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Roundtable: Twins/White Sox Play-In Game

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday September 30, 2008 7:30 PM ET Twins/White Sox Play-In Game roundtable.

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Dave Pease (9:40:24 PM PT): Two teams enter, one team leaves. Please join us on Tuesday, September 30, at about 7:30PM ET for running commentary on Twins/White Sox game.

If you'd like to submit a question to be answered during the roundtable you can do so here.

In the meantime, be sure check out Monday's roundtable on the Tigers/White Sox/Rain Delay special that got us to this point, and visit our homepage to check out our continuing playoff coverage.

Joe Sheehan (4:51:21 PM PT): Hey, I think everyone forgot. I know I did...I was working on the Red Sox/Angels preview.

Sox get a big break in the first with the 5-3 LDP. Danks looks likes Danks.

Joe Sheehan (4:55:06 PM PT): "David (Boston): Which of these teams has a better chance against the Rays?"

Probably the Twins, who would go in with Liriano and Perkins on rotation. The Rays really struggle against lefty pitching, and those are two good ones.

Caleb Peiffer (4:56:16 PM PT): Blackburn, on starting tonight's game: "Somebody's got to do it. It just happens to be my turn in the rotation."

Caleb Peiffer (4:56:26 PM PT): Blackburn, on starting tonight's game: "Somebody's got to do it. It just happens to be my turn in the rotation."

Joe Sheehan (4:56:34 PM PT): "benrosenberg02 (boston): Why Wise and not Swisher?"

I don't know, and frankly, the whole issue is getting a little weird. The White Sox are playing DeWayne Wise, and using Ken Griffey Jr. in center field, while benching Nick Swisher...and they're eight innings from the playoffs.

David Laurila (4:57:11 PM PT): Followed by a double play in the bottom half. This should be a fun game.

Joe Sheehan (4:58:29 PM PT): "Tom (LA): How concerned are you with Sabathia's workload this year? Do you think this will affect him long term? Edit Question"

I'm more concerned with his body than with his workload this year, although the latter has been high and will go higher, maybe a lot higher. I would not sign him, and I know I'm in the minority on this. I just think the implosion risk is high because of his weight.

David Laurila (5:03:38 PM PT): This is one of those games that is probably more fun for neutral observers; it is certainly easier on the nerves. More than a few carpets will be worn out from pacing in Minnesota and Illinois tonight, with a fair share of beverages consumed.

Joe Sheehan (5:04:41 PM PT): "Str1fe5 (Chicago, Il): If the Sox make it in, how much does having all of their starters pitching on short rest for the past week with no break affect them?"

I think they'll be OK, getting back on the five-day rotation come Thursday with Vazquez, the Buehrle. And yes, I tried to spell that five different ways before getting it correct.

Twins can't win this game without making more contact. They need hits, because they don't hit homers.

Will Carroll (5:08:03 PM PT): If this is a 163rd regular season game, why is there a playoff style 6 man umpiring crew?

Joe Sheehan (5:08:17 PM PT): "Joel (GA): Any random unorganized thoughts from the other news story of the day, ie Cashman extension?"

I heart it. I think Cashman has become quite underrated, and has long been the only thing standing between the Yankees and, well, the 1984 Yankees. He doesn't do everything right, but he applies a level of thought to the problems and he has a long-term vision.

The Yankees could not replace Cashman and *upgrade* the GM chair.

Will Carroll (5:09:33 PM PT): Delmon Young caught it on the warning track after losing it in the lights, then seemed to panic that the guy on first was tagging. Then he realized it was Jim Thome, who is an honorary Molina ...

Will Carroll (5:11:36 PM PT): Seconding the Cashman move as a major plus. First, he's done a great job. Second, who's the alternative? Damon Oppenheimer isn't getting interviewed outside the organization yet, so it would be akin to the Tony Reagins hiring if he was promoted. In a year where there's only going to be one GM slot open (if indeed the slot is actually still open ...) I'm not sure if that makes for better candidates or not.

Joe Sheehan (5:13:30 PM PT): "strupp (Madison): The talking heads in the radio 'round here were gushing over the fact that Sveuem had convinced the Brewers to play more small ball. How much of this is true, and how much of it was the fact they played their last 6 games against the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs B Team?"

The short answer is...didn't they get three of their last five wins on dramatic late-game home runs?

I don't know what the long answer is. Honestly, for way too many people, "small ball" is the answer to EVERYTHING about baseball. It's tiring. The Brewers don't have anything vaguely resembling the personnel to play small ball. Doing so with their personnel would be amazingly counterproductive.

The Brewers allowed very few runs in the last week. That's why they play on.

Marc Normandin (5:16:29 PM PT): Hello all, taking a break from an epic day of writing to watch the game and take part in tonight's roundtable.

It's my first MLB playoff game in high definition *squeal*

Caleb Peiffer (5:17:25 PM PT): The Brewers were given a huge assist by John Russell refusing to use his best reliever, Capps, except in a save situation, and instead going to guys like T.J. Beam and Jesse Chavez.

David Laurila (5:18:42 PM PT): Appropos of nothing, the Bears and Vikings have met once in the postseason, in 1995, with Chicago winning 35-18.

Marc Normandin (5:19:43 PM PT): That groundball out reminds me of one reason Danks has improved so much from last year to this year. He's not a groundball pitcher by any means, but jumping his GB% up from 35 percent to 43%--and his G/F ratio from a below average 0.8 to a more average 1.2--was just as important as the slight increase in strikeouts and the dip in his walk rate.

Joe Sheehan (5:20:47 PM PT): Stockton: "Punto, trying to stay alive, does just that."

If he hadn't, he'd have been dead. On first base.

Twice now. Geez, pitch recognition.

Joe Sheehan (5:23:22 PM PT): "benrosenberg02 (boston): More likely: Red Line Series or Freeway Series (or Amtrak Corridor Series- Boston -v- Philly)?"

Acela Series (the last one), followed by Red Line followed by Freeway.

Not hearing a lot about the All-Indoor Series, a/k/a Must Change Planes Series.

Will Carroll (5:23:38 PM PT): Normandin - what system are you using? I'm perturbed that I don't have TBS in HD, but do have TNT, which is probably showing Holly Hunter fornicating or a Frank Caliendo commercial right now.

Marc Normandin (5:26:02 PM PT): I know Carlos Gomez is still learning on the job, as the announcers said, but a .259/.297/.362 season with 142 whiffs against all of seven homers (and 38 extra-base hits overall) isn't exactly a promising sign of what's to come, though it is an improvement on his stint with the Mets in 2007.

Pretty good call by PECOTA though, as it forecasted the 22-year old for .240/.301/.361 on his weighted mean.

Marc Normandin (5:27:01 PM PT): Will--I'm watching on TBS using Comcast, and it's just the basic package. Dennis Eckersley's mullet looks incredible in HD.

Will Carroll (5:29:34 PM PT): Joe, Milwaukee's hometown airline, Midwest Express, flies non-stop from Milwaukee to Tampa. You'd like them - they serve fresh chocolate chip cookies on every flight and have leather seats.

On a humorous note, MKE is the airport symbol for Milwaukee, while MIL is Milan. It really surprised me when a MIL-TPA flight popped up at $2900.

David Laurila (5:30:20 PM PT): Random fact: Tonight's starting pitchers have a combined 61-70 record as minor leaguers.

Will Carroll (5:31:00 PM PT): True or false: Carlos Gomez is Juan Pierre with some upside.

Joe Sheehan (5:33:08 PM PT): "repstein (brooklyn): So with 162 1/3 games of hindsight, would the Twins have been better off keeping Santana for this season knowing it would be his last there? (I ask this as a Sox fan.)"

It'd be easy to say "yes," but I think a lot of the Twins' run prevention this season can be traced to Carlos Gomez, and while the Twins had pitching depth with which to replace Santana, they had nothing even vaguely resembling a CF like Gomez. The guy can play the position.

So I'll say "no."

Caleb Peiffer (5:33:38 PM PT): Adding to what Marc said re: Gomez, he struck out more times this season than any other player with seven or fewer homers in major league history, per the BB-Ref play index.

Marc Normandin (5:34:24 PM PT): To continue with the Gomez point, as Dan Scotto of Mets Geek pointed out to me just now, Jose Reyes struck out just 78 times in his awful, Gomez-esque campaign of 2005, which was also his age 22 season. He's obviously young enough to improve, but the complete lack of pitch recognition and ability to walk is upsetting.

Next year will be critical, when we see if Gomez takes some of the poorer points of this year and turns them into positives, like Reyes was able to. He's not the same kind of talent, but the same lessons apply.

Joe Sheehan (5:34:44 PM PT): Will, unless they fly using rails and land routes, I won't like them.

Tell you this--right now, the Twins don't look quite as good as the Tigers did yesterday.

Marc Normandin (5:36:34 PM PT): Joe's right about Gomez' glove though; he was fourth in John Dewan's Revised Zone Rating among center fielders, and was second in plays outside of the zone with 103. He helped the pitchers and the fielders flanking him quite a bit, regardless of his production at the plate.

Caleb Peiffer (5:38:33 PM PT): Mauer has struck out twice in his first two at-bats. He had just seven two-strikeout games all season, and no games with three or more.

Joe Sheehan (5:43:50 PM PT): "Chris (Austin, MN): Not that this game needs much help in the watchability department, but I am a Twins fan who can win his fantasy league (and some $$$) with a Danks win tonight. High drama indeed..."

And I'm probably going to lose mine because of Danks. The sheer number of things that had to happen to get to this point is mind-boggling, but it looks, right now, like I may fall out of first based on tonight's events.

Huge can of bitter just waiting to be opened. Huge.

Derek Jacques (5:45:39 PM PT): Josh ((Sacramento)): How dumb were the White Sox Marketing Department to call for a "Blackout" for the fans? I remember the LA Kings told everyone to wear black once, and only once. It makes it look like the place is empty on TV. I'm looking at the game on my old-fashioned standard TV, and while I hear people, it looks like no one is there.

This fits with the super-secret nature of the TBS coverage. Perhaps it's been decided that baseball is a stealth sport?

Derek Jacques (5:52:54 PM PT): "1976reds (Manhattan): Does BP list individual defensive statistics on website? I enjoy following the zone ratings data on Hardball Times -- I'm a new subscriber so maybe I'm not looking in the right place."

Yes, you can find individual defensive statistics on the Davenport Translation player cards. For example, for the teams playing tonight you could see their defensive stats by clicking the following links:

Twins
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/2008MIN-A.php

White Sox
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/2008CHI-A.php

Defense is at the bottom of the page.

David Laurila (5:53:08 PM PT): Random fact #2: Of the 20 players in tonight's starting lineup, only Brendan Harris was drafted out of a 4-year college (William and Mary). Punto, Blackburn and Thome each attended a JC. The rest were high school guys.

Marc Normandin (5:54:36 PM PT): And there's that cutter Danks introduced late last year on the 0-2 to Harris, He used it over 16 percent of the time in 2008, against almost not at all in 2007.

Joe Sheehan (5:54:38 PM PT): "lrgreen (NYC): Are individual defensive stats available on BP Premium? I'm new and haven't found them?"

Fielding Runs Above Average and Above Replacement are available on the individual player pages. These are not available through the stats page. They will eventually be.

David Laurila (5:55:25 PM PT): Random fact #2: Of the 20 players in tonight's starting lineup, only Brendan Harris was drafted out of a 4-year college (William and Mary). Punto, Blackburn and Thome each attended a JC. The rest were high school guys.

Joe Sheehan (5:56:13 PM PT): If you have to try and score Michael Cuddyer on a fly ball 50 feet behind second base, your offense isn't very good.

Terrible job by the Twins. Just terrible. Remember, it was the top of the fifth yesterday when the Tigers wasted their chance to break the game open. This is almost identical.

Derek Jacques (5:57:53 PM PT): "murraygd13 (MN): Any ideas what strange play AJ Pierzynski will be involved in that will change the outcome of this game?"

Let the record show that this question came in long before Pierzynski's block at the plate to end the fifth.

Joe Sheehan (5:59:20 PM PT): "billlaca (LA ): For Joe - Red Sox fan wants to know what your earlier comment means - "Sox get a big break in the first with the 5-3 LDP." Also,what time will your preview be up on the site? thanks "

It means that a hard-hit ball with the runner going could have been first and third, no one out. Instead, it was two out, none on.

Waiting on some data to file the preview, not sure if it will post tonight or the morning.

Will Carroll (6:00:42 PM PT): Is that green thing doing the ... whatever you call that wavy arm thing ... behind the plate a mascot or is that Burke after a few too many?

William Burke (6:01:14 PM PT): Did Cuddyer think that Griffey is merely sporting a wet noodle hanging from his left shoulder? That throw to get him advancing to 3B wasn't very impressive. It had me wondering if a mid-90s Griffey would have looked like on that play (I was young, I didn't see much 90s Griffey on TV, though I did play a lot of Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on my NES.)

Joe Sheehan (6:04:27 PM PT): So, is this a pitchers' duel, or just hitters incapable of making good contact?

I know which one I'm perceiving.

Joe Sheehan (6:06:49 PM PT): "murraygd13 (MN): Is this the Sox last chance for another title? Konerko, Thome, and Dye all figure to decline next year and the farm system is barren."

This question comes to us from 2005.

In all seriousness, I thought this in 2006. Kenny Williams has done a very good job of building a competitive rotation, helped by Ozzie Guillen's ability to manage it. That seems to me to be why the Sox surprised us this year. If they keep finding credible starters, they can hang around.

I do agree that the offense looks to be worse next year, and I'm not sure how they address that.

Will Carroll (6:11:23 PM PT): Ok, September rosters, so who does either team have on the bench that could be of use?

Joe Sheehan (6:16:53 PM PT): "James (Roxbury): If Morneau or Mauer hits a big homerun or a walk off double or something, how much does that help their case for MVP with the BBWAA?"

I think all, or the vast majority, of voters have submitted their ballots already. So tonight can't do much.

William Burke (6:18:25 PM PT): Will,

bench players: Nick Swisher, Sox... Brian Buscher, Min

Joe Sheehan (6:22:33 PM PT): "Josh (Sacramento): Mauer and Morneau are now both 0 for 3. Which one is Buster Olney more likely to write needs to see a sports psychologist tomorrow?"

I laughed.

Joe Sheehan (6:23:17 PM PT): I kinda think I'd bring in a lefty for Thome.

Marc Normandin (6:26:04 PM PT): Whoops. Joe knew what was up, at least, though that's no consolation to Twins fans.

Will Carroll (6:26:19 PM PT): Ron Gardenhire agrees with Joe ex post facto.

Derek Jacques (6:26:32 PM PT): "Josh (Sacramento): Mauer and Morneau are now both 0 for 3. Which one is Buster Olney more likely to write needs to see a sports psychologist tomorrow?"

Mauer, obviously. All I can hope is that it gets him in a fistfight with Tim McCarver over his anti-catcher bias.

Joe Sheehan (6:26:43 PM PT): The goofy timestamp will make it look like I posted that after the homer.

Marc Normandin (6:30:24 PM PT): I wonder if Ramirez swings at one of the pitch outs. He swings at everything else.

Will Carroll (6:31:14 PM PT): WESTERN UNION

GARDENHIRE STOP 20 GUYS IN PEN STOP USE THEM STOP

SIGNED TOM KELLY FULL STOP

Joe Sheehan (6:35:46 PM PT): Really? You let Blackburn, who's given you the huge gift of six shutout innings, pitch to Thome and Griffey, but get tactical with Pierzynski?

Gardy blew this one. You needed to start the inning with Mijares. He was correctly aggressive in Blackburn's last start, and I think he just got a little carried away with his performance tonight. You *have* to have Mijares in there. It'll be Nathan next time through, so either you use him here, or not until the 11th or 12th.

Bad move.

Derek Jacques (6:37:59 PM PT): K-Rod in 2002 aside, do you think that Mijares's 9 major league innings are the least of any pitcher to whom a team has entrusted their season?

Joe Sheehan (6:41:32 PM PT): Wow. Heck of time to call those strikes.

Marc Normandin (6:41:52 PM PT): The Twins hitters are just giving Danks a reason to stay in the game. This is kind of sad to watch, honestly. Six pitches last inning, and Delmon Young swings at the first pitch with just six outs to go.

Joe Sheehan (6:43:30 PM PT): Marc nails it. Just haven't seen many good ABs from this team tonight, and a lot of bad ones. Hitting with runners in scoring position is nice. Getting runners in scoring position--or just on base--is more important.

Derek Jacques (6:44:02 PM PT): "Steve (ND): Hey, you guys never said anything about Nate being on Countdown right now!"

There's baseball on right now. And Countdown replays at 10PM and 2AM Eastern...

Joe Sheehan (6:44:42 PM PT): "tfierst (MN): Danks still in on short rest? I'll 2nd guess that ahead of time. "

This was sent in at the start of the inning. Worth sharing.

Caleb Peiffer (6:48:21 PM PT): Why is Mijares still in this game?

Derek Jacques (6:49:10 PM PT): That's 103 pitches, and this game is their season. You'd think, with the short rest and all, that the Twins would work the count a little.

Joe Sheehan (6:49:14 PM PT): Hey, taking nothing away from CC, this start by Danks, on short rest, in an elimination game, is awfully impressive. I don't think the Twins are doing themselves any favors, but he's done a good job of busting guys in, throwing strikes and letting them get themselves out. They simply can't hit the cutter.

I'll say it again: the Tigers showed better, at least at the plate, then the Twins have.

Joe Sheehan (6:50:33 PM PT): Test for Gardy. Jenks starts the ninth, does he hit Kubel for Gomez?

Joe Sheehan (6:51:29 PM PT): Caleb, to get DeWayne Wise out. It's very important to have the platoon advantage against DeWayne Wise.

Rather than Jim Thome.

David Laurila (6:54:39 PM PT): In his last three outings against the Twins, Bobby Jenks has allowed 10 baserunners and 4 earned runs in 4.2 innings.

Joe Sheehan (6:58:17 PM PT): "cdoyle31 (Phoenix, AZ): Is it my imagination, or did Harold Reynolds really just suggest that Joe Nathan is the best American-born closing option?"

No, and he's correct.

Will Carroll (6:59:31 PM PT): Is Gardenhire reading this? Kubel in.

Joe Sheehan (7:02:01 PM PT): The Twins have, what, one ball that's landed more than 250 feet from the plate tonight?

Marc Normandin (7:03:24 PM PT): There's another one, Joe, but right into a glove to end the game. There wasn't much for action in this game, but a few pretty looking defensive plays and a great outing by Danks made it worth it.

Will Carroll (7:03:29 PM PT): Next flight: Tampa. Wish I was there, but should be a good series!

Derek Jacques (7:06:56 PM PT): Happiest person right now? I'm taking Alex Carnevale, who gets to keep Ozzie Guillen in The Week In Quotes for a little longer.

Joe Sheehan (7:06:56 PM PT): After the Cuddyer double: 15 batters, 47 pitches. They earned this loss...Gardy's decision to let Thome face a righty in a tied game was a mistake, but it's the Twins hitters who take the most blame.

Danks looked fantastic, and the Sox played good defense, and--shocking--won with a homer.

Joe Sheehan (7:11:46 PM PT): Thanks for all the great questions and comments, everyone. We'll do this again during the Division Series!


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