Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
YOUR TWINS THOUGHTS
Good morning everyone! Today, this website is yours! I am in some training for work all week, and that training includes homework. ICK! So, I have 35 pages to read, so I need your help. Last week, I posted a Discussion Question asking you what you think that the Twins should be looking to do to take the next step forward. Should they make trades, or should they stand pat? What types of trades are you thinking? Who would you want and how would you propose that the Twins acquire those players? Finally, which Twins players/prospects should be considered 'untouchable'? I was very happy to see that many of your took the time to respond to this question, and I think there were some great responses. So Thank you!
To be accurate, here was the Discussion Question:
Right now, the Twins are 35-23, 4.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central.
a.) What moves do the Twins need to make to win the division? Trades?
(my current opinion really is that the Twins don't need to do anything. Their record is not only second in the division, but it is second in the American League. They are one of just three teams in all of baseball with a Winning Percentage over .600. But there are places and positions where the Twins can improve. What are those positions, and who are some players that the Twins should be targeting? Feel free to propose a few trades for our readership to think about.
b.) Finally, and maybe most importantly, which Twins minor leaguers would you classify as "Untouchable" ?
Seth's Quick Response
I am going to leave this posting up to you, but I do want to throw out just a couple of thoughts. First, I must point out that it is probably too soon to be having this discussion, but it's still always fun. The Twins have a great record and don't need to panic by any means. Eventually (and how long have we been saying that?) the White Sox have to cool down! The starting five are doing well, so I don't see any need to trade for a starter. The bullpen is great and Travis Bowyer is more than ready. The Outfielders plus Ford are fine. Mauer and Morneau are great. I am still high on Michael Cuddyer. I was completely against Juan Castro becoming the starting, every day shortstop. I still am in Jason Bartlett's corner, but after seeing Castro play every day, I now appreciate just what he brings to a team. And I think we all know that the pitchers know exactly what he and his glove bring to the team. So, that leaves second base. So, there are a couple of options. The first would be to go out and acquire a 2B (Polanco would have been very nice!). Secondly, they could trade for a third baseman and move Cuddyer back to 2B. However, I have to be honest. After reading what some of the options for trade might be, I am not at all excited about making any changes, certainly not yet. So, at this point, I am of the opinion that the Twins should just stand pat and see what they need in six weeks.
As for "untouchable" minor leaguers, I think there are really just a couple. However, even those guys could be had for the right price (which would be a Roger Clemens type guy). But I believe there are plenty of minor leagues in the Twins system that should not be available, except in the right move; Scott Baker, Jason Kubel, Jason Bartlett, Travis Bowyer , Francisco Liriano, Anthony Swarzak, Jay Rainville, Kyle Waldrop, Denard Span and Matt Moses. Of those, the only ones I would consider completely untouchable should be Baker, Kubel, Liriano and Moses.
Let's get to it. Here are your responses:
From Scott Ostman
What must the Twins do to win the division? Probably not a whole lot, other than hope that the White Sox find a way to start losing. There's really only one thing on my wish list - a power hitter. Or more specifically, it would be nice to have someone in our lineup that opposing pitchers fear. But overall, you look at the Twins and you see a group of average or slightly above average players that are well-managed and play well together. I can't think of any one position player that should be considered for the All-Star team. That says a lot about the team concept that the Twins embrace. We're loaded in the outfield. And while we have a completely new infield today than we had at the beginning of the season last year, they're managing to get the job done. Rodriguez, Castro, Punto. it doesn't matter who they put at second and short. They seem to be getting the job done. I'm not completely sold on Cuddyer, but I don't think he's awful either. Morneau isn't putting up the numbers that everyone hoped he would, but I think he'll get there. Same with Mauer. I'm a little concerned about his ability to catch long-term, but time will tell.
Pitching-wise, I can't think of anything I'd change there. Short of Nathan's recent troubles, our bullpen is top-notch. Dare I say the best in baseball? As for our starters, what more can you say about Santana? He's as dominant as any pitcher in the game today. Silva, Mays and even Lohse (recently) have been decent. And for all the belly-aching that I do about Radke being overrated, he's been solidly consistent. I can't stand watching him in the first inning as he predictably puts us in a hole each and every game. But then he settles down and goes seven innings.
So give us a guy to DH who can change the way opposing pitchers pitch to us. That's about all we need.
From David Bergner, The Baseball Savant
Great question and I'll try to answer it from an outsider's perspective!
I'm with you on the Twins not needing to do anything to win the division. You know from my blog and our e-mails that I think the Twins are the likely team to come out of the AL and go to the World Series and if the Cubs or Marlins don't face them there, I have a hard time believing the Twins won't cakewalk to a championship.
If you were really looking hard at Minnesota then I think you might want to do something with the the infield. Cuddyer hasn't played well at 3B offensively so far and the SS posistion is fairly weak I suppose. You know I'm not completely thrilled with the outfield in Minnesota but I don't think there is anything you can do with it. It sounds horrible but maybe targeting Joe Randa from the Reds wouldn't be a horrible idea. I'm not sure what the Astros have in store for Morgan Ensburg but his name comes to mind as well. Maybe even Brendan Harris from the Nationals but I wouldn't give up anything to get him. I don't know how you feel about the strikeouts but Russ Branyan wouldn't be a bad fit there either. Sean Burroughs is another name although I don't like him and I don't know what the Padres want to do with him. This at least allows the Twins if they want to, to move Cuddyer to 2B although Nick Punto isn't playing bad.
As for SS, I don't really know. It sounds crazy but I wouldn't count out Bobby Crosby. You know how Beane covets pitching and with the A's spending their first round pick on Cliff Pennington, a SS out of Texas A&M who is supposed to be a Khalil Greene clone, something is going to happen there. I don't know what it would take to get him, but I don't think it's out of the question. The long term deal is odd for Crosby but one that is manageable for the Twins. It's odd and probably wouldn't happen but the SS market is pretty thin and Bartlett hasn't looked too good and Plouffe has looked awful. Who knows?
As for untouchable minor league players, man I don't know. I'd LOVE to have the problems the Twins have and the old adage of never having enough pitching seems adequate to me especially given the Twins small market status. To a certain degree, the Twins are riding the strengths of their bullpen and starting pitching and those two things in my opinion are going to take the Twins to possibly a world championship this season.
I think for me I'd look at the matchups the Twins might face in the playoffs because if one things sort of scares you about the Twins it would be not having much offensive output in the playoffs and Santana and Radke getting into some 2-1, or 1-0 games the Twins lose. So can the Twins find an impact bat on the market and be willing to get him? I'm not sure you can sit Stewart or Jones eliminating a corner outfield position which sort of leads you back to middle infield and who are the real impact bats at 2B or SS, or 3B? The Twins probably aren't going to get any of those types of players and why trade all that pitching for something that might not work?
If Schilling comes back 100% then maybe the matchup against Boston could be tough because their offense is outstanding, but that is assuming the Red Sox make the playoffs.
I don't know man, I'd stand pat if I was the Twins.
In response to the first question, I would propose nothing. Keep Castro at short all year with either Punto or one of the kids just called up at second. Hopefully, Mauer can stay healthy and Cuddyer will settle down, make less errors and hit .270 something for the season with 12-15 homers. If he does, he will become a fixture at third for the next several years.
The list of minor leaguers that is untouchable is long. Beginning with Rochester, I would include Scott Baker, Travis Bowyer, Jason Bartlett and Ricky Barrett, unless the deal was for a young middle infielder in which case Bartlett could be included. For the right young player, I would trade Garrett Jones because Matienzo is right behind him.
New Britain's list would include only Francisco Liriano and Jason Miller. I would hesitate at trading Alex Romero, but he could be included in the right deal. Colby Miller has also done an excellent job, but his history of injuries makes him expendable. If Garrett Jones is traded, Dan Matienzo should then also become untouchable...so one of the two would be on this list.
Ft. Myers list is long, including Erol Simonitsch, Glen Perkins, Adam Harben, Nick Blackburn, and Jay Sawatski. Position players included would be Denard Span and Matt Moses.
Beloit's list is also long, including Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Waldrop, Jay Rainville and Jose Mijares. Position players would include Javi Sanchez, Dave Winfree, Johnny Woodard and Deacon Burns.
There may be others such as Eduardo Morlan, however, I didn't include anyone who isn't currently playing on one of the four minor league teams.
From Nick Herling
The 2005 Twins can win a division championship, and a World Series championship. The way I look at it the Twin's and the White Sox are the two best teams in the American League, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them both in the ALCS.
The way the Twin's are playing right now, it would be foolish to make a move! In my opinion Terry Ryan is the best GM in baseball, and any move he makes I have faith in.
There are a few question marks: When Gardy decided to put Castro at short I said what the heck is he doing putting that piece of crap in there. Well my opinion of Castro has changed after watching him play 25 games or so. He's as sure handed as they come, and he is a better hitting SS than the Twin's have had the past 3 years. I know he's not a great hitter, but he is better than the guy they had hacking at the plate the last 4 years. What's he batting with Washington now - .185? Yes, Jason Bartlett is the future SS but I think Juan Castro is the perfect fit for the Twin's this year.
If the Twin's could trade for a solid 2B or 3B, I would go for that. As long as Nick Punto stays healthy, I love him over at 2B. I wish we still had Corey Koskie at 3B, but I guess I'll live with Cuddyer over there. For some reason I just don't like that guy, but what other options do the Twin's have? I was hoping Tiffee would eventually end up there, but I don't think that will happen. Do you think they could swing a trade with the Yank's Cuddyer for AROD? Just tell George that Cuddyer's got potential!! No, I know Cuddyer's the 3B, I just hope he picks it up a little.
The Twin's have one of the best OF's in baseball + Lew Ford. If they all keep hitting like they are, watch out.
They also have the M & M boys who are the Twin's future at 1B and C. Hopefully we don't see those guys sitting on the bench too much more this year. Knock on wood!!
I think the Twin's pitching staff is great!! If someone wanted Kyle Lohse, I would probably give him away. I just don't think the guy's a winner, just look at his last name for god's sake.
The only minor leaguer I see as "untouchable" is Toby Gardenhire.
The Twin's are a fun baseball team to watch, and I don't think any big moves will be made this year. The team you've seen so far this year is the team you'll see in the WS!!
From Andrew Hanson
Although there are a lot of players out there on my wish list, namely players like Jake Peavy and Brett Myers, there are no players currently rumored to be on the trade market worth trading a quality Twin for. Mike Sweeney, enjoy your stint in Oakland or Texas. Our outfield is more than set (at least for this year), the starting pitching and bullpen's success speak for itself, and the infielders are coming along. Once the infield is solidified, basically when Punto comes back, we should be set there as well. Personally, I think Cuddyer, Castro, Punto, and Morneau or more than capable. Keep Jason Bartlett and Terry Tiffee at Triple A, keep Luis Rodriguez and Michael Young in the show, and sell Luis Rivas for scrap metal.
I guess if I had to go out on a limb, I will say something drastic and proclaim that if the Twins do anything, they should sell high on Joe Nathan. I like Joe as much as anyone and am thoroughly impressed with his work. I am more impressed however with Jesse Crain, who I would have full confidence in handing the ball to in the 9th inning. Joe's numbers are phenomenal, but does anyone else get the impression that when there is a true pressure packed situation, he looks more nervous than a groom on his wedding day? Joe has not yet stepped up in the big game (Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS comes to mind). Plus, he is not ready for Social Security status but he's no spring chicken either. Just a thought, but I fully expect Jesse Crain to be the Twins closer in the future, and if the opportunity presented itself, why not sell high on Nathan? I guess this makes sense to me as many teams are desperately searching for a closer.
As far as Twins prospects go, I'm sure that I am not the only fan impatiently waiting for J.D. "the self proclaimed Real Deal" Durbin to come around. I anticipate the day Francisco Liriano and his 97 mph heater enter the show. Jason Kubel could be a .300/20HR/90 RBI player. I do not pretend to posses the knowledge of the minor league clubs that Seth does, so I say keep the prospects where they are.
Regardless of any front office moves, there is no doubt in my mind the Twins will win the division. I do not care what ESPN or Hawk "He Gone" Harrelson says, the White Sox are a bunch of upstarts who have somehow managed to scrape by on countless one-run victories. Yes, Mark Buerhle is a stud. However, John Garland, Jose Contreras, and Freddy Garcia are vastly over-rated. Dustin Hermanson was a career punching bag before this season, and his 90 mph fastball will be smoked out of ballparks everywhere once summer hits full swing. If Scott Podsednik so much as sneezes, this is a third place team. I cannot, and will not, picture the likes of Aaron Rowand, Joe Crede, Juan Uribe, Paul Konerko, and Willie Harris as play-off caliber players. The Big Skirt will contribute nothing. Ozzie Guillen is full of hot air and the minute adversity rises, will start pointing fingers like a spoiled five year old whose Christmas presents where lost in the mail.
To conclude I will be the first in line to order Twins playoff packages. They have all the components to go deep into October. I don't know if they have the firepower to stand up to St. Louis, but I believe we will find out in roughly 4 months. If the Twins stay away from injuries and get their lineup solidified, there is no stopping this team. Just ask Peter Gammons.
P.S. Hawk Harrelson, your catch-phrases, rhetoric, and voice are tired and extremely annoying. Do the world a favor and hang up your mike while you still have an ounce of dignity. If I have to hear "He Gone" during another rare Sox strikeout, or "1-0 Good-Guys," again, I believe I will lose my lunch.
How does this sound for a batting order:
1. Ford - Potential to be excellent table setter
2. Mauer - Prettiest swing since Will Clark
3. Stewart - Best clutch hitter on the team, hands down
4. Mornaeu - You don't have to hit 40, but 30 would be nice
5. Hunter - As Bert says, can carry a team when hot. Can also be absolutely awful when not.
6. Jones - See Hunter
7. Cuddy - See Hunter
8. Castro - Excellent Hit and Run option, and defense speaks for itself
9. Punto - I wasn't sold at first, but I now consider myself a Punto fan. Does anyone play as hard?
I wanted to chip in with my answers for your latest discussion.
1) I think the major pieces are in place, with the biggest holes being the middle infield (offense-wise only), third base, and the bench. The problem is, not many good middle infielders are going to be available. Here are the top five guys I'd entertain:
1: Rob Mackowiak (IF/OF, Pirates), who can play 2b, 3b, and OF. He offers a nice amount of flexibility, and good production. I'm not sure how available he is (but c'mon, it's the Pirates here), and it might take a few prospects to get him. I think he's worth it.
2: Adam Everett (SS, Astros) Excellent glove. Astros pitchers rave about his defense, though you don't hear much about him nationally. Decent with the stick (better than Riva...ahem, some other options). Very good speed, and scouts think he'll be a good H&R guy. Helps out the bottom of the order.
3: Morgan Ensberg (3b, Astros) Cuddyer is serviceable, but if there is a chance to upgrade, I think Terry Ryan should take it. Ensberg fits the bill in salary, age, and defense. He's awakening offensively, too. He might come a little pricey (Durbin and Bonser?), but Houston's definitely in de facto rebuilding mode. So it's possible.
4: Shea Hillenbrand (1b/3b/DH, Blue Jays) The rumors around him have started, and when Toronto falls out of contention, this is an option I'd explore. I like him best as the DH, but it helps he can fill in at the corners, if needed. A much better option than Tiffee, and he hits lefties really well, which is a major plus for the Twins.
5: John Mabry (LF. Cardinals) Though he's not doing great this year, Mabry can play the outfield, first, and third. He hangs in well against lefties, and he'd be a great bench bat. Cheap, too. Shouldn't take too much to get him.
Bonus: Andy Marte (3b, Braves [AAA]). Could help out this year in the stretch run, and then take over 3b next year, moving Cuddyer to 2b or utility. It'd probably take Jacque Jones to get him and a PTBNL, but the Braves need an outfielder (or two) this year.
There has been a lot said about Biggio, but I just don't see him leaving Houston. He'll finish his career there, ring or not. The guy I'd most love to see come here, Wily Mo Pena, isn't going to leave the Reds for anything less than a major deal. The Twins could pull off a trade like that, but it's not in Ryans MO. Still, I can dream.
2) Prospects are tricky, but there are a few I think the Twins need to hold on to:
1: Scott Baker - He''ll be ready for the big time next year.
2: Fransico Liriano - Too much upside to trade. Left-handed is always a plus.
3: Garrett Jones - Not unless he left in a package for Wily Mo Pena.
4: Scott Tyler - On the 40-man, and still only at A-ball. Can't wait to see him pitch for the big club.
5: Glen Perkins - MN kid, I want to see how he pans out. Left-handed, too.
Bonus: Denard Span. Hunter will eventually get too expensive. If Kubel meets expectations as a hitter in 05, Span may be the answer when Hunter's contract is up.
From Jeffrey Moynagh
1) The Twins don't NEED to make any moves to win the division. The White Sox are playing way over their head while the Twins are playing much more to their regular level. If they need to do anything, I think they need to get a good solid middle infielder, maybe a veteran with a good bat. Rivas is worthless, Castro is adequate, bartlett isn't ready yet and Punto is injury prone. A solid guy who can hit over .275 and field decent and is dependable.
2)Maybe just Liriano and Matt Moses
From Gordon Thyberg, aka Lonestar
Where are places and positions where the Twins can improve?
DH, 3B, SS, 2B, LHB off bench, 2nd futility IF, 2nd Lefty
What moves do the Twins need to make to win the division?
Making up 5.5 games on the ChiSox will be darn hard, even with 14 games left with them. Making those kind of moves may be futile or pyrrhic in nature.
What moves do the Twins need to make to win the wild card?
The Twins lead Texas by 3, Boston by 4, Cleveland by 5, Toronto by 6 and the Yankees by 6.5. I would want some assurance regarding the wild card as well as competitiveness in the playoffs.
What are those positions, and who are some players that the Twins should be targeting?
1. Obtain alpha male DH.
There is only one on the market - Mike Sweeney. [Todd Helton doesn't count because of his contract thru 2011.] Sweeney plays acceptable defense at 1B. Pohlad can easily afford Sweeney's salary for 3 months in current year. Pohlad's objection is always in the subsequent years. The Twins won't have to worry about next year because Sweeney either declares himself a free agent or the Twins trade him for a PTBNL (or a prospect). That assumes Sweeney stays healthy and performs. Right now he's hitting .840 OPS (compared to his average for the last 3 years of .928). I know that is normal statistical variation and likely to correct itself, but when you combine it with his health risk and disdain for destinations other than southern Cal, I will pass.
So now we need to create the composite alpha male
Proposed Trade #1: Obtain Matt Stairs from KC. Stairs is hitting against RHP's. (compared with his 3-year average of . When he isn't starting DH, he could be the LHB off the bench. Who would you rather have, Stairs or Michael Ryan? Guerrier or Gassner might turn the trick.
Proposed Trade #2: Obtain Jonny Gomes from Tampa. Gomes is the guy who said "Now you know why we lose 100 games a year here." He's been exiled ever since. He's hitting .321/.446/.660/1106 in a hitter-friendly park in a neutral league. I would expect him to hit .300/.400/.600/1000 against LHP's and .255/.325/.455/780 against RHP's. Next year he would help replace either Jones or Stewart on the roster at about the major league minimum. I would offer Harben, likely settling on Bonser. LeCroy is now expendable.
2. Improve offense at 2B and SS.
Proposed Trade #3: Obtain Ryan Freel from Cincinatti. Freel is 29 and enjoying a career year, hitting .306/.419/.438/856. Long term he will hit more like Polanco. Freel is not the defensive virtuoso that Polanco is and he doesn't play SS, He's undervalued by the mismanaged Reds. The Baseball Savant (a Reds fan) says the Twins can get him for JD Durbin - a lower price than Polanco. Plus the Twins can have him for 2 more years for the same salary they would pay Polanco for the balance of this year.
Acquiring Freel allows the Twins to move Punto to SS and Castro to the bench and send Rodriguez and Rivas to Rochester. Bartlett backs up Punto and joins the 25-man roster for the playoffs.
3. Improve offense at 3B and 2nd IFspot on bench.
Proposed Trade #4: Obtain Joe Randa from Cincinatti. I have mixed emotions about this because I expected Cuddyer to outhit Randa. I still think he will for the rest of the year. I will let Gardy decides who starts and who sits. I would nat have normally included Randa, but the Baseball Savant said the Twins could have Randa and Freel for Durbin. I would think the Twins would have to add Eyre and Abernathy. Even without Randa, the Twins could move Punto to 2B, Bartlett to SS, and Freel to 3B if Cuddyer continues to struggle.
4. Improve bullpen depth.
Proposed Trade #5: Acquire George Sherrill (LHP) from Seattle. trading LeCroy and Gassner/Guerrier, perhaps in a 3-way trade. Let Ryan decide whether Sherrill or Bowyer replaces Guerrier in the bullpen. Promote Neshek to AAA.
Which Twins minor leaguers would you classify as "Untouchable"?
I imagine my list is much different and shorter than most.
* Scott Baker - next year's #4 starter.
* Jason Bartlett - Twins shortstop of the future (perhaps as early as July 2005)
* Travis Bowyer - affordable set-up man who will allow the Twins to trade one of their power relievers in the future
* Matt Moses - better average and Isolated Power than Kubel (at a slightly younger age) with comparable plate discipline but inferior K rates. The Twins have precious few position prospects.
can we possibly trade the manager? (maybe for a first round bat boy)
we could throw in the hitting coach. I am just flat out sick of all gardy's dumb moves. (of course hind-sight is always20/20, but he has frittered away at least the 5.5 game we are behind this year. I do not buy this past year's record thing. (don't tell me what you did for me in 2002,when you did coach decent, the last 2 years we were flat out the best team in the central so we should have won). This trying to let the pitcher get the win vs. the team getting the win is getting old. (see stick and ball guy today and past writing from the geek) He's an average coach at best. Dump his salary, and Ullger's and let the Anderson or maybe Rick Peterson (a's pitch coach) take over and maybe mauer's and morneau's dad as hitting coach (at-least Anderson would use our great bullpen to our advantage.) To answer the ? (do nothing, we should still be able to get the wild card) (still a lot of baseball left ,but I have little faith in "fritter gardy")
(Seth know i know you might say "ouch" to this little rant ,and you know that I am not a gardy fan(alway will be a TK believer, only Minnesota coach who ever won us anything be it hockey,football or baseball or hoops.) (besides "let me write your term papers Clem") keep up the great writing
From Brad from Wisconsin
The Twins NEED help, but not that much. We can not expect to win a WS with Abernathy, Rodriquez, Rivs, Punto, Castro, & Cudyer at 2B, SS, 3B and the other being pinch hitters and occasional subs. My opinion is that we either need a 2B or 3B upgrade and the guy needs to GOOD. We don't need a Wes Helms or some other retread. Maybe someone like Boone in the last year of his contract or Casey Blake or Rob Mokowiak. We need another bat in that infield. Having 1 or 2 guys that can't hit is fine, but not 3 starters. I also wouldn't mind the Twins making a push for Josh Fogg, he is better than our 3-5 starters. I think Pitt would jump for a package of Lohse, Durbin, & a couple more prospects.
What ever happened to those rent a bat guys that were around in the 80's & 90's?? Guys like Winfield, Molitor, Dave Henderson, Rickey Henderson, Don Baylor, etc... We could use one of those type of guys coming off the bench down the stretch. Maybe someone like a Raul Ibanez, Craig Wilson, or Durazo. Hey I'm realistic, there is no way we can go out and get a Sweeney type of player.
As far as who I would consider untouchable........ NO ONE! Do you remember back many years ago when MacPhail wouldn't trade Willie Banks to the Yankies? How about the Dodgers the past 2 years, they wouldn't trade Edwin Jackson and his ERA is over 6 in AAA this year. I would prefer not giving up Liriano, Perkins, Swarzak & Moses. But we have so much depth in pitching that we can use these guys to make our team better today!
From Jim Mohl
Let's start with the pitching, since that's the easiest to deal with. Like many others, I felt the Twins needed a left-handed specialist in the bullpen --- until I looked at the numbers. Would it surprise you to know that the Twins rank second in the AL --- second in all of MLB, as a matter of fact --- in terms of Opp. OPS by LHB's? It certainly surprised me. Their .679 is only 2 points behind the leader (Toronto) and 7 points better than Cleveland, which is the only other AL team within 60 points of them! The White Sox rank 6th, 83 points worse than the Twins. Moreover, when you look at individual performances, the entire bullpen has performed even better than the team as a whole, with Rincon having the highest Opp. OPS, .673. Everybody else out there has turned in sensational numbers against lefties, ranging from Crain's .310 and Guerrier's .317 to Nathan's .538. (Our 2 LHP's, Mulholland and Romero, are both in the low 400's right now.) I'd still like another lefty, but it obviously isn't a high priority. I certainly wouldn't give up a good prospect to get one.
Among the starters, only Radke is performing worse than the ChiSox staff against LHB's, but he has been downright awful (.868). Only Cincinnati's staff among the 30 teams has been worse. The 4 HR's he gave up on Sunday (3 to Choi, 1 to Drew) had a lot to do with it. He simply must do better. I think he will; he has never had this much trouble against LHB's before. Meanwhile, the rest of the starters range from excellent (Santana, .565) to very good (Mays, .668) to just above average (Lohse, .743; Silva, .751). If Radke gets straightened out, the Twins should have little to fear from LHB-dominated clubs.
The news isn't nearly as good when we face RHB's. The Twins rank 7th in the AL at .709. Being in the middle of the pack isn't all that bad, unless your two main division rivals rank 1st (ChiSox, .631) and 3rd (Indians, .666). More than anything else, this explains why Chicago is in first place and why Cleveland has been coming on strong. We don't need to finish first here, because of our dominance over LHB's. But we must narrow the gap. The bullpen has been excellent here as well, with 2 notable exceptions: Guerrier (.900) and Mulholland (.923). Solving the Terry M. problem is simple: don't allow him to face any good right-handed batters. He is a LOOGY, nothing more. Guerrier presents a different problem. He's a RIGHT-handed pitcher who can't get RHB's out but is very tough on LHB's! I don't get it. Maybe it is a fluke due to small sample size; we'll see.
Among the starters, Santana is excellent again (.612), Radke is very good (.683) and Silva is still above average (..744). That's the good news. Both Mays (.851) and Lohse (.869) are performing very poorly against RHB's, far worse than they do against LHB's. Apparently Guerrier's disease is spreading. Thetwo of them have been so bad that, if they constituted the entire staff, they would rank 29th out of the 30 teams against righties. One or the other must improve or we will need another starter.
Turning to the batters, the Twins do very well against RHP (4th, .763). Moreover, their chief rivals really struggle here: Cleveland ranks 8th at .740, Chicago next-to-last at .696. It is truly amazing the White Sox have managed to win so many games while hitting so poorly against righties. Maybe this solves the mystery: the Sox have 189 RBI against righties in 1,531 AB's; the Twins also have 189 RBI's in 1,519 AB's. Essentially no difference. Clutch hitting, anyone?
The 3 J's (Justin .995, Jacque .891 and Joe .878) are simply destroying RHP this season. All we need there is health. Among the other regulars, only Cuddyer (.660) has hit poorly against righties. Castro's .267 OBP is horrible, but he (almost) makes up for it with a .427 SLG. (That is considerably better than LeCroy's .390 and right in line with Ford and Hunter.) Still, one or the other must improve or a change will be necessary on the left side of the infield. The 3-headed monster playing 2nd base (Punto, Abernathy & Rodriguez) has actually done very well vs. RHP (.815). Of course, I'm ignoring the 4th head, which was mercifully lopped off some time ago.
Our batting against lefties is another story entirely. We rank 10th in the AL with a .720. That's 147 points behind the #1 team, the White Sox! They are running away with this category, leading the mighty (?) Yankees by 56 points for the top spot. There is no way we can ever come close to them in this category. Still there is no excuse for trailing such as these: Tampa Bay, Oakland and Kansas City, 7-8-9 respectively. We must do better.
Torii Hunter has been a one-man wrecking crew against LHP's with a 1.052 OPS! That's the problem: he's only one man. There's a huge dropoff after that to Cuddyer and LeCroy, both around .815. Surprisingly, JJ, who we all know can't hit lefties, is doing it this year at a .790 clip. Lew Ford has posted a decent but uninspiring .751. After that, it gets pretty ugly. The other 2 J's (or the M&M boys, if you prefer) have really struggled (Justin .609, Joe .554). Both have OBP's under .300. I think it is time to consider platooning at both catcher and first base with Redmond and LeCroy. Imagine having both Mauer and Morneau waiting on the bench for a right-hander to come in!
The biggest shock (to me, at least) is Shannon Stewart's performance against LHP's. His OBP (.284) is awful and his SLG is nearly as bad (.313). He's never had trouble with LHP before, so I have to believe/hope this will turn around. Even if it does, though, we figure to have a tough time all year with strong lefty-pitching teams. I think we need a right-handed power-hitter.
From Andy Wink, Twins Killings
Loved your reader response column about possible moves needed by the Twins! Lots of good ideas there. My opinion is that they are fine for now, but July 31 is aways off. Maybe our needs will more evident then. That said, what do you think about a trade for one of these players?
Roberto Petagine - DH - BOS - AAA
Johnny Gomes - OF - TB - MLB/AAA
Rocco Baldelli - OF - TB - MLB
Delmon Young - OF - TB - AA
Joey Gathright - OF - TB - AAA
The TB outfield is loaded with young talent, but their whole system is thin on pitching. It might be a good fit for both teams if we could deal some pitching depth for one of those guys. Jones will almost certainly be gone next year and no one can be sure if Kubel will be ready or even hold up. That knee injury was more like an explosion from what I've heard. I'd love to see Petagine picked up as a DH. He was a perennial All-Star/MVP candidate in Japan for the last 5 years and is toasting AAA for something like .321/.433/.607.
(Seth's Thoughts - Petagine - No Thanks! He may have ripped up Japan, but he's no better an option that anyone the Twins have on the bench. Gomes - I have no problem getting him for a low prospect, but he'd be a 5th OF for this year. Baldelli - he's not available, and he's not healthy. Also, where would he play? Delmon Young - There's no way that the Rays would trade him at this point! Gathright - I wish, he's going to be great, but again, he'd cost too much and do nothing for the Twins this year.)
Thank you very much to all of you who participated. I think it's a fun question, always fun to talk about such things. If you would like to add to this, please send me an e-mail and I'll likely add them to this posting.
Not really much for Twins Thoughts today. It's really unfortunate for the Twins and their fans that Barry Bonds will not be playing in the Dome this week. But the Giants come to town for three games against the Twins. Here are the pitching matchups:
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
The Twins signed their first round pick, Matt Garza, to a deal that includes a $1.375 million signing bonus. They also signed second round picks SS Paul Kelly, P Kevin Slowey and 3rd rounder, LHP Ryan Mullins.
Monday - REDWINGS, Indianapolis - Rained Out.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Monday - ROCKCATS 5, Reading 7 - Alex Romero has really been hitting well of late. Just a little over a week ago, he was hitting about .227. Last night, he went 3-4 and is now hitting .271. He also hit his 6th and 7th home runs of the season. For good measure, he stole his 7th base too. Danny Matienzo jumped back over the .300 mark by going 2-4. Daylan Childress got another start. In two innings, he gave up four runs on four hits and three walks. I just can't imagine why he is still in the organization. I would have to think that he will be let go soon. Justin Olson went the next 5 innings and got the loss. He gave up three runs on six hits and three walks. John Thomas pitched a scoreless eighth.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Monday - MIRACLE 1, Lakeland 2 (11) - In extra frames, the Miracle were still only able to get six hits. Felix Molina went 1-2 with a double and two walks. Scott Tyler gave up a run on two hits and three walks over seven innings. He struck out eight. Julio Depaula went three innings without allowing a run. Jannio Gutierrez had a bad game. He didn't get an out and gave up two hits and two walks when the winning run scored.
Monday - SNAPPERS 4, Kane County 11 - Deacon Burns was again the offensive leader. He went 3-5 with two doubles. Terrance Patterson went 2-3 with his 3rd home run. Josh Hill got shelled in his five innings. He gave up six runs on 10 hits and two walks. Kyle Aselton gave up two runs in his two innings. Then John Williams came in and gave up three runs in two innings.
That's it for the day! I hope you enjoyed this! 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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