Terry Ryan's Secret Plan

Many of you may be looking at the Twins roster for opening day and wondering: "where the hell are the prospects?"

Sure, we've been told again and again that we're about to get a huge influx of talent. And sure, we've been told that the children are our future. But the young players coming north: Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia, Kyle Gibson...we've seen them all before...and the people we haven't seen: Blaine Boyer? Kurt Suzuki? Tim Stauffer? Are not the world changing prospects we've been asked to bank on.

So, you may be a little frustrated. I'm a little frustrated. Until I realized that this is all part of Terry Ryan's Secret Plan.

We at Peanuts from Heaven have found a secret ad written, directed and produced by Terry Ryan. What follows is a transcript of that ad.


[Ext. Day, Terry Ryan, wearing a completely respectable suit is walking toward the camera from Right Field]

SANE TERRY. Hi. I'm Sane Terry, from Sane Terry's House of Fiscally Viable Veterans here with totally reasonable deals on all your veteran baseball player needs.

[Cut to. Int. Twins Clubhouse, Sane Terry walks past empty lockers]
SANE TERRY. For years, the Minnesota Twins have been giving the aging and seemingly ineffective baseball players of America a chance to hit rock bottom. Once they do that, they are ripe for the picking...your picking.

[Cut to. Close Up, Terry Ryan turned to face new camera]
SANE TERRY. Are you a team with six valid starting pitchers? Why not trade for one of our many rotation candidates as insurance in case of injury, theft, or spontaneous combustion?

[Cut to. Opposite angle Terry Ryan turned to face new camera]
SANE TERRY. Are you a team who wishes their young players could learn from a cautionary example? Why not trade for one of our jaded-former-prospects whose shattered dreams has left them a shell of their former selves.

[Cut to. Original Angle Terry Ryan turned to face new camera]
SANE TERRY. You can get all your valuable veterans for low, low prices. Just ask these satisfied customers.

[Cut to Neal Huntington smiling in front of PNC Park in Pittsburgh]
HUNTINGTON. Our team used to be a joke, but once we just started picking Terry's discarded pitchers off the scrap heap, we had all the support we could ever need!

[Cut to Buck Showalter at the dugout railing of Camden Yards]
SHOWALTER. If someone has "former-Twin" on their resume, you can bet that they'll be a below-average starter, but an irrationally great resource for your post season run! Thanks to Sane Terry, I might not be fired right before my team wins the World Series!

[Cut to Sane Terry reclining in his office at Target Field, the camera takes in a view of the field]
SANE TERRY. We know you can get brand new ballplayers from many sources. But Crazy Billy's Coliseum of Deals always seems to have ulterior motives, and the next Miami Marlins Fire Sale isn't scheduled until November 2016, so why not come on down to Sane Terry's House of Fiscally Viable Veterans and see what we have on offer?

[Cut to, reverse Angle, the camera takes in a view of the hallway]
SANE TERRY. You don't have to give up the farm, just a young kid with upside, or downside, or cash...we like cash. And we like to give these veteran ball players a new lease on life. That's why we'll always have them on the roster, and always have them available, because that's what made us successful all these years.

ANONYMOUS INTERN [While walking by Terry's door]. Huh? What do you mean? We haven't been successful. And the older players rarely if ever help us. And when we trade them we almost never get anything of value.

SANE TERRY. Well, you know what they say, "the definition of sanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result."

ANONYMOUS INTERN. Actually I think that's the definition of insanity.

SANE TERRY. Ha. Ha. If that were true, I would be Crazy Terry...and I am clearly Sane Terry. It says so on this ad.

ANONYMOUS INTERN. What ad? And who are you talking to?

SANE TERRY. Sane Terry's House of Fiscally Viable Veterans. Call now and get Mike Pelfry right before he finalizes his deal with the devil for one more good season.



My First Game

It's strange to say for someone who has written this blog for nearly seven years, but I've never written in depth about my first Twins game. But I have a good reason for that.

I don't really remember it.

I've tried to. I've imagined Kirby Puckett legging out a triple. I wishfully think that it was the Orioles so I can say that I saw Cal Ripken in the midst of his streak.

But I just don't remember it. Not the day. Not the year. Not the opponent. Not the outcome.

But I remember my grandfather, the man who took me there.

I remember coming to Minneapolis from Montana, over a single long day's drive. And knowing it we had made it, when I could see the lights on the porch and hear the game on the radio.

I remember sitting on a porch swing on summer mornings looking over the box scores with him as he sipped his coffee in an old robe and I peppered him with question after question.

I remember holding his hand and walking down the Metrodome's concrete steps to our seats.

I remember him point to the turf, and the bases, to see if I was following along, and joining in the "Noooo Smoking at the Metrodome".

I remember him bringing me a swirled sundae in a Twins helmet cup and smiling kindly as the sundae ended up half in my mouth and half on my shirt.

I remember his kind questions, "did you like it?", "who was your favorite player?", "what was your favorite moment?"

I remember him happily lobbing underhand whiffle balls to my brothers and me, when we asked to play in the front yard that night and many other nights there after.

In the years that followed we didn't always go to Twins games, we out grew whiffle ball, and I actually became an adroit helmet sundae eater. But he still asked his questions while he sat in his barcalounger and I sat on the sofa beside him.

He still poured over box scores with the morning paper, and watched, and listened and read whenever he could. He had opinions about who was doing well, and how the old players compared and he shared them with me regularly.

We talked about Paul Molitor getting hired and remembered seeing him in downtown Minneapolis when I was a boy. We talked about Tony O missing the hall of fame again and how he used to watch the batting practice bombs. We talked about how he was convinced that my college friend should become my wife the moment he found out she was a singer with season tickets.

He passed away yesterday morning, after beating back cancer for longer than the doctors had thought he could. I knew he was tough, I knew he was proud, but when he passed I could only think about how kind he was and how happy he must have been with family around him, singing and sharing their love.

Just like he shared the game, and a sundae, and his hand with me.

Whatever day it was.


The Battle over Torii Hunter

He's back. Torii Hunter is back, and in the 7 hours of his official presence in a Twins line-up again there are two clear camps in response to his return.

In the blue corner, weighing in at 140 characters, 140,000 grey hairs in the last four seasons and 140 million liters of digital ink are the analytically minded, podcast savvy, SABR-metrical, writers, critics and yes...fans who wonder what the heck the Pohlad's were thinking.

"This is not the Torii Hunter we fell in love with," they remind readers, listeners, viewers and random passers-by.

He is not the defensive wunderkind we saw steal homers from Barry Bonds, he's not even the workman-like defender we saw handle Eduardo Escobar pop outs in Anaheim and Detroit. He has struggled lately, and one thing the Twins outfield does not want for is corner outfielders who struggle defensively (see: Arcia, Oswaldo; Willingham, Josh; Nunez, Eduardo Freaking)

The Torii we came to know and love was prone to gaps in his approach at the plate, always good but never quite great. While that also changed in the years he was away, 39 year-old Torii may not be able to maintain that production. And as younger talents vie for playing time, the curious sight of an aging corner outfielder with declining production and defensive value getting constant playing time and clinging to his no-trade clause becomes all the more questionable.

This is not the mega-watt smiling, do-no-wrong, clubhouse hero either. One afternoon worth of press coverage seemed to confirm that. Claiming that "whoever believes in that SABR-metric stuff never played the game" (despite the successful A's GM/former first round draft pick/former Minnesota Twin Billy Beane being a leader in the field) did not allay the fears of the analytically minded writers in the room and at home. Hunter then proceeded to call Mike Bernadino of the Pioneer Press, "a prick" four times, because Bernadino asked about how his opposition to gay marriage may have affected his free agency and may yet affect his leadership. Only Kris Humphries had a shorter honeymoon.

So, says the camp in the blue corner, "this is not the Torii Hunter we fell in love with." Defensively, offensively, socially: it's different now. But there is another side to this.

In the red corner, weighing in at $221 million dollars in revenue, 73,000 household wide television audience, and four straight 90 loss seasons is the Twins front office who wonder "what the heck's the problem?"

Loathe as we writers may be to admit it, the front office can see and know these issues. They may not believe in defensive metrics, but they know a 39-year-old outfielder is going to be less effective than the 32-year-old they last had in uniform. They may not project many stat-lines, but they saw enough of Jim Thome (not to mention Tony Batista, Shannon Stewart, and Dave Winfield) to know that a 39-year-old hitter isn't a 32-year-old hitter. And while Hunter's not keen to talk about his beliefs, the ownership isn't exactly shy about theirs (leading the list of contributors to the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2012).

Heck, they'd probably take mummified
Torii Hunter
The Twins brass knows that this is not the old Torii Hunter, and they do not care, they want this Torii Hunter.

Bear in mind, the Twins are not just in the business of fielding a winning baseball team, they're in the business of making money. To be sure, the best teams make the most money, but even the worst teams can make some.

If you're a business and you know your most loyal customers will come back again and again even when they are dumbstruck and aghast at your decision making, you know that you can make "dumb" and "ghastly" decisions again and again. Their opinion doesn't matter. They'll keep coming--even if only to complain.

What matters is the undecided, the ambivalent, the apathetic customers, ones that you may have lost in the lean years and can bring back (even briefly now). Last year the biggest crowd at Target Field (36,952 to watch the Yankees on July 4th) wouldn't have been in the top 8 home crowds of the 2013 season--when the team was even worse. Sure a great team would solve that problem, but we aren't going to get a great team over night, so let's appreciate what we can have: a beloved local legend on a farewell tour (you saw the crowds for Jeter/Rivera? Torii might only get a tenth of that...but that's a lot better than the Twins have drawn recently).

And even if you don't see this as a cold, callous and calculated business decision, you can appreciate it as a comfortable move at a time of great uncertainty. There's a new manager, a bevy of new talent in the wings, the team is in flux and adding one familiar face, beloved by the front office, admired by the layman fan base, is a way to ease the transition from one regime to the next.

You may not believe the "clubhouse leadership" lines, you may not buy the "mentorship" lines, but what you buy and what you don't is moot now. The Twins bought Torii Hunter 2014, not 2011 or 2007, and they wanted to do that. If it fails, it fails, but if it excites a few absentee fans, if it eases the transition and if it supports the next generation of outfielders, then it's worth it.

Call it Twins Teri-Torii, call him Torii-Wan Kenobi, but above all else, call it what it is. A decision that was made (past tense), as fiercely as we may fight about it, argue about it and debate it, the results won't be known until next spring and summer. (Even then since the arguments are being made in different directions, there not be a winner. Maybe Tori'll be terrible and bring in fans/make the clubhouse brighter, or maybe he'll be great on the field and as insignificant as Jason Bartlett in the annals of Twins reunions gone by. We can all be right, we can all be wrong!)



For the last three years, the Murphy family has tried to answer a single question: how can we help get Tony Oliva in the Hall of Fame?

The Vote Tony O Team
No one asked them to answer that question. Not the Twins. Not Tony himself. They weren't deputized or drafted. They chose to do it themselves, coming together in a kitchen to found Vote Tony O to find out, "how can we help get Tony Oliva in the Hall of Fame?"

That's not an easy question to answer, and as someone who writes more than he takes action, I'm a little worried that I can't do much. After all, baseball writing focuses on providing clear and concise answers to clear and concise questions. Which player won the game? Which team lost the trade? Who's washed up? Who's the future? There's a quick answer to each of those questions and a swath of data to support any answer you give: box scores and power splits, defensive metrics and pitch mapping.

But when it comes to addressing Hall of Fame worthiness, things get trickier. For instance one advanced measure, which analyzes an array of statistics and contexts, puts Tony ahead of no-doubt-legends like Joe DiMaggio and Frank Robinson, but behind such faded who-the-hecks as Gavvy Cravath and Harry Stovey.

"The numbers are easy", says Mike Murphy, one of Vote Tony O's spokespeople. "[They've] all been a record since 1976, but it's a little bit harder for us to quantify what Tony means to the community."

Fuzzy though the quantification is, it's certain that Tony Oliva means a lot to his communities. He is and has been a role model for Cuban players coming to America. He served as a cornerstone of the Twins for the past 50 years as a player, a coach on both World Series winning clubs, and an announcer for our increasingly diverse fan base. Above all, he stands out as an indefatigable ambassador for the game, the team and life itself.

Over the years Murphy and his family have seen this more than most people. "Tony loves being Tony. Tony loves being the guy that people want to come up and meet and touch and get an autograph. He loves everybody that comes up to him; he bends over backwards for these people, and it's because he truly enjoys it. "

Again, anyone who has seen Oliva around the Twins in recent years knows it. Though the team has hardly been a bastion of good vibes, Oliva is often the greatest source of entertainment. He smiles. He beams. He radiates a love of the game that would insulate an ice fishing cabin in International Falls, and embodies a passion that those who fixate on questions about winning and losing too often forget.

But the Murphy's won't forget that passion, because they can't forget one of the rare times Oliva was dispirited rather than optimistic: winter 2011, the last time Tony was up for election. Mike Murphy remembers the push to the ballot. Remembers they day of the announcement. Remembers how "exactly the way you think it would be in your head, [that] was the way it was. You know the clock ticking and nobody talking, then depression sets in.

"And the weird thing was Tony wasn't depressed he didn't get into the Hall of Fame. He's at peace with it; he's fine. That part's not a big deal. I'm sure he wants it, but the fact that he isn't in there? He's okay with it.

"The part that disappointed him and bothered him was that he felt that he let his fans down...This is 35-ish years after the last baseball game he played. He was disappointed not because he didn't make it, but because he let his fans down."

So while others might shake their heads and moved on with their lives, the people behind Vote Tony O have taken up a three year campaign to push for Oliva's induction. They tweet. They promote. And they inundate the Hall of Fame with over 14,000 post cards highlighting Tony's achievements, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the game. According to Murphy, that has been the real drive of the group, focusing on "the character of the guy, the integrity of the guy, and re-shining some light. Hopefully we can pick up those last four votes and put him over."

Four more votes, that's all Oliva needs. Twelve out of sixteen members of the veteran's committee. Former colleagues, executives and writers who know the game and its history, who should understand the effect that Oliva has had. And even though the votes belong to those men, and the honor of selection belongs to the players, the Murphy's know that the institution isn't just the property of the gatekeepers or the honorees. "It's a museum. It's a New York State museum. It's a public thing, and frankly as a baseball fan: it's my museum."

And even if you dispute Oliva's credentials (or refuse to consider him until after Gavvy Cravath gets his due), the leaders of Vote Tony O believe it's important to speak your mind. "It's our museum," repeats Murphy. "If [fans] feel strongly about anybody on that list be it Gil Hodges or Jim Kaat, I think it's their responsibility to let [the Hall of Fame] know. Nobody is really right and nobody is really wrong. But what we know as a fact is that an awful, awful lot of people think that Tony Oliva should be in the Hall of Fame, and that's what we [want] to share with those 16 guys."

So, how can we help get Tony Oliva in the Hall of Fame? Simple: do whatever we can.

The Vote Tony O website has a wealth of post cards that you can print and mail to the Hall of Fame (also linked to here for your clickable perusal). The baskets of cards are dumped out in front of the committee members and makes for a rather effective image (as noted by former committee member Tommy Lasorda).

So here's what you do
1. Click on the links to find the post card you like.
2. Print one (or preferably more) off.
3. Add a personal memory.
4. Address it to:
Baseball Hall of Fame

Attn- Golden Era Committee
25 Main Street
Cooperstown NY 13326

5. Attach a stamp to the card.
6. Drop it in the mail.

Whether you stood beside him at the Cuban sandwich station at Target Field, or held out a ball for an autograph at the Metrodome, or cheered with the Knothole Gang in the Old Met's bleachers on a Saturday afternoon, I think you'll agree that Tony Oliva is an integral part of what Minnesota baseball is.

Thank You, Tony
Whether you appreciated his friendly demeanor, or his clutch performances, or his bad-ball hitting, or his mentorship, or his courage in simply being a man of color in minor league towns that kept him separate and unequal, I think you'll agree it's time to stand up and say "thank you" to Tony Oliva.

Whether you want to recognize a player who never got his due, or acknowledge the role he played in cementing baseball as an international game, or just want him to savor the game's greatest honor before (like Ron Santo and Buck O'Neill) it's too late, I think you'll agree it's important to call on the Veterans Committee to "Vote Tony O".

Do your part: click, print, sign, lick a stamp, and make yours the 14,001st plea for the Veteran's Committee to Vote Tony O.

Well...14,002nd. I already sent mine.


The Great Twins Scotch Bet of 2014: Conclusion

After our second year of watching and gambling on Twins baseball, we Peanuts from Heaven had our annual pay-off dinner/drinking fest at the St. Paul Grill, aligning perfectly with Game One of the World Series. And while Stinky bemoaned Alcides Escobar's lousy pitch selection (seriously, three pitches up by his eyes? I mean...who does he think he is, Delmon Young?), we also made time to talk about the team we actually care about.

In the midst of the third...or maybe fifth...scotch, I started to think that there were, surprisingly, some similarities between the drinks I savored and the players who made it possible. High falutin'? Yes. Totally subjective? Sure. Overly generous to players who still managed to lose 90 games? You bet. But hey after this many scotches, it's hard not to get a little generous.

Kyle Gibson = The Strathisla 12 Year
Gibson struggled at the beginning of his career. Then, after showing some promising points to him, but he had a hard time finishing the job in later innings/months of the season. The Strathisla [pronounced, Strah-eel-ah] smells a little like minerals when you start, then tastes both sweet (like caramel) and potent (like pine), before finishing a little meekly.

The Edradour 10 Year = Eduardo Escobar
The Edradour, or...Eduaradour, if you will, comes from the smallest distillery in Scotland, it's relatively under the radar, seemingly unimpressive and generally unknown. But those who know it, and like it are fiercely loyal. As if the backstory isn't convenient enough, there's the fact that the drink tastes like a mix of mild peppers and pulpy citrus...you know, like an occasionally defensively stylish, occasionally offensively potent short stop. 

Brian Dozier = the Glenmorangie 18 year
Obviously, Brian Dozier is the team's current Dream Boat. A total sweetheart of a guy who, has a bevy of fans, like Glenmorangie (outsold only by the big guns of Glenlivet, Macallan, Glenfidditch and Balvenie). The 18 year old variety is just as sweet as Dozier's looks, with wheaty/grain like notes that bring to mind the amber waves of his hair, before finishing with a little woody kick (kind of like Dozier's home run pop).

The Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban = Glen Perkins
Speaking of the Glenmorangie, the Quinta Ruban's my personal favorite, not unlike Glen Perkins himself. There's spices and orange-y sweetness for a full-bodied dram that finishes nicely. Perkins himself obviously finishes nicely, is "full bodied" to put it politely, and as his twitter-feed and rapport with his running wife suggests has a fine mix of spice and sweet.

Phil Hughes = The Balvenie 21 Year Portwood
Balvenies are slightly more obvious in the global market (not unlike Phil Hughes former team, the Yankees). But even among Balvenies (or Ex-Balvenies as the case may be) a 21 year old scotch is a rare thing, much smaller in volume than most of the 3-8 year old scotches that dominate the market...this doesn't come along very often. And when you finish the drink in a special port barrel, it adds layer upon layer of complexity. I didn't know much about Phil Hughes when he was signed, I don't know a tonnage about him now, but I do know that his season this year was a special one, and without it, I wouldn't have had this Scotch. So for that Phil Hughes I give you a special toast. Slainte.


Laughing through the Pain: Hitters & AARP

A year ago I offered an alternative statistic for measuring player worth--not in wins/losses, but in the far more useful field of entertaining the fan base: Amusement Above Replacement Player (AARP) for short. The statistic is measured in five key categories on a scale of -2 to +2, 
  • Play 
  • Nickname:
  • Physical Traits: 
  • Personality/Demeanor:
  • Oddities: 
When added up, these statistics gives us a total AARP somewhere between -10 and +10. 

Last year, the AARP statistic revealed that while the Twins could hit, they couldn't really inspire much to interest the general public. Beyond Joe Mauer there just weren't many other people of note, Brian Dozier's break out season aside. A year older and wiser, it's worth wondering who if anyone has been able to grab attention and interest of the masses.

Again regular statistics don't always do it justice, but there's reason for optimism for Twins fans, especially when it comes to the offensive side of the ball.

Josmil Pinto--Last year's promising start was tempered by the fact he neither got regular playing time, nor did he get to stay with the team all year. But on the plus side, I'm now convinced that "Josmi-and-the-Pussycats" is going to be the next great Saturday Morning Cartoon.
AARP: 1.6 (Up +0.6 from last year)

Eduardo Nunez--Having been saved from the Yankees, Nunez has a little redemption/comeback story about him, but is never as interesting, curious or good as other players AARP: 0.2 

Chris Colabello--The plucky, scrappy narrative story line remains a fan favorite and even though he will likely never get better than the one magical month that one magical month makes him special. AARP: 0.9 

Aaron Hicks--It seems like there are two camps on Aaron Hicks, those who will never forgive him for disappointing them the first time, and those who will need at least two seasons of great play before they learn to love again AARP: 0.6

Kennys Vargas--The big bopping Rookie who actually has more than a single month under his belt, Vargas is definitely encouraging irrational optimism with his Ortiz-esque appearance, Ortiz-esque interview style and Ortiz-esque moon shots. Even his nascent nickname's ("Li'l Papi", "Bam-Bam", etc) are winners. AARP: 3.4

Chris Parmelee--Parmelee is the forlorn example of where the Twins were for so many years: neither amazingly talented nor totally without promise and featuring nearly no personality at all. AARP: 0.3 (Same as last year)

Oswaldo Arcia--"Ar-see-ya" (or "Waldo" as I prefer to call him) keeps earning loyalists. The streaky power he has flashed for two years promises to make Target Field's faithful stand up and cheer every time he crushes one when it counts (seeing his standing-o back in May was proof of that), and the unpredictabilty of his mohawk has entrenched him as a local landmark. AARP: 3.1 (Up +1.6 from last year--gains in playing (though not defensively), nicknames, and physical appearance)

Danny Santana--I sadly left behind my cable subscription right around the time Danny Santana became a fixture in the Twins line-ups but I have remained consistently impressed by his positivity and energy despite being consistently played out of position by Twins management. Whether or not he ever gets a chance at shortstop "Dan-San" or "Dan-the-Man" has a sizable leash from Twins fans. AARP: 2.3

Eduardo Escobar--Brad Swanson began the Eddie 500 campaign in the spring and I was happy to join in the fun, little did we know that we were witnessing something even better: the emergence of "Nick Punto 2.0". For both that nickname and his play, I salute you Eduardo Escobar! AARP: 2.5

Gratuitous Plouffe Bash
Kurt Suzuki--The man who was supposed to be a back-up, then a place holder for Josmil Pinto, just never went away. Between the clutch hitting, the positive community involvement, the unique Hawaiian background, and--now--the long-term contract, Suzuki's lovable, but perhaps a little early in his peak. AARP: 2.9

Joe Mauer--The Chairman (all praises to his name) continues to be mildly amusing to those of us who know him best, but right now it looks like he's trying to keep up on the field and has slipped below the level of nationally recognized superstar. AARP: 4.8 (Down -0.4 in field performance)

Trevor Plouffe--The joy of shouting "Trevor!" in my best Neville Longbottom impression has risen dramatically this year, and the head smacking stupidity of his play at third base has decreased. Combine those two factors and you have a far more AARP: 1.8 (Up +1.4 thanks to on-field performance and wider variety of nicknames)

Yeah Diamondcentric
did it better
Brian Dozier--The biggest surprise of last year continued his flair for great hitting, highlight-reel-fielding, impressive hair, and a true good-ol-boy southern charm. He's not the face of the franchise like Mauer is, but he is a tremendous asset and widely appreciated both on the field and in the community. AARP: 4.2 (Up +0.5 with wider appreciation of nickname, and off field personality)

Last year's break down of the offense showed one elite player (AARP Greater than 5.0, Mauer) and one local favorite (AARP Between 2.0 and 4.9, Dozier). This year while Mauer's not a nationally elite name any more, the core of the team seems solidly in place. With Santana, Escobar, Suzuki, Arcia, Vargas, Dozier, Mauer (plus Glen Perkins and Phil Hughes on the mound) creating a rather likable, if not world-beating core of the team, the Twins have much larger set of players who fans can form an attachment to. 

Of course many other writers will point out the folly in forming an attachment to players whose greatest value is on the trade market, but hey, if you wanted genuine analysis of player value, you wouldn't be reading this article about a totally made up and arbitrary statistic.

If you'd be interested in more "shouting", "yelling", "making things up" then I eagerly encourage you to post in comments or suggest other directions for the postings.


Laughing through the Pain: Another Way to Look at Pitching in 2014

A year ago I offered an alternative statistic for measuring player worth--not in wins/losses, but in the far more useful field of entertaining the fan base: Amusement Above Replacement Player (AARP) for short. The statistic is measured in five key categories on a scale of -2 to +2,
  • Play: 
  • Nickname:
  • Physical Traits: 
  • Personality/Demeanor:
  • Oddities: 
When added up, these statistics gives us a total AARP somewhere between -10 and +10.

Last year, even by the totally made up AARP statistic, the Twins Pitchers were an abysmal crew to watch, the four most notable starters (Vance Worley, Liam Hendricks, Kevin Correia and Samuel Deduno) registered a total 3.9, and none of them will factor for the Twins going forward. While the relievers were more consistently positive, there was some upheaveal there too.

So how did the Twins pitchers fare this year?

Well, on the field, still not great, but AARP doesn't just measure on the field performance it measures off the field personality and general likeab-ility/fan value, and in that category there are both some sizable gains and some serious problems going into next year.

Pitcher AARP (by Innings pitched)

Still trying to popularize You Make Me Feel Like "Duensing"
Brian Duensing--I have a soft spot for Dozier (what with the similar majors in college and the appreciation for the near impossible job he had starting an elimination playoff game). But the days of the "Duenslinger" shirts at Target Field are pretty far gone, and his peripheral numbers dropped significantly. AARP: 0.5 (Down -0.1 from last year, play didn't help, off field work did)

Glen Perkins--Perk remains the jolt of life in the Twins bullpen, the local guy who engages with friends and foes alike. While an injury down the stretch cost him the end of the season (and the team a couple of games) he did have possibly the best moment of the year when he and Kurt Suzuki closed out the All-Star Game AARP: 3.6 (Up +1.2 with gains in every category--even nicknames are easier to go with now)

Casey Fien--Increasingly the Twins most reliable set-up man, which is a double-edged sword. Nice, appreciated but by no means interesting. If he grew a Snidely Wiplash mustache my nickname of "Dastardly Fien" would be easier to make popular. AARP: 0.6

Jared Burton--There was once a time when Jared Burton and Glen Perkins were dueling for the hearts and minds of Twins fans in the race to remove Matt Capps. Now he's just kind of there... AARP: -0.2

Anthony Swarzak--We'll always love the "Swarzak" Duck quack, especially as he returns to the spot starter role that suits him so well. And while FIP suggests he's better than his ERA, his soft tossing no strike out mentality continues to remind fans of the things they never liked in Twins pitching gone by.  AARP: 1.1 (Up +0.5 for both the play and greater appreciation of the "Swarzak!" Quack)

The Old Nolasco Propaganda
Ricky Nolasco--at the start of the season I saw Ricky Nolasco's twitter feed as a sign that he was going to be an energizing force for the team. Instead he turned into both exciting and confusing, less exclamation mark than Interrobang (‽). Though on the plus side, that's his new nickname as far as I'm concerned. AARP: 1.2

Kyle Gibson--Yes, Kyle Gibson has the second most innings pitched in Twins territory this year. And while he was certainly serviceable, he was by no means the most amazing thing on the mound. And while tolerable is a step up for Twins pitchers, it's a long way from exciting. AARP: 0.7

Phil Hughes--Ahh Phil Hughes, for every amazing, dumbfounding, refusing to walk a batter performance that Phil Hughes had this year, he also had a "meh" post game quotation to go with it. And while we love any body who can set a pitching record in a Twins uniform (or at least a good record), we'd love a little more personality (we cannot confirm claims he mocked Brian Duensing on Twitter, but can confirm that he has a good enough personality to wear a silly mustache and honestly admit his own failings). AARP: 2.6

By the lofty standards of AARP you need something above a 5.0 to be a nationally relevant player, and no Twins pitcher is anywhere close to that. BUT, Glen Perkins and Phil Hughes make for a solid combination every fifth day, and if Ricky Nolasco does in fact start using the Interrobang on a daily basis we may be in business.

Tomorrow I'll post thoughts on the hitters, but in the mean time:

Wonder how the AARP stat got started? Want to give your own AARP numbers or question my methods? ...leave a note in comments, or just yell at your computer screen really loudly...I can totally hear it.