Thursday, January 05, 2012

Expectations Thought Excercise

Below is the opening day roster (more or less) of the 2011 Twins versus the probable roster for the 2012 Twins (as things stand right now). I want to do a quick comparison of the two but add a twist – I want to compare the 2012 player with what we hoped the 2011 player was going to do, not what they actually did. Let’s call it the Hope Index. There is a reason I want to go that way, I promise. I’m also not going to do a ton of analysis here - it's late and I'm winging it a bit - so if you want to make your own changes, go ahead. You can put your Hope Index in the comments.


Cuddyer for Willingham is a wash.

Carroll for Nishioka would be a huge upgrade, except this isn't based on reality, but instead on what we expected from Nishioka. We expected a guy who could get on base from the #2 spot and play average defensively. We’re expecting the same from Carroll. I’m calling those even.

I’ll call Doumit and Kubel about even.

I expect about the same out of Casilla as I did last year. I’m going to say the same about Valencia, but I was pessimistic about him last year. I expect most Twins fans would say they expect less.

Morneau will be a wash – we had a bunch of health concerns and we still do. I’m not sure if they are worse or not than they were.

Ben Revere for Delmon Young is a tough comparison because they’re such different players, but Revere is certainly less than what we expected from Delmon. (Comparing those two in more detail might make a fun entry.)

Mauer and Span, I think we absolutely need to expect less than we did, given their injury concerns.

And the bench as a whole gets a downgrade, too, just because they lose Thome.

Hitters Hope Index: six evens and four downgrades.


Pavano, Baker and Blackburn are going to be even. They have essentially been the same two years in a row.

As much as I hated the Capps signing this year – and I hated it a lot – I’m not sure the Twins look any worse at closer than they did last year. They might have had a little more depth, but everyone was so unsure of Nathan. I’m calling it even.

I’ll call the back half of the bullpen even, too. I didn’t know who was going to get innings and I’m not sure it mattered a ton. I feel the same way now. I might have a little less confidence in Gardenhire and Anderson’s ability to piece something together but I also have more confidence in Ryan’s ability to dig up some arms.

Liriano is a downgrade – we absolutely expect less of him this year than we did going into last year.

I expect we’ll be happier with Marquis than we were with Duensing last year, but our expectations are probably lower. Duensing entered last year with such solid numbers as a starter, it wasn’t unreasonable to view him as a decent #3 starter. I don’t think many folks expect that from Marquis.

I would argue that the Twins bullpen setup roles look better this year than they did last year. Nobody knew who was going to be setting up and at least this year Perkins seems like a solid bet.

Hope Index: five evens, two downgrades and one upgrade.

Now, here’s why I wanted to do this: I’m trying to establish reasonable expectations for this team and I wanted to establish a baseline for how much talent this team really has. Usually one starts with how the team did last year. This team lost 99 games, but it really wasn’t this team, was it? With so many injuries, so many rookies, so many meaningless August and September games, I don’t know how to reasonably start to add wins to a 63-win team whose playing time will be so radically altered.

So instead, I’m going back to the beginning. Last year going into the season, this felt like an 85-90 win team, especially after winning 95 games the year before. And what I’ve found is that from that team I have eleven even grades, six downgrades and one upgrade.

Looking at the downgrades, I can see some hope. Liriano could become what we expected, and so could Mauer and Span. The others I’m not so sure about. That feels like a .500 team, though with a lot more downside than upside.


TT said...

I don't disagree with a lot of what you say. But don't think we should have specific expectations of players. Instead we have have a range of expectations.

A lot of players last year fell off the lower end of those expectations. I think Mauer, Morneau and Span all fit into that category. This year all three have about the same upside as last year, but we now see a potential downside that we didn't see last year.

Nishioka is the flip side of that. I think we saw a lot of upside last year that we don't really believe is there any more. His downside was always pretty wide open, given his lack of experience playing American baseball. He probably hit the bottom of that range.

I think Doumit is an improvement over Kubel, if that is the comparison. He's a backup catcher for one thing. So it isn't a real direct comparison. He is also a switch hitter. He just fills a lot more roles than Kubel did.

I would move Valencia down a notch from last year. I don't think his defensive failings were expected last year. And the upside on his bat is probably slightly lower without the downside having improved much.

Nathan is probably the biggest change, if you consider range of expectations. We didn't know what to expect, but certainly his projected upside was higher than anyone on the current staff.

The guys projected to play central roles last year were Capps and Mijares. I am not sure Perkins has higher expectations this year than Mijares did last year. And there is no one with the starter in waiting credentials of Capps last year.

The expectations from Swarzak and Duensing are probably higher than any of the rest of the bullpen last year. But the tail end of the bullpen is not a huge factor in a team's success.

What I think is a real improvement is the number of pitchers whose range of expectations have a higher upside than last year's group. Whatever expectations people had for guys like Hoey, Hughes and James, there are several guys who with better upsides competing for bullpen spots. And downsides are basically irrelevant since those folks will be at AAA.

In looking at the starting staff, I am not sure that expectations for Liriano should be any different. He performed toward the lower end last year and is a year older. But he still has the talent that gave him a high upside last year.

Anyone who made a firm projection on Duensing last year was getting ahead of things. His upside might have been slightly higher than Marquis, but his downside was much lower.

The real change in the rotation is the absence of Gibson and Slowey. This starting staff has no one in reserve with the range of expectations those two brought last year.

I don't think the range of expectations for this team has the upside of last year's team. As for downside, we all should have learned last year that there really isn't one. With enough injuries and stumbles, teams can under-perform almost any realistic expectation.

rickok said...

put liriano in pull pen . get rid of maur, nishioka, justin m. these guys are a wish use the money to sign pitchers. time to get real stop signing everybody's
leftovers. we built you the stadium now spend the money to win