Gammons: Twins prepare for elements
Outdoor stadium should be chilly in early months
The Twins have done a number of studies on how weather will affect them at their new outdoor stadium, Target Field, which opens April 10.
Joe Mauer began his junior and senior seasons at Cretin-Derham Hall right around that date, and said "the first two games of each of those seasons was snowed out. The last two weeks of March and the first two weeks of April can be the biggest snow period."
Oh, good. Which begs two questions:
1. How different will it be for the Twins outside of the BaggyDome, the biggest home-field advantage in the game? Since 2002, when the Twins made it back to the postseason, they are 136 games over .500 at the Metrodome, but 16 games under .500 on the road; even this past season they were 49-33 at home, 38-43 on the road.
And 2. If there are a lot of postponements, how will a slew of doubleheaders impact their pitching later in the summer?
"I came up playing outdoors there [in Bloomington, Minn.]," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, "and it isn't until late May that it turns [warm]. It's pretty rough until then."
Manuel remembers a cold, windy, wet day with the Twins when the Washington Senators were in town.
"Ted Williams was their manager, and he asked Graig Nettles and me to come out early the next day because he wanted to work with us. He was working with us [on] 'Hips before hands,' ... and Graig and I couldn't hit a ball out through the wind. Ted finally got in the cage, and he hit one ball after another out through the wind and the rain and the cold, and he was over 50 years old. And he wasn't even our manager. Billy [Martin] was mad about it, but it was a thrill for me."
But regardless of the weather, the Twins will realize a significant bump in revenues with their new park. They're about to sign a new radio and TV deal.
"It's not quite a Seattle deal," said one club official, but another says it will put the Twins within "the top 8-10 revenue teams," giving them a higher payroll than the Dodgers.
That's why they'll eventually get Mauer re-signed. But the Mauer-Adrian Gonzalez comparisons are invalid because of the market, their respective positions and the fact that Mauer grew up a local Twins fan and icon and has never played anywhere else, whereas Gonzalez only joined the Padres in 2006. It will be interesting to see who has the greater market value in two years -- Gonzalez or B.J. Upton. Neither, however, are likely to be filing for unemployment compensation.
Around the Majors
One suggestion to slow down the economic impact the Yankees and Red Sox have on small-market teams is to break them up and move one of them into another division. The suggestion is to put the Yankees and Mets in the same division and the Red Sox and Rays in another.
"That way, the Yankees and Red Sox won't be competing with one another," says one official, "and reacting to every move the other makes."
It makes things even tougher on the Tampa Bay franchise when the local ESPN radio station carries the regular-season Yankees games in the Tampa market.
"At least we have the Rays games on in the Hazleton, Pennsylvania market," says Rays manager Joe Maddon.
From a Mets player: "Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur are so great for this team. They've created a completely different vibe in the clubhouse than what we had last year."
From a National League scout: "I know Wade Davis and David Price have tremendous talent, but learning to pitch in the American League East is different from any other division. Let's see what those Baltimore and Toronto young pitchers do. We'll see Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes make a jump soon. Clay Buchholz may be the best of them all."
It has been said all spring that the Braves have the best young player in the NL in Jason Heyward and they have arguably the best young pitcher in the league in Tommy Hanson. There is some worry about the long-term effect of Hanson's unusual delivery, but one scout says, "He's so good, you just let him pitch. The same can be said about Stephen Strasburg in Washington. His delivery is a lot closer to that of Mark Prior than anyone talks about."
Just as A-Rod says the extra time for rehab this winter following his hip procedure has left him far more flexible, so too, Chase Utley says this winter's work has him far more flexible than he was at this time last spring following his hip surgery. "There's no comparison," says Utley.
Dustin Ackley's second-base debut on Thursday got good reports from bureau scouts and the Padres.
There are a number of thought-provoking and informative statistical books on the market, such as the Hardball Times Baseball Annual or the Baseball Prospectus guide. But the most unusual and innovative is the Bill James Gold Mine 2010.
One of his most interesting studies is the 2009-2010 Young Talent inventory, rating clubs' organizational talent under the age of 26.
Six of the first eight clubs are in the two divisions that had the best records outside their divisions, the AL East and the NL West. The Rays -- whose workouts seem like the NFL Combine -- are ranked first in organizational talent, the Red Sox fifth and the Yankees seventh. The Rockies are second, the D-backs fourth and Giants sixth, with the one team not from those divisions being the Twins at third. The Rangers (8), the White Sox (9) and Marlins (10) round out the top 10. The three worst are the Astros, Padres and Tigers.
Rating AL offenses
Meanwhile, MLBTradeRumors.com guru Tim Dierkes used Baseball Musings' lineup analysis tool and CHONE projections to rate AL offenses on Rotoworld.
The Yankees (5.826), Red Sox (5.371) and Rays (5.273) are rated the three best, while the A's (4.532), Royals (4.536) and Mariners (4.559) are the worst. Toronto (4.656) ranks fourth-worst, which is scary when one considers that the Blue Jays owe many of their wins over the last four years to Roy Halladay.
Jimi's record collection
The following is a catalogued list of the records that were in Jimi Hendrix's apartment when he died. It is a fascinating look at what he was listening to, including my late father's good friend E. Power Biggs "Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord."
"The David Frost Report from London"?
Three George Frederic Handel recordings?
Junior Wells' "It's My Life" has Buddy Guy playing under the name "Friendly Chap."
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.