Thursday Links


The big news from the past week was Prince Fielder signing with the Detroit Tigers (Also, this video which is a serious Video of the Week candidate).  While the Tigers were already the AL Central favorite heading into 2012, even without recently injured Victor Martinez, they still managed to out bid the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers for Fielder’s services for the next NINE years at $214 million dollars.  The Fielder signing helps the Tigers right now, and puts them in contention to chase the Yankees/Rangers/Red Sox/Angels/Rays for a World Series championship, but long term the deal may spell trouble in Mo-Town.

The move definitely puts pressure on the Twins to improve their team drastically in the next two years or risk becoming an also-ran in the Central, but Nick Nelson notes that Fielder does not remove all hope for the Twins in 2011.  Ultimately, the Fielder signing changes little for the Twins, as Judd Zulgad notes, as they still need Francisco Liriano to return to dominance and for Scott Baker to remain healthy for an entire season to anchor a pitching staff that includes Carl Pavano (Opening Day starter?!) and Jason Marquis.  Minnesota will also need a couple of new faces in the bullpen to out-perform expectations (as Glen Perkins did in 2011) and if Mauer and Morneau are healthy, the Twins will have a chance to make sure Detroit’s Championship Drive detours through Minneapolis.

And now the links:

The real Winners and Losers of the Prince Fielder deal lists Fielder as both a winner AND a loser.  Sorry, I just cannot find any reason to think a guaranteed contract of $214 million dollars makes you a loser, not no way, not no how.

Even the Gleeman and the Geek Podcast is getting in on the Prince Fielder news, discussing the acquisition at length in their most recent podcast.  This podcast has definitely improved by leaps and bounds, from its debut during the height of the Twins’ downward spiral late in 2011, and is quickly becoming a weekly must-listen in my books.

In addition to the podcast, the Twins Geek, John Bonnes, examines the Hyperbole of Fielder and realistically assesses his value to the Tigers in 2012.

Even without Victor Martinez, the Tigers have themselves a fearsome homerun tandem in Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.  John Swol looks back at Twins history and spot lights their biggest and best home run power combinations (Killebrew is half of the top six power combos!)

Because I know you were hoping for one last Prince Fielder related article, here is the Sweetspot’s David Schoenfield with a position by position breakdown of AL Central player rankings.  Despite my own optimism heading into 2012, Schoenfield does not list the Twins as having the best player at ANY POSITION, (not even Joe Mauer at catcher), and when he adds all the rankings together, he projects the Twins to once again be the doormats of the Central.  Not good, Twins fans. 

So what else was happening this week?  Oh yeah, the Rockies flipped Kevin Slowey back to the American League Central, this time to the Cleveland Indians.  What makes this move so disappointing is that the Rockies received a significantly better prospect for Slowey (Zach Putnam) than the prospect the Twins received (Daniel Turpen).  Several Twins blogs weighed in, including Off the Mark, and Nick’s Twins Blog, both of whom were critical of the Twins’ sell-low strategy on Slowey, which looks even worse compared to the buy-low move the Twins made with Joel Zumaya.

Dustin Parkes does a great job explaining the importance of baseball in his life in a story I think a lot of baseball fans can relate to, including a picture of a young Parkes on Blue Jays baseball card.

Bill Petti of Beyond the Boxscore looks at the Creative Destruction of Scouting.  The increased reliance on stats has certainly reduced the role of talent scouts, but Petti argues that there are many other factors in play that have resulted in the decrease of scouts in Major League Baseball operations.

Any time a list of the best pitching duels in a year features Anthony Swarzak as the Twins’ highest ranking performance, you can be sure that something went poorly for the Minnesota Twins.  Check out Grantland’s Top 100 Pitching Duels of 2011, in which Swarzak checks in at number 12.

One of the coolest things about the Twins Bloggosphere is the range and depth of articles surrounding the Minnesota franchise.  Twins Fan from Afar, based out of Connecticut, puts Andrew Walter in close proximity to the New Britain Rock Cats, and gave him an opportunity to attend their winter Hot Stove Luncheon and check in on former Twins GM Bill Smith.

During this part of the offseason many fans find themselves looking forward to Spring Training and the excitement of young prospects begin to fill their heads.  Baseball America recently released their Top 10 Twins Prospects (Baseball Outsider, Edward Thoma responds), and the North Dakota Twins Fan has split up his Top Twenty prospects list into two different posts, complete with mini-profiles.

If you’ve already ordered your 2012 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook from Seth Stohs, his new series profiling the Twins’ organizational depth chart is a great companion.  If you haven’t yet purchased your handbook, these rankings offer great insight into the likely call-ups in the event of injuries to the big league Twins.  So far Stohs has listed catchers, first basemen and third basemen.

Parker Hagemen profiles a new Twins Minor League player, Sean Burroughs.  While Burroughs is likely too old (31) to be considered a “prospect”, his journey to the Minnesota Twins is a fascinating tale, chronicling the ups and downs of the mistakes of a young kid, and the hard work and commitment to baseball of a man.

The Crazy Store called, they want their Ozzie Guillen back, and their Jose Canseco, too!

Bert Blyleven loves to talk about pitching down in the zone.  It makes sense, if the pitcher keeps the ball in the lower portion of the strike zone, or below it, hitters have a tougher time putting the ball in the air, resulting in fewer flyballs turning into home runs.  Fangraphs’ Matthew Carruth examines the data, and graph is not so straight and narrow.

The Astros have a new owner and he is not necessarily committed to keeping the franchise name.  The Big League Stew proposes 10 possible alternatives to Astros.

The Twins announced earlier in the offseason that they hoped to keep their 2012 payroll near $100 million.  With the recent signing of Joel Zumaya, Parker Hageman reports that they’ve pretty much hit that number, and breaks down player by player costs.

The Baseball Outsider is putting their Dissecting Bill Smith series to bed.  While Smith is ultimately responsible for the fate of the Twins in 2011, Thoma writes, some of his biggest prospects are still toiling in the lowest levels of the organization, and his final impact on the organization won’t be felt for years to come.

The Platoon Advantage’s Jason Wojciechowski has unearthed 20 facts that may or may not be facts about the Chicago White Sox’s Dallas McPherson.  Hopefully Wojciechowski playing fast and loose with the truth doesn’t get TPA kicked off of Baseball Prospectus, where you’re now able to find all of TPA’s contributors writing on a regular basis.

The Minnesota Twins are probably going to host the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.  They could take some tips from the Reading Phillie’s on sprucing up the Home-Run Derby, especially the dunk tank!

There is no Image of the Week here at Puckett’s Pond, but if there was, Flip Flop Fly Ballin’ would take home that honor this week, for exposing the REAL Ted Williams

Tony LaRussa is managing the National League All-Stars in 2012.  I thought this was a nice tip of the hat from MLB to one of the most successful managers of the past 30 years.  That people might have a problem with this is something that never crossed my mind.

The folks over at Twinkie Town are still working on the fan voting for their 2012 Top 50 Twins Prospects.  Today voting is open for the 39th best prospect.  You might not be familiar with all of these guys, but I’ve been voting for Pat Dean for about a week, so it’d be nice if he could sneak into the top 40.

Finally, 1500 ESPN’s Phil Mackey writes that despite the new revenue stream created by Target Field, the Twins are still essentially a small market team, thanks in large part to television revenue.

No doubter Video of the Week: The Cubs are teaching their prospects to Party Rock.  Another example of Theo Epstein pretty much killing it.

This isn’t baseball related, so it didn’t win the Video of the Week award, but it’s probably better.

Check out Puckett’s Pond on Facebook
Follow @ERolfPleiss on Twitter