Friday, November 30, 2012

Interesting Non-Tenders

Midnight tonight, the final day of November, is the last chance for teams to tender contracts to eligible players. Eligibility is based on service time and generally includes any players with less than 6 years in the major leagues.

Leading up to midnight, news will be coming in regarding team's decisions on these players, many of whom are very interesting. Be it injuries or unrealistic salary expectations, there are going to be a lot of players with bright futures ahead of them searching for jobs. Because I'm cooped up in the library tonight, I'll periodically check in and comment on noteworthy transactions and analyze how some of these players could help the Twins (or any team). Players below the page break:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pitchers Duel Podcast Episode 2

In episode two of the Pitcher's Duel podcast, Nils and Andy tackle topics regarding pitcher and where it is best to find it.  Also, the Twins idea of developing pitching will be discussed and their outfield situation.


If you have any ideas or comments please send them our way via Twitter @pitchers_duel

Friday, November 16, 2012


by Andy Johnson

Now, I vowed to stop talking about the American League Most Valuable Player race once the vote was decided and we all know, the less deserving candidate, Miguel Cabrera won.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marlins Firesale

Pending Ricky Nolasco's inevitable (I say this only somewhat sarcastically) departure, the Miami Marlins have shed every significant contract on their roster over the past six months. I thought it might be interesting to see who was lost and who was gain in this period.

Hanley Ramirez
Randy Choate
Anibal Sanchez
Omar Infante
Edward Mujica
Gaby Sanchez
*competitive balance draft pick*
Josh Johnson
Jose Reyes
Mark Buehrle
Emilio Bonifacio
John Buck

Nathan Eovaldi
Scott McHough
Zack Cox
Kyle Kaminska
Gorkys Hernandez
Jacob Turner
Rob Brantly
Brian Flynn
Yunel Escobar
Adeiny Hechavarria
Henderson Alvarez
Justin Nicolino
Jake Marisnick
Jeff Mathis
Anthony DeSciafani

Mathis and Escobar are the only two players with significant major league time. Eovaldi, Cox, Turner, Hernandez and Marisnick have all been Baseball America top 100 prospects at one point or another and Just Nicolino will likely be top 100 in 2013.

In summation, the Marlins' arrivals are super young and super cheap. There is a universe where the Marlins just built themselves a solid young core to complement Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison. Unfortunately for new manager Mike Redmond, this is probably not that universe.

*In the middle of all this, Miam traded Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen for Carlos Lee. Try to figure that out.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pitcher's Duel Podcast Ep. 1

This is episode 1 of the Pitcher's Duel podcast.  In this episode we'll be talking about three free agents (Melky Cabrera, Kyle Lohse and Josh Hamilton).

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or what you would like us to discuss in the next episode via Twitter (@pitchers_duel).  Probably starting over winter break, we will try to do a weekly show or possibly every other week.


-Nils and Andy

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Unique is 'The Freak'?

Among the fallout from the Giants Championship run is the question of Tim Lincecum's role. In the past he's been an elite starter, though with his considerable struggles in 2012 Bruce Bochy shifted him to the bullpen for the playoffs. The role Bochy (I'd argue smartly) inserted Lincecum into was as unconventional as the pitcher himself: he averaged about 2.2 innings per appearance and never finished a game.

'The Freak', as Lincecum is affectionately known, flourished in the role striking out 17 while surrendering 3 hits and 2 walks in 13 innings, leading many to wonder if he was destined for a 'super-relief' role. In a nutshell, the role requires multiple mid-game innings to form a bridge from starter to closer. The appeal is obvious in that a team can save their other relievers without sacrificing quality.

The idea of multi-inning relievers is not a new one. The first relievers were often expected to finish a game no matter how many innings it took. Over time the bullpen has become more and more specialized culminating in the 2011 World Series in which Tony La Russa (expertly) seemed to make a pitching change for each batter. The merits of each strategy can be debated, but the point is pitchers have been used in this way before.

For me, the question isn't so much will Lincecum stay in this new niche or head back to the rotation (my inkling is that he will at least start 2013 in the rotation), but will this assignment be able to catch on elsewhere in the league?

Some might suggest, correctly, that Lincecum is a once-in-a-generation pitcher. They may go on to suggest, I believe incorrectly, that only he could pull off a 'super-relief' specialization that would require 50-60 appearances and 140-160 innings a season.

As a pitcher, Timmy as unique as it gets. He's the size of an average high school freshman boy, pitches from 12 o'clock and still has a powerful arsenal and seemingly unlimited durability. The new niche he's carved out over the past month accentuates these skills so perfectly that it creates the illusion that nobody else could perform it.

I'm here to suggest that's untrue and generally counterproductive. Each year very good pitching prospects are relegated to work one inning at a time after they don't succeed in the rotation. A couple examples that come to mind are Joba Chamberlain, Glen Perkins and Brian Matusz. The extent of their success in relief work varies, however two things are evident about this breed of pitcher, with the caveat of assuming full health, 1) They have electric stuff and 2) were at least supposed to be handle in the neighborhood of 200 innings.

To me, the natural progression from starter to reliever should go through the middle ground of 'super-reliever'. I wouldn't designate each failed starter to the role, only those with the ability or at least potential to dominate. Given the opportunity of ~150 innings this pitcher could be the most important cog in a teams bullpen.

Quickly, I'd like to make the distinction between the mop-up role from 'super-relief'. Mop-up work is usually reserved for blow outs, while 'super-relief' is for high-leverage innings. Ideally, this is a guy you could feel comfortable plugging in for 6th, 7th and 8th in a 6-5 game, instead of using one-third of your bullpen.

Given the potential benefits of getting roughly 150 high-quality innings, saving other top relievers and replacing lower-quality middle relievers, the upside should be obvious.

Despite this, there will be many doubters with legitimate questions. One I recently heard was "how will you convince a pitcher to take on such an ill-defined role?"I'm of the mind that a player will do anything to find a spot on a major league club and, just like any other career, the environment is bound to be dynamic (even with the glacial pace of the baseball industry) meaning that a player will adjust. Second is "can a pitcher handle such a workload?", this I'm not as sure about. The role wouldn't require pitching every day or 300 innings, but it's still new territory. So I'd say we won't know until we try it. Rollie Fingers went 120+ innings in a season multiple times, surviving in the league until he was 38. Granted, it's a different game with different levels of stresses, however, I think it's very feasible for today's pitchers to do as well.

'The Freak' will likely be back in his spot as a starter next season, but I hope to see somebody else pickup the reigns and resuscitate 'super-relief'. I wrote this article with Blue Jays prospect Marcus Stroman in mind, but Chris Reed and Alexi Ogando also seem to have what it would take. I'm hoping each team will not dismiss Bochy's and Lincecum's flash of brilliance and employ their own 'super-relievers' making that role as ingrained in a bullpen as the closer has become.