Friday July 9, 2004
I'M BACK... I THINK
Well, I am completely into my new house. And, I now have my phone line set up, so I should be back on track for daily writing. I want to thank all of you who kept coming back every day even if what you were reading here was sub par. I do apologize for that. I also want to thank all of you who e-mailed me your ideas and well-wishes throughout the move.
The move is officially over, but there is just so much work involved. I'm not complaining at all, and of course, I am not at all surprised. But, moving is certainly more than just signing papers, getting a key and settling in. First, I packed up all my stuff into boxes. Said boxes are now spread throughout the new house waiting for me to put their contents into a more permanent place. Second, with my house comes a yard with a significant amount of mowing. That's not fun, but it needs to be done. So, I finished that this evening. I have been to the hardware store in town the last three days picking up more stuff each time.
That said, I think I will be very happy living in a house rather than an apartment. My monthly payments will be nearly the same, and the money is at least going toward something, rather than disappearing into oblivion.
Anyway, I will quit yapping about the house (unless something funny happens that I feel like sharing with the world), and start talking baseball and anything else again.
Twins 7, Tigers 1
When I last wrote a half-way decent entry for this site, Twins fans were rather agitated. They were very disappointed with the team following their three game debacle against the White Sox. The Sox come-from-behind win yesterday against the Angels broke their five game losing streak. As you know, the Twins have been pitching incredibly well, which has really masked the fact that the offense has been very good too. Now, the three consecutive complete game shutouts against the Royals by Brad Radke, Johan Santana and Kyle Lohse were one thing. Last night, the Twins faced another AL Central foe, the Detroit Tigers, who came into the game leading the American League in batting average. They were also just off a 2-1 series win against the NY Yankees.
The Twins countered with Terry Mulholland. The veteran lefty has spent much of the season in various roles in the Twins bullpen. Last night, he made his third start for the Twins. The team had hoped he would be able to give them five solid innings and then turn it over to the very rested bullpen. Well, Terry Mulholland was quite impressive last night. He pitched shutout ball through the first five innings. He used a well placed 87-89 mph fastball along with a 79-81 mph curveball to keep the Tigers hitters off-balance. So many times we read that it takes a hard thrower with incredible "stuff" to win baseball games. Terry Mulholland showed that being able to spot your pitches and mix things up and basically just pitch smart can be equally successful. In the top of the 6th, Mulholland hung a curveball on a 1-2 pitch to Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge deposited the pitch into the left-field bleachers to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. He got two outs in the 6th when Grant Balfour was summoned from the bullpen and got the team out of the inning.
See, as impressive as Mulholland was, Mike Maroth was even better. he had a perfect game into the 5th inning. But the Twins got to him in the 6th inning with a single run when Cristian Guzman doubled in Luis Rivas to tie the game. The next inning, the Twins extended their lead against Maroth. Jacque Jones had two hits off the lefty Maroth, including a single to score Corey Koskie. Later, DH Jose Offerman scored Jones with an infield single. But the big blow was a 3-run homer by Cristian Guzman. In the 8th, Torii Hunter doubled in the team's 7th run to complete the scoring.
Again though, the story was the pitching. Mulholland gave up the lone run in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up seven hits and a walk, but also struck out seven. Grant Balfour struck out batters for three of his four outs. He gets credit for the Win and improves to 3-0. Juan Rincon then struck out one in a perfect 8th. Then Joe Nathan came in and struck out two in his inning of work.
I think it is important to give some credit where a lot of credit is due, and that is catch Joe Mauer. In previous seasons, pitchers were not overly fond of throwing to AJ Pierzynski. Despite catching very few games so far this year, it is clear that the pitchers completely trust Mauer. You don't see them shake off Mauer's pitch calls or locations very often. Last night, Fox Sports Net's cameras showed Terry Mulholland telling Mauer he was doing a great job. When Ron Gardenhire pulled Mulholland from the game in the 6th, he again made the point of acknowledging Mauer. It is interesting to me. What does a catcher do to gain such respect from his teammates. Maybe he studies scouting reports rather than playing cards? Maybe he is just very composed behind the plate rather than getting upset at an ump's missed call or a pitcher missing spots? I don't know the answers. All I know is that he is fun to watch.
OK, the Twins and Tigers play each other all weekend. Tonight is Al Newman bobblehead night, so I'm sure there will be a crowd! Here are the weekend's pitching matchups:
Friday - 7:10 - Carlos Silva (8-6, 4.33, 1.47, .316) vs. Gary Knotts (1-3, 4.70, 1.50, .258)
Saturday - 6:10 - Brad Radke (5-4, 3.42, 1.19, .281) vs. Nate Robertson (7-4, 4.39, 1.33, .234)
Sunday - 1:10 - Johan Santana (7-5, 3.89, 1.11, .230) vs. Jason Johnson (6-7, 4.60, 1.35, .269)
Any thoughts on our Twins? They sure are fun to watch, huh? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUES
I know. I missed a lot of games. And, I would love to, but time restraints will force me to just start now. So today, I will just go over some of the teams' highlights from yesterday. Then I will highlight a few of the players who have put up some good numbers. Shannon Stewart and Mike Ryan will start their rehab stints in Rochester tonight.
Redwings Report - Rochester 3, Durham 7 - Jason Kubel went 2-4. Catcher Gabby Torres was 2-3 with a double. Willie Eyre started and went five innings. He gave up four runs on 9 hits and 4 walks. Victor Moreno went 2 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and a walk. Joe Beimel gave up another run, but did record the last two outs. For Durham, BJ Upton had two doubles in five at bats.
You can see the stats for the three Rochester players that are more than ready for a big league opportunity, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Jesse Crain on the left of the screen. Jason Bartlett could be back in a couple weeks from injury. Terry Tiffee has his batting average up to .300 now. He also has 11 doubles and five homers.
Rockcat Report - New Britain 1, Norwich 5 - Luis Maza went 2-4. Garrett Jones went 2-4 with his 14th homer. Colby Miller went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks. Kevin Cameron gave up an unearned run in 1 1/3 innings. He still has not given up an earned run at the AA level.
You can find the stats of JD Durbin on the left of the screen. Here are some others putting up impressive numbers in New Britain:
Luis Maza - .314/.349/.475, 17 doubles, 5 triples, 7 HR, 38 RBI
Kevin West - .294/.340/.550, 28 doubles, 18 HR, 71 RBI
Garrett Jones - .282/.312/.532, 19 doubles, 14 HR, 42 RBI
Scott Baker - 4-3, 2.52 ERA, 58 K and 12 BB in 64.1 IP.
Bobby Korecky - 3-3, 16 Saves, 3.64 ERA.
Miracle Report - Ft. Myers 3, Palm Beach 8 - Ft. Myers had just five hits and they were all singles. Ben Pattee went 1-2 with two walks. Francisco Liriano got the start and went 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on six hits. He had five strikeouts. Levale Speigner gave up just one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Justin Olson came in for the 9th, but it didn't go so well. He got just two outs and gave up six runs. However, none of them were earned.
Swing Report - Quad Cities 10, Kane County 2 -Errol Simonitsch improved to 6-1 with another strong performance. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out seven. Eric Brandon struck out three in his two innings. Billy Mauer pitched a perfect ninth inning. SS JR Taylor went 2-6 with a double and a triple. RF Scott Whitrock went 2-4 with a walk and 2 RBI. 3B Paul Rutgers went 2-4.
Elizabethton Report - E-Twins 1, Greenville 7 - Last night, the Twins Appalachian Rookie League team recorded just four hits in their 7-1 loss to Greenville. Trevor Plouffe had a double. Deacon Burns had a triple. Steven Duguay had a rough start. In 3 2/3 innings, he gave up 7 runs (6 earned) on 8 hits and a walk. Dennis Medina came in and gave up just a walk and a hit in 3 1/3 innings. Jay Sawatski pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two.
Deacon Burns is still raking. He is currently hitting .417/.453/.667 with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs and 10 RBI. Twins top pick, high school shortstop Trevor Plouffe is hitting .243/.303/.343 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and 9 RBI.
OK, with the All-Star game approaching, trade rumors are becoming plentiful. The Twins need a pitcher, so of course names like Kris Benson, Jason Jennings, Miguel Batista and even Randy Johnson are mentioned. The name I hear rumblings about is Barry Zito. I hope the Twins are really investigating that possibility. The Cardinals need a left fielder, so Jacque Jones name gets mentioned. I love analyzing trades and thinking of how each team does. Last night I read the following 'rumor' and just thought it was fairly interesting:
News: According to the phillyBurbs.com, the Phillies and Cardinals have had serious trade discussions that would send Kevin Millwood and Placido Polanco to St. Louis in exchange for Matt Morris and Steve Kline. All four will be free agents after the summer and their combined salaries are fairly close. Millwood's $11 million and Polanco's $3.95 million are $750,000 less than what Morris ($12.5) and Kline ($1.7 million) will make together in 2004.
I actually think that this trade makes a lot of sense for both teams, but I have to give the edge to the Phillies. St. Louis gets a quality starter in Millwood. He has not been spectacular, but he is better than average. The Cards also fill their 2B hole, currently filled by Tony Womack, with the under-rated Placido Polanco. The Phillies get a great starting pitcher in Matt Morris. Like Millwood, he has not been great this year, but when on, he's as good as any non-Prior or non-Schmidt pitcher in the National League. Steve Kline and Tony Larussa got into it recently. Kline is a very good left-handed reliever who will greatly help the Phillies already strong bullpen. The Phillies lose Polanco, but in doing so, they open up the 2B job permanently for Chase Utley who certainly deserves the opportunity. That is why I would give the edge in the deal to the Phillies. The ironic thing is that these two teams could play each other in the NL playoffs.
Nomar Garciaparra has been rumored to be on the trading block again. Benson could be traded to about a dozen teams. If there are any names out there and available, you know the Yankees will be rumored to trying to acquire them. Usually, the rumors end up fading and the trade deadline passes with few, if any, trades involving really big names.
So, do you have any trade rumors you think are intriguing? Should the Twins make a deal, and if so, for who, and who would we trade in return? E-mail me.
That is it for me for today. I am back and I will really try to make up for this week's poor showing with some good entries next week. Thanks again for sticking by me and this site.. As always, if you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me.
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