Thursday April 8, 2004
American Idol Thoughts
The Bachelor Thoughts
OUCH! That Hurts!
Through two games, phenom Joe Mauer was hitting .750 and had an on-base percentage of .833. Very impressive considering the certain pressure of performing in his big league debut for the team he grew up watching, in front of hundreds of friends and family members. It was good to be Joe Mauer. Unfortunately long before the 15 inning marathon ended on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning), Mauer had limped off the field and into the trainer's room.
While catching in the 2nd inning, he ran back toward the fence and made a sliding attempt to catch a pop foul. He continued to play and actually hit a single in his lone plate appearance on Tuesday night. When he reached third base and was held up by Al Newman, he had to come out of the game. Yesterday, an MRI was run, and doctors found that he had a tear in his meniscus (cartilage in his knee). That means knee surgery for the 20 year old Mauer.
It is really unfortunate for the Twins and their fans, but mostly it is unfortunate for Joe Mauer. He was proving to everyone that he belonged in The Show, and now he will be out of action for no less than three weeks.
Certainly he will come back from this injury and likely start where he left off. The scary thing is that knees are very important to a catcher, and you hate to see such a young catcher develop knee problems early in his career.
However, the Mauer injury was not the only one that occurred on Tuesday night. Johan Santana left the game in the 4th inning complaining of spasms in his surgically repaired elbow. Reports last night said that it was minor, and he is still scheduled to start against the Tigers this weekend. It is still something to keep tabs on.
Torii Hunter knocked his third hit of the game Tuesday and pulled up lame after rounding first base. The team is saying that he is day-to-day for now, but if it doesn't improve very quickly, he will be put on the DL also, with Lew Ford being called up to replace him. They need to be cautious with Hunter as hamstring injuries (and other muscle pulls) have a tendency to be a recurring problem.
Then last night, DH (and starting catcher now that Joe Mauer is out for awhile) Matthew Lecroy pulled a rib cage muscle (oblique) on a swing early in the game. So, Henry Blanco had to catch more innings. Lecroy is counted on for some offense and because of the type of injury he has, it really hurts when swinging. After the game, Lecroy was put on the 15-day Disabled List. I would think that Rob Bowen will be called up to take his place and become the primary catcher. (Note - I think Bowen will do just fine)
Add those four injuries to Grant Balfour going on the Disabled List complaining of shoulder pain right before the season, and the Twins are really in quite a bind to start the season. Because the Twins played 26 innings in their first two games, and the bullpen had to pitch 16 of them, they had very little available to them. So, when Mauer was put on the DL yesterday, they added pitcher Seth Greisinger to the roster and called him up to help the pitching staff.
(Sidenote - I have to ask this question, if for nothing else, just for debate? Can the Metrodome's new turf be a cause of this rash of injuries? It is said to be very slow, and probably has an almost sticky affect on ground balls. Could it also cause sticking of cleats? OK, the Balfour, Santana and Lecroy injuries can not be attributed to the turf. Mauer's? Maybe. Sliding, he could have planted wrong and twisted his knee. Hunter's? I don't think we can say either way, but it is possible. But, what about Indians 1B Ben Broussard's injury? He was coming in to field a bunt and needed to stop abruptly when he twisted his ankle and knee. That sounds very specifically like a result of the turf. (What do you think? E-mail me.)
Don't get me wrong, the Dome needed new turf, it just makes me wish they could have had more practice time, or even an exhibition game or two, on the new surface before starting the regular season.)
Heading into last night's game against the Indians, the Twins needed a quality outing out of starter Kyle Lohse to protect that overused 'pen. It didn't happen. Lohse struggled the entire time he was in the game with his control. He lasted just four innings and threw 89 pitches. He gave up nine hits, three walks and five earned runs. Greisinger came in and on his first pitch, he gave up a home run to catcher Victor Martinez. After that, he struck out the next four batters before giving up four runs in the 6th inning. Carlos Pulido, who had a poor outing on Tuesday, came in and provided 3 1/3 innings of 1 run ball to really help the team out.
The Twins will not end the season with a record of 162-0. I guess I knew that before the game started though. They're still on pace to win 108 games! That would be alright with me! How about you?
So, tomorrow, the Twins play in Detroit at 1:05. Carlos Silva will be making his first Twins start and would like to give the Twins bullpen another breather. I'm sure he and the Twins staff would like to see him provide six quality innings. He faces off against the Tigers' Nate Cornejo. Of course, aside from Pulido and maybe Greisinger, the rest of the bullpen should be able to throw.
Here are two quick notes heading into tomorrow's game. First, what is up with the schedule? The Twins had to charter a flight from Minneapolis to Detroit right after last night's game concluded. They will rush to Detroit to play an afternoon game tomorrow. Then, they will have an off day on Friday before continuing the Tigers series on Saturday afternoon. I think the Tigers requested the move of their home opener from Friday afternoon to Thursday afternoon thinking more people would go on Thursday because of church service on Good Friday. Sounds great, but how inconvenient for everyone involved!?
Secondly, the Tigers are 3-0! They started the season with a three game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, in Toronto. The new guys, Fernando Vina, Ivan Rodriguez and Rondell White are doing well. They have a decent lineup when you consider that Eric Munson, who hit 18 homers in a injury-shortened season for the Tigers last season, is hitting 9th. I always felt that their pitchers were not as bad as their records indicated last year. But, Jason Johnson, Mike Maroth and Jeremy Bonderman are all 1-0 heading into the series.
Don't get too excited. Their best hitter, Dmitri Young, broke his leg on Tuesday and will be out 6-8 weeks. And we all know it is just a matter of time before all three of those new acquisitions will get hurt.
Other thoughts from last night's game:
Luis Rivas had doubles in each of his last two at bats. He tried to stretch the third into a triple, but was thrown out. I am still of the belief that Rivas can be a competent player. Does that mean he'll be an All-Star? Not at all. Will he ever hit for power? No! Look at him. He's little! But, if he could just hit .275 with a on-base percentage of .330, he would not be bad. I still think Michael Cuddyer, who went 0-4 last night, should play a lot of 2B this year.
People only want to talk about Doug Mientkiewicz's defense, and he is the best I have ever seen at 1B. But I love watching him hit (again, I still don't have Victory Sports, so when I say "watch," I mean "Listen to"). He has great patience at the plate and waits for pitches to hit. Last night, he was 3-4 with two doubles. I don't care if he doesn't hit 40 homers, or even 20. If he can hit 10-15 homers and add in 40 or more doubles, that's very productive!
Twins fans have to really like watching Nick Punto play baseball. He plays so hard. He can play anywhere, including CF last night in place of Hunter. He went 3-4. Twins fans would never be able to question his effort. He really deserves a full-time position. But where? Let's think about this... Is there a current Twins starter who the Twins could probably do without, whose effort frequently comes under attack? Hmm... let's think about that one. (Maybe Shortstop???)
I was like everyone else who questions the sense in signing 35 year old Jose Offerman, even just to a non-guaranteed minor league contract. He didn't even hit terribly well with Newark of the independant Atlantic League last summer. However, through three games, he has proven that he is still able to hit. Tuesday night, he entered the game as a pinch runner, but it was his game winning single in the 15th that really was big. However, it was his plate discipline during that at bat that impressed me. He took two balls first, then took two borderline strikes. Then, he took a pitch to make a full count. At that point, the pitcher had to throw a strike (or walk in the winning run), and Offerman took a fastball right down the middle and hit it right back up the middle to win the game. Last night, he had two doubles in four at bats. Each at bat he made the pitcher work hit his pitch. With Offerman, Mientkiewicz, Koskie and Stewart being such good, smart hitters with good plate discipline, you wonder how Hunter, Jones, Rivas and Guzman don't try to think like that?
Speaking of Shannon Stewart. Last night, he was 1-2 with two walks. Pretty good from the leadoff position!
The former Twins on the Indians roster really came through last night. Matt Lawton led off and went 3-6 with a single, double and home run. Casey Blake went 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI. Both are important cogs in the hopes for a successful season in Cleveland. Lawton has always been good and been able to hit and draw walks, he just hasn't been able to stay healthy. Blake had a tremendous first full season last year in Cleveland.
So the Twins are 2-1 and have dealt with too many injuries already! Of course, they will be dealing with a couple of them (Mauer and Lecroy) for at least 15 days! It will be interesting to see the lineups in coming days. They also need a starting pitcher to give them some production.
What do you think? E-mail me.
On Sunday, I posted a Q&A with Kevin Cattoor, the President of Victory Sports, on this site. Check out Aaron Gleeman's interview with Kevin Cattoor over at The Hardball Times.
Congratulations to The Twins Geek. His site has been moved onto the Twins page of the Star-Tribune!
For a great discussion on the new baseball season, head on over to Al's Ramlings where Al is hosting an Opening Week edition of Rambling's Roundtable.
Milton Bradley was traded from the Indians to the Dodgers earlier this week for 20 year old OF Franklyn Gutierrez. I know a little bit about Gutierrez because I drafted him in the minor league portion of one of my fantasy baseball teams, in the league where The Baseball Savant is the commissioner. He and I exchanged a couple of e-mails about the trade. Both of us seemed to agree that it was really a good trade for both teams. Check out his thoughts on that trade in an excellent, informative posting. He also has some thoughts on his favorite team, the Cincinnati Reds, worth reading.
Another participant in that fantasy league is JD Arney. He writes RedsDaily, another great site. He posts an absolutely incredible picture on his site from last night. Check it out here.
If you have any postings that you think I should read, please e-mail me and let me know. If there is a great baseball site that isn't on the left side of this screen, let me know. Thanks!
American Idol Thoughts
There was another elimination episode last night on American Idol. Here was my prediction from yesterday for who would be eliminated:
Camille Velasco, just because she continues to be in the bottom three but keeps advancing. Jon Stevens should be eliminated, but I don't think it'll happen.
It's good (for me, not Camille) to be right! Camille Velasco became the fourth Idol finalist to be eliminated when her Idol fun ended last night. Jon Stevens is somehow still getting votes and wasn't even in the bottom three.
What do you think? E-mail me.
The Bachelor Thoughts
The new edition of The Bachelor started last night on ABC. I admit it, I watch that show too. I was especially interested in this version because the Bachelor is Jesse Palmer, quarterback for the New York Giants. After a solid college career at the University of Florida, Palmer is now a backup quarterback for the Giants, behind Kerry Collins. When Collins went down with an injury, Jesse Palmer started the Giants final four games.
I found it interesting when some of his teammates, including Brandon Short, Tiki Barber and Amani Toomer, chimed in with their thoughts. I think his teammate's response will be very interesting!
As to the 25 ladies he gets to pick from, my favorite after one episode in the pro soccer player, I believe her name is Mandy. He has a 'spy' among the ladies who is pretending to be just another girl, but is really feeding Palmer with valuable information about them. My guess is that it is the one that no one will like (I don't have their names down yet! Sorry!). Any thoughts? E-mail me.
That's it for today. Thanks again for stopping by. As always, if you have any questions, comments or ideas for future topics, please send me an e-mail.
Have a great Thursday!
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