Paul Moliter Interviews for Twins Job

Paul Moliter

Earlier this week the Minnesota Twins fired Ron Gardenhire, the team’s manager for the past 13 seasons, and started to look for the next team manager. Reports are that ex-Twin and current bench coach Paul Molitor is interviewing for the position. Molitor has no experience since retiring form his 21-year career with the Twins but he has done many coaching jobs for the Twins but not under an official title. In 2013 he was hired by the Twins to oversee the instruction on base running and bunting. He also helped with infield instruction and positioning during game as well as helped make in-game strategies. Moliter became the team’s regular first base coach after an injury to Joe Vavra, the team’s regular third base coach. Other names being thrown around are Boston Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, and former Twin Doug Mientkiewicz.

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Adam Dunn Retires

Adam Dunn

When Adam Dunn was traded to the Oakland A’s earlier in the year he mentioned he was considering retiring depending on how this season went. Thanks to a devastating loss to the Kansas City Royals yesterday Dunn has announced his retirement. Dunn was not really having a good season as an Athletic only batting .212 with an OBP of .313 with the team and hit only 2 homeruns with 10 RBI’s in the 25 games he played. The final blow to Dunn may have been the decision to sit him during last night’s playoff game. Bob Melvin, the A’s manager, informed Dunn of the decision to bench him:

“I let him know what we’re looking at so he’s not surprised when he sees the lineup,” Melvin said. “All our guys know that we do things a little differently here at times. We’re trying to play for the day.”

 

Dunn had a 14-year career and played for the Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox and Oakland A’s. Dunn made 2 All Star teams in 2002 and 2012 and left a big mark on baseball. Even though Dunn ends his career with a batting average at .237 he also has an impressive .364 OBP and was a major power threat. He redefined power hitters by being able to take a walk and still hit for power but he also struck out a lot having a career 28.6% strikeout rate. Dunn’s career ISO of .253 is something to amaze at and his career OPS of .854 backs up his impressive career.

Adam Dunn

BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+ WAR
2014 13.9% 31.1% .219 .337 .415 .752 .196 .286 .334 112 0.0
Career 15.8% 28.6% .237 .364 .490 .854 .253 .286 .367 123 22.7

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Girardi discusses Rodriguez

Girardi and Rodriguez

The 2015 season is going to be a big year for the New York Yankees who have many questions that need to be addressed. The rotation is failing in both health and lack of quality starters, the offense is old and injury prone but it still does a decent job, and lastly they need a new shortstop. To add to all these issues is the question of what to do with Alex Rodriguez who comes back from his suspension from PED use next season. For those who don’t recall Rodriguez was suspended for his connection with Biogenesis, a company that supplied supplements to athletes.

The team’s manager Joe Girardi has been keeping tabs on Rodriguez throughout the season and during a meeting with the press he said:

“Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely,” Girardi said. “Do we expect him to play third base? Yes, [but] in fairness we have to see where he is at.”

 

Reports also asked about what he felt the reactions to the other players would be like:

“I think our players will handle it fine,” Girardi said. “The first couple of days of spring training, there will be more attention, and that will die down. That will die down. Something else will happen in sports that will help it die down. That’s the nature of sports, too. Something is going to happen so the focus will be off of him again.”

 

He continued:

“I have a good relationship with Alex. You know that our teammates enjoy Alex. His presence in the clubhouse, the way he likes to teach the game and talk about the game, I don’t think that will be an issue. Will he have to deal with some angry fans? Yeah, but we’ll help him get through that. When was the last time Alex hasn’t had to deal with that? So it is not like it is something he is not used to. Sometimes players strive on that. So maybe it will help him.”

 

Rodriguez will turn 40 by next July and is still owed $61 million on his contract.

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Astros Hire A.J. Hinch

A.J. Hinch

Yesterday the Houston Astros hired A.J. Hinch as the team’s new manager. Hinch was the manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2009-2010 seasons and had a record of 89-123. At the time Hinch had no other managerial experience and has served as the vice president of professional scouting for the San Diego Padres. Hinch was one of many people that filled in for the Padres GM spot when the team dismissed Josh Byrnes. Jim Luhnow made a statement yesterday about hiring Hinch:

“I am extremely excited to bring in A.J. as our new manage. Throughout our process, we searched for a person with previous Major League experience, who could effectively lead our young, growing nucleus of talented players. I have no doubt that A.J. is the right person to do that. He brings experience as a Major League player, Major League manager and player development executive. His skillsets and leadership abilities will be enormous assets in our clubhouse and to our entire organization.”

 

The Astros fired manager Bo Porter earlier this month and have had minor league manager Tom Lawless serve as intern manager in his absence.

 

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Twins Fire Gardenhire

Ron Gardenhire

After 13 seasons with the Minnesota Twins the team has fired manager Ron Gardenhire. The announcement came today as the team had a private meeting to discuss the future. The team’s general manager Terry Ryan had this to say about the decision:

“The reason for this change, I think it’s safe to say, the last couple years we have not won enough games,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “That’s what it comes down to. It’s nothing more, nothing less than that.”

 

When asked about his firing Gardenhire said

“I’m gone, I’m outta here because we didn’t win,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what it gets down to in baseball. That’s what it should get down to. You have to win on the field and these last four years have been tough for all of us.”

 

The last 4 seasons have been very rough for the Twins having a winning percentage of only .409. Its no secret that the talent on the team has been slowly degrading in those 4 years but with stars like Brain Buxton and Miguel Sano ready to make the jump the team felt they needed a change. The team had a winning percentage of over .550 and 6 playoff appearances in Gardenhires first 9 seasons.

Phil Hughes, a pitcher for the Twins, spoke out about the team’s decision to fire Gardenhire.

We as players had a responsibility to the organization, fans, and coaches to win this season,” starting pitcher Phil Hughes tweeted. “We failed.”

 

Fellow Twin Brian Dozier also spoke out about the choice.

“As good as it gets in my opinion. Comes to the park ready to win each and every day. Kind of a players’ manager,” second baseman Brian Dozier said. “Always in good spirits. He knows the game better than anybody I’ve been around. I 100 percent want him back.”

 

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Rising Ace: Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber

Some players come out of nowhere to really surprise everyone and have a break out season. This year’s prime example is the Cleveland Indians new ace Corey Kluber and today we’re going to see what Kluber is doing differently, if anything, from last year to raise to one of the top pitchers of 2014.

Kluber was originally drafted in the 4th round as the 10th pick overall in the 2007 amateur draft by the San Diego Padres. Kluber was with the team until 2010 when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. Kluber’s minor league stats are very mixed having both strengths and weaknesses; a strong K/9 averaging around a 10 per 9 innings but also having a high BB/9 averaging around 4. His ERA and FIP aren’t really that encouraging either sitting near 4.50 and 4.70 respectably, both are a little high for any minor leaguer. Overall it doesn’t seem like to much to write home about and if you were to look at them compared to what he has done this season it doesn’t look like the same player.

Corey Kluber

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BAA WHIP BABIP ERA ERA- FIP FIP- WAR
2014 10.20 1.94 0.55 .233 1.10 .316 2.53 68 2.38 65 7.0
2013 8.31 2.02 0.92 .268 1.26 .329 3.85 99 3.30 85 2.8
Career 9.22 2.10 0.77 .255 1.22 .326 3.40 88 2.98 78 10.3

 

Whatever the Indians found was wrong with Kluber they nailed it and it’s worked for both Kluber and the Indians. First the K/9 as been relativily consistent even compared to his younger seasons in the minors, as I stated earlier he was very strong when it came to strikeouts. What’s more impressive is the lowering of the BB/9 to not just an acceptable level but to a level that is just amazing for a power pitcher. Consider the fact that the average BB/9 in baseball sits around 3 and you see Kluber is at 1.94 should really put that point across. Unlike the minors it seems that Kluber has really been able to lower that BB/9 and really capitalize on that ability to generate swings and misses.

Kluber’s low BAA is impressive and the fact that his BABIP is actually high compared to many other pitchers. Kluber could be getting a little lucky in reality but considering that he did this last year as well and still found success is a good sign that this is just Kluber and as long as he can keep the walks down the high BABIP may not bite him as much as other pitchers. The low WHIP is a combo of just not being hit hard and the impressive BB%, much like BABIP a lot of Kluber’s success is really relying on that low BB/9. Really that’s the key to Kluber at the moment is that BB/9 compared to his minor league numbers and the big question will be if he can keep that up.

Batted Ball

LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2014 21.3% 48.0% 30.7% 7.6%
2013 25.9% 45.5% 28.5% 12.4%
Career 23.3% 46.5% 30.3% 10.1%

 

The most interesting thing to note is the lowed line drive percent and that could be the key to how he’s found success. Of the pitches Kluber has, and we’ll talk about later, one of his more successful pitches has been the Cutter. He started throwing this pitch back in 2012 and he’s found instant success with it and could be a reason he’s pitched so well. A Cutter cutting out of the zone and shifting position could be hard for hitters to square up. This could be the reason for the lack of solid contact against him but the lowered line drives and a high percent of his outs as ground balls at least give the theory credence.

An important thing to note is that Kluber’s fly ball rate has risen, ever so slightly, but the HR/FB rate as sharply gone down. This also adds to the theory we discussed with the ground ball rate and how the contact he gives up isn’t solid enough to get a homerun. The Cutter is known to be a hard ball to center and once again this makes it harder for hitters to really drive it solidly. If Kluber can keep the homeruns down he will be a even more dangerous pitcher.

Pitch Type Linear Weights

4-Seam Fastball Sinker Cutter/Slider Changeup Curvball
2014 Velocity 93.1 93.1 88.7 84.8 82.4
2014 Value 3.2 -10.1 11.2 -1.2 20.8
2014 Pitch Use 3.2% 48.9% 25.1% 3.8% 15.8%
2013 Velocity 92.9 93.4 89.4 84.8 82.7
2013 Value -8.1 -9.4 15.4 1.6 1.5
2013 Pitch Use 24.1% 29.1% 25.1% 9.4% 12.4%

 

We can see from the chart above that the major change for Kluber was the curveball. Having a massive change in value. Kluber’s curve has saved 17.7 more runs per use this season as compared to last season. Kluber’s curve has been his most improved pitch so far averaging 3.89 runs saved every 100 pitches. The cutter has also been an important tool for Kluber this year even though it doesn’t rate as high as the curve. The cutter acts very much like a slider, hence having it classified on the chart as both a slider and cutter, and combined with the fastball and curve it works far greater. While the fastball looks terrible in comparison to his other pitches its worth noting that these stats do lean a lot on strikeouts and since Kluber doesn’t use the fastball and sinker as a main strikeout pitch so it doesn’t rate as high.

Braves Offer Inter GM Full Time Job

John Hart

Earlier this week, the Atlanta Braves fired 15 year GM Frank Wren and had John Hart step into the role as an intern. Today, the Braves have offered Hart the full time position as the teams GM, but Hart hasn’t accepted yet. Hart is a former MLB executive, and a MLB Network analyst before he took over the role as intern GM. Hart was part of a 3-man team consisting of Bobby Cox, Braves president John Schuerholz, and Hart himself. It is a believed that if Hart were to accept the position he would be there to groom the assistant GM John Coppolella to take the position down the line.

Hart was once the GM for the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, and with his experience as a team executive, he could help turn the teams hitting issues. As for John Coppolella, he studied under Wren so the idea that they’d want Hart to change the ideas that Coppolella may have learned from Wren. Considering the decisions that Wren made near the end of his era, as GM, the team may be choosing to change the direction of the team, and don’t want a Wren clone to be at the helm.

 

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Edison Volquez wants Multi-Year Deal

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates

Edison Volquez has had a very solid season this year for a number 4 pitcher and has stated that he would like to stay a Pittsburg Pirate. He has also come out and said he would like a mulit year deal:

“You always want to sign for more than one year,” he said. “Especially now that I’m 31 years old, I’d like to sign with someone for two or three years and stay a little bit longer.”

 

Volquez signed a 1-year $5 million deal with the Pirates this off season and for the most part has lived up to the contract.

The big question is does Volquez worth a multi-year deal with not just the Pirates but with any team? Depending on what he asks for in money it could work but if you go by the numbers it’s a little more vague. On one side Volquez has looked solid with a 3.15 ERA and a good WHIP of 1.25. The BAA is good at .232 meaning he’s not getting hit often and with his second best line drive rate of his career it also means he may not be getting hit hard. Another good sign for Volquez is the lower than career average HR/FB percent at 9.2% verses his career 11.5% and a very nice 0.82 HR/9. All these stats are improvements for Volquez and a good sign that he could actually keep up what he’s doing.

Sadly there are some areas that could also mean his downfall. His FIP is at 4.27 a full point higher than his ERA and that’s a scary sign. In 2012 Volquez had a ERA of 4.14 and a FIP of 4.06, these totals match up since you’d expect that they would be closer together. The more separated they are, especially when the FIP is that much higher, the chances of regression increase for his ERA. Another bad sign is the low K/9 and the high BB/9. Strikeout pitchers tend to have higher BB/9 since the pitcher has a tendency to try to get hitters to chase the ball outside the zone. In Volquez’s case the 6.30 K/9 isn’t high enough to justify the 3.39 BB/9 and in the end could lead to the ERA regression mentioned earlier. While I mentioned the line drive rate was going down the fly ball rate is going up from pervious seasons. This is something to watch but doesn’t mean that he’s giving up more home runs and doesn’t mean that he’ll regress in that area but it is something to watch for. In the end many stats are trending down so maybe the Pirates figured something out with Volquez and he can continue the trends but many of his stats are worrisome and could lead to some nasty regression.

Edison Volquez

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BAA WHIP BABIP ERA ERA- FIP FIP- WAR
2014 6.30 3.39 0.82 .232 1.25 .263 3.15 89 4.27 120 0.4
2013 7.50 4.07 1.00 .277 .159 .325 5.71 161 4.24 119 0.4
Career 8.04 4.51 0.95 .248 1.46 .298 4.47 115 4.35 112 6.2

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Dan Haren’s 2015 Option Vests

Dan Haren

During last nights game Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren reached 180 innings pitched which vested an option in his contract for 2015 and is worth $10.5 million. Haren is not forced to stay with the Dodgers now that the option is his but if he stays he is guaranteed the $10.5 million and, because of the verbiage in the contract, all incentive based raises can be earned next year as well. Haren could earn up to an additional 3 million in bonuses bringing the potential total for next year to $13.5 million.

Haren has done one job very well this year for the Dodgers and that’s eaten innings for the team. Haren was once known as one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball and quite the innings eater but this year his 7.01 K/9 is well below his career mark of 7.58. This isn’t actually as bad of a thing as one would think since Haren has rasied his ground ball rate to 42.1% and lowered his line drive, fly ball, HR/9, and BB/9. These stats all show just how Haren has been getting outs since he’s not striking batters out and all work together and correlate to each other. Haren’s raise in ground balls could be do to keeping the ball down which would limit fly balls and line drives quite a bit. Another reason could be his reliance on his fastball, two-seamer and cutter to do really keep hitters off balance. All of these are just clues to how Haren has succeeded without the strikeouts.

Haren may have found a new way to pitch but that doesn’t mean he’s been reborn like Bartolo Colon from last year. Haren still has a ERA of 4.03 and a FIP of 4.16 putting him above the league average in bother stats. Considering the Dodgers defense is solid but not great this is a sign that Haren isn’t getting soft hits as often as the ground ball rate would suggest. Teams are hitting him pretty hard as well having a team batting average against him of .247. What is a little concerning is the fact that his BAA is just about average, or slightly below average, but his BABIP is amazing sitting at .279. This almost says that Haren has been incredibly lucky this year and that next year that 4.03 ERA could balloon even more.

Dan Haren

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BAA WHIP BABIP ERA ERA- FIP FIP- WAR
2014 7.01 1.79 1.34 .247 1.18 .273 4.03 115 4.16 118 0.8
2013 8.01 1.64 1.49 .264 1.24 .302 4.67 125 4.09 108 1.5
Career 7.58 1.87 1.11 .250 1.18 .290 3.77 92 3.71 90 39.5

 

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O’s 4-Man Rotation in Playoffs

Buck

With the playoffs starting on October 2nd Orioles manager Buck Showalter has decided to go with a 4-man rotation in the playoffs instead of a 5-man. Chris Tillman will be given the ball in the first game followed by Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and lastly Bud Norris. Before the 5-0 loss to the Yankees Showalter answered questions about his decision and said:

“You don’t want starters to sit around more than an extra day,”

 

He went on to say:

“After you get past one, it’s a little iffy, depending on who it is. We’ve got it wired out through the end of the first round, but we’re going to wait and see a couple things. How everybody feels. And also not being sure who you’re playing yet.”

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