Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Everyone has them. In fact, everyone has many of them. Challenges. Mine include finding motivation, learning more about my job and opportunities and being a better person (and many more). You may have several yourself.
Well, the 2008 Twins team has already presented us with a couple of challenges. I think that the biggest challenge for Twins fans is already apparent after just two games. After game one, many were cautiously happy and excited about the performance of Livan Hernandez. A few weeks ago, many readers of Twins blogs commented that there was no way that Carlos Gomez was ready for the big leagues. Then he had his incredible Game 1 with the Twins and suddenly his energy and excitement and speed are all game-changing attributes. One challenge is to not get too excited about single game performances of any of the players.
The other major challenge is even more important, but maybe even more challenging. When the Twins lose in the fashion they did tonight, it is very easy to get down on the team again and find all kinds of faults. Itís easy to question the strength of the Twins bullpen when it gives up five runs in three innings. I found myself questioning the defense of Adam Everett, who appears to have an arm to rival David Eckstein for worst in the league. I didnít realize it was that weak! Brendan Harris had the #3 web gem on Baseball Tonight, but there were also a couple of plays where it looked like he was using the very Gold Glove that was awarded to Torii Hunter before the game. You have to start wondering if Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer have a wager of some sort going on who can hit into the most double plays.
The challenge will be to continually remind ourselves that there are 162 games in the season and there are still 160 more games to play. It will be a challenge to think big picture, rather than game to game and at bat to at bat and pitch to pitch like we so desperately want to do. I am as guilty sometimes as any.
So, with that, here are a few thoughts on the game and other Twins topics:
∑ Boof Bonser gave up two in the first inning on a couple of doubles, but after that, he settled in some. He went six innings and gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. That isnít exactly a great performance, but it is important to notice that he didnít walk any. He struck out four, but we know that he is fully capable of striking out more hitters. Any thoughts so far on the weight loss as it relates to Bonserís performance? I have a theory that it will not make him a better pitcher. The fact is that the reason that he didnít last very long in games last year had more to do with throwing a lot of pitches early in games, walking and striking out too many hitters rather than getting quick outs. In other words, he would reach that 100 pitch count by the 5th or 6th inning and have to be removed. But, if he is truly better able to follow through, the increased control will help limit the pitch count. And, where the true benefits may come in will be as the season goes on and we get to July and August. Maybe he is still able to keep this up. I do think that he will be very solid in 2008. I expect slightly above league average numbers from Bonser.
∑ Tomorrow, Nick Blackburn will make his first start for the Twins in a regular season game. Hopefully he is able to maintain his nerve and confidence early and trust his stuff.
∑ Brian Bass struggled a little in his big league debut. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings. He really just didnít throw enough strikes, but again, I donít put a lot of credence into a big league debut. Too many nerves† to consider and getting through it is the most important thing.
∑ In the 8th inning, Matt Tolbert made his big league debut by pinch hitting for Adam Everett. He grounded sharply to 3B and then entered the game at SS.
∑ Did anyone start smiling when Juan Rincon drilled Torii Hunter in the left arm with a running fastball?
∑ I always liked getting off to a fast start for a season. Delmon Young is hitting .650 so far. Yes, itís just 5 for 8, but it is better than 0 for 8. People notice a fast start. When you start out slow, you have to let your batting average try to work up and up and it gets lost. Just ask Jason Kubel, circa 2007. (I promise not to mention that every day!)
∑ Pat Neshek posted some thoughts after Opening Night, including a fun story about a surprise encounter with an opponent.
∑ Here is some absolutely incredible detective work by Carter Hayes courtesy of Stick & Ball Guy. Seriously, check this out!
∑ Minor League Rosters Set:
o Here are Taylorís Thoughts on the Beloit roster, and here were my predictions. 16 correct.
o For the record, I accurately predicted 22 of the 25 players on the Twins opening day roster.
o You will notice that there are a few interesting things on the rosters. For instance, Rene Tosoni does not appear on any of the rosters. Has he been released? No way, the team is high on him and I have to assume he will begin the season at Ft. Myers, but possibly back at Beloit where he played a couple of games last year before their playoff run.
o Kyle Waldrop begins the season on the Disabled List. He has been having some arm issues and the team feels that a couple of weeks of rest is what he needs.
o After making his big league debut last year, Jason Miller is going back to AA where he will start in their rotation.
o Nick Papasan was the story of minor league camp, but he will begin the season in Extended Spring Training.
o Curtis Leavitt, who dominated out of the E-Town bullpen last year, will begin the season at Extended Spring Training and will be starting this year, which is how the team projects him.
o Adam Hawes was listed on the Ft. Myers roster, in the bullpen, but I heard last week that he was released. The person who told me that the team released him would certainly know.
o Allen de San Miguel is listed as the only catcher at Ft. Myers, but I have to assume that is where Wilson Ramos will start his season.
o The Twins veteran minor league depth at Rochester has really held several prospects back throughout the system. For instance, Trevor Plouffe and Brock Peterson are back at New Britain. Danny Valencia starts the season in Ft. Myers, along with Jeff Manship. Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee are starting the year in Beloit† while top 2007 pick Ben Revere will be in Extended Spring until the E-Town season starts unless there is some unforeseen circumstance. Typically, the Twins have pushed their top picks, but part of me thinks that taking some time and letting these types of players start at a lower level to start the season with some success could be a good thing. †
Anything else Twins related that you would like to talk about. Leave some Comments.