"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Season Thus Far, Part 1

It's been a long, strange couple of months, my friends. Tomorrow, when it is June, I'll pick May apart. Today, let's look back at April, for comparison.

Twins team stats for April 2006:

CategoryStatValueAL Rank
(of 14)
ML Rank
(of 30)
HittingBA - Batting Avg .2501022
OBP - On-Base %.3111226
OPS - On-Base + Slugging %.6751429
H - Hits2031123
R - Runs971327
HR - Home Runs201225 (3 tied)
XBH - Extra-Base Hits511430
GIDP - Ground Into Double Play19813 (3 tied)
K - Strikeouts13869
BB - Walks691024
PitchingERA - Earned Run Average 6.281430
IP - Innings Pitched205.0n/an/a
H - Hits2761430
R - Runs1481228
ER - Earned Runs1431430
HR - Home Runs351226
BB - Walks Allowed5722
K - Strikeouts1361226
WHIP - Walks & Hits Per Inning1.621328
K/BB - Strikeouts Per Walk2.401 (3 tied)1 (3 tied)
P/IP - Pitches Per Inning16.3513
FieldingFPCT - Fielding %.9921n/a
E - Errors71n/a
DER - Defense Efficiency Rating.65514n/a
SB - Stolen Bases Allowed92n/a
CS - Caught Stealing65n/a
% Caught Stealing40%6n/a

Analysis: At the plate

The thing about the hitting that jumps out at me right away is that the ONLY thing our boys were above the median in was striking out. They didn't do a lot of that. Good for them. They also didn't walk, hit, homer or do much of anything else.

They stole a nice bunch of bases (15 of 19 attempts were successful), I'll give them that, but stealing is only useful when there's some slim chance that one of your teammates could then bring you home. They put a lot of balls in play, but flailing around up there like an overcaffeinated baboon will do that.

Analysis: On the mound

What the [BLEEP] happened here?! It's been nearly a month, and I still feel woozy when I think about April and pitching at the same time.

Here's a breakdown. Bullpen April ERA: 4.47. Starters April ERA: 7.30. Neither is very good, but the starters were just awful. Our pitching staff was worse than the Royals. Chew on that for a minute.

Like the hitters, they did only one thing well, and that was actually a matter of not doing something. Not giving up walks, in this case. They sure found lots of other ways to put guys on base, though, didn't they? Wham, bam, boom! After the first week, they were probably too dizzy from watching all the circling runners to pitch well.

Analysis: In the field

At least we're still great with the glove, right? Look again.

See that stat, "Defensive Efficiency Rating"? It basically measures the percentage of balls in play the defense "gets to"--prevents from becoming a hit. And, um...wow. We kind of suck. Enough so that this blogger really wonders how much of the pitching staff's inflated ERA is due to fielders' failure to convert balls in play into outs. I mean, the pitching was atrocious, but maybe it got a little unwanted assistance, too?

Having a great fielding percent and a crappy DER strongly suggests that while the Twins handle the balls they get to very well, they don't get to nearly enough of them. This, in turn, suggests a team full of fielders with a very limited range (or very limited effort) leaving large parts of the field essentially undefended.

Say you have two players with limited range playing next to each other. Third base and shortstop, for example. (I'm not ragging on anyone, this really IS hypothetical. Mostly.) And your pitcher gives up a ground ball to his right. Let's say this isn't a screamer or a ball that takes a weird hop, just your standard grounder. With me? Good.

Now, let's say that this ball zips along through a part of the field that could be covered by either the shortstop or the third baseman. If both have normal (not even above-average) range, the chance that this ball will be fielded for an out are pretty good. The lower the range of either of those two players, however, the lower the chances. And when both players have a below-average range, you've basically opened up a corridor on your field where balls can trundle along with very little risk of being stopped. That, my friends, is some very basic fielding range theory. Makes sense, right?

And honestly, how many times lately have you found yourself saying and/or thinking, "Why didn't somebody GET THAT DAMN BALL????"

I'm going to guess: too many.


On deck: The merry month of May

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

One More Fundraiser

The piratical AIDS Walk team will be holding a yard sale & jewelry sale this Saturday, 8:00 - 4:00 at 3208 Bryant Ave S in Minneapolis. This is part of the larger, annual CARAG neighborhood yard sale. So come on out, buy some stuff to benefit AIDS research, and go look at all the other stuff in the neighborhood. 'Cause everybody needs more stuff!

P.S. There will be a rather nice selection of gently-used Twins t-shirts available.

And lastly, if you can't make it out to the yard sale (or if you can and are feeling generous!), please consider sponsoring me or sponsoring our team.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lohse Optioned to Rochester

Can I get a "hallelujah"?

Minneapolis, MN– The Minnesota Twins announced today that they have optioned righthanded pitcher Kyle Lohse to Rochester (AAA, International League). In eight starts this season, Lohse was 2-4, 8.92 (38.1 ip, 38 er), allowing 57 hits with 19 walks and 24 strikeouts.

To replace Lohse on the 25-man roster, the Twins have recalled righthanded pitcher Boof Bonser from Rochester. In eight starts with the Red Wings, Bonser was 3-2, 2.01 (49.1 ip, 11 er), allowing 33 hits with 20 walks and 47 strikeouts. Bonser will meet the team in Milwaukee on Friday and is scheduled to make his Major League debut as the starting pitcher on Sunday.

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Hi Ho Silva...Away.

Silva and Liriano trade places

In an effort to get Carlos Silva's sinker down and his confidence up, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has decided to move the struggling starter to the bullpen. Francisco Liriano will start in Silva's spot at Milwaukee on Friday.
Okay, yeah, Silva needs to do something. And maybe the extra work he can get from the bullpen will be just the thing. That said, he's not the first starter I would have pulled from the rotation...

Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson discussed the move Sunday night, after Silva was knocked out after 3 1/3 innings, and again Monday morning. Silva was informed of their decision prior to Monday's game.

The move is not permanent, Gardenhire stressed, but necessary.


It will also give Silva more time to work on the side with Anderson. Gardenhire stressed that he expects Silva to rebound and rejoin the starting staff.

"He is one of our starters," Gardenhire said. "He's got to be one of our starters for us to be successful. So the first thing you have to work on is getting the confidence back. Right now his confidence is shot. He's a little lost. We're going to do that, get him some good outings out of the bullpen and try to get his confidence back up and get back into the rotation. Because he will go back into the rotation as soon as he finds his confidence and starts getting his sinker going. That shouldn't take very long."


Anderson said a flaw has been identified in his mechanics. Now it's a matter of working with him to be more consistent. There is no specific timetable for Silva's return. Gardenhire and Anderson will play it by ear, hoping Silva regains his form sooner than later. He said Silva could be used in almost any situation out of the pen.
Personally, I'm starting to think that all these "mechanical problems" he's having go back to that knee injury. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe he injured it coming down onto that leg while delivering a pitch. And if he's (consciously or otherwise) worried about a repeat injury, then his attention at that moment of release is going to be on his leg, not on the ball. Release just a hair early and--ta-da!--a pitch up in the zone.

A guy who's delivered a sharp sinker as long and consistently as Silva doesn't lose it while healthy unless there's something significant going on. They can talk about "making adjustments" all they want, but if I'm right nothing's going to stick for long until Silva can work past the very natural desire not to be in horrible pain again.

I don't know. Maybe he should try pitching with a very light brace on that knee. Just one of those elastic tubes you can get at the drugstore, a little extra support for both the knee and his comfort level.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bake Sale Today!

Come see the pirates outside Magers & Quinn in Uptown Minneapolis! Grab some treats we baked with our own hands! 10:30-2:30.

And TBL has been inspired by The Emerald Diamond. Watch this blog to find out how you--yes, YOU!--can support baseball in Ireland.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Ireland! Baseball!

Short notice, I know, but we just found out about this last night.

There is a movie about the formation of the Irish National Baseball Team (!!!) playing at the Lagoon theater this weekend, for two showings only! Tonight (Friday) at 7:30, and tomorrow (Saturday) at 2:00. Mr. TBL and I will be catching tonight's showing. Drop me a line if you'd like to make a group of it.

More on the movie:

The Emerald Diamond

and also check out the Irish National Baseball Team's official site:

Baseball Ireland

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Thursday, May 04, 2006


Some encouraging news on the Carlos Silva front:

Plenty of questions have been asked about Carlos Silva's early struggles, but the Twins believe they have found the answer.
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson realized Silva was moving his head to a position that left his arm lagging behind, thus disrupting his natural motion.

'You can't get on top of it and sink that way,' Anderson said. 'When your head is up and on, you're arm will follow. He was on top in both of his bullpens and locating the best I've seen him.'

Anderson spent quite a bit of time looking at video with Silva, trying to determine what the difference was between his performance last year and his struggles this season. In five starts so far this season, Silva has only one victory while his ERA has skyrocketed to 10.31. He has yet to record a quality start, which is unusual for the pitcher who threw a complete game in 74 pitches in 2005.

The biggest concern has been Silva's inability to get his sinker to have its normal downward motion. So to work on the problem, Silva took on an extra bullpen session this week. It seemed to work, as well as boost his confidence level.

'He was so excited about what he did in the 'pen,' Anderson said. 'He was even, at the point, telling Aaron [Amundson, the team's bullpen catcher], 'Put your glove out and close your eyes and I'll hit the spot,' and he'd do it. Aaron didn't close his eyes, but wherever Carlos wanted to put it, the ball was going.'

Well, here's hoping that's the solution. When a ground ball pitcher has literally half of his outs on balls in the air(and, from what this blogger has observed, a good deal more than half the hits he's given up) you know there's SOMETHING very wrong.

Silva pitches tonight, and the proof's in the pudding.

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