Tuesday February 24, 2004
REALITY FINALES THOUGHTS
Last night, I had volleyball and then there were the finales of The Littlest Groom, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, and the second to last episode of Average Joe II: Hawaii. (NOTE - My analysis of these shows is down below.) In other words, due to such a busy evening of vitally important activities, I will not be writing any new baseball related material today. I will, however, with the start of Spring Training yesterday, re-post something I wrote on December 19, 2003. That was right after the Twins announced their Non-Roster Invitees, so I wrote a little about each of them, their pasts, and what their outlook for 2004 would be (in my opinion). Of course, since then, the Twins have also signed Rick Helling to probably be their 4th or 5th starting pitcher. They also added IF/DH/PH Jose Offerman a couple of weeks ago and he will compete for a utility infield/pinch hitter spot on the roster. So, again, I hope you enjoy this analysis, and in the mean time, be sure to check out these Twins sites today:
· Twins Geek - yesterday, he wrote about questions surrounding JC Romero.
· Aaron’s Baseball Blog - Aaron wonders how so many national sports writers are unaware that Joe Mays will not pitch in 2004 because of Tommy John surgery on his elbow.
· Strib’s Jim Souhan’s article on Joe Mauer in today’s edition
· Strib’s Lavelle E. Neal’s article today covers topics ranging from Joe Mays’ timetable to Torii Hunter’s relationship with Deion Sanders and much more.
· Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum - excellent Twins discussions
· Nickle Curves - great articles on many of the goings on in baseball
And if you’re looking for great daily baseball reading, here are some of my favorites:
· Al’s Ramblings - lots of Brewers thoughts and the saga of Luis Martinez.
· Red’s Daily - thoughts on Dustin Moseley, and the combination of Chris Sabo and Barry Larkin!
· The Baseball Savant - More thoughts on Greg Maddux, the Cubs and the NL Central.
· The Raindrops - Mets thoughts and more!
· Jeremy Heit’s Blog - thoughts on a potential Alfonso Soriano for Jose Reyes trade!
· Bronx Banter - where he is getting help analyzing the Yankees from other bloggers.
· Wait Til Next Year - Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” philosophies and how can they sign Eric Chavez long-term?
· Mariners Musings - Rafael Soriano wants to be like Mariano Rivera. Where will that leave Eddie Guardado?
· Rich’s Weekend Baseball Beat - where Rich discusses seeing Long Beach State’s Jared Weaver (Jeff’s brother) pitch a couple of times. He’s dominant. He also recently interviewed Jay Jaffe of The Futility Infielder
· Baseball Musings - every baseball topic covered, and more.
· The Baseball Widow - a new site recently started. The first posting says it all: “I love my husband. My husband loves baseball. Welcome to our coping mechanism.”
Tomorrow, I’ll come up with something creative and new… I think…
Yesterday, the Twins finally signed their backup catcher. The Twins agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Henry Blanco. Most people think of Blanco as the personal catcher for Greg Maddux for his years in Atlanta. The team also announced which players not on their 40 man roster would be invited to Spring Training camp, which will start on February 23 down in Ft. Myers.
Today, I’m going to take a look at Henry Blanco and those Non-Roster Invitees and give you a feel for who they are, where they came from and what they can do for the Twins.
How about a little trivia to start out with? Which Twins non-roster invitee has been involved in a No-Hitter? In the major leagues? The answer will be down further on this page.
Henry Blanco made his major league debut in 1997 with the Dodgers. He has been in the major leagues since 1999 with the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers before spending the past two seasons with the Atlanta Braves. The 32 year old catcher has not been a full-time #1 catcher in his career. He did catch in 104 games for the 2001 Brewers. His career hitting numbers are nothing to write home about (and probably nothing to write in a baseball blog about either, but I have to bring it up!). In just over 1,200 career at bats, Blanco is a career .219/.295/.353 hitter with 71 doubles and 27 home runs.
ANALYSIS - First, I need to point out that Henry Blanco may be the only player in Major League Baseball that I could beat in a 40 yard dash! (for those that know me, Seriously!! He is that slow!! I’m not saying that I’d beat him by a lot, but I would beat him!) The Twins wanted a catcher who has been in the league for a number of years to provide a mentor for youngster Joe Mauer, to teach him how to learn pitchers and opposing hitters. Blanco’s defense, although not perfect, has always been thought of well. They wanted a catcher who would be willing to be a backup because, assuming Mauer is the regular catcher, Blanco probably won’t play in more than 50 games in 2004. Another thing that Blanco has going for him is the fact that he is from Caracas, Venezuela, from the same country as pitchers Johan Santana and Juan Rincon. This might seem minute, but it could be important at times throughout a long season. Of course, this is the Twins, so clearly the catcher needed to come to Minnesota cheap. Now, we don’t know the terms of the contract, other than it is for one year, with an option for a second. I would hope the Twins didn’t pay more than about $600,000 for Blanco. But, big picture (assuming a low salary), I really like this signing for the Twins.
JOE MAUER, C and JESSE CRAIN, RP
I’m really thinking that I won’t be writing a lot on these two. If you go back in my Archives, you will find a LOT of postings that involve them, but here are two; my 2003 Twins Minor Leaguers Review and the Team USA Roster.
ANALYSIS - Joe Mauer, the #1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, will be the Twins regular catcher starting on opening day and hopefully will be in the same role for the Twins for the next ten to twelve years, maybe longer! Some predict a Hall of Fame career from Mauer. That’s pretty high and maybe unfair expectations to have for a 20 year old, but it is exciting to see him being given this opportunity.
Jesse Crain had an unbelievable 2003, just a year after being drafted out of the University of Houston in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft. Crain will probably start the season back at AAA Rochester, but could factor into the Twins bullpen by season’s end. He throws hard and he throws strikes, I think he is the Twins closer of the future. I would have no problem with him being the closer in 2004. However, it would probably be more ideal to prepare him for that role as the Yankees did with Mariano Rivera. Rivera came up in 1996 and set up Yankees closer John Wettleland for a season before becoming their closer.
Both players were not put on the 40 man roster despite their chances of making the team. The reason, they didn’t have to be. So, the Twins protected other players that would have been subject to the Rule V Draft had they been left off. When these players make the Twins roster, they will then be added to the 40 man roster, and others will be dropped.
2004 PROJECTIONS - Joe Mauer will be the Twins #1 catcher. He will do well with the pitchers, and I would predict that he will hit .270/.355/.370, and I think that will be a very good rookie season for him. Jesse Crain will probably start the season at AAA Rochester, but I would not be surprised if he is that last pitcher sent down from Spring Training and the first called up when needed.
JAKE MAUER, IF
I started with the infielders invited to camp because they are the more familiar names to Twins fans. And, St. Thomas grad, Jake Mauer has become a known Twins minor leaguer. The 24 year old (who turns 25 tomorrow!) Jake Mauer was known as being the brother of Joe Mauer. However, I believe that Jake Mauer has made a name for himself in the Twins organization with a solid season in Ft. Myers and a very quality performance in the Arizona Fall League. Granted, I don’t think that he will ever become a star. I just think that he has proven that he can play three defensive positions, and when he is at the plate, he puts the ball in play.
2004 PROJECTION - I think that Jake Mauer will spend the entire season at AA New Britain, probably playing all three infield positions. If he were to ever make the major league roster, it would not happen until the end of the 2005 season.
ALEX PRIETO, IF
Alex Prieto made his major league debut for the Twins in 2003 at the age of 27. He was originally signed in 1992 by the Kansas City out of Caracas, Venezuela at the age of 16. He came to the Twins organization in 2002 and played the next two seasons in AAA where he hit .264 followed by .265 last year. He was called up to the Twins in September. He did not get to play a lot, getting into just eight games. In 11 at bats, he did collect his only major league hit.
2004 PROJECTION - Prieto was taken off the 40 man roster after last season, but I think that Ron Gardenhire really likes his versatility. However, with the signing of Augie Ojeda from the Cubs and the trade that brought in Nick Punto from the Phillies, they probably are the two utility infielders with Prieto set to spend his fifth season in AAA. If there are any injuries, Prieto could be brought up at some point.
LUIS RODRIGUEZ, 2B
Rodriguez is another example of the Twins scouting well in Venezuela. He was signed by the team in 1997. He has progressed nicely through the system. He has moved up one level each of the past four seasons. Last year, at AAA Rochester, Rodriguez hit .295 with 35 doubles, a homer and 44 RBI. Something that I think the Twins organization really likes is that last season Rodriguez walked and struck out 46 times. In his minor league career, he has walked 304 times while striking out just 227 times in 2,392 at bats.
2004 PROJECTION - I really think that he will be given a long look at 2B out of spring training. It will be interesting to see if the Twins offer arbitration to Luis Rivas, who is still just 24. If they don’t, and don’t make a trade, look for Luis Rodriguez to be the Twins 2B. I think the Twins brass would prefer to let him get one more season in Rochester before taking that step.
BRANDON MARSTERS, C
Brandon Marsters was drafted out of the University of Florida in the 9th round of the 1996 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He spend the first three seasons of his professional career with the Phillies before coming to the Twins organization in 1999. He spent two seasons at Fort Myers, two years at New Britan and the past two seasons for the Twins AAA Affiliate (Edmonton in 2002, Rochester in 2003). Marsters was actually the primary catcher for Rochester last season, at the age of 28, catching 103 games when he hit .242 with 10 home runs. In his seven minor league seasons, Marsters has hit .248 and averaged just over 6 home runs per season.
2004 PROJECTION - Another full season of AAA baseball for Marsters. You think Rob Bowen is in an unenviable situation, Brandon Marsters ranks just below Bowen on the Twins depth chart. I certainly don’t think he’d be a good major league catcher. His hope at this time would be to get a shot as a #2 catcher somewhere.
GABBY TORRES, C
Torres is another catcher (with so many pitchers needing to throw in Spring Training, it is important to have plenty of catchers too!). The 25 year old catcher was signed by the Twins in 1995 from, you guessed it, Venezuela. He actually spent his first four seasons with the Twins short-season rookie league teams before spending a couple of seasons in Fort Myers. He spent time from 2001-2003 at AA New Britain and has really hit pretty well at that level. He was brought up to AAA when Joe Mauer was brought up to AA last summer. In his minor league career, he is a career .270 hitter with just 19 homers. However, looking at his numbers, he has clearly improved each year.
2004 PROJECTION - Well, with Rob Bowen and Brandon Marsters probably at Rochester, I think that Torres will spend another season in New Britain.
CHRIS HEINTZ, C
New to the Twins organization, Heintz was the 19th round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1996 out of the University of South Florida. The 29 year old catcher was with the Sox organization through the 2001 season. He spent 2002 with the AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He spent 2003 with the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his 8 year minor league career, he has hit .283 with just 33 home runs. He must have a good glove.
2004 PROJECTION - Based on his age, it appears he would back up Gabby Torres in New Britain this year.
JEROMY PALKI, RHP
Palki was drafted in the 47th round of the 1995 draft by the Seattle Mariners out of high school. The Twins acquired him in 1997 in a trade with Seattle, then lost him, then reacquired him in 2001 in the Rule V draft. He split 2001 between Fort Myers and New Britain. He split 2002 between New Britain and Edmonton. Then he spent all of 2003 with Rochester. The 27 year old went 7-6 with a 4.10 ERA last year. He started just 7 of the 47 games in which he appeared. In 101 innings, he walked 31 and struck out 91, a pretty good split.
2004 PROJECTION - Another season at Rochester. It appears his chance to make the Twins roster at any point in the season depends on what kind of help Terry Ryan is able to get from the free agent market.
SETH GREISINGER, RHP
Greisinger was the first-round pick (6th overall) of the Detroit Tigers in the 1996 draft out of the University of Virginia. In 1997, he made 28 starts for the Tigers AA affiliate in Jacksonville. He was 10-6 with a 5.20 ERA. He began the 1998 season at AAA Toledo where he started out 3-4, but with a 2.91 ERA. That earned him a call up to Detroit at the age of 23. He made 21 starts in the big leagues and compiled a 6-9 record with a 5.12 ERA in 130 innings. However, arm troubles befell Greisinger the next season. He pitched just 12 innings before he had season, and almost career, ending surgery. After missing the entire 2000 and 2001 seasons, he made it back to pro ball in 2002 at age 27. He pitched four games in AA and 3 games at AAA before being brought up to the Tigers where he made 8 starts. He had a 2-2 record, but a 6.21 ERA. He spent the entire 2003 season in AAA Toledo and was 6-9 with a 3.97 ERA. But he spent the season injury free.
2004 PROJECTION - I think that the idea with Greisinger is for him to start for Rochester this year, and maybe be some depth for the Twins should they have injuries with their starters in 2004. I think it’s a good minor league signing. Clearly, Greisinger had the stuff to be drafted so high and to get to the big leagues so quickly. If he can somehow find that again, which seems unlikely, he could really be a great surprise for the Twins.
JOE ROA, RHP -
Roa is a very veteran minor leaguer. At 32 years of age, Roa has had his time in the majors. As a matter of fact, he played for three major league teams in 2003 alone. Roa was drafted in the 18th round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Braves out of his Michigan high school. He steadily progressed through the minors, always putting up good numbers, but switching teams three times in five seasons. I assume it was because he wasn’t a ‘toolsy’ player, he doesn’t strikeout a lot of hitters. But he has good records and good ERAs. In 1995, he started the season 17-3 for the Indians AAA team which earned him one start for the Cleveland Indians where he gave up 4 runs in 6 innings. In 1996, he was 11-8 for that AAA team, which got him one relief appearance for the Indians in September. I think it is safe to said that he was just in the wrong organization at that time. So, in 1997, he went to the Giants organization. He started in AAA and in 6 games, he was 3-1, so he was called up to the Giants and pitched in 28 games (25 out of the bullpen), and went 2-5 with a 5.25 ERA. He then spent 1998 with the Giants AAA club before being out for the 1999 season. He made a comeback with the Indians AA Akron team in 2000. He pitched for the Marlins AA and then AAA affiliates in 2001. In 2002, he started the season 14-0 for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team (AAA for the Phillies) which earned him another shot at the big leagues. He went 4-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 14 games (11 starts). He started the 2003 season with the Brewers AAA affiliate. Then he was called up by the Colorado Rockies and pitched four games out of their bullpen. Next, he pitched 6 games (3 starts) for the Phillies and was 0-2. Finally, he ended the season with the San Diego Padres where he was 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 18 games. His career minor league numbers are 121-66 with a 3.47 ERA. But as we’ve discussed before, it is important to the Twins not to walk batters. In 1,688 innings, he walked just 322 (striking out 931).
2004 PROJECTION - I think that the Twins respect players like this; guys who have battled in their careers and really have to work hard to make it to the major leagues. I believe that Joe Roa could make the team as a 5th starter or a long reliever type. But odds are, he will be a member of the Rochester pitching staff.
PETER MUNRO, RHP
Pete Munro had a memorable moment in 2003 that he will never forget. Do you remember what it was? Keep reading to find out.
The 28 year old Munro was drafted in the 6th round of the 1993 draft by the Boston Red Sox. He was primarily a starter his first four minor league seasons. In 1999 at the age of 24, he started the season 6-1 at Syracuse before getting called up to the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched in 31 games (2 starts) and had an 0-2 record with a 6.02 ERA. In 2000, he started 18 games at three minor league levels before being called up by the Jays again. This time, in 9 games (3 starts), Munro went 1-1 with a 5.96 ERA. In 2002, he went to the Houston Astros organization where he again split time starting and relieving. After starting the season 7-1 with a 2.39 ERA, Munro made 19 appearances (14 starts) for the Astros and went 5-5 with a 3.57 ERA. In 2003, he split time between AAA and the Astos. While with the Astros, he pitched in 40 games (2 starts) and was 3-4 with a 4.67 ERA.
2004 PROJECTION - Like Roa and Greisinger, Munro will be given a shot to make the Twins roster out of Spring Training. Munro probably has the best shot of the three to make the team first. However, having these three pitchers gives the Twins some pitching versatility either with the Twins or at Rochester.
OH, and what was Pete Munro’s memorable moment of 2003? On June 11, Munro was one of six Houston pitchers to No-Hit the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. It was the first time that many pitchers combined for a No-Hitter. It was the first No-Hitter thrown against the Yankees since 1958. Munro came into the game in the 2nd inning after starter Roy Oswalt pulled his groin. He pitched 2 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking three.
REALITY FINALE THOUGHTS
As I mentioned above, last night, there were three finales of reality shows that I really enjoyed. Tonight American Idol is on again, but for today, here are my thoughts on these finales.
THE LITTLEST GROOM
Just a two week reality show, it packed a punch and made a point. Glen is a very short-statured man. He started out with twelve short-statured women. He narrowed that group down to six. At that point, three average height women were brought in to compete. When Glen dropped that list down to four, he chose three short women and one average height woman. After spending time with each of the four women, he cut the list down to just two, Mika (A cute short-heighted woman) and Zoey (a HOT average height woman). After spending time with each, he made his choice. He told Zoey that she was a lot of fun, but she wasn’t his choice. Glen chose Mika, saying that she had stolen his heart. I think it was the right choice for a couple of reasons. First, she was great, sweet and cute and fun. Second, well, if anyone knows Zoey, hook her up with me!!!! Please!
MY BIG FAT OBNOXIOUS FIANCE
The finale just finished off what I consider the best reality show that I have ever seen (except Survivor and Big Brother and American Idol, of course). But this show was hilarious. “Steve’s” obnoxious behavior had me laughing week in and week out. But once the show took on a more serious tone, it remained incredible and had my attention every step of the way. Last night’s finale was tough. The whole family made the right choice by being at the wedding. It was tough to see how hard it was on them all, especially Robby. Then, to see Randi’s face when Steve told everyone that he couldn’t say I Do, that the whole wedding was a joke. Seeing her try to explain things to her family was trying. But then when “Steve” told the truth about himself being an actor, it turned great. Steve talked about how close the Coy family was, and how they weren’t afraid to express their opinions, yet when it came down to it, they were there for Randi on her “big day.” Then when he presented her and her father with checks for $500,000 each, it was a great conclusion.
I just wonder what people were thinking. I can’t even imagine having been invited to that wedding. What would I do? Would I just stare? Would I start laughing? I don’t know. And as I have mentioned numerous times before, those are the kinds of questions that I find myself asking myself when I watch reality TV, and that is why I am so addicted to it!
My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance was great! I wish they would have taped a few versions of that show before this one came out, because I just love the concept.
Oh, and one more thought… Randi, I too am single… give me a call. Actually, e-mail me first, and I will then give you my phone number, ok????
AVERAGE JOE II: HAWAII
Speaking of shows that taped two episodes before the first came out. The second Average Joe countered with a 90 minute episode last night. I thought it was going to be the finale, but it wasn’t. Next Monday is the finale! And it will be great. Larissa is down to just two guys. She needs to make a trip to Ft. Lauderdale to visit Gil in his hometown, as well as a trip to Boston to visit Brian! That should be interesting. Brian’s Boston accent is even more annoying that Survivor’s Boston Rob’s! But he genuinely seems like a good guy. Gil seems nice too, however, he is a moron! So, it will definitely be interesting to see who Larissa chooses. The right guy (Brian) or the wrong guy (Gil). Us “Average Joes” have to hope cheer for Brian!
OK, that is it for today. I apologize for the lack of new information. IT was just a busy night. Check out the links I’ve included, and then come back tomorrow! If you have any questions or comments, send me an e-mail. Have a great Tuesday!
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