Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Ballad of Bombo Rivera

Does anyone out there have an electronic copy of The Ballad of Bombo Rivera by The Powdermilk Biscuit Band? If so, can you please email it to me?


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seth and Glen Perkins on Tonights Podcast!

Hey gang,

Sorry I've been out of commission for the last couple days, and I likely will be again tonight since it's The Voice of Reason's and my anniversary. 15 years

Since I informed Seth that I couldn't join him for tonight's podcast, he went out slumming and dug up....Glen Perkins?!? You know, the guy who is on pace to be an AL Cy Young candidate this year? (Should I feel threatened by this?)

Tune in and find out. You can listen live at 10:00 PM tonight at Or, even easier, just subscribe to it so you find it on your ipod tomorrow. All you need to do is open up iTunes, click on the menu items "Advanced=>Subscribe to Podcast", and paste in the following URL:

That's it for today, tonight, and geez, maybe this week. Have a good weekend and we'll see you on Monday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Buck Up Little Campers - Rays 7, Twins 1

Well, that was better.

No, really, it was. It’s not easy to take a bunch of positives form a 7-1 loss, especially when it might be the only game this series in which our team is favored.

Was our team favored? I tried to look it up using my laptop via the Metrodome’s wifi connection, but the gambling site I picked was blocked. It makes complete sense that it would be, and I wondered if that wouldn’t happen. Just an FYI for you incurable gamblers out there. The Metrodome wifi connection will not be facilitating your mortal sin.

But there was at least one encouraging sign and that was Scott Baker. If you watched the first inning, you might think this was the same Scott Baker that lobbed home run derby pitches in his first two starts. I did. I was watching with the GameDay brothers and we were joking about moving to the left field bleachers so we could get some souvenir balls.

But it turns out that upon further examination that first inning was NOT like his previous outings. As documented here last week, those home run balls were almost all fastballs that were up and/or inside the strike zone. this time, all three of the hard hit balls in the first inning were offspeed pitches. Longoria doubled on a 3-2 slider that was left high. Pena tripled on a changeup that was right down the middle. And Burrel’s hard hit single was a cutter high and in the middle of the zone.

So that has an easy solution, right?

Cut to one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, The Razor’s Edge. Bill Murray is a disillusioned young American living in 1920s Paris and is visited by his rich American former fiancĂ©e in the winter. She’s looking at the poverty of his apartment with a rather sour look on her face, so he asks “Would you like a chilled glass of Chablis?”
She smirks. “Yeah, right.”
He reaches out the window on the ledge, produces a bottle of white wine, perfectly chilled, and begins to pour.
She laughs, pleased. “And just what do you do in the summer?”
“Drink red,” he replies matter-of-factly.

The easy solution is to quit screwing around with the offspeed pitches. In the second inning, the first 13 pitches he throws are fastballs. All told he throws only one slider the whole inning, and by the end of the inning is showing the fastballs are reaching 94 mph. He also sat down the Rays in order, and struck out the last two guys.

Now, both the selection and the success might have had more to do with him facing the bottom of the order than a change in philosophy or mechanics. But let the record show that last night Baker didn’t give up any hard hit balls on fastballs that were in the hitters quadrant of the strike zone.

That’s better. No, really.

Missing Joe
I’m a big proponent of not rushing Joe Mauer back, but boy, it woulda been nice to have him back tonight. Let me count the ways….

1. That first inning triple to Pena that was on a changeup? That was the the second consecutive changeup. It was also right down the middle, which the catcher has nothing to do with, but it did make me raise my eyebrows and wonder if there might be something to all the recent blathering about pitch selection.

2. Both Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel had tough nights because both were in a position several times to score some runs. The box score says 4 LOB each, and I have to think that at least half of those were in scoring position. No offense to either, because you have to love their power, but in several cases a single would’ve brought home some runs, and I’d rather have Mauer up in that position.

3. The fifth inning where Baker gave up two runs was a catching travesty. Baker was charged with a wild pitch on an inside fastball that Jose Morales failed to catch because the batter bluffed a bunt. Then Morales was charged with a passed ball - on a pitchout. Both runs ended up being earned anyway, but that inning might have gone a lot smoother and ended a lot earlier if Joe was behind the dish.

I don’t know if Joe would’ve been the difference tonight. But I am so looking forward to his return.

Twins Takes
  • Believe it or not, Delmon Young really does look better in left field this year. In particular, he looks a lot more comfortable on balls that slice to his right (toward the foul line). He made a tough play tonight at full speed, and just missed another. He’s not Jacque Jones out there, but he’s also not, um, (desperately searching for a name of a futile left fielder other than the obvious and giving up) well, Delmon Young.

  • We hit the trifecta in watching interesting relievers tonight. First, RA Dickey looked very good for 1.2 innings until he gave up a monster shot to Carlos Pena. By the way, that was preceded by yet another passed ball – on what almost looked like a “fastball”, not a knuckler.

  • Then, in the ninth inning, we got to see Nuke Morillo. There was a little more excitement in the press box when he came in, and I don’t think it was solely because we feared for our lives. He officially got credit for 8 strikes on 12 pitches, and every one was a fastball. They’re good enough that he doesn’t need to be too fine with them – he can almost just rock and throw them anywhere in the zone. Almost. He gave up a home run to Jason Bartlett on a 98 mph fastball on the inside edge.

    Finally, there was Joe Nelson, who I begged the Twins to sign in the offseason. You can see why they didn’t. He’s an inside-out pitcher, and it’s hard to believe that a guy whose primary pitch seems to be a 74 mph changeup can be effective in the league. He sure was tonight. Coming into the seventh inning, with runners on 1st and second and no outs, he retired Span, Casilla and Morneau without either runner advancing as much as one base.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Do yourself a favor and change the 'Year' value on this page at a few times. See if you see anything strange about some of the names that appear at the top of the list of the Twins most valuable pitchers.

They're relievers.

And often not even closers. For instance, last year Jose Mijares was more valuable than Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey. In 2007, Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier were more valuable than any starting pitcher. In 2006, see where Juan Rincon is on the list. In 2005, check out Jesse Crain. In 2004, Rincon again. 2003 was LaTroy Hawkins and 2002 was JC Romero.

That list is sorted by a stat called WPA, which is Win Probability Added. It kills me not to go into the details too much, because the details are truly elegant, but you can find them here. You can think of it as a measure of how much each player helped along the probability of their team to win a game.

The beauty of WPA is that it is descriptive. It is NOT that it is predictive or evaluative. It isn't. For instance, using WPA, a slugger who hit three home runs in one game might not be as valuable as a utility player who got a couple of lucky singles in another. Because the home runs might have happened when a game was out of reach, and the lucky singles drove home the winning run in extra innings. You wouldn't claim that the slugger is worse than the utility player. You wouldn't claim he'll be worse than the utility player. But you would claim that in those games, he wasn't as valuable as the utility player. (And if you wouldn't, ask yourself, why not?)

So if reliever throw so few innings, why are they getting such high WPA scores? Why do they appear more valuable?

Because high-impact relievers can be used when games are on the line. They are, essentially, trump cards that managers can play. And looking around the Twins organization, there should be plenty of optimism of the hand that Ron Gardenhire might soon be dealt.

First and foremost, Jose Mijares looked awesome on Friday night. Giddy awesome. Twins-Geek-giggling-in-Maxwells awesome. Protecting a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning against top of the Indians lineup, he overpowered Grady Sizemore, Mark DeRosa and Victor Martinez.

We could also talk about the weekend that Luis Ayala had. Or Craig Breslow and Matt Guerrier's appearance. Or the promise of Juan Morillo. Or even the other-wordly numbers that Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney are putting up in New Britain.

But it's late, and they all say the same thing: the bullpen is a work in progress. But the key word is "progress".

More Stuff
We tried something new for the podcast, and I'm really happy how it turned out. We - gasp - actually got together and talked face-to-face. Seth and I were also joined by Kyle Eliason, who in addition to being a master sound engineer, is all about harshing on Rays. I hope you like it. And finally, if you really want to get ready for the upcoming series against the Rays, check out our Pitching Probables on