis begins. Rob Neyer Welcomes Princeto the American League, where he fully expects Fielder to under perform. Collin Kottke, a featured columnist over at Bleacher Report, examines the very Nick Punto-esque way to beat the Tigers.
Baseball Prospectus’ Ben Lindbergh Fact-Checked Super Agent Scott Boras. It just goes to show you that statistics are indeed the third kind of lie (lies and damned lies being the first two).
Finally, in honor of Black History Month, The Tenth Inning Stretch looks back to the 1954 season when the Twins’ Franchise broke the color barrier.
Video of the Week: In which a YouTubber, Vihart, makes the case that SpongeBob Square Pants does not actually live in a pineapple, under-the-sea or otherwise.
Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Ben Revere, Brad Radke, Dan Wheeler, Denard Span, Drew Butera, Jamey Carroll, Josh Willingham, Justin Verlander, Kevin Slowey, Mariano Rivera, Matt Capps, Miguel Sano, Nick Punto, Prince Fielder, Tom Kelly, Trevor Plouffe