Saturday, August 22, 2015

Who is Neal Cotts, and What does he do for the Twins?

The Minnesota Twins announced that they have acquired 35 year old. lefty reliever Neal Cotts from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later.    They also optioned AJ Archer to Rochester to make space of their 25-man roster.  Cotts is on the tail end of an one year, $3 million contract, of which the Twins will be responsible for about $725,000.

Cotts has played for the Chicago White Sox, Cubs, Rangers and Milwaukee.  All but his September call up with the White Sox, he has been exclusively a reliever.   Cotts has been out of baseball from 2009 till 2012 battling elbow and hip issues:  Underwent Tommy John surgery in July of 2009, had the first of four hip surgeries while signed by the Pirates in June of 2010, failed his physical after he signed with the Yankees for the 2011 season.  He signed a minor league contract for the Rangers and played for Round Rock the second half of the 2012 season.  This is a great read for his health troubles.

One can look at his career numbers, but a player like him, really has two parts of his career and looking at the part before the injuries will not help predict what he might do for the Twins in 2015.   The "new" Neal Cotts, while with the Rangers, abandoned his curve, change and slider, and has primarily become a two seamer (89-90 mph) and a cutter (83-86 mph) pitcher, with his cutter (which he throws about half the time) his most effective and only above average pitch.   This season lefties are hitting .185/.230/.346 (but with a ridiculous .204 BABIP) and righties .282/.373/.466.   For comparison purposes, Ryan O'Rourke's splits are: .156/.250/.250 against LHB (with .267 BABIP) and .167/.375/.167 against RHB.  Add a .333/.395/.385 line against the American League, which includes a .182/.250/.182 line against the Twins, and it seems pretty clear that Cotts should be at the end of the line as LHP options go for the Twins.  On the other hand, as indicated above, Cotts has had success with the Twins this season and last (the Twins were 1 for 14 against him in 2014 while with the Rangers,) and the Twins' Front Office likes players who perform well against the Twins.

But the Twins do not play the Twins. They are playing (Slash line of each team's batters against Cotts in 2014 and/or 2015 in parenthesis) : Baltimore (2014: .429/.500/.643), Tampa (2014: .286/.444/.429) , Houston (2014: .394/.447/.667), Kansas City (2014: 0 for 6 & 2015: .385/.429/.462), White Sox (no appearances in 2014 and 2015), Detroit (2014: .385/.467/.538), Angels (2014: .185/.290/.296), and Cleveland (2014: .222/.222/.333 & 2015: .375/.500/.500).  In other words, every other team the Minnesota Twins are playing the rest of the season, other than the Angels and the White Sox (against whom he did not appear), hit Cotts better than Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays ever hit regular pitching.

Not sure what this trade was about, other maybe for Terry Ryan to be able to say that he did something.  The Twins clearly have better internal options, including the departed AJ Achter who has held opposing RHBs to a .176/.176/.353   line.   Depending on who the player to be named later is, this trade can be rated from "Blah" to a "Disaster", and really does nothing for the Twins in their pursuit of a wild card spot.




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