Thursday, June 30, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
Twins Discussion Question
SETHSPEAKS AL ALL-STARS
Good morning everyone!
Yesterday, I posted my selections for the NL All-Star team. Today, I will be posting my American League All-Star selections. But first, I want to post a few other things. First, remember to send me your thoughts on the State of the Twins Discussion Question today as your responses will be posted tomorrow.
The voting for the All-Star game ends on tonight, so I figured that I would take this time to announce my selections for the 2005 All-Star game. It seems to me that everyone has a different opinion on what the All-Star game is and should be.
I happen to believe that the All-Star game is an exhibition. A couple of years ago when the game was called in a tie in Milwaukee, it didn't bother me at all. It made complete sense. When the league decided to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the league whose team won the All-Star game, it bugged me to no end. I believe that it is a showcase of the league and its teams and players. For that reason, I enjoy the home run derby and other activities the day before the game. I also like that all of the teams are represented even if it means that a crappy player from the Royals makes it while a deserving player doesn't.
So, people want to know what my criteria is for my selections? Well, first, I will include at least one player from each team. Second, I believe that it is called the 2005 All-Star game because it represents the stars of this season. If you check out Aaron Gleeman's All-Star choices, he believes that a player should play well for a few years before he should be considered an All-Star. He uses the example of Jack Wilson last year. Wilson had never hit, but then last year, he hit over .300 and had 200 hits. I would have had him on my All-Star team. Aaron wouldn't have. I certainly am not saying that I am right and he is wrong. If you go by the definition of "Star", he is probably more right than me. If two player have very similar numbers, I will likely choose the player who has been better longer.
So, lets get to it. Who are my 30 NL selections. Today, I am going to post my American League All-Stars. For those of you who would like to compare, Aaron Gleeman posted his American League and National League All-Stars this week over at The Hardball Times.
Jason Varitek - Boston Red Sox (.310/.378/.556 with 16 doubles, 13 HR and 33 RBI)
Ivan Rodriguez - Detroit Tigers (.295/.307/.451 with 21 doubles, 5 HR and 29 RBI)
AJ Pierzynski - Chicago White Sox (.257/.310/.449 with 8 doubles, 11 HR and 31 RBI)
Varitek is arguably the best catcher in baseball right now. It may not even take much of an argument. Offense, Defense, he is the definition of what a catcher should be. Pudge Rodriguez, even after losing those 25 pounds, is still producing some quality numbers. And AJ makes this team as much for his team's success as his own numbers, which are quite solid as well.
First Base -
Mark Teixeira - Texas Rangers (.287/.356/.550 with 19 doubles, 20 HR and 58 RBI)
Shea Hillenbrand - Toronto Blue Jays (.303/.361/.448 with 17 doubles, 8 HR and 37 RBI)
I only went with two 1B because of the DH position means that others can play the position if necessary. Teixeira is incredible. People can talk all they want about the Mark Prior/Joe Mauer debate. I think the clear winner was the Rangers who took Teixeira a couple of picks later. Hillenbrand makes it because of his average and extra base power. I chose him after considering both Richie Sexson and Paul Konerko who have more homers but have batting averages below .250.
Second Base -
Brian Roberts - Baltimore Orioles (.365/.437/.617 with 20 doubles, 5 triples, 13 HR, 44 RBI and 16 SB)
Alfonso Soriano - Texas Rangers (.276/.308/.544 with 22 doubles, 19 HR and 48 RBI)
As clear cut as the choice of Derrek Lee is as NL MVP, I think that Brian Roberts is the clear choice in the AL through the season's first half. He got off to a great start and has maintained his numbers. Power, speed, plate discipline, Roberts is the complete package. Soriano continues to mash, putting up monster power numbers down in Texas. Jorge Cantu was also considered. There is just no justification for two Devil Rays to make the roster.
Miguel Tejada - Baltimore Orioles (.319/.365/.604 with 24 doubles, 19 HR and 60 RBI)
Derek Jeter - New York Yankees (.304/.393/.452 with 11 doubles, 10 HR, 35 RBI and 9 SB)
Michael Young - Texas Rangers (.321/.369/.495 with 14 doubles, 11 HR and 38 RBI)
If not for Roberts, teammate Tejada would be my choice for MVP. He could be anyway. He has proven to be far better than many ever would have guessed. Average and power and he continues to drive in a lot of runs. Derek Jeter is 'so overrated that he is underrated.' Fact is, he just puts up quality numbers every single season. And Michael Young continues to impress with his third straight great season.
Third Base -
Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees (.329/.424/.589 with 16 doubles, 20 HR, 66 RBI and 8 SB)
Melvin Mora - Baltimore Orioles (.300/.357/.513 with 17 doubles, 14 HR and 46 RBI)
I think that Alex Rodriguez is more comfortable in his second season in The Bronx. He is putting up MVP-like numbers like he did in Seattle and Texas. He may not be a good teammate, but he is a great hitter! Melvin Mora has proven that his two huge seasons were not flukes with his third straight quality season. He is injured now, but should be back soon. Hank Blalock barely misses the cut, in part because the other three Rangers infielders made the team already. Eric Chavez could be the A's representative, but he is not hit well most of the season.
Johnny Damon - Boston Red Sox (.339/.383/.463 with 19 doubles, 5 triples, 3 HR and 41 RBI)
Vladmir Guerrero - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (.342/.400/.586 with 16 doubles, 12 HR and 41 RBI)
Manny Ramirez - Boston Red Sox (.276/.361/.548 with 15 doubles, 19 HR and 68 RBI)
Ichiro - Seattle Mariners (.298/.338/.425 with 8 doubles, 7 triples, 6 HR, 27 RBI and 18 SB)
Carl Crawford - Tampa Bay Devil Rays (.275/.310/.414 with 12 doubles, 7 triples, 7 HR, 44 RBI and 24 SB)
Gary Sheffield - New York Yankees (.300/.396/.502 with 17 doubles, 13 HR and 55 RBI)
The three starters are very good. Damon is the best leadoff hitter in baseball. Vlad Guerrero is putting up huge numbers even with missing three-plus weeks due to injury. Manny Ramirez is having an off-season, yet still has an OPS of almost .900. Ichiro continues to hit a lot of singles. Crawford is my selection for the Devil Rays. He isn't hitting great and is far from a stereotypical leadoff hitter, but he does a little of everything and much because of his speed. I almost went with the Indians' Grady Sizemore over Gary Sheffield, but after looking at the numbers again, this is the right choice.
Designated Hitter -
David Ortiz - Boston Red Sox (.304/.382/.578 with 22 doubles, 19 HR and 66 RBI)
Travis Hafner - Cleveland Indians (.297/.404/.544 with 20 doubles, 13 HR and 48 RBI)
Ever since he left the Twins, two things have happened. First, he has stayed healthy, and second, he has done nothing but hit like crazy! (and no, I haven't changed my mind about the Twins doing the right thing in not offering him arbitration.) The North Dakotan Hafner is having a very quietly spectacular season. I wondered if his output last year was a fluke. It wasn't!
Starting Pitchers -
Mark Buehrle - Chicago White Sox (10-1, 2.42 ERA, 122.2 IP, 17 BB/79 K)
Roy Halladay - Toronto Blue Jays (11-4, 2.40 ERA, 131 IP, 16 BB/98 K)
Matt Clement - Boston Red Sox (9-1, 3.33 ERA, 102.2 IP, 32 BB/82 K)
Johan Santana - Minnesota Twins (7-4, 3.78 ERA, 112 IP, 21 BB/131 K)
Bartolo Colon - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (10-4, 3.02 ERA, 110.1 IP, 23 BB/82 K)
Kenny Rogers - Texas Rangers (9-3, 2.46 ERA, 98.2 IP, 33 BB/44 K)
Jon Garland - Chicago White Sox (12-3, 3.25 ERA, 108 IP, 19 BB/53 K)
Danny Haren - Oakland A's (6-7, 3.89, 104 IP, 32 BB/78 K)
Santana leads the league in strikeouts and is the reigning Cy Young Award winner. Garland leads the league in Wins. Halladay is having an excellent comeback season. Colon is doing great in his second season with the Angels. Matt Clement is having a great first season in Boston. Kenny Rogers is having his best season ever, even though he is old and then hurt his hand and now could be in some trouble for taking out two cameras. Danny Haren, well, the A's have to have at least one representative, and that ERA is decent, right? If I had to pick, Mark Buehrle would start the game for me because of his great record and the low ERA.
Relief Pitchers -
Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees (4-2, 0.91 ERA, 17/19 Saves, 29.2 IP, 11 BB, 32 K)
BJ Ryan - Baltimore Orioles (0-1, 1.82 ERA, 18/20 Saves, 34.2 IP, 9 BB/55 K)
Jesse Crain - Minnesota Twins (7-0, 0.99 ERA, 36.1 IP, 8 BB/14 K)
Andy Sisco - Kansas City Royals (1-2, 2.75 ERA, 39.1 IP, 22 BB/42 K)
OK, Rivera was an easy choice. He continues to amaze! Imagine if you took out his first week of the season when he blew two save chances against the Red Sox! BJ Ryan has been great for years and now he is the Orioles' closer so people will notice. Just look at that BB/K ratio as well as the 14.3 K/9! Here is where it gets tricky. Essentially, I have picked two set up men over the likes of Randy Johnson. But I do feel that middle relief is an important part of the game now and if someone has been incredible, they should be rewarded. Jesse Crain has been incredible, racking up wins (which I think are overrated), but with a great sub-1.00 ERA. And lets be honest, Andy Sisco has been the lone bright spot in the Royals season so far. Do you think that a Rule V draft choice has ever made an All-Star team? And yes, I do apologize to all the Cliff Politte fans out there!
Well, there you have it, the SethSpeaks 2005 AL All-Star team. It will be interesting to see who makes it and who is left home, and why. If you have any opinion on any of these selections, I would love to hear them, please e-mail me.
This injury situation for the Twins is just ridiculous! Justin Morneau, Luis Rivas, Nick Punto, Brent Abernathy and Glenn Williams have all had to miss time due to injury. After Michael Cuddyer was hit by a pitch in the hand and had to leave the game, Michael Ryan had to come in from RF to play 3B the last few innings. With Williams being put on the Disabled List, Abernathy will come off of it on Friday. If Cuddyer has to go on the DL, will Nick Punto be able to come off of it? If not, then what? In yesterday's game, it could have really hurt them. There were times when Luis Rivas or Luis Rodriguez could have been pinch hit for by Matthew LeCroy or Torii Hunter, but because of how that would affect the defensive alignment, it wasn't possible.
That may be as big of a difference between the White Sox and Twins this year so far. The Twins have been crushed by injuries. The White Sox have had very few injuries. Maybe that doesn't make up the full 9+ game difference, but the Twins would be closer if not for the injuries.
I suppose there are many out there who are upset at Brad Radke again today. Yes, he gave up two first inning runs and took another loss. However, he gave the team seven innings and gave up just three runs. That is a quality start. And yet, Radke will be bashed by the Twins "fans." He did his job! He can't control the fact that the Twins couldn't score more than one run against the Royals' DJ Carrasco.
And now the Twins have a day off and it is much needed! I hope that the players are given the full day off, with no baseball activity. No practice. No extra BP. Nothing. Just a day to get away!
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins or Royals or anything baseball. Feel free to e-mail me. And don't forget to answer the Discussion Question on the State of the Minnesota Twins.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
JD Durbin picked up his third win of the season last night. The righty went five innings and gave up just one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out two. Henry Bonilla then threw two shutout innings. Willie Eyre threw a shutout inning. And Travis Bowyer picked up Save #17 with a scoreless ninth. Kevin West led the offense going 2-4 with his 14th double and his 9th home run. Jason Tyner and Chris Heintz were each 2-4 with a double. Nick Punto played his first game of his rehab stint. He went 0-4 with an RBI.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
New Britain scored six runs, but Binghamton scored 10, so it was another loss for the Rockcats. Doug Deeds led the offense with a 3-5 day. He collected his 24th double. Danny Matienzo went 2-4. Matt Yeatman made the start and lasted just four innings. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and a walk. Jason Miller then gave up three runs in just one inning. John Thomas and Daylon Childress combined for three shutout innings.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Ft. Myers got a great start from Adam Harben on their way to a 3-1 win over Tampa. Harben went five innings without giving up a run. He gave up two hits and walked two, but struck out three. Jan Granado pitched two perfect innings. Peter Tautor gave up just one run on a hit and two walks in his inning (his FM ERA is now 19.12). Jannio Gutierrez pitched a perfect ninth for his 3rd save. Brock Peterson led the offense with a 3-4 day including a double and a triple. Matt Moses hit his 14th and 15th doubles in five at bats. Matt Tolbert was also 2-5.
Beloit took a rough 9-1 beating last night against Kane County. David Shinskie fell to 1-6 with a 7.75 ERA with his 3.2 inning, 7 earned run performance. John Williams gave up just a run over the next 3.1 innings. Kyle Aselton then gave up a run over the final two innings. For the offense, David Winfree went 2-4.
E-Town finally took a loss. Matt Garza started and gave up six runs in 3.2 innings. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out six. Danny Vais then got the next four outs. Alexander Smit came in and took the loss giving up three runs over 1.1 innings. Kevin Slowey blew the save, but he went 1.2 innings allowing just one hit and striking out two. Juan Portes led the offense with a 3-5 day. He had his second double and second home run. Mark Robinson went 2-5. Edward Ovalle went 2-4. Caleb Moore went 2-4. Dustin Bensko went 2-4 with his third double.
TWINS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
So, today, I am going to ask a bunch of questions and ask for your thoughts on them. It will be a discussion question with the answers posted on Friday. Sure, it is possible that the Twins could win their next four games before this, but they are against the Royals and the Devil Rays, so those wins won't necessarily tell us where the Twins are. However, it is also possible that they lose a few of those games, and maybe that tells us exactly what we need to know. So, here are a number of questions on the Twins for you to think about:
Right now, the Twins are 40-33, 9.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central. They have basically the same record as they did last year, however, the White Sox are playing incredible baseball.
1.) The Twins have problems everywhere right now.
Brad Radke is giving up a lot of homers and has returned to a big league average pitcher. He has not been as good this year as last, not that any of us would have expected that. What is the difference?
Let's be honest, Johan Santana has not been pitching like Johan Santana is capable of yet this year. Sure, we have seen a few glimpses of greatness and plenty of strikeouts, but the consistency has not been there as much as the long-ball. What is wrong?
Joe Mays is in the final year of his Twins contracts. Mays will become a free agent at the end of the season, for no compensation. The Twins couldn't possibly be interested in bringing him back next year, could they? If not, can they trade him for anything? Maybe a minor league bat?
I just can't imagine the Twins offering Kyle Lohse arbitration. Scott Boras is his agent and you would have to assume that he would accept it and the Twins would have to pay him about $4 million to be poor next year again. So, instead of losing him for nothing, can he be traded? I envision him going to the Braves and working with Leo Mazzone and becoming the star pitcher that we all think he is capable of becoming. I hope for him that that can happen, however, it will never happen with the Twins
Joe Nathan is off, and he has been for the last four to six weeks. Is it just inconsistent save chances or is something different with what he is doing?If the Twins fall out of contention, is he worth trading now before he starts getting expensive? The team could give the closer's job to Jesse Crain, or even call up Travis Bowyer to replace him for the league minimum.
Juan Rincon has been better of late, which is good to see again. He joins Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier as the consistent bullpen options right now. Do you think that his suspension affected his pitching? Physically, or mentally?
JC Romero continues to be awful. Pennant contending teams usually like having another lefty out of the bullpen. Maybe the Twins can get something, anything for him!?
Same thing with Terry Mulholland. He has not been bad and has really done a lot in his roles for the Twins, but he can't be in the Twins plans and trading him would allow someone new to get some pitching time with the Twins.
Right now, it is impossible to say much bad about the offensive performances of a few Twins (Hunter, Stewart, you guys), but others are really struggling.
Which of the Twins outfielders is most expendable and should be traded now? The easy answer is Jacque Jones because 1.) he's struggling and 2.)the Twins will get nothing in return for him this offseason. However, Torii Hunter is going to get expensive starting next year, so should the team look to trade their clear leader? Maybe his value is as high as it'll get right now?
Here is an interesting thought. The Twins have done well the last couple of seasons bringing up players from their minor league system who have found a way to contribute right away. Michael Ryan two years ago. Justin Morneau, Terry Tiffee last year. This year, it has been the likes of Luis Rodriguez and Glenn Williams. However, it seems that eventually the league catches up to them and finds ways to get them out. So, who is to blame for that? Is it the player for not making adjustments? Is it the hitting coach for not finding the means to help the player know what the pitchers are trying to do to each hitter so that they can work on those weaknesses? I don't know what the answer is to that question. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Michael Cuddyer is a big question mark to me. I personally still think that he will hit, and I also think that he will hit for power. However, he has not found a consistency this year, even with consistent playing time. He will show some power at least for doubles, but then he'll go in prolonged slumps. He takes a lot of pitches and some walks, but seems to find himself in 0-2 and 1-2 counts frequently. Do you still see a future for him with the Twins? Also, is it just me, or is Michael Cuddyer far better defensively at 2B? Suddenly his offensive output doesn't look quite as bad if he plays that position.
Juan Castro or Jason Bartlett?
What can they do with Luis Rivas? Keep marketing him as a utility infielder and try to get a low Class A outfielder for him? Release him?
With Glenn Williams and Luis Rodriguez playing well, what are their roles, particularly when Nick Punto comes back? Let's not forget that the Twins slump very directly corresponded with the Punto injury.
What should be done with Matthew LeCroy?
Will Justin Morneau make the necessary adjustments. I think he'll stay in that .280 range, but when will his power stroke come back?
There are probably more thoughts or questions that you ahve about the Twins right now. I guess the overall summary Discussion Question is:
What is the state of the Twins now and what should be done about it?
PROCESS - OK, the process remains the same for the Discussion Questions. This question is posted today and will be kept up all weekend. I will also post it on Monday. I will then take all of the responses to these questions that I receive and post them on this website on Thursday night at 11:30 p.m. So, read and re-read the questions, consider your response, and then be sure to e-mail me before Thursday night.
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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