A look at why contraction is not a legitimate option for Major League Baseball.
For those that haven’t followed baseball’s history outside the diamond, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf could well be defined as one of baseball’s hardliners. While neither he nor Bud Selig would admit it, the two were greatly responsible for driving former commissioner Fay Vincent, Selig’s predecessor, out of office.
Reinsdorf has been a hardliner on other issues as well. He’s a key sounding board on labor issues and has often chimed in on paring the league down via contraction. Whether this was in 2002 when the league owned the Montreal Expos or now, when the difficulty of new stadium construction comes along, Reinsdorf has hit on the “C” word.
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If it doesn't look like a Twin, soft-toss like a Twin, or pitch to contact like a Twin, it's probably not a Twin.
Francisco Liriano throws hard. He misses bats. He also misses the strike zone. In other words, he's never seemed much like a Minnesota Twin. Still, we went along with his act, as long as he wore the uniform and from time to time let Ron Gardenhire tell him to pitch to contact. But on Friday night, he completely blew his cover, striking out 15 batters in a loss to the A's. Fifteen batters! That's more than Nick Blackburn strikes out in most months.
While you're cooing over Brandon Beachy, Scott Diamond is doing more with less. Is it time to take the prototypical Twin seriously?
It all sounds like the typical underdog story. Scott Diamond, a lefty, went undrafted out of college. He signed with the Braves and pitched in their system through the 2010 season, at which point Atlanta had to make a choice. Either the Braves could make a commitment to Diamond and place him on the 40-man roster, or they could leave him exposed to the Rule 5 draft and risk losing him for $50,000. The Braves took the risk and, in a way, it paid off. Not only did Atlanta receive the money from Minnesota, but when the Twins later wanted to demote the pitcher, the Braves negotiated for a strong-armed right-handed minor-league reliever in exchange for Diamond’s rights.
Items to check off the cliché list so far: “ignored by all teams in the draft”, “underappreciated by the organization that gave him a chance”, and “potential redemption with a new team that believes in him.” Diamond made his big-league debut for the Twins and struggled. He spent a lot of time in Triple-A, struggling there, too. Minnesota did not give up on Diamond and had few reservations about bringing him up this season. Diamond has since established a foothold on a rotation spot thanks to performances good enough and an alma mater small enough to make Brandon Beachy look overrated. No, really:
Now that the Twins and Marlins both finally have new ballparks, take a look back at what it took to get them.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Stumping for a new stadium in Minneapolis and Miami used to be an annual rite of spring, but this year both the Twins and Marlins will be playing in flashy new facilities. That outcome wasn't so certain when Neil wrote the following article, which originally ran on May 4, 2005.
Four years after the Twins and Mets pulled off a blockbuster, almost no one involved is still standing.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
A writer who never saw Jack Morris pitch watches him in action for the first time and comes away even less convinced that the traditionalist case for his candidacy should earn him a call to Cooperstown.
After suffering through a miserable season that included a storm of injuries and poor roster construction, the Twins fired their GM.
As an aficionado of failure and perversity in ballclubs, I was greatly disappointed when the Minnesota Twins stalled out at 99 losses. The 100-loss mark is the traditional mark of abject failure in baseball. The Twins haven’t fallen so far since 1982, a transitional year in which the team first gave full-time jobs to several future stars, including Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, and Frank Viola. Given that the Twins were a very young team (average age of 25.2) sorting through their options, this last-place finish in the AL West was about as healthful as such seasons can be.
More often, though, an extreme losing season serves as a final wakeup call to a team that has been doing something wrong, except in the special case of teams like the Orioles, Pirates, and Royals, in which 90-plus losses are the equivalent of an airplane’s low-altitude warning alarm continuing to sound long after the pilot has ditched into the Hudson River. Having seen their record decline over four seasons from 97-64 and a playoff berth to 71-91 and not even a copy of the MLB home game, Cubs ownership finally got the hint and tore the nameplate off the general manager’s door for the first time since 2002. Similarly, the Astros, having endured a third straight losing season that saw them lose 106 games, a total surpassed only by 16 post-war teams, fired—oh, wait: The Astros didn’t do anything. Pretend I was talking about the Angels.
The Twins struggled in 2011 and there's little help from the farm coming soon
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
The Twins have been bitten by ineffectiveness and the injury bug this year, but it didn't take a magic 8 ball to foresee some of their season's troubles.
I touched on the Twins a bit over on the SweetSpot on Thursday morning, but they're a fun topic, and I can expand on it here. My hope is that you're willing to indulge me, even as the Twins retreat from San Francisco after a pair of losses to the world champs. They're 15-5 this month, so they still rate as one of baseball's hottest teams, and in a division where nobody's a good bet to win 90, they're worth listing among the living.
The Twins' 2011 struggles could have been foreseen, and not just with the aid of a crystal ball.
It has been a miserable season thus far for the Twins, but since the calendar flipped to June, they’ve shown signs of life. On the heels of a three-game sweep by the Tigers, the two-time defending AL Central champions rebounded to take four straight from the Royals in Kansas City, then kicked off a three-game series in Cleveland with a 6-4 win, their fifth straight. Their streak ended on Tuesday with a 1-0 loss to the Indians, but where they were 20 games under .500 and 16.5 out at the close of play on June 1, they’re now 16 under (22-38) and 12.5 out. While their performance to date still qualifies as the team's worst start since 1995, the run offers the faintest flicker of hope that the club can climb back into the AL Central race.
In Joe Nathan and Matt Capps, Minnesota skipper Ron Gardenhire has a pair of trusted 9th-inning arms.
While sabermetricians have long downplayed the value of a "proven closer," most teams feel that having one provides an important security blanket. "You want to know that you're going to win the games you're supposed to win," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team opens its season tonight in Toronto. "There's nothing more disheartening than working for eight innings to get the lead, then losing in the ninth."