Wednesday July 21, 2004
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
BLOG SPOTTING - Alexander Smit and Bert Blyleven's web sites
TWINS TOP TIGERS
Good morning! And Happy Hump Day!
Before I get to the Twins win and their affiliate updates, I just wanted to discuss a couple more baseball topics. Maybe you have an opinion or two you'd care to share. If so, e-mail me. Today's entry is not the longest. There was a pretty impressive storm that went through, so I wasn't able to spend as much time online. Bear with me. Thank you!
Travis Hafner hit three homers last night. The North Dakota native has hit five in the last two games and has 17 for the season. He is also hitting .331 on the season and has driven in 75 runs. His OPS? 1.038! That's pretty impressive.
Roy Halladay was put on the 15 Day Disabled List and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a "tired arm." My first reaction was that this is the dumbest reason for a Disabled List transaction as I've heard. They could at least make up a real injury name for it. But it got me thinking... Last year, Halladay threw 266 innings on his way to the Cy Young Award. That was 24 more innings than any other pitcher in the American League. I wonder if there is an innings pitched to injury-the-next-season ratio. Here is a list of the top 10 in the American League in Innings Pitched in 2003 (from baseballrefence.com):
Roy Halladay 266.0 (tired arm in July-2004)
Bartolo Colon 242.0 (Maybe there is actually something wrong with him and he's not as bad as he's pitching)
Tim Hudson 240.0 (he has been on the Disabled List since June 26)
Livan Hernandez 233.3 (no injuries and pitching well for bad team)
Barry Zito 231.7 (has continued downward trend)
Javier Vazquez 230.7 (has been solid, but unspectacular for Yankees)
Mark Buehrle 230.3 (no injuries)
Esteban Loaiza 226.3 (no injuries, not as good as 2003, but that's not surprising)
Kevin Millwood 222.0 (no injuries, but he's been bad and very inconsistent)
Ben Sheets/Woody Williams 220.7 (Sheets is a top 5 pitcher in all of baseball. Williams has been hurt and ineffective all year).
So, what does this prove? Probably nothing. It was just something I wanted to check out quickly. Even in just looking at the top 3, you find three different scenarios. Halladay pitched excessive innings and is injured. Colon continues to pitch innings in Anaheim, but has been terrible and giving up a lot of homers. Hudson has been spectacular, but has now been on the DL for a month. After those three, there is still no obvious pattern. Maybe eventually I, or someone else, will do a better study of this. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Am I off-base completely? E-mail me.
If you have any other thoughts, questions, or comments, or ideas for future postings or research, please e-mail me.
TWINS TAKE TWO FROM TIGERS
Twins 5, Tigers 4 (10 innings)
If the Twins want to win, or even compete in the AL Central this season, these are the types of games that they will have to win. So far this season, the Twins have really struggled against the teams that they should beat up on. This was just a short, two-game series with the Tigers, but it was on the road, and they were important.
Last night, the Twins just found a way to get the win. I know a lot of people don't like the term "play the game the right way," but last night, that is exactly how the Twins won the game. To me, playing the game 'the right way' means one thing, all-out hustle. In the top of the 10th, Lew Ford hit a line drive up the middle. 98% of big league players would have been happy with the single, but Ford left the batter's box and ran hard all the way to second base for a double. The next batter, Justin Morneau, was walked on four pitches. With the bases loaded, Jacque Jones hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to score Ford from third. So, clearly, Ford's hustle alone did not win the game. The hitting and moving runners along had to happen. But had he been satisfied with a single, maybe the Tigers pitch differently to Justin Morneau. Maybe he hits into a 4-6-3 double play? Maybe he hits a two-run homer? Baseball is a funny game, a game that is based on statistics. Stats can tell us so much. They can help us predict what might happen in a given situation. However, that doesn't have anything to do with what actually happens. Stats and "little things" both matter.
Sometimes "little ball" works. Sometimes a nice three-run homer is a very nice thing! (Note - understatement). Jacque Jones hit a solo shot to cut the Tigers early lead to 2-1. The homer was his 15th of the season and his 100th career home run. But in the top of the 3rd inning, with two runners on, Justin Morneau unloaded on a Jeremy Bonderman mistake and gave the Twins a 4-2 lead. Now, if you look at Justin Morneau's stats thus far with the Twins, and were to just look at his .244 batting average, you might think that he is not doing much and should be sent down with Doug Mientkiewicz comes off the Disabled List. However, looking past batting average, Morneau is taking some walks and six of his eleven hits have been for extra bases, including four home runs. That .556 slugging percentage is very impressive.
Craig Monroe continues to crush Twins pitching. He hit a two-run homer to tie the score at 4 in the 4th inning. I may sound like a Kyle Lohse apologist, but I don't think he made a bad pitch. It was a fastball up and in, and somehow Monroe was able to keep his hands in and just tomahawked it over the left field fence. I really thought it was a good pitch. That said, Lohse was able to go just five innings again. I don't know what the best solution is with Lohse. I guess I would just stick with him in the rotation.
The bullpen was again solid. JC Romero pitched the 6th inning. He had to work, but he survived a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless inning. Remember the other night when Grant Balfour had an awful, three-walk performance? Well, he atoned for that last night. He improved to 4-1 with three impressive innings. He gave up two hits and a walk and struck out three. Joe Nathan came in for his 26th Save with a perfect bottom of the 10th.
Cristian Guzman was out again with his nose issue. Nick Punto played SS. He went 1-3, but also walked twice. Lew Ford was 2-4 with that 10th inning double and a walk. Morneau just had the home run in four at bats and also walked.
One player who is not hitting at all is Corey Koskie. Last night, he was 0-5 with three strikeouts. The night before, he struck out twice. As a matter of fact, Koskie has struck out at least once in each of his last 11 games. That alone is not overly alarming to me. What is a little scary though, is having seen many of those at bats, he is not even close. It doesn't look like he has any idea what he's doing at the plate. I really hope he can come out of it because I truly do believe that he can be a very good hitter. He just has not shown it at all, especially of late.
Another short series for the Twins begins today when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays come to town for two games. The really strange thing is that it marks the only two games of the home stand. The
Wednesday - 7:10 - Brad Radke (5-6, 3.89,1.22, .284) vs John Halama (5-3, 3.57,1.19. .256)
Thursday - 12:10 - Johan Santana (8-6, 3.55, 1.04, .233) vs Dewon Brazelton (2-3, 3.27, 1.43, .238)
In 2001, Joe Mauer was the first pick in baseball's draft by the Minnesota Twins, a controversial move because many believed that they should have selected USC pitcher Mark Prior, who went to the Chicago Cubs with the second pick. The Devil Rays used the third pick to take Dewon Brazelton. He was rushed to the big leagues and struggled in previous attempts. This year, he appears to have figured things out. With the fourth pick, the Texas Rangers selected Mark Teixeira. Think they're happy with that pick at this point? And, I am sure the Phillies are just fine that RHP Gavin Floyd was available to them with the 5th pick.
Any thoughts on the Twins? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
The Big News for the Rochester Redwings is the Scott Baker was promoted from New Britain and will start tonight for the club. Baker, along with JD Durbin and Jesse Crain, is a tremendous pitching prospect. He started the season at Ft. Myers and went 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 7 starts. He then made 10 starts for New Britain and went 5-3 with a 2.43 ERA. This is a great move. It challenges Baker, but will also give the Twins a good report on him. Will he be able to help the Twins yet this season? Some may be worried about him moving up so fast. Well, he was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2003, out of Oklahoma State. He isn't an 18 year old high school kid. He probably has the stuff and the maturity to handle a big league call up. This promotion will let us know the timetable a little better.
The Who-Cares News - This category would be filled by the fact that the Mike Ryan's rehab stint is over. He was simply sent to Rochester so he can continue to get healthy. The fact is, he didn't hit there last year, and he probably won't hit there this year. He had his moment in the sun last September for the Twins and carried it into an Opening Day roster spot. Lesson Learned? Don't slide head-first into first base!
Prospect Hot Sheet - The writers of Baseball America write a weekly update of the hottest prospects in baseball. It is really hard to argue, specifically with the first three selections this week. #1 is Rockies 19 year old pitcher Jeff Francis. The lefty has moved quickly up the system and will likely pitch for Team Canada in the Olympics. #2 is Ryan Howard a power hitting first baseball playing AA ball for the Phillies. He is a first baseman, and hence, behind Jim Thome. But Howard has already hit 35 homers at Reading this season. Felix Hernandez is an 18 year old flamethrower in the Seattle Mariners organization. He has posted incredible numbers and is already at AA. I bring this up because Jason Kubel is currently ranked 11th and Scott Baker is ranked #1. Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins were also mentioned.
Redwings 10, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 - Jason Kubel is a stud. I mean, there is no two ways around it. The man can hit! Yesterday, he went 4-5 with a double and his 6th home run. It was his third straight game with a homer. Luis Rodriguez went 3-5 with two doubles. Willie Eyre was the recipient of great run support. He picked up his 6th win with 6 2/3 innings of two run ball. He gave up just three hits but walked five while striking out two. Adam Johnson pitched the final 2 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Rockcats 12 Harrisburg 4 - The bats showed up for the Rockcats last night! Luis Maza and Bryan Kennedy were each 3-4. Tommy Watkins was 3-5 with a triple, a homer and four RBI. Kevin West was 2-5 with a double and two RBI (to give him 75 for the season). Colby Miller won his second game of the year with six innings pitched. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out just one. Kevin Cameron dropped his ERA to 0.56 with two more scoreless innings of relief. Victor Moreno finished on the mound. He gave up a run on two hits.
FT. MYERS MIRACLE
Miracle , St. Lucie - Their game was postponed and will be made up as part of a double-header today.
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Swing 5, Peoria 6 - Chris Schutt threw another quality start. In 7 innings, he gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out six. Unfortunately, Peter Tautor did not get much defensive help. He gave up four runs in the final two innings. None of them were earned. Sure, he didn't get help from his teammates, but he didn't exactly step up for them either, allowing two homers. CF Ryan Spataro went 4-4 with a triple and 3 RBI. LF Mark Zamojc went 2-4 with an RBI triple.
E-Twins 3, Johnson City 0 - The E-Twins got another excellent pitching performance. Dutch teenager Alexander Smit pitched seven shutout innings. He gave up six hits and a walk and struck out 11! Jonathon Martinez pitched a scoreless 8th. He set things up for Frank Mata, who recorded his 6th Save with a perfect 9th. The E-Twins had 8 hits. LF Javier Lopez was the only player with more than one hit. He was 2-4.
Last night, Alexander Smit pitched an incredible 7 inning, 11 strikeout game for the Elizabethton Twins. Want to know more about him? Check out his very own website, AlexanderSmit.com. It is in both English and Dutch. His most recent diary entry discusses moving up from extended spring training to Elizabethton. He also hopes that he can pitch for the Dutch team in the Olympics.
I listened to some of the Twins pre-game show last night. Bert Blyleven was hyping his own website at www.BertBlyleven.com. I took a look at it and it really does appear to be a very interesting site for baseball fans, particularly Twins fans. On it, he has a biography, his career stats and much more. And, like me and other bloggers, he will occasionally write a column and post it on his site. For instance, he wrote an article on last night's start being huge for Kyle Lohse. It's very interesting. The main thing that I learned from checking out Blyleven's site is that he looks far better with the full beard than he did when he was with the Twins and only had the mustache. Check out his site and see if you agree!
And on that note, I am going to call it a day! Have yourself a great day! As always, if you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me.
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