Wednesday, March 09, 2011

What? Jim Souhan misguided?!

I only wish that Jim Souhan's article on Sunday was available for the masses to read online so you could see what he had to say for himself, and you could decide if I am crazy or not. As usual, he was defecating all over the good name of Delmon Young (but he did say he was the hottest hitter on the team!) as a way to say that the Twins were right not to lock him or Francisco Liriano up. By way of self defense, he cited the players that didn't work out for the Twins when they were locked up long term. Before we get into that, let's chat about some players that the Twins made good moves with, by signing them to extensions before they reached free agency:
- Joe Mauer
- Justin Morneau
- Johan Santana
- Torii Hunter
 To name a few. Eventually the last two signed on, but only after signing at least one extension. Also, this doesn't even touch upon the other players around the league that were signed to extensions that eventually were a cost effective boon to the team, the most extreme example being Evan Longoria in Tampa. But let's get to the "bad move" examples:
Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker. Let's throw out Blackburn, because I am of the opinion that that WAS in fact a bad idea. The rest of what Souhan calls "backsliders" (players whose production fell after signing their contracts) are a different story.
First and foremost, let's talk about those hitters. Notice anything about them? That's right, they are ALL lefties! If Target Field has taught us anything, it's that it is nearly impossible for a lefthanded hitter to succeed. Only elite power hitters, like Justin Morneau and Jim Thome were able to do anything there. Perhaps the stadium that afforded the opportunity to pay for all these players should be taken into account before determining that they have been lulled into a false sense of security. It's such an obvious conclusion that I can't believe it wasn't even addressed. Souhan even stated that after signing the extension in 2009, Kubel had a career year, but his numbers lagged at Target Field.
As for Baker, his ERA dropped all the way from 4.37 to 4.49. That's like, 1 run for every 8, 9 inning games. What a disaster! And if you look at those scary advanced metrics, he is hurt by the fact that his outfield doesn't pick him up. If one were to take a look at fielding independent statistics, Baker was just as good as Carl Pavano. Stunning, yes, but the fact that Baker is a fly baller and Pavano is a groundballer really hurt Baker. The biggest change to the roster last year, in terms of trade, was Carlos Gomez being moved to Milwaukee, which meant (ironically) that Span would play more center and Kubel had to, eventually, see more regular time in right. The outfield defense is substantially worse in the time since Baker signed his contract, and now, unfortunately, his numbers are slightly off. (I won't even address the W/L because I think we all know better).
So, addressing those two concerns, that the stadium affects lefties and that the defensive set up is geared towards groundballers, Young and Liriano are the PERFECT candidates for an extension. Well, that is if you ignore Young's sometimes present motivational issues and Liriano's injury history. But from a strictly baseball standpoint, Jim Souhan is wrong. Again.

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