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Twins Target - A Minnesota Twins blog | Page 29
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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 28 October 2009

Our parent network, Bloguin, is celebrating its one-year anniversary! As a part of that, they're rolling out the 2009 Bloguin Awards, which recognizes the biggest and brightest of the 100 blogs currently hosted by Bloguin.

While TwinsTarget is relatively new on the Bloguin scene, we've been nominated in the Best Banner category. Click here to vote for us, and be sure to spread the word!

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 24 October 2009

Despite playing just over half of the season, Joe Crede managed to be Minnesota's second most-valuable infielder. That's obviously not saying much—considering how Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla combined for 454 plate appearances this season—but for a guy who appeared to be his own voodoo doll, it's quite the accomplishment.

Crede spent just under half the season on the disabled list. Recovery from back surgery, a strain in his lower back, a right shoulder irritation, a bruised left knee, an injured right hand, and a sore hamstring should all be flashing, neon signs to stay away from this injury-prone 31-year-old, right?

Wrong. Like it or not, an injury-prone third baseman may be exactly what the Twins need in 2010.

Click here to read more.

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 20 October 2009

Most fans are already considering this upcoming offseason as the most exciting in Twins' history. Premature though that may be, there is every reason to believe that Minnesota could be among the most active teams this winter for one main reason: Target Field.

The new stadium is expected to drastically raise the annual payroll of the team, perhaps even removing the label of "lowest spending team in the AL Central." With more money at their disposal, the efficient Twins will add more wins to their team.

Then again, maybe the assumed revenue increase won't play as big a role as fans would like.

Here is an early look at the players who have guaranteed contracts for 2010:

Click here to read the rest!

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 19 October 2009

Twins Centric

Not every fanbase can claim a blogosphere with as high quality journalism as the Minnesota Twins boast. It's no secret that there are some very bright minds on the other side of your computer monitor. When they speak, we all generally listen.

When four speak, we know to expect top-notch content. John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Parker Hageman, and Nick Nelson don't disappoint.

TwinsCentric is, to the best of my knowledge, the first of its kind. Geared entirely towards the fans, these four brilliant bloggers joined forces to produce a book that instantly becomes a must-read for Twins' fans of all kinds.

From the book:

"It's the quintessential meme of sports fans everywhere: I could do that guy's job. In an age where information and statistics are abundantly available to just about everyone, second-guessing of managers and front office personal has become second-nature for most avid baseball followers. Well, now it's time to put your money where your mouth is: consider yourself hired."

Why are you still here? Be off now; go buy the book and support four of the best Twins' bloggers in the biz! Even if you can't afford the $10, there is a free download of 1/3 of the book at TwinsCentric.com.

 

(Boring, and probably unnecessary legal drivel: The FTC released an update to their "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" for the first time since 1980. Included in the update is an ominous threat to "bloggers" who do not disclose whether or not they are being paid to write a review. I wasn't "paid," per say, but John did give me a free copy of the book to review. I obviously would have bought the book if I didn't already have a copy. You probably didn't need to know that -- (if I find the FTC is reading this blog, I don't know if I'd be stoked or upset) -- but I really don't want to be fined $11,000. Just covering my bases.)

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 16 October 2009

Winning the division and going to the postseason is not a treat awarded every team. Many would agree that the Twins enjoyed a respectable 2009 campaign, despite it being a roller coaster of emotion. Fans survived the low moments, and enjoyed the high points.

Mishandling the re-signing of Joe Mauer, however, could derail the roller coaster for years to come.

Coming off perhaps the best offensive season by a catcher in the history of baseball, Mauer has all the contract leverage in the world. He is currently signed through 2010, but re-signing him to a long deal as soon as possible is obviously desirable.

On the free agent market, a player typically earns anywhere from $4 to $5 million per Win Above Replacement (WAR) annually. Considering various stints on the disabled list throughout Mauer's short career, he has amassed 27.9 WAR through about 4.3 seasons, which breaks down to about 6.48 WAR per full season. On the open market, Mauer could get roughly $30 million a year. That's just about the yearly payroll of the Florida Marlins.

And that's the last you will hear me talk of Mauer on the free agent market, as it cannot happen. Baseball would never be the same if there were a bidding war for the rights to a 26-year old catcher with Mauer's resume. Just about every head would roll in the Twins' organization if Mauer were allowed to walk.

Besides, if Mauer were gone, Twins' fans would burn the publicly-funded Target Field to the ground.

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 14 October 2009

Following the infamous Game 3 baserunning error, Nick Punto may be one of the most hated men in Minnesota. He ignored the (possibly late) stop signal from third-base coach Scott Ullger in favor of the roaring crowd. Punto probably ended up costing the Twins a run in that fateful Game 3, which ended up being the last of 2009, and the last in Metrodome history.

But that one mistake cannot replace a surprisingly solid season from the veteran utility infielder.

The following is a statement that may shock you, so please be warned: Punto leads the team in pitches taken per plate appearance with 4.2. Yes, more than Denard Span. Yes, more than even Joe Mauer. 13.9 percent of Punto's 440 plate appearances this past season resulted in walks. That percentage is higher than Mauer's 12.5 percent, and, again, leads the team.

Both his 4.20 pitches per plate appearance and 13.9 walk percentage are well above the league average.

While Punto swings at more first-pitches than Mauer does, Punto swings at fewer pitches outside of the zone than his MVP-caliber teammate. (This could be accounted for by Mauer's sheer ability to hit poor pitches better than Punto, but it still an interesting stat.) It seems ridiculous, but one could legitimately argue that Punto is the most patient hitter in Minnesota.

Putting aside the fateful miscue in Game 3, Punto remains one of the most effective base-runners in the league. In Baseball Prospectus' Eqivalent Baserunning Runs (EqBRR), Punto is ranked as the fourteenth best base-runner in the major-leagues, and by far the best on the Twins. EqBRR takes into account virtually all aspects of baserunning, including actual stolen bases, advancement on fly balls, advancement on ground balls, and other such elements.

Punto is obviously a light-hitter, and that is what alienates him to many fans, but he has his value. While he won't be leading any team in doubles or home runs, Punto is an above-average number nine hitter. His Wins Above Replacement this year was 1.2, and he has averaged just under 1.5 per full season. 1.5 WAR is certainly acceptable for the last hitter in your batting lineup.

Finally, on a point that could probably stand alone, Punto's fielding makes him entirely worth a full-time position in the lineup. His combined UZR this year was 5.1 -- not Franklin Gutierrez by any stretch, but essential for the ground-ball pitchers in Minnesota's rotation.

Perhaps the most compelling argument on Punto's worthiness to be a regular in the 2010 Minnesota infield, though, is the lack of other options. Brendan Harris is up for arbitration, Alexi Casilla is out of options, and Orlando Cabrera's contract is up. Punto's salary is the only one guaranteed, so if you put him on the bench or attempt to trade him you will be forced to fill second base, third base, and shortstop this winter.

Hardly a position you would want the Twins in, right?

Whichever middle infield position the Twins choose to address this winter—and I'll dive deeper into that as the season wears on—Nick Punto needs to start at one of them.

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 12 October 2009

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

I really don't want to dwell on this series for very long, for two main reasons: one, outside of Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano the Twins did virtually nothing right, and two, this was an incredibly winnable series.

If I had to choose one description of this series, it would without a doubt be "missed opportunities." Minnesota left 17 base-runners -- at least one in every of the game's eleven innings -- stranded on base during the second game, which, when coupled with Phil Cuzzi, makes it incredibly difficult to win a game.

Joe Nathan is staring to prove that he isn't the best postseason pitcher. During his postseason career, Nathan has amassed an ERA of 7.88, albeit in just eight innings. Nick Punto, meanwhile, has played spectacularly as of late -- minus that one baserunning blunder that probably cost the Twins a run last night. In the three postseason games this year, Punto has hit .444/.583/.556 with an OPS of 1.139.

Clearly, the Twins weren't playing the Yankees this postseason; they were playing themselves. And lost.

Minnesota has lost the nine straight playoff games since their Game 1 victory over the Yankees in 2004. That's a painful statistic for any team, but even more so for a team that supposedly "does the little things right."

Newsflash: they don't.

Feel free to let loose your pent-up anger in the comment section (remembering, of course, that this is a family-friendly site), or share other things that you think went wrong.

For now, though, I need at least 24 hours away from the Twins. (I doubt that will actually happen, but it's a novel idea, isn't it?) After that I may or may not launch back into analyzing this especially painful series. Haven't decided yet.

But you can count on the fact that I'll be providing all the offseason analysis, rumors, and predictions any Twins fan could ever dream of. Be sure to visit TwinsTarget as often as possible. We're going to have some fun this winter!

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