Quick Hits: Defenses, Twins, Santana

Defense is often a secondary consideration in evaluations of teams' offseason moves, but it's an important one. ESPN's Mark Simon has written about each team's offseason from a defensive perspective (American League, National League). In the American League, the Yankees have downgraded at second base with the departure of Robinson Cano, and Brian McCann isn't Chris Stewart's equal at stopping basestealers, says Simon. Jacoby Ellsbury should help in the outfield, however. The Athletics, meanwhile, should benefit from the additions of Craig Gentry and Nick Punto.

In the National League, the Marlins' infield defense should take a step backward after the additions of Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal and Casey McGehee. The Cardinals, meanwhile, figure to have upgraded with the additions of Peter Bourjos and Mark Ellis, and with Matt Carpenter moving from second base to third. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.

  • The Twins could be a surprisingly strong team in 2014, ESPN's Christina Kahrl argues. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes should improve the rotation, she says, if only because the Twins' starters struggled so much last year. Also, Joe Mauer's move to first could spare the toll on his body and create more playing time for Josmil Pinto, who could make an impact on offense. Miguel Sano, who hit 35 home runs in the minor leagues in 2013, could make his debut as well.
  • The Twins have not offered Johan Santana a contract, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. Santana does have offers in hand from other teams. The Twins are still interested in Santana, however. The former Cy Young winner will likely receive a minor-league deal.

47 Responses to Quick Hits: Defenses, Twins, Santana Leave a Reply

  1. Riaaaaaa 2 years ago

    I was skimming and failed to read the word “defensive” and got a bit confused when it said Stewart’s departure was a downgrade.

    • AKA_brotherfox 2 years ago

      In a sense, it’s like comparing defensive maven Brendan Ryan and Derek Jeter. Who’d you rather have as your starting shortstop? Likewise, who’d you rather have as your starting catcher, Stewart or McCann? I’ll take the tolerable defense and the superior bat over the stellar defense and abysmal hitting every time.

      • bdiddy7 2 years ago

        The thing is, Stewart was supposed to be this plus defender…but he turned out to be an impostor back there. Too many passed balls/weak throwing arm. I fail to see how moving from Stewart to McCann is a downgrade in defense. If anything, McCann should be better than what we saw from Stewart last year.

        • yclept 2 years ago

          Stewart’s reputation is based almost completely on his pitch framing, which just happens to be one of McCann’s defensive strengths. McCann is not good at throwing out runners, but in terms of defense, switching from Stewart to McCann is, AT WORST, a wash. I don’t see where it is a downgrade.

          • animal_strength 2 years ago

            even according to fangraphs defense, McCann is at least a good defender with a great bat, whereas Stewart is a great defender with an awful bat. The trade off is a huge improvement.

          • Charlie Wilmoth 2 years ago

            I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

          • FS54 2 years ago

            For a second, I got confused why you are saying this here and saying something else up there. Then I realized that it was ESPN, not your points.

  2. chris german 2 years ago

    …I mean I guess technically they downgraded a little at catcher defensively. I don’t know the numbers, but I feel like Brian McCann isn’t that bad and you always have Romine and Cervi backing him up. I don’t really feel that it’s a significant downgrade from a purely defensive perspective.

  3. jjs91 2 years ago

    Mccann is a much better pitch framer though.

    • Braves1976 2 years ago

      Mac is one of the best pitch framers in the game.

      • burnboll 2 years ago

        According to who?
        Not claiming he isn’t, just wondering what facts supports that notion.
        If nothing else McCann at least will help Yankees get better at unknown baseball rules that nobody really cares about anymore.

        • Jeff 2 years ago

          There are stats for this, McCann consistently places high.
          Gattis shows promise in this area as well, so I think the Braves won’t have much of a downgrade.

          • burnboll 2 years ago

            The fight for the division between Washington and Braves will be one for the ages this coming season. Two of the absolutely best teams in baseball.
            And I think both Mets and Marlins will look at least half way decent. Phillies, unfortunately, will be the punching bag of the division.
            And probably will continue that way until Ruben is let go.

  4. Braves1976 2 years ago

    The Twins a “surprisingly strong team” with their rotation? I seriously doubt that, Hughes might bounce back a bit, but overall their rotation is still quite bad.

    • Sky14 2 years ago

      It’s not a rotation that will get them anywhere but they should be a lot more competitive than last year with Hughes and Nolasco being major upgrades. As much as I disliked the Pelfrey re-signing, he is also a candidate to bounce back being a second year removed from surgery. The author was probably being a bit too optimistic but they are likely a team trending upward.

  5. AKA_brotherfox 2 years ago

    If Phil Hughes is going to dramatically improve the Twins’ rotation, he’ll have to dramatically improve.

    • NickinIthaca 2 years ago

      Although I agree, I think you are grossly underestimating just how bad the Twins rotation has been for the last few years….

      • TKGuy 2 years ago

        Anybody with any ML experience and a little success is an upgrade for this horrid starting rotation

        • NickinIthaca 2 years ago

          I’d go so far as to say any power pitcher with any experience would be an upgrade. You can’t build your rotation entirely around finesse pitchers. Especially if they are all in the Mike Pelfrey mold….

  6. Greg Pearson 2 years ago

    well, more back seat posters here, hope the pitchers improve the Twins and Johan comesback and helps solidify the pitching even further. Win Twins!

  7. Clayton Wilson 2 years ago

    Braves have the best defensive team in the NL, according to Olney. Amazing, considering they have Chris Johnson at 3B and Uggla at 2B. And apparently Justin Upton forgot how to play the outfield last year.

    Wonder where he’d rank them if they didn’t have Simmons and Heyward….

    • burnboll 2 years ago

      I have to disagree with Olney. Simmons may be the best defensive player in the game (IMO second to Machado). But that doesn’t make a team.
      I’d put at least Pittsburgh and maybe even Arizona ahead in the NL of the Braves.

      • Teufelshunde4 2 years ago

        Olney is a Braves honk… Just based on his over coverage of the Braves last season turned me solidly against them.. This is just another case of that for Olney.. Good points on Az and Bucs..

        • Clayton Wilson 2 years ago

          There’s no way you’re being serious, right? Olney a Braves honk?!? And if Olney’s coverage(that you CHOSE to partake in, btw) alone turned you against an entire organization, then you have pretty thin skin.

      • Clayton Wilson 2 years ago

        I’d put Arizona at #1, but I can see why Olney had the Braves there.

  8. Greg Pearson 2 years ago

    if, I reread this post, no mention of other teams, besides Twins!

    • Charlie Wilmoth 2 years ago

      Yeah, it’s been really quiet tonight, and I happened to have two Twins bullets, plus the defense thing.

  9. Charlie, you have vastly overrated Chris Stewart. He had a horrible 2013, defensively. And frankly, how is ‘Chris Stewart’ the lead-in in any conversation about a team’s overall strengths and weaknesses?
    And how does Phil Hughes and his 5.19 ERA and 1.455 WHIP “dramatically improve” anyone’s rotation?

    • Charlie Wilmoth 2 years ago

      I’m summarizing what other writers wrote, not advancing my own opinion. I do think Chris Stewart is very good behind the plate, though.

      • Charlie Wilmoth 2 years ago

        The sense I got from the context was that Simon was saying Stewart was the better defender, but now that I read it again, that MIGHT not have been his implication. I’ve updated the post to be more specific.

    • hediouspb 2 years ago

      fly ball pitcher moving away from that park. hughes will be very good this year. his home road splits clearly show a guy who needed a new home.

  10. BG921 2 years ago

    McCann is a highly rated catcher defensively and has posted a positive dWAR every season he’s played. His main issue is throwing out base runners and his arm strength has looked slightly worse since returning from shoulder surgery. He’s a great receiver and an excellent framer. Watching him over the years the only knock I’ve ever had with him is that he’ll sometimes get lazy and try to backhand a ball versus using his body to block it.

  11. Tigers72 2 years ago

    Speaking of defenses the Tigers might be the most improved.

    • Mr Pike 2 years ago

      Yes. Cabrerra at first is a huge upgrade over Fielder, not a slight improvement.

  12. stl_cards16 2 years ago

    Defense is fun because it is really just an inexact science right now. I honestly think it’s to the point where most people overrate defense, including WAR. Every defensive metric is too subjective to give it as much weight as most do. For instance, a lot of people use WAR to evaluate players on a yearly basis, then those same people are the ones that tell you not to use a one year sample with UZR, which is exactly what WAR does. Any stat in baseball that takes three years worth of data to be anywhere close to accurate, is completely useless.

  13. burnboll 2 years ago

    Hey guys, do you think Brian McCann is right enforcing “unwritten rules”? Or do you think he’s wrong?
    I think he’s wrong. I like a little showboating here and there. That’s how they did it in Babe Ruth’s era.

  14. GrilledCheese39 2 years ago

    And who do the Yankees have at shortstop? An old injury prone Jeter, but I guess Ryan’s backing him up..

  15. Wek 2 years ago

    That’s always been the case for the Twins’ rotation. Perpetually awful rotation.

  16. Clayton Wilson 2 years ago

    Yankees rotation not looking too great at the moment either.

  17. bdiddy7 2 years ago

    At the moment, no it doesn’t. But, what does that have to do with the Twins’ subpar rotation?

  18. burnboll 2 years ago

    I am quite surprised Joe Blanton isn’t with the Twins. He fits their mold somehow.

  19. Robb Birdman 2 years ago

    are you forgetting you have arod till 2017?

  20. Macfan01 2 years ago

    Shhh, you know the pundits have to nitpick at everything with the Yankees.

    Hughes will win a Cy Young and Chris Stewart will win a Gold Glove now that they are out of New York.

    I doubt any of those folks talking about Chris Stewart even saw him last season, I saw him far too much and it wasn’t pretty stuff at all.

  21. burnboll 2 years ago

    Brian McCann is not a downgrade. He’s an upgrade. And has got a bat that fits perfectly in Yankee stadium.

  22. Clayton Wilson 2 years ago

    Boom Bod is a Yankees fan. Why else would I mention them?

  23. bdiddy7 2 years ago

    Yes, I could tell that he’s a Yankee fan. Still not sure what the Yanks’ rotation has to do with the Twins’.

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