Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Roger's Minor League Players of the Week
NFL "Expert" Picks
10 Questions with:
Stick & Ball Guy
Good morning! I need to thank Stick & Ball Guy for the excellent idea for us to collaborate on postings for each of us. I was able to ask him ten questions, and he asked me ten questions. Here today, you can read his responses to the questions I asked him. If you are interested in the questions he asked me, and how I responded, please be sure to head over to Stick & Ball Guy's site. Of course, I think that you should have his site bookmarked and read it every day, several times a day, because in my mind, he is the #1 Twins blogger. Of course, if you're reading my blog, odds are you're already reading his site, and that is fine!
Anyway, let's get to the questions for Stick & Ball Guy and see how he responded. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. I would also encourage you to head to Stick & Ball Guy's site for more. As always, if you have any comments, please leave them below. Thank you!
SethSpeaks: What are your thoughts on Ron Gardenhire, Manager? What attributes are most important for a manager to have, and how does Gardy fare in your mind in those categories? How much credit does he deserve for the team's success and turnaround?
SBG: I don't think leading a baseball team is much different from leading any other group of people. A good leader in any particular group needs to have specialized knowledge relative to the specific discipline. So, a good baseball manager needs to understand the mechanics and strategy of the game. I also believe that the tone is set by the manager. I think the manager needs to lead the team, not the shortstop or the center fielder.
I think last year we saw the worst of Gardenhire. He publicly called out his best player (Joe Mauer) in the newspaper and utilized his centerfielder to assist in the campaign. This to me showed that when the going gets tough he's probably not going down with the ship. I wonder if the manager had a talk with Torii Hunter when he took a swing at Justin Morneau. My suspicion is no, and he should have.
I think Gardenhire was the guy behind Juan Castro starting at shortstop in 2006. I'll pin Batista on Ryan, but the obvious choice was Bartlett. Gardenhire's selection here showed a lack of understanding about what his personnel could bring.
I give Gardenhire very little credit for what has happened. The improbable turn around was all the more improbable because of all the injuries. I've heard quite a few people say no one else has had this many injuries and somehow Gardenhire got his team to win. To which I respond, for weeks at a time, the Twins had barely enough guys to field a team. There were no choices to make. The choices were dictated by the circumstances. Tell me what exactly Gardenhire has done to deserve credit?
Here's a few things that I'll hold against the manager in 2006 alone. Started Lew Ford over Michael Cuddyer in right field, even though Cuddyer was one of the best hitters on the 2005 season. Said on his radio show earlier this season that Cuddyer "can't play every day." Wrong as wrong can be. Selected Castro over Bartlett. Bartlett hit .387 in the spring. Castro hit .143. But, Bartlett went down for 50 games because he didn't show enough "urgency". Whatever. Refuses to rest Torii Hunter. Hunter has been terrible in center field. Instead of DHing him and putting Jason Tyner in the field, he has DHed Tyner. He still thinks Hunter deserves a Gold Glove. He's not watching, I guess. Refusal to play Phil Nevin every day at DH. The guy is a way better hitter than Jason Tyner. It's not close. But, Tyner is playing against pretty much every right hander. This after years of not platooning Jacque Jones.
Now, it's not like Gardejnhire is the worst manager in the majors. He does a good job of protecting his pitching staff. I give him credit for that. But, I think he has a tendency to favor experience over talent. That's a real bad flaw, in my opinion.
SethSpeaks: What are your thoughts on Terry Ryan, General Manager? What is the role of the GM, and how has Terry Ryan done since the end of the 2005 season? How much credit does he deserve for the Twins' success and turnaround?
SBG: The General Manager, in my opinion is responsible for personnel. Terry Ryan has done a great job assembling pitching talent. Fantastic. He's done a below average job of assembling every day players, even as I recognize that there is some real talent on the major league roster right now (Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Bartlett).
In the big picture, I like Ryan's approach. I like his approach of focusing on pitching. That approach makes it easier, I believe, to compete than to focus on offense to the exclusion of pitching. The Twins have a fabulous stable of pitching prospects and a deep bullpen. I give Ryan a ton of credit for that. However, I think he's had a couple of tough off seasons in a row. His signing of Tony Batista and his "promise" to give him a starting job was ridiculous. His handling of Kyle Lohse was stupid. He apparently had no idea what Lohse was worth and never even attempted to negotiate the arbitration numbers and ended up losing twice. He's been very reluctant to move prospects and has let guys decline in value instead of converting some of them major league talent when the needs have been there. For example, how could he let a guy like Restovich go to save Corky Miller? How could he decide to send Bartlett down and go with Juan Castro? As far as this season is concerned, he gets credit for pulling the pin on the Cubanistas (Batista and Castro). But, he gets all the blame for going with those guys in the first place.
All in all, I think Terry Ryan is a good general manager. I don't agree with everything, but I can live with his overall philosophy even as I hope that he learns from some of his mistakes.
SethSpeaks: How frustrated are you that Minnesota is still a Vikings State despite the fact that the Twins have been competitive annually for the last five or six seasons and the Vikings have been disappointing on and off the field?
SBG: Honestly, I long ago gave up on the Twins being THE TEAM in this town. I mean the Twins won 2 World Championships and the Vikings always disappoint. It's not about the Vikings, it's about the NFL. I can't help it if people are stupid. It doesn't ruin it for me. But, I won't stop speaking my mind about this.
Actually, I think that the interest in this team is extremely high right now. The environment at the games I have been to this year has been electric. The NFL is an unstoppable behemoth. I understand that. But, wow, the Twins have just been so fantastic.
SethSpeaks: If you are Terry Ryan, do you pick up the option on Torii Hunter's contract for 2007? Please elaborate.
SBG: No. This situation has gotten more complicated with Hunter's very strong finish at the plate. But, he's a shell of who he was in the field. I don't think you pay your sixth or seventh best player 20% of your payroll. Clearly, the Twins botched this situation. I heard rumors that the Twins were asking for Robinson Cano and Chien Ming Wang for Hunter. Oh, if they would have settled for either one.
The problem, of course, is that there really isn't anyone to replace him. I would be open to a different arrangement. But, I'm not interested in a long term deal. I wrote last weekend that I don't think that Hunter is all that intelligent and as he gets older, I see him breaking down and declining quickly.
SethSpeaks: Based on a bad season and asking out of no fewer than three games, can Carlos Silva pitch himself back into the 2007 Twins plans if he continues to pitch as he has in September?
SBG: Well, that question is a function not so much of Silva but of everyone else. The 2007 rotation candidate list looks like this right now.
I think Boof will be there and Garza will get a shot. I also don't think that the Twins are too high on Baker, and Garza is pretty young. Liriano is a question mark, Perkins is an unknown and Guerrier is a possibility. If Silva goes out and pitches well in his last three starts and performs in the post season, given all the uncertainty on this staff, Silva could end up on the roster again in 2007. Let's just say I won't be thrilled about it.
SethSpeaks: If you ran a MLB award's dictatorship, who would your choices for AL and NL MVP, Cy Young and Rookies of the Year be?
AL CY Young and MVP: Johan Santana.
AL ROY: Justin Verlander
NL CY Young: Chris Carpenter
NL MVP: Ryan Howard
NL Rookie: I don't know.
SethSpeaks: If Derek Jeter were to hold a press conference, invite everyone and say "Alex Rodriguez is really good. Lay Off!" then would you say that Jeter was good?
SBG: While I don't believe that "leadership" in baseball players is overrated, I think there's a special case to be made here. New York is different from any other city in the country. Everyone is subject to intense scrutiny. The one seeming exception is Derek Jeter. I mean, Sports Illustrated called Alex Rodriguez the biggest bust in the entire major leagues this year. I mean, he's hitting .287/.385/.516/.901. Meanwhile, Derek Jeter is being touted as American League MVP. He's hitting .341/.416/.481/.897. That's right, A-Rod's OPS is actually higher than Jeter's. The BIGGEST BUST has a higher OPS than the MVP. In the firestorm that A-Rod has endured, Jeter has said nothing. When asked about it, he said that he couldn't do anything. Contrast this with last year, when Jeter came out and publicly supported Jason Giambi when he all but admitted to steroid use.
I think that if Jeter came out and said something, he could probably convince the fans and media to lay off and that would be a good thing. But, he made a conscious decision not to say anything. Draw your own conclusion.
SethSpeaks: Rank the Top 5 surprising players for the Twins this season, who would they be?
SBG: 1.) Nick Punto. Remember, this guy was a sub-replacement level player last year at middle infield positions and he couldn't stay healthy. This year, he's about a league average 3B offensively despite no power and I think on the short list for top defensive 3Bers. In other words, he's been a valuable asset on this team. If I were the GM, I would have not offered him arbitration in the off-season.
2.) Rondell White. This guy has been a quality MLBer for years. Yeah, he's got Torii Hunter-esque patience at the plate, but he has been a pretty good hitter. This year, even with his recent hot streak, he has been unspeakably bad. That, to me, is a big surprise.
3.) Justin Morneau. At one time, this was exactly what I expected from "Li'l Harmon". Then, 2005 happened. After a month or two, he was still that 2005 guy and I was at a loss to understand what was wrong. Then, the light just went on and he was great.
4.) Pat Neshek. You could have gotten a lot of money from me if you would have said on March 31 that Pat Neshek would be in the major leagues, much less have a 13.1 VORP. He's struggled with the long ball a little, but holy cow, he's been an effective pitcher at the major league level.
5.) Francisco Liriano. Yes, he's hurt and yes we thought he'd be good. But, when healthy, he was, hands down, the best pitcher in all of baseball. I think that was pretty surprising.
Note: I'm NOT surprised by Michael Cuddyer and Jason Bartlett. Okay maybe Bartlett's been a little better than I thought, but Cuddyer is not much better than I thought he would be. Okay, Bartlett is number 6.
SethSpeaks: If you can name just one (ok, or two) moments that most exemplifies the Twins season, what would it (they) be?
SBG: Since this is a tale of two seasons, the first moment typifies how bad the Twins were. I don't remember who the Twins were playing, but someone hit a ball right to Tony Batista and it bounced right off his leg. The ball rolled all the way into the Twins bullpen at the Metrodome. Batista ambled after it and eventually tracked it down. Meanwhile, Shannon Stewart was nowhere in sight. The play was scored a double.
I think the other moment was when Nick Punto hit his only homerun of the season. It was August 24, the first of three games against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago. It was the sixth inning and the Twins were down 3-0. Punto hit a home run, Cuddyer singled, and Chicago killer Torii Hunter homered and the Twins were on their way to another huge win. There have been a lot of other big games, but that says it all. The "best of times" Twins have never given up and have gotten contributions from the unlikeliest of places.
SethSpeaks: Bonus Question - As the roster is currently put together, can the Twins win the World Series? How far do you think that they can go?
SBG: Sure they can. They have handled the A's, the Tigers and the AL is vastly superior to the NL. The biggest question is whether they can handle the Yanks. In a five gamer, they can run Johan out there twice and get one more win. In a seven gamer, it gets tough, but hey, the A's or Tigs could get them, too. Do I think the Twins are THE FAVORITE? No. Can they win it? Of course they can.
Thanks again to Stick & Ball Guy. He has always been a good friend of SethSpeaks, and I really appreciate that. I am glad that he came up with this idea, and I think taht his responses were terrific. Again, please feel free to leave some Comments below, or send me an e-mail.
ROGER'S MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
All season, our good friend Roger has been selecting a player of the week and a pitcher of the week. Roger just recently returned from a wonderful vacation in France and he was kind enough to return to give us his Minor League Players of the Week. Feel free to comment! And don't forget to check out his final weekly minor league update at Twinkie Town.
Player of the Week…Terry Tiffee, Rochester Red Wings
Outfielder Andres Torres made a bid for the final player of the week with a 8 for 21 performance in the championship series versus the Toledo Mud Hens. The real hitting star however, was third baseman Terry Tiffee who went 11 for 19 with 1 walk, 4 doubles and 2 runs scored.
2006 Rochester .273Ave 308 ab 20 2B 4 HR 37 R 38 RBI
Twins .233Ave 43 ab 1 2B 2 HR 4 R 6 RBI
2005 Rochester .266Ave 229 ab 11 2B 10 HR 33 R 39 RBI
Twins .207Ave 150 ab 8 2B 1 HR 9 R 15 RBI
2004 Rochester .307Ave 316 ab 26 2B 12 HR 42 R 68 RBI
Twins .273Ave 44 ab 4 2B 2 HR 7 R 8 RBI
2003 New Britain .315Ave 530 ab 31 2B 14 HR 77 R 93 RBI
2002 Ft. Myers .281Ave 473 ab 31 2B 8 HR 47 R 64 RBI
2001 Quad Cities .209Ave 495 ab 32 2B 11 HR 65 R 86 RBI
2000 Quad Cities .254Ave 493 ab 25 2B 7 HR 59 R 60 RBI
Pitcher of the Week…Glen Perkins, Rochester Red Wings
Glen Perkins joined the Red Wings for one start shortly before the playoffs. Perkins finished Francisco Liriano’s rehab start last Saturday, pitching 6.0 innings with 1 hit, 0 runs and 5K/2BB in their decisive win versus Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He followed that with a win in game three of the League Championship Series with Toledo, pitching 7.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 10K/3BB. In this start, he struck out seven consecutive hitters at one point which is believed to be an all-time record for this storied franchise. Following last night’s loss to Toledo, Perkins was added to the Twins 40-man roster and called up by the Twins giving them a second lefty in their bullpen for the remainder of the season.
2006 New Britain 117.1ip 4W-11L 3.91era 1.31WHIP 131K/45BB
Rochester 4.1ip 0W-1L 2.08era 2.54WHIP 3K/5BB
2005 New Britain 79.0ip 4W-4L 4.90era 1.46WHIP 67K/35BB
Ft. Myers 55.0ip 3W-2L 2.13era 0.98WHIP 66K/13BB
2004 Quad Cities 48.1ip 2W-1L 1.30era 0.93WHIP 49K/12BB
Elizabethton 12.0ip 1W-0L 2.25era 1.00WHIP 22K/4BB
Thank you again to Roger for giving us his minor league player and pitcher of the week each week!
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Well, with the Jacksonville Jaguars beat down of the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, we have just one winner of our weekly picks for Week 2. JD Arney of Reds Reporter is out winner with an impressive 14-2 record. Kyle Waldrop remains the overall leader. Check back on Friday to see our Week 3 picks.
|Kyle Waldrop||Twins Pitching Prospect||12||4||75.0%||25||7||78.1%|
|Al Bethke||Al's Ramblings||12||4||75.0%||23||9||71.9%|
|Stick & Ball Guy||Stick & Ball Guy||12||4||75.0%||22||10||68.8%|
|JD Arney||Reds Reporter||14||2||87.5%||22||10||68.8%|
|Roger Dehring||Several Blogs||11||5||68.8%||21||11||65.6%|
|Cory Hepola||KTVH-TV Sports||12||4||75.0%||21||11||65.6%|
|Mike Brasel||Fantasy FB Guru||13||3||81.3%||21||11||65.6%|
|LaVelle E. Neal III||Mpls Star-Tribune||10||6||62.5%||20||12||62.5%|
|Kevin Slowey||Twins Pitching Prospect||11||5||68.8%||20||12||64.5%|
|Bill Ferris||Detroit Tigers Blog||8||8||50.0%||20||12||62.5%|
|Trevor Born||Twins Junkie||11||5||68.8%||19||13||59.4%|
|Will Young||Will's Twins Blog||10||6||62.5%||19||13||59.4%|
|Seth's Mom's Class||St. Pauls School||11||5||68.8%||18||14||56.25%|
If you have any thoughts, opinions, comments, critiques, or ideas on anything, please e-mail me, or let's get a discussion going in the Comments. Have a great weekend!|
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