Friday, March 6, 2015

What does a miracle take?

There's spring training optimism, and then there's this. from Terry Ryan via's Rehtt Bollinger:

"We need to set the bar higher here. There's no sense in talking improvement. We want to get to the postseason."

Well, sure, you want to. But ... go through the list of "miracle" teams -- teams who spent years in the dumps and suddenly emerged to win a pennant -- and you're just not going to find any who did it by importing 39-year-old outfielders and 32-year-old starters.

I'm reading a book now on the "Impossible Dream" 1967 Red Sox, one of those miracle teams. What happened in Boston:

  • A new, caustic manager (Dick Williams) broke up the country-club atmosphere that had long settled into the clubhouse. Williams was fired two years later -- nobody could stand being around him anymore -- but short-term it worked.
  • Williams gave young talent a chance to play. He put Reggie Smith, a player without a set position in the minors, in center field and lived with offensive struggles early. He installed Mike Andrews at second base and was smart enough, despite his tendency to ramp up the pressure, to ease off on the fragile psyche of shortstop Rico Petrocelli.
  • Carl Yastzremski and Jim Lonborg, two talented players of (to that point) lesser accomplishment, emerged as the best hitter and starter respectively in the league that year.

The youth is the thing here, really, Look at the 67 Red Sox in Baseball Reference, and the oldest player among the eight regulars (no DH) was Yaz. He was 27. Of the five pitchers with more than 100 innings, the oldest were 30 (Lee Stange and Gary Bell).

Meanwhile, Ryan's 2015 projected regulars include five names older than that: Kurt Suzuki, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter. The pitching staff figures to have at least six guys older than 30 (Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Tim Stauffer and Brian Duensing, and that's assuming that somebody comes to their senses and gets rid of Mike Pelfrey).

Youth. Williams, first-year manager, was 38 in 1967. Paul Molitor, first-year manager, is 58.

The Twins could go young, But they won't.

Now, going young hardly guarantees a miracle team. There's a reason they're referred to as miracle teams, after all. But going old ... that's guaranteed not to produce breakthroughs.


  1. What if they are still close in July. Why can't they then call up some of the young guys and make a run at it. Maybe Buxton gets the call. Or Rosario. If a starter is struggling why can't Meyer or Berrios come up and step into that starters spot. If the Bullpen is struggling you have Burdi, Reed or Achter. I guess I am saying if the team they bring North keeps it within striking distance until July 1st we have the young guys you talk about in your article. I think the Twins will be the early surprise team in Baseball. Maybe they won't sustain it long enough to be a factor later in the season. But the Twins have a good offensive ball club now and will be better when the Sano's, Buxton's and Rosario's arrive. You have 3 solid pitchers up top and the hope Nolasco rebounds to his norms. If they find a solid #5 guy I believe they remain a factor till late in the season.

  2. Talk about optimism. Hughes will probably regress, Santana is an average pitcher at best, the outfield defense might redefine atrocious, Danny Santana might have an on-base percentage less than .275, and I expect the team to be firmly entranched in the cellar by mid May. It is much wiser to lose with kids than with graying veterans, but Ryan et al. haven't figured this out yet. I would cut/remove Hunter, Santana, Pelfry, Suzuki, and Nolasco now and embrace the youth movement. No more procrastination.