Tagged: Philip Humber

Revisiting the Santana Trade

johan-santana-4.jpgWith the recent call-up of right-hander Kevin Mulvey, now seems
like a really good time to re-examine the Santana trade.  Here is a
look at what the Twins got:

Carlos Gomez:

2008:  .258/.296/.360/.657 OPS   2.3 WAR
2009:  .253/.291/.358/.649 OPS   0.1 WAR

Gomez’s
horrible numbers at the plate are sort of neutralized by his defense. 
With a career 23.5 UZR in center, he is one of the top defensive CFs in
the league.  If he could just learn to hit, he would be one of the better
all-around players in the league, much like Grady Sizemore.  One of
the things Go-Go really needed to work on was plate discipline, and he
has indeed improved in this respect.  Last season, he swung at 36.8 %
of pitches outside the strike zone, while this season he has only
chased 27.6%.  Thus, his BB/K ratio has subsequently improved from 0.18
to 0.36.  So far, he has little to show for his improved plate
discipline, but he hasn’t seen much playing time this season with the
crowded outfield situation, either.  It’s doubtful that Go-Go will ever
develop much power, but given his age and a continued improvement in
plate discipline, it’s not unreasonable to expect league-average production from him eventually.

Philip Humber:

2008: 

Twins:     4.36 ERA   1.371 WHIP   1.20 K/BB    4.6 K/9   3.9 BB/9   11.2 IP
Rochester:  4.56 ERA   1.423 WHIP   2.16 K/BB   7.0 K/9   3.2 BB/9  136.1 IP

2009: 

Twins:     12.45 ERA   3.231 WHIP   1.33 K/BB   8.3 K/9   6.2 BB/9    4.2 IP
Rochester:   5.86 ERA   1.575
WHIP   1.97 K/BB   7.2 K/9   3.7 BB/9    73.2IP

Humber
was once the Mets’ top pitching-prospect, until he was sidelined with
Tommy-John surgery in 2005.  He’s been a mediocre starter for the Red
Wings, and at this point (he’s 26) doesn’t project to be more than a
long-reliever in the major leagues.  Not only have walks been an issue
for Humber at the major-league level, he’s also had trouble keeping the
ball in the park (his HR/FB% is 18.2).  The fact that nobody claimed
him when the Twins put him on waivers earlier this season (and that
they were willing to risk losing him this way), probably says a lot
about his value.

Kevin Mulvey:

2008:  3.77 ERA   1.351 WHIP   2.52 K/BB   7.4 K/9   2.9 BB/9   148.0 IP
2009: 
3.93 ERA   1.427 WHIP   2.13 K/BB   7.1 K/9  3.3
BB/9   103.0 IP

Mulvey
has spent the past two seasons as a starter in Rochester, and though
he’s been pretty successful, he’s struggled to pitch effectively on a
consistent basis.  Still, his K/9 rate is good enough to suggest that
he might make it as a fifth starter or middle reliever in the major
leagues.  If anything, a good performance with the big club would
probably increase his trade value should the team dangle him in an
effort to upgrade the bullpen or middle infield.

Deolis Guerra:

2008 (Ft. Myers): 
5.47 ERA   1.608 WHIP   1.00 K/BB   4.9 K/9  4.9 BB/9   130.0 IP

2009:

Ft. Myers:   4.69
ERA   1.390 WHIP   2.28 K/BB   5.9 K/9   2.6 BB/9   86.1 IP
New Britain:   5.59
ERA  1.655 WHIP   2.67 K/BB   7.4 K/9   2.8 BB/9   9.2 IP

Guerra
is the youngest and most intriguing of the three pitching prospects the
Twins got in the deal. The fact that he’s spent four years in A-ball
isn’t particularly inspiring, but he’s still only 20 years old and is
quite young even for that level.  Guerra was recently promoted to AA,
despite his poor numbers, in the hopes that a change in scenery will do
him some good.  It’s unlikely that he will ever develop into an ace,
and it’s questionable whether he will ever even reach the major
leagues, but it’s also too soon to give up on him just yet.

And here’s what the Mets got:

Johan Santana:   2.53 ERA   3.83 xFIP   1.15 WHIP   3.27 K/BB   4.8 WAR

Note
that I am only including his 2008 numbers.  I did this because, let’s
face it, his leaving was a foregone conclusion.  There is no way the
Twins were going to re-sign Johan, they would undoubtedly have been
outbid for his services by one of the larger-market teams.  This is
also why it’s not really accurate to say the Mets fleeced the Twins in
this deal:  the Twins were going to lose Santana anyway, and the Mets
gave up a ton of prospects as well as a ton of money to acquire him. 
Obviously, the Mets have come out on top so far, but dealing a
superstar near free agency is always an iffy proposition and teams
rarely get an adequate haul in return.  It’s not like the Delmon Young
trade, in which the Twins gave up two very talented young players who
were under their control for the next several years and got three
barely replacement-level players in return (and the centerpiece of that
deal is considerably below replacement-level).  That is highway robbery.

Now,
one can certainly make the case that the Twins didn’t have to trade
Santana, even though losing him was inevitable.  It’s true that the
Twins might have been better off with the additional draft picks they
would have gotten from whatever team he eventually signed with.  The
team almost certainly would’ve made the playoffs with Johan anchoring
the rotation last year, though I doubt very much they actually would
have won the World Series (having an unusually-high BA with RISP only
gets you so far).  But from all accounts, Bill Smith was left with
little choice but to deal the superstar, since Santana wanted his
contract situation resolved before the start of the season.  He didn’t
want to have to endure the media circus and speculation that dogged
Torii Hunter during his final season with the team, which is perfectly
understandable.  He also made it clear that he had no intention of
being a rent-a-player (like C.C. Sabathia last year) and since he had a
full no-trade clause in his contract, waiting for a better deal to come along at the trade deadline would have been out of the question. 

Smith was in his first season as GM
after Terry Ryan abruptly resigned, and was stuck with the unenviable task of trading the staff ace.  As far as whether or not they
would have gotten a better package from the Yankees or the Red Sox,
it’s possible.  However, we don’t really know what offers were on the
table, and if either team were really serious about trading for him. 
It sounds to me like Boston and New York were willing to wait for
Santana to enter free agency, rather than lose their top prospects in
a trade.  If both teams were serious about dealing for Santana, though,
and players like Ellsbury, Lester, Hughes and Cabrera really were on
the table, then Smith likely made a huge mistake in not pulling the
trigger. 

Kubel!

  • Jason Kubel becomes ninth player in Twins’ history to hit for cycle

kubel_homer.jpgNot only did he hit for the cycle, but Kubel hit the game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the eighth (the second game winner he’s hit, and fifth of his career). The Twins took a bit of a risk in signing Kubel to a multi-year deal during the offseason, as he was once a very promising prospect who has struggled to overcome a devastating knee injury that occurred during a crucial point in his development.  While his numbers have been steadily improving over the years, Kubel had never really had what could be considered a breakout season.  He never hit more than 20 homers in a year, and has had an OPS+ of 118 only once in his career.  However, Kubel had a very good spring, hitting .429/.524/.365 with 3 homers and 12 RBI in 63 plate appearances and hasn’t gotten off to a bad start so far this season, batting .306/.342/.583 with 2 homers and 10 RBI in 36 plate appearances.  Since Kubel tends to put up very good numbers very early in the season, it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his torrid pace the rest of the year.

While it’s tough to complain about a game that the Twins rallied to win, I do have to bring up Ron Gardenhire’s ill-advised use of Jesse Crain in Thursday’s loss to Toronto.  For some reason, Crain was put in to relieve Luis Ayala late in the ninth inning, even though the Twins were down 9-2.  Ayala had already pitched an inning and was struggling, but there is no reason to waste one of the best pitchers in the bullpen on a game the Twins had no chance of winning (and especially not this early in the season).  Crain ended up throwing 11 pitches in that game, on top of the 28 he had thrown on Tuesday night.  This is important because he was clearly exhausted when Gardy put him in to relieve Nick Blackburn in the seventh.  Crain, who has been dominant through his first six relief appearances, struggled to find the strike zone, walking three batters and giving up four runs on two hits in one third of an inning.  This put the Twins in a five-run deficit, and were it not for Jason Kubel’s late-inning heroics, it would have been a third straight blowout loss for the team.

  • Twins acquire Juan Morillo off waivers

juan_morillo.jpgI mentioned this a little bit earlier, and there’s a very good write-up about Morillo here.  Briefly, he throws hard but has struggled with his command, so there is a huge question as to whether or not he will be an effective reliever (so far, no).  But the Twins aren’t risking much by claiming Morillo off of waivers, and although they have had to designate Philip Humber for assignment to make room on the roster, they won’t really be losing much if someone else claims him.  Humber was once the Mets’ top pitching prospect, but has been less than impressive out of the bullpen for the Twins, giving up twelve runs on twenty-two hits in nine relief appearances.  While it would be kind of a shame to lose him off of waivers, especially since he came over in the Santana trade, the Humber you see is pretty much the Humber you’re going to get at this point.  Even if Morillo ends up being a complete bust, it’s just good to see Bill Smith make a move to try to improve the bullpen, instead of simply waiting and hoping that things get better.

Spring Training Update

Some of the Mets fans who read this blog have been wondering what happened to all of the prospects sent over in the Santana trade.  Here’s a quick update:

  • Carlos Gomez:  Go-Go was the only player sent over in the trade who spent theThumbnail image for mlb_g_gomez_300.jpg entire season with the big club.  While he showed tremendous range in the outfield, and has great speed on the basepaths, his offense left something to be desired.  I have already covered Go-Go’s offensive struggles in greater detail here.  However, he spent the offseason developing a better eye at the plate and his work does seem to be paying off so far this spring.  Go-Go is hitting .256/.341/.615 with 3 home runs in 39 ABs, though he still strikes out nearly three times as often as he walks.  Gomez is currently competing with Denard Span (who has had his own struggles at the plate during camp) for the CF job.  Whether or not he wins the starting job in the outfield depends on his continued success at the plate.

    Actually, there is a really good article about Go-Go in today’s Star Tribune.

  • Philip Humber:  Humber didn’t make the team out of camp last year, and spent most ofThumbnail image for HumberRW08.jpg the season in Rochester.  He struggled during the first half of the season, but eventually settled down and finished with an ERA of 4.56 and a WHIP of 1.42 which was good enough to earn him a September call-up.  Unfortunately, his audition didn’t go particularly well, as he gave up six runs on eleven hits in 11.7 innings pitched.  He’s been having a very good spring so far, with his worst appearance coming against the Reds when he gave up four runs on four hits in a single inning.  Since then, his ERA has plummeted to 1.13 in eight innings and is considered a top candidate for the long-relief job vacated by Boof Bonser.

  • Kevin Mulvey:  Mulvey spent the entire season in Rochester last year, and posted aMulvey.jpg decent 3.77 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, though he didn’t earn a September call-up.  Although he was a having a pretty good spring, giving up three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings, there just isn’t any room for him in the rotation at this point.  Mulvey was just reassigned to minor league camp so he can get some more work in before reporting to Rochester. He might see some time in the big leagues if one of the starters goes down with an injury.

  • Deolis Guerra:  Guerra shows the most promise of all of the pitchers who came from theThumbnail image for guerra.jpg Mets’ organization.  He struggled a lot during the season with the Ft. Myers Miracle, posting a 5.47 ERA and an even 71 walks and strikeouts. Most of his problem stems from a drop in velocity, most likely from the Twins’ attempts to tinker with his mechanics. Guerra’s only 19, though, and still has tremendous upside.  If he can regain his lost velocity, he might eventually live up all of the hype.

Update:  here is video of Guerra and his delivery, which explains the drop in velocity:

  • In other news:

Matt Macri, Luke Hughes, and Luis Matos were all reassigned.  Hughes and Macri were optioned to AAA Rochester, and Matos was sent to minor league camp.  Macri is a decent utility infielder, and is mostly a victim of a lack of roster space as Brendan Harris, Brian Buscher, and Matt Tolbert are all competing for the final spot on the bench. Hughes is a very promising 3B prospect, and he hit very well during camp (and in the WBC for Team Australia), but he still needs to work on his defense.  He’ll probably see time at second and in the outfield while in Rochester this year to try to find the best fit.  Matos is a former Orioles prospect who has never really panned out. At 30, it’s pretty obvious that he never will.  Matos batted .125 during camp and will probably have to fight for playing time in Rochester.

  • Frankie Says Relax: 

Francisco Liriano says he’s working on his command and is almost ready for the regular season.  Liriano is coming off of his worst start of the spring, in which he gave up three runs on four hits in five innings, though he still struck out five and only walked two.  Frankie has been struggling with his command a bit during camp, as he’s walked eight batters in 21.1 innings.  However, he still has a 2.95 ERA and 1.03 WHIP even with his control issues.  This is his second full season after having Tommy-John surgery in 2006, and whatever lingering questions about Frankie and his place in the rotation will probably be answered.

By the way, Wild rookie Cal Clutterbuck now has the NHL record for hits in a single season, collecting his 317th against the Islanders last night.  Hits are a subjective stat, so it’s not like anyone collected his elbow pads to put in the Hall of Fame or anything.  And the kinder, gentler NHL doesn’t exactly approve of that kind of thing anyway.  Also, after igniting a firestorm of (not undeserved) criticism for fighting with his visor on, Clutterbuck simply threw his helmet off before tangling with Sean Avery during Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers:

Well, It Was a Good Ride While It Lasted

  • Dutch eliminated in WBC, 9-3

usa_wins.jpgTeam Hollandaise was sent packing in spectacular fashion by the heavy-hitting American team last night.  The USA pounded the Dutch pitchers for nine runs on twelve hits, including a two-run homer by Jimmy Rollins and a solo shot by Adam Dunn.  The Dutch, on the other hand, eked out a mere three runs (though they also had twelve hits).  Things got a little chippy in the eighth, when Bryan Englehardt spent a little too much time admiring his solo shot (the Dutch were down 8-1 at this point) off of reliever Matt Lindstrom.  Lindstrom proceeded to throw behind Vince Rooi, and both benches were warned. That was about as close to any actual fighting as the two sides got, and the Dutch would score one more run on a sac fly before the US put the game away in the bottom of the inning. 

As I’ve said before, the Americans had a lot more on the line in this game than the Dutch.  The US was absolutely embarrassed in the 2006 WBC when they failed to make it past the first round.  They had already been humiliated by the Puerto Ricans, and a loss by the underwhelming Netherlands team would have struck a blow to the already-flagging interest in the tournament on the part of American baseball fans.  The Dutch, on the other hand, weren’t even expected to win a game in the WBC, let alone knock off a Dominican team that was loaded with major-league talent.  Losing to the Americans will do nothing to diminish interest in baseball or the WBC in the Netherlands, considering that there wasn’t much to begin with.  

There is some bad news for Team USA (and the Marlins): Matt Lindstrom has a strained rotator cuff and will be unable to pitch for at least 10 days.  This isn’t the first time the Americans have suffered injuries in the WBC, Chipper Jones, Ryan Braun, and Dustin Pedroia have all suffered injuries of varying seriousness.  While none of these guys are likely miss any of the season, fans and baseball executives alike are all nervous about their favorite players suffering devastating injury in a tournament that isn’t very important to them.   This is one of the major criticisms of the WBC: that it is held during spring training, when guys aren’t quite in game-shape and are much more injury-prone.   It has gotten so bad that Team USA manager Davy Johnson has threatened to forfeit the tournament if anyone else gets hurt. 

  • Twins fall to Yankees 5-1

Perk_Goof.jpgI’m not going to harp on the lack of offensive production in Sunday’s game at Steinbrenner field, considering that the lineup was full of guys who have no chance to make the team this year (though the few regulars who were in did pretty well, except for Denard Span).  I’m also not going to rake anyone over the coals for the piss-poor defense, either.  While no Twins players were actually charged with any errors, those of us who actually saw the game know better. There were some defensive miscues by the infield, and a dropped pop fly by SS Trevor Plouffe that led to some not-so-earned Yankee runs.  While Glen Perkins officially gave up three earned runs on five hits, in truth he probably gave up one earned run on three hits.  Other than that, the pitching was really good (aside from Bobby Keppel, but he’s probably going to start the season in AAA).  Nick Blackburn pitched two spotless innings in relief, and gave up only one hit while recording a strikeout.  Blackburn is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday, as the soreness in his knee is apparently gone now.  Philip Humber will start in his place today against Baltimore.

By the way, Perk is apparently fine after getting hit in the calf by Hideki Matsui’s broken bat (he even got Matsui to sign it).  He wanted to come back out and pitch the fourth, but the team decided not to take any chances on the projected fourth starter for a spring exhibition game and put in Nick Blackburn instead.  He should make his next start against the Yankees on Friday.

Andy Pettite looked really sharp on the mound for the Yanks, shutting out the Twins for three innings.  More importantly, though, Jorge Posada caught three innings without experiencing any pain in his shoulder.  He also went 2-for-2 and plated a pair of runs.  That is very good news for Yankee fans who already have enough to worry about as it is.

  • Twins vs O’s

The Twins were hitting! And not stranding that many runners for once!  Most importantly,capt.7b71d6ac29fb4dc6906798f0d2083c89.puerto_rico_twins_spring_baseball_flsr109.jpg Denard Span went 2-for-3 with a triple, which is his first extra-base hit of the season I believe.  Span has been struggling at the plate so far, and it appeared in yesterday’s game against the Yankees as though his timing was off.  It was pretty clear that he was seeing the ball well, as he was taking a lot of pitches and was working some deep counts.  However, he would end up either grounding out or popping out, and it appeared he was a little in front of the ball.  Hopefully Span has finally found his swing.  Joe Crede hit a two-run homer in the third with two outs, that put the Twins on top for good.  Crede hasn’t been having a good spring, either, but considering that he only played in 91 games last year because of his back, and that he tends to be a bit of a slow starter, it’s a little too early to panic just yet.

And Philip Humber pitched well, giving up no hits and no runs while striking out two in his two innings of work.  Actually, the only runs given up by Twins pitchers were by guys who will most likely spend the season in Rochester:  Armando Gabino (leadoff homer to Aubrey Huff) and Sean Henn (another leadoff homer to catcher Guillermo Rodriguez).  Oh, and Rule 5 draft pick Jason Jones gave up one run on four hits in two innings.  I’m not sure if Jones is going to remain on the roster or not.  Although the Twins will have to offer him back to the Yankees if they choose to send him down, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks are too interested in him so some sort of deal might be worked out.

  • Still No Mauer News

Thumbnail image for mauer.jpg 
There’s still no official word on what is ailing Joe Mauer.  According to the Star Tribune, he was in the clubhouse this morning and seemed to be in a good mood, so maybe there isn’t anything seriously wrong.  While it would be nice to know what, if anything, is going on, I doubt it is serious otherwise there would have been some sort of announcement by now.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

More Spring Training Notes: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  • The bad news is…

boof.jpgThe Star Tribune is reporting that Boof Bonser is going to be out for the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery today. Apparently doctors found a torn labrum and rotator cuff, which is odd since two different MRIs showed no structural damage.  More details will be released once a formal announcement is made.  This is a major setback for a guy who has the potential to be a dominant reliever (yes, you read that right).  Yes, Boof has had his problems, which I’ve documented here, but he does have that 96-mph heater.  And that nasty curve.  At least he did, we shall see how his arm recovers after the surgery.

Update:  It’s official, Bonser will be out for six months to eight months following surgery to repair a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff.  And the Twins have apparently ended their pursuit of Juan Cruz, so just ignore the paragraph below.  I guess you can’t have everything.

So where does this leave the bullpen?  Well, the Twins might step up their efforts to acquirejuan_cruz.jpg Juan Cruz in a sign-then-trade deal with the Diamondbacks.  Cruz would be a worthwhile investment anyway, even if the Twins had to sacrifice a draft pick by signing him as a free agent.  The farm system is pretty well stocked anyway, and they are going to receive a supplemental pick when Dennys Reyes signs with another team.  The hard-throwing righty is a strikeout machine, and he’s put up very good numbers everywhere he’s pitched. *sigh* They’ll probably go out and get Odalis Perez instead. 

Otherwise, it gives Philip Humber, R. A. Dickey and Jason Jones the chance to compete for the final spot.  Humber probably has the best stuff of the three and therefore has the best chance of earning the job.  Dickey is a knuckleballer, and although Ron Gardenhire has expressed a desire to have such a pitcher in the Dome, I would be extremely surprised to see Dickey make the active roster.  The catching staff doesn’t have much (if any) experience with knuckleballers, and have had trouble handling him.  Jason Jones is an interesting prospect who was plucked from the Yankees organization during the Rule V draft, but he isn’t quite major-league ready (the Yankees don’t seem very interested in him so he’ll probably remain a Twin even if he doesn’t make the team).  Jones is a soft-tossing righty who is supposed to be a control pitcher, but walks way too many batters to earn that designation.  He would benefit from more seasoning in the minor leagues, where the coaching staff works closely with young pitchers to develop pinpoint control. 

  • The good news is…

joe_mauer.jpgJoe Mauer took light batting practice yesterday and didn’t feel any pain in his back or abdominals afterwards.  And by ‘batting practice’ I mean he hit 25 balls off a tee.  Mauer’s recovery has been slow so far, but has been progressing steadily so it’s very likely that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.  This is obviously great news, since his bat is so valuable in the lineup.

By the way, the most unintentionally funny quote about Joe comes from his buddy, Justin Morneau. When asked about the prospect of the catcher being signed to a long-term deal, the other half of the M&M boys said: “I told Joe if he ever leaves me, I’ll never speak to him again.” 

The Twins play their first exhibition game tonight against the Red Sox, and Glen Perkins is supposed to start.  The lineups are posted here.  I’m not going to be able to see it, since I don’t have MLB.tv or the MLB Network, but I’ll get to listen to it on the radio.  Whatever, I’m just glad that baseball is back.

  • Get excited, Vikings fans

Your long search for a decent quarterback is finally over.  The Wilfs’ solution to the problem is to bring in…wait for it… Sage Rosenfels.  Yay.  Sadly, he probably would be the second-best QB in the division, behind the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.  Unless of course, the Lions’ brain trust decides to do something crazy like draft Matthew Stafford or something. 

Enjoy your new football team, Los Angeles.