Monday, August 30, 2010


There aren't too many one-name guys in sports, and Manny deserves that kind of cred. You know the drill - he can be scary, scary good, if only he can be motivated. You know, like in a pennant race. Or in a contract year. Or hitting in a tiny little ballpark that can inflate his numbers.

Uh, oh.

It's all right to be a bit concerned as Twins fans. When he joined the Dodgers two years ago with similar incentives, Manny hit about .400 with 17 HR in 187 AB. That's basically cross-pollinating Ted Williams with a roided up Mark McGwire. Which is scary as an opponent, and probably scarier as a media member.

Plus, he was clutch. In those two months with the Dodgers, he posted a 3.45 WPA. One way to think about that would be to say that he basically won 7 games all by himself over those two months. Another would be to compare it to the highest hitter's WPA on the Twins, which is Justin Morneau (still) with 2.69.

Think about that. Manny outdistanced Morneau by about 40% with 33% less time. He basically had twice the impact on a monthly basis - and Morneau was one of the leading candidates for MVP.

It's not silly to be worried about Manny's impact. Indeed, given his history, it would be silly to not be concerned.


TT said...

Two years ago Manny was already raking even before he went to the Dodgers. He had hit .347 in July. This year, he hasn't really played much at all since June and hasn't hit since he returned.

The only real concern for Twins fans is how the Twins play. Absent a collapse, its very unlikely the White Sox are going to catch them. The Twins are going to have to lose a bunch of games to the Royals and Indians while the White Sox are taking it to the Red Sox, Angels, A's and Tigers.

Anonymous said...

I'm honestly not that concerned. Yes, there is the possibility of a "Manny SMASH!!!" situation, but there is also a possibility of this completely destroying the White Sox clubhouse. It's not hard to imagine a lot of arguments between he and Pierzynski and Ozzie if he joins them and slacks off during the pennant race.

The actual result is likely somewhere in between. He will probably bolster their lineup, but he probably won't make the difference in the division race.

Both teams have made upgrades in the last week. The Twins have strengthened the bullpen, and the White Sox have strengthened their offense. The result is that the Twins still have a 4-game lead with less than 5 weeks to play, and the Twins are still the better team overall.

Anonymous said...

On Mike and Mike this morning, with Jayson Stark visiting, they discussed Manny and his potential impact. Basically they felt that this is not 2008 Manny, this is post 50-game suspension Manny and that Manny has been "average".

AK47 said...

I heard that same Jayson Stark bit and I remain unconvinced. Dude still has a .900+ OPS this year which is good. At the very least Manny will provide lineup protection for Konerko and Quinten (sp?) which will benefit both of those players.

I agree with whoever said "he'll likely bolster their lineup, but he won't make a difference in the division race."

If the Twins play .500 baseball (15-16) over the remaining 31 games, the Sox have to play 19-12 baseball to tie the Twins and 20-11 baseball to win the division. If the Twins play meagerly over .500 ball, say 18-13, the Sox have to play 22-9 ball the rest of the see the kind of difficulties they are going to have.

Can it happen, yeah, will it happen, unlikely.

frightwig said...

"If the Twins play .500 baseball (15-16) over the remaining 31 games, the Sox have to play 19-12 baseball to tie the Twins and 20-11 baseball to win the division. If the Twins play meagerly over .500 ball, say 18-13, the Sox have to play 22-9 ball the rest of the way..."

Neither of those scenarios sound outrageously unlikely to me.

The Twins probably will hold their lead down the stretch. But, in the 6 weeks since the break, there already has been a 7.5 game swing in the standings between Minnesota and Chicago. Another swing of 4 games going back the other way could easily happen; as you point out, it could happen even if Minnesota plays fairly well down the stretch.

Last year, the Twins trailed Detroit by 3.5 games after 131 games played, and 7 games after 136 played. The 2008 race down the stretch was closer, but the Twins made up a 2.5-game deficit with 6 games to play, before losing the tiebreaker to Chicago. In 2006, the Twins trailed Detroit by 6 games after 131 were played, and finally won the division on the last day of the season.

So that sort of thing happens, it's not exactly rare. Last year, the Tigers turned into a .500 team down the stretch, because they lost 5 of 6 games vs. KANSAS CITY and also lost 4 of 6 to Chicago. (In the two Sept. series with Minnesota, the Tigers lost 2/3 in the dome, then split 4 games at home in the final week.) Maybe they just took those Royals games for granted... and that's all it took to blow their season.

walter hanson said...

The big question does the White Sox have enough pitching to get the job done. Chicago is currently missing two quality RP's (both of which were used to close for Jenks). What good does it to score 9 runs against the Yankees if your pitchers give up 11. Last night what should've been a 6-3 win got turned into a 10-6 extra inning win.

That pitching won't help especially given that they have a 13 game road trip to end the season.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

walter hanson said...

I had it wrong. I misread the ESPN schedule and they have a seven game homestand at the end of the season.

Still they have two horrible road trips (a 10 game trip and a west coast trip). Will that pitching hold up. That's what got the Twins in trouble in June.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

TT said...

"Neither of those scenarios sound outrageously unlikely to me."

I think when you look at the schedule and the improvements the Twins have made, they become more outrageous.

But even without the established lead and the schedule advantage, the Twins have the advantage that they are a much better team than the White Sox at this point. I will be slightly surprised if they don't run away with it.

amr said...

Don't be a stranger. We miss you.

JimCrikket said...

"Outrageously unlikely"?... no. But unlikely, nonethe less.

I still maintain that if the Sox manage to take the Division from the Twins, it will much more likely be because the Twins gave it away than because Manny was so magnificent that he drove the Sox to the title.

That said, two games in a row now he has managed to generate a 3-run home run from the friggin on-deck circle. AJ last night and Konerko today. Maybe he really is just that good.