Monday, June 6, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
TWINS TOP YANKEES
Good morning to everyone! I hope you had a good, relaxing weekend!
The Twins had a great weekend. Today will be mainly Twins and Yankees thoughts, but I do have some other links for you to check out. I hope you enjoy it. But first, I want to encourage you to listen to my most recent Bloggers Minute which aired on WCCO's Twins Magazine Show before the Twins game on May 14. Let me know what you think.
Have yourself a great day and week!
The Twins won two out of three from the New York Yankees over the weekend. They were able to play a lot of good baseball in front of over 40,000 each game! Heading into the series, we knew a couple of things. First, the Twins were not healthy. Two of their best hitters, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer were not able to start (Although Mauer was used as a pinch hitter once and Morneau was brought in for late-inning defense at 1B). Second base was a big question mark with both Luis Rivas and Nick Punto now on the disabled list. Shannon Stewart missed Sunday's game with a calf injury. And finally, the Twins would not be pitching either Johan Santana or Brad Radke in any of the three games. Finally, the Yankees were coming to the Metrodome from Kaufmann Stadium where they had been swept by the lowly Royals. In other words, the weekend had the potential to be rather embarassing for the Twins.
As I was watching the Twins score five runs one inning yesterday and four runs the next, one question popped into my head. What does $200 million buy you these days?
As we all know, the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball at almost $206 million. The Twins rank 20th with a payroll of about $56.6 million. The Twins have 13 players on their opening day roster making less than $1 million. Nine of those make under $400,000. The Yankees have three players under $1 million, and none are making less than $600,000.
The Twins highest paid player this year is Brad Radke who is making $9 million. Yankees RHP Carl Pavano is making $9 million this season. That ranks 11th on the Yankees roster.
The Twins starting outfield of Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones make a combined $19 million in 2005. That represents just over one-third of the Twins overall payroll. Mike Mussina ($19 million), Derek Jeter ($19.6 million) and Alex Rodriguez ($25.7 million).
The Twins standard starting infield of Michael Cuddyer, Juan Castro, Nick Punto and Justin Morneau combine to make just over $2 million. Juan Castro is at $1 million. If Jason Bartlett were still the starting SS, but infield would have been just $1.3 million. That is less than Ruben Sierra makes to pinch hit from time to time. Add in the fact that Joe Mauer makes just $325,000 and the Twins have a very inexpensive infield. What does the infield of the Yankees make? Well, the combination of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Tino Martinez makes $48.365 million, and that included Cano's $315,000 salary this year! It doesn't include Jason Giambi's $13.4 million in salary this season to DH and PH.
The Yankees set up men, Mike Stanton, Tom Gordon, Felix Rodriguez and Paul Quantrill each make between $3 and $4 million. Their average is $3.474 million. The most consistent performer has probably been Tanyon Sturtze, who is making just $850,000. The Twins bullpen of JC Romero, Terry Mulholland, Juan Rincon, Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier combines to make $3,409,500.
What would you rather have? Alex Rodriguez at about $25.7 million, or the Twins starting rotation (best in the league with Radke, Santana, Mays, Lohse and Silva) for about $25 million? Or maybe you'd prefer that Yankees pitching rotation (Johnson, Mussina, Brown, Pavano and Wright) at $83.8 million?
And what does it all mean? Does it mean championships? So far, it has. Fact is, there is not only a lot of cost in this roster, but a lot of talent. Just by talent, they have been able to win the AL East. But even so, that isn't the Yankees goal. They only have one goal, and that is to win the World Series. The Yankees put themselves in the position to be there every year, but the World Series is a small sample size and there are no guarantees. But there talent has also become older. Those big, long-term contracts that looked good a few years ago suddenly don't look go great, do they? Alex Rodriguez, as good as he is, is not worth over $25 million in today's market. Was it really a wise investment to acquire the 42 year old Randy Johnson and subsequently sign him to a two year extension? the obvious example of a poor financial situation is the fact that the Yankees owe Jason Giambi another $75 million over four more seasons!
Personally, I enjoy watching the Twins play. I like that they can compete with the Yankees with their roster of primarily home-grown talent. I love seeing a lineup that includes Luis Rodriguez, Brent Abernathy, Terry Tiffee, Matthew LeCroy, Mike Redmond and Michael Ryan beats the mighty Yankees! It is fun to see them bunting runners over. It is great to see a diving attempt at a ball that the player has no chance of actually catching. I like seeing guys hustle on the basepaths. There were two times over the weekend when there were foul fly balls down the right field line and Gary Sheffield came within feet of getting there, but he made no dive, no effort to catch the ball. I just kept asking myself how Dustin Mohr would have looked diving for the ball.
Look at the scoring summary in the Twins five-run inning:
M. LeCroy doubled,
M. Redmond hit by pitch
L. Rodriguez singled to right
M. Ryan reached on bunt single to pitcher.
B. Abernathy hit sacrifice fly to left center.
LeCroy can hit, but that's about it. He plays his role. Mike Redmond is the backup player playing so much because of Joe Mauer's sore groin. Luis Rodriguez has been in the Twins system for eight years and was finally rewarded. Michael Ryan was lights out for the final month of the 2003 season, then ended up in the doghouse in 2004 before being sent down to Rochester. He worked hard this year and earned his call up. Abernathy is a minor league free agent that the Twins just gave a chance to.
I know I prefer the Twins way of doing things. I like following a player from the draft, through the minor leagues and eventually to the big leagues where he will stay for a number of years before be becomes too expensive and goes elsewhere only to be replaced by another player. Yes, there are many times when I wish that the Twins would spend more money, but what would that do? Sure, we could have signed Doug Mientkiewicz to a long-term deal and kept him around. But would that have been best for the Twins if they had Justin Morneau in the system? They could have kept AJ Pierzynski and paid him millions. I enjoy the strategies of an organization who does play within a budget.
Following the game, the Twins options Terry Tiffee to Rochester. He needs it. They also put Grant Balfour on the 60 day disabled list to make room for Glenn Williams to be called up from Rochester. I actually smiled huge when I read that and said "Good for him!" out loud. Williams, you may recall, signed a huge free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves shortly after his 16th birthday. The Australian largely a disappointment with the Braves organization and never made it to the big leagues. He spent six years with the Braves organization and followed that with five years in the Blue Jays system, the past three in Syracuse. He has been a minor league nomad the last few years, always putting up decent numbers but never enough to get a big league call up. Well, his time is now here. Sure, when he came to spring training with the Twins, no one really ever thought he'd have a shot at making the team out of spring training. I never thought he'd make it this year. Of course, let's be honest, he wasn't exactly the team's first choice. Michael Cuddyer, Juan Castro, Jason Bartlett, Luis Rivas and Nick Punto made the Opening Day roster. Then Terry Tiffee was called up. Then it was Luis Rodriguez. Last week Brent Abernathy was recalled. And finally, with Tiffee's struggles, it was Williams time. But it isn't like it was undeserved. Williams has been hitting well most of the season, but particularly in recent weeks. It really is a feel-good story, and I hope he gets a chance for an at bat or two.
JC Romero came in for the 8th inning and promptly allowed the first three batters to reach base, one of them scoring a run to cut the Twins lead. Romero was way off. Jesse Crain was brought in with two on and none out, and he got Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada out without allowing a run. He was throwing hard than we have seen him so far this year. That was the key moment in the game. The Twins went on to score a few more runs and cruise to an easy win.
The team has a day off today. Hopefully a few guys will be able to heal up soon and play starting tomorrow against the Arizona Diamondbacks. I am curious to see if Jacque Jones will get some time at 1B. It will keep all four outfielders in the lineup in National League stadiums. But what happens when Justin Morneau is deemed healthy? I assume Ford will be the odd man out.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Yankees or anything baseball. Feel free to e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Once in awhile, I will get an e-mail from someone asking how one of the Twins minor league affiliates are doing. They probably would like to know they're team's record or standing in the league. I usually will name off a few names of guys that are playing well for that team, or even a couple that are not performing great. Fact is, that in the big scheme of things, I really don't care how they are doing. Sure, like anyone, I would prefer to see them win a lot, win a league title, etc. That would be best for the fans that come to watch their games. However, for me, the minor leagues serve one purpose, and that is to prepare players for the big leagues. Most obviously will never get there, but the job of the minor league coaches is to make the major league team strong through development. So, I hope that answers that question.
Friday - REDWINGS 3, Norfolk 2 - Garrett Jones seemingly broke out of his slump. He went 3-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Glenn Williams was 2-5 with a double. Chris Heintz was 2-4 with a double. Luis Maza made his first Rochester start this season and was 1-4. Jimmy Anderson got the win and went 5.2 innings. He gave up a run on six hits and two walks. Beau Kemp got four straight outs. Ricky Barrett got the next two. Willie Eyre gave up an unearned run on a hit in 1/3 of an inning. But Travis Bowyer came in and got his 14th save with a scoreless 9th inning.
Saturday - REDWINGS 0, Norfolk 3 - On this night, the Redwings managed just five hits, but Garrett Jones had two of them. Jason Bartlett knocked a double. JD Durbin's roller coaster ride continued, this time with a quality start. He went 7.2 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out six. Ricky Barrett recorded the final out.
Sunday - REDWINGS 5, Norfolk 13 - Scott Baker started and for the second straight start, he did not do well. This game, he gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk in just four innings. Henry Bonilla came in and gave up four runs in just one inning. He gave up three hits and walked three. Brent Schoening then gave up three runs over the final two frames. He gave up six hits and walked one. The offense was led by Jason Tyner who went 4-5 with his third double. Augie Ojeda went 2-3 with his ninth double and second homer. Corky Miller knocked his fourth home run (yes, it was just his fifth hit).
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Friday - ROCKCATS 2, Portland 10 - Ben Pattee, Luis Jimenez and Jake Mauer each had a double, but the Rockcats had just five total hits on the game. Daylon Childress started and gave up seven earned runs in four innings. He gave up five hits and three walks while striking out four. Jim Abbott pitched the final four innings. He gave up three runs on three hits and struck out four.
Saturday - Game 1 - ROCKCATS 9, Portland 10 - The Good News - The bats worked! Alex Romero went 4-4 with two doubles and a triple. Luis Jimenez was 3-5 with two doubles. Danny Matienzo was 2-5. The Bad News - The pitching didn't go so well. John Thomas started and gave up five runs (2 earned) on eight hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. Bobby Korecky gave up a run in 1.1 innings. Pat Neshek came in for a LONG save opportunity and in the ninth gave up three runs. All told, he gave up four runs on six hits, a walk and a hit batter in the loss. This one game pushed his ERA from just over two, to just over three.
Saturday - Game 2 - ROCKCATS 4, Portland 6 - The questions about Danny Matienzo were never about whether or not he can hit. The question will have to be how to get him into the Twins lineup. The man continues to rake! In this game, he was 4-4 with his tenth and eleventh home runs, and four RBI. Doug Deeds knocked his 16th double. Jan Granado got the start for New Britain. He went 5 innings and gave up four runs on four hits and four walks. Jason Miller pitched the next three innings. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on a hit and a walk.
Sunday - ROCKCATS 12, Portland 5 - A huge offensive output overshadowed a rough start by Francisco Liriano. The lefty gave up six runs (5 earned) on seven hits and two walks in five innings. Kevin Cameron came in and gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and two walks in two innings. Justin Olson gets the win by pitching two scoreless innings. Now to the aforementioned impressive offensive days! James Tomlin led the way with a 4-5 day. He hit his third double. Danny Matienzo went 2-4 with a walk, hit 17th double and his second triple. Alex Romero was 2-5 with a double. Ricky Bell was 2-4 with a double. Gil Velazquez went 2-5 with a walk. Ben Pattee was 2-6. Doug Deeds also hit his 17th double.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - MIRACLE, Sarasota - Rained Out (again)
Saturday - MIRACLE 1, Sarasota 0 (6) - They were supposed to play two games, probably need to make up three or four because of this rain the past few days and nights. But they were able to get one in yesterday before the rains made the second game an impossibility. Errol Simonitsch was the pitcher and probably the perfect selection for a game that needed to get done in a hurry! Simonitsch pitched another excellent game. He went all six innings without giving up a run. He allowed just three hits and again walked none while striking out seven. Only Brock Peterson and Matt Tolbert had hits, and Denard Span knocked in the game's lone run.
Sunday - MIRACLE/Dunedin - Rained Out (yet again)
Friday - SNAPPERS 6, Burlington 1 - You see his name here a lot, but Deacon Burns was at it again Friday night. He went 4-4 with his sixteenth and seventeenth doubles and his 10th stolen base. Mark Zamojc was also 3-5. Josh Hill started and picked up his first win of the year. He went five innings and gave up a run on two walks and three walks. Kyle Aselton went two shutout innings, giving up a hit and two walks. Kevin Culpepper struck out two in his two perfect innings.
Saturday - SNAPPERS 4, Clinton 9 - We knew that he wasn't perfect (didn't we?). Anthony Swarzak finally had a rough start again. He gave up six runs on six hits and a walk in just three innings. Three of the hits were home runs. John Williams pitched four shutout innings. Evan Meeks continues to struggle with his control. In 1.1 innings, he gave up three runs on two hits and four walks. Kevin Culpepper got the final two outs.
Sunday - SNAPPERS 6, Clinton 1 - Jay Rainville has been really pitching well of late. In this game, he gave up just one run on four hits and a walk in seven innings. He had eight strikeouts. Jonathon Martinez gave up a hit but struck out three batters in two innings. David Winfree led the offense. He went 2-4 with his 14th double and 4th homer. Chris Brown was 2-3 with a walk and his first two home runs of the season. Trevor Plouffe went 0-2 with two walks. He had three errors on defense which puts him at 15 for the year.
I didn't spend too much time online this weekend, but found a few articles worth reading and thought I'd share some of them with you:
With the Major League Baseball draft taking place this week, the Star-Tribune wrote a number of great articles on the subject. The best was an article on the Twins long-time scouting director, Mike Radcliff. Yeah, he had the bad drafts when the team drafted Ryan Mills, BJ Garbe and Adam Johnson, but he has also done great in the second rounds and later. It is a fun article to read and discussed his schedule and his and the team's philosophy on the draft and players. And, this article continues to claim that they wanted Joe Mauer over Mark Prior.
The Baseball Savant continued his predictions of the first round of the 2005 draft with picks 11-30. He has some good things to say about the Twins organization while making his prediction for the Twins first round pick.
Steve Dilbeck of the LA Daily News wrote an article about the struggles of Trevor Plouffe so far this season. It is always interesting to get a different perspective on things. It is interesting to know that Plouffe is from Southern California and had never played in temperatures like he did in April in Wisconsin. That is a good excuse. Yes, an excuse, but it does make sense, especially with a kid that still has not turned 19! Lavelle E. Neal wrote yesterday that Plouffe will continue to play despite his struggles.
On that note, I am going to call it a day! I hope everyone has a great week! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
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