Hits since June 1, 2003
Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 NOW AVAILABLE –$13.99 for 179 pages of Twins minor league content. You can get a copy now by clicking here. If you are unable to see the book’s cover, please click here.
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Monday, February 20, 2012
SethSpeaks to Twins Daily
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
I’ve Got Good News and I’ve Got Bad News
I alluded to it late last week in a blog post, and a couple of people caught it. I wrote something about how SethSpeaks.net is winding down, and today is that day. This blog entry will be the final blog entry at SethSpeaks.net.
But before I wax poetic about the nearly nine years of blogging on the Twins at SethSpeaks.net, I am excited to tell you that I’m not really going anywhere. I am not done blogging about the Twins. Just a new start, fresh with a new look. I am really excited to announce that as of today, the TwinsCentric guys are starting a new Twins website called Twins Daily. Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman, John Bonnes and I are consolidating efforts. You will be able to find our writings in one spot, at www.TwinsDaily.com. So, be sure to check out that site and bookmark it!
What is Twins Daily?
TwinsCentric is kicking off TwinsDaily.com as part of a continuing effort to bring together a community of Twins fans and bloggers. We believe it will be a great location for terrific independent Twins coverage on the internet.
Come for the Content. Stay for the Conversation.
We are excited about the Forums as well. You will be able to comment on our articles, but you will also be able to comment on any Twins topics, minor league discussion (On the Farm), More Baseball topics, Game Threads and more. Hopefully the comments sections will maintain civility while not being afraid to have a good, quality, educated discussion. We hope it will create a fun and interesting discussion on these topics.
Blogs – If you sign up as a member of the site (which is free to do!), you can comment, but you can also create your own blog. You can customize your own blog on the site and develop your own content. Readers can view all blogs, and TwinsCentric will “promote” the best blogs to the front page for greater exposure.
There is much more to the Twins Daily site that we are still learning about each day. So, I really hope that you will become a daily reader and contributor at www.TwinsDaily.com. Hopefully you will Register and participate.
Gone, but not Gone
In May of 2003, urged on by some friends, I decided to start a blog. The story I have told all along was that I did an internet search for “Twins Dork.” I was bored one day and wondered what kind of information I could find on my favorite baseball team. The link took me to a new blog called The Twins Geek. From there, I learned about Aaron’s Baseball Blog. I figured I had some knowledge on baseball and the Twins and could write a little bit, why not try this “Blog” thing! Of course, back then, not many even knew what a blog was. That’s when SethSpeaks.net was born. At the time, it wasn’t just a Twins blog. I wrote about all Minnesota sports, and TV shows and movies, and pretty much everything I wanted. However, the best feedback and the largest readership came when I wrote about the Twins.
Back then, I was happy to get 20-25 hits a day. That number gradually increased over time. SethSpeaks.net has opened up so many opportunities for me, as well as helped me meet so many great people. It was pretty cool when the site got mentioned in Sports Illustrated a few years ago. It has allowed me to gain some readership and an audience that has bought some of my Prospect Handbooks. I have gained friendships with so many Twins fans, bloggers, writers, media types and many players as well.
But as life gets more and more busy, it has become more and more difficult to maintain SethSpeaks.net. Believe me, when I went a day without writing, I truly felt guilty. Part of the site was that it wasn’t a ‘pretty’ site. It was rough. Most probably don’t know that I had to write each day’s blog in one document, then post it into an Archive page and then onto the main SethSpeaks.net page. Then I started up the WordPress site (talkintwinsbb.blogspot.com) a few years ago because it gave me an RSS feed and allowed for comments. So, once it was entered into SethSpeaks.net, I also had to enter it onto the WordPress site, then grab that link to post back to the other pages to link for comments. In other words, it was a mess and by myself I just did not have the time to find a better way.
So, I am sure that some might be disappointed that SethSpeaks.net will no longer be my primary site. That said, I wouldn’t be moving to this other site (TwinsDaily.com) if I didn’t believe in it 100% All four TwinsCentric writers are a little different but provide really good Twins content. What will my role be on the new site? I’ll have some administrative duties throughout a week, but in terms of content, what you found at SethSpeaks.net, you will continue to find at TwinsDaily.com. That includes a ton of minor league information. In fact, if you click here, you can see that there is a SethSpeaks.net page and you can set up an RSS Feed so that any time I post a blog, you will see it.
I am also really excited to let you know that some Twins minor leaguers will be blogging at TwinsDaily.com. Minnesotan and former Gophers SS and Twins 25th round pick last year, AJ Pettersen, will be writing. Left-handed reliever Tony Davis will also be writing about once a week. Last year’s Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year, Tim Shibuya, will also be writing from time to time. I’m still hoping that several more players will write as well. (Note that you can get RSS Feeds for their blogs as well. And secondary note, to all Twins players and minor league players, if you would like to blog, please feel free to do so!)
It has been incredibly cool, and life-altering (to some degree) to write almost daily at SethSpeaks.net for almost nine years. It is a huge part of my life. I really hope that those of you who have read SethSpeaks.net will start heading to TwinsDaily.com, become members and participate to whatever degree you are comfortable.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Four Words That Make Me Smile
Pitchers and Catchers Report
We’ve been patient, at least as patient as we can. But it is really difficult. I mean, the last time we saw the Minnesota Twins play was September 28, 2011. What a game it was. Twins starter Carl Pavano threw nine shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals. Bruce Chen tossed eight scoreless at the Twins. Thankfully, the Royals brought reliever Blake Wood into the game, and you all remember, Trevor Plouffe lined a single that scored Denard Span and gave the Twins the win. That win came 143 days ago! 143 days! That’s almost five full months. Simply… that’s far too long to go without watching or favorite team. Since that day, the Twins lost several players including Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan, Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert and more. Jim Pohlad also decided to relieve Bill Smith of his GM duties and replace him with an old friend, Terry Ryan. Ryan has added free agents Josh Willingham, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit, Jason Marquis, Joel Zumaya and a boat load of strong-armed minor league free agents. We have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Many of us had the opportunity to start getting prepped for the 2012 season by attending a Twins Caravan. Then many of us met at the Metrodome for Twins Fest. The last three weeks have been difficult. We’re all ready for things to get started.
And this morning, we can finally say the four words that mean so much to baseball fans. Sure, many in the world want to talk about the Three Little Words that get uttered on Valentine’s Day. But for a baseball fan, no four words are more exciting than “Pitchers and Catchers Report.” This morning in Ft. Myers, Twins pitchers and catchers will report to Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers. They won’t hold a full workout. That will happen on Sunday. Last night, Twins Director of Communications tweeted that “33 pitchers and catchers are ready to report in Ft. Myers tomorrow. (This) includes 11 non-roster pitchers and 5 non-roster catchers.” The other 25 position players will report in just a few days. Spring Training games begin in less than two weeks.
Spring Training is about a fresh start. The sounds of baseball. The pop of catchers’ mitts. The encouraging shouts of coaches. The opportunity for a new beginning. Hope. Joy. Optimism. All great words. All appropriate today because of those four special words that baseball fans wait for all winter: Pitchers and Catchers Report!
Friday, February 17, 2012
Top 50 Twins Prospects
SethSpeaks and Twinkie Town
Our good friends over at Twinkie Town have spent the past couple of months working on their community Top 50 Twins Prospect list. Each day, those who went to their site were able to cast their vote for a player. The player with the most votes gets the spot, and the next day they would vote for the next spot. They started at #1 and worked all the way to #50 and the best part was community discussion each round.
I thought it would be fun to compare and contrast my Top 50 Twins Prospect list to the Twinkie Town list. The top five on each list are the exact same, but after that, there are some significant differences, and by the time it reaches the end of the list, there are several names that don’t appear on both lists. So, as pitchers and catchers are set to report to Ft. Myers on Saturday and SethSpeaks.net is winding down, discuss these lists and feel free to post your own rankings.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Terry Doyle Stars on SethSpeaks.net Twins Podcast
Twins Rule 5 draft pick Terry Doyle was the star guest on last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. The right-hander comes to the Twins organization after spending the past few seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization. The New Hampshire native went to Boston College where he went four years, was drafted twice and graduated with a math major. He teamed with the Twins prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox roster in the Arizona Fall League where he went 4-0. All told, last season, he passed the 200 innings pitched count. He is certainly excited about his opportunity with the Twins.
Twins pitchers and catchers will report to Ft. Myers (officially) on Saturday and their first workout is on Sunday. Of course, as is always the case, most of the Twins roster, including many minor leaguers, are already working out in Ft. Myers.
Following the 20+ minute interview with the talented right-hander, Fanatic Jack and I discussed/argued several Twins related topics. I also gave a minute or two rant about why I chose to be optimistic and positive despite my ability to be realistic as well. I actually think it went pretty well as it wasn’t an interview session, it was just back and forth Twins banter on a smorgasbord of Twins topics.
If you missed the live show on Tuesday night, be sure to listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Aces of Baseball
Throughout the past few offseasons, the comments I hear most regarding the Twins needs involve the need to acquire an Ace. In fact, I’ve said it a few times myself. Of course, that isn’t completely true and it is never the full story. You see, for the mid-90s, the Twins had not only an Ace, but the best pitcher in baseball, and that didn’t get them to the second round of the playoffs. The 2011 Phillies boasted a starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt and didn’t get to the World Series. That rotation has two definite Aces, a borderline ace and a former ace.
I’d also caution that many people, one year ago, felt that Francisco Liriano fell into the borderline ace category. That is just one example of why I believe that to be a true ace, there has to be greatness over several seasons. Another example would be Ubaldo Jimenez who was dominant for half of the 2010 season but hasn’t been great since. Like Liriano, Jimenez has a chance to return to ace-like status, but we shall see.
With that, I took to Twitter yesterday where I asked my ‘followers’ which current major league pitchers would or should be classified as True Aces. The response was great, and I will break this into the true aces (my opinion), and those on the borderline (my opinion).
· Justin Verlander (Year 3 of five year, $80 million contract - $20M)
· Clayton Kershaw (Year 1 of two year, $19 million contract - $7.5M)
· Tim Lincecum (Year 1 of two year, $40.5 million contract - $18M)
· CC Sabathia (Year 1 of five year, $122 million contract - $23M)
· Felix Hernandez (Year 3 of five year, $78 million contract - $18.5M)
· Cliff Lee (Year 2 of five year, $120 million contract - $21.5M)
· Roy Halladay (Year 2 of three year, $60 million contract - $20M)
· Jared Weaver (Year 1 of five year, $85 million contract - $14M)
· Dan Haren (Year 4 of four year, $44.75 million contract - $12.75M - $15.5M club option for 2013)
· Yovani Gallardo (Year 3 of five year, $30.1 million contract, $5.5M)
· Matt Cain (Year 3 of three year, $27.25 million contract, $15M)
· Chris Carpenter (Year 1 of two year, $21 million contract - $10.5M)
· Josh Johnson (Year 3 of four year, $39 million contract - $13.75M)
· Cole Hamels (avoided arbitration, $15M)
· Adam Wainright (Year 5 of four year, $15 million contract – Cardinals picked up $9M option for 2012 despite Tommy John surgery)
· Zach Greinke (Year 4 of four year, $38 million contract - $13.5M)
· Matt Garza (avoided arbitration, $9.5 M)
· Jon Lester (Year 4 of five year, $30 million contract, $7.625M)
· Josh Beckett (Year 2 of four year, $68 million contract - $15.75M)
· David Price (avoided arbitration, $4.25M)
· Ricky Romero (Year 2 of five year, $30.1 million contract, $5M)
· Anibal Sanchez (won arbitration, 1 year, $8M)
Could be an Ace quickly: Matt Moore, Stephen Strasburg, Mat Latos, Yu Darvish, Michael Pineda, Jeremy Hellickson, Tommy Hanson, Julio Teheran, Gerrit Cole, Dylan Bundy.
So, when I hear Twins fans say, “We (meaning, the Twins) need an Ace,” I will frequently say, “I agree. How are the Twins going to get one?”
Not one pitcher in that top list is available. Part of the reason they are in that top list is that, so far, they have been able to stay healthy. Johan Santana used to be in that category, but now that he hasn’t pitched for over 18 months, I’m not so sure he should be there any further. In the “Borderline” category, there are some guys who have been really good for a short period of time, or there is some injury concern or some inconsistency.
We can argue what an Ace is, who is or who isn’t. That’s not really the point here. The point is that they are not easy to come by. These guys are not available, and after the Mat Latos trade earlier this offseason, it’s understandable to see why. Latos was traded to the Reds from the Padres in exchange for Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger. Part of that is because Latos is not even arbitration-eligible for another year. However, the Cubs have been trying to trade Matt Garza much of the offseason and either are not getting any interest or the asking price is beyond what anyone is willing to pay. Santana is probably a big reason why. When the Twins traded the two-time Cy Young winner to the Mets, he was baseball’s best pitcher. He was good for another year and a half and then he did what most pitchers do, he got hurt. Of course, he could still come back. We shall see. But will he ever be what he was again? Probably not.
More than half of the players listed above were drafted in the first half of the first round. The Twins have had one pick in the first half of the first round since 2002. The Twins have a big opportunity in the June draft when they have the 2nd overall pick. Mark Appel’s name is frequently mentioned as a possible choice. The Stanford right hander doesn’t really profile as an Ace, more like a 2 or 3 starter (like Kyle Gibson, Alex Wimmers or Liam Hendriks). Not that there is anything wrong with a 2 or 3 starter. Those are very good pitchers who will make a lot of money when they hit free agency. Lucas Giolito is another pitcher, a high school pitcher, who gets mentioned as a possible #2 pick. He profiles much more like a future Ace, but there is much more risk with a high school pitcher than with a college pitcher. Of course, by the time of the draft in June, there may be another name (pitcher or hitter) who is the best available player at that #2 spot and that’s who the Twins should take. The Twins have five picks in the top 100 picks this June.
Along with signing Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Javier Pimentel and other talented Dominican hitters, the Twins have also done a good job signing several top Dominican pitchers in recent years. They have signed two top young pitchers from Taiwan.
I completely agree with people who say that the Twins need an Ace. Frankly, the best way for that to happen is for Francisco Liriano to gain a little self-confidence, trust his stuff and become that pitcher again. He was there in 2010. It’s a contract-year for him, so it would be to his benefit if he did regain that form this year. Scott Baker was pitching as well as anyone last year before his elbow injuries. He really needs to step up too.
And then they just have to find a way to sign the right draft picks and international players and develop them. Frankly, I’m not as worried about getting a True Ace. That doesn’t guarantee anything. But I do think that pitching does win, and if they had more #2s and #3s that were consistent, they would be just fine.
Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!
· Last night, Travis Aune and I co-hosted a new Twins Minor League Weekly episode and discussed our Top 50 Twins prospects as well as the Top 100 rankings of several national writers.
· If you enjoyed last week’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Twins podcast with several guests (Kyle Waldrop, Alex Margulies, Cory Provus, Jeff Manship, and Dan Rohlfing), you should tune in tonight at 9:00 for this week’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Twins podcast with several more Twins guests.
· Finally, be sure to check out this week’s episode of Gleeman and the Geek.
· Nick wrote a first in a series of Things to Watch in 2012. He started with Glen Perkins’ Slider.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Should Twins Acquire AJ?
No, I do not think that the Twins should consider a trade to bring back former catcher AJ Pierzynski. I’m talking about whether or not the Twins should consider working on a trade with the Yankees to acquire RHP AJ Burnett.
When asked about that idea weeks ago, my immediate response was “No, thank you!”
But upon further review, I think it’s a valid question to ask. Burnett has been pretty bad the last two seasons. In 2010, he was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. In 2011, he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. He is also owed $33 million over the next two seasons. He turned 35 years old in January.
All those reasons mean that the answer probably should be “No, thank you!” But maybe it isn’t and shouldn’t be that simple. It appears that a deal between the Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates is likely, but here are a few reasons that the Twins should at least make a quick phone call to Brian Cashman:
· The first assumption would have to be that the Yankees will cover $20-25 million of the $33 million remaining on Burnett’s contract. If that can’t be agreed upon, then there is zero reason to continue discussion.
· The second assumption is that the Yankees are not looking for a top prospect in return. Of course, if they’re going to hand over that much money, they will want something of quality too. If they think they’re going to get Miguel Sano, then the discussion can end too.
· He has made 32 or more starts each of the past four seasons. He has thrown more than 186 innings each of those seasons.
· Getting out of New York can be a good thing for many pitchers, especially after a bad year or two. Think anyone understands that better than Carl Pavano. The two were teammates with the Marlins from 2002 through 2004. Could playing in Minnesota and with an old teammate help Burnett reach his potential again?
· Burnett may be a big of an enigma, but he’s an enigma who throws really hard and has a really nasty slider and as recently as three years ago, he struck out more than a batter per inning.
· A rotation of Burnett, Liriano, Baker and Pavano is a pretty good start. Burnett has the stuff, like Liriano, to be a top of the rotation guy. Baker is a very good #2. Burnett has playoff experience and success.
The case can also be made that he, like Liriano, may be a bit of a head case. We don’t know if he will improve by being out of New York. We don’t know that he will continue to be healthy. We don’t know what the Twins advanced scouts think of what he has left.
Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Alexi and Arbitration
In the next couple of days, the Alexi Casilla arbitration situation will be over. Arbitration hearings are to be complete by February 15th. The sides are not to discuss when a hearing is scheduled, so we don’t know when the Twins and Casilla would have a hearing in front of an arbiter. Of course, it is also possible that the two sides will come to an agreement before going to arbitration.
This is Casilla’s second year of arbitration. Last year, he signed before a hearing and played the 2011 season making $865,000. 2011 was a strange season for Casilla. He began the season as the Twins starting shortstop. In April, he hit .167/.227/.200 in 22 games. Trevor Plouffe was called up and got almost a dozen games at shortstop. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was rehabbing his broken leg, was being moved to shortstop. Casilla was really bad. However, once you get past April, Casilla had a very solid season. Check out his monthly splits:
April - .167/.227/.200
May - .288/.351/.424
June - .274/.349/.400
July - .283/.333/.404
Season - .260/.322/.368 in 97 games.
Unfortunately, he played just one game in August and September combined due to an injury. If you recall, he came back for one game and was immediately placed on the disabled list again afterward.
Casilla’s 97 games played in 2011 was on less than his career-high of 98 games played as a 23 year old in 2008. He will go into the 2012 season as the Twins starting second baseman, but frankly, many question if he isn’t best as a utility middle infielder.
Casilla and his representation is asking for $1.75 million. The Twins offer was $1.065 million. The midpoint is $1.407 million. Here are some comparables:
Robert Andino (Orioles) – Settled for $1.3 million
Mike Aviles (Red Sox) – Settled for $1.2 million
Jeff Baker (Cubs) – Settled for $1.375 million
Emilio Bonifacio (Marlins) – WON at $2.2 million
Mike Fontenot (Giants) – Settled at $1.05 million
Chris Getz (Royals) – Settled for $968,000
Jed Lowrie (Astros) – Settled for $1.15 million
After reviewing this list and doing some comparison, I don’t think that Casilla is wrong in asking for $1.7 million. I personally think that the midpoint of $1.407 million seems fair. Obviously the Twins biggest case is that he hasn’t ever played in 100 games, so I don’t blame them for coming in low.
My guess: Right before it would go to an arbitration hearing, they’ll agree to a one year, $1.4 million salary. I think that if it does go to arbitration, Casilla would likely win.
Did You Know?
It was on this day (February 11) in 1974 that this whole arbitration system was established? According to JJ Swol of Twins Trivia, 48 players invoked their new arbitration rights including Twins pitcher Dick Woodson. Woodson was seeking $30,000 and the Twins were offering $23,000. My how things have changed in nearly 40 years. Woodson won, by the way.
Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!
Friday, February 10, 2012
Guest-Filled Twins Podcast Last Night
Last night’s 90-minute SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast was a lot of fun! We talked to Kyle Waldrop about what it was like to finally getting his first big league opportunity after spending eight seasons in the Twins system. He discussed what he did in the offseason to improve and what he’s looking to show in spring training. Then Alex Margulies joined us to talk about how big league spring training affects the Ft. Myers Miracle front office. We also discussed how the Miracle has been ahead of the game in terms of technology. We also discussed Aaron Hicks, Alex Wimmers, Oswaldo Arcia and several other Twins prospects that spent time with the Miracle last year. It was treat to be joined by the new Voice of the Twins Cory Provus who has jumped headfirst into his new job. He’s spent time on the Twins Caravan, and he’s dug into the history of the Minnesota Twins. He’s learned a lot from Bob Uecker and Ron Santo, and although he’s just 31-32 years old, he’s worked in many jobs and many sports. You’ll enjoy this interview. Jeff Manship called in next to talk about his frustrating 2011 season and how he is working and preparing for the 2012 season. He’ll begin his trek to Ft. Myers today. It will be interesting to see how his spring training goes. Will he start or work out of the bullpen? Finally, Dan Rohlfing called into the podcast. He is a non-roster invite to big league camp as a catcher. For the first time in his career, he got a chance to play nearly every day. Like Chris Herrmann, Rohlfing is a great athlete and when he didn’t catch, he was playing in the outfield. He was entertaining as well. It was a fun show for me. I definitely enjoy chatting with players and other Twins personnel, especially as spring training is coming quickly. However, I do want your thoughts, your opinions or suggestions. Any feedback on the podcasts is very welcome, so please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or leave your questions, comments and ideas in the Comments Section!
Thursday, February 9, 2012
SethSpeaks.net Weekly Twins Podcast Tonight at 9
OK, so the show hasn’t been exactly weekly of late. Frankly, the ratings haven’t been where we would like them to be. However, tonight at 9:00 central time, I’ll be hosting a 90-minute Twins podcast. We’ll get caught up on the goings-on around the Twins as we are now about one week from pitchers and catchers reporting! We’ll discuss the offseason and look forward to the 2012 season. You’ll want to join because I’m in the process of lining up several guests to discuss the upcoming season. As I get confirmations, I’ll be sure to share them. But put it on your calendar. 9:00 tonight. Listen Live. And, if you have any topics you would like us to cover, be sure to
SCHEDULE (Times Central)
9:04 – Twins RHP Kyle Waldrop
9:17 – Ft. Myers Miracle Radio Voice Alex Margulies
9:30 – Twins Radio Voice Cory Provus
9:45 – Twins RHP Jeff Manship
10:02 – Twins C Dan Rohlfing
We’ll close the show by answering any Twins-related questions you may have. Be sure to join the chat room to get your questions answered!
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Vote Lindsay Guentzel to the MLB Fan Cave
Nobody wants to read about caucuses or politics on a baseball blog, but today, I would like to encourage Twins fans to vote for Lindsay Guentzel to join this year’s MLB Fan Cave. This morning, the Minnesota native found out that she is among the Top 50 Finalists. They will likely be taking six people to live in New York City and live for the baseball season in an incredible environment where they will be able to watch all of the MLB games and will be joined by several Major League ball players who are in NYC. It’s really an incredible opportunity.
You likely know Lindsay because she is involved in quite a bit of media things throughout the Twin Cities. She used to be known as Intern Gal when she interned for Dan Barriero and Justin Gaard at KFAN. This past year, she was an on-air talent for Fox Sports North’s Prep Zone. Remember last year when we had a TwinsCentric event at Smalley’s 87 Club in Minneapolis. It was also a charitable event that Lindsay coordinated. She has organized many such events and raised a lot of money for local charities. You’ll also want to check out some of her You Tube videos! I could go on and on about all that Lindsay has done in the Minnesota sports world, but mainly, I just think it would be pretty cool to have someone from Minnesota in the MLB Fan Cave. She’s a really hard worker and deserves this opportunity to represent Minnesota on a national level.
Lindsay was a guest on last night’s Gleeman and the Geek podcast which was quite entertaining!
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Organizational Depth Chart: Relief Pitchers
Today, we will conclude our Organizational Depth Chart by looking at the Relief Pitchers. Frankly, it is kind of a mess thanks to about 89 minor league veterans brought in, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. As I said on Monday, many starters will get time as a reliever, and vice versa. This is especially true in the lower levels of the minor leagues where innings limits are still so important. The Twins bullpen in 2011 was pretty much horrible. They had lost Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, both guys who had long been in the Twins bullpen. They also let Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, and Ron Mahay departed via free agency. Each made huge money for relievers in free agency. As I’ve said, I would have wanted to bring back Crain, but I definitely understood letting the others go. The Twins brought in some minor league free agents, but as they had done so many times before, they made the decision to build a bullpen from within. Needing two or three pitchers to step up, only Glen Perkins really stepped up throughout the season. Anthony Swarzak was a surprise success as well in long relief and as a spot starter. Joe Nathan struggled in his return. Matt Capps just struggled. Two pitchers that likely would have been counted on to perform, Jeff Manship and Anthony Slama were out most of the season with injuries. Had those two been healthy all season, it could have been a better situation. To the surprise of many, the Twins seem to have gone with much the same philosophy in 2012. Instead of going after retread relievers, they are choosing to believe in their in-house options. They brought back Capps, are taking a flyer on Joel Zumaya, and have invited a small village of minor league veteran pitchers with some big league experience. All in the attempt to hope that three or four of them step up. It’s a philosophy I completely agree with despite the fact that it went very wrong in 2011. Then again, pretty much everything went wrong for the Twins in 2011. Fortunately 2012 is a new year. You can clamor for guys like Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey all you want. Or you can realize that they all struggled early in their careers and didn’t become big league regulars until late in their careers. They didn’t succeed in their first opportunities in the big leagues, and they have all had their struggles in the big leagues even after being given regular bullpen duties. So, although I am incredibly nervous about the Twins bullpen, and don’t have any idea how they will perform in 2012, I do think they have some talent, some young talent that should continue to get opportunities. That’s just smart. Relievers who are good year in and year out are a rarity. Are there a dozen in the entire big leagues that you could say have been lights out, have been difference-makers each of the past five seasons? (I’ll give you Mariano Rivera… you name another 10.) Because of that, bringing in 26-30 year olds with good arms and some measure of success makes a lot of sense to me.
Matt Capps (RHP), Glen Perkins (LHP), Joel Zumaya (RHP), Brian Duensing (LHP), Alex Burnett (RHP), Anthony Swarzak (RHP), Jeff Gray (RHP), Terry Doyle (RHP-R5)
Some Twins fans choose to say that Matt Capps has been pretty bad in two of the last three years. Since it’s less than two weeks before spring training, so I’ll say that he’s been really good in four of his last six seasons! If healthy, he’ll be solid at the end of games. I think Glen Perkins proved himself throughout the 2011 season to believe he can be a dominant lefty reliever again in 2012. Brian Duensing likely moves to the bullpen. He is one of baseball’s best at getting left-handed hitters out, but one of the worst at getting right-handers out. Joel Zumaya hasn’t pitched since 2010, and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2006, but I guess there is a chance he could be really good for half of the season! Anthony Swarzak is out of options and he really proved himself in long-relief and spot-starting last year. He could find himself being thrown into more high leverage situations in 2012. Alex Burnett has the arguably the best stuff in the bullpen and hopefully he will be able to put it all together. He won’t turn 25 until late July. If Terry Doyle pitches fairly well in spring training, I believe that he will make the team. If a starter is hurt, he could be the guy to make some starts early in the season, or he could be a long reliever. I also believe that Jeff Gray will make this roster as well. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options.
Rochester Red Wings
Anthony Slama (RHP), Carlos Gutierrez (RHP), Lester Oliveros (RHP), Cole DeVries (RHP), Deolis Guerra (RHP), Kyle Waldrop (RHP), Esmerling Vazquez (RHP), Tyler Robertson (LHP), Jared Burton (RHP), Jason Bulger (RHP), Samuel Deduno (RHP), Phil Dumatrait (LHP), Casey Fien (RHP), Luis Perdomo (RHP), Daryl Thompson (RHP), PJ Walters (RHP), Brendan Wise (RHP), Luke French (LHP), Brad Thompson (RHP), Matt Maloney (LHP)
What a mess spring training will be? The Twins will have to play a few split-squad games to get all of these guys innings. Inexplicably, Anthony Slama has never been given a shot by the Twins despite 10.3 K/9 and a 2.59 ERA in 92 AAA appearances. I think Lester Oliveros has a chance to be pretty good but he needs more time. The Twins don’t need to rush him (like they did with Alex Burnett). The Twins claimed Vazquez from the Diamondbacks on the last day of the 2011 season. He’s a hard-thrower with control issues. The same can be said for Deduno and Perdomo. Kyle Waldrop finally got a shot with the Twins in September and he should be given a very legitimate opportunity to make the Twins opening day roster and get time throughout the season with the Twins. The two non-roster invites that have a legitimate chance of making the big league roster early in the season are Jared Burton and Jason Bulger. Each has had quite a bit of big league success. Burton has been hurt much of the past two seasons. Bulger spent a long time with the Angels. Phil Dumatrait got way too much time with the Twins last year. Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson were added to the 40 man roster this offseason. Gutierrez made the move to the bullpen last year and pitched pretty well until shoulder issues. Still walks too many though. Robertson was terrific in the second half of last season as the New Britain closer. The lefty may not throw hard, but he was quite successful in his first season in the bullpen. Cole DeVries had a tremendous 2011 including a very good performance in the hitting Arizona Fall League. Matt Maloney is on the 40 man roster. The left-hander was brought in before Terry Ryan was named GM, but as a former Reds pitcher, it is likely that he was recommended by Wayne Krivsky, which makes him intriguing. He is on the 40 man roster and out of options, but there is a chance he could go unclaimed. Non-roster invites Burton, Bulger, Deduno, Dumatrait, Fien, Perdomo, Walters, French and the two Thompsons all have spent some time in the big leagues. Liam Hendriks said in a recent podcast that Brendan Wise is similar to Kyle Waldrop in terms of ability to get a lot of ground balls. The Aussie has been very good in AAA the last two years. Finally, it is a huge year for Deolis Guerra. After being really bad as a starting pitcher, he moved to the New Britain bullpen last year and was incredible. Suddenly he had better control, gave up less hits and struck out more than a batter an inning. How will he perform in AAA in 2012? It will be interesting to watch. I suspect we will see him by season’s end. He has one option left.
New Britain Rock Cats
Matt Hauser (RHP), Andrew Albers (LHP), Brett Jacobson (RHP), Daniel Turpen (RHP), Tony Davis (LHP), Blake Martin (LHP), Cole Nelson (LHP), Spencer Steedley (LHP), Ricky Bowen (RHP), Jhon Garcia (RHP), Bruce Pugh (RHP), Dakota Watts (RHP), Steve Hirschfeld (RHP)
Will any of the leftovers from the Twins minor league signings move down to AA? We shall see. Matt Hauser ended the 2011 season with one appearance with the Rock Cats. He is a hard-throwing right hander who I think will be a big breakout candidate in 2012. Andrew Albers was the story of the year in the Twins system last year and my choice for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Brett Jacobson, Blake Martin and Spencer Steedley spent 2011 in New Britain, each splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Turpen came over from Colorado in the Kevin Slowey deal. He throws hard and side-arm but gets no strikeouts. Bruce Pugh and Dakota Watts both had disappointing 2011 seasons between Ft. Myers and New Britain. Each struggled in the Arizona Fall League. But each throws really hard and if they can find any measure of control, they are legit prospects. Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in both April and May. He struggled in June and moved to the bullpen, which is likely where he’ll wind up. Tony Davis is not a big guy, but he throws left-handed and touches 94-95 mph. He missed about half of last season with a shoulder surgery. He will be ready for spring training. Cole Nelson is a Minnesota native who came over from Detroit in the Delmon Young trade. Ricky Bowen signed with the Twins in May and did a nice job pitching out of the Ft. Myers bullpen. Jhon Garcia throws hard and can pitch in any role in the bullpen and spot start.
Ft. Myers Miracle
Jose Gonzalez (LHP), Michael Tonkin (RHP), Clinton Dempster (RHP), Bart Carter (LHP), Nelvin Fuentes (LHP), Edgar Ibarra (LHP), Kane Holbrooks (RHP), Matt Schuld (RHP), Brad Stillings (RHP), Caleb Thielbar (LHP), Blayne Weller (RHP), Miguel Munoz (RHP)
Jose Gonzalez was the closer in Beloit last year. He’ll likely continue in that role with the Miracle. He’s not tall and resembles Jose Mijares, but he throws hard and has a terrific slider. Michael Tonkin moved to the bullpen in 2011 and pitched very well. Dempster was terrific in the bullpen for Beloit but struggled upon his promotion to Ft. Myers. Carter dominated in Elizabethton and then pitched very well for the Snappers. A four year college guy, he should be pushed. Nelvin Fuentes has been pitching well for Puerto Rico in international competition. He has also steadily moved up the Twins system. The lefty works slow but he gets hitters out. Edgar Ibarra struggled in the Miracle rotation last year but finished strong in the bullpen. Kane Holbrooks had a tremendous 2010 season that saw him pitch well in Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain. 2011 was disappointing. He pitched well with no run support in April, but then he really struggled. He then missed the last couple of months. St. Thomas alum Matt Schuld pitched very well in Ft. Myers and then threw pretty well in New Britain. I only have him in Ft. Myers because of the numbers crunch at the higher levels. Caleb Thielbar became the first player the Twins signed from the St. Paul Saints and pitched in a few games for the Miracle. Blayne Weller pitched in the bullpen in Beloit although he ended the season pitching well as a starter. Miguel Munoz made his first start last year with the Miracle, hurt his elbow and then didn’t pitch again until late in the season. In his return to the Miracle, he re-aggravated the elbow injury and was shut down. Reports indicate that he did not have elbow surgery and rehabbed throughout the offseason.
Corey Williams (LHP), Steve Evans (LHP), Steven Gruver (LHP), Jason Wheeler (LHP), David Hurlbut (LHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Garrett Jewell (RHP), Cole Johnson (RHP), Tobias Streich (RHP), Jhonatan Arias (RHP).
Corey Williams was the Twins 3rd round pick just a year ago. The lefty signed for nearly double the slot recommendation. But the Twins are quite excited about him. He’s another hard thrower, said to have nasty stuff and a strong mentality. Evans, Gruver, Hurlbut and Johnson were all 2011 draft picks out of college that pitched well at Elizabethton during the summer. Kimes pitched in just a couple of games before suffering from mono. Jason Wheeler was the team’s 8th round pick and signed at the deadline. He will debut in 2012. Tobias Streich and Jhonatan Arias were both strong-armed catchers without much bat. Last year at Instructs, the two were moved from behind the plate to the mound. The Twins have done this in the past with mixed results. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, but a year later he moved to the mound, and although he didn’t get to the big leagues, he spent 3 years in AAA as a reliever. Danny Santiesteban was an outfielder with a bunch of tools in the lower levels of the Twins system for a few years. He was moved to the mound but was released soon after. (By the way, Santiesteban has been a hitting star for the Newark Bears of the independent leagues the last couple of years.)
Luis Nunez (LHP), Ricardo Arevalo (RHP), Nathan Fawbush (RHP), Tyler Herr (RHP), Gonzalo Sanudo (RHP), Markus Solbach (RHP), Dallas Gallant (RHP)
Luis Nunez went 5-0 with 5 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 16 relief appearances in the GCL. The 20-year-old lefty throws gas with decent (but improving) secondary stuff. He is certainly one to watch. Tyler Herr is a tall right-hander who showed improvement in his second year in the GCL. Arevalo has gone 0-11 with a 4.37 ERA in 25 games over the past two years in the GCL. Nathan Fawbush is another tall kid with a lot of talent, but he has missed time each of the past two seasons since the Twins drafted him. Sanudo signed with the Twins in 2011 and in 20.2 innings in the GCL, he walked seven and struck out 22. He just turned 20. Markus Solbach signed about this time last year from Germany, and he went 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings in the GCL. He also pitched well in the World Cup. Gallant had Tommy John surgery last spring and will be brought back slowly.
Josh Burris (RHP), Josue Montanez (LHP), Gerardo Ramirez (RHP)
The Twins signed Ramirez last year out of Mexico and threw 17.1 innings in the GCL. He just turned 18. Montanez just turned 20 years old. He signed with the Twins last year as their 15th round pick a year after being taken in the 25th round in 2010 by the Padres. His first outing didn’t go well, and then he was really good his next seven outings. Josh Burris signed very late with the Twins last year out of LSU-Eunice. Last year, he played some 2B and some in the outfield. He hit .273 with a triple and a homer and stole 13 bases. He also was a reliever who walked too many. However, he hits 94 mph on the radar gun and is best known for his great 12-6 curveball.
TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS
1.) Corey Williams, 2.) Matt Hauser, 3.) Lester Oliveros, 4.) Deolis Guerra, 5.) Carlos Gutierrez, 6.) Luis Nunez, 7.) Tyler Robertson, 8.) Dakota Watts, 9.) Bruce Pugh 10.) Steven Evans
The Twins bullpen was really bad last year. I don’t think there is any way around that. Glen Perkins stepped up, and once he was called up, Anthony Swarzak pitched well. If the Twins have any hope at being successful in 2012, they are going to need a few more guys to really step up. Capps is going to have to be healthy and pitch well. Zumaya may have to be healthy and successful. Duensing will have to fill the role of lefty-reliever. They brought in a bunch of minor league veterans, and it would be great if one or two of them would step up and contribute when called upon. There are several Twins minor leaguers who deserve an opportunity to step up, guys like Waldrop, Gutierrez, DeVries and even Anthony Slama. The Twins have made an effort to bring in some strong arms, and in doing so have found guys who also walk a bunch. In recent drafts, the Twins have also added some power arms to mixed results. Guys like Matt Hauser and Tony Davis could move up. 2011 draft picks Corey Williams, Matt Summers, Madison Boer, Trent Higginbotham and Josh Burris throw hard. Oh, and remember a couple of years ago when the Twins had something like three or four left-handed relievers in their entire farm system? Now, it appears that each team may have three or four lefties! There is definitely some talent in the bullpen, some very strong arms. Of course, we also have to remember that many starting pitchers who have decent stuff and aren’t working out as starters could be moved to the bullpen as well.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012
Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net and TwinsCentric is proud to announce that very soon the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 will be available. If you order quickly, you can have it in time for Twins Fest!
From AJ Achter to Jacob Younis (or Aaron Hicks to Miguel Sano to Liam Hendriks to Alex Wimmers, if you prefer), learn more about the prospects throughout the Twins minor league system. From last year’s book, a dozen players rose to the big leagues. How many will play with the Twins in 2012, and who should Twins fans get excited about?
Stohs noted, “I hope Twins fans will use this as a coffee table type of book. The Twins do build from within, so fans can learn more about these players before they get to the big leagues. The book is about the top prospects and the guys that 99% of fans haven’t heard of. They all work very hard to achieve their big league goals. Few will get there, but they also deserve recognition for all of their efforts.”
This is the fourth annual Twins prospect handbook by Stohs. The 2012 version features:
· Self-published, available at LuLu.com as a 6x9 paperback book, with 179 pages of Twins minor league content.
· Article on the 2011 Twins Major League Debuts, by Seth Stohs (quotes from Brian Dinkelman, Chris Parmelee and Liam Hendriks)
· What do big stats in the Appy League really mean? by Roger Dehring (Twinkie Town)
· Plotting a path through the 2012 Draft, by Cody Christie
· Minor League Player of the Year: SS Brian Dozier, by Seth Stohs
· Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year: RHP Liam Hendriks by Seth Stohs
· Minor League Reliever of the Year: LHP Andrew Albers, by Seth Stohs
· Top 5 Twins Dominican Summer League Prospect Profiles, by Seth Stohs
· SethSpeaks.net 2012 Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects
· SethSpeaks.net Top 30 Twins Prospects History (past six years of good and not-so-good choices)
· Top Ten Twins Prospect Rankings by many Twins bloggers, media and national rankings
· Cover by Josh Johnson with photos from David McQueen (Elizabethton photos) and Ashley Marshall/MiLB.com (New Britain photos)
· Photos inside by Greg Wagner (Ft. Myers photos) and Rinaldi Photos (Beloit photos)
If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail Seth Stohs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to welcome any questions or comments that you might have. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!