Monday, April 24, 2006
Roger's Minor League Players of the Week
Twins Minor League Notes
Good Monday morning everyone! I hope you had a very good weekend. Today, I am just going to post some thoughts and observations on what was a very frustrating weekend series in Chicago. Just remember, the sky is, in fact, not falling down! Roger is back with his Player and Pitcher of the Week announcements. There are a couple of worthy winners with some runners-up that had great weeks! I am also going to recap the events of the Twins minor league affiliates, although rain prevented several games from being completed. Today will be a little more brief, but hopefully provokes a few thoughts for you.
But I have to invite everyone back tomorrow for what I believe is a very exciting posting. It is something that I hope will become a series for me this season. I am not going to say anything more because I really want all of you to come back! I hope you will.
If you have any thoughts about the stadium, the Twins, the White Sox, the AL Central, the upcoming schedule or anything baseball, e-mail me or leave some Comments down below.
The Twins played horribly all weekend and were swept by the Chicago White Sox. The combined scores were 23-6. I thought that it was a weekend series that really put the 2006 Minnesota Twins into perspective. No, not in a good way at all. Here are some of my thoughts on the series:
First... relax, it is not the end of the world.
Second... it is entirely possible that the Twins will turn things around. I mean, there are only 144 more games to play. A lot can happen!
However... reality also tells us that this Minnesota Twins team is not even in the same category as the Chicago White Sox. They are also not close to the Cleveland Indians. I think that they may be close to the Detroit Tigers, and we will hopefully find out this week that they are still ahead of the Kansas City Royals. I really hope we see that.
Before getting into the thoughts, I have to say that I was quite disappointed that the Twins game was not on TV on Friday night! I was sure it would be on FSN in the outstate, but I did not get it!
How did the Twins build up a team that finished over .500 for five straight seasons? That's right! By using its minor league system and by playing young players even through their struggles. This is really the only way that a 'small market' team can compete for an extended period of time. But, what have they done this year? They signed and acquired veteran players. Why? For more 'professional' at bats? Well, that may be all and good for 2006 (hasn't proven to be the case so far!), but it is the worst thing that the organization can do for its long-term future. Think about it. They have completely broken down Jason Bartlett. They went about handling Jason Kubel's situation all wrong. What did the Royals do this year? They signed veterans such as Reggie Sanders, Joe Mays and the Alphabet Gang of Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Grudzielanek. Sure, they are veterans, but are they better now? Not at all, and if so, at what price? So, sadly, there is a comparison between the Twins and the Royals.
Of course, we can also argue that although the Twins and Royals offensively are quite similar, their pitching staffs are completely different. The Royals' ace pitcher is Scott Elarton. Enough said. They Twins have a far better pitching staff... or... they should have a far better pitching staff. Fact is, that through 18 games, the Twins starting pitching has not been good yet with a couple of exceptions. Johan Santana has been his typical average self for April. Hopefully he will make his turn-around very soon. He started that with a very nice start on Friday night. Brad Radke has been awful! Carlos Silva has been just as bad. Kyle Lohse has been, well, Kyle Lohse. And, Scott Baker has been a decent fifth starter. Even the bullpen guys that we have grown comfortable and confident in have not done well. Matt Guerrier and Juan Rincon have been average, and Jesse Crain has been horrific to this point. Fortunately, they have been getting solid relief pitching from Francisco Liriano (who should be starting) and Joe Nathan (who is not getting enough opportunities).
Jesse Crain seems to be the relief pitcher talked about most right now, and for good reason. He has not been good at all. He has pitched in a team-leading nine games. He is 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA. Now, in 9.1 innings, he does have seven strikeouts which is a far better rate than he had last year. And, he has just one walk so far. However, he has allowed 16 hits including three home runs. Now, I remain a huge believer in Jesse Crain for several reasons. First, he is still just 24 years old. Secondly, he was just too good last year, despite the minute strikeout totals, to just be this hittable. Finally, his stuff is just too good for him to be hit like this. He is throwing as hard as ever, and his curveball has always been very good. It must just be that his fastball is really straight. Well, that, coupled with his pitches hitting too much of the plate! Do I think that he should be sent to Rochester? No. I think they should put him into a few lower stress situations where he can succeed. But that also hides him from the issue. If he is going to be counted on, the best thing is to just keep throwing him out there. A good closer wants to get right back on the mound after blowing a save. Same thing with Crain. He needs to just keep going out there. However, if the Twins do decide that Crain needs to go back down, it would be for just one reason. It would be to allow him to just go and throw. Hopefully he would find the thing that made him a big-time strikeout pitcher through his brief minor league career.
And if Crain (or Guerrier) were to be sent to the minors, Rochester could provide a very good replacement. Their closer, Pat Neshek, has not allowed a run in his first six appearances. In 9.1 innings, he has had just ten base runners. He also has an incredible 20 strikeouts with just three walks. Now, the Twins can not send Guerrier to the minor leagues without the risk of losing him via waivers.
Saturday night, Brad Radke started for the Twins. At about 6:12, or just as the bottom of the 1st was set to begin, my sister called me. She and my dad were watching the game and she asked dad when he thought Radke would give up his first home run. She said that it would be the second batter. Dad said that it would happen at 6:22. I had some confidence in Radke and said it would not happen until the second inning. Well, when Jermaine Dye's line drive home cleared the wall in left field, the atomic clock in the living room switched to... you guess it... 6:22! Good call dad!
Congratulations to Shannon Stewart and his wife on the birth of their first child!
Stewart's top-of-the-order partner Luis Castillo missed the entire Chicago series as an injury precaution. We have already seen what having a guy like Castillo can do to the top of the order and in the field. However, we did know of Castillo's injury history, particularly all the missed games last year, when they acquired him in the winter for Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler. Hopefully keeping him out a few games here and there will keep him healthy for the majority of the year.
I was wrong... so far. I have to admit it. My homey, Jim Thome, would have been a nice acquisition. Now, I am still in complete agreement that Terry Ryan made the right decision in signing Rondell White over Mike Piazza and Frank Thomas. However, that need would have been nullified had the Twins made a deal with the Phillies for Jim Thome. My reason for not liking a Thome deal was a fear that he would be injured. Of course, it is just 18 games into the season. He could still miss time. However, I can't help but wonder what the Twins would have had to offer to get Thome. I mean, he went to the White Sox in exchange for Aaron Rowand and two quality pitching prospects. To me, it would have been the equivalent of trading Torii Hunter, Kyle Waldrop and Justin Jones to get Thome at half price. Is that a fair trade? I don't know. But, if Thome does stay healthy, then the answer is very apparent.
Here is a look at how the Twins hitters
did during the series:
-Lew Ford went 3-14 with a homer, two runs, and RBI, two stolen bases and three strikeouts.
-Nick Punto went 2-7 with a walk and a strikeout.
-Joe Mauer went 6-12 with a walk, a double, a homer, a run, an RBI and a strikeout. He is too good!
-Ruben Sierra went 1-6 with a walk, a sacrifice fly and a strikeout.
-Torii Hunter went 3-10 with two walks, a run, an RBI, a homer, a stolen base and two strikeouts.
-Tony Batista went 3-12 with a walk, a double, a run and a strikeout.
-Rondell White played LF in Stewart's absence and went 3-12.
-Juan Castro went 0-10 with a strikeout. He is 3 of his last 21. I believe that the term "Free Bartlett" should be ringing loud soon!
-Justin Morneau was 0-8. He is 1 for his last 18.
-Michael Cuddyer went 0-4 with a strikeout.
-Luis Rodriguez went 1-3 with two walks and an RBI.
-Mike Redmond was 2-4.
I just do not understand why Luis Rodriguez does not play more. I'm not saying that he is an every day player. However, Nick Punto now has a track record of inadequacy. Luis Rodriguez has done nothing but take great at bats, make solid contact, hit for average, shown on-base skills, and walk more than he strikes out. No, he doesn't have a lot of big league time, but those are the same skills he showed throughout his minor league career too. My question is why in a three-game series in which Luis Castillo does not play does Nick Punto start two out of three?
Here is maybe the most frustrating part of the 2006 Twins team for me. They are difficult for a baseball fan to watch. Even a fan like me. In the past, they had young players or others worth watching. There were guys that I would just stop to watch. Now, the only players for which I will stop what I am doing to watch them hit are Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Lew Ford. That is it! I would much prefer seeing Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett with the team. I would be much happier watching Matt Moses struggle than watching Tony Batista. At least with the youth, there is hope! I think we are seeing the 'veteran' is not necessarily the answer!
By the way, I saw about four of Rondell White's at bats this weekend. In three of them, he was robbed of a hit by 3B Joe Crede on hard-hit balls.
If you have any thoughts on the
Twins season so far, or the series with the White Sox, or other
observations, or anything Twins related, please
send me an e-mail, or
post some Comments down below.
ROGER'S MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Throughout the year, our friend "Roger" will be keeping tabs of the Twins minor leaguers again. This year, he will be coming up with a minor league hitter and pitcher each week. Feel free to comment!
Player of the Week - Henry Sanchez, Beloit Snappers
...for the week ending April 21st is 2005 first round (sandwich pick) Henry Sanchez. Sanchez led the Beloit Snappers (A) to a 4-2 record this week, with 8 hits in 13 at bats for a .615Ave. Henry had 3 doubles, 2 runs, and 5 rbi’s while his batting average improved from .125 to .267. After striking out 16 times in his first 32 at bats, Sanchez struck out only 3 times this week in 13 at bats.
Runner-up was New Britain (AA) second baseman Felix Molina. Molina was 3 for 4 with 2 home runs in Saturday’s 14-5 win over New Hampshire and 4 for 4 with 4 rbi’s in Thursday’s 7-8 loss to Reading. For the week, Molina had 8 hits in 18 at bats (..444Ave) including 2 home runs and 7 rbi’s. .
Pitcher of the Week - Adam Harben, New Britain Rockcats
…is New Britain’s Adam Harben, who is a member of the 40-man roster. In 11.0 innings pitched, Adam allowed 0 runs on 3 hits with 7K/5BB. Adam pitched 5.0 innings without a decision in the Rock Cats 1-0 loss to New Hampshire last Saturday and 6.0 innings without a decision in Friday’s 1-0 win over Reading.
His closest competition was Rochester’s (AAA) ace, Boof Bonser, who is also on the 40-man roster. Bonser started 2 games for the Red Wings, pitching 12.0 shutout innings with 7 hits and 10K/4BB. Bonser got a win in Rochester’s 12-0 win over Richmond last Sunday, and no decision in Friday’s 6-2 win over Norfolk.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Friday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Josh Rabe, Rochester Red Wings
Saturday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Johnny Woodard, Ft. Myers Miracle
Sunday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Trevor Plouffe, Ft. Myers Miracle
Friday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Adam Harben, New Britain Rockcats
Saturday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Matt Garza, Ft. Myers Miracle
Sunday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Brian Duensing, Beloit Snappers
Here are the weekend updates. If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Also, be sure to check out the interesting discussion on Boof Bonser (on the John Sickels' Minor League site) and the Twins trade of AJ Pierzynski for Bonser, Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano. An argument could be made that it was one of the best trades ever!
There is also a discussion on Trevor Plouffe.
Finally, there is a great poll about which member of the Ft. Myers pitching staff is the best. It is quite a group when you consider Anthony Swarzak, Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey and Kyle Aselton. Anyone who voted for John Thomas must be a relative, but he should be good at A ball.
Friday - Red Wings 6, Norfolk 2 – The Red Wings played a nice all around game on this night. They got great pitching to go with some very good offense. Boof Bonser made the start. He went six shutout innings. He gave up four hits and two walk, and he struck out four. His season ERA is now at just 0.75. Kevin Cameron blew the save but allowing two runs in his inning. Ricky Barrett struck out the two batters he faced. And finally, Pat Neshek continued his dominant start with his third save. He got four outs, three on strikeouts. For the season (as you can see on the left), he has struck out 21 hitters in just 10.1 innings! For the offense, Josh Rabe led the way with a 3-3 day. He had a walk, two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel both went 2-4 with a double.
Saturday - Red Wings , Norfolk – Rained Out.
Sunday - Doubleheader - Red Wings , Norfolk - Rained Out.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Friday - Rockcats 1, Reading 0 – The Rockcats' bats did very little. As a matter of fact, they scored their one runs on just six singles, all by unique hitters. Adam Harben and the pitchers were the story in this game though. Harben started and allowed just one hit in his six shutout innings. He did walk three, but he struck out five. Unfortunately, he got a no-decision. Chris Schutt went the next two innings without allowing anything. The team scored while he was in there to give him the Win. Justin Olson struck out one in a scoreless ninth frame.
Saturday - Rockcats , Reading – Rained Out.
Sunday - Doubleheader - Rockcats , Reading – Rained Out.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Friday - Miracle 5, Lakeland 6 (12 innings) – It took a few extra to decide this game. John Thomas went the first five innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits. He walked none and struck out six. Josh Hill went the next three innings, allowing just an unearned run and striking out three. JP Martinez came in and allowed two hits and two walks in his two innings, but he struck out two and did not allow a run. Garrett Guzman went 2-4 with two walks. Trevor Plouffe went 2-4 with a walk. Jeremy Pickrel knocked his first homer of the season.
Saturday - Miracle 9, Lakeland 1 – Matt Garza continues to dominate the Florida State League. On this night, he went 6.2 innings and gave up only an unearned run. He allowed one hit and walked two. He struck out nine. He now has three walks and 27 strikeouts in just 18.2 innings. He improves to 3-0. Offensively, he was helped by the bat of Johnny Woodard. He went 3-3 with a walk. He scored four times and hit a solo home run. Alexi Casilla went 2-5 with his sixth double and three RBI. Erold Andrus was 2-5 with a double, his second homer and three RBI. Justin Arneson was 2-4 with his third double and two RBI.
Sunday - Miracle , Lakeland – Not a good game all-around for the Miracle yesterday. Of course, when there is a bad game, we first have to look at the pitching. Anthony Swarzak started and went just 4.2 innings. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on nine hits and two walks. He did strike out five. Tim Lahey gave up three runs on three hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Ryan Callahan went an inning and gave up a run. Alexander Farfan did what he has done best. He got just one out, gave up two hits, three walks and three runs (2 earned). Infielder Jose Leger came in and got the final two outs without further damage. Garrett Guzman went 2-4 with a double. Trevor Plouffe was 1-2 with two walks.
Friday - Snappers 6, Lansing 1 – Oswaldo Sosa made another start and this one was much better. In 5.2 innings, he gave up no runs on just three hits and two walks. He struck out five. Eduardo Morlan closed out the sixth and pitched a scoreless 7th frame as well. David Shinskie pitched the final two innings. He gave up a run on four hit in that time. Eli Tintor led the offense with a 2-4 day. He had a double and three RBI. Steven Tolleson and Henry Sanchez were each 2-4 with a double. Caleb Moore was 2-4 with a walk. Tarrence Patterson went 2-5. He added two stolen bases.
Saturday - Snappers 3, Lansing 6 – It wasn't a good day for the Snappers. Kyle Waldrop started and gave up three first inning runs. In his four innings, he gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked none, but he did throw two wild pitches. He had three strikeouts. Jose Lugo went the next two innings. He gave up a run on four hits and a walk. Yohan Pino went the final two innings without allowing a run. He gave up two hits, and he struck out three. Steven Tolleson led the offense. He was 2-3 with two walks. Tarrence Patterson went 2-5 with a double. Eli Tintor went 2-4 and scored twice. Drew Thompson had a pinch hit at bat and made the most of it with a solo home run.
Sunday - Snappers 3, Lansing 4 (17 innings) – Wow! The Twins affiliates have played in some long games so far this month! The Snappers lost a tough one yesterday though. On the positive side, the pitchers did very well. Brian Duensing started and gave up just an unearned run in six innings. He struck out six, but he did walk five. Dan Powers came in and pitched five scoreless frames. David Shinskie gave up two runs in his two innings. Danny Vais pitched three scoreless innings before giving up the game winner on an unearned run in the 17th. The offense just was not quite as positive. Allan de San Miguel went 2-3 with a walk and a double. Tarrence Patterson went 2-8 with a double and his sixth stolen base. Paul Kelly came into the game as a inch hitter in the 7th inning and hit a run-scoring double. The Tough-Day Award goes to SS Yancarlos Ortiz who went 0-7.
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.
Welp, that is it for today. If you have any thoughts, opinions, comments, critiques, or ideas on anything, please e-mail me, or let's get a discussion going in the Comments.|
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