Friday, May 20, 2005
Some Random Links
Twins Minor League Report
Revenge of the Seth
Good morning! It is Friday, and as always, that is a good thing!
You may look at the title of today's posting and think that I have anything to say about the new Star Wars movie, Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. I just wanted to use this title because it seems fairly timely! But there is no way I would actually spend good money just to watch this movie. I am not a Star Wars geek. If you're like me, you may want to check out this article. First, the whole series of movies really aren't that great. Second, there is no way I would sit in a line just to see the movie as so many have, even for days or weeks. Third, have you seen those morons who actually dress up like Star Wars characters and go to the movie? That is messed up! Fourth, maybe I'll rent it someday if I'm really bored and there aren't actually any good movies available some day. But again, I figured a fun play on the title of the movie would be a nice, timely title for today's entry.
NO RANT ZONE
Well, this afternoon when I saw the Twins lineup, I was fully expecting to write a full out rant. Yes, Juan Castro was the shortstop for the fifth straight game. My first reaction was that they might as well send Jason Bartlett down. I mean, what could possibly mess with a player's confidence more than losing your job to Juan Castro. That has to be demoralizing!
But I'm going to withhold the rant. I am not going to focus on the negative of Mr. Gardenhire's decision to play Castro instead of Bartlett. I am not going to ask why Castro got five consecutive starts and Bartlett never got more than three consecutive starts. I'm not going to point, as Aaron Gleeman did the other day, that Bartlett was actually performing about as well offensively and defensively as Cristian Guzman did last year, and how Gardy frequently discusses how good Guzman was. I'm not going to mention that Bartlett had just four errors in 206 innings at the position. I am not going to talk about the quality of plate appearance that Bartlett puts together or how Castro just pretty much swings at everything. I'm not going to talk about how Castro is 32 years old and Bartlett is just 25. I am not going to discuss how the decision to send Bartlett back to AAA completely shows the lack of a plan for the position. I won't even discuss how the Twins middle infield the past three games has been Castro and, because of Nick Punto's calf injury, Luis Rivas. That has to be the worst nightmare for Twins fans. Even worse, one of them is hitting second in the lineup! Nope, no rants for me today on any of those things. Today, I am going to focus on the positives!
To do that, I have to say a few positives about Juan Castro. First, I just really can't come up with anything positive about Castro offensively. He swings at everything and has never, at any point of his 10 year big league career, been able to hit. Sure, he'll have games like yesterday where he goes 2-3, but Twins fans also know that from time to time Luis Rivas has had good games as well.
However, after a horrible spring defensive performance, it is impossible to watch the Twins play, and Castro at SS, without needing to admit that he is truly a very good defensive shortstop. It is true what the Twins brass and representatives have said since they signed him. Juan Castro really can pick it. He is very smooth defensively. There is one statistic that I found very interesting when comparing Castro and Bartlett:
Bartlett 206 innings 101 Chances 4 Errors .960 FP RF - 4.41 ZR - .821
Castro 116 innings 70 Chances 0 Errors 1.000 FP RF - 5.43 ZR - .857
I have to wonder... why is it that Castro has one more chance per nine innings to make a play than Bartlett? I have to think that it is because Gardy may have been more strategic and had Castro play SS when pitchers like Carlos Silva and Joe Mays, sinker ball/ground ball pitchers. Whereas Brad Radke and Johan Santana are more fly ball pitchers, so the team could play Bartlett at SS. I really don't believe that Castro has more range than Bartlett, although I have been impressed with his range as well.
Remember when Todd Walker was the Twins 2B a number of years ago? Well, he was essentially blackballed by the Twins pitching staff because he was so terrible defensively. Because a number of the Twins pitchers went to Tom Kelly and said that they really didn't want Walker at 2B when they were pitching, Kelly obliged. Eventually Walker was sent to the minor leagues and things got ugly from there. Well, I bring that scenario up because I have to wonder if some of the Twins starters went to Gardy and made any comments on Bartlett's defense.
Does anyone have any thought on this? E-mail me.
THE BEST PART OF THIS - WELCOME LUIS RODRIGUEZ
You all may be surprised to know that I am able to find one positive out of the Twins decision to demote Jason Bartlett to Rochester, but I do have one thing that I am happy about. What is it, you ask? Well, I am absolutely thrilled that the Twins have decided to call up Luis Rodriguez from Rochester.
Now Rodriguez is not one of the Twins top prospects, at least from the standpoint of players whose names that we have heard over and over. But, I have been impressed by him the last couple of seasons and have frequently wondered why he was never really given a shot at the Twins second base job the last couple of years. Before the 2004 season, I ranked my Top 30 Twins prospects, and ranked Rodriguez #22. I added the following when discussing him with the help of Ben Jacobs, who now writes for The Hardball Times:
One of those players was Luis Rodriguez. Now, I have him further up my list than most Ďscoutsí seem to. Iím not sure why he isnít considered a prospect. So, I asked Ben Jacobs who writes the Universal Baseball Blog. He lives in Rochester, NY, the home of the Twins AAA Affiliate, so I asked him why Rodriguez isnít considered a prospect. Hereís his response:
For some reason, even though he's only 23 years old, Luis Rodriguez doesn't seem to be regarded as a prospect at all. At the beginning of last season, the Rochester Red Wings thought of him as a backup middle infielder behind minor league veterans David Lamb and Alex Prieto. He ended up winning the second base job and leading the team with a .295 average while posting a solid .354 OBP, but he showed very little power (1 HR, .376 SLG).
Frontier Field is a tough place for hitters, but that .376 SLG was actually the highest of his career so far, and I don't think he would show much power at all in the majors. Defensively, I get the impression that he's sure-handed (he only made 13 errors in 130 games on a very ragged field), but doesn't have much range.
I haven't seen him play that much, but I don't think he has the potential to be much more than a utility infielder at the major league level. The biggest thing in his favor, in my opinion, is that he's yet to have a season in which he struck out more than he walked. However, his walk rate has dropped significantly as he's moved up from Class A to AA to AAA, which isn't a real good sign.
Well, Rodriguez is now 24 years old and in his third season at AAA Rochester. He has never been spectacular, but he has always been very solid. Here is a little more about him, followed by some of his career statistics.
Luis Rodriguez will turn 25 at the end of June. He was born in San Carlos, Venezuela. The Twins signed him as a free agent in 1997. He is a small, 5-9, 180 pound middle infielder who has primarily played 2B throughout his minor league career. He is a switch-hitter.
1998 - Spent the season with the Gulf Coast League Twins. In 52 games, he hit .278/.360/.367 with 11 doubles, a triple, a home run, 15 RBI and 14 stolen bases.
1999 - Spent season at Low Class A Quad Cities. In 119 games, he hit .270/.353/.336 with 20 doubles, three homers, 50 RBI and 8 stolen bases.
2000 - Spent another year at Quad Cities. In 106 games, he hit .225/.311/.269 with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 28 RBI, and 4 steals.
2001 - Moved up to Fort Myers and played in 125 games. He hit .274/.387/.359 with 21 doubles, 3 triples, 4 homers, 64 RBI and 11 steals.
2002 - Moved up to AA New Britain. In 129 games, he hit .257/.349/.358 with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 8 homers, 40 RBI and just 3 stolen bases.
2003 - Another move up the ladder, to AAA Rochester. In 131 games, he hit .295/.354/.376 with 35 doubles, 2 triples, a homer, 44 RBI and 6 steals.
2004 - Another season at Rochester, he played in 126 games. He hit .286/.354/.390 with 33 doubles, a triple, 5 homers, 51 RBI and 3 steals.
2005 - Started this season at Rochester and has played in 33 games. He is hitting .287/.359/.357 with 8 doubles and 15 RBI.
But to me, this is the most exciting thing about Luis Rodriguez, his strikeout rate:
1998 - 22 BB/17 K
1999 - 53 BB/49 K
2000 - 40 BB/29 K
2001 - 82 BB/42 K
2002 - 61 BB/44 K
2003 - 46 BB/46 K
2004 - 53 BB/49 K
2005 - 13 BB/14 K
Total - 370 BB/290 K
That is really incredible! There just are not a lot of hitters that can claim that strong a Walk to Strikeout ratio.
So, Rodriguez is up with the Twins for now, but what will his role be? Well, I think that for the short-term we will continue to see Juan Castro as the primary shortstop. Luis Rivas and Nick Punto (when healthy) will be the 2B with the other being a utility player. I think Rodriguez will be the second utility infielder. He has mainly played 2B, but can also play 2B and 3B if necessary. I really do not expect him to play a lot.
But again, that's not what is important. I think it is good for a player like Rodriguez to get a chance. I like when guys who have been in the system or organization for a number of years, and paid their dues, so to speak, get this kind of opportunity. Obviously Castro has a guaranteed deal and Jason Bartlett should still be the shortstop of the future. Bartlett will likely spend a couple of months at Rochester, so Rodriguez's stay with the Twins could be that long.
Do you have any thoughts on Castro, Bartlett, this situation or even Luis Rodriguez? Please e-mail me.
SOME RANDOM LINKS
Did you see this? Katie Brownell is an 11 year old girl from Oakfield, New York. She plays on a Little League team with and against all boys. Yesterday, she pitched a perfect game, and she struck out all 18 batters she faced. Once in a while you read a story like this, but check out her season stats. So far, she has 32 of the 33 batters she has faced. She is also hitting .714. Of course, that is through just three games.
The NFL has suspended Onterrio Smith for one year. Not surprising, and it won't hurt the Vikings.
On that note, I think it is time to call it a day. I hope you enjoy or are interested in the rest of today's thoughts. As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns or ideas for future entries, please e-mail me.
My incredible disappointment in the whole Jason Bartlett situation is really unfortunate and takes away what should have been the lead story of any Twins site today. Joe Mays pitched a complete game shutout in a 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Below are a few notes about the teams and the game:
The first note absolutely has to be about the performance of Joe Mays. The talk of late regarding Mays had to do with the fact that he has not been able to finish the seventh innings his past four starts. Well, Mays did that and much more yesterday. Through six innings, Mays had thrown only 55 pitches and given up two hits so the idea of taking him out of the game would have been ridiculous. And then after getting one out in the 7th, Mays gave up two straight hits and worry set in. But he was able to get a get Vernon Wells to ground into a double play. So Mays' line was 9 innings, 7 hits, no walks, no runs, two strikeouts. Just 93 pitches in 9 innings. A friend of mine commented that Mays may be trying to be the team's #3 starter. He and Carlos Silva are so similar, although Mays typically gives up less hits.
But talking about how impressive Joe Mays was yesterday is only a small part of the story. The fact that we were able to discuss how Mays couldn't get past the seventh inning was even an issue is great news. Why? Because the former 17 game winner is now criticized or praised for his pitching. His pitching. After missing a year and a half after Tommy John surgery, Joe Mays is back and healthy. And for the Twins, that is a huge thing. Joe Mays should continue to get stronger and better as the season goes along, and that is very important to the success of the Twins this year.
I was driving back to work after lunch yesterday when Michael Cuddyer stepped to the plate with the bases loaded against Gustavo Chacin in the bottom of the 6th of a scoreless game. I have a six minute drive back to work, so I got to listen to Herb Carneal describe all 13 pitches of the at bat. First, listening to Herb Carneal really is a treat (especially when considering we have to listen to John Gordon too much!). But second, that was a great at bat for Cuddyer and the Twins. Cuddyer has struggled a lot in those situations this year. But he came through with a big double down the left field line to drive in the first two runs.
Twins fans should be so relieved that Henry Blanco went against his word and took more money to go to the Cubs. Why? Because Mike Redmond was such a great signing for the Twins, and cost less than what Blanco would have in the first place. First, Redmond can actually hit! And second, he can catch a pitching staff. He allows the Twins to feel really comfortable letting Joe Mauer have a day off from time to time.
I seriously feel sorry for Corey Koskie. I heard that he left the game after his second inning single. He was thrown out trying to turn a single into a double by Torii Hunter. I'm sure Torii loved that. However, we found out later in the game that Koskie had actually broken his thumb, not simply jammed it as had earlier been reported. Koskie has already been put on the disabled list and likely will be out a couple of months. It is another injury in a string of fluke injuries for Koskie. He had the fractured sternum. He hurt his ankle when a runner slid high into his leg at 3B. He has never really had a "real" injury. And because of bad luck, Koskie is considered injury prone, through no fault of his own.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins win, Mays' performance, or anything Twins? What are your concerns, or don't you have any yet? E-mail me.
TWINS START INTER-LEAGUE PLAY TONIGHT
What are your thoughts on Inter-League play? I still have very mixed feelings on it. I enjoy seeing the Twins play different teams than the usual. I enjoy it when the Twins play in National League ball parks to see the pitchers hit. I have always said that I far prefer the National League game with the pitchers hitting, more strategy and double-switches.
But one thing that I don't like about Inter-League play is that it totally puts the wild card, and really all of the playoff spots, into question. Look at it from the vantage point of the American League Central. First, each team plays their "Natural Rival" in two series. The Twins get to play the Milwaukee Brewers six times. Meanwhile, the White Sox have to play against the Cubs six times. The Royals have to play the Cardinals. Sure, successful teams are sometimes cyclical, but in any given year, one team can have a huge advantage over the others. Second, the Wild Card is compromised because of the fact that teams in the same division play each other 19 times. So, the schedule is totally different for every team. Again, each year, there will be certain teams that have a natural advantage over the others. People will say that it is the same thing in the NFL, where the Wild Card teams come from any division and no two teams play the exact same schedule. But it is different. The NFL schedule is short. The MLB season is long enough that they should be able to make this work. To me, a lot starts with returning to the balanced schedule.
So tonight, the Twins will be hosting their "rivals", the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew is 19-21 and tied with the Chicago Cubs, six games behind the NL Central leading Cardinals. It is impressive they are playing as well as they are considering that Ben Sheets has been out much of the year.
Here are the pitching matchups:
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, this upcoming series or anything regarding the Twins? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Thursday - REDWINGS, Columbus - Rained Out
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Thursday - ROCKCATS - No Game Scheduled.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Thursday - MIRACLE 0, Jupiter 11 - Adam Harben had another tough start. He went four innings and gave up five runs (3 earned) on six hits and four walks. He struck out three. Josh Gray gave up two runs in the next two innings. Peter Tautor struggled again and gave up four runs in 1.1 innings. He gave up two hits and walked three. Tim Henkenjohann gave up just a hit in 1.2 innings. The Miracle had just five hits. Ron Perodin led by going 2-3.
Thursday - SNAPPERS - Rained Out.
That is it for today and for this week. Please feel free to e-mail me at any time to chat baseball! Have a great weekend!
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