Today we’ll take a peek at a few stats which perhaps have flown under the radar with the local nine.
Buoyed by a .355/.438/.452 line since mid-May, and a 2-3 performance at the plate on Sunday against the Royals, this is Alexi Casilla’s current slash-line (for those unfamiliar, slash-line is the common phrase for batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage). That slash isn’t worlds worse than another relatively productive second baseman in Twinstripes, Luis Castillo. Now of course, it remains to be seen if Casilla can continue this torrid production; in fact, if his past tells us anything, this is more likely a mirage than a breakout. Still, it’s got to be encouraging to the club to see that Casilla’s taking the bull by the horns with a Nishioka return on the horizon. He’s always seemed to be a better player when he’s forced to fight for a job, rather than have one handed to him.
Indeed, another triple-slash. This time, it’s that of supposed-savior Wilson Ramos, who’s currently catching just about every day in the nation’s capital. As with most issues, there’s two sides to this story as well. A 730 OPS in no way justifies dealing an erstwhile catching prospect for a “proven” closer like Matt Capps (who was less than a year removed from being on the free market after the Pirates non-tendered him following a 5.80 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in what was admittedly a tough season for Matt, whose father passed away). That same 730 OPS would provide an incredible upgrade over the Twins’ current situation which features Drew Butera (.144/.182/.221) on the ukulele and Rene Rivera (.227/.306/.341) on the washtub bass.
Ultimately, if it came down to dealing Ramos, it’s become patently obvious that a better return should have been sought or else Mr. Smith should have held onto his chip for a better hand. It’s already been beaten to death, but Jon Rauch was virtually an identical pitcher (without the magical “proven” tag), and guys like Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes, and others signed for 2011 for cheaper than Capps’ $7.15 million (granted each signed multi-year deals) salary.
So while Ramos certainly doesn’t merit selecting in a “Franchise Player Draft,” he’s also no schlub that should have been dealt away for the quintessential overpaid tag of a proven closer (who just so happens to be an absolutely incredible person, I should also note).
This number represents the OPS shared by the two men (perhaps the highlights of an otherwise putrid offense) who hit the DL earlier this week, the ageless Jim Thome and the rejuvenated Jason Kubel.
Thome’s battled injuries all season, but has still managed to hit .237/.372/.447, post a solid 20-17 K/BB ratio, and pound one of the longest home runs in Target Field history. This continued production seems to suggest, at least to me, that the Twins could consider moving him as the season wears on to a contender and maybe get a little something in return. Maybe a return to Cleveland? Only time will tell.
Kubel, on the the other hand, has been a bit of a statistical anomaly. He’s improved across the board in his triple-slash, but he’s still fanning as much as last year, walking less, and hitting more fly balls at the expense ground balls. All told, he’s added a single percentage point to his line drive percentage, and he’s slashed his popup rate to mirror his career rate of 5.6 percent (down from 8.5 percent last season).
He still can’t play a lick of defense, and this is coming from his biggest supporter around. Giving him a deal that will lock him in for multiple years at anything more than $6 million or so would be a pretty big mistake, considering DHs are pretty easy to find on the free market (Russell Branyan, Jim Thome, etc…), and the up-and-coming crop of athletic outfielders (Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, et al) would likely render Kubel useless by the end of said deal, anyway. If the two sides can come to a reasonable agreement on a two-year deal, that might be worth looking into. Still, Kubel would likely be foolish not to see if anyone out there will help him maximize his value.
This is the number of plate appearances Trevor Plouffe received before being shipped out. I’ll grant that he wasn’t hitting very well (.200/.310/.383), and he also committed three errors while coming close on virtually countless others, but I still can’t figure out why exactly he was sent back down.
Without another viable middle infield option before him, Plouffe’s stock is about as high as it’ll ever be, perhaps with the exception of when he was selected in the first round in 2004. Still, the club didn’t move him around the infield at all (something he said he was comfortable doing when I interviewed him about a week ago), which I think might have helped his throwing woes a bit. I thought he at least deserved a shot at second base, but I digress. He probably doesn’t profile as a starting middle infielder going forward, and Seth Stohs recently said on Twitter that he doesn’t feel Gardenhire will ever give him a shot at short again, but I still think he’s got a decent future as a good-pop utility infielder. I hope the Twins see that in him as well.
That’s it for tonight’s entry. To provoke some discussion, consider the following:
If you can keep only one this offseason, who would it be?
A. Delmon Young
B. Michael Cuddyer
C. Jason Kubel
Be sure to consider cost, position flexibility, age, and everything along those lines!