The Twins Problem At Third Base: Solved

       Joe Mauer, all-star catcher, batting champ catcher, MVP catcher, Gold Glove catcher, fan favorite catcher, could solve the Minnesota Twins problem at third base single-handedly. Throughout the years with injuries and such Mauer has sparked conversations about him moving to the third base position. He has expressed resentment at such thoughts, and has proven himself to be an exceptional catcher, but maybe he needs to take one for the team here and make the switch now. The Twins’ main problem right now is not having a quality guy at that corner position and while it would be a downgrade to put someone else at catcher the replacement, the current backup catcher Jose Morales, is better offensively than Brendan Harris.
       Jose Morales is a 26-year-old right-handed catcher from Puerto Rico. His first full season in the big leagues was 2009 (he played one game in 2008 going 3-3 with a double, two singles, and a run) as one of the two backups for Mauer and also was the designated hitter on occasion. He played a bunch in April when Mauer was out with kidney problems. He hit .311 in 119 at-bats and while never really showing showed that he could hit. I watched him at spring training this spring and was very impressed, he was fun to watch. While questions do need to be answered considering he has never played an entire major league season he is definitely fit for the job. The Twins have their confidence in him as they traded decided to release Mike Redmond who had been the main backup for Mauer. Yet is this guy be ready to be behind the plate almost every day for a major league ballclub?
       The Twins would also need to figure out a backup. Mauer would be accessible to come in from third and then you plop Harris back in at third. The Twins catcher in AAA, Drew Butera, is not ready to come yet and would not benefit from sitting on the bench most games. It would not be an issue for Mauer to play third and also be the backup catcher. The Twins would just have to coordinate the guys’ rest days so they don’t both need to rest at the same time. This saves money, the Twins don’t need to sign someone else to a new contract, and they get Morales’ excellent bat into the lineup. Problem solved.

Shopping Adventures: Part One

    Kevin Kouzmanoff, the San Diego Padres current third baseman, is being shopped around by his club. The Padres are not the worst team in baseball finishing the season at 75-87, but do have a large amount of work to do to get them back to the level that they used to play at (1998 World Series runner-ups, 2005-06 NL West Division Champions). The team most frequently referenced in the trade rumors surrounding Kouzmanoff is the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are lacking in the third base department – Joe Crede with his busted up back, unexceptional Brendan Harris or not yet ready for the majors Danny Valencia – and need to balance their piranha, small bloop hit offense with more power. A one year, let’s say $3.5 million contract, improves the Twins this season and buys time for Valencia to develop.
    On the Padres side, San Diego would acquire a promising young starter in Glen Perkins. He struggled this past season with an injury and lack of communication with his coaching staff, but showed his young talent in a couple of starts this season including A seven inning, four hit, one walk, one run gem against the Cardinals. The Padres are presumably asking for more than just Perkins, but he would fit nicely into the middle of their somewhat decent rotation.
    I read this blog earlier today about the Kouzmanoff rumors written by an avid Padres fan who can’t bear to see Kouz go. Her main point to the Padres’ front office is that the fans love Kevin so much there is no way they should trade him, but this transaction, as do most, stretches far beyond the casual fan’s appreciation for a specific player. Kouzmanoff wants to play for a team that wins and the Padres have not been doing that, they have not engaged him in talks for a long term contract, and he would be happier in a place that is succeeding. Perkins also has a place in the Twins’ fans’ hearts as he was born and raised in St. Paul and went to the University of Minnesota. Minnesota loves its homegrown heroes (Exhibit A: Joe Mauer) but the business side of baseball does not allow for these kind of strong emotional attachments. The Twins don’t have a good relationship with Perkins and the Padres need to improve their pitching rotation. The Padres have a fine options at third base and third base is the Twins biggest hole. We’ll see how this one plays out, but this has potential to be a good trade for both clubs.

Reflections: January 2009 to November 2009

So…I left this blog alone at the end of January. I was having mixed feelings over who I was choosing to do well this season and let a week go by before I started writing my ALCS prediction post (Yankees over Red Sox). But I never finished that entry and let this blog fade away. But now that the season is over I hope to return to this blog. I almost enjoy speculating and talking about off season moves more than the actual season. Almost. But not quite, so next year, look for me to be more active.

I wish the record showed that I picked the 2009 New York Yankees to win the World Series, because I did. I envisioned another subway series, with the $200 million spenders coming out on top. And although this blog doesn’t actually show this result, it does show that I pegged the Yankees with the best regular season record. I am also pleased to announce that I correctly chose the division winners and the wild card in the American League. (It does not need to be pointed out that I had a grand total of 0 right in the National League. Come on guys, I live in Minnesota, I know way more about the AL.)

Predicting final standings and especially records for the MLB is pretty goofy. There is so much variance that the odds of predicting even one teams record is extremely low (I don’t know the actual statistic).  My shining stars:

  • Toronto Blue Jays – Projected: 76-84 Actual: 75-87
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Projected: 92-70 Actual: 91-71
  • Houston Astros – Projected: 75-87 Actual: 74-86

One game off on three teams is not too shabby. Sports Illustrated was one game off on four and they’re the pros (actually two of those were off by 1.5 games because the Twins played one more and the Pirates one fewer). Now, although I hate to admit how bad some of them were, let’s go ahead and take a look at my worst predictions:

  • New York Mets – Projected: 91-71 Actual: 70-92
  • Cincinnati Reds – Projected: 60-102 Actual: 78-84
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Projected: 79-83 Actual: 62-99
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – Projected: 89-73 Actual: 70-92
  • Detroit Tigers – Projected: 74-88 Actual: 86-77
  • Cleveland Indians – Projected: 82-80 Actual: 65-97

I chose Arizona as the NL West division winner. They ended up in dead last. I said the Tigers would finish fourth in the AL Central. They came within a game of winning it. My apologies to the Reds for thinking you guys would be so awful. And to the Mets, you let me down. (Sports Illustrated chose them as the world champions so I don’t feel too bad).

Is the lesson here that it’s better to be lucky than good? Well, yeah. I don’t think anyone can be especially good at this sort of projection. We are human after all, the ones predicting and the ones actually playing the games.  And my personal lesson? Pay more attention to the National League!

2009 Divisional Series

I’m apprehensive to make this predictions because they could be totally off, make me look like a fool, are impossible to actually predict, but it’s still fun to do. Hopefully these will be close to correct, that’d be a lot of fun, but I’m no expert so no guarantees.

Divisional Series:

images-2.jpg
images-3.jpg

This first series pits the Chicago Cubs against the Arizona Diamondbacks. These are two teams with very strong rotations, but the Cubs offense and fielding are both better and they will win this series relatively easily.
3 games to 1 game

images-4.jpgimages-5.jpg

The NL East champion Mets versus the wild card Cardinals. New York is way too powerful, however, for St. Louis and will win this series handily.
3 games to 0 games

images-7.jpgimages-6.jpg
The big spending Yankees versus the home-grown Twins. Of course it would be wonderful to see Minnesota pull off this upset, but not with the powerful New York team they’ll be facing. It’ll be close, but in the end the Yanks will pull through.
3 games to 2 games

images-8.jpg

images-9.jpg

The wild card Red Sox will defeat the AL West champion Angels. Boston will overpower the Angels on every level and come away with an easy sweep.
3 games to 0 games

AL East

This is the powerhouse division of 2009. Like it isn’t other years, but
this year even more so. Defending league champions. Record spenders.
The Red Sox.

New York Yankees: 95-67

Yes, the New
York Yankees, as we once knew them, are back. As much as the general
public hopes that they do not succeed even with their huge spendings.
But it is inevitable. They are just too star-studded this season to not
at least win their division.

Boston Red Sox: 93-69

They
might have lost out on Teixeira, but they are still a fine team and
made some solid offseason moves. Not at their 2005 levels, but they’ll
make noise again. The good old, heated BoSox-Yankees rivalry will be
going strong this season.

Tampa Bay Rays: 89-73

These
guys are very good again this season, too bad the Yankees and Red Sox
are even better. This division is so strong this year, it is
unbelievable. The Rays will end up in third.

Toronto Blue Jays: 76-84

This
team is pretty average. There nothing special this season, but they
won’t be terrible. That’s about all that can be said about this
ballclub.

Baltimore Orioles: 71-89

The Orioles
have a good outfield and a decent infield, but take a look at their
pitching. It ain’t the prettiest thing in the world. Mediocrity at its
finest. These guys will play in some high scoring games with a nice
offense, but bad pitching.

AL Central

A controversial one-game playoff decided this division last season and MLB made sure that that would never happen again.

Minnesota Twins: 92-70

A great, young ballclub that narrowly missed the playoffs last year. They should make it this year through another division championship. This team’s outfield is fantastic, their starting rotation young, yet good, and their bullpen has one of the best closers in the league and is on the brink of acquiring one if not two big name set up men in Eric Gagne and Brandon Lyons. This team is shaping up to be very good. If only they had a third basemen…

Chicago White Sox: 89-73

This is going to be a very interesting race into September. The White Sox haven’t lost any valuable players and look to be in contention again this year. I just don’t think they have quite enough to pull off another division championship. I don’t think the addition of Bartolo Colon will affect the team positively and they still have some questions in their infield.

Cleveland Indians: 82-80

I wouldn’t want to rely on Kerry Wood to close out my small leads, but maybe that’s just me. This team does, however, have lots of potential. Through Grady Sizemore, Ryan Garko, Victor Martinez, and Cliff Lee they could come close to living up to last year’s expectations, but the top two teams in the division will be too tough for them.

Detroit Tigers: 74-88

One of the weakest rotations and a horrendous bullpen. This team spent way too much money on hitting and will pay the consequences another time with a terribly dissapointing season for an already depressed Detroit sports fan base.

Kansas City Royals: 70-92

It pains me to put the Royals down here. They have been at the bottom of or very near the bottom of the Centrald Division for so long. But this year won’t be any different for ‘em. Coco Crisp was a good pickup and their bullpen is looking good, but their rotation is pretty weak and this’ll be another long year for Kansas City baseball fans.

American League West

On to the American League predictions:

For the past few years the AL West has been one of the weakest divisions in all of baseball. This year, however, I think that will change.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 94-68

The Angels will once again win their division, but not with the dominance that they had over the other teams in the division in previous years. A fantastic outfield and strong rotation are their fortes. Brian Fuentes is also a strong addition.

Texas Rangers: 90-72

This team is back. Their bullpen may not have any big names in it, but look for this team to rack up some runs this season as Hamliton, Kinsler, and Young are all in their prime and much hyped Elvis Andrus could pop out.

Oakland Athletics: 81-81

Matt Holliday is a huge offensive boost for the A’s. Their starters are extremely young and inexperienced which could be their downfall, but is also promising for years to come.

Seattle Mariners: 68-94

Unfortunately for the Mariners this division will finish in the same order that it did last year. If only this team could get some offensive support. To post a 3.45 ERA but have a 9 and 11 record like Felix Hernandez did last year says it all right there. Extremely low run support.

NL West

The whole issue around Manny Ramirez makes this prediction tougher.
With both the Dodgers and Giants as potential buyers it’s hard to know
exactly who will come out on top of this division. But here are my best
bets.

Arizona Diamondbacks: 89-73

If their outfield offense gets going this team could be could be a serious threat. Webb and Haren are both aces.

Colorado Rockies: 88-74

They
don’t have the strongest rotation, but do have a solid bullpen and a
great infield. Not at their 2007, but look for this team to surprise
some people a little bit this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 84-78

This Dodgers team won’t be able to win the division again even if they do resign Manny. They won’t be too far behind though.

San Francisco Giants: 71-91

Having
a Cy Young Award winner doesn’t mean your team is very good and this
year’s Giants will be below average. Even if they do acquire Ramirez I
can’t see them being competitive.

San Diego Padres: 64-98

Another
year on the bottom for the Padres. They return their stars Peavy,
Gonzalez, and Kooooouz, but they won’t be enough to pull this cellar
dwellers up to the rooftops.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: 94-68

The Cubs will win the NL Central again in commanding fashion. Milton Bradley is a good addition to this club and they should make a stronger run through the postseason than past years.

St. Louis Cardinals: 90-72

With one of the best outfields and arguably the best first basemen in the league the Cardinals will be very competitive this season.

Milwaukee Brewers: 85-77

A disappointing season for the Brewers. This is a team with a ton of potential, but they won’t be able to get it done this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 79-83

An improvement over the 2008 season, but the Pirates aren’t quite there yet.

Houston Astros: 75-87

This team is going downhill. They may have some big names, but Berkman, Pence, and Oswalt can’t get it done by themselves. This team will struggle.

Cincinnati Reds:  60-102

But no team in the league will struggle as much as the Reds. The addition of Willy Taveras is good for the club, but the speedster doesn’t have enough support to bring up the team. Last place in the division.

National League East

I love looking at predictions for the upcoming sports season even though they tend to be way off. For instance, last season the Minnesota Twins were projected to finish at the bottom of the Central Division by multiple sources including ESPN. However, the Twins ended up missing the playoffs by only one game.

I now bring to you my predictions for the National League East, however inaccurate they end up being.

New York Mets: 91-71

The Mets will finally qualify for the playoffs again and do so by winning their division. Consistency from Johann Santana will be key and Reyes must stay healthy, but this team is a lock to win the NL East.

Philadelphia Phillies: 84-77

The departure of Pat Burrell, suspension of J. C. Romero, and extremely high expectations will cause the defending champs to be only 7 games over .500 and fail to make the playoffs.

Atlanta Braves: 81-81

The addition of Derek Lowe helps and the Braves will finish at .500 and third in the division, and will never be serious competitors for a playoff spot.

Florida Marlins: 73-89

It’s going to be a long year for the Marlins. Hanley Ramirez will be wishing he was on a different team at the end of the year.

Washington Nationals: 62-100

Even with Obama in town the Nats will lose 100 games again.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.