Internet baseball intelligence

Thanks to the internet, one can be a more-informed baseball fan. The best Twins website is hosted by 23-year-old Aaron Gleeman, a University of Minnesota student who's dream of becoming a sportswriter happened more quickly than he might have imagined thanks to the world of weblogging.

Of course, you don't make much money (none) from a blog, but it can give you quite an audience and perhaps a start on a career.

Gleeman is big into statistical analysis. When the Twins signed Tony Batista, the media pointed to his 30 home runs and 100 RBIs per season. Gleeman pointed to his inability to get on base. In fact, Gleeman had identified Batista as the worst hitter in the major leagues two years before the Twins signed the third baseman.

A couple of weeks ago, Gleeman got a report from a resident of the Dominican Republic where Batista was playing winter ball. It was not good. Batista was fat and didn't seem to care.

Gleeman got blasted by some Twins fans for relying on a single report. He admitted that it could have been faulty, but then some more reports came filtering in from fans in the Dominican.

Not only is Batista fat, but he has an attitude problem so severe that his hometown fans have been booing him. In one case, he responded by taunting them and grabbing his crotch.

Just what the Twins need at third base. A couple of days ago, Star Tribune writer Pat Reusse made the same point Gleeman had been making for months. Reusse interviewed a member of the Twins scouting team who had been to the Dominican Republic, and the scout confirmed what we already knew back here in Minnesota: Batista is fat and seems a bit lax.

I really wonder if Reusse would have been onto the story if it hadn't popped up on Gleeman's weblog first.

IN ANY CASE, it is bliss to know that soon we will be able to watch Johan Santana pitch once every four days. Enjoy it Twins fans; he could turn into one of the best ever. When he's on, he's Koufaxian.

And, Joe Mauer. He could be a great one as well. Watch him behind the plate--I am no expert on catching, but that is where he really excels, according to informed observers.

The Twins have a lot of talent, but I think Gardenhire lacks boldness as a manager. Of course, he comes after the utterly confident Tom Kelly who didn't suffer fools gladly and always seemed to know exactly what needed to be done, even if he didn't have the tools to do it.

Kelly was feared by young players, and I think that is healthy. Sometimes they hated his guts--Todd Walker is one who really couldn't stand the man--but Walker, however well he could hit, had an iron glove, and you can bet Kelly made his life miserable for that reason alone.

I really would like to see what Tom Kelly could do with the present group of players on the Twins roster. He never had pitching this good, that is for sure. Good grief, he went to the World Series with a team which had Dan Schatzader in its bullpen! And Joe Niekro! And Les Straker in the #3 spot in the rotation. That's impressive.