Friday, April 20, 2007
Back to Normal
After two late-night west coast games, an afternoon game makes a "normal" posting possible. But today marks the return to another "normal," a Minor League Report complete with games from all four minor league affiliates. That is a beautiful thing. And finally, any other postings or links or thoughts will appear, as "normal," in the Other Thoughts. Of course, most of you probably realize that one thing that you know about this site is that there really is no "normal" so I will just stop trying to come up with a solid introductory paragraph. I will just wish you a good Friday and a great weekend. I will likely post some thoughts throughout the weekend on game reports or other topics that pop up, so be sure to check back. So, feel free to e-mail me at any time, or simply leave some Comments down at the bottom.
Well, the Twins finished their three game sweep at Seattle last night with a nice... (WOW! I typed up that much before the bottom of the 9th started. I stopped right there because I didn't want to jinx the Twins win and sweep. If I had even finished that sentence, who knows what would have happened!! So... let me start this section over, by completing that sentence...)
Well, the Twins finished their three game sweep at Seattle last night with a nice 6-5 win over the Mariners. Here are a few thoughts on last night's game and things to come:
First of all, I am really a big fan of the 5:35 (central) start time! Seriously... I could get used to working until 5:00, driving home and having a few minutes to get organized and ready to watch some baseball. Seriously, the game is done by 8:30. I could write a bit and be sleeping at a reasonable time every night. Wow! How crazy would that be?!
Bunting - Let me first give my opinion since it seemingly has become an issue in this series. My personal opinion is that it completely depends. It depends on the situation, the intent and the time in the game. A hitter like former Twin Cristian Guzman should either bunt for a hit, or at least fake a bunt for a hit at least once every game. Doing so will bring in the 3B, maybe enough for the hitter to slap the ball past him for a hit. I really enjoy watching a speed guy drag a bunt and run. That type of hitter, or any weak hitter, such as Nick Punto, should bunt in late inning situations to advance a runner into scoring position when the team needs a run to either tie or take a lead. Joe Mauer, who is a great for-a-hit bunter... well, although I prefer he swing the bat, particularly against a right-handed pitcher, if he is bunting for a base hit is a solid option. Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau should never bunt.
One thing that does bother me is when there is a runner on 3B with less than two outs and that batter does not drive in the run. This is especially the case when the infield is playing back. All it takes to get the run in is a ground ball to anyone but the pitcher, or a relatively deep fly ball. When the player doesn't come through, and neither does the guy who bats with two outs, it is the guy who didn't come through with two outs that is remembered. The statistic is "Runners in Scoring Position with 2 Outs," isn't it? More important to me is "Runner at 3B with 0 or 1 out." The guy who didn't come through with two outs is just the scapegoat. In the third inning, there was a runner on 3B with one out. Michael Cuddyer popped up for the second out. Justin Morneau lined a ball off of Jarrod Washburn and was thrown out at 1B. The run did not score. In the fourth inning, there was a runner on third base with one out. Jason Tyner flew out to shallow center for the second out. Then Jason Bartlett lined a shot off of Washburn that went right to Adrian Beltre who threw to first for the third out. I just want to stress that the guy that doesn't come through with a hit with two outs is not the guy at fault.
The beauty of baseball is that all of these players get second chances. Later in the game, with the bases loaded, one out, and he drilled a double to left to score two runs and give the Twins their first lead. In the end, it is just important to remember two things. Hitting a baseball where you want to when you want to is so much harder than these guys make it look. Second... sometimes, you have to give the pitcher credit for making a pitch, or throwing a perfect sequence of pitches.
It is possible that by the time you read this, the Twins will have activated outfielder Rondell White from the Disabled List. I believe that it only makes sense to send Josh Rabe back to Rochester. However, I believe that it should be just one of three transactions. I think that now that Rochester is back to playing, Alexi Casilla needs to go back to Rochester as well so that he can play every day. Personally, I would send him back down and recall Chris Heintz. Not because I'm a big believer in having a third catcher, especially if it means Mike Redmond as DH, just to add another bat off the bench. (The Luis Castillo leg injury likely will mean that Casilla will need to stay through the weekend, or longer if necessary. My main point is that Casilla needs to play every day.) Finally, I would now send Glen Perkins back down to Rochester so that he can get back into a starting rotation and throw some innings. To do so, I would put Alejandro Machado on the 60 day Disabled List and purchase the contract of Mike Venafro.
Combining a couple of the above bullet points, Alexi Casilla is so fun to watch... and when he fully learns this game, he is going to be incredible. After replacing Luis Castillo, he stole third. In his next plate appearance, he laid down such a perfect sacrifice bunt that he easily beat out the play at 1B. Later, he grounded a ball between SS and 3B, and he easily beat the SS's throw.
Six bullet points and I haven't even mentioned that Johan Santana joined Ramon Ortiz as a three game winner. Santana gave up a home run to Yunieski Betancourt, but it was a solo shot. The lefty gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out one batter per inning.
Jesse Crain pitched for the first time since April 10th and had a perfect inning.
Pat Neshek gave up a hit an a walk and got two outs and two strikes before Raul Ibanez hit a three run homer to cut the lead to 6-5. Neshek did not do badly. He threw strikes (18 or 28 pitches). The only problem was that he couldn't put the underrated Ibanez away. I think that is a case where you just have to tip your cap to the batter.
Joe Nathan came in and gave up a strange, sun-induced double to right that Michael Cuddyer didn't see until it landed. However, he was able to strike out Jose Guillen to end the game.
And now the Twins begin a three game series in Kansas City. Someday, I would love to drive down Interstate 29 and stop in Kansas City and hit a weekend of Twins/Royals baseball. Someday! I think that Twins fans need to start realizing that the Royals lineup is potentially very good. David DeJesus should be great. Mark Grudzielanek is solid. Mark Teahen had a breakout year in 2006. Mike Sweeney, when healthy is decent. Alex Gordon will be a star, no matter what his numbers say right now. Ryan Shealy has major power. Emil Brown is very good. Reggie Sanders is a veteran reserve. Tony Pena gives them a great glove at SS. John Buck is a good catcher, with veteran Jason Larue as the backup. Zach Greinke might just be back. Could Gil Meche be decent? Luke Hochevar is on the way. So is Billy Butler. This team has holes, and it is young. They may be a year or two away, but they are getting better and could definitely surprise a team that isn't ready to compete. Here are the pitching matchups (with W-L, ERA, WHIP, OBA) for the three games at Kaufmann Stadium:
Friday - 7:10 p.m. - Sidney Ponson (1-1, 8.18, 2.18, .360 ) vs Odalis Perez (0-2, 9.26, 2.23, .404) - could be very high scoring!
Saturday - 1:10 p.m. - Boof Bonser (0-1, 6.89, 1.47, .242) vs Zach Greinke (1-2. 3.95, 1.54, .298)
Sunday - 1:10 p.m. - Ramon Ortiz (3-0, 2.05, 0.82, .203) vs Jorge De La Rosa (1-1, 4.34, 1.34, .280)
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Like I said before, I am thrilled to be able to report on games of all four minor league affiliates from last night. It seems as though Rochester and New Britain had not played in a long time... and they hadn't. So, here is a more typical daily minor league update.
In the Twins game, the fan question was (something like) "Are there any possible home runs hitters in the Twins minor league system?" First, it took them about five pitches to even try to come up with an answer. Bert Blyleven mentioned Garrett Jones. Uggh. They talked about how difficult it is to predict home run power, which is fair. But, come up with some names. Dick Bremer did mention Erik Lis and talked about his 16 home runs in Beloit last year. That was a good response. But, if nothing else, just mention some potentially good hitters who have shown an ability to produce some extra base hits. If I would have been on when that question was asked, I would have thrown out names like Matt Moses, David Winfree, Brock Peterson, Whit Robbins, Danny Valencia and Chris Parmalee. Even if the average fan knows that most minor league prospects don't make a huge impact at the major league level, at least throw out a bunch of names and let people think that there are possibilities.
I really think that the Twins TV and radio broadcasts both should discuss the Twins minor league system more. My suggestion... each game, in about the 7th inning, have a correspondent update the fans on the scores of the Twins minor league affiliates including a couple of highlights. Along with that, answer one minor league question each night. All told, that would take about 2 minutes. If that is the case, do one segment in the 6th inning and one in the 8th inning. The Twins are an organization that develops players and builds from within. For a team like that, I think it is very important to highlight the minor league system... But maybe I'm just weird.
Thursday - Game 1 - Red Wings 3, Pawtucket 0 – Yesterday I wrote "Seriously, I want Kevin Slowey to pitch again, soon!" Well, finally today was the day as the Red Wings played two games. Slowey got the start in the first game and you never would have guessed that he had not pitched in nine days. The righty went 5.2 innings. He gave up no runs on just three hits. Of course, he walked none, and he struck out nine Paw Sox. Mike Venafro came in and got the final four outs of the game for his first save. Matt Tolbert was the offensive hero. The middle infielder went 2-3 with his first home runs of the year. Doug Deeds batted third and went 2-4. Trent Oeltjen hit a double.
Thursday - Game 2 - Red Wings 0, Pawtucket 4 – Matt Garza got the start in game two and took the loss. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on six hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out five. The big blow was a two-run homer by Brandon Moss. Carmen Cali came in with a runner on in the 6th and he have up a run on a hit and a walk. Julio DePaula came in and got the final three outs. The Red Wings offense could only muster four singles.
The Red Wings are scheduled to play in Pawtucket again tonight. It will pit Scott Baker against David Pauley. On Saturday, they will play back at home against Syracuse. They are deeming it Opening Night II and going through the festivities that so many likely missed because of the horrible weather.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday - Rockcats 5, Connecticut 4 – Brian Duensing won his first game of 2007 with 5.2 solid innings of work. The lefty gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four. Brad Baker came in and went the next 1.2 innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. Jose Mijares picked up his second save of the year by striking out two of the five batters that he faced (and got out). Brian Buscher had two doubles and two RBI in four at bats. Buscher came to the team in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft in December. Trevor Plouffe went 2-4 with a stolen base. He is now hitting .320. I realize that he has just 25 plate appearances, so it is likely too early to make too much of that. However, with the fact that Plouffe has really struggled to start the year each of the last two seasons, getting off to a good start is very important for him. Brock Peterson hit his first home run of the year.
New Britain will spend the weekend hosting Connecticut. Nick Blackburn will make the start tonight.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday - Miracle 3, Tampa 4 – The Miracle were able to take some at bats against Chien-Ming Wang last night. The righty who won 19 games a year ago and finished 2nd to Johan Santana in Cy Young voting made a rehab start for the Tampa Yankees. The Miracle did alright. Wang went five innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out four. Whit Robbins went 2-3 and was hit by a pitch. Erik Lis had a big two run double. Alexander Smit started and the lefty got some strikeouts! In five innings, he gave up two runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out seven. Kyle Aselton came in and gave up a hit and a walk (and struck out one) in his two shutout innings. Angel Garcia pitched a scoreless inning, but then in the bottom of the ninth, he gave up two runs before he could get the third out and the game was lost.
The Miracle will play in Tampa through Saturday before heading home to play a three game series against Clearwater.
Thursday - Snappers 3, Wisconsin 2 – Down 2-1 going into the bottom of the 9th, the Snappers got a game-tying single with two outs by Johnny Woodard. Then Greg Yersich grounded to the third baseman, who made an error. Joe Benson scored and the Snappers got the win. Johnny Woodard went 2-4 with the RBI and a stolen base. This is such a huge year for the Twins 3rd round pick in 2004. It is hard to know how good he can be because he has missed so much time because of injury. With a lot of 1B depth in the organization and another draft in June, Woodard needs to show that the team should keep him. Chris Parmalee and William Luque each had a double. Jeff Manship was back on the mound last night and again was outstanding. The Notre Dame product went 7.2 innings. He gave up two runs on three hits. He walked none and struck out seven. As good as he was, he was in line for the Loss if not for the team's comeback. The Win went to Danny Hernandez who came out and got the final four outs, two on strikeouts.
The Snappers will play Wisconsin again tonight (with Alex Burnett on the mound) before starting a four game series at home against Lansing, who has started the season 9-1.
Thursday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Kevin Slowey, Rochester Red Wings / Jeff Manship, Beloit Snappers
Thursday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Matt Tolbert, Rochester Red Wings
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
Alex Rodriguez is good! Seriously good!
It came out today that Kevin McHale will come back to the Timberwolves. At this point, I no longer blame McHale for being dumb. Now, it is Glen Taylor's fault for not firing him. It is like back when Jacque Jones was with the Twins. We would get so frustrated about how bad he was against left-handed pitching. After awhile, we stopped being mad at Jacque. He was trying as hard as he could. It was Gardy's fault for continuing to put him into the lineup.
Be sure to bookmark Taylor's Twins Blog. He posts thoughts on each game, plus he has frequent minor league team updates.
I just have to say... keep checking out Stick & Ball Guys sites for updates on the arrival of Baby SBG. Hopefully one of these days. I have a gift to send for whenever the time arrives. Anyone out there who can provide me a mailing address for SBG, please e-mail me, ok?
Do you enjoy statistical analysis in baseball? Are you at least intrigued by it? FoxSports.com's Dayn Perry is writing a weekly article on statistics. Last week, he wrote one about why the traditional stats just aren't enough. This week, he has an article on VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), and explains why it is such a good, such an important statistic. Twins fans, I must warn you... it is one of the stats quoted most frequently for why Justin Morneau should NOT have one the AL MVP last year (I still think it was the right choice).
Josh Hamilton hit yet another home run last night. The kid is incredible. Just imagine what type of player he would be had he not wasted the last four of five years! Great story, and hopefully one that at-risk kids look at. Anyway, he now has five home runs in just 35 plate appearances! To compare, A-Rod has 10 home runs in 64 plate appearances.
Finally, Congratulations to former Twins farmhand Levale Speigner who the Washington Nationals took with one of their Rule V draft picks last December. Late on Wednesday night, he pitched a scoreless top of the 14th inning against the Phillies. When the Nationals scored in the bottom of the inning, Speigner had his first big league win. Yesterday, he pitched three innings, allowing just a run. Good for him!
Back to Archives Home