Monday, April 21, 2008
Good Monday Morning everyone! I didn't spend a lot of time on the computer over the weekend. I stayed busy and spent plenty of time outside, enjoying the nice weather. Saturday, the Twins game wasn't even on TV because of the new Fox rules for Saturday afternoon games. So, if you were like me and didn't watch a lot and didn't keep up over the weekend, consider today a catch-up day for the goings-on with the Twins and their minor league affiliates. I will also talk about a couple of other baseball-related topics. As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, questions, or opinions.
I also want to set up a Q&A with someone that I think you will find interesting. That should be posting later this week. As always, I am working on doing more Q&As with Twins minor leaguers. So, if there are some of the Twins minor leaguers that you would like to learn more about, please e-mail me those names and I'll see what I can do.
On a very sad note, former big league catcher John Marzano fell down the steps at his home near Philadelphia and died at the age of 45. I read these things and it is sad. He has two daughters and two grandkids. He isn't a guy I knew much about when he played (Red Sox, Rangers and Mariners over ten years between 1987 and 1998). He was pretty much a backup catcher, having never caught more than 52 games in a season. The last year or more, he has been heard on mlb.com radio. I listened to him fairly frequently and thought he did a great job. He gets the game, he played, he was a catcher, he told good stories, he saw many perspectives. He really just was very entertaining. "Johnny Marz" will be missed, I'm sure!
TWINS WIN TWO OF THREE - The Twins lost to Cleveland on Friday night, but strong starts by Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker allowed the team to still win the series. This is and should be the goal going in to every series, right? I think that is a great goal from the outside. However, I believe that if the team wins the first two games of a three game series, their goal should be altered to winning three of three. Or, if the team loses the first two games of the series, their goal should be changed to winning one out of three. I used to just be so annoyed by the old Tom Kelly One-Day-At-A-Time Philosophy, but the older I get, the more great that advice is in baseball and in life!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE - The starters are pitching great. The bullpen had a rough few games early in the week, but I can't help but acknowledge the bullpen's work in this series. In 8.1 innings, the bullpen gave up just one run on two hits and one walk. Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Pat Neshek, Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan all contributed to those numbers.
REAL... BUT REPEATABLE?? - Nick Blackburn threw 7.2 shutout innings on Saturday against Cleveland. It was his first Win of his career. He is now 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA. He has thrown 25.1 innings in his four starts. But notice a couple of things. In his first two starts, he went a combined 12 innings and walked three and struck out 11 hitters. That is a solid strikeout rate. But in his last two starts, in 13.1 innings, he has no walks and just one strikeout. Generally speaking, a pitcher will not be able to sustain success with a strikeout rate that low (4.26 strikeouts per nine innings). His minor league track records indicates that he will not be a strikeout pitcher. We could all name a couple of pitchers who break this mold. Carlos Silva was awesome in 2005, horrible in 2006 and solid in 2007. He's off to a good start in 2008. Blackburn has shown some solid stuff and good control, so he gives himself a chance. I think the key will be just how hittable he will be. Anything less than about 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings is a little alarming.
WHAT TO DO? - Francisco Liriano struggled but made it through five innings on Friday night. He gave up three runs on four hits. Again, the issue was control. Liriano walked five hitters and struck out just three. Now, from just observation, I do think he improved from his first start, but pitching in conditions that include a temperature nearly 35 degrees warmer should help. He again showed glimpses of quality offspeed pitches, but when the control was as bad as it was, it is hard to tell what the ceiling is right now. So, should the Twins have brought him up? Now that he is up, could they still send him down? Here are my thoughts, for what they're worth, which is not terribly much, but oh well. I would keep him in the rotation and just really work on the control between starts. None of his struggles are, or should be, unexpected. Kevin Slowey, it was announced on Friday, will be going to Ft. Myers and getting an appearance with the Miracle. He will then go up to Rochester and make an appearance for them. He will then get a start where his pitch count will be limited to 50. I would hope that they would then give him a second start in Rochester to get more pitches thrown. That process should take 2-3 weeks to happen. Unless Liriano is just horrific, there is really no need to make this call until that time. By that time, we should know a lot more about Liriano's progress. We will also know if Nick Blackburn is for real. Maybe by then it'll be Boof Bonser pushed to the bullpen? Or maybe the Twins will have six guys ready to take to five spots in the Twins rotation. That wouldn't be a horrible thing.
REMEMBER WHEN... - I remember one of the first days of training camp, a commenter on one of the Strib Twins blogs noted that he thought that the Twins should rid themselves of Brendan Harris. He was lazy, had a horrible glove and generally just was not worth even giving an opportunity. I remember reading that and just laughing. Did he have a strong spring? No. Has his glove work improved? Definitely. On Sunday, he scored both of the Twins runs, the first on an opposite field, solo home run off of Paul Byrd. It was the first homer hit by a right handed batter for the Twins, and the first on the team other than Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. Harris is now hitting .322/.379/.441 on the year. I think this may be a case where I am a little surprised, but need to give some credit to Ron Gardenhire for continuing to play Harris through his offensive and especially his defensive struggles. I feared that Gardy would go with more of a platoon with Harris and Nick Punto. Many Twins fans likely do not know that 2007 was Harris's first full season in the big leagues and in 137 games, he hit .286/.343/.434 with 35 doubles and twelve home runs.
Q&A with Justin Morneau - OK, I could only wish to get a Q&A with the Twins slugger, but the folks at Yahoo Sports got an interesting Q&A with Morneau. Several interesting topics are covered. Remember when Morneau got off to the really rough start. Well, with five homers, he is on base for about 40 again. He also had a game-winning single in the 10th inning on Sunday.
TRANSACTION ACTION -The Twins placed SS Adam Everett on the 15 Day Disabled List in an attempt to allow him the time off to rest his injured shoulder. The team called up Brian Buscher to take his place. Everett has been hard to watch both with the bat and with his throws to 1B so far this year, but his defensive reputation tells me that if he is healthy, he will be a great benefit to the Twins with the glove. I'm willing to give him that opportunity. Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto will be playing SS in his absence. People have also asked me about my thoughts on Brian Buscher. Well, I'm just fine with Brian Buscher. However, he isn't going to DH regularly because Jason Kubel is the DH. He also isn't as good with the glove or bat as Mike Lamb, so he's not going to play a lot of 3B. So, he is what he is. A solid left-handed bat off of the bench. And, there is nothing wrong with that.
COMPARISONS... -When you replace a guy who won six Gold Gloves, expectations are high, and unfairly so. However, I think that Carlos Gomez is already showing signs that he will be a better defensive CF than Torii Hunter. Now here me out. He likely won't win all the Gold Gloves. Right now, he still occasionally mis-reads a fly ball, or takes a bad angle. His arm is just as strong, but definitely erratic still. But Carlos Gomez can cover much more ground than Hunter can. Hunter's defense was very good again in 2007, but in 2005 and 2006, it was vastly overrated and even in 2007, you could see the decline. Like I said, Gomez is not as good as Hunter, but once he just lets the game slow down around him, I think he has a chance of being pretty good out there!
GREAT IDEA! - On Friday, I mentioned on the site that the Rays had signed 3B Evan Longoria to a long-term deal that could reach nine years and $45 million. As always when I see these things, I can't help but ask who the Twins should consider signing to such a deal. I have been saying since the offseason that the Twins should do that with Jason Kubel. Yes, there is risk, but you like to think that there is enough to make the risk worth while. Anyway, I just saw that on Sunday in the Pioneer Press, Phil Miller wrote a great article on that very topic. I thought it was interesting, trying to imagine Miller's thought-process in developing the story, and then the questions that he asked to Jason Kubel and to Rob Antony of the Twins. Very interesting article!
NOT-SO GREAT IDEA! - Over the weekend, Frank Thomas was benched by the Blue Jays, complained about his lack of playing time and finally was designated for assignment by the team. They have ten days to trade him, or he will become a free agent. I'm sure there are some out there asking if the Twins should consider signing The Big Hurt. That is about as easy an answer as there is to come up with. The answer is No... or No, Thank you! First of all, he is a DH. As far as I can see, the Twins are just fine at DH with Jason Kubel. Could the Twins use a big right-handed power hitter off of the bench? Sure, who couldn't? But isn't the bench the reason that he was so upset in the first place? I'm not one to believe that chemistry means terribly much to the Win-Loss columns, but there isn't enough on-field reason to make putting up with Thomas worthwhile.
COMING UP - The Twins will enjoy an off day today before traveling out west. They will play three games in Oakland followed by three in Texas.
Former Twin Watch - Driving h
Any other thoughts on the Twins? Send me an e-mail.
Twins and their Minor League Updates
Here are the updates from the weekend regarding the Twins minor league affiliates. Each Saturday, you will want to check out Roger's Minor League Report at Twinkie Town. Click here for this week's report.
Friday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Luke Hughes, New Britain Rockcats
Friday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Heath Totten, Rochester Red Wings
Saturday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Luke Hughes, New Britain Rockcats
Saturday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Yohan Pino, New Britain Rockcats
Sunday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Brian Dinkelman, Ft. Myers Miracle
Sunday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Zach Ward, New Britain Rockcats
Friday - Red Wings 1, Richmond 0 – Heath Totten got a second start and again did well. He went four shutout innings and gave up just four hits. He walked none and struck out five. Ricky Barrett then went the next two innings, walking two and striking out two. Carmen Cali got the win despite giving up two hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Bobby Korecky got his third save with two strikeouts in 1.2 innings. The lone Red Wings run came when Chris Basak scored on a Jason Pridie single. Jose Morales went 2-4.
Saturday - Red Wings 0, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 1 – Brian Duensing got another tough-luck loss, falling to 1-3. The lefty went 5.2 innings and gave up a run on four hits and two walks. He struck out five. Julio DePaula went the next inning, walked two, but did not allow a run. Mariano Gomez got the final four outs without a run scoring despite a hit and a walk. The offense managed just three hits in the game. Randy Ruiz hit his second double.
Sunday - Red Wings 7, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 4 – Having Darnell McDonald back has been a good thing for the Wings. The speedy OF went 3-3 with two walks and two doubles in this game. Chris Basak went 2-4 with his first double. Jose Morales hit a two run homer, his first of the year. Jason Pridie had perfect timing for his first homer of the year, a game-un-tying, three run homer in the 9th inning. Matt Macri hit his sixth double, but also committed his seventh error. Phil Humber started and went the first five innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits. He also walked four and struck out just one. Casey Daigle walked three in two scoreless inning. Carmen Cali got his second win of the weekend with a perfect 8th inning. Bobby Korecky recorded his fourth save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Friday - Rockcats 4, Trenton 8 – Luke Hughes led the offensive attack going 3-4 with his fourth double and an RBI. Erik Lis hit his first triple. Oswaldo Sosa started and went the first four innings. He gave up four runs on five hits. He again walked too many, three, and struck out two. Kyle Aselton gave up three runs (1 earned) on two hits and three walks in two innings. Zach Ward gave up an unearned run on three hits in two innings. He struck out four. Armando Gabino threw a scoreless ninth inning.
Saturday - Rockcats 3, Trenton 5 (11 innings) – Ben Julianel gave up two unearned runs in the 11th inning. In two innings, he gave up those two runs on two hits and four walks to take the loss. Yohan Pino started for the Rockcats and again pitched well. He gave up one run on three hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out five. Jason Miller gave up two runs on three hits in two innings. Armando Gabino gave up only one hit in his 1.2 innings. Luke Hughes was the hitting hero again. He went 3-5 with his second homer. David Winfree was 1-3 with two walks. Brock Peterson went 2-4 with a walk.
Sunday - Rockcats 4, Trenton 4 (10 innings) – Steven Tolleson scored on a two out single by Brock Peterson in the 12th inning to secure this win. Matt Moses had two doubles in five at bats. He has six on the year. Trevor Plouffe went 2-5 with his third double. Dustin Martin was 2-6 and hit his first homer. Erik Lis went 2-5 with his first homer. Ryan Mullins gave up three runs (just 1 earned) in six innings. However, he gave up eight hits and walked three. His ERA drops to 1.57. Jay Sawatski gave up a run on two hits and a walk in three innings. Zach Ward then threw three scoreless innings. Kyle Aselton got the win with a scoreless 12th inning.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Friday - Miracle 5, Sarasota 3 – Danny Vais stole a win because Alex Burnett could not get the third out of the fifth inning. Burnett gave up an unearned run on three hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. Vais came in and got the final out of the 5th and went two more innings, allowing just one run. Jose Lugo got one hitter out and gave up a run on two hits. Robert Delaney came in and got his fifth save by recording the final five outs of the game. Edward Ovalle went 2-4 with a triple. Rodolpho Palacios went 2-4 with a double and two RBI. Juan Portes went 2-4 with his second double. Johnny Woodard and Wilson Ramos each hit their second doubles too.
Saturday - Miracle 1, Sarasota 2 – Brian Dinkelman and Juan Portes both went 3-4. Cole DeVries started and gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out six. Tim Lahey, in his first appearance back in the Twins organization, went two shutout innings. Danny Graves pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Sunday - Miracle 6, Lakeland 2 – Jeff Manship improved to 3-0 with a solid start. In 5.2 innings, he gave up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. Jose Lugo got him out of the sixth and also completed the seventh inning. Anthony Slama pitched the final two innings. Brian Dinkelman led the offense by going 2-2 with three walks. He also stole his second base. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with a walk and his third homer and three RBI.
- Don't expect Tim Lahey to stay with the Miracle for very
long. But it is important to remember that he had not pitched in
game situations since he was let go by the Cubs. He didn't get any
time with the Phillies before they returned him to the Twins. So, it
is wise to get a few innings under his belt before sending him to
where he will spend the season. He could report back to New Britain,
and I think that makes the most sense to start the season, but he
could also move up to AAA Rochester in time.
Friday - Snappers 5, Wisconsin 3 (5 Innings - Rain) – Steve Hirschfeld got the final out of the fifth inning to preserve a lead, and then the rains came so he got the Win to improve to 2-0. Brian Kirwan started and gave up three runs (2 earned) on eight hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. Joe Benson went 1-2 with a walk and his first homer. Greg Yersich went 1-2 with his second homer. Steve Singleton went 1-3 with his first homer. Mark Dolenc hit a triple. Chris Parmelee went 0-0 with two walks.
Saturday - Snappers 3, Wisconsin 5 – Joe Benson had a very good game. The CF went 2-3 with a walk and three stolen bases. Steven Singleton continued to play great. He went 2-4 with two homers and two RBI. Danny Lehman went 3-3 with his fourth double. Garrett Olson went 2-4 with an RBI. David Bromberg started and gave up two runs on two hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out five. Spencer Steedley gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in the next 2.1 innings. Loek Van Mil gave up the inherited runners and one more run by giving up a hit and walking three in his 2/3 of an inning. He did strike out two.
Sunday - Snappers 3, Wisconsin 4 – Ramon Santana had a great game. The SS went 2-3 with his second double and his first homer. Ozzie Lewis had a walk and hit his third homer of the season. Mark Dolenc went 2-5. Mike McCardell hd a solid start. In five innings, he gave up a run on five hits. He walked more than usual, three, but he also struck out five.
SIDE NOTE - Former Twins farm hand, and Wisconsin resident, Korey Feiner was release by the Twins toward the end of spring training. He signed with the Mariners and is now playing with the Wisconsin team. He had a solid series going 1-5 with four walks. He is hitting just .130 right now for the team.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today. Have a great week!|
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