Thursday, July 12, 2007
Five to Follow
Good morning from very hot Orlando! Yesterday, I had a flight from Minneapolis to Orlando. As one would expect at this time, the flight was delayed, but just for one hour, so that isn’t too bad. Today will be a rather busy day again, but I again wanted to continue to keep current postings available because you deserve it. Seriously, I appreciate so many people that are continuing to come to this site despite the fact that I have been gone so much the last month or so and come up with shorter, less involved postings. Thank you!
Today, I wanted to post my thoughts on five stories that I would like to follow in the second half of the Twins season. If you have other stories, please feel free to post them in the Comments below, or send me a quick e-mail.
1.) The Johan Factor – What Johan Santana has done in the second half of the season in his career is absolutely remarkable. Think about these numbers for a minute. 32-3 with a 1.78 ERA. Those are the numbers that Santana has compiled the last three years. 32-3 with a 1.78 ERA. It had to be typed out again just for dramatic effect! He has allowed less than six hits per nine innings. He has walked well under two batters per nine innings. That’s a WHIP of right around 0.90. In that time, batters have hit just .186 off of him. Now, factor in the fact that Santana has actually been better in the first half than he has been in previous years and that’s why I wanted to get people’s thoughts on what Santana’s final numbers might look like. The real question again becomes whether or not Johan Santana will win his third Cy Young Award.
2.) Johan and Who? – This was one of the questions/stories before the season started as well. At that time, we all wanted to go with Johan and the Youngsters. We were right about how bad Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz would be. We were wrong about how Carlos Silva would do. However, can Silva maintain his slightly above league average performance in the second half? And what about the youngsters? We wanted Matt Garza in the rotation at the beginning of the season. He is now there. I would never put it on a pitcher to perform like Francisco Liriano did a year ago, but can Garza be a solid second guy to Johan? Can Boof Bonser continue to get strikeouts yet start pitching into the seventh and eighth innings with consistency? What Scott Baker will show up from start to start? Kevin Slowey experienced his first rough stretch in pro baseball, and it happened in the Major Leagues. Now back at AAA , it will be interesting to see how he responds and, when he gets another chance, to see how it will translate. And finally, don’t forget about Glen Perkins. His rehab is now starting and I would expect him to spend some time in AAA getting stronger, but he could have a solid impact. And, just to take this point a little further, could we see the likes of Nick Blackburn or Brian Duensing at some point?
3.) The Jasons – I think that we all can agree that we know the level of quality play to expect from the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Luis Castillo and to a slightly lesser degree, Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter. We also know the unfortunate level of play of Nick Punto. However, one thing that I will be watching in the second half, and really expecting, is great improvement in performance from Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel. After hitting .231/.302/.286 in the 9-hole, Bartlett has really thrived in the 2-spot. Since moving to that spot, .296/.367/.407. If he can solidify the #2 spot in the lineup, the Twins will be strong from 1-6. Now Jason Kubel needs to solidify that seventh spot in the order, and of course, I believe that he will. He struggle in April and May with OPS’s in the mid-.600s. In June, he improved that number to .778. And, in 25 July at bats, that number was up to .853. The increase is the result of increased power. He has been averaging almost a home run a week the last six weeks. If he can maintain just that pace, he could end the year with 18-20 homers which would definitely be a much needed boost to the Twins offense. The other Jason, Jason Tyner, well, I don’t hold out much hope. Hopefully he can spend more time as the team’s 5th outfielder than as its DH!
4.) Lofty Numbers? – Can Justin Morneau become the first Twins player to hit 40 homers since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 homers in 1970? Is it out of the realm of possibility for him to become the first Twins hitter to hit 50 homers (Killebrew twice hit 49 and once hit 48)? Will Torii Hunter hit 30 homers again this year? Can he get to 35? Can he drive in 120 runs? Michael Cuddyer could have back-to-back 100 Run, 100 RBI seasons. Did you notice that Jason Bartlett is 17 out of 18 in stolen base attempts so far this season? And that is with a so-so first-half. If he has the type of second half I think he’s capable of, could he get to 40 stolen bases? He would be the first Twins player with 40 stolen bases since Chuck Knoblauch stole 62 bases in 1997. Joe Mauer is hitting .309 right now, but his at bats are still low and he hasn’t had a big hitting run yet this year. I think that he can still get his batting average up to .350, and if he does so, could his on-base percentage get up to .450?
5.) Buy or Sell? – This has really become less and less of a question because of this whole parody in baseball thing. Teams stay close enough to think that they could still make the playoffs. The Twins are currently 8 games out of the AL Central race, and about seven out of the Wild Card. With nearly three months to play, it isn’t really time to say that the team couldn’t still win. I mean, last year they were 10 out in August and won the division. Again, I don’t think that the Twins or their fans can assume that will happen again. So, they need to play things out until late July and see where they are at then and how they are playing and evaluate how they are capable of playing. Juan Rincon should be dealt right now if at all possible, regardless of their 2007 plans. If they determine that they are out of the race, then the Twins should dump a few veterans. Luis Castillo and Carlos Silva should be available. Joe Nathan could fetch several solid prospects. But of course the big question surrounds Torii Hunter. At this point, I have no problem with the Twins negotiating a three or four year deal with Hunter FOR THE RIGHT PRICE. However, if they fear that they will lose him, trading him has to become an option, but for the right price.
BONUS – Former Twins Play a Role – OK, this is a Bonus story to follow. The Twins are chasing the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central and Wild Card races. A couple of former Twins players could come back to hurt them. Kenny Rogers recently returned to the Tigers rotation. In recent years, Rogers has been able to get off to fast starts in the first half of the season, only to slow down in the second half. He missed most of the first half of the season after surgery to remove a blood clot. So, this second half, will he pitch as though it is the first half or the second half? Casey Blake has been a Twins Killer since he left the Twins, but this year he has been a very important cog in the Cleveland offensive attack. I suppose one could say that AJ Pierzynski could help the White Sox get back into the race, but he’s such a non-factor to that team.
There you have it. Five-plus stories to follow. Please feel free to add or subtract from this list in the comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Rene Leveret, Elizabethton Twins
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Michael McCardell, GCL Twins
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Check out LaVelle’s Minor League Notes from yesterday.
Wednesday - Red Wings – The International League topped the Pacific Coast League team 7-5. Matt Tolbert started at 2B and batted second. He went 1-2 with two runs and an RBI. He was replaced by former Twin Luis Rivas (who went 0-1). Jose Morales caught a couple of innings in the middle of the game and went 0-1. Bobby Korecky pitched a scoreless eighth inning despite giving up two hits and a walk. He also struck out Robert Andino to end the inning which appeared on SportsCenter!
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday – Rockcats – The Eastern League All-Star game started, but fog caused the game to be postponed.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 0, Jupiter 3 – As you would expect when the Miracle get shutout, Zach Ward was on the mound. The righty fell to 2-12. He gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings. Kyle Aselton struck out four in two shutout innings. Steven Tolleson had two of the team’s seven hits. He also stole his 18th base. Erik Lis knocked his 19th double.
Wednesday - Snappers – No Game scheduled.
Wednesday - E-Twins 15, Princeton 1 – It seems I type this every game, but “Another Game, another double-digit outing for the E-Twins.” It’s almost ridiculous, isn’t it? Rene Leveret went 4-5 with his fourth homer and three RBI. Rene Tosoni went 4-5 with a triple and two RBI. Deibinson Romero went 1-5, but he hit his fourth homer and drove in five runs. Starling De Los Santos had two doubles in five at bats. He drove in two runs. Eric Santiago went 2-5 with a double. Henry Reyes got the win. He went six innings and gave up one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out nine. Brad Tippett struck out five in two shutout innings. Michael Rogers struck out two in his shutout inning.
GCL TWINS UPDATE
Wednesday - GCL Twins 3, GCL Reds 1 – Glen Perkins made a rehab start for the Twins. He went two innings. He didn’t allow a run. He gave up a hit, walked one and struck out two. Michael McCardell got the win by going five shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked none and struck out nine. Lee Martin gave up a run in his inning. Dan Rondon then pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save. David Hernandez had three doubles in four at bats. Jeanfred Brito and Jon Waltenbury each had a double.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
Here are just some quick thoughts on several topics from the last day or two.
Let me know what you think. Any other topics you would like to see discussed? Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today!|
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