Hello, folks. Today marks our final weekend before the 2013 season starts. It's still a bit chilly here in Minnesota, but I like to mention that although Game 1 will likely have a temperature in the 40s, we've been coming out of weather that was typically colder. Thus, 45 degrees has a good chance of actually feeling pretty decent. As for the players that will be coming back from Florida, I cannot guarantee the same ecstasy.
Many of you know this already, but I'll mention it again. I am an usher at Target Field, and this will be the start of my 4th season. Lucky for me, my spring break from teaching is this upcoming week, and that means that I will indeed be working all three games of the opening series against the Tigers. I always work in Section 238 in right field, so if you are at any of the games, feel free to stop by and say hi.
I'll be honest, I am not optimistic about the Twins this season. Pedro Florimon might be able to pick it at shortstop, as Gardy might say, but I don't think he's going to be able to hit for much of anything. I am convinced Josh Willingham had a career year last season and while he will still be useful this season, I don't expect him to be as much of an offensive leader as he was in 2012. The pitching staff is still a mess, and it's getting worse now that Cole De Vries has a sore forearm, which predictably the trainers are claiming is not a serious issue.
However, I still look forward to every new baseball season. It's an opportunity for the new guys to make an impression, such as Aaron Hicks and Ryan Pressly. Can last year's breakout stars keep up their success? (Trevor Plouffe, Casey Fien, Scott Diamond) Will anyone surprise us? (Pedro Florimon, Eduardo Escobar, Josh Roenicke) Will the organization be correct in saying that the AL Central is still open to any team to claim? The only way we find these answers is by playing the games, and that is something I cannot wait to see.
- Many baseball fans were amused to see the Phillies sign Delmon Young to be their starting right fielder. It turns out we can be even more amused than before, as this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests that GM Ruben Amaro used seven-year old scouting reports to aid his decision in signing Young. Yep, if you do the math, that means that those scouting reports were written just after Young completed his debut with the (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2006. Apparently this isn't that odd, however, as a Gleeman and the Geek podcast from a few months ago suggested that the Twins used scouting reports from when Edwin Jackson was in high school to decide that he wasn't worth signing this offseason. (Sorry, I don't recall which episode).
- Bummed out about the Twins this season? Well, they have to be better some time, right? Joe Posnanski of NBC Sports recalls the tale of the Washington Nationals and how they were able to turn around their franchise after consecutive 100-loss seasons. Granted, the Nationals struck gold with the ability to draft Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in consecutive years, but they also dumped the "clubhouse cancer" types like Elijah Dukes, and started making big acquisitions like Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez at the right moment. In under 5 years, the Nationals have completely 180'd their team. At the very least, it offers hope to ourselves that the Twins can do the same.... or perhaps that some day they'll throw more than a $7 million per year contract at a free agent.
- How much has Jeffrey Loria fall out of favor with Marlins fans? So much so that they are already selling tickets on Groupon and the season hasn't even started yet! Combine this with their buy-one-get-one-free offer for their home opener, and the Marlins have fallen pretty far from that spending spree they had just before last season. I wonder how empty Marlins Park will be come September.
- Finally, if you are into sabermetrics, you would be aware that there were two separate calculations for Wins Above Replacement: The FanGraphs version (fWAR) and the Baseball Reference version (bWAR). There are a few reasons why each website had their own form, but one main one in the difference between the two was that each site had a different definition of "replacement level," or the talent level which any team can freely acquire. Think of Matt Tolbert if you want an idea of what a replacement level player looked like. As it turns out, FanGraphs used a much lower replacement level than B-R, causing their calculation to value players much higher than B-R. However, this is over now, as the two sites agreed on a single replacement level value to use from now on. You can read the just-linked article from FanGraphs to get more information on the change. Also, I expect to see some sportswriters complain about the validity of WAR now that its calculation is changing.