Call Me Crazy! Punto Signs! Call Twins Crazy!

Yahoo Sports


Nick Punto isn’t the full-time shortstop the Minnesota Twins are seeking, but he’s been excellent insurance in the past and now will be for another two years. Punto, 31, signed a two-year deal for $8.5 million with an option for a third year Thursday.

Punto batted .284 last season and was the Twins’ regular shortstop for much of the season. The Twins have had trouble filling the position since trading Jason Bartlett to the Tampa Bay Rays a year ago.

How in the world can anyone justify paying Nick Punto more than $4M per year? It is this kind of signing that makes me think that major league teams know things that those of us outside the decision making core just don’t know.

I mean, the Twins have other options for utility infielders and backup starter shortstops who might cost 1/10th what they’re paying Punto. Can he be ten times more valuable than those alternatives are? Can he be three times as valuable? It doesn’t seem so.


(Note that I’m not arguing that Nick Punto stinks or doesn’t deserve to play in the majors, or even that he isn’t a starter. The point is that he isn’t so much better than the alternatives to be worth $4M per year. If he’s worth $4M what is Rafael Furcal worth?)

Decoding the Depth Charts: Rockies 2B

I at least in part wrecked two fantasy teams (Tout Wars NL, Rotoman’s Regulars) because of too much love for Marcus Giles. Not that there didn’t used to be a reason for admiration and optimism, but last year he languished for no apparent reason and you have to question his mental conditioning as much as anything. Slumps happen, but you have to stand up to them. Injuries have hurt him in the past, but this seemed different.

When he signed with the  Rockies I assumed he’d be the front runner for the second base job in Colorado, but it is increasingly obvious that he’s not even the second choice there. So I’m giving up. Let’s look at who reigns on the depth charts: likes Jeff Baker, Jayson Nix, Clint Barmes, Giles, Omar Quintanilla and, finally, Ian Stewart. goes Nix, Quintanilla, Stewart, Barmes, Giles. Baker is listed as the backup at first and third base. goes Nix, Baker, Giles, Stewart, Quintanilla. picks Nix, Giles, and someone new. Meet Matt Kata.  (They have Stewart as a backup at third base, Baker as a backup in the outfield.) comes through again! Giles, Nix, Stewart, Quintanilla, with Baker backing up in the outfield. sez: Nix, Giles, Quintanilla, with Stewart backing up third base and Baker behind six guys in the outfield.

and finally, the finely tuned, which lists players with percentage of playing time. They like Baker (40), Nix (30), Giles (20), Stewart (15), Quintanilla (5) and Barmes (5).

My projections before I started this escapade gave Nix 200 PA, Baker 375, Giles 330, Stewart 125, Quintanilla 100 and Matt Kata 125. Barmes got 335, mostly based on the idea that he’d be traded.

1,000 PA for the other guys is a little too much considering that Stewart will play some third base, Baker will play some first and outfield, Quintanilla or Barmes will see some time at SS and somebody has to play in Colorado Springs. So let’s go through the possibilities…

Jayson Nix had a pretty good year in Colorado Springs last year and he’s a good second baseman. That has to count for something here. I don’t think he’s a major league regular, but he does enough to hold onto a job when there isn’t a better alternative.

Jeff Baker hasn’t much hit righties, which is a problem, and he isn’t really a second baseman, working on the position this past fall in the AFL.  He might make the Rockies but I don’t see him winning this job.

Marcus Giles was a good second baseman once upon a time, and he used to be able to hit for some power, get on base, and run. He isn’t so old that his time should be up. He’s been quiet but effective in spring training.

Stewart, Quintanilla, Barmes and Kata are all backups at this point. There is some hope that Stewart will end up being a major league regular but he’s not there yet.

Who do I like? I think Nix will win the job, will fail to impress with his bat, while Giles–having worked hard on his physical condition and attitude (I don’t know that this is true, but how could he not given how awful he was last year)–will eventually get a shot and win the job for the rest of the year. Except that he’ll then, after I’ve blown all my FAAB on him, wreck his hammy. Bah!

2007 Payroll Efficiency

The Baseball Analysts: Rich Lederer

The official numbers are out and Rich Lederer does us the favor of plotting the team salaries and games won on a chart, along with a sensible discussion of the implications. I’m assuming that revenue sharing numbers aren’t included, which would skew the chart in interesting ways. The Yankees would spend more per win. The Marlins would make more money per loss. But that’s not what’s at play here.

Click the link and find out how your team did converting dollars to wins.

On the other hand, the final numbers show that player salaries were less than 45 percent of total baseball revenues, a drop of nearly 10 percent since 1994’s cancelled post season, which was in large part a fight over a salary cap at something like 50 percent of revenues.

New Ballpark Webcam

The Official Site of The Minnesota Twins

Construction is underway on the Twins new ballpark, and it was announced this week that despite cost overruns (already!) that the Twins themselves will make up the difference.

Meanwhile, my wife, author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, tells me that the stadium is being built less than 1,000 feet away from a giant trash incinerator that will be releasing all sorts of toxics from the materials it burns. The upper deck of the new yard will be at about the same height as the smoke stack of the incinerator.

This link is to the report analyzing how many of those metals will end up in the playing field, how much players and fans will inhale and ingest (there is actually a formula to determine dirt ingestion in the report), and how that compares to EPA and other (many elements don’t have established harm levels yet) standards.

So far, things look good, though the discussion of the effects on a Child Season Ticket Holder fired my imagination, if not any sense of imminent alarm.

It’s good the builders and the county government and the Twins are thinking about these things. Let’s just hope they get it right.

Wahoo …

Joe Posnanski

Passionate and authoritative piece about the Indians’ team name and logo. I don’t think about banning the team name, but whenever I see the logo I marvel that they still use it. Posnanski makes it clear why they shouldn’t, and gives a nice colorful history lesson in the process.

Young Hitters

Baseball Musings

David Pinto puts together a chart showing the average age for each team’s offense in 2007 based on plate appearances. Interesting to note the Diamondbacks’ youth, since they didn’t exactly overwhelm anyone this year, but even more interesting to see a difference of more than five years from top to bottom. I would have guessed it would have been less, aside from obvious outliers like the Giants.

It would be interesting to see these numbers calculated for a run of years and then compared to a team’s success over those years. Do teams get better as they get older and then crash? Do young teams inevitably get better? Are successful teams getting younger, as this year’s data seem to suggest? Just wondering.

Searching For Answers About the Mets’ Collapse Brings No Relief by Allen Barra

village voice

Barra has the numbers to demonstrate that the Mets’ problem was the bullpen, which everyone knew, and by how much, which everyone felt. But what he also has is a memory of how the Yankees finished the 2000 season, their last World Series championship. It was a far bigger collapse, only it ended up not hurting for reasons that had nothing to do with the Yankees.

The city of brotherly losers

Bruce Buschel | Salon News

Bruce has written for the Fantasy Baseball Guide, but I didn’t know until just now that he wrote a piece for Salon about the Phillies losing 10,000 games faster (if you can call it that) than any other franchise. Bruce is promoting his book Walking Broad, in which he walks the length of Broad Street and revisits his home town, his history, it’s history and all the people who share their histories and lives there.

I bring this up because the book is a good one, even if you’re not particularly interested in Philadelphia, but also because he mentions that the Atlanta Braves are only 300 loses behind the Phillies. But does that count? Does the accumulative history of losing carry over from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta?

This matters because all sorts of baseball history is tied up in the towns we live in, and the teams we root for there, and it does a disservice to the localism to tie records to the legal entity of the franchise. Is Andre Dawson really the premier home run hitter of the Washington Nationals?

Getting Better All the Time

Baseball Musings

The Royals’ offense is getting better. That’s what this chart says. If we believe the still relatively new management has a chance to get it right, this is a reason to hope that in the future the Royals will suck less.

More importantly, it’s a reason not to assume that the Royals will lie down when facing your pitchers. Right now this isn’t a bad offense.