Thursday, April 7, 2005
Other Baseball Thoughts
American Idol Thoughts
Twins Win Series
Quick Thoughts today again. But it was an excellent win for the Minnesota Twins yesterday as the pulled out a 4-1 victory over the Mariners, also taking the series. There were a number of positives about this game, and I will touch on them below. Also, I will post a few quick links and as always, my reaction to the elimination American Idol episode.
So, lets get to it. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts. E-mail me.
As I did yesterday with Johan Santana's pitching performance, I charted each of Carlos Silva's pitches yesterday afternoon. I actually was curious to see if he had worked on a secondary or even a third pitch. What I found was that, unlike with Radke and Santana, it is very difficult to determine which pitch Silva is throwing. With Radke, you can tell it is a fastball because it is clocked at 89-91 mph. If it comes in at 80-82 mph, it is his change up. He doesn't throw many, but his curveball obviously breaks. With Santana, the fastball is between 90 and 95 and the changeup is between 78 and 84. His curveball obviously breaks.
Now, with Carlos Silva, he essentially has just two pitches, a fastball and a sinker. However, all of his pitches were clocked between 89 and 93 mph. There was little distinction between the fastball and the sinker, at least from viewing the game on TV. I'm sure catcher Mike Redmond would be able to see quite a difference from his perspective.
Silva threw just 68 pitches in his 7 innings of work. Of those 68 pitches, 66 of them were fastballs or sinkers and right around 90 mph. He threw just two curveballs, both hitting just 80 mph. The reason he threw so few? Well, the first one went off the bat of Bret Boone and over the left field fence for the Mariners' lone run. The second one, Richie Sexson ripped a single up the middle.
For a little more data, of the 68 pitches that Carlos Silva threw in his seven innings last night, 49 of them were strikes (72%). You have to wonder how a major league pitcher who throws within four miles per hour can get major league hitters out. It is all about keeping the ball down, and making sure that it is moving. Another think that he should do is throw first pitch strikes. Ironically, he did that just 50% of the time (13 of 26). Because of the sinker, he also needs the help of a strong infield defense to help him. 17 of the 21 outs he recorded came via a groundball. That is the infield consisting of Cuddyer, Castro, Punto and Morneau.
Carlos Silva was excellent last night. I am one of few that seem to think that he can be very successful in Year #2 as a starter because of his lack of strikeouts. I think that he is capable of a lot of outings like this where hitters want to swing against him. The hitter can make contact against him and put the ball in play, however, because of the movement they can't make solid contact. That means quick outs, and quick innings, and the defense always being on their toes, and all those things are very good. Sure, he will have a few games where those ground balls find their way to a hole for hits. There will also be games where he doesn't get as much movement, or isn't able to keep the ball down. But, Brad Radke will have bad starts. And, please don't hurt me, even Johan Santana may have another game or two this year where he isn't perfect.
It has to also be mentioned that Juan Rincon pitched an impressive 8th inning. He struck out two and gave up just one hit. It was a throw-the-bat-at-the-ball-and-see-what-happens-swing-resulting-in-yet-another-hit-by-Ichiro. Then Joe Nathan got his first Save of the year with a 1-2-3 9th inning.
I am one of those guys who happens to think that a standard lineup is great. I also fully believe in keeping your bench fresh. I thought it was an obvious decision to have Mike Redmond catch and give Joe Mauer the day off. With the left-handed Bobby Madritsch starting for the Mariners, I thought that Lew Ford might finally get a start in right field with Jacque Jones getting a day off too. We had to know that Matthew LeCroy would be in the lineup today. DH is his best position, but with a lefty, it was also possible that he get a start at 1B. But I don't think that Gardy would want both Mauer and Morneau out of the lineup on the same day. Any time that Luis Rivas is out of the lineup is good, and Nick Punto fills in just fine there. And, obviously I prefer Jason Bartlett to play shortstop over Juan Castro, however, Castro is on the roster and needs to play to keep ready, you know, to 'pick it.'
It always makes me (and I'm sure the coaching staff) happy when a team with just five of eight regulars in the lineup can still win the ball game!
Sometimes things happen that make the game itself not seem quite so important. That happened in the top of the 8th inning when, on an 0-2 pitch, Ron Villone threw a fastball that hit Justin Morneau right in the helmet. Watching the game on TV, you could easily hear the crack of the helmet. When I saw it, I just dropped my pencil, and my jaw and said, "Oh No!" Fortunately, the ball did hit the helmet, but after laying still on the ground for some time, Morneau was able to walk off the field under his own power. He was taken to a Seattle hospital for a CT scan. Hopefully nothing turns up, but a situation like that can certainly put the results of one game into proper perspective!
Some may wonder if there was any purpose behind the up and in pitch. And my answer would be, "yes, there was a purpose." The purpose was to throw a fastball in and up and keep Morneau from lunging across the plate. It would make the count 1-2 and would set Morneau up for the next pitch, which would have been a slider low and away. Unfortunately Villone's pitch was too up and too in and drilled Morneau. There was certainly no intent to injure. Anyone who would think that is crazy, ok, just wrong.
The Twins have the day off today. Well, they don't play a game today. They will be practicing in the Metrodome. With a number of new players on the roster, it is good for them to get some time under the Metrodome's ceiling. Guys like Jason Bartlett and Juan Castro have not seen many popups there. Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau have not had a lot of time in the Dome and will need practice.
But Friday is the big day! The team's home opener. I have been to the past three home openers, but won't be able to make it this year. It is sold out, and if you can be there, you are lucky! It is a great atmosphere, very similar to the playoff games. It is just an exciting night.
Be sure to check out Will Young's Twins page. He has been doing excellent studies on the probability of Twins wins by situation throughout the game. Very interesting!
Twins Geek discusses Joe Mauer's perfectly executed hit-and-run play on Tuesday night. He pulls out his infamous chart of runs scored by runners on and outs!
Check out Stick and Ball Guy! It's Wild Card and Shout Outs Day!
See Twins Killings All-Sleeper Team! Excellent work and thought on these guys!
Pat Neshek updates us on getting set up in New Britain. He discusses autographs, hotels, and the misconception of a minor leaguer's pay.
You should just naturally check out the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum. Great discussions!
Did you have any other thoughts on the game, or questions for me about the Twins? Please feel free to e-mail me.
OTHER BASEBALL THOUGHTS
Here are just a couple of quick thoughts and links.
Mariano Rivera is smarter than Pedro Martinez. After blowing another lead to the Red Sox, a media member asked him if the Red Sox had his number. He didn't agree to the comment. He insisted he fully believes that he can stop them (he just hasn't been able to very often). Clearly, the question was an attempt to coax Rivera isn't making a "The Red Sox are my Daddy" comment like Martinez did about the Yankees last year.
Pat Burrell is off to a great start. A 3 hit game in the opener and a couple more hits yesterday, including a home run. He has so much power, but his swing is still messed up and so long and slow. I would like to see him do well but I just don't see any consistency from him.
Brad Wilkerson is one of the best-kept secrets in baseball. He has put up very solid on-base and power numbers the last couple of seasons. It has been hidden in Montreal. But, hitting for the cycle in your second game in DC is a good way to get your name out there!
Tony Graffanino went 4-4. I say... why was he playing instead of my man, Ruben Gotay?!
Runelvys Hernandez went seven innings and gave up just one run yesterday for the Royals against the Tigers. Not sure how much it means, but it would be a great story. Hernandez missed much of 2003 and all of 2004 with Tommy John surgery!
It's hard to steal bases when you don't get on base! The White Sox and especially their fans will be having nightmares about trading Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik for years! Thank you Ken Williams... and I mean that as a Twins fan!
Dustan Mohr was placed on the Disabled List by the Colorado Rockies yesterday. He hurt his ankle during the celebration following the Clint Barmes walk-off homer on Opening Day. But, after that, the Rockies claimed Michael Restovich and he is expected to be with the team this weekend.
I was sad to see Roberto Alomar retired, but Jorge Cantu should have been the Rays starting 2B either way!
Aside from Ichiro, is Carl Crawford possibly the most exciting player in baseball?
Kirk Saarloos is starting for the A's?!!?!? (and went 6 shutout innings against the tough O's lineup!)
Doug Mientkiewicz hit his first Mets Home Run yesterday. He's hitting .500 on the season (that's 3-6, by the way)
Joe Randa with three hits, a homer and SIX RBI yesterday!
Odalis Perez had a great season last year in every category by the Win category. The Dodgers must have felt bad because they gave him 10 runs of run support last night!
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Last night was one of those nights where I just have to wonder why I watch American Idol. There is at least one episode where you have to wonder about the whole voting process. When the bottom three were announced and they were Nikko Smith, Vonzell Solomon and Scott Savol, it was a head shaking thing. Seeing Scott in the bottom three wasn't surprising, I thought that was deserved. I didn't think that Nikko was at his best, but thought he was still good. Vonzell was very good again, so for her to be in the bottom 3 was ridiculous. But for me, it wasn't about who was in the Bottom 3, it was again about who wasn't. Anthony Federov was the worst performer, again, and again he managed to last another week.
Again, he was one of the people who got lots of air time, and his sappy story was a focal point of early episodes. I will never agree that that has no impact on voting. But, that is how it goes.
Instead of the right person being eliminated (Anthony), Nikko Smith was the contestant who will be leaving. He leaves for the second time, and I just don't think that he'll get another shot. It is too bad because I really did like his sound and style. I don't know what "America" was thinking on this one. But that is how this competition works, and maybe that is OK. Maybe Nikko was missing something with the demographic that votes, and let's be honest, those are the people who are going to buy the CDs (and me, of course), so their opinion does matter.
So, now we're down to the final 8!
That's it for today. Have a great day and don't work too hard! If you have and questions or comments or ideas, please feel free to e-mail me!
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