Monday July 12, 2004
Twins Minor League Reports
All Star Stuff
Discussion Question of the Week - results to be posted on Thursday
Rupert in Indi
Thoughts on Twins fans
Shaq to the Heat?
Welcome back to the work week everyone! How was your weekend? I hope you were able to enjoy the good weather and get some relaxation in.
So then Twins three weekend games against the Tigers did not go well at all. Rudy T will be the next Lakers coach, but Shaq appears to have been traded to South Beach. Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau played in the Futures Game on Sunday. Chris Coste had a really good weekend series. Luis Maza did too. Jason Bartlett starts some rehab in Ft. Myers. Shannon Stewart and Michael Ryan played in Rochester.
The major league baseball season's halfway mark is upon us. Seems like a good time for us to take a look back and see if our preseason predictions are coming to fruition (Surprise Teams), or if, as per usual, I am completely off base (check out my choice for AL Saves Leader... ouch!). See below the next Discussion Question, which deal with your thoughts on the Twins.
MLB Preseason Thoughts
Twins Preseason Thoughts
Here are how things went for the Twins, their affiliates and a few other thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and have yourself a wonderful week! If you have any thoughts on anything, please e-mail me.
Twins/Tigers Series - Tigers 3, Twins 1
Friday night - Twins 3, Tigers 5
Carlos Silva took the mound for the Twins with a lot to measure up to. Things started out very rocky for him. Right away in the first inning, All-Star SS Carlos Guillen hit a three-run homer. Then in the second inning, 2B Jason Smith hit a solo shot. Smith hit his second homer of the game (and third of the season, in 41 at bats) in the 4th inning. The Twins were down 5-0 and things weren’t looking good at all. In the 5th, Matthew LeCroy scored the Twins first run on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Joe Mauer hit a sacrifice fly to score another run. In the 8th inning, Matthew LeCroy drove in another run with a ground out. Unfortunately, that was it for the scoring, as the Tigers won 5-3.
Silva lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on 9 hits. Three of the hits were homers, something that Silva just doesn’t give up when he is on. He is again going through a rough period. I really believe that it can be attributed to him becoming a starter and his arm just going through another dead period. I think he will come back just fine.
JC Romero had another fine relief outing. He went 2 1/3 innings and didn’t give up a run, a hit or a walk. He struck out just one. I think his minor league stint was very good for him. Primarily, it put him back into his place, but secondly, he regained confidence, knowing that his stuff is good enough to get hitters out. He doesn’t have to be perfect for batters to miss.
Aaron Fultz also pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. Speaking of someone who needs to get his confidence back… Fultz really struggled after Romero was sent down. Before that time, he had been great. If Romero and Fultz can both put it together, the Twins can feel very good about them, Grant Balfour and Juan Rincon setting up Joe Nathan.
Torii Hunter continues to swing a hot bat. He went 3-4 with two doubles. Cristian Guzman had two more hits and a walk and a stolen base. Matthew LeCroy, despite pretty much being unable to walk, went 2-4 as well.
Saturday night - Twins 2, Tigers 4
Remember the Sega commercial in the mid-90s where Brad Radke mocked his tendency to give up a lot of home runs? “Real as Radke” was the slogan. This year, Radke has been great, and has really limited his home runs allowed. Saturday night, that wasn’t the case. Omar Infante hit a solo homer in the first. Ivan Rodriguez hit a solo home run in the 4th. The Twins tied the game in the 5th with RBI singles by Cristian Guzman and Michael Cuddyer. However, right away in the top of the sixth, Dmitri Young hit a solo home run. The scoring was completed in the 7th when Aaron Fultz gave up a solo home run to Marcus Thames.
Was it a case of three bad pitches for Radke? Probably. Radke himself called the changeup that stayed up to Young one of his worst pitches ever. Radke went 6 innings and gave up the three runs on just five total hits. He walked none and struck out 8. Aaron Fultz got two outs in the 7th, but also gave up two hits, including Thames’ homer. Juan Rincon came in and was great. He struck out two batters of the four outs he recorded. Grant Balfour pitched the ninth and walked one and struck out two.
Because Nate Robertson, a tough, hard-throwing lefty was on the mound for the Tigers, it meant a night off for Jacque Jones, Joe Mauer and of course Doug Mientkiewicz who is missing time anyway with a wrist injury. Michael Cuddyer was at 1B and collected an RBI on his single. Michael Restovich was out in right field and went 2-3 with a double and a walk.
Sunday afternoon – Twins 0, Tigers 2
The home run ball hurt the Twins in the previous two losses to Detroit. I think it is fair to say that the home run ball cost the Twins Sunday as well. I’d like to say that it was just one bad pitch for Johan Santana. The two run homer to Eric Munson proved to be the only run of the game. However, Johan was not real sharp the first two innings. However, after committing an error himself in the third, he got the next 18 Tigers batters out.
And, the Twins hitters made Jason Johnson look like an All-Star. Johnson, who is now 7-7 with an ERA of 4.24, went the distance, giving up just five hits and a walk, and striking out 11. Santana gave up just two hits in 8 innings, unfortunately one of them was the Munson home run. Santana added to his league leading strikeout total with 11 punch outs.
I think it is fair to say that the Twins are in need of the All-Star break. Three straight losses to the Tigers heading in, coupled with another White Sox win, means that the Twins are ½ game behind Chicago in the AL Central. That’s much better than when they trailed the Royals by 7 ½ games at the All-Star break a year ago.
ALL STAR STUFF
FUTURES GAME - The Twins organization was represented in the Futures Game yesterday by Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. Morneau, who is from Canada, played for the World Team, managed by Fernando Valenzuela. Kubel, from California via South Dakota, played for the USA Team and was managed by Goose Gossage. It was a touch game for Morneau. The powerful lefty grounded into fielder's choices his first two at bats before striking out in his next two. Jason Kubel played RF and was 1-2 with a single up the middle against the Tigers lefty Wilfredo Ledezma. You may remember Ledezma was a Rule V draft pick of the Tigers last season and spent the season with the big league club. This year, he is pitching very well at AA. I was impressed with Kubel's approach at the plate. He has a very nice timing mechanism and a smooth left-handed swing. Of course, Peter Gammons calls Kubel one of his favorite players. Ha! although he did back it up saying that he likes hitters that walk more than they strike out, something Kubel has almost done this year.
HUH?? Joe Nathan will represent the Twins in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Oh, and with Curt Schilling deciding not to play in this year’s game, Jake Westbrook was added to the American League roster. That gives the Indians five representatives while the Twins and White Sox have just one a piece. Hmmm… All five are deserving of the honor, but it just goes against what has happened in the past regarding the All-Star selections.
Griffey Out... Again, Beltran In - I hate to even write about it. I really like Ken Griffey Jr., but the last three years have been hard because of his injuries. Saturday, Griffey was chasing a fly ball in deep center and tore his hamstring. He was put on the disabled list and will not play in the All-Star game. He is replaced by the Astros Carlos Beltran. It is kind of a controversial decision since he has only been in the National League for a couple weeks. But I am OK with this choice. He deserves it.
ALL-STAR MONDAY - Griffey is also out of the home run derby. He will be replaced by Lance Berkman of the Astros. I liked what MLB did with the Derby. Despite not being selected to the All-Star game, Rafael Palmiero will compete in the contest. Had Griffey been healthy, all four active hitters with over 500 home runs would have competed. Bonds, Sosa, Griffey and Palmiero were to be joined by 400 homer man Jim Thome. But also, newbies Hank Blalock and David Ortiz will compete. It is always fun to watch, seeing all of the other All-Stars looking on, listening to the interviews.
I also enjoy the celebrity softball game. It's just fun. It's not too deep. It's not trying to be more than it is, but it's fun.
Do you have any thoughts on the All-Star festivities? I shared mine last year. See them here if you're interested.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
So, here we are and the ceremonial half-way point of the season. The Twins are off until Thursday. That day, I will post your thoughts on the Twins to this point in the season. I know I asked these same questions at about the ¼ point of the season, but let’s ask/answer some more Twins-related questions. I will provide a list of questions for you to answer, but please don’t feel limited to it. Feel free to praise the team or vent about them. Let the questions just be a starting point. Please e-mail me your thoughts by Wednesday. Thanks!
1.) What has been the highlight of the first-half of the Twins season for you? Lowlight?
2.) Which player(s) have impressed you the most?
3.) Which player(s) have been most disappointing?
4.) Twins first-half awards…
b. Best hitter?
c. Best pitcher?
d. Biggest Surprise?
e. Biggest Disappointment?
5.) How would you grade the decision-making of Terry Ryan?
6.) How would you grade Ron Gardenhire?
7.) What are you most looking forward to seeing in the second-half?
8.) Which player(s) do you expect to step up?
9.) Do you think the Twins will make any trades? If so, for whom?
10.) Finally, what will the second half bring for the Twins? Where will they finish in the AL Central? Can they win it? Is it a two-team race?
Again, I will post your thoughts to these questions and any other comments you have about the Twins on Thursday. Please e-mail me by Wednesday. Thanks!
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Friday night - Redwings 5, Charlotte 6 (12) - There were a couple of good stories that came out of this game, even if the team lost. Maybe the most important is that Shannon Stewart was able to play. He was the team’s leadoff hitter and Designated Hitter. He went 2-3. Michael Ryan batted second and played in left field. He went 1-4 but had a two-run triple. Both came out of the game in the late innings.
Another good story with this game is the performance of Adam Johnson. He seems to have been moved back into the starting rotation. He went 6 innings and gave up a run on three this and three walks. He struck out six in the no decision. Jason Kubel led the offense with a 3-6 day. Luis Rodriguez was 2-5 with a double and Chris Heintz was also 2-5.
Saturday night – Redwings 9, Charlotte 1 – The Redwings were without Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel, who both were in Houston to play in the Futures Game on Sunday. But, even without them, the Redwings bats were just fine. Shannon Stewart against was the DH and went 1-4 with a double. Michael Ryan replaced Kubel out in right field and continued to hit just like he did last year in Rochester. He was 0-4. Terry Tiffee had a double and his 6th homer in five at bats. Todd Dunwoody had a double and his third homer in four at bats. Alex Prieto was 1-3 with a walk and his third homer of the year. David Gassner picked up his 11th win of the year (to go with his 2.95 ERA). He went 7 innings and gave up no runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out three. Jeromy Palki pitched the final two innings. He gave up one hit and two walks for a run. He struck out two.
Sunday afternoon – Redwings 9, Charlotte 4 – Shannon Stewart played in his last rehab game. He was 0-2 with a walk. After the game, the Twins took Stewart off the Disabled List and sent Michael Restovich back down. Michael Ryan went 1-3 with a home run. Terry Tiffee was 3-4 with a double. Juan Diaz and Augie Ojeda were each 2-3. Luis Rodriguez went 2-4 with his 4th home run. Chris Heintz was 1-4 but had a bases-clearing double. Seth Griesinger started and got the win for Rochester. He went 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out three. Kevin Hodge pitched the final 1 2/3 innings and gave up three hits, but no runs.
Rochester and he rest of the AAA Affiliates have the next few days off too now as they will have their All-Star Game on Wednesday night (on ESPN). Again, Justin Morneau, Jesse Crain and David Gassner will represent the Redwings.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Check out this Luis Maza story. Not only is Maza hitting incredibly well for New Britain, but yesterday, he committed his first error of the entire season at 2B.(He did have one error while with Rochester.)
Friday night - Rockcats 3, Reading 2 (10) - JD Durbin was finally stretched out a little bit. He had been held back by a very definite pitch count in his two previous post-arm surgery starts. He went 5.2 innings and gave up two runs on six hits. He walked none and struck out three. Travis Bowyer picked up the win. He went 3.1 innings and didn’t allow a baserunner, striking out four. Bobby Korecky came in for the 9th and recorded his 17th Save of the season. Luis Maza went 2-5 with a triple and his 8th home run of the year. Matt Scanlon was also 2-5, with 2 RBI. Tommy Watkins came into the game as a mid-game pinch hitter and went 2-2.
Saturday night – Rockcats, 1, Reading 5 – Boof Bonser fell to 5-9 on the season (5.36 ERA) with the loss. He did go 7.1 innings but gave up five runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. He struck out five. New Britain had just five hits. Luis Maza was 1-3 with a walk, but homered for the second straight night, his 9th.
Sunday afternoon – Rockcats 2, Reading 0 – The New Britain offense was only able to accumulate four hits for the game, and a Luis Maza double was the lone extra-base hit. However, because of a very impressive mound performance by Henry Bonilla, it was enough. Bonilla went 7.1 shutout innings. He gave up seven hits and two walks, but worked out of those situations. Jason Miller came in with runners on in the 8th and struck out the two batters he faced. Bobby Korecky pitched the 9th for his 18th save of the year.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday night - Miracle 1, Sarasota 5 - Matt Yeatman took the loss, but he did not pitch poorly. He went 7 innings and gave up 5 runs (3 earned) on 9 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 5. John Thomas and Ricky Barrett each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. The Miracle did not get much offense though. The team had just 5 hits. Doug Deeds and Ben Pattee each had a double.
Saturday night – Miracle 1, Sarasota 2 – Jeff Randazzo was great. He went 7 innings and didn’t allow a run. He gave up just three hits and two walks, and struck out six. Erik Lohse took the loss. He went 1.2 innings and gave up two runs (1 earned). He gave up four hits. DH Jose Morales went 2-3 with a walk and a double. LF Brett Tamburrino was also 2-3 with a double and a walk.
Sunday was an off day for the Miracle.
THE SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Friday night - Swing 3, Kane County 0 - What a pitching performance by Nick Blackburn. He went all 9 innings. He gave up five hits and a walk and struck out four. He now is 5-4 with a 2.30 ERA on the season. Justin Arneson, Brock Peterson and Kyle Geiger each had two hits. Arneson hit his second home run.
Saturday night – Swing 1, Kane County 9 – Not a pretty game for the Swing. Chris Schutt went just 4.1 innings and gave up 7 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 walks. Julio DePaula finished the 5th, recording a strikeout. After Kevin Culpepper allowed two runs in two innings, Peter Tautor struck out two in the 9th. The offense did not do much, with the exception of two players. Justin Arneson was 3-4 with a double and Brock Peterson was 2-4, with the team’s lone RBI.
Sunday afternoon – Swing 3, Kane County 7 – It was bullpen by committee for the entire game Sunday. TJ Prunty got the start and went three innings. He gave up three earned runs on two hits and a walk. Tristan Crawford came in and gave up three runs in three innings. Julio DePaula pitched a scoreless, two strikeout inning. Eric Brandon pitched the final inning and gave up a run on two hits and a walk. C Kyle Phillips was 2-4 with his 8th home run. 2B Paul Rutgers went 3-4 with a double.
Friday night - E-Twins 4, Greenville 3 - Deacon Burns is continuing his great start. He was 2-4 with a double and a homer in four at bats. The homer was his third. Javier Lopez also hit his third homer of the year. Alexander Smit started and went six innings. He gave up one run on four hits and NO walks. He struck out 9. Evan Meek came in and gave up a run on 1 1/3 innings. He gave up a hit and a walk and struck out two. Kyle Aselton picked up the win with 1 2/3 innings of no-hit (one walk) ball. He struck out two as well.
Saturday night – E-Twins 0, Kingsport 3 – The offense had just four hits and struck out 12 times. DH Javier Sanchez went 1-3 with a double and a walk. Matthew Fox started and went just two innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits and two walks. John Williams pitched the next three innings and didn’t allow a run, striking out 5. Jonathon Martinez somehow allowed only one run considering he allowed two hits and five walks.
Sunday afternoon – E-Twins 9, Kingsport 5 – The Twins scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th to grab the lead and take the win. Deacon Burns again led the offense with a 2-4 performance, including his 4th homer. David Winfree went 1-4, but hit a grand slam in the big inning. It was his 4th home as well. Johnny Woodard went 2-3 with his 3rd homer. Glen Perkins made another start. He lasted three innings and gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. He did strike out seven. Jonathon Martinez pitched the next two-plus innings and gave up two more runs. Jay Sawatski pitched 2 2/3 innings. He gave up an unearned run on two hits and struck out four. Jason Bowlin grabs the win with 1 1/3 innings of one hit ball.
GULF COAST TWINS
Friday night - GC Twins 1, GC Pirates 4 - Jason Bartlett made his first rehab appearance. He went 2-3. The GC Twins had just four hits on the game. Mike Rogers went five innings. He gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits and three walks. He struck out six. Rogers is now 1-2 with a 2.00 ERA. A. Garcia pitched two shutout innings before Valentin Pineda pitched a scoreless ninth.
Saturday night – GC Twins 6, GC Pirates 5 – Jason Bartlett got another game at shortstop. He went 2-3 again. Edward Ovalle and Dante Blancarte each went 2-5. JuanPortes was 1-4 but hit his second homer of the year. Patrick Bryant started and gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks in 4 innings. Joe Gault pitched the final five innings to record the win. He gave up no runs on five hits and no walks.
SURVIVOR’S RUPERT IN INDIANAPOLIS
I keep up with the daily box scores of the Indianapolis Indians, the AAA Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Why? Because a former college teammate of mine, Chris Coste, plays for them. Friday night, he went 2-2 (with a double and a home run) in a rain shortened game in which Minnesota native and the Brewers top pitching prospect Ben Hendrickson picked up the win.
While reading the team’s site, I saw that Rupert Boneham, one of the fan favorites on the two most recent Survivor showings, will be in Indianapolis on July 16 to sign autographs and throw out the Indian’s ceremonial first pitch. So, if you’re in the Indianapolis area and are a baseball fan or a Survivor fan, mark your calendar.
THOUGHTS ON TWINS FANS
I received the below e-mail from a Twins fan in Albuquerque named Dewey Moede. I can’t say that I completely agree with everything he wrote, but for the sake of argument, I will post his thoughts.
OPEN LETTER TO THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES TWINS FANS, What is wrong with a lot of you?????? The Twins set a franchise record of three straight shutouts......Mauer is a red hot rookie.....Lew Ford is such a find.....Twins are in first place and Thursday night the Twins draw 14,000 fans!!!!!!!! That makes me sick!!!!!!!! If you so called Twins fans do not start going to the ballpark we will lose the Twins!!!!! Is baseball dead in Minnesota???...I would hate to think so! What a great team the Twins have....and we are near the bottom in attendance! This whole thing makes me sick!!!! Uncle Carl has done Minnesota a great favor in supplying us a winner and he takes a huge loss year after year....God Bless you Carl!!! This lack of fan support makes me want to scream!!!!!!!!!!!
Obviously I can’t speak for all Twins fans. I do know this. It has been an unusually cold summer in Minnesota. I live 6 hours north of Minneapolis, and I know that it has been well below average temperatures here. The Twins Cities have been cool too. Thursday, the weather was actually very nice. I can completely understand people wanting to take advantage of that fact and spend some time outside. That said, 14,000 does seem really ridiculously low based on what Dewey wrote above. Some think that a new stadium would mean more fans and more revenues. I don’t necessarily agree with that. Some say that all it takes is a winner to attract fans and Twins fans are proving that isn’t completely true either. I can’t say that I understand Twins fans at all. I can’t explain their attendance numbers. I do know (or have read) that television and radio ratings are up again. Ticket prices went up again for the 2004 season (yet are still one of the cheapest in the big leagues). Do you have any idea why attendance figures have been so pathetic? E-mail me.
SHAQ TO THE HEAT?
After being taken with the first overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Orlando Magic, Shaquille O'Neal spent the first four seasons of his career in Orlando. He then was traded to the Lakers and spent the past eight seasons there, where he won three NBA Championship Series MVP awards. It appears as though Shaq is headed back to Florida.
The NBA has set aside a 15 day period where free agents can't sign and trades can not be completed. That means that this trade can not be made official until Wednesday.
So, what is the trade? Shaquille O'Neal will head to the Miami Heat. In exchange, the Heat will send Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant, along with a future #1 draft pick to the Lakers.
The general consensus is that the Heat are the clear-cut winners in this deal. There is only one Shaquille O'Neal, and despite his declining numbers last year, he is still the most dominant player in the NBA (Note - Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are the best overall, Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant the best scorers). Having O'Neal probably puts the Heat into a role as a favorite, along with the Detroit Pistons, to win the Eastern Conference. The East is a far smaller league, in general, especially at the 'big-player' positions. Shaq should be able to dominate that conference again.
However, O'Neal does have foot problems. He has missed games the last few seasons. No player in the NBA gets hit and beat up as much as Shaq. Will his decline continue?
Personally, I think that he is fed up with Kobe Bryant and the way the Lakers played last year. He will be excited about playing with a player the caliber of Dwayne Wade who understands the value of passing the ball. I think that Shaq will work out harder than he ever has and come back with a vengeance. IF that is the case, the Heat will have mad a huge trade for themselves.
It was well known that Shaq wanted out of La-La-Land. So, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was really in a tough spot. I think that he got some really great talent in return for O'Neal.
Brian Grant has been a quality center in the NBA for the past decade. Grant was selected with the 8th overall pick in the 1994 draft by the Sacramento Kings. He has averaged 11.4 points and 8 rebounds a game over his career. Last year, he averaged just 8.7 points and 6.9 rebounds. However, in 2002-03, he averaged 10.3 points and 10.2 boards.
We all know how talented Lamar Odom can be. However, he has had both personal and physical issues throughout his career. The Clippers took Odom with the 4th overall pick in 1999. He struggled with the Clippers, never really meeting his potential. But injuries had a lot to do with that. Last year, with the Heat, he put it all together. He averaged 17.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game. That's the type of overall play people have expected from Odom. If he can continue to be that productive, that is a positive for the Lakers
Caron Butler is another incredible talent. Last year, he missed a lot of time with injury. He missed about 15 games, but played in just 30 minutes when he did play. His numbers were 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game last year. The Heat took him with the 10th overall pick in the 2002 draft out of Connecticut. He went on to have a very solid rookie campaign. He averaged 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game. Assuming healthy, he could come back with a great season with the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant seems to be the one running the show for the Lakers. he is certainly not making himself any fans. However, clearly he will be happy with O'Neal out of the picture. Assuming he re-signs with the Lakers, LA could field a starting lineup of: Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant. That isn't too bad. Rick Fox, Devean George will be on the bench. Depth will still be a problem for them.
Likewise, the Heat will not have a lot to surround O'Neal and Wade. Eddie Jones is still around, but who knows who else will be on the team. Maybe former U. of North Dakota star Jerome Beasley will get an opportunity to play.
So, I would concur. The Heat did well in this trade, and I would give them a slight edge. However, with all the hype surrounding this situation, I do think that the Lakers and their fans can be very happy with what they got in return.
That is it for me for today. Happy Monday and have a great week! As always, if you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me.
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