Sunday, June 07, 2009

OtB Twins Notes (06.08.09)

Since his return from his bereavement leave on May 24th, Delmon Young is now 5-for-37 with 21 strikeouts and just one walk.  At, Dave Cameron asks "What To Do With Delmon" and his response is to manufacture a similar mysterious mental "injury" that befell Detroit's Dontrelle Willis and St. Louis's Khali Greene to allow the Twins to circumvent the waivers and allow Young some "rehab" work in the minors (to which Tim Marchman agrees). 
At Tenth Inning Stretch, Thryros presents one of the many problems with his swing - alignment.  This, to me, is a problem but it is a tree in a forest of problems for Young.  What he doesn't draw attention to, but clearly has plenty of visual evidence of, is that Young is unable to generate power from his lower half because of improper weight-shifting in his legs (look at the rear leg bend compared to that of the other sluggers).  He has very little leverage from below the waist.  Other issues include his loading problem where his weight is shifted too far on his front foot prior to the pitcher releasing which leads to the need to start his swing earlier, resulting in poor pitch recognition (commits too early on breaking stuff and to many late swings on fastballs) and opposite field hits.  This is not a hit-your-way-out-of-it-funk, Young needs a complete rebuild.       
KFAN's Phil Mackey takes a look at Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano.  In his past three starts Baker is 2-1 but has thrown a very improved 21 innings with 20 strikeouts and just one walk.  Still, balls keep sneaking over the fence as he allowed five home runs in those starts.  Liriano on the other hand has to work on his offerings to right-handed opponents (who are slugging .531 off of him with nine of the ten home runs allowed) and while pitching from the stretch (hitters are slugging .590 when runners are on base). 
Twins left-handed reliever Sean Henn has never been known for his control, as he has walked 55 batters to 51 strikeouts in his major league career, but let's agree that the guy can deliver when it comes to downhome baseball quotes (insert your own Texas twang):  "I'm not a big control guy, so for me to try to hit a gnat's rear would be stupid.  Obviously, those walks correlate into runs. So I'm going back to what I did in the minors: trust in your stuff, hit the zone, let the seven guys behind you work for you. I feel like I'm throwing the ball over the plate more than I ever have."
I am a big believer that a baseball team can inflate the value of a relief pitcher by putting said pitcher in situations that best fit his strength.  Dennys Reyes was an excellent example of this in 2006 and Craig Breslow was another last season.  Henn could be another addition of the same ilk if deployed well situationally.  Henn's weakness is clearly throwing strikes to right-handed batters as 46 of his 55 career walks have comes against right-handed opponents (his three walks this year have all been against righties), yet in 2009 righties are just 1-for-13 (.077) - a possible affirmation for being effectively wild - while left-handed opponents are 5-for-13 (.385) with three doubles.  Speaking of Craig Breslow, the former Twins has held opponents to a .192 batting average in eight innings while strikeout eight and walking just one since being acquired by Oakland. 
Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse released this little nugget of a column regarding the hype around the Joe Mauer contract extension.  In not so many words, Reusse informs us that Mauer will either stay or go and essentially says "stop worrying about it, you hoople heads".  In addition to that, Reusse cropdusted a nice message to those of us that analyze numbers that we are "a small minority that think it's all about make-believe statistics."  With that in mind, Aaron Gleeman tells us that Mauer is leading the team in the make-believe statistic of Runs Above Replacement with 27. 
One right-handed reliever that might be available at the trade deadline is former Twins and current Astro LaTroy Hawkins, who has been filling in for the injured closer Jose Valverde who is returning to Houston shortly.  The Twins flirted with the idea of acquiring Hawkins last year and since his trade to Houston, Hawkins is 3-2 with a 1.41 ERA while throwing over 44 innings and striking out 47 and coverting eight saves.  
Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Paul Hoynes discusses the transition away from the Metrodome and what it will mean to a team that has taken advantage of the quirky indoor home field moves outdoors.
Nick Nelson takes a jog around the very winnable AL Central. 
Twins GM Bill Smith spews out non-sensical jargon about "consistency" and the Pioneer Press's Charley Walters dedicates column space to it down.