Saturday Morning Breakfast & Baseball: Ballpark Capacity, the Twins Offense, Ongoing Appeals, and Strasburg

For those that didn't know, my favorite band is the recently-on-break-to-tend-to-their-respective-families alternative rock band Thrice, and their drummer, Riley Breckenridge, is the co-author of the Twitter account @ProductiveOuts. Additionally, they also have a website and a "Prodcast," but it's the former that we start with today. They chose to review some of the worst logos from Minor League Baseball and the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball, and I find their commentary to be rather hilarious (and less vulgar than Chris Kluwe!). Here's Part 1, and Part 2.

  • We actually have a couple Twins things on this week's B&B (no, it's not Anthony Slama *eye twitch*), even if this first one is not specifically about the Twins. Hey, the Twins are included, and that's all that counts in my book. It's sort of like how the Twins were mentioned in Moneyball, and thus we can conclude that while the book is not about the Twins, they're still included. Back on track now, Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs noted that judging a team on its attendance isn't exactly fair. He notes two minor league stadiums he attended, where the first routinely drew 3,000 fans in an 18,000 capacity stadium, while the second had 6,000, but with 7,500 seats. As you can imagine, the 2nd game felt packed. Thus, Carson chose to look at all MLB teams' attendances as a percentage of stadium capacity, rather than just raw tickets purchased. How do the Twins come into play? Despite being 11th in attendance at the beginning of September, Target Field's small capacity (7th smallest at 39,504) causes the Twins to jump to 6th in percentage of available seats filled (88.6%). Thus, while the diminishing crowds are disappointing, at least the still-mostly filled ballpark is more enjoyable than seeing a game in Colorado (32,944 - 50,398 - 65.4%).
  • My second Twins post relates to the offense and a discussion I had with another Twins usher on Friday night. He, like many people, was commenting on how the offense looks set for next season, with Willingham, Doumit, Plouffe, et al. performing quite well this year. However, Terry Ryan disagrees, as he mentioned in July that he wasn't satisfied with the offense. This might have something to do with it. Yes, the Twins have scored double-digit runs many times this season. In fact, the Twins have been 4th-best this year in scoring 10 or more runs, as they've done it 13 times this year. So they've got a dominant offense, right? Not so. Aaron Gleeman, author of that last link, points out that the Twins ranked 13th overall in runs scored this year earlier this week, and it's because they've averaged 3.6 runs in all other games. That's bad. Plus, I honestly think the O will be worse next year, mostly because Josh Willingham is having a career year in 2012, and there's no way he will be this good next season. #Buzzkill
  • Twins radio announcer Cory Provus mentioned this tidbit during Sunday's Twins/Royals game. Royals reliever Francisley Bueno, apart from having a last name that translates to "good," is appealing a suspension. Ho-hum, right? Not so, as the appeal stems from an incident that occurred FOUR YEARS AGO. In his major league debut as a part of the Braves, Bueno threw 2 1/3 IP, and he capped off his day by throwing at the head of Alfonso Soriano. As you can expect, Bueno was ejected and given a 3-game suspension. Well, Bueno chose to appeal the suspension... and the appeal is still ongoing. How is this possible? Look no further than his career stats. No, it's not because his numbers were so putrid that keeping him active was considered to be enough punishment. As Provus noted, Bueno was sent back down to the minors after his 2008 appearance, and he hadn't seen big league action until this year. Since he was down in the minors, there was no reason to continue the appeal process. At least until this year, where he's made 10 appearances for the Royals. However, the final caveat to the story is that every time the appeal process was restarted, Bueno was shortly sent back to the minors, putting his appeal on ice once again. Someday, a verdict will be reached. Probably in 2015.
  • Lastly, the biggest national talking point - after the Red Sox's latest fiasco - is the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg after his Wednesday start next week. The argument has become so ridiculous that some are even saying that the Nationals will be better off without Strasburg in the playoffs. Not sure how refraining from using one of your best pitchers makes you a better team, but okay. Anyway, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post thought of a contributing reason for shutting down the ace pitcher that many of us haven't considered: There's a lot of insurance money involved. (EDIT: Just as I was typing this, I saw a tweet that Strasburg will be shut down immediately, as he's now at 159 1/3 IP for the season. His cutoff was 160 innings). In particular, if the team and the doctors recommended that Strasburg should not pitch and he did anyway and got hurt, the Nationals would probably not collect any insurance money from Strasburg's contract. Meanwhile, if he was shut down and got hurt anyway (ironing the very shirt he's wearing, anyone?), the Nats could still collect money from the insurance companies. Kilgore notes that it's not the primary reason, nor a reason the Nationals have acknowledged, but it's something that we can keep in mind.

I'll be working tonight's Twins game, everyone. Section 238 as always.

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