Saturday, December 01, 2007

Vin de Idaho

Kermit: I took the liberty of ordering us some wine. Oh waiter!
Steve Martin: Yes, may I help you?
Kermit: The wine please?
Piggy: Hmmm - you mad impetuous thing, it's Champagne!
Steve Martin: (taking the bottle from a table-side ice bucket) Not exactly - Sparkeling muscatel - one of the finest wines of Idaho!
Kermit: Well, you may serve us now please.
Steve Martin: Oh! May I?
(Steve Martin examines the bottle. You can see the bottle says Vin de Idaho on it, with a block image in the shape of Idaho on the label.)
Piggy: look how he does that!
Kermit: Yup. Very suave.
(Steve Martin reaches to his apron and takes a bottle opener. Then he pops off the bottle cap and holds it over to Kermit.)
Steve Martin: Don't you want to smell the bottlecap?
Kermit: (hesitantly sniffing) Smells good.
Steve Martin: Would you like to taste it first?
Piggy: (to Kermit, trying to help out as Kermit hesitates) I think he's supposed to.
Kermit: Would you taste it for us please?
(Steve Martin reluctantly gives it a taste, and then wildly spits it out to the side in disgust, making nasty faces. Composing himself, he turns back to the pair.)
Steve Martin: Excellent choice.
Kermit: Should be for 95 cents.

I gotta admit, as I reviewed the latest rumors flowing out of New York dailies, I couldn't help but mimic Steve Martin. The Yanks have decided after a series of conference calls to include Philip Hughes?

Oh! May I?

Uh, welcome to the party boys. But the most amusing part of offering the Twins Vin de Idaho is that The Big Apple can't believe that this $0.95 bottle of Hughes, Melky Cabrera and some random minor league pitcher isn't to our liking.

Here's the thing: that still isn't particularly close to Boston's offer of Coco Crisp, Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie and some other low minors pitcher. To be brutally frank, including Ian Kennedy STILL might not get it done.

I know it's against your inbred instincts, but you might want to gaze past the Hudson and ask who you're dealing with. Hint: it ain't the Pirates. The Twins don't need pitching. Check out Baseball Prospectus Top 11 Twins Prospects (I'll assume Hank can spring for the subscription) and you'lll see a team silly with pitchers. And they aren't counting Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins or Francisco fricking Liriano.

Hughes makes the rotation. But he's gonna need to bump someone out. And Kennedy gets to compete with that guy along with Jeff Manship and Nick Blackburn and Anthony Swarzak, so don't tell me how invaluable Ian is.

Excellent choice.

Listen, we enjoy you Yankees guys, cause your ignorance to the power of the dollar is kinda endearing in a childish way and all, but you gotta understand that you're not dealing with the Royals here. The Twins have made the playoffs four of the last six years and frankly we're looking to knock that smug little oblivious grin offa your mug. And if that means riding the best pitcher of the decade into next year's playoffs (and letting him choose his own team thereafter), so be it.

So don't expect us to go all ga-ga after some overhyped right arm that you guys have cooled on. Show us some bats, boys. Because if (besides Hughes) all you're offering is some middle-level CF (Melky) and some other pitcher that isn't going to rank in the Twins Top 10, well, you might want to save yourself the dime.

Hell, even if includes some guy at High A ball (Austin Jackson), you may want to reevaluate exactly what you think you're so excited about. Because so far you're nowhere near Boston.

And frankly, we're not terribly impressed with your mad, impetuous offer.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

1) You know the adage "you can never have too much pitching".

Morlan, of course, is gone. And some reports had his upside as a setup guy. Manship hasn't pitched above A ball and Blackburn is a back of the rotation fillin at best. Swarzak is a good prospect, as is Mullins and Sosa who are not on your list. Hughes is probably the equivalent of Garza.

So the Twins have a lot of prospects in the minor leagues, but some of those guys will end up filling out the bullpen. And some of them will simply fail - ala "real deal" Durbin. The Twins still are likely to have a lot of opportunities over the next few years for starting pitchers.

One thing about Kennedy, is he appears ready now. And on a team without a single rotation spot in ink, that is important. Its not unlikely the Twins will go through 8 or 9 starters next year trying to settle who belongs and who doesn't.

2) It appears likely Cabrera will be a pretty good major league center fielder. He is young, cheap and can play defense with the best of them. He is a much better option than Coco Crisp for a team that is going to be as young as the Twins.

I think the Twins are better off with three good young players with higher upsides than four players that include older players with obvious flaws.

That Boston had the "shortstop" they are offering working at second and third in the AFL is not a good sign. Nor is the fact that he was drafted as a second baseman. Crisp has all sorts of quetion marks and the money he will get is better spent on tying down Morneau and the other young Twins players. Lester is a feel good story, but do you really want to take a guy who had cancer as the centerpiece of a deal for Santana. In any case, Hughes is a better pitcher.

John said...

Hughes and Cabrera is a joke offer, borderline insulting. Honestly I think the Twins should start to re-formulate their plans, getting stop-gaps to fill the holes and aiming to compete in 2008.

It was worth a shot to panic the Yankees into making a serious offer, by negotiating with the Red Sox, but it didn't work.

ubelmann said...

Check out Baseball Prospectus Top 11 Twins Prospects (I'll assume Hank can spring for the subscription) and you'lll see a team silly with pitchers.

John, not all pitchers are created equally. Goldstein probably has Liriano rated as a 5-star pitcher (though the future uncertainty with Liriano is huge), and he has Slowey rated as a 4-star pitcher. All of the remaining pitchers in the Twins' system are 3-star or lower.

Now, check out his rankings for the Yankees. Joba Chamberlain is listed as a 5-star prospect, and then he ranks Philip Hughes ahead of Joba at the bottom. Joba is way overvalued compared to Hughes right now. Hughes is a very good pitcher, and would immediately become the best non-Liriano young pitcher on the team.

For as many young pitching prospects as the Twins have, they have a lot more rotation filler than they have front-line aces. (This is one reason that parting with Garza makes me uneasy.)

Hughes and Cabrera is a joke offer, borderline insulting.

.273/.327/.391 -- Melky, 2007, 22 years old, CF
.280/.360/.391 -- Melky, 2007, 21 years old, CF
.288/.316/.408 -- Delmon, 2007, 21 years old, RF
.303/.382/.425 -- Ellsbury, A/AA, 22 years old

Is Ellsbury better than Melky? Yes. Is the difference so huge that a Hughes/Cabrera offering is insulting? Not at all.

Everyone's quick to project Delmon Young forward as a superstar based mainly on the fact that he's young and didn't totally suck this year, so why not do the same with Melky? I wouldn't say that Cabrera is likely to be a perennial All-Star, but neither is Delmon Young, and neither are the compensation picks that we'll get if Santana leaves as a free agent.

John said...

Hey, I love Hughes? And more than Lester. But he doesn't address the Twins biggest weakness - offense - and the Twins are silly with prospective #3 pitchers like Ian Kenndy.

As for comparing Cabrera to Delmon Young - you're joking, right? These guys do, in fact, have minor league histories. Cabrera hit super well for 122 AB in AAA - and that's it. Frankly, he looks a little like a cross between an average center fielder and a 4th outfielder. That may be comparable to Ellsbury, except that Melky will be a Super 2 player at this time next year.

To be honest, I just don't see the horses the Twins need on the Yankees roster. For a deal to make sense for the Twins, the Yankees are going to need to bring in a 3rd team with some real young offensive hitting talent. The obbvious choice would be the Marlins and Miggy, but maybe someone like the Dodgers would make sense, too, if they lust Hughes.

Icreatedbaseball said...

You shouldn't compare Melky to Ellsbury....because the Sox aren't trading Ellsbury. Much like the Yankees won't trade Cano. The Sox (and you in your blog) are talking about Crisp.
You mentioned the Yankees offer is nowhere near Bostons??? Mmmmkay.
Let's break something down for you for future reference:

Hughes > Lester
(or Buccholz for that matter)
Melky > Crisp

Compare Coco's and Melky's numbers and then factor in how much younger and cheaper Melky is. So back in reality, the Yankees offer is more in line with what your cheap franchise is looking to do.....REBUILD!!

BoyGeorgeMichaelJacksonBrowne said...

You guys are lucky that you'll be getting anything because in one year, if you don't trade Santana, he'll be a free agent.

Dan said...

These offers will get better during the season. Whichever team is behind at the break will see Santana as the golden ticket. It will be harder and harder to resist buying a World Series the closer it gets. Panic will become our ally.

Not to mention it keeps a fire under Santana's butt to perform, and perform early.

Given these offers right now, I agree with John. Shut down these talks for now.

ubelmann said...

Hey, I love Hughes? And more than Lester. But he doesn't address the Twins biggest weakness - offense - and the Twins are silly with prospective #3 pitchers like Ian Kenndy.

Then trade one of the #3 pitchers for a hitter. We don't have a surplus of ace pitchers--we have a surplus of #3 pitchers.

The Twins should be trying to get the best overall value they can for Santana. That almost inevitably means they will have to include a pitching prospect in the deal. That's fine. If they're not trying to win it all in '08 anyway, there is some time to iron out roster imbalances. (We also haven't even begun talking about what we could move Nathan for, which could also potentially fill a hole or holes in the offense.)

There aren't that many teams we can realistically trade Santana to in the first place, and getting choosy about whether we're getting pitchers or hitters in the deal is going to either give us less than maximum value in a deal or give us no deal at all. I don't mind collecting draft picks for most free agents, but I think right now the Twins would rather have players ready to produce in 2-3 years rather than the 4-5 years it will take the draft picks to develop.

As for comparing Cabrera to Delmon Young - you're joking, right? These guys do, in fact, have minor league histories.

These guys do, in fact, have to play defense. Cabrera plays CF and Young is stuck in a corner. There's a huge difference there. Cabrera hit .294/.344/.422 in the minors while always being young for his age. Going into this year, PECOTA has Melky projected to hit .293/.366/.449 in 2010. Torii Hunter is a career .271/.324/.469 hitter. Melky's minor league numbers are plenty good.

Meanwhile, ZiPS has the following list of comparable hitters for Delmon Young:

Magglio Ordonez
Al Cowens
Garret Anderson
Claudell Washington
Derrick May
Rocco Baldelli
Jose Guillen
Glenn Braggs
Ellis Valentine
Bill Buckner
Gary Geiger
Roberto Clemente
Carlos Lee
Jose Cardenal
David Green

There are definitely some good players in there, but in terms of overall value, I would be hesitant to bet that he'll be significantly more valuable than Melky Cabrera over the next 4-5 years.

Anonymous said...

Lets be clear, the reason comparisons between Young and Cabrera are absurd has nothing to do with their age or their minoor league statistics. The fact is Young was the first choice in the major league draft for a reason. He has a very quick bat with some power now and projects to have a lot of power down the line. Cabrera doesn't. Young also has a cannon arm and decent range in the outfield. But its not his defense that has people excited.

Cabrera's upside is an adequate major league center fielder. He isn't going to make anyone forget Hunter either defensively or offensively. Young has the potential to be one of the special players in the franchise history. He is by no means a sure thing, but he is very similar in that respect to Joe Mauer.

Anonymous said...

The Twins don't need pitching? If they trade Santans, they will have lost their top three pitchers from last year, Santana, Garza, and Silva. Getting one new pitcher to replace them is hardly overkill.

You could argue that since the Twins have so many pitching prospects, they should target only position players. They could do that, and hope that a rotation full of decent starters emerges in the next few years. But who among their starters projects as a number one, or two, in the next year or two?

If they want to contend in 2008, Phil Hughes would make a huge difference. He was ranked the number one minor league prospect in baseball at any position by most people last year. The odds are a lifetime of Phil Hughes vs. a year of Santana tips way in Hughes's favor.

Look at it this way: if you could have Johan Santana, or Phil Hughes and $150 million of other players, who would you take? To me the answer is obvious. I'm surprised the Yankees even offered him. They probably did only to keep him from going to the Red Sox, and because they use play money not real money not real money, compared to everyone else.

If they were to throw in Kennedy they'd be crazy, and the Twins would be crazy to pass on that, but it won't happen, and they've said so.

I hear now the Red Sox have countered with Ellsbury (but without Lester). So who do you prefer of Lester and Hughes? Probably Ellsbury and Lowry vs Hughes and Melky. I think the Twins are lucky to be getting such high prospects in return for the right to pay Santana $163 million for 7 years. Maybe the price goes up at the deadline, or maybe the Yanks and Sox "settle" for Haren and Bedard. If I were Smith I would take either deal in a second.

ubelmann said...

Lets be clear, the reason comparisons between Young and Cabrera are absurd has nothing to do with their age or their minoor league statistics. The fact is Young was the first choice in the major league draft for a reason.

Young was drafted first in the draft because he has a lot of potential. That doesn't mean he's all that likely to actually reach that potential.

Cabrera has a lower ceiling, but was already more valuable than Young last season and going into the season had a track record comparable to Roberto Alomar, Pete Rose, and Tony Gwynn, amongst others. His potential is higher than "adequate CF."

Anonymous said...

and going into the season had a track record comparable to Roberto Alomar, Pete Rose, and Tony Gwynn, amongst others.

Among a lot of others. Cabrera may be more than "adequate but he is not a potential HOF nor anything like it. Is this is the sort of stuff that comes from staring at spreadsheets and talking in acronyms?

John said...

Ubelmann, we're going to have to agree to disagree about the Cabrera/Young comparison. You're much lower on Young than me, probably because of that K/BB ratio. I gotta be honest, that scares the hell out of me, but at 22 years old, I'm comfortable that can be "fixed", either by developing some plate patience ala Sosa/Reyes or just by learning to hit everything ala Vlad/Soriano.

I'm a little surprised that you're so high on Melky. To me, he looks like a decent center field glove with a below average bat. For any team other than the Yanks, he looks to me like a very good 4th starter. They can get away with that because of the rest of their offense. The Twins can't.

And the difference between the Red Sox and Yanks offers, and why I prefer the Red Sox offer is Lowrie. The Yanks aren't offering anything comparable to him, and frankly they can't.

I'll be honest, I'm not in love with Ellsbury either. Swapping him for Lester seems kind of silly, and a step backwards for the Red Sox.

ubelmann said...

For any team other than the Yanks, he looks to me like a very good 4th starter.

League average in CF in the AL last year was .272/.340/.414. Melky hit .273/.327/.391. In his major league career (1000+ AB), he's hit .275/.340/.388. All he has to do is improve his slugging by roughly 25 points (that's 12 bases over 500 AB--3 HR, 6 doubles, or some combination of the two) and he's already a league average centerfielder. Show me all of these teams that have league average center fielders sitting on the bench.

So even if Melky doesn't develop at all, not one tiny bit--even though he's only going to be 23 years old next year--he's essentially a league average player. We're not talking about Luis Rivas here.

ubelmann said...

Is this is the sort of stuff that comes from staring at spreadsheets and talking in acronyms?

I think you forgot the part where I live in my mother's basement.