• What's the Plan: Alex Meyer

    When they acquired him in exchange for Denard Span last winter, the Twins envisioned Alex Meyer as a power arm with front-end upside that could be plugged into the big-league rotation within a year or two.

    Unfortunately, although he has pitched well enough while on the field, his first season as part of the organization hasn't clarified a whole lot regarding his future. Meyer missed a full two months due to shoulder soreness and just recently began easing back with short stints in the Gulf Coast League to rebuild arm strength.

    On the plus side, the right-hander has demonstrated the ability to dominate this season. His 10.8 K/9 rate ranks second in the Eastern League among starters with 50-plus innings, and before being sidelined by injury he was holding opponents there to a .225 average with only three homers in 61 frames. Then again, some of his other numbers -- like a 3.69 ERA and 1.31 WHIP -- were less sensational.

    And the missed time really muddles his situation. Had he stayed healthy, Meyer may have been positioned for a late-season promotion to Triple-A, where he could have proven himself prepared to compete for a spot in the Twins rotation next spring. Instead, he might be able to make two or three starts in the Eastern League before year's end, but he'll finish the season with well under 100 innings and no sustained pattern of outstanding results.

    Their porous rotation filled with low-velocity contact pitchers, the Twins are badly in need of an arm like Meyer's, and as soon as possible. But how quickly can they realistically bring him into the fold?

    The Aggressive Route

    A September call-up is probably out of the question given his situation, but Meyer needs innings. By pitching in the Arizona Fall League, he could continue to build strength, then compete for a rotation spot in spring training next year if he's deemed ready.

    The Twins have proven far less willing to promote pitchers directly to the majors from Double-A than position players, but Meyer has a huge arm and many scouts have expressed that his stuff could play in the majors right now. Next spring he'll be 24 years old, an age where many high-end college-seasoned pitching prospects have already debuted in the big leagues. And, as mentioned above, the Twins really need him to make an impact next year if they're going to get things turned around. The sooner the better.

    The Conservative Route

    A decent argument could be made that Meyer ought to start back in Double-A next season. He'll probably end the year with around 75 innings thrown in the Eastern League, and despite his big strikeout totals his overall performance there has not been flat-out dominant the point where a promotion is a no-brainer. His control needs work and -- to borrow one of this organization's pet terms -- he needs to build more consistency from outing to outing.

    To play things safe, the Twins could let Meyer wrap up his 2013 season with a few more outings, then rest up during the offseason and report back to New Britain at the start of next year. If his performance dictates, he can work his way up to Rochester early in the season and vie for a promotion to the majors in the second half. (This approach conveniently might help him bypass the Super 2 deadline.)

    The Likely Route

    I doubt the Twins will throw their most prized pitching prospect into the major-league fray until he has thoroughly proven through his production in the minors that he is completely ready. Having him repeat Double-A next year seems like overkill -- he will be 24 and his peripheral numbers suggest that he's more than ready for the next level -- but opening the 2014 season in Rochester seems realistic and reasonable. This would provide Meyer with a chance to earn a call-up in the early months of the season, so that he could still potentially make a significant impact for the club.

    The scary thing here, really, is that achy right shoulder, which will require constant monitoring. The Twins can insist all they want that his injury was minor, but players simply do not miss a full third of the season because of minor injuries. It's nice to see Meyer back on the mound, and throwing well, but it will be difficult to have full confidence in his health going forward until he puts together an extended stretch of quality, durable performance. And until we see that, he probably won't be in the conversation for a shot at the majors.
    This article was originally published in blog: What's the Plan: Alex Meyer started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 56 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      About Meyer's (and May's too) numbers this season:

      - Meyer has a 2.82 FIP
      - His (and May's and most of the NB Ps) BABIP is in the .3xxs because of the bad New Britain D (of the range part, and this is obvious to all of us who have watched them play)
      - His xFIP is probably in the low 2s

      This seems like a guy who if healthy can do better than most (if not all) the people in the Twins' rotation today. I hope he has a chance to fight for a spot in the rotation next ST.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      About Meyer's (and May's too) numbers this season:

      - Meyer has a 2.82 FIP
      - His (and May's and most of the NB Ps) BABIP is in the .3xxs because of the bad New Britain D (of the range part, and this is obvious to all of us who have watched them play)
      - His xFIP is probably in the low 2s

      This seems like a guy who if healthy can do better than most (if not all) the people in the Twins' rotation today. I hope he has a chance to fight for a spot in the rotation next ST.
      The Twins FO doesn't look at FIP and xFIP.
      They don't even know what it is.
      I'm not being a smart ass, Rob Antony literally thought it stood for "first strike in inning pitched".

      Twins thrive without sabermetrics - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I understand FIP and xFIP, Antony is probably better off not understanding it. I suspect the Twins do understand the effect that defense and the lack of it can have on their pitchers.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      I understand FIP and xFIP, Antony is probably better off not understanding it. I suspect the Twins do understand the effect that defense and the lack of it can have on their pitchers.
      I can't think of one good reason why an MLB assistant GM would be better off not understanding what something as simple as FIP is.
      Like the article says, even if you choose not to use it, it is SHOCKING that he literally did not even know what it meant. It's like they live in a bubble.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      It's like they live in a bubble.
      It's a back to the future situation... Ryan carries a 5 pounder notebook (like a big three ring binder size) to ST games with him
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      In this thread about AFL predictions PseudoSABR listed the eligibility rules. One of them was:

      To be eligible, players on Minor League disabled lists must be activated at least 45 days before the conclusion of their respective seasons.
      If that is correct then Meyer would not be eligible for AFL.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      In this thread about AFL predictions PseudoSABR listed the eligibility rules. One of them was:



      If that is correct then Meyer would not be eligible for AFL.
      You can file an exemption.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      You can file an exemption.
      What's the criteria for an exception and how often is it granted?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      What's the criteria for an exception and how often is it granted?
      That I don't know... Seth might.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      What's the criteria for an exception and how often is it granted?
      I think it would be granted if it is proven that Meyer is healthy enough to pitch. They wouldn't want him dropping out right away and leaving the team short.

      Ryan said a couple days ago that six spots are locked in and one is in "flux". I would guess that was a reference to Meyer.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      What's the criteria for an exception and how often is it granted?
      From what I understand, as long as the Twins sign a waiver saying that Meyer doesn't have any significant pitch/innings limit (within common sense), the exemption would almost certainly be granted.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I can't think of one good reason why an MLB assistant GM would be better off not understanding what something as simple as FIP is.
      Like the article says, even if you choose not to use it, it is SHOCKING that he literally did not even know what it meant. It's like they live in a bubble.
      While not surprising one bit....this is still just plain sad.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      While not surprising one bit....this is still just plain sad.
      I would look at it a little different. If you know and understand the components of fip then it probably doesn't matter a whole lot if you know what fip actually is (it is a made up number after all). Despite the terrible k rates of starters, I'm quite confident the Twins front office knows that ks and gbs are good and that bbs and hrs are bad.

      My much bigger concern is how far behind they are in other metrics/analysis that we don't even have access to as casual fans. Good scouting, which the Twins have, can neutralize this to some degree but they are definitely leaving value on the table.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      It's a back to the future situation... Ryan carries a 5 pounder notebook (like a big three ring binder size) to ST games with him
      Gee, my Dell Notebook only weighs about 3 pounds.... oh wait.....you meant something else, didn't you? TR walks around with 5 pounds of paper, huh?
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I would look at it a little different. If you know and understand the components of fip then it probably doesn't matter a whole lot if you know what fip actually is (it is a made up number after all). Despite the terrible k rates of starters, I'm quite confident the Twins front office knows that ks and gbs are good and that bbs and hrs are bad.

      My much bigger concern is how far behind they are in other metrics/analysis that we don't even have access to as casual fans. Good scouting, which the Twins have, can neutralize this to some degree but they are definitely leaving value on the table.
      My point is that it seems to me you would have to be living in a cave or something to be an assistant GM in MLB, and to have never come across, or discussed something as basic, simple, and common as FIP.
      That tells me that the Twins only surround themselves with themselves, there is no input or dialogue with anyone outside of a very small group, which is alarming, and explains part (not all) of how we got where we are.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I would look at it a little different. If you know and understand the components of fip then it probably doesn't matter a whole lot if you know what fip actually is (it is a made up number after all). Despite the terrible k rates of starters, I'm quite confident the Twins front office knows that ks and gbs are good and that bbs and hrs are bad.

      My much bigger concern is how far behind they are in other metrics/analysis that we don't even have access to as casual fans. Good scouting, which the Twins have, can neutralize this to some degree but they are definitely leaving value on the table.
      Point well taken in your first paragraph, but isn't Anthony's demonstrated ignorance just symptomatic to the stated concerns we all have contained in your second paragraph?

      I am ever-reminded when the "wizard inadvertently drew back the curtain" during a spring training interview (I think it was StarTribune). You must remember the interview with TR and Gardy?.... when unassuming Jack Goin happened upon Ryan's office for a moment, and when he left, both the GM and the manager felt most comfortable back-handedly mocking both Goin and the "alleged" value derived from advanced metric analysis. Most cringeworthy.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Point well taken in your first paragraph, but isn't Anthony's demonstrated ignorance just symptomatic to the stated concerns we all have contained in your second paragraph?

      I am ever-reminded when the "wizard inadvertently drew back the curtain" during a spring training interview (I think it was StarTribune). You must remember the interview with TR and Gardy?.... when unassuming Jack Goin happened upon Ryan's office for a moment, and when he left, both the GM and the manager felt most comfortable back-handedly mocking both Goin and the "alleged" value derived from advanced metric analysis. Most cringeworthy.
      Yes on the first paragraph.

      The second paragraph brings up a point that was much debated, and not surprisingly people had a vastly different interpretation of that article than you did.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Yes on the first paragraph.

      The second paragraph brings up a point that was much debated, and not surprisingly people had a vastly different interpretation of that article than you did.
      The article contained little that needed interpretation, that's why I included the "wizard/curtain" analogy. It seemed pretty obvious to conclude from their comments that the Twins braintrust is trying, but is still uncomfortable with advanced metrics..... and, in turn, most comfortable using, and relying more upon traditional (some would say "archaic") strategic methodology and good-old-boy, napkin-scribbled-upon, scouting reports.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      I don't think the Twins organization lags behind anyone or lacks for anything. The ownership practically invented money, and begged Ryan to come out of semi-retirement to right the ship. Ryan is recognized amongst his peers as one of the finest minds in all of baseball and if there was anything he needed, I'm sure Barbara Eden would show up in his office promptly.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I do think the Twins would benefit from using advanced metrics a bit more, but let's be fair here too. There's lots of garbage with this as well. I don't have too much of an issue being cautious implementing it. Unfortunately with this one, we are going to have to see how it plays out, and the metrics guy is going to have to prove his worth. I hope he's good at what he does.
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