Friday September 3, 2004
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
TWO NEW TWINS BLOGS
Stick and Ball Guy - An excellent site with a good balance between statistics and opinion. OK, lots of numbers, but it is a well put together site!
Lay It On the Line - Written by a transplanted Minnesotan in Colorado, this new site has a lot of opinion on the Twins and other Minnesota sports.
Be sure to check both sites out and welcome them to the list of Minnesota Twins blogs!
The Twins completed their three game sweep of the Texas Rangers. Coupled with losses for both the White Sox and Indians yesterday, the Twins head into their weekend series with the Kansas City Royals with a 9 game lead in the AL Central. The losses really puts the Rangers playoff hopes in jeopardy. Be sure to check out my Twins Thoughts below. But first, I got a few more e-mails over the past week. I have chosen three of them to include today. On each, I will post a couple of thoughts on their e-mails, but in many cases, they will ask questions that deserve more than just my opinion. I would encourage you to respond by e-mailing me. I may post some of those responses next week.
I would really like to get a lot of responses and be able to post them on Tuesday. I will not have a new entry on Labor Day for a few reasons. The most important reason is that I will be heading out of town for the weekend. I will again be at the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament in Jordan and Belle Plaine hoping that Wolf Lake continues to win games! If all goes well, they will be playing in the championship game on Monday afternoon. If that is the case, I will be getting home VERY late on Monday night and will really need your help if I'm going to post a new entry.
So please, feel free to send me your thoughts... e-mail me. Thank you! And, have a great, LONG weekend!
OPEN LETTER #1
From Andy Haider -
...In any case, I was prompted to write to see if you had any insights / thoughts with regards to the Twins pitching staff. I am worried that they may do something stupid like trade for Fassero. While no one on the current rotation has an excitement value with regards to thinking "win" when they take the mound (other than Radke and Santana), I hardly see that we have any other option at the moment. In fact, it seems our best method for success in the playoffs may depend upon how we set up the starting rotation until we reach the playoffs.
1. What should be done about setting playoff roster for our pitching staff?
a. What do we do with Fultz? He seems to be pitching well in the minors again. I guess I would promote him before the deadline. Who do you send down? Unfortunately, I would send down Jesse Crain. I just can't see Gardenhire trusting him in an important playoff game. Are Bowen or Ojeda even options to send down?
2. How should we prepare for the playoffs in terms of aligning our pitchers. It appears that Chicago is going to crush Cleveland so we have an eight game lead with 35 games to go. I say we have some wiggle-room to experiment.
a. Due to off-days for the rest of the year, we only need a fifth starter four more times. If we stick to the strategy where we skip our fifth starter when there was an off-day to accomplish this, I say it is time to move Mulholland back into the pen and give this start to someone else. (This is a perfect chance for a September call-up to make a meaningful contribution to potential post-season success by saving others arms). I trust Mulholland more than most, but it appears Gardenhire really wants another lefty in the pen and we need to start saving some of the bullpen arms (and other starters arms). Mulholland could help in this role more for the rest of the season.
b. Should we not go with approach a, my next favorite approach is a five man rotation where we don't worry about off-days. This means every one will pitch seven more times. Plus, we would be ready with Radke for game #1.
c. I am fearful that Santana will turn into a Zambrano down the stretch. Since I live in Chicago, you may not recall that last year after Zambrano pitched so many innings for the first time - he really pitched awful in the last couple weeks of the season along with the playoffs. It may be time to give our starters extra rest. I say lets go to the novel concept of using our September call-ups to go to a six-man rotation!!!! Each starter will then only have six more starts (say roughly 12-14 IP) this season and will obtain much rest to put us in position for a deep playoff run (especially as we will likely move to a three-man rotation for ideally three playoff series in a row). This only gets everyone six more starts and still sets us up for Radke in game #1.
Radke @BAL, @DET, CHI, @CHI, @CLE, CLE
Santana @BAL, @DET, BAL, @CHI, @NYY, CLE
Silva KC, @BAL, @DET, BAL, @CLE, @NYY, CLE
Lohse KC, @DET, CHI, BAL, @CLE, @NYY, none
5th Starter KC, skip, CHI, @CHI, @CLE, skip, none
Radke @BAL, @DET, BAL, @CLE, @NYY
Santana KC, @BAL, CHI, BAL, @CLE, @NYY
Silva KC, @DET, CHI, @CHI, @CLE, CLE
Lohse KC, @DET, CHI, @CHI, @CLE, CLE
5th Starter @BAL, @DET, BAL, @CHI, @NYY, CLE
Radke KC, @DET, CHI, @CHI, @NYY
Sanana KC, @DET, BAL, @CLE, @NYY
Silva KC, @DET, BAL, @CLE, CLE
Lohse @BAL, @DET, BAL, @CLE, CLE
5th Starter @BAL, CHI, @CHI, @CLE, CLE
6th Starter @BAL, CHI, @CHI, @NYY
Sorry for the lengthy e-mail:
I just hoped someone else might help me debate this topic!
First I need to apologize for not responding to this message before the trade deadline. I did post my thoughts on the playoff roster last week. But I will respond briefly to his questions and would like to hear your thoughts too. Let's debate this topic for Andy.
1a. The Twins did send Crain down (Technically), but it was to recall Jason Kubel for another bat. The team decided to go with 10 pitchers and 15 hitters on their 25 man roster. Fultz was called up September 1st and could get plenty of opportunities in this final month. He didn't allow a run in his time at Rochester, but Terry Ryan was not at all impressed by him. I also think that, in the end, Crain will also be on the playoff roster.
2a. I think Mulholland should stay in the starting rotation and that Lohse should be removed. I do completely agree with your idea to start a minor leaguer in the 5th spot in September, and as you can guess, I would say that player should be JD Durbin. I think that the Twins would be best to have Mulholland be the #4 starter in the playoffs who can also pitch as a lefty out of the bullpen if need be.
2b. I guess my opinion is that they should stick with the 5 man rotation. I think maybe keeping pitch counts down as the season winds down makes sense. Remember a month ago when Radke asked for one extra day off between a start? Maybe Gardy chooses to do that, giving Radke, Santana, Silva and Mulholland (the four I think should pitch in the playoffs) an extra day. They could do this simply by giving JD Durbin a start and moving everyone an extra day.
2c. I don't think you are the only person concerned about Santana's durability down the stretch. He has thrown a lot of innings. The best thing that could happen would be that when Santana starts, the Twins score a lot of runs so that he only needs to go 6 innings or so. I think that you just let him pitch. Maybe an extra day. Maybe a lesser pitch count.
Options - So, what do you think that the Twins should do with their rotation down the stretch? E-mail me your thoughts.
OPEN LETTER #2
From Chris Dunn
I thought your lineup idea for next year was interesting. I agree with you on Tiffee at 3rd base. The only part that really worries me is the SS/2nd base combo of Cuddyer and Bartlett. Sure they can hit better than what we have now, but in all honest wouldn't a defense of Tiffee, Bartlett, Cuddy, Morneau have you a tad worried??? However it could happen, I'm not really sure how it will all play out .
I kind of like this lineup.
1. Shannon Stewart- LF
2. Jason Kubel- DH
3. Joe Mauer- C
4. Justin Morneau- 1st
5. Torii Hunter- CF
6. Lew Ford- RF
7. Terry Tiffee- 3rd
8. Michael Cuddyer- 2nd
9. Luis Rivas/Defense specialist- SS
Normally you would think I'd put Bartlett in SS. But the foundation of the twins has been solid defense and making the plays. I'm not sure Bartlett can maintain this, I'm not sure. My point is I want some stability in the infield with all these new faces like Tiffee, Morneau and potentially Cuddyer.
Does our top 6 in that order I sent you make you a very happy man also? lol.
It is nice to be agreed with! Ha! But, I do also think you ask a very fair question. The Twins organization likes to talk about how the team is built on pitching and defense. Well, we don't know a lot about Tiffee's defense. He had 13 errors in 82 games at Rochester. Bartlett has really struggled defensively this year. But that is strange because in his previous seasons, he was good. I think that Michael Cuddyer has been solid at 2B. And Morneau has been just fine at 1B. The only problem I've noticed is on pop ups. But with each of them, they should only get better with more time, and more of a comfort level.
As for your lineup, I actually would be very happy with the first eight hitters in your lineup! However, if Luis Rivas is still a Twin next year, I will be greatly disappointed. I have actually started to almost change my perspective on Cristian Guzman. He is solid defensively, and if he can hit even .270, I could be very happy with him hitting 9th. I know, that $5.25 million contract is a lot though, so I would prefer they go with Bartlett.
OPEN LETTER #3
From Dewey Moede
Seth, One of the biggest Twins wins of the year last night!!!!! Gardenhire does not get enough credit for what he does. He is able to mesh together players from all sorts to create a winner! How many injuries has he had to overcome this year! I think this is his best year yet as a manager.....Terry Ryan by far is the best GM! He keeps filling the holes with his rich farm system and key pick ups like Terry M., Pat Borders.....Lew Ford.....Blanco......What a future this organization has!!!!! Now only if the fans would come out to the Park!!!!! Also have to say that the Twins coaching staff is underrated.......How about Bullpen coach Rick......I wish you would do a story on him!!!! I think he has set a record as the longest serving coach in Twins history and maybe getting close to a major league record. Check it out! If Minnesota is not primed to get the Twins A NEW PARK, it will never happen!!!!! If the Twins can get a new park they will draw 3 mil again!!!!!
Dewey brings up a number of excellent points in this e-mail. I will touch on a few of them and again, would love to hear your thoughts via e-mail on any of them.
Gardy - I completely agree that he deserves a lot of credit. I think that his first year, he was essentially managing a team that Tom Kelly created. In his second season, he kind of made it his own. This year, it seems to me like he is doing his finest work. There have been injuries and other issues and they have worked through it. They just found a way to play their best baseball of the year while playing the most difficult part of their schedule. Sure, there are plenty of decisions that he has made that could be questioned, but it is hard to argue with the results. Could he be AL Manager of the Year? I don't see why not! Buck Showalter and Eric Wedge also deserve a lot of credit.
Terry Ryan - he's awesome. The Twins were able to win the division with a core group of guys. But Ryan helped build an incredible minor league system that is starting to produce results. Justin Morneau, Lew Ford, Jason Kubel, Terry Tiffee, Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon, Grant Balfour, and more to come. His offseason trades got rid of huge salary and brought in the likes of Carlos Silva and Joe Nathan, along with some minor leaguers like Bobby Korecky, Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano who could contribute to the Twins in the future. I think he's good!
Rick Stelmaszek has been a Twins coach for over 20 years. He has seen a LOT. To see a little bit more on his career, check out an entry I ran early in my blogging days discussing which of the Twins coaches had the best playing career. He had a brief catching career, but his name can be linked to a couple of impressive names!
Attendance and Stadium - This is a topic that Mr. Moede has written about on numerous occasions. I wonder why the Twins don't get more fans at games. One reason has to be just how terrible the Dome is for baseball. It is clear that the Twins are as popular as ever because of their TV ratings. A new stadium would definitely help attendance. Also, the Dome is a football stadium, not good for baseball.
Please feel free to comment on any of these topics, or anything more about the Twins. Just send me an e-mail.
TWINS SWEEP RANGERS
Brad Radke came back from a terrible start in Anaheim with an incredible start. He went 8 innings without giving up a run. He allowed just five hits and a walk. He even struck out nine hitters. Of the 112 pitches he threw, 82 of them were strikes (73%). In one inning, he allowed runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out and somehow work out of it (strikeout, weak infield lineout and fly out) without allowing a run. All told, this would have to be one of his best starts.
Joe Nathan came in for a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 37th save. He struck out two. I think he's going to be OK after his three bad outings.
The Twins only had six hits on the game, but they took eight walks. All told, they left 16 runners on base. But, Terry Tiffee came through again. He was just 1-4, but with two strikes in his second at bat, he simply put the ball in play, grounding out to shortstop, but scoring the Twins first run. Later, he hit a smash that ate up 1B Mark Teixeira for a single. Earlier in that at bat, Cristian Guzman scored from 3B on a wild pitch.
In each case, the runners got into scoring position because of Michael Cuddyer sacrifice bunts. I'm not a big fan of the sac bunt, but in each case, it made sense.
Lew Ford had singles in his first two at bats. Justin Morneau walked twice.
Kenny Rogers has really struggled since the All-Star break. At that time, I pointed out that I thought his record was so good because of run support. The fact was that he had good numbers. He no longer has good numbers to go with his win total. Last night, he went six innings and gave up four hits and seven walks. Lots of nibbling and a good job by Twins hitters of not swinging too much. However, the Twins were only able to score one run off of him.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH
Johan Santana was named the American League pitcher of the Month for the second straight month. In August, he was 6-0 with a 2.08 ERA. In 43.1 innings, he struck out 52 and opponents hit just .188 off of him.
The Yankees beat the Indians 7-0 last night. So again, after the embarrassing 22-0 loss to the Indians on Tuesday to win the next two games. The White Sox lost to the A's 4-2. So the Twins were able to gain a game on both teams and cutting their Magic Number by two!
Here are the current standings heading into the weekend:
AL Central Standings
Minnesota Twins 75-58
Cleveland Indians 67-68 9.0
Chicago White Sox 65-67 9.5
A year ago, the Twins and Royals were both involved in the pennant race. This year, the Twins are running away with the division and the Royals are one of the worst teams in baseball. Hopefully the Twins 1.) don't play down to the competition and win, and 2.) get some at bats for Jason Kubel and Terry Tiffee and some rest for some of the every day players.
Here are the pitching matchup for the series.
Friday - 7:10 - Johan Santana (15-6, 3.06, 0.97, .201) vs Darrell May (9-15, 5.71, 1.56, .303)
Saturday - 11:10 - Carlos Silva (10-8, 4.62, 1.46, .315) vs Mike Wood (2-7, 6.07, 1.41, .283)
Sunday - 1:10 - Kyle Lohse (7-10, 5.48, 1.63, .310) vs Jimmy Gobble (6-8, 5.58, 1.36, .276)
Extra - Monday, Terry Mulholland will pitch an afternoon game against at Baltimore.
Any thoughts on last night's game, or anything related to the Twins?? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
REDWINGS 3, Pawtucket 9 - I think Jason Bartlett is making a pretty strong case for a September call up. A week ago, he was hitting just .307. Last night, he was 2-5 raising his average to .331. Jose Rabe and Alex Prieto each had two hits. Kevin West and Michael Ryan each had a double. If you look at the score, you would think that the started did poorly. Well, that is not the case, and again, JD Durbin is making a case to start for the Twins for the rest of the month. He went six innings and gave up just two runs (only 1 earned) on 7 hits and two walks. He struck out five. Willie Eyre came in for the seven, but allowed 4 runs (1 earned) on four hits, and recorded just two outs. Later, Adam Johnson allowed three runs in an inning.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
ROCKCATS 4, Harrisburg 2 - Colby Miller made the start for New Britain. He went five innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He didn't walk or strike out any batters. Travis Bowyer picked up the win by throwing four shutout innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Ryan Owens went 2-4 with his 7th homer. Gabby Torres went 2-3. Seth Davidson hit a triple and James Tomlin had a double.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
MIRACLE 1, Dunedin 10 - Nick Blackburn had a rough start. In two innings, he gave up seven earned runs on eight hits and a walk. Josh Gray threw the next three innings and gave up just one run on two hits. Matthew Hines then gave up two runs in two innings before Pat Neshek pitched one scoreless inning. Garrett Guzman was 2-4. Jesus Merchan went 2-3 with the lone RBI.
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
SWING 4, Clinton 5 - Mark Zamojc led the way with three hits including his first home run. Alex Garcia was also 3-4. Denard Span was 2-5 with a double. JR Taylor was 2-4 with a triple and two RBI. Angel Garcia started and gave up 2 runs in three innings. Justin Jones then pitched the next three innings without allowing a run. He gave up just one hit and walked one.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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