The Franchise 1976 (Part 2)

Roster/Stats (Pitchers)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1976
*FIP represents the full season, including time pitched for other teams

SP Bert Blyleven 4-5 3.12 ERA 1.43 WHIP 2.70 FIP* 0.4 PW 5 WS 2.3 WARP3
From Larry Batson’s Strib article dated June 2, 1976:

Our drama began as an old-fashioned salary hassle, depressingly familiar to followers of the Twins. But, hoo boy, did it escalate.

Blyleven, a pitcher of solid performance and enourmous potential, came to regard his employer as niggardly, to say the least. And that was the very least that Blyleven, an outspoken person, said about Griffith.

Three seasons ago, as Griffith tells it, Blyleven made a specific salary demand. Griffith immediately agreed. “I think that stuck in Bert’s craw,” Griffith said recently. “I believe he thought he could have got more money if he’d asked for it – and maybe he would have.”

The next year Blyleven took his case to arbitration and lost. He fumed.

This year Blyleven refused to sign, Griffith fumed.

Griffith is a merchant. He sells baseball and, quite often, baseball players. By playing a season without a contract, Blyleven could become a free agent. He could then sell himself.

Griffith had a potential competitor on his own payroll. Every fourth day, Blyleven would take the mound for the Twins and throw beanballs at Griffith’s corporate assets. It was galling – and Calvin had to pay Bert meal money on road trips to boot.

As Blyleven put it yesterday, he was merely setting up a little ma and pa store, taking a chance on the free-enterprise system of which he has heard so much from baseball owners.

“I had to think of my future, my career expectancy, and of security for my family,” he said. “Mr. Griffith should be able to understand that. He has a huge family.”

Observers will long debate and probably never agree on the motivation for Griffith’s next move. He told Blyleven that he could negotiate with any club interested in signing him. Was this frustration or genius? Was Griffith surrendering or baiting a trap?

If it was bait, Texas seized it. The Rangers talked to Blyleven in terms he could appreciate. He likes numbers with lots of zeroes, and who doesn’t? By Monday morning, Blyleven had decided that he was going to Texas.

As a parting gesture, Bert hoped to win his 100th game for the Twins that evening. He lost it, but improvised another gesture for jeering spectators which will probably be remembered longer.

“Fans pay good money and they’re entitle to boo,” Blyleven said yesterday. “But when they go too far, I think a player has the right to respond in kind.”

SP Dave Goltz 14-14 3.36 ERA 1.32 WHIP 3.45 FIP 0.4 PW 13 WS 5.0 WARP3
Aaron Gleeman noted the statistical anomaly that Goltz 14-14 record made him the first pitcher in history to win double-digit games with an exactly .500 record in three consecutive seasons. Goltz also led the league with 15 wild pitches.

SP Bill Singer 9-9 3.77 ERA 1.43 WHIP 3.88 FIP* -0.6 PW 7 WS 2.0 WARP3
The 32-year-old Singer came from Texas in the Bert Blyleven trade. He had a long career with some standout seasons (1969 and 1973, when he combined with Nolan Ryan for the highest strikeout total among two teammates), but was probably best described as an “injury plagued” pitcher. He was left unprotected in the expansion draft the next offseason and played his final season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977.

SP Jim Hughes 9-14 4.98 ERA 1.49 WHIP 4.27 FIP -3.2 PW 1 WS 0.2 WARP3
Hughes followed up a solid rookie season with a mediocre performance in 1976. He will only appear in two more games in 1977 before the end of his major league career.

SP Pete Redfern 8-8 3.51 ERA 1.42 WHIP 3.71 FIP -0.3 PW 5 WS 1.8 WARP3
Redfern, from USC, was the number one pick in the secondary phase of the 1976 amateur draft. He immediately made his major league debut and had a solid rookie season.

SP Eddie Bane 4-7 5.11 ERA 1.65 WHIP 4.48 FIP -1.7 PW 0 WS -0.3 WARP3
Bane, who compiled a record of 40-4 in his college years at Arizona State, was the Twins top pick in the 1973 draft. After a much publicized and hyped debut on July 4th, 1973, Bane spent two full seasons in the minor leagues before rejoining the major league team in September of 1975. He joined the Twins again in late June of 1976 in what would be his final chance to pitch at the major league level. Bane is currently the director of scouting for the Angels.

RP Bill Campbell 17-5 3.01 ERA 1.23 WHIP 3.15 FIP 1.8 PW 17 WS 6.9 WARP3
Soup had his career season 1976. He set an AL record with 17 wins as a relief pitcher, and also led the Twins with that number. His 78 appearances in relief also led the league. Campbell received votes for both AL Cy Young and AL MVP after the season was over. He signed as a free agent with Boston before the 1977 season and put together a solid career as a relief pitcher with various teams before he retired in 1987. The 1976 season remained his best.

RP Tom Burgmeier 8-1 2.50 ERA 1.08 WHIP 3.89 FIP 1.2 PW 10 WS 4.0 WARP3
1976 was Burgmeier’s best season as a Twins, though it was probably overshadowed by the performance of bullpen-mate Bill Campbell.

RP Steve Luebber 4-5 4.00 ERA 1.43 WHIP 4.44 FIP -0.3 PW 5 WS 1.7 WARP3
After his debut with the Twins in 1971, Luebber spent several seasons in the minor leagues. He reappeared with the Twins in 1976, and set many personal statistical marks. After another season in the minors, Luebber was released by the Twins. He played a handful of games with other teams until his final major league appearance in 1981.

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