• Improving Twins Offense Is Greek To Me

    For the past four years, we have produced an Offseason Handbook to put fans in the driver’s seat of the Twins franchise. Within it, we highlight all of the winter’s impending free agents, potential trade targets and review the organization’s strengths and weaknesses from top to bottom. This culminates with the presentation of our blueprints to improving the team.

    In my blueprint, I laid out a fairly elementary explanation as to why the Twins failed so miserably in 2012 and, no, it was not a six-word piece that read “JOE MAUER SHOULD HEET MOR DINGERS.”

    While the starting pitching takes precedence and priority, the secondary issue was that scoring runs was also a weak spot for the 2012 squad. Consider this: Only three other American League teams finished with a lower runs per game average than the Minnesota Twins (Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City). After focusing on repairing the rotation, I outlined several realistic moves that should help elevate the number of runs scored for next season but the move I would like to discuss here is this:

    Sign Kevin Youkilis.

    Yes, there is a huge hurdle to clear when it comes to Youkilis and that is his impending option for $12 million which the White Sox hold the rights to. Collectively, because of that hefty payday and his lackluster performance in 2012, we decided that Chicago will opt to pass and allow him to become a free agent. At which point, we estimate that the market will put him in the two-year, $14 million range (or perhaps even a one year, make-good type of contract).

    Across the board, Youk’s 2012 production was at the lowest levels of his career. His power was down, his average was down and his on-base percentage was down. Even the mighty Greek God of Walks’ walks were down. It could be based on an age-related decline or something mechanical lurking in that funky swing of his, however, if you are basing just purely on his batted ball rates, there is indication that 2013 may see a change for the better.

    For the most part, Youkilis’s batting ball rates were consistent with his career. His line drive rate was high but he had been hitting a higher percentage of ground balls the past two seasons and those did not find nearly as many holes in the infield as they once did (hence the significant decline in average and OBP). This resulted in a 54 point difference in his batting average on balls in play versus his career norm. Even if he maintains the higher ground ball rate and equals his near 20% line drive rate, he should experience some correction in those numbers.

    For a guy who sprays the field in all directions regularly, Youkilis also has some pretty significant pull power. From 2008 to 2011, his .899 slugging percentage when yanking the ball was the fourth best in baseball, ahead of even Josh Willingham. Additionally, Youk’s numbers against left-handed pitching in that time was also among the best in the game. His 1.044 OPS in those years facing wrong-handers was the third-highest behind just Albert Pujols and David Wright. Admittedly, a lot of that power is derived from feasting on the close proximity of the Green Monster but even still, Youkilis had success on the road as well.

    Obviously there are shortcomings when it comes to signing Youkilis. For starters, it denigrates the defense. Heading into his mid-30s, his glove work is not what it used to be. Likewise, as you will find in the blueprint, the subsequent move after signing Youk would be that Trevor Plouffe would be relocated to second base. Once again this downgrades the infield defense (and potentially increases the amount of souvenir balls thrown into the first base stands) but should increase the production in the lineup by putting a power-hitting second baseman in the order.

    If he indeed bounces back, Youk’s addition would give the Twins the capabilities of moving Mauer up to the two-spot and insert a high quality right-handed bat with impressive on-base skills to, ultimately, score more runs.

    If you purchase the Offseason Handbook (which you can download a free preview by clicking the link), you will read more about that specific move as well as other recommendations to improve the team. Not only do we provide our blueprints but we supply you with teems of information on the free agent, potential trade targets and the organization from top-to-bottom to allow you to create your own blueprint for success.
    This article was originally published in blog: Improving Twins offense is Greek to me started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      So you want to bring this guy in to play 3B for 7 million mabe for two years who is old and has declining numbers? Hmmm, please Terry Ryan do not agree! I think you would want to give Plouffe another shot at 3B. He fields the position better than Youkilis does now. Youkilis is a horrible defender now. If you play Youkilis at 1B you then totally wipe out Parmelee unless you trade Morneau. A guy like Youkilis would want to play full-time. You probably want to look for a bat that would play part-time against lefties, but even that isn't priority. Priorities - 3 Starting Pitchers, and another Infielder at 2B or SS. Then I thnk you find a bench bat.
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      Im not arguing with the idea of signing Youk and moving plouffe to 2nd. I mean cmon do we really want to see florimon and escobar...No frankly we do not. Carrol can hold down shortstop for the short term.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I would agree. Plouffe at second base and his bat is suddenly good. A 2b with some pop is a good thing. Youk would be a good hard nosed player to have on the team and he would be another right handed bat. If it means Plouffie has to bat second maybe not.
      I have no doubt that with Vavra's coaching the entire infield play will improve. Vavra has a long distinguished career of infield instruction.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Not the worst idea in the world, but I'd be more for it if I knew he was still servicable and could easily bring back a descent prospect come July.

      I don't know that I like a 2 year deal, mostly because this team is already wishy-washy when it comes to deciding to rebuild. I don't know that I like the idea of letting this team get older when they proabably should be in development mode. They are already playing Press Your Luck with guys on the wrong side of 30 with questionable injury history. I'd hate to see the crap storm that would hit if three or four of Youk, Willingham, Morneau, Mauer or Doumit go down in 2013.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      This move to me is a lateral move at 3B, but a huge improvement at 2B. Youkilis, Plouffe, Carroll all can play multiple positions in the infield. This may not be a bad idea. Versatility and keeps our best bats in the lineup!
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Those ground balls aren't going for hits because he has bursitis in his right knee and hip.
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      Youk could probably be well suited to play at target field as well just like Willingham, He was a monster utilizing the green monster
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Plouffe is not an option at 2nd. Gardy about had a heart attack watching him scuffle in the field there 2 years ago.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Or Gardy's perceived scuffling. Have to play near perfect D at 2nd to gain favor with the manager. (eyes rolling)
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      I pass on Youk, but getting a better option @ 3B is something I like.
      I am very much in favor of goin after Eric Chavez to platoon with Plouffe. Chavy hit lefties as well as he did in OAK this year & is still a solid defensive player. He cannot hit lefites at all (couldnt in OAK either) but Trevor crushes lefties.
      Better than having Eduardo Escobar as your 2nd utility guy
    1. SpantheMan's Avatar
      SpantheMan -
      It is a good idea but not for this particular player. They should be signing under the radar players that could either boost them into contention or be flipped for a nice prospect at the deadline.
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      I agree with all concerns about Youk and add this:

      Split BA OBP SLG OPS
      Fenway .304 .400 .512 .911
      Elsewhere .264 .371 .456 .828

      Now, .828 OPS is pretty good. But he is getting old, he appears to be declining, etc. All that should be considered when evaluating him.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Not sure that the Twins should not spend that $ on SP instead.

      Quick note (and I am sure of this ) Youkilis' nationality is not Greek despite his Greek last name. He is Jewish Romanian. One of his ancestors changed it to "Youkilis" from "Weiner". I kid you not.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      No to Youkilis. I really don't know if pushing Plouffe to 2b is a good idea. He is just getting the hang of 3b and moving him across the diamond would be a fresh start for him. Not that he couldn't do it and play respectably, I'd just rather have someone there with great range and solid hands. Youkilis would be a better idea if this team was closer to contention. I just don't see the point of signing a guy like him right now since it would lead to a few more wins, but not enough to make a difference.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Parker,

      I think you are great. You write some fabulous stuff but I can't support your thesis here.

      1. 7 Million spent on Youkilis is 7 million not spent on pitching.

      2. I didn't bother looking up runs scored per game in the AL but I did look up Runs scored in the AL and everyone played 162 games. 4 teams were below the Twins. They were the Rays, Royals, Indians and Mariners in that order.

      3. The Twins were 10th overall and scored 701 runs over 162 games. The playoff bound Orioles were 9th with 712 over 162 games. The AL West Division winning A's were 8th with 713 runs over 162 games.

      4. The A's scored 12 more runs over 162 games than the Twins. No doubt those 12 runs must have been large but it's one extra run every 13.5 games.

      5. 4 of the top 5 run producing teams in 2012 did not make the playoffs. Rangers were #1, Angels #3, White Sox #4 and Red Sox #5.

      6. Apart from watching that stupid ass batting stance every night. I'm not against signing Youkilis per se. The Twins need to improve it's depth overall but the Twins need balance more than anything. Improving the balance of this team by improving the pitching is the only way to go in my opinion.

      7. Balance means you need Pitching, Hitting and Defense. It's a three legged stool and if you lose any of those legs. The other two legs better be amazingly strong. There is no facit of the Twins game that is strong enough to support the collapse of any facit. We may not have the best hitting in the league but it is clearly the strongest of those three legs. Balance it out. In 2013 we may have a short stool overall in comparison but if balanced it will give us a chance to win some more games.

      7. On the pitching side the Twins allowed 832 Runs. The A's allowed 614. That's 1.3 runs per game and I think we can all agree that the bullpen did a pretty nice job so that puts it primarily on Starting pitching.

      8. Starting Pitching in 2012 put the team in the hole early often. Not always... but... often. Once in a hole... It effects your psyche, It makes you press harder instead of just playing harder. That eventually leads to a "what's the point" mentality. The extra base just doesn't matter as much. This negates your running a game a little. The Twins may have led the league in Stolen Bases but stolen bases isn't the way back into a game and it never has been. Stolen bases are the way to pressure and keep your opponent down. You need to conserve your base runners when down. Being down early changes what you need your team to do to get back into it and the Twins are built differently. Defensive miscues are magnified when you are down. It just isn't a good way to start ballgames.

      8. I'm not saying offense doesn't need to be improved but I don't think it can be done with a fairly large splash. If Money can be spent for 2013. It has to be spent almost entirely on Pitching.

      9. Signing Youkilis is kinda like saying... The Pitching is going to suck so we need to produce more to compensate... So let's spend more money on offense. It makes more sense to spend money directly on pitching in my opinion. Straight to the source.

      10. A MLB baseball player is no different than we are. Some of us think the Twins are toast in 2013. Some of us think that anything can happen. You have a percentage of half empty half full guys on this website and it's the probably the same percentage in the dugout. They are just like us... We can look at a roster or players and draw our conclusions on our chances in 2013 and so can the players.

      11. No one can look at our staring rotation right now and feel that we gotta it made in 2013. No one on Twins Daily is comfortable with the starting pitching and you gotta believe that Mauer and Morneau have a similiar feeling about the starting pitching and that will walk with them into the 2013 season like a shadow hanging over them.

      12. Make bold and I mean BOLD in bold font moves to address the starting pitching. Remove that Shadow. Give them a chance to believe.

      It will produce the extra base. Playing with a lead will augment teams strength's like the running game. Players like Plouffe won't press as much and he just might start hitting better pitches as a result.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Plouffe at second spells a double disaster - his poor fielding and it affecting his bat, which we need to be semi-capable next year.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      The usual suspects who pooh-poohed the idea that a minor league SS might be able to make the transition to 3b are now pooh-poohing the idea he might be able to make the transition to 2b.

      It's an intriguing idea, but rather than spending money on a FA 3bman, why not just bite the bullet and move Mauer there. Mauer is moving off catcher--it's just a matter of time, and in reality should have been done a few years ago--and 3b would make the most sense. Sign a FA catcher to split time with Doumit and be done with it.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I don't have a problem looking for a 3Bman but Youkilis is not a 3Bman. I'm not sure who else is out there but one of my top targets is Marco Scutaro. He can play all 3 of the positions that the Twins need and Plouffe is the only hope at any of those positions.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      So you want to bring this guy in to play 3B for 7 million mabe for two years who is old and has declining numbers? Hmmm, please Terry Ryan do not agree!
      The same could have been said about Josh Willingham last year. Turned out pretty well for the Twins in his first year here.

      I don't know that I like a 2 year deal, mostly because this team is already wishy-washy when it comes to deciding to rebuild. I don't know that I like the idea of letting this team get older when they proabably should be in development mode.
      I complete agree about the Twins probably should be in rebuild mode. My past two Blueprints focused on that aspect. Since they appear to refuse this needs to happen, I altered my Blueprint to gear them to win-now. Two years is not an unreasonable length of time for a contract, in my opinion.

      I am very much in favor of goin after Eric Chavez to platoon with Plouffe. Chavy hit lefties as well as he did in OAK this year & is still a solid defensive player. He cannot hit lefites at all (couldnt in OAK either) but Trevor crushes lefties.
      It's not a bad option at all. I also liked the fact that Chavez hit better AWAY from Yankee Stadium to prove that his power numbers were not enhanced by the slow-pitch softball configurations in the Bronx.

      It is a good idea but not for this particular player. They should be signing under the radar players that could either boost them into contention or be flipped for a nice prospect at the deadline.
      Why does it have to be an "under-the-radar" player? Given his poor performance in 2012, Youk is certainly not on many radars and if he does rebound, he would certainly deepen the lineup enough to "boost them into contention".

      1. 7 Million spent on Youkilis is 7 million not spent on pitching...
      I'll stop you right there and encourage you to read the Blueprint as a whole because it basically covered what you are saying. My Blueprint focuses on starting pitching first and foremost, but it does so by targeting what should be relatively inexpensive starters to allow for a deal such as this to be made. But, as you said, balance needs to be made thus the acquisition of Youkilis to improve the lineup so not only are we shaving off runs from the 2012 ledger, we are also increasing the amount scored.

      Quick note (and I am sure of this ) Youkilis' nationality is not Greek despite his Greek last name. He is Jewish Romanian. One of his ancestors changed it to "Youkilis" from "Weiner". I kid you not.
      Correct.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      another tired past the prime degrading third baseman does not make me want to get excited about the twins present or future. let youk fade somewhere else.
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