Friday, July 20, 2007
Final Look at the Twins/Tigers Series
with the help of Bill Ferris
Last night, I sent Bill Ferris, who does a great job with The Detroit Tigers Weblog, a few questions regarding the series and more. He was kind enough to answer the questions for us. Here you go:
SethSpeaks: The Tigers swept the three game series from the Twins by a combined total of three runs. The Twins pitched well and didn't take advantage of some opportunities. With the theory that the Tigers are arguably the best team in baseball, would you say that the competitiveness and closeness of each game is a statement that the Twins are close to the level of the Tigers?
Bill Ferris: I don't think they are far off, but they do lack offensive depth. The Twins did a great job of holding down the Tigers offense, but the Twins bats either a) couldn't muster opportunities (game 1) or b) couldn't capitalize on the ones they had (game 2). And the Twins bullpen is phenomenal of course, but didn't pitch with the lead in the series.
SethSpeaks: What was the difference in the series, in your mind?
Bill Ferris: I wish I could say the difference was the Tigers far superior team, but really this series came down to a lot of luck. The Morneau play was as freaky as they come and the Twins out pitched and out hit the Tigers in game 2. The Tigers just took better advantage of their opportunities and Twins mistakes.
SethSpeaks: Compare and contrast the starting pitching for each of the teams. Who would you give the advantage to over the next two months?
Bill Ferris: Well, Santana is better than anyone but the combination of Bonderman/Verlander is probably a better tandem than Santana/whoever. After watching Scott Baker in his 2 starts against the Tigers I can't figure how his ERA is north of 5 and Garza has been impressive as well. I'm a little concerned about Nate Robertson and Andrew Miller. We saw the good Robertson in this start, but he's done some Jekyll & Hyde routines this year. Miller has tremendous stuff, but I worry about fatigue come Mid August. Right now I'd give a very slight edge to the Tigers, but take it with a grain of salt from a Tigers fan. If I wore a different hat I'd probably vote the other way.
SethSpeaks: Compare and contrast the bullpens of the two teams. Who would you give the advantage to over the next two months?
Bill Ferris: This one isn't even close with the Twins coming out on top. Nathan is one of the elite closers in the game and Neshek scares the crap out of me. The Tigers have done a decent job cobbling together a pen after the Rodney and Zumaya injuries, and Todd Jones is in a decent groove now. If Zumaya (out another month at least) and Rodney (probably 1-2 more weeks) come back and return to 06 form, then there might be a discussion.
SethSpeaks: When it comes to the lineups, I think an argument could be made that the Twins have the advantage at 1B and arguably catcher, but that is about it. Without just saying "No" did you see anything in the Twins that makes them a viable offense?
Bill Ferris: There are elements, like Luis Castillo being a decent table setter, and Cuddyer and Hunter being productive players. But left field, third base, and DH are typical offensive positions, and that's a third of the lineup with nothing.
SethSpeaks:What is the general feeling in Detroit regarding the Twins? Right now, the Twins are 9 games back of the Tigers. The Indians are just one game back of them. Obviously Cleveland is more of a threat, but does the Twins track record over the past six or seven seasons keep them in the AL Central discussion?
Bill Ferris: Going into the series, there were a whole lot of people more concerned with the Twins than the Indians because of what happened last year, and Santana, and the pen, and the Metrodome. Now the feeling has probably changed in the euphoria of the sweep, but it's just 3 games and there's over 60 left. Of course the Tigers fans hope the team doesn't go 19-31 over the last 50 this year either.
SethSpeaks: I am a big fan of your pitchers. Andrew Miller of the Tigers and Matt Garza of the Twins are two of the better future aces in the league. Here comes a multi-part question: What are your thoughts on Miller having now seen him make eight starts this year? Where is he at, and where is he in comparison to where he could get to?
Bill Ferris: I'm in the minority, but I think Miller would be better served in the minors this year although he is changing my mind. He of course has tremendous stuff, but until his last 3 starts he was relying very heavily on his fastball and wasn't missing many bats. My argument was that he'd be better served by spending a full year in the minors to refine and gain confidence in his other pitches so he could explode on the scene in 08 like Verlander did in 06. I didn't want to see him have to learn on the job like Jeremy Bonderman who just this year mastered a third pitch. But, Miller has been mixing more, so maybe my concerns were unfounded. I still worry about fatigue though.
SethSpeaks: What are your thoughts on Garza specifically, but also on the Twins young pitchers (Baker, Bonser, Slowey)?
Bill Ferris: I see a nice cheap rotation for the forseeable future and hopefully you can then divert those other dollars to filling other needs rather than signing retread free agents. I can't offer up more than that because I haven't seen them much, but Garza and Baker had no troubles throwing 0's against a pretty good offense.
SethSpeaks: Since I cover the Twins minor league system pretty thoroughly, I am also very much curious as to what is coming for the Tigers? Are there any guys in the minor leagues that could help the team in 2007?
Bill Ferris: There's not a lot. Virgil Vasquez had a nice AFL and built on that this season. You saw him get hammered in a spot start against the Twins earlier in the year. A couple other pitchers who have been with the club in the last 2 years who could help again are Eulogio De La Cruz, Jordan Tata, and Yorman Bazardo. Toledo doesn't really have any prospects outside of Brent Clevlen. Chris Shelton is still trying to get back as well. Ryan Raburn who recently joined the team could be a cheap 4th outfielder for the Tigers next year and could make Craig Monroe expendable.
SethSpeaks: Secondly, after Cameron Maybin, name a couple of the Tigers other prospects that the Twins will likely be seeing for years to come.
Bill Ferris: Jair Jurrjens and Dallas Trahern are pitchers at AA Erie who both look to be Major Leaguer's at some point. Gorkys Hernandez is another centerfield prospect, lots of speed, great defender, can hit but not for a lot of power yet. But he is only 20 and playing in a pitchers park. And Rick Porcello might just work out if the Tigers can sign him.
SethSpeaks: What are the expectations of the 2007 Tigers in Michigan, and based on your thoughts on the roster and Jim Leyland and such, are they realistic?
Bill Ferris: Right now everyone is thinking at a minimum this team will make the playoffs, or their bullpen will keep them out of the playoffs. I think both views are realistic and the big divide is whether the Tigers should trade for bullpen help, and just how much they should be willing to give up.
SethSpeaks: And finally, in your mind, are the Twins really still in contention?
Bill Ferris: I'd say so for now, but they're on the edge. These were 3 one run losses, these weren't statement games. And the Twins just took down one of the other wild card contenders the series before. The issue now though is that the Twins have little margin for error.
Thank you very much to Bill Ferris. I definitely would encourage everyone to check out his great work on the Tigers at The Detroit Tigers Weblog. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.|
Back to Archives Home