Friday, January 30, 2015

Episode 118: Twins National Anthem Audition

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week we try out to sing the National Anthem at a Twins game, talk about how lame baseball nicknames are in 2015, and Paul tries to figure out what the Twins are doing with Eduardo Nunez.

We go down on the pond and talk about hard throwing lefty Cameron Booser (Jay nicknames him Boose, era of lame nicknames indeed), and we go all around the league talking beer, baseball, and the news. 

Thanks for listening. 

If you enjoy our podcast, please tell your friends about us and take a couple extra minutes to rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help Danny Santana to stick at shortstop in 2015. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dozier's Expected Extension

Brian Dozier isn't arbitration eligible until next off-season but rumors are already starting to build about a possible extension between the second baseman and the Twins. He is under team control until 2019 when he will be coming off of his age-29 season. There isn't necessarily a rush to get a deal done but a source close to the Twins said to expect an extension in place before the season's start.

What would a Dozier extension look like?
Last year the Cleveland Indians locked up their All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis to $52.5 million, six-year contract. The deal also included a club option for a seventh year. If the Twins followed a similar format, they would be buying out all of Dozier's arbitration years and paying for his first couple years of free agency.

Another second baseman to recently sign an extension was Jedd Gyorko of the San Diego Padres. Gyorko signed a six-year, $35 million extension. However, he was coming off of his rookie season so the deal came at an earlier point in his career than Dozier.

It would seem more likely for the total dollar amount to be closer to Kipnis than to Gyorko.

The Roller Coaster Ride
Dozier provides an interesting case for the Twins. He's shown signs of great things but there has been some ups-and-downs to his offensive performance. Let's start with the good. Dozier ended the 2013 season strong and started the 2014 season on fire.

2013 2nd Half: .253/.313/.443, 10 HR, 18 2B, 34 R, 23 BB
2014 1st Half: .242/.340/.436, 18 HR, 16 2B, 69 R, 52 BB

That's over 100 runs scored and closing in on 30 home runs. Any team in baseball would gladly take those numbers from a second baseman.

The other halves surrounding these two strong performances weren't quite as good.

2013 1st Half: .235/.310/.386, 8 HR, 15 2B, 38 R, 28 BB
2014 2nd Half: .244/.352/.387, 5 HR, 17 2B, 43 R, 37 BB

If these two halves were combined, his OBP would still be high but his power numbers took a dip compared to the halves mentioned above.

So which Dozier is the really Dozier?

It's most likely that he will end up somewhere between these two extremes. ZiPS projects Dozier to his 17 home runs with 30 doubles. His projected 86 runs scored aren't the eye-popping 112 he posted in 2014 but it's still a decent total. If he reaches his projected slash-line of .244/.321/.399, all three of those totals would be higher than his career mark.

Dozier has become a fan favorite over the last couple years and that could help him at the negotiating table. It seems like both sides would like to get a long-term deal in place so don't be surprised if Dozier is "dotting his i's" before Opening Day.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: John Pacella

Welcome back to one of the most popular off-season series here at NoDak Twins Fan, the Worst Twins of All-Time. There have already been eight profiles of some players that played their worst while wearing a Twins uniform. Luckily most of the players went on to have careers beyond their time in Minnesota. 

Today's edition to the series pitch less than 52 innings for the team but he was bad enough in that time to make the list. Welcome to the dubious club, John Pacella.

Pacella was drafted in the fourth round of the 1974 amateur draft by the New York Mets. He'd played his high school ball at two different schools in New York and he grew up on Long Island. His hometown team had taken a chance on him.

He'd become known for his unusual pitching delivery that sometimes caused him to lose his cap after a pitch.From 1974-1979, he pitched at every level in the Mets farm system. He was younger than the average age of the other pitchers in each stop along the way. By age 20, he was pitching at Triple-A with a 7-5 record and an ERA under 4.00.

His first taste of the big leagues came in 1977 as a September call-up. He pitched in three games and didn't allow an earned run while striking out one and walking two. The Mets would lose all three games he pitched in and he didn't make it back to the majors until 1979.

Pacella's only full season in the big leagues came in 1980. He started the season in the bullpen before being moved into the starting rotation in June. Over 84 innings he had a 5.14 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP while striking out 68 and walking 59. His 7.3 SO/9 rate was the highest mark of his career.

In the following off-season, Pacella would change teams twice as part of two different deals. The Mets sent him along with Jose Moreno to the Padres for Randy Jones, the 1976 Cy Young Award winner. He'd never play for San Diego as they would send him to the other New York organization as part of a six-player deal the next spring. His 10 innings in the Bronx were uneventful as he allowed eight earned runs and nine walks.

On May 12, 1982 Pacella was sent from the Yankees with Pete Filson, Larry Milbourne, and cash to the Minnesota Twins for Roger Erickson and Butch Wynegar. His 21 games with the Twins were the second most he'd pitched in any season. Unfortunately, he allowed 48 runs (42 ER) across 51.2 innings for a robust 7.32 ERA. His SO/9 rate dipped to 3.5 and he walked 17 more batters than he struck out.

Even with the small sample size of 51.2 innings, FanGraphs WAR ranking have Pacella (-1.6 WAR) as the second worst pitcher in team history. Baseball Reference thinks even less of his time in Minnesota as they say he was worth a -1.9 WAR. According to runs better than average (RAA), he was 25 runs worse than an average player. Runs better than replacement level (RAR) says that he was worth -20 runs compared to a replacement level player.

Pacella's time in Minnesota would be over at year's end. He was dealt to the Texas Rangers for Len Whitehouse and they would release him in April of the next year. That July he signed with the Baltimore Orioles and he pitched in six game with them before being released. He'd make it back to the big leagues one more time in 1986 as a member of the Tigers. In five games, he allowed five earned runs.

Over the next couple seasons, he tried to make it back to the majors with a variety of teams. However, he ended up stuck at Triple-A and he moved on after the 1988 season. Later he managed independent teams in the Frontier League before joining the staff at a baseball training facility called "Big League Baseball School."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Episode 117: TwinsFest Preview

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here

This week the guys talk about TwinsFest, the TwinsDaily.com Winter Meltdown, what it means that Trevor Plouffe is the highest paid third baseman in franchise history, and about one Twins minor league pitcher subtweeting another.

We also review the 40 man roster a bit more with JR Graham, Ervin Santana, and Brian Dozier. Plus the usual beer, baseball, and news!

Enjoy the show and thanks for listening.

Follow me on Twitter and look for me at TwinsFest this weekend. There could be some prizes involved.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Houston Jimenez

Baseball is in the in-between time before players head to spring training and after most of the off-season moves have been made. This gives me some time to jump back into one of the more popular off-season series here at NoDak Twins Fan.

Lots of people can debate who was the best player in an organization's history. For Minnesota, the argument can be made in favor of Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, and a few others. It's fun to look at the other side of the coin and examine who some of the worst players were to lace up their cleats in Minnesota.

There have been over a half dozen players covered so far in the series and there will be more to come in the future. For now, enjoy the latest installment in the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series."
Houston Jimenez began his professional career as a 16-year old in the Mexican League. The Chicago Cubs would give him an opportunity to play in the Florida State League as a 17-year old but he struggled to hit .215 with a .289 slugging percentage. He drew over 100 walks in 446 at-bats to give him an impressive .366 OBS.

Over the next five seasons he would spend most of his playing time in Mexico. The White Sox organization gave him a brief taste of Triple-A in 1978 but his 13 game try-out resulted in a .220 batting average and very little power.

Jimenez signed with the Twins as an international free agent at the end of October in 1980. Half a year later he would be sold back to his Mexican League team. He would end up back in the Twins organization during July 1982.  Before the end of June in 1983, he would debut in Minnesota and he began to split playing time with Ron Washington at shortstop. .

His rookie campaign didn't go perfectly. Over 86 at-bats across 36 games, he hit .174/.207/.256 with six extra-base hits. The next year he would make it into over 100 games and his batting numbers didn't improve all that much. His batting average jumped 27 points but his slugging percentage dipped nine points. Over 409 plate appearances in Minnesota, he hit .195/.231/.247 with 18 extra-base hits.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jimenez also had some flaws. All of his appearances as a Twin came at shortstop. His fielding percentage was under .970 in each season. He committed 22 errors across 566 chances while playing a defensive position where he was probably a little over-matched.

For his Twins career, Baseball Reference has him with a combined -1.2 WAR. His hitting was so bad runs batting (Rbat) was -37 worse than the average player was as a hitter. As far as wins above average (WAA) he cost the Twins 2.7 wins over a replacement level player. FanGraphs ranks his WAR even lower with a -1.5 mark over two Twins seasons.

Jimenez wouldn't make it back to the big leagues until the 1987 season and this was after the Twins released him. He combined to play in 16 games for the Pirates and Indians organizations from 1987-88, In that time he collected one hit over 27 at-bats. Even though his big league career was over, he would continue to play baseball for the next decade.

From 1993-2001, Jimenez played seasons with multiple teams in the Mexican League. He was 43-years old in his last professional game and he was over 14 years older than the average age of the other hitters in the league. While still being an active player, he took over managerial duties and his second career had begun.

From 1999-2006, he managed multiple teams throughout the Mexican League. He joined the Rockies minor league system and served at two different levels. he got elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. He was one of Mexico's coaches in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and he currently serves as manager of Puebla, where he began his career.