Monday, March 3, 2008
Good Monday morning! Well, I wasn't home a whole lot this weekend, so there were no updates. I even had to work for several hours on Sunday, so today will be a quick one. I figured a couple of quick notes on the Gophers game I went to on Friday night, a couple of notes on the Twins from the weekend, and finally a quick glance at how the former Twins did in spring games. I'm also looking for topics to cover, so give me your ideas.
But before we get started, I do want to ask each and every reader who stops by today one question. Please click on this link to the Baseball Musings site. After you check out what is being done there, PLEASE e-mail me your thoughts on if this is something I could even consider doing here. I want your honest opinions, not just what you think I want to hear, ok? So please, just take a quick minute to respond. Thanks!
If you recall, I mentioned that I was going to the Gophers baseball game at the Dome on Friday night. We did something I am not proud of... we left the game early. But, none of us had eaten since about 11 a.m. and when the game went to the 11th inning, we decided to leave. The Gophers fell to TCU 7-4 in the 12th inning. It really was a good game though. The Gophers had a one run lead going into the top of the 9th, and they were down to the final strike when the TCU batter singled in the game-tying run. There were some good plays, some good hits and some good pitching. I wish I would have been able to go to more of the games.
There were at least a dozen pro scouts there. When a new pitcher would take the mound, no fewer than nine radar guns popped up. It was interesting because after a few pitches, the guns would not come back up, especially if the pitcher didn't throw particularly hard.
The first thing I noticed was that there was no dirt around the three bases. It was just the same turf where there should have been dirt. It looks horrible and I don't know what they're trying to accomplish. It slows down runners. Ankles and knees will likely buckle. Shoulders could go out on head-first dives. I really, really hope the Twins don't have to play with that!
A couple of players worth watching:
Tom Buske started for the Gophers. He is a fourth year junior. He didn't throw real hard, low-to-mid 80s probably, but for the most part, he was around the plate and constantly trying to hit the outside corner at the knees. He didn't appear to have a huge breaking pitch, but he kept it near the plate for the most part.
Scott Matyas, a redshirt freshman, came in and threw a little bit harder. But Cullen Sexton came in to close the game. Sure, he gave up the tying run. But I was very impressed with him. He's a first year freshman, so he can't even be drafted for two years. But he threw hard and appears to have some stuff. Just watching him reminded me a lot of Matt Garza.
Derek McCallum played shortstop and batted third for the Gophers. He did not have a good game at the plate at all on Friday night, but I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. Defensively he looked really good. With the bat, he has a great stance and a strong left-handed swing. It really looked like he was trying to pull the ball a bit much, but that's correctable. He was right on a lot of pitches and showed a good eye. I noticed that in the Saturday and Sunday games he moved down in the lineup (to 5th or 6th) and he got a couple of hits in each game. Die-hard Twins fans will remember that he was the 50th round draft pick of the Twins two years ago.
Nate Hanson batted cleanup and played 3B. He looks strong, but defensively he was incredibly impressive with the glove. Clearly he can hit and hit for power, but it was impressive that when he was hit in the head with a fastball, he just ran right down to 1B as if he got hit in the leg. He moved up to #3 in the lineup the rest of the weekend.
Mike Kvasnicka is one that I think could become a potential first or second round draft pick. He caught the first ten innings of the Friday night game before moving out to right field. I saw that he started the next two games in the outfield and ended up catching. I should start by saying that he hit his second home run on Sunday afternoon, a long shot into the left field bleachers. The night I saw him, he didn't have a hit, but he hit the ball really hard and he showed a great batter's eye. In that game, he batted left-handed. Insider information told me that the true freshman only started hitting left handed (switch-hitting) during fall ball. He's got a strong arm and a big build. I really think that he has a chance to be very good and a future high pick. Also, his father Jay was the Twins 8th round pick in 1988 out of the U and made it to AAA. Kvasnicka was very good in three sports in high school. He appears to be everything a scout would want.
The final guy that impressed me was Erik Decker, a sophomore outfielder. He played LF in this game and really looked like a natural out there. He went back on deep fly balls real well. He also got a great jump on a line drive toward the LF line and made a diving catch. Offensively, it was hit and miss. Literally. He had a nice solid hit but he also had one really bad at bat that ended with a strikeout. This guy is incredibly talented and is actually at Minnesota on a football scholarship. He's built much like Twins prospect Joe Benson and if he ever went to baseball full-time, he could really develop. Of course, Gophers football fans know that he is a very, very good wide receiver.
Kyle Carr started for the Gophers on Saturday. The 6-6 lefty from Linton, ND, was the Twins 31st round pick in 2005. He will be again eligible for the draft in 2008 and should be selected again.
Tim Ryan is also on the team. He is a redshirt freshman from Eagan. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, he has the frame of someone who could get drafted. Of course, his dad spend one semester at the University of Minnesota before he was signed by the Minnesota Twins. Arm problems ended his pitching career, so he went into scouting and eventually became the Twins GM. I'm sure you've figured out by now that I am talking about Terry Ryan.
TCU started a guy named Seth Garrison. He threw hard and threw a lot of sliders. For the first three innings, I don't think he got a slider anywhere near the plate. That said, he throws hard and with that slider, he is the type that could get drafted fairly high. He also warmed up and pitched like Rick Sutcliffe, at least in the way he turned his wrist after taking the ball out of his glove and before delivering.
Their catcher Hunt Woodruff was also quite impressive to me. The primary reason is that even with Garrison throwing sliders all over the dirt, nothing got past him. He was able to pitch-out and easily throw out a couple of would-be base stealers. He also had a line out to the opposite field (right), a double, a single, a pop out and then a walk. I was really impressed.
There are a couple of things about the college game that bother me. First, the starters probably haven't pitched in game situations much this year. Both threw a LOT of pitches and both went into the 5th inning for some reason. I thought that they both should have come out an inning earlier. Just makes me really question the idea of drafting a college pitcher. Secondly, I realize just how much a hate the sacrifice bunt. TCU brought in a new pitcher to start the 6th inning. The Gophers got the first two hitters on, so they bunted them over. Of course, they were able to score one run to take a 4-3 lead on a ground out, but were held to just one run when the third run scored. They got some good swings off the new hitter and I think a big inning was possible. In the top of the 7th then, TCU got their #3 hitter on via a single. So what did they do? That's right, they had the cleanup hitter bunt. Of course, he bunted back to the pitcher who forced the lead runner out at 2B. Now, of course you never know what will happen, but as much as I try not to be a huge Moneyball theory/philosophy person, I hate the sacrifice bunt!
I know many of you are excited to see Francisco Liriano back in action. Well, thanks to YouTube (and Nick) here is a glimpse of The Cisco Kid throwing a bullpen. I'll be honest, it looks pretty impressive. Great arm motion, smooth delivery, looks really good.
Well, the Twins are always challenged in the spring because they share a community, Ft. Myers, with the Boston Red Sox. Over the weekend, the two teams played each other three times. The Red Sox won on Friday night, but the Twins won the meaningless games on Saturday and Sunday. Boof Bonser started on Friday night with two shutout innings. Reports tell me that Kevin Slowey looked pretty good until the back-to-back home runs to Kevin Youklis and Jason Varitek. Brian Buscher homered for the Twins. On Saturday, the Twins beat Jon Lester. They scored five runs off of the Red Sox talented lefty. On Sunday, the Twins did a number on the Red Sox prized pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz. I actually listened to the half-inning in which the Twins scored four runs off of him. Jon Knott led off with a homer. Then Adam Everett doubled and that was followed by a Denard Span single. Nick Punto then singled. I could mention that Michael Cuddyer then singled in a run, but this speaks volumes to the value of spring training. Who do you think will have the biggest impact on their team in 2008 and beyond... Buchholz, or the combination of the four players who got hits off of him consecutively? Sunday also marked the Twins debut of Livan Hernandez. He gave up a run in two innings, on a homer by Mike Lowell. The Twins pitched well, but I do have to point out that Pat Neshek got Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell and JD Drew out easily in his inning.
Today at noon, the Twins will play the Cincinnati Reds.
Did the Yankees and Red Sox Say No to Johan? Should they have. Here is an opinion.
FORMER TWINS UPDATES
Jacque Jones went 2-3 playing LF for the Tigers
Brian Wolfe struck out all three batters he faced out of the Blue Jays bullpen.
JD Durbin got a start for the Phillies and gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in two innings.
Doug Mientkiewicz went 0-3 with a walk, played 1B for the Pirates.
Luis Rivas played 2B and went 1-3.
Evan Meek was a Rule V pick of the Pirates, I believe from the Padres organization, but he was originally drafted and signed by the Twins. He gave up a run on two hits, but he struck out two, in his inning.
Hector Carrasco gave up a run and struck out two in his inning with the Pirates.
David Ortiz went 1-3 as the DH of the Red Sox.
Gil Velazquez played 3B and 2B for the Red Sox against the Twins and went 1-2.
Bobby Kielty played RF and went 0-2 for Boston.
Chris Heintz was the Orioles DH and went 0-2.
Jason Tyner played a little LF for Cleveland and went 1-1 with an RBI.
Aaron Fultz gave up an unearned run in his inning for Cleveland.
Cristian Guzman played SS for the Nationals and went 0-3.
Chad Moeller caught a few innings for Washington and went 0-2.
Tristan Crawford pitched a scoreless inning for the Nationals.
Terry Tiffee went 0-1 and played some 3B for the Dodgers.
Jason Bartlett went 0-1 with a walk as the Rays SS.
Johan Santana gave up three runs on four hits and struck out just one in his first two innings for the Mets. Albert Pujols doubles, Brendan Ryan tripled, and Juan Gonzalez hit a home run.
Luis Rodriguez played SS for the Padres and went 1-2 with an RBI.
Henry Blanco went 0-2 as the Cubs catcher.
Rob Bowen went 0-1 as the A's catcher.
AJ Pierzynski caught for the White Sox and went 1-3.
Alex Romero went 1-2 and played CF for the Diamondbacks.
Trent Oeltjen played LF and went 0-2 for Arizona.
Augie Ojeda played SS and went 0-3 for the Diamondbacks.
Shannon Stewart was 0-2 and played LF for the Blue Jays.
Jason Bartlett went 0-2 and played SS for the Rays.
Chris Heintz went 0-2 and caught for the Orioles.
Todd Jones gave up a run on two hits in his inning of relief.
Luis Rivas went 0-1 with an RBI for the Pirates.
Jose Valentin went 1-2 as the Reds catcher.
Juan Castro played SS and went 1-2 with an RBI for the Reds.
Rob Bowen went 0-2 for the A's.
Matthew Lecroy went 0-1 and came in to catch for Bowen.
Alex Romero went 0-1 with a walk and played RF for Arizona.
Augie Ojeda played 2B and went 0-2 for the D-Backs.
Torii Hunter went 2-2 with a double, a homer and four RBI and played CF for the Angels.
Tim Lahey pitched a perfect inning for the Cubs as he attempts to find a spot in their bullpen.
Cristian Guzman went 2-3 and played SS for the Nationals.
Chad Moeller was 0-3 as the Nationals catcher.
Chris Heintz played 1B and went 0-2 for the O's.
Luis Rivas went 1-2 and played SS for the Pirates.
Doug Mientkiewicz was 1-2 with a walk for the Pirates.
Chris Gomez went 1-1 and played 2B for Pittsburgh.
Jacque Jones went 0-2 as the Tigers LF.
Jason Tyner went 0-1 as Cleveland's LF.
Casey Blake went 0-1 as the 3B for Cleveland.
Kenny Rogers made the start for the Tigers. He gave up two hits and a walk, but no runs, in his two innings.
Gil Velazquez went 0-1 and played 2B for Boston.
David Ortiz was 1-2.
Latroy Hawkins pitched a perfect inning for the Yankees.
Augie Ojeda went 2-4 and played SS for the Diamondbacks.
Rob Bowen caught for Oakland and went 0-2.
Mark Redman went three perfect innings for the A's, and he struck out four.
Henry Bonilla threw an inning for the Angels and gave up a run on two hits and a walk to take the loss.
Luis Rodriguez went 1-2 and played 3B for the Padres.
Carlos Silva started and went two innings for Seattle. He gave up no runs on one hit and one walk. He struck out two.
Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning for the Rangers.
Trent Oeltjen went 1-2 and played CF for the Diamondbacks.
Alex Romero was Arizona's LF and went 3-4 with three RBI.
I'll be back tomorrow. Have a great week!