Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dissecting the 2012 Twins HOF Ballot

In a post published yesterday by Seth Stohs of, he looked at the 18 names on the ballot for the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. There are already 23 members of the organization's Hall of Fame and it seems to be the trend that at least one person will get in every year. A 54 member committee will make the final decision and it is made up of local and national baseball writers, Twins broadcasters, Twins Hall of Fame members, local TV and Radio members, select Twins front office personnel and the fans. The guidelines to be eligible are accumulating a service time of three seasons and a two-year waiting period following retirement from Major League Baseball.

There are some very qualified individuals on the 18-person ballot and there are some questionable names on the list. It will all come down to the final vote and the results will be announced over Twins Fest Weekend in January.

How do the players stack-up against one another? Here is a break down of the top ten players on the ballot according to their WAR rankings from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.
(Click Image to Enlarge)
There are some familiar names in the top 10 but there are also some names that might be unfamiliar to the casual Twins fan. What makes the top five players stand apart from the crowd?

1. Chuck Knoblach, 2B 1992-1997
By looking at this list, it seems easy to think that Chuck Knoblach should be a lock to be selected into the Twins Hall of Fame. He is one of the top ten players in franchise history and he was one of the catalysts that helped the Twins to their second World Series crown. His exit from the team and his return to Minnesota were full of some ugly moments but plenty of time has passed since those events transpired. It should be time for Knoblach to be enshrined with the other top players from the organization but 2012 might not be his year.

2. Camilo Pascual, RHP 1961-1966
The right-handed pitcher had already played seven seasons at the big league level before the Senators moved to Minnesota. He was an original member of the Twins and he put together six great seasons with the Twins name on the front of his uniform. He was a vital part of the first team from Minnesota to qualify for the World Series. In recent weeks there has been a push by multiple Twin Cities media members for Pascual to be elected to the team HOF (Reusse article, Christensen article) and this could be enough to push him over the top for 2012.

3. David Goltz, RHP 1972-1979
Goltz might be a name that is unfamiliar to the newest generations of Twins fans. The Minnesota native spent much of the 1970's playing with the team from his home state. He was never overpowering on the mound but he had a stretch of six seasons in a row in which he won double-digit games. In 1977 he was a 20 game winner and he finished sixth in the Cy Young voting. Statistically he looks like a Brad Radke type of player from an earlier era.

4. Cesar Tovar, OF 1965-1972
As a rookie on the 1965 World Series team, Tovar gained experience that will help him be a leader with the next decade of Twins players. He was part of the two Twins teams in the 1969 and 1970 who lost in the playoffs to the powerful Baltimore Orioles. Mr. Tovar would continually find his name on the MVP balloting at the end of the year. He finished seventh in 1967 and he would finish in the top 24 in each of the next four seasons. He even started one game in 1968 but only pitched one inning because he would end up playing all nine positions on the day.

5. Corey Koskie, 3B 1998-2004
The newer generation of Twins fans will be very familiar with the name of Corey Koskie. He was a vital part of the revival of Twins baseball in the early 2000's. The defense he played at third base was good and he combined that with a powerful swing from the left side of the plate. The 2001 season might have been his best where he set personal bests with 26 home runs and 103 RBI. Concussions hampered the end of his career and it was tough to watch him suffer through his last couple years in Toronto and Milwaukee. His role in the revival of Twins baseball could be enough to get him into the Twins Hall of Fame in the future.

There is a good chance that all of the top five candidates will get their opportunity to be recognized as members of the Twins Hall of Fame. The problem is that only two of the players can be enshrined in any single season. If I could only pick two players, I would vote for Knoblach and Pascual. On the online voting, the fans can vote for up to five players and I will most likely vote for all of the players listed in my top five.

That being said, my prediction is the committee in charge of the Twins Hall of Fame will only put one player in this season and it will be Camilo Pascual.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Would the Twins consider Liriano for closer?

With the recent news that Joe Nathan has signed a free agent contract with the Texas Rangers, the Twins are now trying to sort out who will be the team's closer for the 2012 campaign. In yesterday's post, I wrote briefly about the Twins considering Jonathan Broxton for a late inning role with the team. If the Twins decide to go in a different direction, there are plenty of paths to consider for the man to replace Nathan.

During Spring Training in 2010, the Twins were forced to deal with a devastating arm injury to Nathan. The closer's role was open for the taking and there were multiple options on the table. One name that was discussed for the closer role was left-handed pitcher, Francisco Liriano. In the 2010 Winter League, Liriano had created some buzz with a good performance but he had yet to return to his pre-Tommy John form. The Twins went in a different direction that offseason and dubbed Jon Rauch the closer for the start of the 2010 campaign but the thought of moving Liriano was still there.

Flash-forward to the offseason before the 2012 season and the Twins are currently without someone to fill the role of ninth inning pitcher. Terry Ryan has already announced that Glen Perkins is unlikely to serve in the closer's role for next season because the team prefers to leave as the set-up man. Another familiar name that has been thrown around is signing free agent Matt Capps to come back as the team's closer. For many Twins fans, the thought of relying on Capps is hard to swallow.

Would the Twins ever reconsider moving Liriano to the closer role?

Aside from his no-hitter in the early part of the year, the 2011 season was not a great one for Mr. Liriano. He scuffled to a 9-10 record with an ERA of 5.08 and a 1.489 WHIP. The coming season will be the last one in which he will be under team control and his future with the club is definitely in doubt. The team is going to have to see something in Liriano this season to warrant a contract for future years.

This means there is a lot on the line for Mr. Liriano in the 2012 season. He will be playing for his first free agent contract and for many players that can be a push that produces performance on the field. The Twins have seen a player like Perkins make the switch from starter to very effective relief pitcher. A move by Liriano to the bullpen could be similar to Perkins in that it would allow him to put a little something extra on his pitches. At times, the Twins saw dominating stuff from Perkins in 2011 and Liriano has not shown some of his electric stuff since his elbow surgery.

From reports, it seems that the closer for next year's version of the Twins is not currently on the roster. Ryan said when talking about the closer role in a recent interview, "I think you're wise to ultimately see if you can find a guy with experience." It is interesting to note that Nathan had no experience as a closer when Ryan traded for him from San Francisco. But if you follow the message of this quote, Liriano does not fit that stipulation and ultimately the Twins will be a better team if he returns to form in the starting rotation.

If the Twins fail to bring in a closer with experience, it will be interesting to see if Liriano's name is ever mentioned as a candidate for the closing role. In a bind, the organization has considered him in the past...

...but it seems as if another option will be the Twins ninth inning man for 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hot Stove Report: Broxton, Nathan, Cuddyer

With the free agent departure of Joe Nathan, the Twins are looking for a new closer for the 2012 season. One of the most intriguing names on the free agent market could be Jonathan Broxton. He has struggled through some injuries during the last two season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But prior to that in parts of 2009 and 2010, he had been one of the best closers in MLB and he was selected to multiple All-Star appearances. 

The hope for any team signing Broxton to be a closer is that the arthroscopic surgery he had on his elbow in September will clear up his struggles on the field. Because of the injury concerns, Broxton could be a cheap closer option with tons of upside. It would be nice for the Twins to sign him to a reasonable one-year contract with a club option for a second-year. On the other hand with all of the injuries concerns of last season, the Twins might not want to add another question mark to the roster for next year. 

Nathan wanted to go to Texas
In the aftermath of Joe Nathan's exit from the Twins, there have been many different reports that have surfaced about his relationship with his organization of the last eight seasons. The Twins also offered Nathan a two-year deal but it was for less than the $14.5 million he got from the Rangers. It was hard to know what the market would be like for a pitcher who had his fair share of struggles last season. Dave St. Peter made sure to let Twins fans know that the Twins were not given the opportunity to match the offer from Texas.  

There have been some hints that the injury situation this past year was hard to ignore for Nathan. Remember that Nathan had to go to Rochester to rehab during last season and one specific player did not have to make that trip as part of his rehab process. This might be fishing for some kind of reason for Nathan's exit but as Phil Mackey tweeted, " see $23 million sidelined for various vague reasons, it's natural to be frustrated." In the end, it came down to Nathan leaving the Twins to sign with a better team for more money than he was offered by Minnesota. 

Cuddyer buzz has died down
A couple of weeks ago it seemed that Michael Cuddyer was almost assuredly going to sign a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Much of that buzz has died down in recent weeks and it wasn't helped by the Phillies trading for Ty Wigginton. Another factor in the lack of progress on Cuddyer might be the new collective bargaining agreement. Teams looking to sign Cuddyer were not sure if they would have to forfeit their first round draft pick. The new CBA changed some of the compensation rules and this could changed the market for Cuddyer. Now more team's might be willing to offer a contract to Cuddyer since they won't lose a draft pick over the deal. 

The Boston Red Sox could be one of the teams that would be most interested in signing the versatile Cuddyer to a multi-year contract. The Boston Globe published their suggestion box to the Red Sox and the top name to fill their open spot in right field is Cuddyer. With some of the reports coming out of Boston this offseason, the voice and leadership Cuddyer could bring would be a welcome addition to their clubhouse. According to the article, he also has the "dirt-dog mentality" that would be welcomed in Boston. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Links-N-Links

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all of the visitors of NoDak Twins Fan. I hope your holiday weekend has been full of great times with family and friends. It's Black Friday and many have spent the early hours of the day trying to find the greatest deals on the market.

The Twins have also spent the week looking for deals on the open market. Ryan Doumit officially signed with the Twins, Joe Nathan left the Twins for the Texas Rangers, and the organization offered arbitration to Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. A busy week in the world of the Twins.

Here are some of the best stories from the week that was in Twins news:
My posts from this week:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New CBA changes free agent compensation

Entering this offseason, the Twins had three ranked free agents that would be hitting the open market for the first time in their careers. Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Matt Capps are all eligible to sign with other teams but there was the possibility of the Twins getting draft pick compensation for the loss of these players. Major League Baseball announced their new collective bargaining agreement at the beginning of the week and this means some changes to the compensation rules for these top free agents.

Here is how the rules would have worked under the old system:
1. All of the free agents were ranked by the Elias ranking system and the top tier free agents were graded as either a Type A or Type B free agent. 
2. The Twins would have to evaluate their top tier free agents and decide whether or not to offer arbitration to them.
3 (A). If the player turned down the Twins arbitration offer, he was free to sign with the team of his choice.
3 (B). If the player accepts the Twins arbitration offer, he would return to the Twins with a new one-year contract.
4. If a Type A free agent left the Twins to sign with another club, that club was forced to surrender their first round pick in next June's draft to the Twins. The Twins would also get a sandwich round pick between the first and second round.
5. If a Type B free agent left the Twins to sign with another club, the Twins would get a sandwich round pick between the first and second round of the draft.

Since this offseason started with the old system in place, MLB had to keep some of the parameters in place for the rest of this offseason before the new system goes into place for next offseason. The Elias rankings were somewhat followed for this year but they will be tossed out for coming offseasons. The system is somewhat similar to above but here are the rules that will change for the 2011 offseason:

4 (A). If a Type A free agent left the Twins to sign with another club, the signing club is no longer forced to surrender their first round pick. Instead the Twins would receive the pick directly before the signing team and the Twins would still get a sandwich round pick.
4 (B). Some Type A free agents have been modified to be Type B free agents. Those free agents do not have to be offered arbitration by their former team and if they sign elsewhere, their old club gets a sandwich round pick.

It can be very confusing but here is how the Twins free agents came out after all of the changes to the free agent compensation rules:

Michael Cuddyer
Former System: Type A; Current System: Type A
The Twins will most offer arbitration to Cuddyer before Wednesday night's deadline and Cuddyer would be smart to turn down that offer. He is an aging player that could be looking at his last big contract of his career. He is going to sign somewhere for a multi-year deal and the Twins will be compensated for him leaving the organization. The only change for Cuddyer's compensation will be that Twins will now receive the pick directly before Cuddyer's new team instead of taking their pick away from them.

Matt Capps
Former System: Type A; Current System: Modified Type B
There was very little chance the Twins were going to offer Capps arbitration under the old system because he would be due a raise on the $7.5 million he made last season. Under the new system, he has been downgraded to a Type B free agent but the Twins are not under pressure to offer him arbitration. If he were to sign with another team, the Twins will receive a sandwich round pick for Capps without offering him arbitration.

Jason Kubel
Former System: Type B; Current System: Type B
There is a good chance that Kubel will also be looking at trying to sign a multi-year deal on the open market. So if the Twins offer him arbitration, he is likely to turn it down. This means that if he were to sign with another club, the Twins would receive a sandwich round pick in next June's draft. 

Overall, the Twins could now be looking at stock piling four first round picks if all of their free agents exits for greener pastures. Compile that with the number two pick they already have and the Twins could be looking at five picks in the first round of the draft. That could result in quite the upgrade to the Twins minor league system that has some holes to fill in many of the levels.

If all of these players leave the Twins, the team might have plenty of holes to fill in their roster. But the draft picks the team would accumulate could go a long way to setting this franchise on the right path for the future. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Did Santana deserve the MVP Award?

With Justin Verlander being named the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player yesterday, there has been some that have contemplated the thought that other pitchers should have been given more consideration for MVP since the last starter won in 1986. There have been some spectacular seasons by pitchers who were not given the MVP because the BWAA refused to vote for a pitcher when the pitchers have the Cy Young Award to win. Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Roger Clemens are all players that have a gripe when it comes to their MVP credentials from previous seasons.

Johan Santana was a dominant pitcher for the Twins during numerous seasons in the 2000's and he was honored with multiple Cy Young Awards during that stretch. There were seasons where Santana was untouchable over the course of the 162 game schedule. But when it came to voting for the AL MVP, he was largely ignored for the top spot on voter's ballots.

Here is a look at Santana's two Cy Young seasons and how they compared to the other candidates for MVP in the American League. The categories in BOLD are one's in which he lead the American League.

2004 Season
Santana's stat line: W-L (20-6), 2.61 ERA, 265 K, 182 ERA+, 0.921 WHIP, 6.2 H/9, 7.4 rWAR, 7.7 fWAR
In Santana's first Cy Young season, there was hardly any doubt that he was the best pitcher in the AL. He was the unanimous selection for the Cy Young Award but those votes did not translate over to the voting for the MVP. There were many good seasons by offensive players in the American League with five players driving in over 120 runs. All of those players finished ahead of Santana in the MVP voting but the argument could be made that Santana was more valuable than the rest of them. He finished first in the American League for FanGraphs version of WAR and he came in second in Baseball Reference's version of WAR. The MVP that season was given to Vladimir Guerrero but he finished behind multiple players when it came to WAR rankings. If the voters went by either version of WAR, the award would have went to Ichiro Suzuki but Santana should have finished at least in second place.

2004 AL MVP Voting (Points - 1st Place Votes)
1. Vladimir Guerrero (354.0 - 21)
2. Gary Sheffield (254.0 - 5)
3. Manny Ramirez (238.0 - 1)
4. David Ortiz (174.0 - 1)
5. Miguel Tejada (123.0)
6. Johan Santana (117.0)
7. Ichiro Suzuki (98.0)

2006 Season
Santana's Stat Line: W-L (19-6), 2.77 ERA, 245 K, 162 ERA+, 0.997 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 7.0 rWAR, 7.3 fWAR
The 2006 season was Santana's second unanimous Cy Young Award winning season but it marked the only year that he was able to garner a first place vote in the AL MVP race. He still finished in a distant seventh place in the final MVP balloting. Most fans of the Twins probably did not notice since his teammate Justin Morneau ended up winning the award. Santana finished in one of the lowest positions ever for someone receiving a first place vote and maybe it paved the way for the 2011 voting for MVP. In the FanGraphs version of WAR, Santana finished in second place behind Grady Sizemore. For the Baseball Reference version of WAR, Santana finished in third place in close race between himself, Sizemore, and Joe Mauer.

2006 AL MVP Voting (Points - 1st Place Votes)
1. Justin Morneau (320.0 - 15)
2. Derek Jeter (306.0 - 12)
3. David Ortiz (193.0)
4. Frank Thomas (174.0)
5. Jermaine Dye (156.0)
6. Joe Mauer (116.0)
7. Johan Santana (114.0 - 1)

I entered the 2011 MLB award season believing the writers would look at Verlander's season as being very good but not worthy of the MVP. On my ballot for the American League MVP, I voted Verlander as the third best player behind Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Bautista. There had been some unbelievably dominating pitchers in the last 20+ seasons that were skipped over for the MVP and I thought that trend would continue. But in a season where no position player was dominating, it seems appropriate that a pitcher would win the award. 

Santana may never have won an MVP but fans of the Minnesota Twins know how dominating he was during the mid-2000's. Fans flocked to the Metrodome anytime he was on the mound because there was a good chance to see greatness on display. He had the potential to transform a losing streak into a winning streak every time he stepped on the mound. He was an ace, untouchable, and to most Twins fans...

...a Most Valuable Player.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nathan signs two-year deal with Rangers

The Twins will enter Spring Training next year for the first time in eight season without Joe Nathan slated to be the team's closer. Reports surfaced on Monday night that the Twins all-time saves leader had signed a free agent contract with the Texas Rangers. The deal is for two seasons and $14.5 million with a club option for 2014.

The Rangers are the two-time defending champions of the American League and one of their strengths over the last two seasons has been their bullpen. Neftali Feliz, who had been the closer for the Rangers, will be making the transition to the starting rotation. This leaves the closing duties for Texas in the hands of Nathan for the start of the 2012 season.

It seemed that in the free agent process Nathan had made it clear that he wanted to play for a winner next season. The Twins might not fall into that category for the coming year and Nathan is running out of opportunities to win a championship before his career is over. The Rangers will most certainly be the favorites to win the AL West and there will be many that pick Texas to represent the American League in the World Series.

Over most of the last decade, Nathan provided Twins fans with so many memories: Multiple All-Star appearances, the mess he got out of in Game 163, and passing Rick Aguilera for the most saves while wearing a Twins uniform. Not all of his 260 saves with the Twins was perfect but he was one of the most dominant closers during the seven seasons he pitched for the Twins. It is hard to believe that he was just a lanky right-handed pitcher that was part of the trade for AJ Pierzynski back in 2003.

As a fan, I hate to see him go but I appreciate all he gave to this franchise.

Thanks for everything, Joe. Good luck in Texas (except when you face the Twins).

Hot Stove Report: Doumit, Cuddyer, Kubel, Nathan

Doumit signs one-year deal with Twins
The Twins put another check mark on their offseason wish list over the weekend with the signing of catcher Ryan Doumit to a one-year $3 million deal. The former Pittsburgh Pirate is a versatile player who can play catcher, right field, and first base. He is also a switch hitter who can smack the ball decently from both sides of the plate and he ended 2011 with a .303/.353/.477 batting line. I see him as the cheap man's version of Michael Cuddyer for the versatility he can provide to the team.

One downside to the signing of Doumit is some of his defensive struggles behind the plate. Stopping balls in the dirt and wild pitches has not been one of his strong suits. There is a good chance he won't be behind the plate with Francisco Liriano on the mound throwing his slider in the dirt. Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the worst catcher in all of baseball at framing pitches. Ideally, he will be Mauer's back-up behind the plate and find his way into the line-up at 1B, DH, and RF on days that he is not catching.

New CBA could cut compensation for Cuddyer, Kubel 
MLB's new collective bargaining agreement is close to being finalized and the details of the new labor contract are starting to trickle out. Under the new system free agents are not as costly because of baseball changing some of the compensation rules for Type A and Type B free agents. Under the new system there will be less Type A free agents and Type B free agents will cease to exist. The Elias Sports rankings of free agents has been tossed out and the new list of players who are Type A is not yet known. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed a little bit about the new system but any system where Matt Capps was a Type A free agent had some holes in it.

Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are two of the free agents that could be offered arbitration by the team. Under the old system Cuddyer qualified as a Type A free agent and Kubel was a Type B free agent. The Official Elias Rankings had Cuddyer as the eleventh highest Type A free agent and the second highest outfielder. With that system out the window, it is hard to know how Cuddyer will be affected and Kubel will no longer bring a compensation pick to the Twins. If Cuddyer falls from the ranks of Type A free agent, there could be more teams interested in his services. The team he signs with would no longer have to surrender their first round pick to the Twins and that definitely increases his value on the open market.

Nathan unsure of return to Twins
After checking off shortstop and back-up catcher on their offseason wish list, the Twins could now turn to their attention to addressing the bullpen. The organization lost some good free agents from their bullpen during last offseason and they went into this year by trying to fill their bullpen with some internal options. The team needed some of these arms to step up and take on the roles filled by players like Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. In a season full of disappointment, it seemed the only bright spot in the bullpen was Glen Perkins' dominance in late inning situations.

One of the ways the Twins could address some of their bullpen needs would be by signing someone to fill the role of closer. The natural option for many fans of the organization would be to turn to the man who just set the team's all-time saves record, Joe Nathan. In a recent interview, Nathan said he has been in contact with the Twins and he is keeping them "in the loop." When asked if he had a feeling about a return to the team, he said, "Not right now- no hunches, no gut feeling."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Links-N-Thinks

Well folks, how is everyone doing without any baseball to watch every night? Last night I found myself wondering what time the Twins game started. Even with the cold temperatures, I still want the baseball season to be running at full force.

Lucky for all of us, the free agent hot stove has heated up a little and there have been plenty of other happenings in the world of baseball. Below you will find a collection of links I have perused from the last week. I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful weekend.
Tony O, Killer, and Thome
My posts from the week:
Last week's Links-N-Thinks post had a very somber feel with the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos being at the center of everyone's attention. Here is a video of his first interview after being rescued.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Could Valencia lose third base?

The Twins made the signing of Jamey Carroll official on Wednesday and now the team should be set at the shortstop position for 2012. The team will enter Spring Training next year with Carroll penciled in as the Opening Day shortstop and the number two hitter in the batting order. There is always a possibility that those plans could change during the course of the early portion of the spring but right now the Twins are heading in that direction.

One interesting proposition involving the infield situation for the Twins was made by Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune. In a blog post from yesterday, he brought up the possibility of Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Alexi Casilla having a great spring. If that situation were to occur, the Twins could place Nishioka at shortstop and Casilla at second base. That would leave Carroll to man third base in front of Danny Valencia.

Would the Twins move Valenica out of the line-up in favor of these other players?

During his rookie season with the Twins, Valencia helped to solidify his spot at third base with adequate defense and some surprising offensive output. His batting line was .311/.351/.448 with seven home runs and 40 RBI in 86 games. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Neftali Feliz and Austin Jackson. With good shortstop play to his left side, he was able to play solidly at third base with a 5.9 UZR.

Valencia struggled on defense last year and he found himself on the wrong side of manager Ron Gardenhire on more than one occasion. That awesome UZR from his rookie campaign plummeted from 5.9 to -6.1 and he committed the second most errors for all AL third basemen. His offensive production also dipped a little from his rookie campaign but the Twins need a right-handed bat with some pop. He offers that option but there have been other players in the past who have been but in the Twins doghouse and never made it out.

During his career, Carroll has actually played more games at third base than at shortstop. But many of those appearances have come as a defensive replacement and not as a starter. Carroll's play at third base might not be much of a defensive upgrade as he has a 0.0 UZR for his career. Last year he logged 77.1 innings at third and the year before he had 156.0 so teams have trusted him there in a limited role. The Twins might have already taken a chance with Carroll so would they also trust him with third base?

Going into next year, it is clear that the Twins want Carroll to take on the shortstop role and run with it. There are always things that can happen to make teams have to adjust their plans. One of these adjustments could be to change the positions of some of the infielders during the season. Carroll's ability to play multiple infield positions is going to be a very welcomed addition for Gardenhire as he is composing his everyday line-up card.

Valencia is safe for now but he better keep himself out of the doghouse... if he wants to keep his job.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Back-up catcher role comes to the forefront

With the news that Jamey Carroll was in town on Tuesday to complete his physical and become the Twins shortstop for 2012, the focus now turns to some of the other needs for the team. The next hing on the list that Terry Ryan has concerns about is the role of backup catcher. The backup brigade of Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, and Steve Holm were only able to muster a .158 batting average in all of 2011.

The free agent market for catchers has already seen one player taken off of the Twins wish list with the Pirates signing Rod Barajas to a one-year, $4 million deal. This means that the organization will have to turn their attention to some of the other various options on the open market. There are some veteran players the Twins could consider and some younger players that have weaknesses in their game.

Ryan Doumit was a name that has repeatedly popped up in talks about the Twins. Over the weekend, it was reported that Doumit would sign a contract during the "next few days." The GM meetings are taking place in Milwaukee and the Twins contacted Doumit's agent on Monday to express interest in the switch-hitting catcher who played with the Pirates last season. Doumit is the exact opposite of Butera in the fact that he is a decent hitting catcher (.303/.353/.477 in '11) who struggles defensively.

With players like Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek on the market, the Twins could also turn their attention to some cheaper veteran options. Each of these players has seen their role decline from stater to backup catcher in the twilight of their careers. In his last two seasons with the Nationals, Rodriguez has a batting line of .255/.291/.341 and has shown tremendous defensive ability. The Twins drafted his son, Dereck Rodiguez, in the sixth round of last June's draft and Sports Illustrated has also named the Twins as a possible suitor for Mr. Rodriguez in 2012.

Varitek could see himself out of a Red Sox uniform for the first time in his career. The 15-year veteran is only three seasons removed from his last All-Star appearance but in that time his offensive production has plummeted. Defense has also become an issue for the 39 year-old veteran who has shown some problems being behind the plate. In 68 games last season, Varitek showed he had a still had some life in his bat to hit .221/.300/.423 with 11 home runs.

There is always a slim chance that the Twins could turn to an internal option with the emergence of Chris Herrmann as a decent catching prospect in the organization. During his time in the minor leagues, he has shown a great ability to get on-base and hit for power. With Fort Myers and New Britain last season, Herrmann managed a .269/.385/.399 with 19 DBL and 62 RBI. There is a good chance the Twins will want to see more out of Herrmann in the minors before he gets the call to the big leagues.

It also seems the Twins might have some more flexibility on their bench this season since Jim Thome has moved on to the National League. One of the perks of having an extra spot on the bench is the ability to carry three catchers. This would allow the Twins to have Joe Mauer as their number one catcher, Butera as a defensive replacement, and someone new in the backup role. With Mauer needing to play at other positions, it would be nice for Ron Gardenhire to have more freedom with his everyday line-up card.

At this point, I hope the Twins bring in a solid player to fill the backup catcher role. With financial constraints and Herrmann waiting in the wings, I think the Twins will go with a veteran option as a one-year stopgap. The market could go a lot of directions in the next few weeks but I can see the Twins settling on Rodriguez.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Capps could be cheap relief option

On the eve of the GM meetings in Milwaukee, many agents for players have already arrived and made sure to get their clients names out in the media. The one piece of Twins news that came out of these reports on Monday was related to Matt Capps. Apparently, the Twins have shown interested in bring Capps back for another season with the organization. 

Capps' agent, Paul Kinzer told reporters that Terry Ryan has already contacted him and expressed interested in the right-handed free agent relief pitcher. He said, "[Capps is] such a presence in the clubhouse and a good teammate, and the Twins really valued him." Obviously, these are the words of a man that is trying to sell his client for the highest price and he is going to make Capps sound like he is God's gifts to pitchers. 

The other return possibility for the Twins is free agent Joe Nathan. He expressed interest in returning to the Twins during last season but now that he has expressed interest in going to a club that will be a contender next season. It remains to be seen if the Twins will fall into that category. Both Capps and Nathan want to get paid like closers and it will be interesting to see if the market plays out in their favor.

Some team's may look at Nathan's age and recent injury problems as a deterrent to signing the former All Star closer. Nathan will be 37-years old for all of next season and in comparison, Capps will only be 28-years old. Age should not be the only thing the Twins look at when offering a pitcher a contract for next season. The team needs to estimate what type of production these players will bring to the table in 2012. released the 2012 Bill James Handbook Projections for every player. Here is how these two hurlers faired in that ranking system with a comparison to their numbers from this year:

Capps (2011 season): 
65.2 IP, 4.25 ERA, 4.66 K/9, 1.78 BB/9, .263 BABIP
Capps (2012 BJH Projection):
63.0 IP, 3.86 ERA, 6.57 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, .306 BABIP

Nathan (2011 season):
44.2 IP, 4.84 ERA, 8.66 K/9, 2.82 BB/9, .250 BABIP
Nathan (2012 BJH Projection): 
46.0 IP, 2.35 ERA, 10.57 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, .284 BABIP

The folks at Baseball Info Solutions who compile the BJH Projections are expecting Capps to have more of a bounce back year and finish closer to his career stat line. His season in 2011 was a tough one to put together the year before free agency but this could mean the Twins would be getting a discount to bring Capps back to the team. The BJH Projections have Nathan also bouncing back but his walk rate and BABIP look to increase with his age. 

With the Twins trying to save money for next season, the organization is going to try and find the best deal for their closer role. Even with Nathan's flaws, his want to play for a contender and the other team's interested in his service could put him out of reach for the Twins. Capps would be a good fall back option for the Twins if he was cheap and they didn't guarantee him the closer's role. 

The Twins and their fans know what they are getting with Mr. Capps and there is definitely room for improvement. With the way some of the free agent closer deals have looked this offseason, a cheap deal might be hard to find. Fans remember a lot of the bad Capps from 2011 but his 2010 season was good for a team that was fighting for a division title. If the Twins can sign him to a team friendly deal with some incentives, it might be worth the risk. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chesney, McGraw to perform at Target Field

The Twins announced the first concert in the history of Target Field on Monday morning. Two of the biggest names in country music, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, will perform on the outfield grass of Target Field for a concert on July 8th. The singers announced their "Brothers of the Sun" Tour that will take them to stadiums across the country for 18 different shows.

Chesney and McGraw tend to draw huge crowds when they are on solo tours so with these two joining forces, the demand could be extremely high. The novelty of the first concert at Target Field could also draw in extra country music fans. Most of the stops on the tour are in football stadiums that would have a much higher seating capacity than Target Field. It will be interesting to see if ticket prices will be higher because of the lack of seating and how the stage will be arranged so that fans can have the best view of the show.

The date of the concert, July 8th, corresponds with the All-Star break for the Twins. The team will finish the first half of the year on the day of the concert with a game in Arlington, Texas. So there will be five days from the conclusion of the concert to get the field back in playing shape for the Twins. There have been other cases where stadiums have held concerts and the grass was torn up a little from the event. Earlier this year, Comerica Park in Detroit played host to a concert and there were patches of grass that had to be replaced. It will be interesting to see how well Target Field and their grounds crew can keep the field in playing condition following this big event.

I have been to concerts of both of these performers in the past and they put on very entertaining shows. My guess is that tickets will be very pricey since the two performers will both want to make their share of money. The logistics of the concert will be interesting to follow but it is exciting to hear that this is the first of what might be a concert every year at Target Field.

Hot Stove Report: Carroll, Plouffe, Cuddyer

Twins sign Carroll for SS
The Twins first player move of the offseason came over the weekend as the team made a 2-year, $7 million investment in Jamey Carroll to be the starting shortstop for the Twins in 2012. He will be 38-years old before the start of next season and he has never really been handed an everyday starting job. That can be scary to consider for some Twins fans who might have been looking for a bigger splash in the middle infield. It is hard to find a free agent SS and the Twins needed to find a competent player to take over the role for next year.

Carroll can play multiple positions in the infield and he gets on base at a very good rate. He does not offer much home run power but in the catacombs of Target Field, the Twins will not be expecting him to develop into a power threat. For his 10-year career his batting line is .278/.356/.348 and 12 home runs. His defense in the middle infield will be better than anything the Twins mustered in 2011. It looks like the Twins new double play combination will be Carroll and Alexi Casilla which will be a welcome sight to the Twins starting staff.

Plouffe switching to outfield
In his introductory press conference, Ryan made sure to point out that defense was an issue for the Twins last season. The signing of Carroll seems to be one of the first steps to remedy the problematic defense but the Twins are going to have to find room on the roster at different positions for some players. Until this season, Trevor Plouffe had spent his entire career in the Twins system playing at shortstop. It looks like those days are over for Mr. Plouffe as Terry Ryan announced over the weekend that Plouffe will be getting the majority of his playing time in the outfield or at designated hitter.

This could also mean that the Twins have to prepare for the likelihood that Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel might not be back with the team next year. The team will need more depth in the outfield and Plouffe is out of minor league options. He has spent parts of the last four seasons at the AAA level and he will be 26 years old next season. The former first round pick is running out of chances to prove his worth to the Twins organization and this could be his final chance at redemption.

Phillies only modestly interested in Cuddyer
From all of the reports, it seemed that the Phillies were by far the frontrunner for the services of free agent Michael Cuddyer. He was in Philadelphia at the end of last week to tour the stadium and to rub elbows with the brass of the organization. One of Cuddyer's best baseball friends, Jim Thome, recently signed with the team so it could make sense for the two to join forces to push for a title. It seemed as if it was just a matter of time before he would sign on the dotted line. 

A report out of Boston over the weekend cited one major league source as saying the Phillies are not placing the highest priority on signing Cuddyer. The exact quote from that major league source was, "He's about a middle priority. They'd love to have him, but the Phillies aren't going to go crazy to make it happen, either." On the heels of the giant contract for Jonathan Papelbon, it seems natural that the Phillies might have to conserve some money in other areas. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Top 11 to wear #11 for the Twins

Today's date is one of those weird dates that only comes along once in a lifetime. It is the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of the 2000's or in other terms, the date is 11-11-11. Many veterans will be honored today since it is also Veteran's Day across the United States. But for the purpose of this post, I tried to find the top 11 players who wore the number 11 for the Minnesota Twins. There are some very recognizable names and some other not so recognizable faces. Overall, they are all connected by the number 11.

Some of these players wore more than one number during their time with the Twins. These rankings are strictly based on their time with the number 11 on their backs.

11. Al Woods (wore #11 in 1986)
rWAR 0.2, .321/.375/.571, 2 HR, 8 RBI
Woods was originally drafted by the Twins in 1972 but he would not appear in a game for the club until 1986. Most of his career was spent in the Blue Jays organization but his 23 games with the Twins were enough to squeeze him on the end of this list.

10. Sal Butera (wore #11 from 1980-1982)
rWAR 0.4, .251/.327/.283, 0 HR, 28 RBI
Sal, the father of Drew Butera, had two stints with the Twins during his career. He only wore the number 11 in his first trip through the bigs with the Twins. If Drew could get on base as much as his father, the Twins might not be in the market for a back up catcher.

9. George Banks (wore #11 from 1962-1964)
rWAR 0.5, .211/.327/.377, 7 HR, 23 RBI
Banks is not the title character of the same name from the Father of the Bride movies. He was primarily used as a pinch hitter during the course of his career and he struggled to find consistent playing time at a defensive position. The 1962 season was his best with the number 11 on his jersey.

8. Bernie Allen (wore #11 in 1966)
rWAR 0.4, .238/.299/.348, 5 HR, 30 RBI
Allen actually wore five different numbers during his time in the Twins organization. The 1966 season was the only one in which he donned the number 11 and it would be his last season with the Twins. The number did not help his offensive output but his defense at second base was good.

7. Brant Alyea (wore #11 from 1970-1971)
rWAR 0.8, .248/.333/.421, 18 HR, 76 RBI
Alyea's two seasons with the Twins were in stark contrast of one another. In 1970, Alyea was a solid producer in the a playoff bound line-up for the Twins. He had 16 home runs and 61 RBI while hitting a solid .291 in 290 plate appearances. The next season was a nightmare as his average dropped to .177 and  he only mustered two home runs.

6. Ben Revere (wore #11 in 2011)
rWAR 0.8, .267/.310/.619, 0 HR, 30 RBI
The speedy Revere got a lot of time in 2011 because of various injuries in the Twins line-up. He made good use of that time and set the franchise rookie record for steals in a season. The high batting average he produced in the minors didn't carry over to the big leagues. His highlight reel catches were something for fans to watch in an otherwise abysmal season.

5. Ted Uhlaender (wore #11 from 1967-1969)
rWAR 2.4, .272/.315/.374, 21 HR, 163 RBI
The Twins signed Uhlaender as an amateur free agent during their first season in Minnesota. The number 11 was not the only number he wore with the Twins but he put up his best three seasons while wearing the number. He also has the third highest RBI total for anyone who wore the number 11 for the Twins.

4. Steve Brye (wore #11 from 1972-1976)
rWAR 3.2, .264/.314/.363, 19 HR, 143 RBI
The right-handed outfielder for the Twins was able to put up some decent numbers during his career with the club. The organization had used a first round pick on Brye in 1967 but he would never fully develop into any kind of star. His best seasons were when he wore number 11 but his numbers were not off the charts.

3. Tim Teufel (wore #11 from 1984-1985)
rWAR 4.1, .261/.343/.399, 24 HR, 111 RBI
The early 1980's were not exactly the peak seasons for the Twins and Tuefel was part of many of those squads. He showed some slight power in the early years of the Metrodome but the Twins passed him on to the Mets before the 1986 season. He and Pat Crosby were sent to New York for Billy Beane, Joe Klink, and Bill Latham.

2. Jacque Jones (wore #11 from 1999-2005)
rWAR 9.2, .279/.327/.455, 132 HR, 476 RBI
One of the core members of the revival of Twins baseball in the early 2000's, Jones helped to bring the Twins back from the verge of contraction. He and Torii Hunter manned the outfield of the Metrodome and formed part of the "Soul Patrol." His best season was in 2002 when he batted .300 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI. I still have a jersey shirt with his name and the number 11 on it.

1. Chuck Knoblach (wore #11 from 1991-1997)
rWAR 35.4, .304/.391/.416, 43 HR, 391 RBI
His rookie season in 1991 helped the Twins to win their second World Series title in five seasons. One of his most memorable plays might be the fake double play in Game 7 of that epic series. He would be a fixture on the Twins during the 1990's and he would represent the team in four All-Star games while winning two Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove.

BONUS: The Worst Twins Player to Wear #11
Tom Nieto (wore #11 from 1987-1988)
rWAR -1.4, .152/.213/.224, 1 HR, 12 RBI

Friday Links-N-Thinks

With the horrible news coming out in the last couple days of Wilson Ramos being kidnapped, it was hard to find fun and positive links to put together for a Friday post. My thoughts and prayers go out to Ramos and his family. He has such a bright future ahead of him in the game of baseball so the hope is he will be returned to his family unharmed. His safety is the number one thing on many baseball fans' minds on this Friday.

Below you will find some links from the past week:

My posts from this week:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Twins send letter to season ticket holders

Twins season ticket holders received a letter in the mail today that described the recent changes in the front office of the organization. There wasn't any real breaking news that came out of the letter but I figured that other fans don't get the opportunity to read this document. Included with the letter was a copy of the original press release in which Terry Ryan was named interim General Manager.

Below you will find the transcript of the letter:

November 8, 2011

Dear [Season Ticket Holder],

On behalf of the Pohlad family and entire Minnesota Twins organization, I'd like to take this opportunity to follow up regarding this week's announcement of leadership changes within the club's baseball department. As a key stakeholder for this ballclub, the Twins value your support and passion for the franchise, while always striving to ensure you are fully up to speed on the long-term strategic direction of the team's baseball operations.

Over the years, the Twins have been incredibly fortunate to employ many high quality people at the helm of our baseball operations. Two of those leaders chiefly responsible for much of our franchise's recent successes are Bill Smith and Terry Ryan. Therefore, this week's news that Terry Ryan has assumed the role of interim General Manager - replacing Bill Smith - was a difficult for all of us.

First and foremost, everyone with the Twins family is indebted to Bill Smith for 26 years of service to this organization and specifically the passion, integrity and class in which he handled the General Manager role over the past four seasons. Under Bill's direction the club won two AL Central titles and would have won a third had it not been for a memorable Game 163 loss at the hands of the Chicago White Sox. In addition, Bill's impact on the design and opening of Target Field is significant as he played a critical role in shaping the creation of one of America's best ballparks. Going forward, we intend to have additional discussions with Bill about an ongoing role aimed at maximizing his many talents for this organization.

As we move forward, the club is grateful to have Terry Ryan back as interim General Manager with the belief that he is uniquely positioned to help ensure the Twins return to contention in 2012 and beyond. Few people across the game of baseball are more respected than Terry, and his impact on the Twins organization runs deep. We have significant work ahead, but feel that Terry's track record, leadership skills, knowledge of our system and relationships across MLB give us the best possible chance to win. We believe in Terry and are proud to have him back in a leadership role for our organization.

With this week's announcement behind us, the weeks and months to come promise to be exciting as our roster takes shape for the 2012 season. There is no question that key decisions await and opportunities are on the horizon. Rest assured, we are working harder than ever to return to postseason play with the hopes of bringing you a third World Championship.

For your reference we have included a copy of the official press release announcing the baseball department reorganization. Thanks so much for your incredible support of Twins baseball. We look forward to seeing you at Target Field again soon.


Dave St. Peter

5 predictions for the Twins new direction

The shake up with the Twins front office means that the plan for creating next season's roster has changed a lot in the last week. Terry Ryan is going to find the best valued players to fit in to the holes the Twins have at different spots on the roster. There are a variety of ways to go about this but using minor league prospects or trading for pieces could be the path the Twins are looking to take in the coming months.

When a team compiles 99-losses over the course of a season, there are going to be plenty of issues that need to be addressed for the next season. The Twins suffered through injury after injury and some of the training staff might need to be reexamined. The pitching staff had plenty of issues on the mound during 2011. Some of those pitching issues came out of the lackluster defense that was trying to field behind the man on the mound. It is also hard to win games when a team is not getting runs across the plate. Add all of these issues together and Ryan has plenty of areas of concern when creating the 2012 version of the Twins.

Below you will find some of my predictions for some of the changes that could be on the horizon for next season:

1. Revere and Span will not be in the same outfield for all of 2012
The Twins are going to revisit trade talks with the Nationals, as that team tries to pursue a center fielder. Obviously, the health of Denard Span is going to play a large role in a trade situation. The Twins might have to sell low on him if they want to get him off of the roster. Ben Revere showed some promise last season but there are still flaws in his game. The Twins need a lot of help at the big league level and in the minor leagues so trading one of these players could help the team for the future. The year might start with both of these players in the Opening Day line-up but sometime before the trade deadline, one of these players will be gone.

2. Pavano, Slowey, Liriano will not all be part of the rotation next season.
It's easy to say that Kevin Slowey will most likely not be part of the Twins roster next year. The falling out between the organization and Mr. Slowey was well documented this year. Since both Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano are essentially in the last year of control for the team, they present an interesting choice for the Twins. Liriano's age seems would tend to make a person think that he would be worth more in a trade situation. Otther teams could be looking for a veteran presence in their rotation and Pavano would provide that lift.

3. Perkins will get a chance to be the closer
The value that Glen Perkins provided the Twins was outstanding last season by being able to come into a variety of situations and look dominating at times. It would be a disadvantage to save him for save situations in the ninth inning when the team could easily use him for more important outs in the late innings of games. That being said, it seems that the free agent market for closers is a little steep this year and it could mean that Perkins gets the closer role for the Twins.

4. Hendriks will be the fifth starter coming out of Spring Training
As I mentioned above, the Twins could be shopping some of the members of their starting staff from last season. This could be the opening that will allow Liam Hendriks to sneak in as the fifth starter on the Opening Day roster. His four starts with the Twins in 2011 were not the best but he had already thrown a career high 139.1 innings in the minor leagues. Since Hendriks tends to be a ground ball pitcher, it will be crucial for the Twins to have a strong defense behind for him to succeed.

5. Morneau, Mauer and Parmelee will split time at first base and designated hitter
The Twins are not going to spend a lot of money to bring in someone to fill the designated hitter role. Ryan's history with finding veterans to fill the DH spot has not exactly been stellar (Craig Monroe, Tony Bautista, etc.). The injury concerns surrounding Morneau could mean he is spending more time in the DH role. The Twins will need someone to play first base and Parmelee showed some positive signs during 2011. There is a chance the Twins could set-up a rotation system with these players so they are in the line-up on a regular basis at first base and designated hitter.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

$100 million payroll will limit Twins

Last night I hosted the Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. I covered a variety of Twins topics from the GM shuffle to free agency and more. You can listen to last night's show by CLICKING HERE

In his reintroduction press conference on Monday afternoon, Terry Ryan made note of the fact that the Twins could be looking at reducing their payroll to somewhere around $100 million for the 2012 season. This comes on the heels of the most expensive payroll in Twins history and a 99-loss season. The $115-112 million the Twins spent on players in 2011 did not produce good results on the field and that could have been part of the "philosophical differences" that cost Bill Smith his job.

Terry Ryan has never had a payroll this high to work with during his time as GM of the Twins. Since Ryan last left the Twins post of GM, the team has moved to a new stadium and the payroll has increased significantly. The highest payroll that Ryan ever assembled was in 2007 when the team finished by spending $71.5 million. In his first tenure at the top of the Twins organization, the organization became known for its frugal spending, quality scouting, and winning ways. Other organizations looked to the Twins as the model franchise in an ever-changing baseball economy.

The team had let fans know that the payroll was going to be south of were it had been in 2011 but it was still hard to imagine it dropping significantly for next season. The Twins have a newly built ball park that used tax payers money to finance the venue. This was sold to the local public as the only way the team could stay competitive in Major League Baseball. Fans want to see a good product on the field but if that means cutting payroll, some tax payers are going to question whether the Twins needed to move out of the Metrodome.

The organization has also reaped the benefits of having the increase revenue surrounding a new stadium. The team sold out almost every game in the first couple of seasons in their new location. This means there are more people purchasing food, drinks, and other merchandise to support their hometown nine. The fact is that there are thousands of people on the waiting list to join the club of season ticket holders at Target Field. People want to love this team but that was hard to do in 2011.

The guys over at TwinsCentric each put together a blueprint for how the Twins should approach the coming offseason. This is a hard exercise to do when a person has to stay in the confines of the budget of an organization. All of these bloggers went over the $100 million mark in their plans and these were made with the thought that Bill Smith would still be the GM. In my own offseason blueprint, I had the Twins spending over $110 million. At the time I created by roster, the payroll was being cut and it was still hard to address all of the Twins needs.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will make a combined $37 million next season. With a payroll closer to the $100 million mark and their output from last season, those salaries are a little tough to swallow. Ryan's return almost insures that Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Nathan will all leave the team via free agency. Cuddyer and Kubel could get lucrative deals on the open market and Ryan has a history of letting pricey free agents walk. Some younger players are going to get a longer look during this coming Spring Training. That being said, there is a good chance that some kind of combination of Ben Revere, Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, and Joe Benson will be given a chance to shine in 2012.

A cut in payroll is not necessarily a bad thing but it definitely changes the roster creation plans for next year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dozier shows skills in Rising Stars Game

On Saturday night, there was a gathering of the top prospects in all of baseball for the annual Rising Stars Game as part of the Arizona Fall League. There were prospects from all different levels of the minor leagues with many familiar names and some unfamiliar faces to a national audience. The starting pitchers for each side were the number one and number two draft picks from June's draft. The two top prospects in all of baseball were in the same batting order. This lead to a lot of stories to follow through out the game.

For Twins fans, there was one player that fans tuned in to see. Brian Dozier was recently named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and he was also in the starting line-up for the East division of the Rising Stars Game. He was placed in the eighth spot in the batting order and he was fielding at second base. This was Dozier's first exposure to a national audience and for many fans of the Twins minor league system, this was an opportunity to see a player who rose a lot in the rankings this year.
The East squad struggled to score runs in the contest but Dozier was able to provide a little spark to his team. By the time Dozier came up in the top of the third inning, his team was already down 6-0. The first pitch Dozier saw was a sinker on the outer half of the plate. He tried to stay with the pitch and he slapped it to the opposite field but the ball ended up hooking foul. The next pitch was a fastball on the inner half of the plate and Dozier made solid contact to knock it over the center field fence for a home run.

Dozier would get one more at-bat in the game during the top of the fifth inning. A new pitcher had entered the game and Dozier went up looking for a fastball from right handed hurler Preston Guilmet. He got the pitch he wanted but fouled down the first base line. The first baseman was able to track down the ball in foul territory to retire Dozier after only one pitch.

The AFL West team was pounding the ball all over the field and that made it hard to evaluate Dozier's defense during his limited action in the game. There were a couple of double plays turned by Dozier while he was playing second base. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Christian Bethancourt lined a ball to the third baseman who started to turn the double play. Dozier had to make a very strong turn at second base with Joe Terdoslavich charging in hard as he ran from first base. As the second baseman, Dozier got a lot on behind the throw and was able to complete the double play.

Dozier had another chance for a double play in the bottom of the fifth inning but this play was a little less traditional. The ball was hit back up the middle and the pitcher, Jake Diekman, deflected the ball on the ground to Dozier. This made for a tough play for Dozier to pick up the ball, tag the runner heading to second, and throw to first to complete the double play. It was nice to be able to see Dozier stick with the play when he had to make a quick reaction to a deflection. 

Overall, Dozier was in a line-up that included Bryce Harper and Mike Trout but he was the one to show off some of his offensive power. His team only managed four hits and he was one of only two prospects on the East team to have an extra base hit. It is hard to gain a lot of knowledge from watching a player in only one game. In two plate appearances and a handful of defensive opportunities, Dozier seemed to hard his own with the top prospects in the game.