Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gratis Flores

Twins claim LHP Randy Flores off waivers from the Colorado Rockies
What's not to like about gratis flores? They brighten up a space, freshen things up, and might even help you get lucky. Same with Randy Flores. He brightens up the bullpen, could keep left-handed batters from stinking up the joint, and the Twins might even get lucky.

That springtime hope is especially strong when you look at his numbers this year. He hasn’t given up many hits – just 22 in 27 innings, which is good. He strikes people out at a decent rate – about the major league average of six per nine innings. He’s given up four home runs, and that’s really only one more than you might like to see.

The troubling part is the walks. He has walked players about 50% more than average, but control is something the Twins (and pitching coach Rick Anderson) are pretty good an instilling. Of all the faults he could have – and let’s be honest that freely acquired talent is gonna have faults – that’s the one you might choose.

So why is he available? Because he doesn’t do what he was supposed to do – get left-handers out. Unfortunately, that’s also exactly what he is supposed to do with the Twins. This year, lefties are posting a higher OPS (776) than right-handers (702) against Flores. This isn’t just small sample size – that’s been the case over the last three years (852 vs 773) too.

Hmm. Time for a sidebar…

Whenever you see this argument made, be very wary of how many times pitchers have faced each side of the plate. For instance, you may have heard that left-handed batters hit left-handed pitcher Glen Perkins better than right-handed batters, and that’s been true, with southpaws hitting .325 vs. .287 that right-handed batters hit.

However, there can be a good reason for this: mediocre and poor left-handed hitters aren’t allowed to face very good left-handed batters. Mediocre and poor right-handed batter are. So when a left-handed pitcher faces a left-handed batter, you can assume it’s a pretty darn good left-handed batter. Of course he hits better.

That might be partly the case with Perkins. Perkins has faced three times as many right-handed batters as left-handed batters. In the normal course of games, he would probably face closer to twice as many, so it looks like he is facing a higher level of left-handed batter than right-handed batters.
For Flores, on the other hand, the opposite is true. He has faced almost the same numbers of left-handed hitters as he has right-handed hitters. It’s almost as if National League managers have gone out of their way to let lefties bat against him. Not a good sign.

Flores also seems to have become more hittable as the year goes on, and that also seems to be a trend over the last few years. But overall, those averages against him aren’t terrible. Plus, he hasn’t pitched in the American League since 2002, so there is a decent chance he could be effective until the AL adjusts. Finally, you never know how a left-hander who struggle with control might respond to Anderson – just look at the career years Dennys Reyes had here.

The bottom line is that when someone offers you free Flores, you would be foolish not to accept. Just don’t expect them to last long. Enjoy whatever short bloom they give you, parlay that into some favor from Lady Luck, and be prepared for them to turn quickly.

Your Saturday just got better.

First, you know about the Sooz/TwinsCentric Party in St. Cloud on Saturday afternoon to watch the Twins beat up (knock, knock) the Rangers. We’ll be meeting at Howie’s from 2:30 to 6:30 with Seth, Me, Sooz and plenty of others. There will be specials and raffles including two Row 6 Twins tickets. I’ll see you there.

And now we have a doubleheader. At 7:00 in St. Cloud at Joe Faber field, there is going to be a Twins Alumni Game, featuring Corey Koskie, Jim Eisenreich, Juan Berenguer, Jarvis Brown, Al Newman, Brian Raabe, Greg Thayer and even (Da-da-DUUUUH) Ron Davis. Oh, plus fireworks. You can find all the info here.

I never thought I’d say this, but St. Cloud looks like the place to be this weekend. :-)


Nick N. said...

For Flores, on the other hand, the opposite is true. He has faced almost the same numbers of left-handed hitters as he has right-handed hitters. It’s almost as if National League managers have gone out of their way to let lefties bat against him.

I can kind of see what you're trying to say, but the Perkins/Flores example is a terrible one. Perkins has really never been used as a lefty specialist in his pro career; he was a starter in the minors and he's been a starter/mop-up guy in the bigs. As such, he's facing starting lineups loaded with righties.

Flores has frequently been used as a lefty specialist, which is why he's only pitched 27 innings this year. He's often put into the game just to face a lefty or two, and then pulled. So yes, he has faced a higher percentage of lefties than Perkins has, but I don't think it's particularly meaningful in the sense that you seem to think it is.

John said...

Nick, Yes, their roles thus far in the league have been different, but the point is that managers respond to Perkins presence on the mound and they don't respond to Flores presence on the mound. As such, Flores has generally faced a lower level of left-handed hitters than Perkins has.

Mad Men Girl said...

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walter hanson said...

Hey John you left out two points that should've been discussed here.

One, due to two weird injuries the Twins were down to just one lefty in the bullpen. For Gardy who likes to play percentages (sort of what Ron Washington did on Wednesday night) you have to have more than one lefty.

And two, since the Twins were looking for a lefty (look at point one) the question than becomes out of the leftys that the Twins could get from the minors or waivers which the Twins could claim - Chicago needy a lefty because of Thorton's injury automatically - gets the waiver claim was Flores a good choice available or a desperate pick. I don't study the minor league rosters like you do or saw the waiver wire, but I think I have to give Smith the benefit of the doubt he got the best lefty he could get his hands on.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN