Friday, February 29, 2008
Happy Leap Day to you! For those of you who have a birthday, you really need to have a very special day!!! I flew back into the cities last night. Couldn't fly into Minneapolis airport due to delays, so we flew into St. Paul's airport. Then had to take a cab to the Minneapolis airport, where we fly out of because that is where my car was. $35 for that! Anyway, when I got to my car, I threw my luggage and computer bag into the trunk, wiped some snow off with my arm, unlocked the door, climbed in, put the key in the ignition... and nothing. Absolutely nothing! Fortunately, some people from work were still there and they were able to jump start my car. But then the roads were really bad, snowy, icy, just not good. 494's traffic was slow. Anyway, I got home and realized that there would be no thinking, so again, I must apologize, but I only have some notes for today, ok?
First of all, once American Idol starts getting serious, probably the final twelve, I will again have my American Idol Thoughts, but those of you who did watch the three episodes this week, please feel free to share your thoughts. David Archuletta's rendition of John Lennon's Imagine was absolutely amazing. The girls were actually really bad. But I missed too much to really do any justice to American Idol Thoughts, so please share yours.
The Twins played their first official spring training game yesterday afternoon, in Sarasota against the Reds. They lost, and it doesn't matter. I don't care if Glen Perkins gave up a homer, or if Ricky Barrett got the ball elevated (although each outing is more important to someone like him than guys who will be with the Twins). I don't care if Carlos Gomez went 0-2. Seeing the Jose Morales was able to have a good, pain-free slide is more important at this point. Games and results will start mattering a little bit more in about three weeks. Of course, it's also always good to see a pitcher do well.
Travis has some really good topics that he has covered in the last few days from the 2008 Lineup to the 2010 Lineup and more.
Despite a title that may make you wonder, THE GIRL was not writing about me with her new posting.
Nick writes about the three Twins included in Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects lists and notes that the system is still fairly weak, even with the four additions, although there is some hope in the lower levels.
Do Wins matter in spring training? For the most part, I saw Absolutely not. However, there are exceptions. I thought Winning in spring training was important for the 2002 Twins. That was a young team with a lot of talent but little experience. It was a team that stayed in contention in the AL Central in 2001 through much of the season but wasn't able to finish ahead of Cleveland. Those players played a few extra innings and got an extra at bat seemingly every day. A team like the 2007 Red Sox probably could care less if they don't win a single game in the spring training season. They pretty much know what their lineups will be and such. It is only about making sure that their players are ready for the season. That's all.
Do spring training statistics matter? I have to say that Twins fans should now be smart enough to realize that they do not matter at all, not even a little bit to a veteran player. Again, those players know they've got a roster spot and their only trying to be ready for the regular season. Pitchers are working on things like arm strength, fastball location and then secondary pitches. Hitters are adjusting their swings and getting acclimated to 95 mph fastballs and off speed pitches. Do you think that David Ortiz cares of he strikes out in a spring game against someone like Zach Day? Remember last spring when Carlos Silva was horrible in the spring and many people (including yours truly) said that he should not be in the rotation? Well, he proved us wrong. What is Livan Hernandez goes 0-5 in the spring with a 19.53 ERA? Think he will be in the Twins rotation? Of course he will. However, for a guy like Denard Span or Jason Pridie, or someone like Alexi Casilla, impressing the coaching staff is important. The Twins have several young pitchers with great potential and the Twins do have to determine who is ready. You have to be careful in both cases though because of small sample. Remember, in most games, these guys are getting one of two at bats, or one or two innings. In a spring, a pitcher likely won't throw 20 innings. A hitter will have no more than 50-60 at bats. That's not enough to tell us anything.
So what matters? Well, getting in shape is important, although most of the players are. In reality, players now come to camp ready to go. Pat Neshek told us that his goal in the offseason was to get himself ready to pitch for the whole season. Joe Mauer came into camp at 230 and hopes to get down to a maintained weight of 225 for the whole season. Why? In an attempt to stay healthy and hit for more power. In other words though, those things don't happen in spring training. Those things and efforts were made during the offseason. Justin Morneau likely did things in an attempt to maintain his power throughout the whole season.
Spring Training is about technical things. It's about fielding ground balls properly and remembering where to throw the ball if it comes to you in different situations. It's about Pitchers Fielding Practice. It's about getting in swings and working on developing your game. For Carlos Gomez, part of his game may be laying down bunts. For Joe Mauer, it may be about looking to pull the ball with authority. For pitchers, it could be about finding that right arm slot and working out the technical aspects of their delivery. For Matt Tolbert, it's about showing that he can do enough that if there is a middle infield injury, he did enough and showed enough that the team would not be afraid to call him up. Those things don't necessarily show up in a spring training box score. Those things happen on those back practice fields and in the batting cages and bullpens.
Maybe you heard... Johan Santana is starting for the Mets tonight against the Cardinals. Think his spring training stats matter?
Former Twins in Other Uniforms:
Doug Mientkiewicz went 0-3 and played Right Field for the Pirates
Chris Gomez went 1-1 with a double and two runs and played 3B for the Pirates.
Luis Rivas was 1-1 with a double and played 2B for the Pirates.
Juan Castro was 1-2 for the Reds against the Twins
Danny Ardoin was 0-1 catching some for the Dodgers
Terry Tiffee walked in a run in his pinch hitting appearance with the Dodgers.
Jason Tyner went 1-1 with three walks and four runs scored backing up Grady Sizemore with Cleveland
Casey Blake went 0-2 and played 3B for Cleveland.
Jacque Jones was 0-1 with a walk, playing LF for the Tigers
Alex Romero walked both times he came to the plate for the Diamondbacks...
Augie Ojeda was 1-2 for the D-Backs.
Not a former Twin but Gary Gaetti's son Joe Gaetti went 2-2 as the Rockies left fielder.
Any other thoughts you're having this spring? I am going to be around some this weekend, but not all the time. But I always welcome you to e-mail me some questions or comments or just ask away in the Comments below. Have a great weekend!