Monday, July 18, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
Good Monday morning everyone!
First things first, I would like everyone to check out The Blogger's Minute that aired on the Twins Magazine show before the Twins game on Saturday. We recorded it on Friday afternoon on just one take. I know I was supposed to keep it to about a minute, but this one ended up closer to two minutes. Oops! I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your thoughts on it. E-mail me.
Today, I have posted some thoughts on the Twins losing three of four against the Angels. Tonight, they will start another important series. Three games against the Baltimore Orioles who the Twins will be fighting for a Wild Card spot with. That's right, it's all about the Wild Card at this point. The White Sox are out of the realm of possibility at this point, so the focus has to be on winning every game that they can and try to position themselves for the Wild Card.
Then there are some thoughts and updates on the games of the Twins minor league affiliates. There were some great pitching performances and it finally looks like Trevor Plouffe is ready for the Midwest League. It's just unfortunate that he got off to such a slow start.
And finally, I have a few other links and thoughts below that I think are fun and interesting!
Have yourself a great day. I hope you enjoy what you read. Please feel free to e-mail me at any time with your comments, opinions or ideas for future topics.
The Twins and Angels played four great, close, highly competitive games over the weekend. All four games were decided by one run. Unfortunately, the Twins came up on the short end in three of the games. Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the series:
Everyone wanted to know how Bret Boone would do in his first Twins' series. Would he help a stagnant Twins offense? Well, Boone went 0 for his first 11 before his single scored Luis Rodriguez with the eventual game-winning run in Saturday night's game. Overall, he was 2-16 in the four games. Did his presence help the team's offense? I'm going to go with "No." Ten runs and 22 hits in four games. Not exactly giving Twins fans hope that it will soon become an offensive juggernaut.
Another topic is the performance (or lack thereof) of Justin Morneau. It sounds like he has lost confidence in himself and his swing. Gardy is telling him to just see the ball and swing hard. In the four-game series, Morneau went 0-12, and on Sunday he struck out three times. Hopefully he can get this thing turned around. It is important to remember that he is still just 24 years old and in his first full big league season. Even I have to admit to being rather disappointed in his performance this year. But because of his age and obvious abilities, I still look for big things for him in the future.
Jim Souhan wrote an article on Morneau's slump. Gardy's comments certainly can't be mistaken for positivity. Morneau sounds confused. However, I think that the true problem is written right in the article. Souhan writes:
Morneau works diligently with hitting coach Scott Ullger. He also asks everybody but the pizza delivery man for tips.
See, the problem is that Morneau has about as much chance of getting constructive information from the pizza delivery man as he does from Ullger. That isn't a new issue, Ullger hasn't really helped a hitter in his Twins tenure. Maybe you can think of one, but I can't. It seems that sometimes the Twins acquire a veteran player who is already a good hitter before he comes to the Twins. When they do get a rookie or young player to come to the big leagues and have success, they are unable to sustain it because adjustments are not made. Again, I don't know the role of the hitting coach in anything, but I do know that Ullger is not a good one! According ot the same article, here was his helpful hint yesterday, "Ullger offered Morneau a pair of thick-lensed, gag bifocals". Nice!
But it seems as though everyone wants to blame Boone and Morneau for the Twins offensive struggles. But in the Angels' series, Torii Hunter went 2-15, and Nick Punto went 1-16.
And if you're like me and believe that four games is way too small a sample size to judge much of anything... Vladimir Guerrero went 1-16 in the series.
On Saturday, Gardy finally moved Shannon Stewart to the three-hole in the lineup. When a team is struggling, it has to try new things. Yes, Shannon Stewart is a catalyst at the top of the order, but he is a very good all-around hitter and this is worth trying. Lew Ford or Nick Punto have the ability to work counts and be solid in the leadoff position. Stewart, Joe Mauer and Hunter have been the team's most consistent hitters and should be in those run producing spots. Forever? Not necessarily, but it doesn't hurt anything to try.
Yes, the Angels' bullpen is incredible. Francisco Rodriguez is almost automatic at the end of games. Remember, I predicted that that Angels would be the American League's representative in the World Series, so losing 3 of 4 is not a big thing in general, especially when all four games are decided by one run. That should tell us that the Twins are not far off. They are a good team. However, it is crucial to start winning one run games again.
The Twins did get four pretty good starts in the series. Here are the pitching lines for the games' starters:
Kyle Lohse - 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, LOSS
Brad Radke - 9 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, LOSS
Johan Santana - 7 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, WIN
Joe Mays - 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, LOSS
In other words, the starters more than did their jobs throughout the series. That is certainly something to hold your hat on. If/when the offense starts hitting, they do still have a real shot at the Wild Card.
Sources far closer to the team than me tell me that the team is looking most closely at Florida's Mike Lowell and Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand.
Michael Cuddyer was brought up after a rehab stint in Rochester on Sunday. A move needed to be made to clear a roster spot for Cuddyer. The Twins decided to send Luis Rivas down to AAA. It was actually shocking. I never thought that they would send Rivas down. He hadn't been down since September of 2000, which is even more difficult to understand. Hopefully this is the last time that we will have to see Rivas in a Twins uniform. Cuddyer is now coming up as a backup, roll-player at the corner infield positions, the outfielders and to pinch hit, which is really too bad.
The Twins now start a three game series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles are 49-42, a game behind the Red Sox and 1/2 game behind the Yankees.
On Saturday, Rafael Palmiero joined the exclusive 3,000 hit club. Not only that, but he joined an even more exclusive, four-person 3,000 hit, 500 home run club that only includes Palmiero, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. In response to the picture at the right, I would like to tip my cap to the incredible career of Rafael Palmiero.
Interesting matchup - Erik Bedard will make his first start since late May. He was part of the key to the O's early season success and threw a great game against the Twins. He will go against the Twins most consistent pitcher in the first half, Carlos Silva.
Here are the pitching matchups for the rest of this series against the Orioles:
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Angels, the Orioles or anything baseball. Feel free to e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
The roster moves continue and are making things pretty cluttered on the left of my screen. As you know, last week, Anthony Swarzak moved up from Beloit to Ft. Myers. He made his first start over the weekend. I asked the question why he was selected and not Jay Rainville. Well, as of Saturday, it just really didn't matter as Rainville was also called up to Ft. Myers. Top draft pick this year, Matt Garza, was moved up to Beloit to replace Swarzak. Now Eduardo Morlan, the Twins 3rd round pick in 2004, was moved up to Beloit to replace Rainville.
With all the minor league transactions, you will want to bookmark Will Young's Organizational Big Board.
Friday - REDWINGS 3, Durham 4 - On the game, the Wings were able to get just four hits. Todd Dunwoody had two doubles. Terry Tiffee hit his 10th homer, and Garrett Jones hit his 16th. Michael Cuddyer went 0-4. Uber-prospect Delmon Young made his AAA debut in this game and went 1-4. Boof Bonser took the loss. He gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out five. Henry Bonilla pitched two shutout innings before Willie Eyre threw one.
Saturday - REDWINGS 1, Durham 7 - David Gassner got shelled again. In 6.1 innings, he gave up seven runs on ten hits and two walks. He allowed four home runs. Jason Miller, who was brought up to Rochester after the AA All-Star game, struck out four in 1.2 innings. Chris Heintz had two of the team's six hits including his sixth home run. BJ Upton and Delmon Young were both 1-4.
Sunday - REDWINGS 11, Durham 1 - Scott Baker has not received run support all season. The Redwings made up for it in this game. Baker gave up a first inning homer to Delmon Young, but just one more hit over his eight innings. He walked none and struck out six for his third AAA win this season. Chris Heintz led the offense going 3-5 with a double and three RBI. Brent Abernathy and Augie Ojeda were both 2-3. Kevin West hit his 11th home run.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Friday - ROCKCATS 6, New Hampshire 2 - I guess I should have stuck to my guns. I've been high on Alex Romero for a couple of years now, but when he got off to such a slow start, I started to wonder. But in the last six to eight weeks, he has been great! On this night, he was 3-3 with his 12th home run. Denard Span went 2-4. Doug Deeds was 2-2 with a walk. Bryan Kennedy was 2-4. Matt Moses was 0-2, but he did have two walks. Glen Perkins picked up his first AA win and pitched well. In six innings, he did not allow a run. He gave up three hits, walked three and struck out eight. Kevin Cameron then gave up two runs one four hits in two innings. Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless ninth.
Saturday - Game 1 - ROCKCATS 5, New Hampshire 8 - The 'Cats had just seven hits and no one had more than one. Luis Jimenez had a two run double and Doug Deeds hit his 26th double. Nick Blackburn made his first AA start and went an impressive eight innings. He allowed three runs on six hits. He walked none and struck out six. Justin Olson pitched a scoreless ninth.
Saturday - Game 2 - ROCKCATS 5, New Hampshire 8 - Levale Speigner was back for New Britain and started. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and two walks in five innings. Kevin Cameron then allowed three runs (1 earned) on three hits in an inning. Matt Yeatman gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits over three innings. Matt Moses hit his first home run, a three-run shot. However, he added three errors in the game that did not help at all. James Tomlin and Danny Matienzo were each 2-5.
Sunday - ROCKCATS 13, Bowie 6 - The Rockcats won a rain-shortened, seven inning game thanks to a great pitching performance by Jim Abbott. The righty gave up two runs on three hits and a walk over seven innings. He struck out six. There wasn't much offense, but Felix Molina went 2-3 with two doubles.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - MIRACLE 7, Brevard County 6 - The pitchers really didn't throw poorly. All six runs allowed were unearned. Tristan Crawford gave up three runs on six hits and five walks in five innings. Jan Granado gave up a run in 2 2/3 innings. Jay Sawatski picked up his 8th save, allowing two runs in 1.1 innings. Kyle Phillips led the offense. He was 2-4 with a walk, his second homer and four RBI. Scott Whitrock went 2-5 with his eighteen double and two RBI.
Saturday - MIRACLE 2, Brevard County 3 - This game, the Miracle were only able to knock out four hits. But Anthony Swarzak was very impressive in his first Florida State League start. In seven innings, he gave up two runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out seven. Chris Schutt took the loss. In his inning, he gave up a run on two hits.
Sunday - MIRACLE 2, Brevard County 3 - Three pitchers (Glen Perkins, Errol Simonitsch and Nick Blackburn) have already moved from Ft. Myers up to New Britain this year. It might just be time for Adam Harben to make that move too. Yesterday afternoon, he threw a complete game shutout over Brevard County. He gave up just five hits over nine innings and struck out six. The key number for Harben is that he had just one walk. He is now 7-4 this season with a 2.33 ERA. Ron Perodin had four of the Miracle's seven hits. Kyle Phillips was 0-1 with three walks.
Friday - SNAPPERS 3, Kane County 2 - I think it is safe to say that Trevor Plouffe is figuring out the Midwest League. On this night, he went 2-2 with two walks. He also hit a two run home run in the top of the 9th that gave the Snappers the win. Kevin Slowey started and went five innings. He gave up two hits, no runs, no walks and struck out four. Angel Garcia relieved him and gave up two runs on no hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Kevin Culpepper got the win after blowing the save. He went 2.1 innings and gave up three hits and a walk.
Saturday - SNAPPERS 7, Southwest Michigan 11 (12) - Trevor Plouffe continued his hot streak. He went 3-3 with a walk, a sacrifice fly and his tenth double. He is now hitting .230. Landon Burt was 3-6. David Winfree went 3-5 with his 23rd double, his tenth home run, had a walk and three RBI. He also committed his 27th error. Jeremy Pickrel went 2-5 with a walk. Kyle Waldrop struggled. In 3.1 innings, he gave up six runs (4 earned) on eight hits, a walk and two strikeouts. John Williams went the next 3.2 innings and gave up a run on three hits. Jose Mijares was impressive again. In three innings, he struck out seven and allowed just one hit. Josh Hill took the loss. He threw two innings and gave up four runs (3 earned) on four hits and a walk.
Sunday - SNAPPERS 0, Burlington - Matt Garza made his first start for the Snappers and, like his first start at Elizabethton, it didn't go so well. He went just 4.1 innings and gave up five runs on six hits and a walk. He did strike out six batters though. Kevin Culpepper came in and went the next 2.2 innings. He gave up a solo home run and struck out five. Angel Garcia went the final two innings. He didn't give up a hit or a run. He walked two and struck out four. The Snappers had 10 hits. Each starter had one. Trevor Plouffe was the only one with two. He was 2-4 with a walk, his 11th double and an RBI. Of course, he also committed his 25th error. Jeremy Pickrel hit his 8th homer and walked twice.
Friday - E-Twins - Rained Out
Saturday - E-Twins 3, Greeneville 2 - Yohan Pino improved to 4-0 with a quality start. He gave up just two runs (one earned) on three runs in six innings. Tim Lahey got the save with a scoreless ninth. The offense had just seven singles and no one had more than one.
Sunday - E-Twins 3, Greeneville 2 - The Twins got a run in the ninth to take the lead and held on for the win. The Twins must have a pretty strict pitch count on Ryan Mullins. He started and gave up two runs over 4.2 innings. He gave up six hits and walked two. He struck out seven. Danny Powers got the win by throwing 3.1 shutout innings. He gave up just two hits and a walk. Tim Lahey got Save #7 with a scoreless ninth. Mark Robinson went 2-3 with a walk. Eli Tintor and Erik Lis each had a double.
GULF COAST TWINS
Friday - GCL Twins 3, GCL Reds 4 - William Luque went 2-4 and had his 6th stolen base. Michael Lysaught had a two-run triple. Alex Burnett started and gave up two runs in three innings. Jose Cordero gave up just a hit, and struck out six, in three innings. Aaron Craig blew the save and took the loss. He gave up two runs on a hit and a walk.
Saturday - GCL Twins 7, GCL Reds 2 - Drew Thompson, the Twins 3rd round pick in June and the son of former Giants 2B Robby, went 4-5 with two stolen bases. Daniel Berg was 4-5 with a double and three RBI. William Luque went 3-4 with two RBI and his 7th stolen base. Brandon McConnell improved to 3-1. He went five innings and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. Nathan Crawford, Walter Patton and Aaron Craig combined for four shutout innings.
Of course, I have to point out this addition to the game's story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune that I thought was very funny:(Note: I have to differ with the boxscore. Berg lined out in the second and flew out in the third, so there was no way he was 4-for-5. He doubled in the fifth, singled in the seventh, but was caught stealing, and singled in the ninth, but was taken out on DeSan's single as a fielder's choice.On the other hand, Knowles was 4-for-5 with singles in the first, third, fifth and sixth. And believe me, there's no way you could confuse Berg, with all that red hair, with Knowles.The Herald writes their game reports from the box, so if they box is wrong, their write up is wrong. And this would not be the first time the box was wrong as we've seen glarig errors and omissions earlier in the season.)
Sunday - GCL Twins 7, GCL Reds 2 - No games scheduled.
First things first - HAPPY ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY to Stick and Ball Guy. He celebrates by posting one of his best entries yet. First, be sure to check out and participate in his new contest and the prize! But also check out his Twins Thoughts! First on Gardy chosing to call out his best player, Joe Mauer and claim that the team missed Henry Blanco. Ridiculous! For those of you who think that 1.) Nick Punto should be starting ahead of Michael Cuddyer at 3B or 2.) Nick Punto has been more productive than Michael Cuddyer, PLEASE read Item #3. And Item #5 asks (and answers) whether Torii Hunter is really being all that productive.
Why does it seem like there are so many youth coaches who act like this?! Obviously it is an incredibly small percentage, but I just hate reading these kinds of stories.
I remember when I was in college when Madonna had her daughter. For weeks, I walked around saying "Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon" over and over. Why do I mention this? Well, I saw this picture of Britney Spears yesterday and wondered if MTV would have a full day dedicated to Britney's babies' births as they did with Madonna's. I remember coming home from class, flipping on MTV and being able to watch Madonna videos and stories all day. My guess? Yeah, it'll happen.
I don't know if this picture is real, but it's funny. It's a team hockey picture from Eagan, Minnesota, and when you'll see it, you'll know what I mean.
Did you see that former Twins catcher Javier Valentin hit two homers yesterday, a grand slam and a three run shot, one from each side of the plate?
Check out Bert Blyleven's thoughts on the second half of the season on his website.
By the way, I know I linked to this last week, but be sure to check out the BrentNet Radio broadcast. I finally had a chance to listen to parts of it and it is very interesting and well done.
Hey, head over to the Twins Junkie site where he has a fun interview with former Twins equipment manager Ray Crump.
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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