MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Twins Begin Slow Ascent with Nolasco Signing

Right now, the Minnesota Twins are not a good baseball team. They haven’t been for a while, if we’re being honest. An odd fixation on players with limited skill sets and a poor development record doomed Minnesota for a few years in the AL Central woods.

But things are looking up in the Twin Cities. They still have Joe Mauer and, even as a first baseman, he remains one of the very best hitters in the game today. And they also feature one of the very best farm systems in baseball.

By the time Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are ready to contribute significantly at the big league level, the Twins will need a pitcher like Ricky Nolasco – the very idea his four-year deal is built on. He is a reliable starter who notches strikeouts and makes 30 starts a year. Perfect for a team on the rise.

With Buxton, Sano, and starters like Alex Myer on the rise, a rotation stalwart like Nolasco will serve as a bridge between the current 100 loss club and a future contender. While he will likely be in his decline when the team is finally good, a player with a health record like Nolasco is invaluable to a club full of high variance young players.

A good, forward-thinking signing by the Twins that shouldn’t hamstring the present and has relatively small potential for disaster. The four-year deal plus an option guarantees Nolasco $49 million, an entirely reasonable figure for a pitcher as durable as Nolasco was in Miami.

While his performance might never line up with his secondary numbers (his 20 fWAR almost doubles his rWAR – a number derived from runs allowed rather than expected rates), he is still offers good value to a team like the Twins.

Foot in Mouth Disease – (In Praise of Rosenthal)

The tweet you see above came in response to a since-deleted missive from woefully undermedicated SABR guru Mitchell Litchman aka MGL. MGL co-wrote The Book is was long on the cutting edge of baseball research/thought. The tweet he backtracked flatly called Ken Rosenthal and pitcher Brad Ziegler idiots for, well, I don’t exactly know. Probably something to do with steroids.

Of all the media types in the baseball industry, Ken Rosenthal seems like the guy least deserving of such vitriol. His job is not one of half-baked opinions, he one of the best news-breakers in the business and a great presence during the Winter Meetings and throughout the Hot Stove season. Rosenthal strikes me as a reasoned, thoughtful man who doesn’t take his positions lightly. Exactly the sort of guy who earned the benefit of the doubt, in my mind.

But my mind doesn’t work in the same manner as MGL’s. For all his contributions to the advancement of baseball research, he has long turned off even his most ardent supporters with his strident, abrasive ways. Hopefully guys like him stop serving as avatars for the advanced statistics communities and he can just be seen as a run-of-the=mill crazy person.

A Plea for a Kirk Gibson Gag Order

Kirk Gibson is an accomplished former baseball player and former National League manager of the year as well as a former World Series hero. He also happens to be the least likable person in baseball right now. Forever popping off in the media, Gibson is terrific about fueling my intense dislike for his worldview.

Yesterday, Gibson sounded off about the Dodgers unwillingness to send a “star” on MLB’s goodwill tour of Australia, shipping the affable and quotable A.J. Ellis down under rather than a more recognizable star.

“I’ll give you an example. Look at the guys who went down [on a goodwill tour of] Australia for us. Why did they do it? It’s who we are. It’s who the Diamondbacks are. We’re committed to the game of baseball. We’re committed to the community. I’ll put our organization up against anybody’s in terms of doing the right thing.
“We had Goldy go down there, along with Patrick Corbin and Derrick Hall, our president and CEO. Who’s the other team got down there? Are they too [expletive] good? Honestly?”

Kirk Gibson, never one to shy away from taking a shot at the Dodgers. Which is his prerogative but MAN does he ever seem like an old sourpuss. Few things are more delightful than the ongoing mediocrity of the Diamondbacks, where the holier than thou attitude apparently comes from the top.

Remember Ted Lilly

While his agent backed off the claim later in the day, it appears veteran left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly is mulling retirement. If he goes, he can look back on a solid enough career, having pitched nearly 2000 innings and made a whole boatload of cash. While no career retrospective can gloss over his famous tussle with manager John Gibbons as a member of the Blue Jays, Lily’s career had one true defining moment.