CONGRATULATIONS MINNESOTA TWINS
2004 AL CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Tuesday September 21, 2004
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS RESULTS
Mission Complete! The goal of every major league team when they embark upon Spring Training in Florida or Arizona is to get to the playoffs. With their 8-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox last night, the Twins will have met that goal for the third straight season, something that has never happened in the organization's history.
It was another great night for the Twins Venezuelan connection. Carlos Silva won his 13th game. Luis Rivas and Henry Blanco each had two hits including a homer, and Juan Rincon pitched the final two innings. Torii Hunter got things started off on the right note with a two-run homer off the ever-talkative Mark Buehrle. Late in the first, Corey Koskie hit another two-run shot.
In the 2004 season, the Twins have had contributions from so many players. Because of injuries and trades (off-season and in-season), the Twins not only needed to use a number of players, but got solid contributions from everyone. Today, I just want to name names. These are the 2004 Minnesota Twins (at least at some point in the season). As you read the names, think of some of your memories of the season, and if you want, e-mail me your thoughts or favorite moments.
Shannon Stewart - The Catalyst! An incredible leadoff hitter who just makes the team better by being in the lineup. Honestly, I don't think his affect can be measured with numbers. More walks (45) than strikeouts (41). He missed much of the season's first half with foot problems.
Torii Hunter - The best defensive centerfielder in baseball (apologies to Braves fans), Torii hit well this year too. Missed time to injury a couple of times, but I really think he had a solid season. Leads team in doubles (37) and stolen bases (21). He is also clearly the leader of the team. He certainly is not a fashion mogul though!
Jacque Jones - I think that Jacque's season, specifically when looking at his batting average (.256), would be considered a disappointment based on his .300 average the last two seasons. However, his power numbers are in line with previous seasons. Continues to be a top-notch outfielder and has improved in RF with the full season.
Lew Ford - Ford wasn't even on the Opening Day roster, but when Hunter landed on the Disabled List after the second game of the year, Ford got the call and has been in the lineup almost every day since. He leads the Twins in Games, Hits, and Total Bases. 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts. Has become a fan favorite.
Michael Restovich - Had to be a frustrating season for Resto. Spent much of the season at Rochester where he struggled, but did hit for some power. Spent three stints with the Twins and really was just a pinch runner. Has played a little of late and showed that he can be a good defensive outfielder. Also hit a big home run on Sunday.
Michael Ryan - Arguably the most disappointing player. Because of a couple of really good weeks last September with the Twins, Ryan made the team as a left-handed pinch hitter. Hit .239 in 71 at bats before sliding head first into first base and hurting himself. Rehabbed in Rochester and was so bad down there that the Twins never brought him back. But he did have a couple of big hits for the Twins early in the season.
Jason Kubel - Skyrocketed through the minor leagues, Kubel was recently named to Baseball American's first-team All-Minor League squad. His play warranted an August 31 callup to the Twins. He has not been given much chance to play with the Twins, maybe once a week, but he can hit. If Joe Mauer is not on the post-season roster, Kubel will be a left-handed hitter off the bench.
Corey Koskie - Koskie again has missed over 35 games due to a variety of injuries. And when he was healthy, he was not hitting well at all. But then he went on about a two week tear, raising his average about 25 points. His 24 homers lead the team. Continues to play great defense.
Terry Tiffee - Tiffee had another strong minor league season, despite missing time himself with a couple of nagging injuries. He deserved his September call-up, which coincided with Koskie's ankle injury. He really made an impression with a couple homers and at least three game-winning RBI. Unfortunately, his season came to a premature end when he collided into Pudge Rodriguez and separated his shoulder.
Cristian Guzman - Many bloggers want to talk so much about what he doesn't do. He doesn't walk. He doesn't get many extra-base hits. But if he hits .280 with 8 homers and 44 RBI (as he is this year), I would take that if he was my team's #9 hitter. Especially because he really does play a very solid shortstop. It also appears that he is becoming a leader on the field. I am to the point that I wouldn't mind seeing him re-signed for next year. The only problem is that I don't know if it is worth $5.25 million!
Luis Rivas - Rivas has homered in his two games back from injury (toenails removed). He doesn't walk either. He doesn't hit many extra-base hits. He has no range defensively. But he does turn the double-play well!
Doug Mientkiewicz - Mientkiewicz did not hit well at all this year. It shouldn't be forgotten that two of the previous years he hit .300. He did play a great (if not completely overrated) defensive first base. The best thing he did for the Twins this year was be hurt after the All-Star break so that the team could call up Justin Morneau!
Michael Cuddyer - Cuddyer has played LF, RF, 3B, 2B, 1B and DH for the Twins this year. He has spent a lot of time at 3B and 2B when Koskie and Rivas were hurt. It seemed like when he got every day playing time, he would struggle for a few games, but then hit well. He has done great in the second half and should have an every day job handed to him next season.
Matthew LeCroy - Spent a lot of time early in the year as the backup catcher. That didn't go so well! Terrible catcher, he catches as well as he runs. But the man can hit! Again, he has been better with more consistent time. But, he can also pinch hit, as evidenced by his three consecutive pinch-hit home runs earlier this season.
Jose Offerman - Has done a very good job as a pinch hitter this year. Unfortunately early in the year, he had to get entirely too much playing time because of injuries. We got to see first hand just how bad he is defensively too. But Offerman gives good at bats and is a very professional hitter. He will be a nice bench bat in the playoffs.
Nick Punto - Punto played an unheralded yet very important role early in the season. Able to play three infield positions and centerfield, as well as hitting a little bit. The switch hitter put together quality at bats. And, it is pretty clear that he will play hard at all times, something that may have caused his broken collarbone.
Augie Ojeda - He has been up and down with the Cubs the past four seasons. He spent much of the season down at Rochester, but he came up and has done very well in that utility role. Like Punto, Ojeda is tough and hard nosed.
Jason Bartlett - Bartlett has not done much with the Twins so far. As a matter of fact, he doesn't have a hit yet in 8 at bats. He also struggled defensively. But I would suspect he will get some playing time in the coming weeks to spell Guzman. He hit .331 in Rochester, so he can hit.
Alex Prieto - Hit .250 in 32 at bats (16 games) early in the season. Hit is first big leauge homer in Kansas City. A good utility player. However, he was released this month.
Justin Morneau - Last year, it was Shannon Stewart who came to the Twins and was credited with the Twins second half success. This year, Morneau came up right after the break (and Stewart came off the DL), and he provided a power hitting presence the team has not had in a long time!
Joe Mauer - When AJ Pierzynski was traded, not everyone thought that Mauer was ready. OK, he proved this year that he is more than ready. Unfortunately, he hurt his knew in game 2 and has struggled with it all year. But when he did play, he proved himself so well that he was moved into the 3 hold in the lineup. Hopefully the Cleveland doctor will give him the OK to play yet this season. He may fit into the playoff plans.
Henry Blanco - Came in to be the backup and teach Mauer. With Mauer's injuries, Blanco has been pushed into the starting role. He has responded well. No, he can't hit .200, but last night, he hit his 10th homer. No one questions his abilities as a catch. Buck Showalter says he's the best signal-caller in the league. Excellent pick up!
Pat Borders - Acquired from Seattle for BJ Garbe, he is at least a step up from Rob Bowen. I think that his experience behind the plate and in general can only help the pitching staff and the team. If he can help Kyle Lohse, he is amazing!
Rob Bowen - When Mauer went down and Bowen was called up, I said he should be given the starting job and keep Blanco in the backup role. I was wrong. I may not have ever been more wrong about anything in my life. Rob Bowen can not hit. I mean, he hit under .200 at New Britain and was barely hitting .100 with the Twins when Borders arrived. Didn't even get called up for September.
Johan Santana - Best pitcher in the American League, probably in all of baseball. Leads the AL in almost every pitching metric! I wrote a lot about him yesterday (and frequently before that). He is the team's Ace and will be the Game 1 pitcher in the playoffs.
Brad Radke - Santana is the ace, but Radke has been as good as he has been in his career! Unfortunately, he has not been blessed with much run support. In his 13 no-decisions, the Twins have scored 2 or less runs 12 times. He could be approaching 20 wins and his name could be mentioned in Cy Young talks as well.
Carlos Silva - He came to the team from the Phillies. He had been a reliever his first two seasons in the big leagues. But he gave the Twins a lot. He started the year 5-0, then struggled and then pitched well and then struggled. But right now, he is pitching very well. Last night, he earned his 13th win of the year. Keeps the ball down and gets lots of ground balls. His "other" numbers aren't great, but for the most part, he has given the Twins a chance to win every time out.
Kyle Lohse - Kyle has been terrible all year. He has had bout four good starts all year. His last start though, he gave up just a run in 7 innings. People want to say it was a couple of good starts. However, his previous start, he went just 5.1 innings. So, I'm not convinced he's there, but I have seen how good he can be. If he can get there for the playoffs, I'd be thrilled.
Terry Mulholland - Cost the Twins a dollar at the end of spring training. His numbers aren't great. However, he has solidified the Twins 5th starter role the second half of the season and generally done whatever the team has needed. His 8 innings versus Cleveland was very impressive. Could be a lefty out of the 'pen in the playoffs.
Juan Rincon - Rincon has been one of the best set up men in baseball this year. He has double-figures in wins and has almost 1.24 K per inning. He has really had just two bad outings this year. Not bad considering he has pitched 75 games.
JC Romero - Romero is getting all kinds of credit for his performance in the second half. I know his scoreless inning streak wasn't as impressive as people want to think because he let over 50% of inherited runners score. However, his ERA dropped from over 6.00 to under 3.00, so that is not a bad thing. He has been great when he starts an inning.
Joe Nathan - Came over from the Giants where last year, he was one of the best set up men in the National League. Many were worried and I was really hoping they'd give the closer job to Jesse Crain. But there are no complaints about the job Joe Nathan has done. 43/46 in save attempts. And really, he was so dominant until he had three straight bad outings. But he has moved past that and is back to dominant.
Joe Roa - Doesn't have the stuff or the heat that others in the bullpen have, but Roa has been important to the Twins. He has pitched in some tough situations, but he has been great when the Twins have asked him to provide innings. There were numerous occasions that he gave the team 4 or more innings. I hope he makes the post-season roster.
Grant Balfour - Sounds like it is Balfour or Roa for the final spot on the roster. Balfour has been injured and inconsistent. Because he throws so hard, he can be so good. But because of the injuries, he hasn't been able to get comfortable.
Aaron Fultz - I didn't think Fultz was as bad as he was when he was sent down. He had had a few poor outings in a row. he didn't do much at Rochester either. But he's been around a long time and I think that he can still get lefties out.
Jesse Crain - 2003 Twins Minor League pitcher of the year, Crain spent much of this year at Rochester. When the Twins traded Mientkiewicz, Crain was brought to the Twins. After an adjustment or two, he has been great! He throws hard and ahs a great breaking ball as well!
Seth Greisinger - He did make nine starts for the Twins and was 2-5. He gave a couple of strong performances, but for the most part really struggled. Sent down to Rochester where he continued to struggle. Season ended with a broken hand.
Matt Guerrier - Made just one start for the Twins. Not impressive. But continued to pitch well at AAA despite a poor record. Has been decent out of the Twins bullpen in subsequent call ups.
Carlos Pulido - Pitched 11 innings in 6 games for the Twins early in the season. Not good at all. Went down to AAA where he had a couple of really bad starts before undergoing arm surgery.
JD Durbin - Twins Top Pitching Prospect. He probably would have been up with the Twins months earlier if not for shoulder surgery. Did well at New Britain before a call up to Rochester. He is up now and doing well out of the bullpen so far. Should be part of the Twins rotation next year and may get a couple of starts yet this year.
Brad Thomas - 3 games, 8 outs, 5 runs, 16.87 ERA, traded to Boston for PTBNL.
Joe Beimel - If you can't say something nice.... Well, he sure is doing a good job of making Aaron Fultz look good!!! 3 games, 5 outs, 43.50 ERA. Ouch! Can't believe he's using up a 40 man roster spot that David Gassner could have!
So there you have it, all of the players that have in some way affected the 2004 Minnesota Twins. All that put together makes for the 2004 AL Central Division Champs. It is a time to be happy at their accomplishment. Tonight, they can move on and start planning for the playoffs.
Any questions or comments on the team or any of the players? E-mail me.
Have you ever heard of Gustavo Chacin? If not, try to remember his name. He is a 24 year old from Venezuela. This season, he split between the Toronto Blue Jays AA affiliate (New Hampshire) and AA affiliate (Syracuse). Overall, he was 18-2 with a 2.88 ERA. He was just called up to the Blue Jays and last night made his major league debut against the New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium against Javier Vazquez. He went seven innings and got the win. He gave up three runs on 4 hits and 3 walks.
Seth's Prediction - Vikings 34, Eagles 23
Actual Score - Vikings 16, Eagles 27
So yeah, that didn't go well for the Vikings. Again, the defense was just walked through. And, the offense didn't do too poorly, until they got within scoring position. Then it was penalty after penalty. Holding, illegal procedure. Culpepper had a fumble within inches of the goal line. He had another TD run called back because of a penalty. Basically, the better team won last night. However, Vikings fans should not overreact. First, the Eagles are very good. Second, Adam Haayer had to play tackle and Jevon Kearse had his way with him! The Vikings forgot about the running game. Then also refused to throw the ball downfield. Yes, Jermaine Wiggins is good at making catches for 4 yard gains.
And, the defense did nothing. Did we hear the names of any of the Vikings defensive linemen after they introduced themselves?
Oh, and I am totally bitter. I had just taken the lead in my fantasy football league. But then, Donovan McNabb threw deep to Terrell Owens and the Eagles were given a touchdown. Replays showed that it should not have been ruled a touchdown at all. Am I bitter because of the referees? No. I'm bothered by the fact that no one told the Vikings to throw the red flag on that play! Why wouldn't they have someone in the booth telling them to review it? That is a coaching thing.
Any comments on the Vikings? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Mike Brasel completely dominated the Week 2 picks to take the win and gain a two game lead in the overall standings. Congratulations!!! If you would like to see the actual picks for Week 2, click here.
Week 2 Total Name Site
L Win% W L Win % Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 13 3 81.25% 25 7 78.1% Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 11 5 68.75% 23 9 71.9% Ryan Maus Twins Chatter 11 5 68.75% 23 9 71.9% David Bergner Baseball Savant 11 5 68.75% 22 10 68.8% Michael Labuda ChiSox Daily 11 5 68.75% 20 12 62.5% Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 10 6 62.50% 18 14 56.3% Vic Quick KDUH-TV Sports 10 6 62.50% 20 12 62.5% Melissa Olson SethSpeaks.net 9 7 56.25% 17 15 53.1% David Bloom Ya Gotta Believe 9 7 56.25% 19 13 59.4% Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 8 8 50.00% 18 14 56.3% Jeremy Kovash Wolf Lake Mgr 7 9 43.75% 20 12 62.5% John Bonnes The Twins Geek 7 9 43.75% 14 18 43.8%
Thanks to everyone who stops by this site! Have a wonderful day!!
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