Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday Game Notes
The Twins lost not only on the field to the New York Yankees last night, but also in the press box and you can think a little thing called Mystique. Seriously, I enjoy the history of this great game of baseball as much as anyone. I fully understand the significance of the Yankees and all that they stand for. I get it. I get Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter. I get all the championships. I get it. Really, I do. Listening to Dick Bremer wax poetic about the stadium is enough to make a person watch the game on mute (something I do frequently). Bert Blyleven isn't so bad when it came to this topic. But is there anything worse than listening to Ron Coomer talk about the Yankees. Don't get me wrong. If I was a big leaguer and had a chance to wear the pinstripes, like he did, I would jump at that opportunity. But some of the stuff he utters is horrific. In part, he just name drops guys that he is friends with. He is always talking about how great Jason Giambi is, and Derek Jeter. And don't get me wrong. Giambi is a really great hitter. Derek Jeter, regardless of any of the overkill in all media circles, is an obvious choice for first-ballot Hall of Fame induction. But you know what, the Twins are pretty good too. Maybe they don't have the names and the mystique and the history, but they are pretty good. The Twins had three All-Stars this year... the same number as the Yankees, and in reality, Derek Jeter made it because of fan voting.
Don't read that paragraph completely wrong. I have the utmost respect for the Yankees history and the tremendous talent that they have. I am NOT a Yankees hater. There is really no reason to hate them. But it does get to be too much.
But when does that mystique annoy me the most? When players alter their game or think differently because of playing in Yankee Stadium. What do I mean? Well, I think that Nick Blackburn's start illustrated it perfectly. Blackburn has good secondary pitches, but for the most part, he is a fastball/cutter pitcher. I haven't seen him throw as many curveballs as he did in that game (or in that inning and 2/3!) all season. He changed his game. Now, some pitchers come up to the big leagues and it takes them a while to realize that they are up in the big leagues because of what they were doing. They don't need to alter their game and pitches completely just because they're in the big leagues. Likewise, a pitcher is who he is, and when you try to over-think your pitches because of the names on the front of back of the opponent's uniform, you end up getting yourself in trouble. Secondly, when you try to nibble too much, especially as a young pitcher, you fall behind. And yes, you don't want to completely give in and give the hitter a meat ball, but when you walk one guy, the next guy can hurt you just as bad.
So, let's all hope that Kevin Slowey's finger is healed and he is at 100% when he starts for the Twins tonight against the Yankees. Let's also hope that he does not try to alter his repertoire too much to the Yankees and just does what he does. That would be a.) spot the fastball on the corners, preferably at the knees, b.) use his fastball on the power hitters, right above the hands, inside, c.) mix in his changeup, again, at the knees. I think that is the best thing for him to do and if he does so, he will be successful.
Other Thoughts from the 12-4 Loss:
The Twins are playing great and picking on Gardy makes no sense. Like his lineups or his favorite players or his usage of the doghouse, he has helped this team continue to win since he has been around. Maybe part of that is because of the way he runs things. At some point, even the most critical Twins bloggers and blog commenters have to give him credit. He has earned it. His job is to manage the team. Sometimes that involves trying things with the lineup, or doing different things to try to get a player going, or letting a guy pitch to just one more hitter, or taking a guy out knowing that his chances of success against a particular pitcher are not good. Although we want all of that to make statistical sense, sometimes a manager has to play a hunch. Anyone who has done any coaching understands that. So, let this be my opportunity to give a little credit to Ron Gardenhire...
Because there are two things Gardy is doing right now that really bother me:
I don't want to be one of those bloggers that continues to dwell on things. Like last year, it was ridiculous to bash Nick Punto every single day for being in the lineup. And it was ridiculous to waste blog space and typing time bashing Gardy for continuing to use him. I think this Twins leadoff batter situation is closely becoming that type of story. It is so incredibly obvious to anyone that Denard Span is the right choice for the leadoff spot. First, he is performing, getting on base and taking a lot of pitches. Whether he can continue to perform at this level is debatable and right now, insignificant. (For the record, I am seriously starting to believe in Span, that this can be sustained, maybe not at these levels, but enough to call a potential every day player.) Carlos Gomez is just so clueless. We all knew that he wasn't the ideal leadoff hitter because of his lack of patience, but it was OK when he was doing well (which was for about one month). But he is just clueless at the plate right now. This should be a no-brainer. I'm not one to suggest that Gomez be sent to Rochester. I don't think that is necessary. Just a move to the ninth spot in the lineup for the time being is all I am asking for.
Secondly, what is the purpose of Joe Mauer catching that whole game last night? Seriously, is there any reason to keep him in there? He is one of the two most important hitters on your roster, and he plays the most demanding position in the game. I know it's only two innings, but that time off could be beneficial. The only negative would be if something happened to Mike Redmond. Well, even if that happened, someone would have to strap on the catching gear for an inning, and they could have Ryan Jorgenson or Drew Butera up the next day. Mauer being in the game isn't going to help them come back. I just don't get it!
Sidney Ponson again beat the Twins. He improved to 6-1 on the season. However, let's not make too much of that because in reality, he wasn't very good. He gave up three runs on nine hits and two walks in 5.2 innings.
There are many who believe that the Twins need another reliever. I really am not one of those, although it wouldn't hurt. But I couldn't help but think that LaTroy Hawkins would be a good guy for the Twins to consider. I know he hasn't lived up to expectations in his time with the Yankees. He wouldn't be the first to do that. But he was excellent for the Rockies in Colorado last year. He still was throwing 94-96 mph last night (although straight as always!) with a good curveball. Add him as a power arm with Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, and you've got a solid back end of the bullpen. I don't think it would cost a top level prospect. I have also heard that Hawkins is a terrific teammate and leader. I would guess that some of those guys in the bullpen could really learn a lot from him. I'm not saying it will happen. In fact, I haven't heard even a rumor to it. It is the type of small move that I could see the Twins doing and it could be one that actually helps them a bit the last couple of months.
Again, the key point to make in a big loss like this, even to the Yankees, is that it is only one game. They play again tonight and it is a completely new game. Move on and don't dwell on that single game. Remember, there are 162 of those in a season. The value of one game is just 0.6% of the whole.
Any other thoughts on the Twins?
Other Notes -
Below you will see that Ben Revere again was named the SethSpeaks.net Player of the Day. You can read why down below, but if you want to read a tremendous article on Revere, here is an article from his hometown newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, on his terrific season. But it's a great article because it does talk about some of the things that he is working on and needs to continue to improve. I just thought that it was a really good, honest article. Also, Revere definitely seems to be a great kid with a strong family around him.
Josh Taylor (Taylor's Twins Thoughts) posted his first-half grades for the Twins minor league pitchers.
Congratulations to the Twins/Rochester starter Brian Duensing who will be traveling to Beijing to participate in the Olympics. Good for him! It's been a very up and down year for the lefty, but he was the starting pitcher in the game last year against Cuba that Team USA won to assure their presence in the Olympics.
Just to be fair, I suppose I should point out that the Dodgers Designated one of my favorites, Luis Maza, for assignment, when they claimed Pablo Ozuna from the White Sox.
All year, I have been one of several bloggers voting each week on the major awards, MVP, Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year. Last week, I voted for the American League awards. Here are the voting results for the AL, and Rangers fans should be quite happy with the voting.
Monday GAME NOTES
Twins Minor League Updates
Monday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Ben Revere, Beloit Snappers
Monday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Shooter Hunt, Elizabethton Twins
Monday – Rochester 4, Toledo 6 – Another horrific start for the Red Wings. I backed Julio DePaula for most of the first half of the season. At this point, it is really hard to continue doing so. He started this game (a role he should not be in!) and lasted just two innings. He gave up five runs on seven hits. Two of them were homers. He walked none and struck out two. Most impressively, he gave that all up in just 43 pitches! Casey Daigle did a nice job. He gave up just one run in three innings. Ricky Barrett threw two shutout innings. Mariano Gomez and Danny Graves each threw a scoreless inning. Jason Pridie went 2-4 with his ninth home run. Garrett Jones hit his 12th home run.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Monday – New Britain 1, Reading 3 – Jeff Manship again showed his ability to come back from a bad start with a quality start. Unfortunately, the Rockcats managed just five hits and Manship fell to 1-5. In six innings, Manship gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits and one walk. He struck out four. Zach Ward came in and in one inning gave up a run on three walks. Rob Delaney and Ben Julianel each struck out one batter in their perfect innings. Dustin Martin went 1-3 with two walks and his 17th stolen base. Danny Valencia was 1-3 with a walk and an RBI. David Winfree hit his 19th double. Drew Butera walked twice.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Monday - Miracle 2, St. Lucie 5 – The Miracle managed just five hits in this game. Dan Lehmann hit his first Ft. Myers double. Steve Singleton hit his seventh since his promotion. Matt Fox started and gave up four runs on five hits and a walk in five innings. Three of the hits were home runs. Jose Mijares made his first appearance with the Miracle and struck out two in two shutout innings. Matt Williams gave up an unearned run on two hits in two innings.
Monday – Beloit 6, Wisconsin 12 – Ben Revere had been under .400 for several days. He had had enough of it! So, in this game, he went 4-4 with a walk to jump back to .402. He had his 16th double and two stolen bases, so he has 33 on the year. Juan Richardson went 2-5 with three RBI and his first stolen base. Jeanfred Brito hit his third double and first triple. Santos Arias had his first real rough one. He went just 4.1 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk. Henry Reyes came in and gave up a walk and a hit. Both came around to score. Danny Hernandez went 1.1 innings and gave up two runs on two hits. He walked three and struck out two. Chris Anderson then gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks in 2.1 innings. Charles Nolte gave up a hit and a walk in one shutout inning.
Monday - E-Twins 2, Johnson City 3 – Shooter Hunt was again on the mound in this one. He gave up just one unearned run on two hits in five innings. He struck out six, but the lone negative would be his four walks. Steve Blevins gave up a run on two hits in two innings. He struck out four. Mark Hamburger took the loss. He gave up an unearned run on a hit and two walks in the eighth inning. He struck out two. Evan Bigley went 2-4 with two doubles, his sixth and seventh of the year. Adan Severino went 1-2 with two walks, his first double and his first stolen base. Nick Romero went 2-5 with three strikeouts. Angel Morales hit his seventh home run.
GCL TWINS TALK
Monday - Game 1 – GCL Twins 2, GCL Reds 1 – Last week one day, I said that Martire Garcia got his first win. Well, that was in fact, his first loss. In this game, he actually did get that first win. He went five innings and gave up just one run. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out five. Kelvin Mota got his seventh save with two shutout innings. Tyler Ladendorf went 2-3 with an RBI. Reggie Williams went 1-2 with a walk. Adam Everett had a double in three at bats.
Monday - Game 2 – GCL Twins 1, GCL Reds 5 – Aaron Hicks was the only hitter worth mentioning in this game. He went 2-3 with the lone RBI. Alex Curry started and went just three innings. He gave up one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out three. Joe Testa came in and gave up just one hit in his inning. Bruce Pugh pitched the fifth and gave up three runs on three hits and two walks. Nick Lobanov gave up a run on a hit, a walk and two hit batters.