Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Watching Elias

The Voice of Reason™ is often very happy with this year’s Twins seats, which are near the right foul pole. That’s because it’s often the area Michael “Dimples” Cuddyer patrols. And because of a complicated collective bargaining agreement and a secret formula, I think she’s going find herself giddy in September. Here’s why….

It sucks for a baseball team to lose a really good player as a free agent. So, as part of the collective bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball and the players union have put in place a system to compensate teams (and their fan base) that lose really good players.

At the end of each season, MLB’s statistical partner Elias ranks all the players using a top secret formula as either Type A, Type B or no ranking. If a team offers a one-year, market-fair contract (i.e. offer them arbitration) to their Type A and Type B players, but the player signs with another team, the team gets extra high draft picks in return. For instance, if they lose a Type B player, they get back a pick between the first and second round of the draft (called a supplementary pick).

It’s even more serious for the Type A players. If they lose one of them, the team not only gets a supplementary pick, it also get a very high draft pick (usually a first or second round) from the team that signed away their player. This can also help the team retain that player, since teams are not eager to give away these picks.

For instance, the Twins were able to re-sign Carl Pavano last year in part because he was Type A, but not really a superstar. Teams don’t want to give up those picks unless they’re getting a superstar. The Twins had the inside track in re-signing Pavano because they were the only team that wouldn’t need to give up a high draft pick for a player perceived as good, but not great.

The top secret formula for determining these rankings isn’t published, but has worked hard to reverse-engineer it, and has a fair amount of success accurately predicting the rankings. (You can find the latest here.) These are of special interest to Twins fans, because outfielders Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer are both impending free agents, and (seemingly) both straddling the border between Type A and Type B status, though in different ways.

Kubel is the highest ranked Type B American League outfielder, just one spot back of the Type A players. Since he missed a couple of months due to injury, a good September could get him into the Type A list. Kubel isn’t a superstar, so just like Pavano last year, that might make the difference between him staying or going.

(By the way, another player who has been moving up the list is Jim Thome. He’s just one spot away from being a Type B free agent. That means that if the Twins hadn’t traded Thome, they might have received a supplementary draft pick for him if he signed with another team as a free agent. That’s no small loss, and it might be part of why the “player to be named later” hasn’t bee named. If the Indians get that supplementary pick, hopefully the Twins will get a decent prospect back.)

Cuddyer’s situation is murkier and significantly goofier. For the last few months, he’s been listed solidly in the Type A players. That changed a couple of weeks ago, when he was suddenly listed in the middle of the Type B players. Historically, rankings don’t change that fast, so it looked like there must be a mistake.

Except that the next week he had moved up just a couple of notches and was still a clear Type B. Also of interest for those two weeks was that his position had changed: he was a first baseman and not an outfielder. To some extent the two positions are grouped together, but could that explain why the sudden decrease? Was he just the wrong position?

A little further research confirmed that the new designation of “first baseman” had been correct. Over the last few weeks, a series of starts at first base meant that he had more starts there than in the outfield over the last two years. Since that time (those rankings last come out a week ago), he had started in the outfield several times, so as of yesterday he had ONE more outfield start than at first base.

The new rankings aren’t out yet at, and of course we’re not sure just how accurate they are. Finally, a lot of this is speculation. But if this is what it looks like, the Twins need to make very sure that Cuddyer is getting more starts in the outfield than at first base in September. And I expect The Voice Of Reason™ will make sure we use our seats this month.


This is one of about a dozen offseason issues about which I talked to Aaron Gleeman last night on our Gleeman And The Geek podcast. It also include what free agents the Twins might target if they lose Cuddyer and Kubel, and what they might do to overhaul the Twins middle infield. You can find all the podcasts here or listen to it on iTunes.

Gleeman & the Geek, Ep. 3

For our 3rd podcast, Aaron Gleeman and I talked about the impacts of the Morneau news and possible free agent options if Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel leave. We also debuted some opening music by James Richter. You can choose between:

- the podcasts
- the rss feed if you want to subscribe and
- the podcast on iTunes (where you can also subscribe).

We would love to hear what you think, either about the podcast or about our opinions. Either throw comments here or send me a message via Twitter. THANK YOU.

Monday, August 29, 2011


This was first published in 2002. Today, The Chatty Chatty Princess™ is starting her first day at high school, while The Boy™ had is having his first day at middle school. Good luck guys. I'm so proud of you both, and deeply in love.


He didn't feel the gush that everyone said he would feel the first time he held her in his arms. He frowned. "I've never been especially good about feeling emotions."

There was excitement to be sure. And a feeling of amazement. But mostly the infant seemed like an infinite puzzle to be pieced together. They had a job to do. She needed to eat. Sleep. Learn she was a part of a family.

She would cry from the moment he came home from work, and he would walk around the house with her, showing her the curtains, the flowers, the Kirby Pucket face-on-a-stick; anything to distract her from her exhaustion or hunger for five minutes and then five minutes more. "She was happy before you came home, honest."


Shortly after the colic passed, they watched her roll onto her back. Six eyes grew wide and looked at each other. She immediately began working on rolling the other way. And then crawling. And walking. And talking. Definitely talking.

And with each victory, came more self-assuredness.

Now they had a new job to do. Limits needed to be set and erased. Challenges needed to made and met. Illusions needed to be poked. Usually, the toughest part of the job was knowing when to hold a hand and when to turn away. When to watch out for her without watching her.

It was one of these times that he realized he felt the gush. He hadn't loved her at the hospital. He had fallen in love with her at home. And that was infinitely better.


Yesterday, his wife held her hand until she delivered her to her first kindergarten class - and then she turned away, and walked home.

He hadn't gone. He had gone to work, like he did everyday. It was no big deal. It certainly wasn't for his daughter. Just new friends to play with. A new adult to charm. New toys, and art projects and songs to sing. Not so very different than another activity hour at the community rec center.

But as he drove to work, he realized he knew better.

It was not so long ago. He remembers his kindergarten and Mrs. Manfred. First grade and Miss Oeschlager. His hurry to clear the next hurdle, face the next challenge, race to adulthood.

He sees it in her. She can't grow up fast enough. The blessed quandary about when to hold a hand or turn away will be less frequent now. And he wasn't there this morning because it WAS a big deal.

So on I-94, he found himself struggling to wipe underneath his glasses, as too few memories triggered too many emotions for his eyes to hold. There was sadness. And pride. And the gush. But mostly there was life's intense taste when one is lucky enough to get a full dose.

And he sighed. "I've never been especially good about feeling emotions."