Sunday, November 16, 2008

From the Archives: The Evil of Familiarity

With all the rumors going around about the Twins and Casey Blake, I was wondering if I had written about him in his first stint with the Twins. I had. I count this as the 55th post I ever wrote, back on March 7th of 2002. It's even before I was referring to my wife as The Voice of Reason. If I had to estimate (and I think I do, because I think I've lost all stats from the old site) it was probably read by a dozen people, at most. So I'm hoping it's new to you. Providing the Twins don't sign Blake today, I'll be back tomorrow with a 'Sanity Check' story tomorrow. Hope to see you then.

The Evil of Familiarity 03/07/2002

The story of Twins camp is Koskie's wrist. The good news is we don't know that it's broken. The bad news is that we don't know that it isn't. The MRI showed nothing. The CT scan was inconclusive. Today he sees a hand specialist.

    "Replacements, if Koskie's wrist is broken, begin with Denny Hocking, the veteran utility player. Jay Canizaro, who missed all last season because of a torn right anterior cruciate knee ligament, is healthy and can play third base, too. Rookie Michael Cuddyer has played third base in the minors but has struggled with his throwing accuracy. That's why he's trying to make the team as an outfielder. Casey Blake is a natural third baseman but was a long shot to make the team before the injury."

I was a little dissappointed when the first names I started to see a couple days ago were the bevy of utility guys the Twins have in camp. One of the sins which a lot of organizations commit is choosing the lesser of two players, simply because they are the known commodity. People do it all the time, but an organization needs to rise above it. I'll give you an example:

Last week my wife got a speeding ticket. She hasn't received a speeding ticket in seven years. She especially never gets speeding tickets in this particular area because she knows the police watch closely and she's usually the driver pissing off the other drivers by going too damn slow. But last week she was in a hurry to pick up the kids and ended up going 40-something in a 30 MPH zone and fell into the speed trap. We know we have two options:

1) Pay the ticket. It's easy but it costs us $105. And even worse, it would be reported to our car insurance which would cost us much more.

2) Arrange a 'continuance'. Here we get a bit hazy. We know we have to arrange a court date and meet with the prosecutor and ask for a continuance. If so, we still have to pay the $105, but it doesn't get reported to our insurance. But we don't really have the details on this.

One option is clearly better than the other. But it has taken all my will to even try to find out any information about the second option. I don't want to do it. She doesn't want to do it. It's a little bit scary, and we're not really sure how much it buys us and we don't know if it's worth it or what the risks are if we screw it up.

Here are the Twins main options if they get caught speeding (according to the Wilton projections for 2002 in Baseball Prospectus 2002):

Clearly, the Twins should try this continuance thing. He has more upside (three years younger) and should produce better offensively. By the way, Casey Blake (continuance) also plays league average defense at third base. In fact, the numbers that BP2002 projects indicate he would be a league average third baseman all the way around, both offensively and defensively. And if Blake does that well, he becomes another 'chit' that Terry Ryan might be able to move to a different major league team when Koskie comes back.

On the other hand, Denny Hocking (the damn ticket) is more familiar, but will probably provide less offense, similar defense, and has no upside. Also, playing him just creates another utility infielder spot on the bench for Canizaro or Abbott, who'll have almost no value when Koskie comes back. But Blake also only has 92 at-bats in the majors, and Hocking, Canizaro and Abbott are all more familiar. And unless Blake tears it up in spring training, one of them will probably get the job by default.

To Ron Gardenhire's credit, he looks like he's going to at least give Blake (and maybe even Michael "Stay Awake Behind First Base" Cuddyer) a chance to win the spot:

"Everybody is going to play third [for now]," Gardenhire said. "Anyone and everyone I can find will play there. We hope for the best for Kosk and we will leave it at that."

Translation: "God, I hope that cop didn't have his radar on me."


SethSpeaks said...

This is awesome... I love the look backs... so, did you pay the ticket?

haasertime said...

Funny that we're talking about third base and Michael Cuddyer 6 years later. It's almost too bad that Koskie recovered for the start of '02....maybe Cuddy could have won the job and never looked back. I can dream.