Damn Yankees

In the whole recorded history of organized baseball, has any one team ever managed to do worse against another team, head-to-head, than the Minnesota Twins against the New York Damn Yankees?

Here’s part of the answer; the Twins record since 1961 against all the other teams. The good news: We own the Padres. The bad news: Damn Yankees. I don’t think this counts today’s game, so it’s one game worse than what we see here. (Thanks a million, BaseballReference.com, for having these stats ready at the push of a few buttons.) Looking at this again, it probably doesn’t include any of 2018. Still.

It would take awhile to run through all the teams to see what might be the worst of the worse. I see that the Mets have a .443 percentage against the Dodgers. Better than the Twins. Houston has a .397 record against the Rangers, but in a lot fewer games, so it doesn’t count. Maybe some day. Hey, Cleveland is also at .416 against the Yankees since ’61. What a coincidence! I have a suspicion that they have done quite a bit better in the last 20 years, though.

Since 1998: Indians vs Yankees: .386
Since 1998: Twins vs Yankees: .329

Either way, nothing to write home about.

Nauseating, in fact.

This is rather disheartening research.

I thought it might cheer me up to see who has beat up on the Yankees, head-to-head, since 1961. The answer?

Nobody.

The Yankees have an above .500 record against every team in the American League, (since 1961). The team that gives them the most problems is Boston; they’re .513 against Boston.

They’re .481 against the Phillies, (13-14) and .462 against the Dodgers (6-7).

Damn Yankees.

Addendum:

American League teams that have done worse than the Twins against the Yankees since 1961:

Texas: .415
Kansas City: .402

 

 

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first win of 2018: check

Always nice to get that first one done. Always feels good. And somewhat a relief.

(That shadow lurking in the background is the memory of the 2016 season.)

 

Yesterday the Twins knocked the Orioles, 6-2. Sano hit his first of the season, a solo shot in the first. Six nothing till the ninth, and the boys were working on a no-hitter with two-outs in the 8th. Gibson tossed six hit-free innings, striking out 6 (while also walking 5.) Pressly worked the 7th and 8th, and gave up the hit. Gabriel Moya gave up a two run homer in the ninth. Moya was acquired from the Diamond Backs for catcher John Ryan Murphy and rocked double A ball last year, earning a late season call up.

Berrios pitches for the Twins today, and I rate our chances with him on the mound as good.

I wonder what happened to John Ryan Murphy? The Twins traded Aaron Hicks for him, after a season where he batted .277 in 155 at bats with the Yankees. He was a second round pick by the Yankees, made steady progress through their minors, hit .270 and  then .246 at AAA. Then .146 for the Twins, followed by .236 and .222 at triple A. Then to Arizona, and I see he’s up in the bigs to start the season. Curious.

 

2018 Forecast

I’ve taken a pensive scan through the 2018 edition of the Twins, and at last come up with my 2018 prediction.

The positives I see:

  • Starting pitching – reinforcements have arrived, and Odorizzi and Lynn are, I think,  upgrades. And perhaps Berrios will continue to improve: (+2)
  • Third base – where maybe young Sano can somehow stay healthy this season: (+2)
  • Center field – where we hope to see continued Buxton improvement (+1.5)
  • DH – Where Logan Morrison brings some consistency and a substantial upgrade from last year’s rotating cast: (+2)

This puts the Twins 7.5 games up from last season. Let’s call it eight. That puts them at 93-69 at year’s end.

On the downside:

  • I’m not convinced yet that the bullpen has been improved.
  • Is Mauer really back?
  • Who’s out there at short?

So there’s a few questions heading into the season, but I counterbalance these with

  • Brian Dozier seems to be headed to free agency: will he up his game?
  • Our pitch-framing catcher is back
  • Can Eddie Rosario take his game even higher?

All together, I see all these questions as a break-even proposition. And that still leaves as at 93-69 at year’s end.

But wait. There’s the Hubris penalty.

  • I rounded up from 7.5, I might just as well have rounded down. Philosophically, it’s always better to assume the worst. (-1)
  • And then there’s just my general historic and well-documented over-confidence about the Twins. (-1)

And so this puts the Twins at 6 games up from last season, and 91 – 71 at season’s end.

Sound reasonable?

Unfortunately, Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections say today that the Twins will finish at 82 -80 this season, scoring 789 runs, and giving up 784. Last year the Twins scored 815, and gave up 788. I’m not sure how they figure this club is going to score less runs than last year, but I’m sure they’ve put in all the numbers, the pitchers, the health factors, wind direction, economic conditions, seismic activity, global warming, bird migration patterns, oil prices, and bat velocities, and so 789 is probably a pretty good guess. Perhaps they know some things I don’t.

Still, I’ll be surprised if this team doesn’t score more, and give up less. There may be other factors that they’ve overlooked and that I took into account. Time will tell who’s right about this.

The hometown StarTribune stable of baseball mavens are just slightly more optimistic than the Prospectus stat-machine:

  • Pat Reusse: 89-73
  • Jim Souhan: 89-73
  • Chip Scoggins: 87-75
  • La Velle E. Neal III: 86-76
  • Sid Hartman: 85-77
  • Phil Miller: 83-79

Again, they probably are blessed with a wealth of arcane “inside” knowledge, drawn from deep within the inner sanctum of the clubhouse, that mere mortals not able to access. But I still think that they are being overly cautious. Probably because they have professional reputations at stake, and, as baseball writers, well there’s always a lot to criticize and they are happy to do so. And that, my friends, leads to a warped perspective, and a life of unhappiness.

I wonder if they write articles at the end of the season, talking about their forecast and the final outcome? Well, we shall see, gentlemen. We shall see.

 

By the way, here it is, baseball season, game 3, and it’s 26 degrees here, and there’s icy snow on the sidewalks, and there’s more snow predicted in the next couple of days.

I Protest!

Update

Another nice win for the Twins yesterday. Here’s Dozier getting ‘er done:

Twins 3, Giants 2, Berrios gets his 5th win.

Local press seem to think that this can’t last. I disagree. (Yeah, I’m the guy that thought they’d be in the series last year. Maybe I was just a year off? An 0-9 start can throw you off for awhile.)

Probably too early still to be thinking about magic numbers.

Nice story on the Twins website about tomorrow’s starter for the Twins, Nik Turley. Nik’s spent 10 years in the minors, including a spell in an independent league, after being drafted in the 50th round by the Yankees in the 2008 draft. He was released in 2014 by the Yankees “after experiencing arm-tightness” (Those Yankees!) and spent most of 2016 with the independent Somerset Patriots. He did pretty well there, and the Twins picked him up. And now he’s done pretty well in the minors: 45 strikeouts in 24.3 innings at Chattanooga, with a 0.37 ERA. 39 strikeouts in 28.3 innings in Rochester, with a 3.49 ERA.

That’s not a lot of innings to go on. They may be rushing Nik a bit, but Santiago has gone on the DL and the Twins need a pitcher, so what the heck. Let’s go Nik!

Turley reminds me of Chris Colabello. He’s with Cleveland’s AAA club right now, Columbus, hitting .229 with five HR. I wonder what happened with him? In 2015 he hit .321 with Toronto, with 15 HR and 54 rbi. In 2016: .069 batting average, 2 hits in 29 at bats. And then he hit .180 in AAA at Buffalo. Very very odd.

Well a little research turns this up: PED, and an 80 game suspension. Damn.

Very very unfortunate.

Here’s a nice shot of Colabello I took a few years ago. One of my favorites:

Here’s hoping that Chris can get back on track.

 

 

8 and 25. Seriously.

man.

 

brutal.

 

Just…

 

 

utterly

 

 

 

brutal.

 

I have to say, this club is not this bad. No.

Nobody is this bad, really.

Okay, maybe the Atlanta Braves, but probably not even them.

I know that spring training is just spring training, but this team went 19-11 in the spring. That’s the team I thought we’d be seeing this year. Where did they go?

I suppose this is one of the weirdly attractive things about baseball. Inexplicable, relentless catastrophe.

Of course, a lot of people will be happy to explain it. In fact, they saw it coming. Could have told ya.

But to be playing this bad. That’s pretty inexplicable. This goes far far beyond injuries and strikeouts and OPS and young ball players who lack experience in major league ball. This gets all the way down to the absolute nature of reality and existence.

Reality and existence: utterly brutal.

Life is full of suffering.

oh yeah.

grimreaper2

…in the midst of despair, a fleeting moment of cheer, or at least wonder…

The Twins incomprehensible excursion into the doldrums continues today, with yet another loss, 3-1, to the Pale Hose of Chicago. What can you say? Seven hits – one more that the Sox. One double. (The Southsiders got 4 doubles in their 6 hits.) A good pitching effort wasted. Duffy falls to 0-2, despite a 2.60 ERA. Woe, woe, woe is us.

sweet mother of mercy 3 caption

In the midst of this seemingly unending death march of a season, we note a small ray of sunshine falling upon the wings of the circling buzzards.

For Lo, young Tyler Duffy has struck out 4 men in an inning.

Tyler Duffy - 2015 - 4ksAll right, all right, it’s not that amazing. It’s been done before. In fact it’s been done 33 times in the American league, and 44 times in the senior circuit. In fact it’s been done recently by one of our own, Francisco Liriano, 5 June 2012. But still.

Duffy opened the seventh by striking out Brett Larie, and then struck out Avisail Garcia. But wait! The ball skips away, bouncing off the plate and away from our catcher (Centeno?) and when the dust settles Garcia resides at first. Well, then, Navarro doubles, and Garcia scores, making it 3-1. Duffy comes back to strike out Austin “Action” Jackson, for his third strike out of the inning. He then intentionally walks Adam Eaton, and then strikes out Jimmy Rollins (#4) to end the inning. One inning, four strike outs. All told, Duffy struck out 9 in 7 innings of work. In a losing effort. But still.

In case you are wondering, no one has ever struck out 5 in an inning. It seems to me like that should have been done, back in the early days of the game. But no. Scripture says, no.

Other Twins who have accomplished the four K feat: Well, Walter Johnson (we get to claim him,) Liriano, as mentioned, Scott Baker, and Phil Hughes (when with the Yankees.)

Chuck Finley (with the Angels and then with the Clevelanders) did this 3 times. That’s kind of amazing.

Anyway. Another loss. But perhaps four strikeouts in an inning… even though it was in a loss… perhaps that’s a sign that fickle fortune… perhaps…

8-21, -11.5, and the madness of crowds

Well, this probably tells us a lot about me. I am the guy that goes down with the sinking ship. Or, looking at this another way, there is generally no room on the bandwagon when I am finally ready to climb aboard.

Stubborn? Overly-cautious? Dim-witted? Faith-based? Optimistic?

(Faith-based baseball?)

Well, call it what you will, 8-21 is still 8-21, and ain’t nobody is happy about that.

So: what’s to be done? Or, (from my perspective) should something be done?

I went for a nice bike ride yesterday, my second of the summer. It was a surprisingly good ride, given that I am old, out of shape, it was 90 stinking degrees yesterday, and breezy. And I didn’t take any water with me. So, oddly enough, it was a very good ride anyway. First of all, I had a head wind when I started out, heading west, and so I set reasonable expectations for myself. Ninety degrees, no water, headwind: relax and do what you can do. I set an accomplishable goal for the ride, and then kicked it up a bit as the ride progressed; I was going to go 4.5 miles out and then turn around, but ended up going 5.6 miles out before heading home. I stopped at a favorite bakery on the way home for a icy glass of water and a hot cup of coffee, took a break in the shade, and then headed home with a great tail wind, which punched my speed up very nicely.

While at the bakery I happened to pick up the sports page. It is bad enough to be 8-20; do not make it worse by reading the sports page. There was an interview with Twins owner Jim Pohlad, who expressed confidence in Molitor and Terry Ryan, to the obvious amazement of the writer. It was like: Seriously. Dude. You aren’t going to fire them? Seriously?

Kudos to Mr. Pohlad for not panicking.

It caused me to reflect on the purpose of the newspaper, which is to sell newspapers. Probably you don’t sell a lot of newspapers if you are telling the crowd things they don’t want to hear. Perhaps these writers really think that there should be a house-cleaning at the Twins HQ, but perhaps they are writers paid to write and entertain and sell newspapers. I don’t know. It’s probably some of both.

It also caused me to reflect a bit upon the madness of crowds. When things are going wrong, the crowd will want action. Something must be done! What are newspapers for, if not to stir the crowd to action? Do SOMETHING!

But it is certainly easy to criticize and carp. (As I am doing now.) This one writer said something to the effect of how foolish it was to have Sano in right field, and they had an accompanying picture of a 30% collision out in right, Sano and Nunez. Well, it made me curious about how Sano is doing out there, and so, what do you do? You look at the statistics. His range factor (this morning) is 2.06, which is 10th out of 26. He’s got 48 total chances out there, which is 17th, but he’s only played 23 games out there, which is 22nd on the list. He’s got 1 error, which ties him for 4th on the list, with 17 other guys with 1 error. (A couple of guys have 2 errors. One guy has three.) No assists.

sano nunez

Okay, you can’t tell everything from statistics, but I don’t see any red flags here. The guy is a third baseman, I guess, but he’s doing a decent job in right field. While right field is certainly difficult, this is not rocket-science. Catch the ball. Throw the ball to the right place. CALL FOR IT. I think Sano can handle that. He may not be the best right fielder in baseball. But we don’t happen to have that guy sitting on our bench, either.

Ahh, well. I’m going on way too long here. Baseball is a funny game. To be fair, most of the local scribes didn’t pick these Twins to win much, pegging them at second, third, and fourth. Perhaps they were right in their estimations. But I think that you gotta have some patience. Teams go through rough spots. You have to have some faith in your estimations about the kind of team this is. Don’t go running off half-cocked. Settle down. We’ve had some injuries, we’ve had some bad breaks, we haven’t played well. We haven’t hit, we haven’t pitched. I’d give these guys a chance to get this sorted out.

Lesson learned today: set reasonable expectations, whether you are going for a bike ride or reading the sports page.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start bailing out a bit here. We seem to be listing a bit.

sinking ship

 

 

o – 9

What makes this so much worse, of course, (as if there could be a bright side to being 0-9,) are the lofty expectations that we had for the season.

It’s difficult to maintain optimism in the face of the long litany of overwhelming statistics that strongly imply that our season is more or less over. Nipped in the bud. Wait till next year.

And yet..

And yet…

What are we? Eight games out of first? Nine?

Has a team never made up a nine-game deficit?

Has this never been done in the history of Organized Ball?

Hey, wait a second, wait a second.

We’ are only 7 games back!

It’s going to be a long long long season if we give up hope now.