Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Roger's Report from Spring Training
Chris Coste Update
American Idol Thoughts
National League Central Pitchers
Good morning everyone!
Well, I have to start out with this story. As I was leaving work, my cell phone was vibrating in my pocket. I waited to get into my car and then checked it out. I had a missed call from a number that I did not recognize. I was confused, but I did call the number back. Now, I never know what to say in that situation. I mean, I believe I uttered something like, "Hi, Um... who is this? I mean, hey, I just had a missed call from this number. who..."
Fortunately for me, the person on the other end of my rambling said, "Hey, this is SBG!" Now, I had met Stick & Ball Guy and his lovely bride Lucy down at a Twins game last summer and we yapped about baseball and blogging for quite some time before the game. It was fun. So, that is how he got my phone number, but what did he want?
Well, let's just say that SBG became privy to some major news that he agreed he would not post on his site until next month, when the time is more appropriate. Fortunately, or unfortunately, for me, he chose to give me a call and tell me about his news. Fortunately he called me because the news he got came from a very credible source, and let's just say, it is big. Unfortunately, he told me, and told me that I have to keep it quiet. Do you even understand how difficult that will be for me!? So anyway, be sure to check out Stick & Ball Guy's site today, and in the coming days to see when he posts his inside information.
2006 Minnesota Twins Predictions - A Contest Sponsored by Banjo Brothers
In previous years, I have run a Twins Predictions article on Opening Day. So, next Monday, I will be posting my thoughts on the 2006 Minnesota Twins season, but I again need your help. I want your thoughts on what the Twins will do in 2006. Here are some questions to consider, and simply e-mail me your answers to the questions or anything else you would like to write about the Twins upcoming season. Please don't feel limited by the questions, write anything you think will happen in the 2006 season. Use the questions only as a starting point. Here were my thoughts going into the 2004 season. Here were my thoughts going into the 2005 season.
How many Wins will the Twins record this year? Where will they place in the division?
How good will Johan Santana be this year? Another Cy Young?
Which other pitchers will step-it-up in 2005?
Which pitcher will disappoint?
Will this be Radke's last year? Will Silva Win or Walk more than 10?) How long does Lohse stay in the rotation? How do Baker and Liriano perform?
Joe Mauer has so much potential. What will he do this year?
What are your predictions for Justin Morneau?
Which hitter will step up?
Which hitter will disappoint?
What are your thoughts on the new players?
Who will be the Twins leader in:
Which minor leaguer will have the most impact on the Twins in 2006? (please include one that is not named Francisco Liriano or Jason Kubel, however, feel free to discuss both)
What would you say that X-Factor is for the team?
What storylines are you hoping to read?
Again, thank you to Banjo Brothers for their willingness to share a gift with the winner of our contest. I would also really appreciate your help with this question for Monday's article. Here's how it works. I will post these questions the rest of the week. Please think them over and then send me an e-mail with your answers/response. Then on Monday, your thoughts will be posted on this site. Thanks for your help!
Today, I will dive into the NL Central division pitchers in Part 11 of my Fantasy Perspective series. With the season set to start on Sunday, I am going to have to find the time to post my NL East Pitching Preview before the weekend. If you would like more detail on why I want to do this series as well as some of the thoughts that go into my 2006 Projections, please click here.
If you have any questions or comments about what I write here, or regarding your league, please e-mail me. If you would be fun, feel free to ask questions or comment on anything down below in the Comments section.
Disclaimer: What you read below are simply my opinions. Obviously I have no knowledge of what will happen in the 2006 season, so please take the information for what it is worth (fun). Also, these opinions are subject to change as spring training approaches. All players listed are either projected starters, or starters based on my opinion.
To this point, I have only done my look at the:
Top 20 Impact Rookie Hitters for 2006
Top 20 Impact Rookie Pitchers for 2006
American League West Hitters
American League Central Hitters
American League East Hitters
National League West Hitters
National League Central Hitters
National League East Hitters
American League West Pitchers
American League Central Pitchers
American League East Pitchers
National League West Pitchers
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL PITCHERS
Many believe this to be the strongest division in baseball, and it certainly could be. But it is a division with many question marks as well. The Cubs have an amazing rotation, but their two 'aces' have struggled with injuries. The Astros could have a Big Three, but one is old and one was injured last year. The Cardinals have guys that outperformed realism last year, so you have to wonder if they can repeat. The Pirates have one of the best pitchers in baseball, but not much certain after that. The Brewers have Sheets, Davis and youth. And who knows what the Reds have!?
So, lets get going on some analysis. If you have any comments, arguments, agreements, questions or anything, please feel free to e-mail me. When this project is complete, I would like to put together a Mailbag issue with many of those comments.
SP Carlos Zambrano
Everyone wants to talk about Prior and Wood, but the fact is that the Cubs best pitcher is and has been Carlos Zambrano. An emotional pitcher, Zambrano went 14-6 in 2005 with an ERA of 3.26 ERA. In 2004, his ERA was just 2.76. He is 43-25 over the past three years. He has gone over 200 innings the last three seasons. I'd still like to see him walk fewer, but he strikes out over 8 per nine innings. Zambrano is the Cubs pitcher that you want on your roster. And he's still just 24 years old!
SP Mark Prior
Shocking, isn't it, that Mark Prior is likely to miss the beginning of the 2006 season? Since Dusty overused him in 2003, Prior has missed time each year with a number of issues. If he could ever be healthy, he could be one of the greats. But when will he be healthy? Are the Cubs hiding anything? We just don't know or feel comfortable with what we're hearing. Last year, he made 27 starts and went 11-7 with a 3.67 ERA. He struck out 188 in 167.1 innings. He has been over 10 strikeouts per nine innings in each of his four big league seasons. I really don't know where to draft Prior, but I probably wouldn't until a dozen rounds have passed.
SP Greg Maddux
The 39 year old Maddux is entering his 21st big league season. It is also the final year of his three year deal with the Cubs. With a 13-15 record last year, it was the first time since 1988 that Maddux did not win at least 15 games. He has a career ERA of 3.02. Last year, it was 4.24 which is very high for him. However, that is still below league average. Now, Maddux could probably continue pitching for another three or four seasons and be league average, but I can't imagine that he would settle for being average. I would like to see him have one more very good season and then retire. I don't know if all fans realize that an argument could be made that Maddux is one of the best pitchers of all time.
SP Glendon Rusch
Rusch has never been a great pitcher, but he is one of those guys that every team needs. He can start games in a pinch, and he is able to pitch long relief, and he is able to get lefties out in a jam. With the Prior and Wood injuries, I believe that Rusch should at least start the season in the rotation. Last year, he went 9-8 with a 4.52 ERA. He made 19 starts and came out of the bullpen 23 times. Also, he strikes out almost seven hitters per nine innings. I don't think he is much of a fantasy option, but he does provide some value to the Cubs.
SP Jerome Williams/Rich Hill
The Giants finally gave up on their top pitching prospect from the past three or four years and sent him to the Cubs midseason. In 2003, he was 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts. In 2004, he made 22 starts and was 10-7 with a 4.24 ERA. He got off to a bad start in 2005 with the Giants and was doing poorly at AAA when he was traded. He came to the Cubs and went 6-8 but had a 3.91 ERA in 106 innings (17 starts). Hill is a 26 year old rookie who started last year at AA. In 57.1 innings there, he struck out 90 hitters. He moved up to AAA and struck out 92 in 65 innings. He went 6-1 with a 3.60 ERA. He struggled in 10 appearances with the Cubs, but his strikeout numbers are obviously very good. That said, he really needs to work on his control to cut down the walks.
After being injured much of the 2003 and 2004 seasons, the Cubs took a shot on him as a bullpen guy last year. When LaTroy Hawkins struggled again, Dempster took over the closer duties. He responded very well. In 63 games overall, he went 5-3 with a 3.13 ERA. In 92 innings, he struck out 89 hitters. He recorded 33 saves in 35 chances. Assuming he can stay healthy, Dempster becomes a very solid pickup if you're looking for Saves and some strikeouts.
One 2 Watch Kerry Wood
Wood is really no longer worth taking for your fantasy team. The injury risk is now beyond normal. Last year, he made 10 starts in his 21 appearances. He went 3-4 with a 4.23 ERA. His WHIP was a still-respectable 1.18. He struck out 77 hitters in 66 innings. Just too much risk for me to consider.
SP Aaron Harang
The 6-7, 240 pound Harang made 32 starts for the Reds last year. He was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year for the Reds pitchers. He went 11-13 with a 3.83 ERA. He almost struck out seven hitters per nine innings, and he struck out 3.2 for every walk. There is risk in every Reds pitcher because of the ballpark, and Harang had never previously had an ERA below 4.80. But he is now 27 years old and has over 500 innings pitched, so it is also possible that he has turned a corner.
SP Brandon Claussen
Claussen is another one of those former Yankees top prospects. But maybe he has a chance to be decent. In 29 starts last year, Claussen threw 167.2 innings. He was 10-11 but had a decent 4.21 ERA. He struck out 121, but he also needs to cut down on the 57 walks. It was a good year of improvement for the 26 year old lefty, but can he take another step forward in 2006?
SP Eric Milton
It is hard to imagine that Milton could be any worse than he was in 2005. On the season, he made 34 starts and went 186.1 innings. He was 8-15 with a 6.47 ERA. His WHIP was 1.55. He allowed 40 home runs (which was less than the 43 he allowed in 2004 with the Phillies). His strikeout rate dropped below six per nine innings. Milton is still just 30 years old, and like Kyle Lohse, he has always teased us with talent, but Milton has never put it together, and it is almost too late. An extreme flyball pitcher has little chance of being successful in Cincinnati.
SP Dave Williams
27 year old Williams came to the Reds in exchange for Sean Casey this winter. The lefty has a career 27-26 mark with a 4.25 ERA over parts of four big league seasons since 2001. Last year, Williams was 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA. In 138.1 innings, he struck out just 88 and walked 58, not good. He was a flyball pitcher last year which may not translate well into Cincinnati. He is also having a brutal spring. Don't expect a lot.
SP Bronson Arroyo
Here is what I wrote about Arroyo when he was with the Red Sox:
29 year old Arroyo made 32 starts for the Red Sox a year ago. This offseason, he took less money to stay in Boston. He wants to stay and play unlike another starter. Keep Arroyo and deal whoever else. Now, he's not great. Last year, he was 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA, very league average. He also went over 200 innings which, if you're in a league looking for wins and innings, is very important. He doesn't strike many out, but he walks very, very few. He's probably not a guy you want to be more than a 5th starter on your team, but he could be a sleeper type.
Last year, Arroyo was more of a flyball pitcher, so don't expect much better than a 5.00 ERA from him this year.
Closer Dave Weathers
36 year old Weathers has been in the big leagues since 1991! As a middle reliever the majority of that time, he has lived in relative anonymity. In his career, he has 29 saves, and 33 blown saves. And he has a 4.43 ERA. However, last year with the Reds, he went 7-4 with 15 saves and a 3.94 ERA in 19 chances. He heads into the season as the closer, but you have to wonder if Ryan Wagner can finally take over that job.
One 2 Watch Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson was the Mark Prior of baseball when he was drafted first overall in the 1994 major league draft. Now, he and Prior are more known for their injuries than their pitching. Last year, Wilson made just nine starts before more arm troubles derailed his season. Even in those nine games he was not right. He was 1-5 with a 7.77 ERA. He probably starts the season working his way back in relief, but could be in the rotation by the middle of the season.
SP Roy Oswalt
863-39. 3.07 ERA. Those are the career numbers of Oswalt. In the past two seasons, Oswalt has made 35 starts each year and combined to throw 279.2 innings. He is almost certain to win 18-21 games. He will have a low ERA. He will pitch a lot of innings and strike out several. To me, there is Johan, then there is Peavy, and then there is Oswalt. And, I would have no problem switching Peavy and Oswalt. He is as good as it gets.
SP Andy Pettitte
After missing much of the 2004 season and the first bit of 2005, Pettitte quietly put together an incredible year for the Astros. In 33 starts, he threw 222.1 innings. He went 17-9 with an amazing 2.39 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. It was by far the best season of his career. Sure, he was always a good pitcher before, but in the NL, he will now have numbers that look better too. He's a good pickup, and it is surprising that he is still just 33 years old.
SP Brandon Backe
27 year old Backe has pitched in several really big games the last couple of years. My assumption was that he was really good as he seems to come through with great games when the team needs him most. Last year, he threw just 149.1 innings in his 25 starts. He was 10-8 with a poor 4.78 ERA. He struck out just 97 and walked a way-too-high 67 hitters. His WHIP was 1.46. I am one who thinks he can be better than that, but it is time for him to prove himself.
SP Wandy Rodriguez
The 24 year old Rodriguez started 22 games for the Astros in 2005. He was 10-10 but had a 5.53 ERA for the team. He struck out 80 and walked 53 in his 129.1 innings. I don't see him as a big-time prospect. I would say he is more in line with the Horacio Ramirez type. He is good enough to be adequate and stay in a rotation, but he probably will never be more than a 4th or 5th starter.
SP Ezequiel Astacio
14 of his 22 appearances for the Astros last year were as a starter. He came into a playoff game last year against the Cardinals and gave up a home run. It probably wasn't the best position to put a first-year big leaguer into, especially one that struggled much in the regular season. For the 'stros, he went 3-6 with a 5.57 ERA in 80+ innings. He is hard to read because his stats don't tell us a lot. At AA in 2004, he struck out just over a batter per inning. But the year before that, in Class A ball, he did not strike out even six per nine innings. These last two rotation spots could be interchangeable.
Closer Brad Lidge
Lidge gave up the big home runs to Albert Pujols in the NLCS, and then he gave up the game-winnings homer to Scott Podsednik in the World Series, but Lidge, to me, is still absolutely one of the top 3 or 4 closers in baseball. How dominant is he? Last year, he struck out over 13 per nine innings, and the year before he almost got to 15! He converted 42 of 46 save chances. He had a 2.29 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Lidge is as good as it gets. Put him right up there with Rivera and Nathan.
One 2 Watch Roger Clemens
43 year old Clemens is deciding what he wants to do. Most believe that he will just retire. Many thought he used the WBC to help him make that choice. Fact is, he could still pitch and still dominate, but does he want to put in all the work? I guess we'll see. Last year was amazing for him though. He got little run support, so his record was just 13-8. That means nothing. His ERA was a miniscule 1.87. He had a 1.01 WHIP. He struck out 185 in 211.2 innings. Dominant. And, did I mention that he did that at age 42. He can't talk to or sign with the Astros until May 1. My guess is that he will sign with them again, and do well.
SP Ben Sheets
If only he could stay healthy, Sheets could be one of the league's top pitchers. He certainly had his coming out party in 2004, but then again last year he made just 22 starts. In 157.2 innings, he went 10-9 with a 3.33 ERA. He struck out 141 but walked an incredible 25. At age 27, he is now ready to have a huge year... if he can stay healthy!
SP Doug Davis
30 year old Davis put together a very solid 2005 campaign for The Crew. He was just 11-11 with a 3.84 ERA. However, in 223.1 innings, he struck out 208. That is 8.4 per nine, which is about two more than his career average. It would be nice if he could drop the 93 walks. However, I think that the fact that the Brewers should be better, Davis should be better.
SP Chris Capuano
How much did the Brewers rip off the Diamondbacks when they received five players in exchange for Troy Glaus. The team got Lyle Overbay and Junior Spivey, but they also acquired lefty Chris Capuano. 2005 was his first full big league season and he did well. He went 18-12 with a 3.99 ERA. In 219 innings pitched, Capuano Struck out 176 and walked 91. He did give up 31 long balls, but in Miller Park, that isn't bad. He is just 27 as well, so there is no reason to think he can't maintain these types of numbers.
SP Tomo Ohka
Ohka showed up Nationals manager Frank Robinson on the mound one game, so after 9 starts, Ohka was allowed to sign with the Brewers. Overall, he was 11-9 with a 4.04 ERA. He may not be great, but there are many, at least myself, who think that he could have turned a corner and now he will be adequate.
SP Dave Bush
Bush came ot the Brewers from the Blue Jays as part of the Lyle Overbay deal. For Toronto a year ago, he was 5-11 with a 5.49 ERA. He struck out just 75 in 136.1 innings. He gave up 142 hits, but he only walked 29. There are many who believe that Bush will bust out. It is possible, of course, but I would say it is highly unlikely.
Closer Derrick Turnbow
Turnbow came out of nowhere. He had been in the Angels system for quite some time when they dropped him. Last year, he threw 67.1 innings in his 69 outings. He struck out 64, but he also walked 24 hitters. He had an incredible season as he went 7-1 with 39 saves in 43 chances. Now, as Bobby Jenks must do, Turnbow must prove that 2005 was not a fluke. He may be the real thing!
One 2 Watch Zach Jackson
The 22 year old lefy was the Blue Jays 1st round pick in 2004 out of Louisville. Last year, he made 27 starts between High A ball, AA and AAA games. He did great at High-A, but gradually pitched more poorly as he moved up levels. He clearly isn't ready yet at all for the big leagues, but Jackson has good upside, so there is a good chance he does down to minor league camp soon. He should be up by September though.
SP Oliver Perez
In 2004, Perez was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He was just 12-10, but had a 2.99 ERA. He struck out 239 in 196 innings. Last year wasn't so good. He fought accusations that he didn't work and didn't care, and followed that up with injury. He went 7-5, but he had a 5.85 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. Not good. He is still just 24, so there is a huge future for him.
SP Zach Duke
Duke earned his way up to the Pirates last year and made 14 starts for the team. He earned his 2005 roster spot with his performance. He went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA. In 85.2 innings, he struck out 58 and walked 23. He allowed just three home runs. He had been 12-3 with a 2.92 ERA at AAA when he was called up. He will struggle some, but he is a legit prospect.
SP Paul Maholm
The Twins draft Maholm in the 17th round of the 2000 MLB draft, but he chose to go to Mississippi State instead. It was a good move as he became a first round pick of the Pirates in 2003. Like Duke, Maholm came up to the Pirates late last year and made a strong impression. He went 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts. The problem is in control. In 41.1 innings, he struck out 26 and walked 17!
SP Kip Wells
Now, as we all know, Wells will not be on the Opening Day roster because of his health concerns. He is a decent pitcher, maybe league average at best, but obviously we wish him well in his return, and maybe he can have a Aaron Cook-like comeback.
SP Ian Snell
24 year old Snell made just three appearances (1 start) with the Pirates last year. At AAA, he went 11-3 with a 3.70 ERA. He struck out just under one batter per inning. He has had a nice spring and earned the spot.
Closer Mike Gonzalez
Jose Mesa is gone, so 27 year old Gonzalez takes over the closer's duties. He really has been groomed for the job for a couple of years. Last year, he was 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA. He struck out 58 hitters in 50 innings. The year before, he had a 1.25 ERA. He struck out 55 in 43.1 innings. So, he has the stuff to be successful.
One 2 Watch John Van Benschoten
One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Van Benschoten moved swiftly up the Pirates system, even making his big league debut in 2004. But last spring, he had Tommy John surgery and he is likely out for quite some time into this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
SP Chris Carpenter
The 30 year old was the NL Cy Young Award winner last season. He was incredible. 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA. His WHIP was 1.06. He struck out 213 in 242.2 innings. He has a major injury history, so I am always a little cautious about him, but if he comes close to what he was last year, that is a very good pitcher!
SP Mark Mulder
There was a lot of hype about Mulder going into last season. Many thought that he had a disappointing year, and then you look and he went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA. Not world-beater numbers, but certainly very good. He had 111 strikeouts and 70 walks in 205 innings. I happen to think that Mulder will have a better second season in St. Louis. Also, don't forget that he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. That is always a nice incentive!
SP Jeff Suppan
31 year old Suppan had a very solid 2005 season for the Cards. He went 16-10 with a 3.57 ERA. In 194.2 innings, he struck out 114 and walked 63 hitters. He is not a dominating pitcher, but he's a solid veteran who just gets it.
SP Jason Marquis
You definitely want Marquis on your fantasy team if you can use their hitting stats! As a pitcher, he is not too bad either. Last year, he went 13-14 with a 4.13 ERA. His WHIP was a decent 1.33. He had just 100 strikeouts in 207 innings. In 2004, he went 15-7 and had an ERA of 3.71. So, which Marquis will show up this year? I'm guessing he'll be closer to the 2004 version.
SP Sidney Ponson
Enigmatic and trouble-making Sidney Ponson keeps getting in trouble and doing dumb things, and teams do dumb things by giving him more chances. However, at a cheap deal, Ponson could do well for the Cardinals. He will be out of the East. He will have offensive support. He could win some games, but he probably won't have real strong 'other' numbers. I was mildly surprised that he beat out Anthony Reyes for the fifth starter job.
Closer Jason Isringhausen
Isringhausen has not had an ERA above 2.87 since 2000. He is very solid. Last year, he went 1-2 with 39 saves and a 2.14 ERA. In 59 innings, he struck out 51 and walked 29. He is not as dominant as some closers, but he always seems to get the job done.
One 2 Watch Anthony Reyes
Reyes was the team's 15th round pick in 2003 after four years at USC. The reason was because of some injury history. That really has been his only problem as a pro too. Last year at AAA, he went 7-6 with a 3.64 ERA. He struck out 136 in 128.1 innings. He will head back down to AAA, and he is ready, so he could be summoned at any time.
Well, that is it for Part 11 of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope youve enjoyed it. The same format will be used when I discuss the NL East pitching staffs. Please let me know what you think. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me.
On Tuesday, the Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-6 in a spring training game. Scott Baker got the start and pitched five great innings! He didn't allow a run. Of course, he also pitched one inning (the second) in which he gave up three runs. I believe there were a couple of doubles, followed by a Bengie Molina home run. So, I guess I should say that Baker gave up three runs over six innings. Not a bad outing, and one that should cement his place as the Twins fifth starter.
In the game, Joe Mauer had two hits, including a double. Nick Punto, playing 2B, was also 2-4.
Matt Guerrier gave up two runs in the seventh inning. Joe Nathan struck out two in a scoreless 8th frame. Minor leaguer Bobby Korecky gave up a run on a hit and a walk in the ninth. Remember Korecky was the third player to come to the Twins (along with Carlos Silva and Nick Punto) in the Eric Milton trade to Philadelphia. Korecky led New Britain in saves in 2004, but had shoulder surgery before the 2005 season. He tried to come back and pitched in one game and ended up having surgery again. We certainly hope he can be healthy!
If you go to Aaron's Baseball Blog, yesterday he posted a fun article in which he looked at the current Twins roster and named their Most Comparable player according to PECOTA. Some interesting names on the list!
Frightwig is not so excited about the upcoming season for the Minnesota Twins! Or at least about the team's chances to compete.
Any thoughts on the Twins? Please e-mail me.
ROGER'S SPRING TRAINING THOUGHTS
After another non-baseball day in Florida, Roger was back at Twins training camp on Tuesday and has another report for us... my main question is... there are other things to do in Ft. Myers in the spring than go to Twins camp?
Hi Seth,Today we went to see Rochester vs. New Britain, with New Britain winning 6-3. Stopped at Wendy's and got to the 1:00 game about 12:25, with Rochester batting in the bottom of the 1st. Having missed the beginning, my scorebook is a bit of a mess, however, I believe New Britain was batting 2 DH's and Rochester only 1.Justin Olson was the starter for New Britain, pitching 3 innings without allowing any runs. He was followed by Juan Rincon, who pitched the 4th inning. Rincon faced four batters, getting Doug Deeds, 1-3; Danny Matienzo, 4-3; Alex Romero hit a line drive into right/center for a double and Donaldo Mendez (a tryout candidate playing 3B) ended the inning, F-9. Rincon allowed the one hit and threw a total of 13 pitches. He had a smile on his face several times during the inning, and appeared to be throwing without any pain...including several sliders. It did not appear that he was throwing his fastball often nor anywhere near 93-94.Jay Sawatski threw a 1-2-3 5th inning for New Britain, with Tristan Crawford pitching the 6th and 7th, allowing a run in the 6th and back-to-back homers to Mendez and Lomasney in the 7th...giving up a total of 3 runs. Kevin Cameron pitched the 8th and 9th for New Britain, getting two nice flyballs to open the 8th, then striking out the last four batters he faced (Hart, Romero, Mendez and Lomasney). He absolutely froze Romero with a slider for strike 3 and appeared to have all the hitters off balance while mixing his plus-fastball and slider. As I was leaving, I heard Lomasney say to their coach that he struck out "on a really good slider." The coach replied, "yes, he's on our team."Ryan Glynn pitched 5 innings for Rochester, allowing a run in the 4th and 3 (2 earned) in the 5th. Appeared very solid until the 5th when it looked like he just flat out ran out of gas. Jim Abbott pitched the next 3 innings, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs (1 earned). Jason Miller closed the game out in the 9th with a very effective 1-2-3 inning although the center fielder made a very nice catch off a tough line drive into the gap. Miller threw an excellent breaking ball to run the count to 1-2 on Javi Sanchez. He threw another excellent breaking ball to Andrus for a strikeout to end the game. Miller appears to have an excellent fastball to go with a breaking ball that they were really struggling with.Offensively, Brent Krause walked in the 5th and scored on Trent Oeltjen's triple. Other players scoring were Matt Tolbert (2 singles) who scored on Denard Span's double (a real shot down the LF line). Span later scored on an infield groundout. Alexi Casilla beat out a hard chopper to deep short...he can really run and although he successfully stole second, Tolbert dropped the throw in a virtual tie at the bag. He later doubled into the left field gap. Deacon Burns had a double into the gap in the 8th, scoring on Casilla's double. Matt Moses started at 3rd, and struck out on a breaking ball. I didn't see his first at bat as we had one on and two outs when I got to the game.Rochester was really quiet at the plate. Doug Deeds had a nice double in the 6th. We had the back-to-back homers by Mendez and Lomasney. Alex Romero had a pair of doubles and Tommy Watkins had a single. That was about it for Rochester vs. Olsen, Rincon, Sawatski, Crawford and Cameron. It was also good to see Sawatski pitch well after getting hit hard against Tampa Bay on Sunday.DTFC's Hallsey Hall wandered over a little after 1:00 to see Rincon pitch. Unfortunately, it was the 5th inning and he missed Rincon. Had a nice conversation with him...I know all of us that read DTFC appreciate his reports throughout spring training. As with Dianna, thank you Hallsey.Tomorrow we have the Orioles, then back to early spring in Minnesota.Roger
Thanks again Roger! Any thoughts on the Twins minor leagues, or do you have any specific things that you would like Roger to look for at the minor or major league camp, let him know by leaving some Comments below, or Send me an e-mail.
CHRIS COSTE UPDATE
For the second straight day, Coste did not play for the Phillies big league club. I dont' know why. I don't' think there is any reason for that.
By the way, I was in my car, driving to a meeting for work yesterday afternoon. On my XM Satellite radio, I was listening to the Home Plate Network. The Show, with Kevin Kennedy and Rob Dibble, was on, and at that time, they were interviewing Phillies GM Pat Gillick. I just happened to hear him talking about Coste. He said that he has just hit the cover off the ball all spring, and that they really like him. He didn't go as far as saying he would make the roster, only that he has made a huge impression on him and the coaching staff.
Although I did not post a new entry yesterday, I did post a few updates, a couple of them involving Coste:
From Phillies Foul Balls yesterday:
"That means the final position player will either be Tomas Perez or Chris Coste. I will admit up front that I have a strong bias towards Coste since I saw him play years ago in the independent Northern League and I love the thought of a player from those teams making it all the way to the big leagues. But even with that aside, I think hes the better choice. Perez is basically a singles hitter at this point, while Coste has some actual power which would be nice to have off the bench. Likewise with Gonzalez around, the Phils now have someone who can back up Jimmy Rollins, which was part of Perezs niche before. While I will admit that Costes gaudy spring numbers could very well be misleading due to small sample size and all that, he also had an excellent year for Scranton last year. Hes earned a chance and they really should give it to him."
Couple that with this from today's Philadelphia Daily News:
"A league source said infielder Tomas Perez cleared waivers, meaning that no team chose to pick up the $700,000 that Perez is owed for this season.
The Phillies can assign him to the minors, but Perez could ask for his release. If granted, he almost certainly could hook on with another team, such as the Marlins, who still haven't replaced Pokey Reese.
Perez seems to be the odd man out and might have already been traded had Bell's back been sound. Bell hopes to play in his first Grapefruit League game tomorrow."
Of course, the big rumor is that the Phillies are now targeting the Rangers David Dellucci to be their 5th OF and left-handed bat off the bench. It would be a nice move for the Phillies, although Dellucci is a starter for the Rangers! If that move were to be made, it would likely hurt Chris Roberson far more than Coste, but could still have an affect.
Have you heard anything more on Coste? If you happen to hear or read anything that would indicate that he has made the Phillies Opening Day roster, or really any Coste article that I have missed, please e-mail me as I would like to post that right away. I have an article planned for later this week on Coste that will have some interesting statistics as well as several stories from some of his friends and former teammates. So be sure to check back for that.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Last night, the final 10 American Idol. performers took to the stage again. The contestants were able to chose a song from the 21st century, so very contemporary music. You would think that picking a good song would be easy. You would think that these people sing along in the radio and would know what would do well for them and which wouldn't.
So, how did the do? Well, let's get to some American Idol Analysis.
Lisa Tucker - Because of You
I have no problem with the singers singing popular songs from very good singers. I don't even mind when they don't try to make it their own and appreciate how it sounds. However, if you're going to sing a powerful song, and you're not going to change a thing, you had better be amazing vocally. In this case, Lisa was anything but amazing. It was very surprising to me just how poor she was. Although she looked a lot like Toni Braxton, I thought she was sharp the whole song, she sang too deep much of the time, and really, there was not a point in the whole song where I just said, "Hey, that is good." I guess I needed Lisa Tucker to make me appreciate Kelly Clarkson!
Kellie Pickler - Suds in the Bucket
Kellie does have a very good country music voice. That means you need some twang, but you don't necessarily have to sing well. Kellie sings well enough for it to work in that genre of music. She looked like she was having more fun with the song, and she showed more energy on stage most of the song. Is it just me, or does she look like she has had some Botox or something?
Ace Young - Drops of Jupiter
I like the song, but it just did not work for Ace at all this week. I thought his voice was flat throughout the song. Ace has his niche as well. He is excellent with the falsetto or upbeat songs. The semi-rock thing just did not work for him, at least not last night. It just wasn't up to his standards, and I can't imagine why he picked that song.
Taylor Hicks - Trouble
Taylor was horrible last week. This week, I thought that he was very strong vocally. The problem again was song choice. It was a boring song. Also, in his lead-in, he said that he wanted to show range. I don't think he showed any range with this song. I do appreciate Taylor in one sense. He is a true music afficianado. I understands music, its history and the performers. I'm sure there was a purpose in picking the song. I just think that it could hurt him.
Mandisa - Wanna Praise You
This was an interesting song choice if nothing else. It is unusual to get the Christian music into this competition, even if it is from a fairly popular Christian group. I commend her for that yet that is also a risk. However, I also think that it was a great song for her voice. She had a lot of fun with it, and was also able to get a message across to her fans about a subject that is important to her. There were a few spots where I thought her voice went too low, but for the most part, she was quite good.
Chris Daughtry - What If
He is strong as a rocker. Carrie Underwood made me able to tolerate country music. Chris makes me almost enjoy listening to rock. (for entirely different reasons) However, he vocally was not good at all most of the song. Again, with rock that really doesn't matter. He is a great performer though too.
Katharine McPhee - The Voice Within
Like I mentioned with Lisa's song, Katharine tackled Christina Aguilera which is incredibly challenging. I thought she was very good. She wasn't Christina, not really that close, but there were a lot of times where I thought she showed great range, great strength and did well on stage. She was good.
Bucky Covington - Real Good Men
Country is definitely his thing! He can't win this competition because his voice is not good enough to cross-over into much else. However, if he can sing country songs, he may be able to stick around for a little bit longer.
Paris Bennett - Work It Out
As Randy would, and did, say, Paris Worked it out! Seriously, I was so impressed by the performance. She had struggled in a previous week with a more contemporary song, but she was amazing last night. Vocally, she was perfect. She showed incredible voice strength and range all over the spectrum. But as always, she just looked like she was having fun. She owned the stage. She used the camera. It was a wonderful performance that she should be incredibly proud of!
Elliott Yamin - I Don't Wanna Be
My initial thought when listening to Elliot's version of this song was that it was awful. He was making the song hip-hop, and his horrible dancing just made it look bad. But then when you sit back, and finally accept that he did do something different with the song, and did make it his own, it was not that bad. Although I thought it was a bad arrangement, his voice was decent. And it was good. For me, I really did not enjoy listening to it, but at the same time, I appreciate what he did with it.
SethSpeaks Ranking of the Top 10 Performances (from last night)
1.) Paris Bennett
3.) Katharine McPhee
4.) Taylor Hicks
5.) Chris Daughtry
6.) Bucky Covington
7.) Elliot Yamin
8.) Kellie Pickler
9.) Ace Young
10.) Lisa Tucker
Who do I think will be eliminated tonight?
Lisa Tucker -Well, since I picked her to win this year's American Idol, it pains me that I have to say that she is about to be eliminated. She has been living on the edge the previous two weeks, and this week, she actually warrants being that far down. She was not good, and this should be the end of the road for her. I would suspect that Kelly and Elliot will also be in the bottom three. But I guess we will find out tonight.
One Final Thought
I do have to point out one more thing that I really thought of throughout the show last night. Previously, I have mentioned that I get frustrated at times when judges tell certain contestants that they need to act their age or show something different. To further elaborate on that, I think that the fact that they have different musical genres throughout the final twelve weeks tells me that the show is not about finding the contestant that will sell the most records in one genre. They are trying to find the best all-around singer, someone that is not one-dimensional. Now, the judges in previous weeks have lauded Chris Daughtry for staying true to his rocker sound. He is incredible for that type of music, and he has stuck with it. Last night, I was glad when Simon made the comment that he needs to show something else. Then I watched Bucky Covington sing a country song, and he actually was not bad. Vocally, he was adequate. Bucky has tried to fit into some other genres, and it really has not worked, but at least he has shown that he will make the effort.
That brings me to Paris Bennett. She has shown that she is at her best when she sings those older songs. But last night, she sang Beyonce and showed a whole other side. She showed that she can sing well in a couple of different genres, as well as perform, say the right things in interviews, and just be fun. To me, that shows a lot. I almost hate to admit it, but I may slowly be moving toward the Paris bandwagon.
Again, for further American Idol thoughts, be sure to check out The Baseball Savant and the fine folks of curlio.com because I know we don't always see or hear things the same way. Any thoughts on my American Idol Thoughts? This is where it gets fun, so if you would like, be sure to debate the merits of your favorite contestants below. Or, if you're shy, send me an e-mail.
And on those notes, thank you again very much for stopping by my site. I hope you enjoy what you read, but if you have any questions or comments on anything, please feel free to e-mail me.
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