Monday, April 10, 2006
Twins Minor League Notes
Good Monday morning everyone! I hope you had a good weekend. I did! Yesterday we made a quick trip down to Grand Forks. Living away from the Red River Valley, it is sometimes easy to forget about the flooding going on in that area. Driving there was a good reminder. Seeing huge bridges closed because watcher was right up to it was intimidating. Seeing huge trees floating swiftly down the river reminds of just how powerful water can be. On the good news, the flood levels there are dropping, so now it will be a matter of time and then clean up. I lived in Fargo during the spring of 1997. I remember that my roommates and I made a Best Buy and McDonalds run one night. Driving back, we were driving in some freezing rain. At McDonald's the car would not start for several minutes. We were about ready to give up, but one more try and it worked. Anyway, by that evening power was out of much of Fargo. We were enduring out seventh blizzard of the winter right at about the time the river naturally rose. Living through that, and all the sandbagging at people's homes, and taking alternate routes because most of the city and the bridges crossing from Fargo into Moorhead were closed. Seeing the pictures from above and noticing that where we lived was essentially surrounded by water in each direction within several blocks was rather eerie. Everything was put into perspective at that time.
So, on that note, I would ask that we all put the Twins 1-5 start into a little perspective!
Just a few notes from the Twins weekend in Cleveland, a weekend that resulted in three losses in three games:
Well, obviously I have to point
out something that I wrote on Friday first: "I
fully expect that Morneau will be just fine. If I were a betting
man, I would say that Morneau will have a home run this weekend in
Cleveland. If I was a brave gambler, I would guarantee that he will
In case you missed it, Justin Morneau hit two home runs on Friday. On the series he was 4-12 (.333) with two homers and four RBI.
Rondell White was 1-11 in the series in Toronto. He followed it up with a 1-11 series in Cleveland. I am still not at all worried about White and believe that he will be fine.
If you're looking to this series and blaming White, don't. Torii Hunter was also 1-11. Shannon Stewart was 2-12. Tony Batista was 0-6. Jason Kubel was 0-5.
I was thinking about the Twins philosophy since they won their first division title four seasons ago. In 1999, the Twins brought up a lot of young players and let them struggle. And then, they won. They had become veterans together. I think that Gardy now believes that veterans are the way to go if you want to win. That is not the premise that those teams were built upon. It was upon bringing up your young talent and playing them, letting them work through adjustment periods, and then getting better together. Yes, the team wants to and needs to win now, but they also need to continually be looking to improve themselves from within and that means playing young players like Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau through their struggles. This is something that has been lost on the organization. I don't' know if that is because of Ron Gardenhire or if Terry Ryan deserves some of the blame for that.
I did a lot of thinking about
this on Friday while watching the Twins and Indians playing. I saw
Jhonny Peralta of the Indians. He is their SS and their #3
hitter. Now, in most lineups, the #3 spot is designated for the
team's best hitter. Is Peralta the best hitter in a lineup that
includes Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Victor
Martinez? Well, I don't know about that, but he is worthy of
that spot in the lineup. Anyway, the 23 year old was a utility
infielder and part-time SS for the Indians in 2003. In 2004, he was
the MVP of the International League (finishing 2nd behind Jason
Kubel in batting average). Last year, with Omar Vizquel
off in San Francisco, SS was Peralta's. On May 5 last year, Peralta
went 0-3 against the Twins and his average fell to .204. At that
point, he went on an eight game hitting streak after which he was
hitting .268. In that time, he hit 4 home runs. The Indians stuck
with Peralta as their guy despite his struggles at the plate (and in
the field!). By seasons end, his numbers were .292/.366/.520 with 35
doubles, 24 homers and 78 RBI. The Indians even put up with his 128
strikeouts. My point here, obviously, is that the Twins have done
more harm than good to Jason Bartlett (And other prospects)
by continuing to send them up and down. Also, Bartlett did hit well
in spring training and in the second half last year. His .332
batting average at Rochester after his demotion last year tells us
that he is beyond AAA. Sure, he has his defensive lapses, but who
doesn't? The only way to work through them is to play.
UPDATE - I just went to Aaron's Baseball Blog, and he discusses this very topic today as well only he uses a great article by the Strib's Joe Cristenson discussing how patient the Brewers were with JJ Hardy when he was hitting .187 in the first half of the season. Ned Yost's responses for why Hardy wasn't sent to the minor leagues are great and worth reading!
MORE PROOF - I then kept reading the Strib articles since I hadn't over the weekend and I saw in a LaVelle E. Neal article that when Ruben Sierra is called up from the minors in another week, it is possible that Jason Kubel will be the one sent out.
Now, I say all that and have to point out that if anyone thinks that the reason the Twins are 1-5 at this stage has anything to do with Juan Castro, they just are not paying attention. In his five games, he is hitting .357/.357/.400. Now, there is no way that he maintains his success in this small sample, and by season's end, he will be hitting .240/.265/.290. Let's just hope that his overall season sample size is not too large and that Bartlett gets the nod!
Again, it is just really important to remember that the Twins are just six games into a 162 game season. Does that mean that this week of games is not worrisome? Absolutely not. Many of our old concerns are still in play. Where is the offense going to come from besides Joe Mauer? Can the pitching staff stand up? But there are also many positives to come out of this. The pitching of Francisco Liriano has been stellar. Shannon Stewart got off to a nice start. I'm sure there are more, but the main positive is just that there are another 156 games to go!
Sykeston, ND, native Travis Hafner loves hitting against the Twins. On Friday, he went 4-4 with a walk and two homers. He was 3-3 on Saturday with a walk, a double and a homer. He did not hit Johan though.
Casey Blake is another one of those "Twins Killers." Every time he plays the Twins, he does something. On Friday, he was just 1-4, but the one hit was a big one. His two-out grand slam off of Kyle Lohse put a close game out of reach. On Saturday, he was 3-4 with an RBI. He did not get much of a shot with the Twins because Doug Mientkiewicz had earned the playing time at 1B and Corey Koskie was entrenched at 3B. The Indians have moved him to RF, but at the time, the Twins and the Dusty Kielmohr combo working out there, with Michael Cuddyer waiting in the wings. Of course, Blake hits for little average and strikes out excessively... just not against the Twins.
The Yankees come to town on Tuesday to take on the Twins in their home opener. I would assume/hope that the game is sold out. It will be Brad Radke against Dan Haren in what could be another difficult night at the plate for the team.
If you have any thoughts on the
Twins season through three games, or on the upcoming series in
Cleveland, or anything Twins related, please
send me an e-mail, or
post some Comments down below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Wow!! The Twins have some really incredible pitching prospects, don't they? If the first three or four games of the season are any indication, everything we have anticipated will be true. These teams had some really spectacular first starts, starting with Glen Perkins five no-hit innings to start the New Britain season. That is fun to see. If you're like me, it also tells us that the Twins will remain competitive in the AL Central and in the American League for years to come. Of course, the question becomes the hitting. However, if you look at the lineups and rosters from New Britain down, there are a lot of very strong hitting prospects. Sure, right now Rochester is using roster spots for more veteran players, but even they have a couple of very good prospects. The fact that Doug Deeds and Danny Matienzo are still in New Britain tells you how good the system maybe be. There were some very impressive performances this week. As always, I appreciate any thoughts, opinions or disagreements with anything I may write, so please feel free to e-mail me.
Quickly, before I get started on the weekend game summaries and thoughts, I do want to discuss the minor leaguers that you will see tomorrow on the left side of the screen. I asked you to e-mail me the names of up to six Twins minor league prospects, and you responded well. I received responses from no less than 29 readers, which I think is pretty impressive. Here are the results, by number of votes received:
15 - Glen Perkins (Minnesotans want to keep tabs on the Stillwater native and former Gopher)
14 - Denard Span, Matt Moses (isn't it strange that these two are always tied together?)
11 - Pat Neshek (Another local pitcher, who is doing great so far as the Rochester closer)
9 - Trevor Plouffe (I will mainly be pointing out offensive numbers!!)
7 - Matt Garza (the top 2005 pick garnered a lot of votes)
6 - Boof Bonser (I think there are many curious if he can help the Twins if need be)
4 - David Winfree, Alex Romero (two of the top prospects in the organization, in my opinion)
3 - Justin Jones, Alexi Casilla, Garrett Jones, Juan Portes, Anthony Swarzak, Paul Kelly
2 - Adam Harben
1 - Jason Miller, Bobby Korecky, Nick Blackburn, Danny Matienzo, Jay Rainville, Justin Arneson, Yancarlos Ortiz, Caleb Moore, Eli Tintor, Yohan Pino, Erik Lis, Deacon Burns, Andrew Thompson, Alexander Smit, Kevin Slowey, Jose Mijares, Doug Deeds, Loek Van Mil, JR Taylor, Luis Maza
So, again, the format of these statistics may alter over the year. I, of course, have the right to add or subtract players if I feel it necessary. I may end up doing a 2005 draft picks segment as I did last year for the 2004 picks. We will see. If you have any thoughts, please e-mail me.
Friday - Red Wings , Syracuse – Rained Out. Will be made up as part of a doubleheader in May.
Saturday - Red Wings 1, Syracuse 4 – The Red Wings had to play in some cold temperatures this weekend, temps that got below freezing. Their bats and gloves showed the effects on this night. The offense was only able to strike for three hits. Jason Bartlett and Terry Tiffee each had a double while Chris Heintz had a single. The gloves were not much better. Garrett Jones and Josh Rabe each had an Error while Terry Tiffee had two. That didn't help starter Ryan Glynn. He went 4.2 innings and allowed four runs (2 earned) on four hits and two walks. He struck out four. Henry Bonilla came in and gave up two hits, but no runs, in 1.1 innings. Mike Smith walked one in a scoreless inning. Jason Miller allowed a hit, but struck out the other three batters he faced. Beau Kemp struck out all three batters he saw.
Sunday - Red Wings 1, Syracuse 0 – In the third inning, Luis Maza hit a solo home run. At the time, I'm sure very few figured it would be the game's lone run! Peter Munro started and recorded the Win by pitching five shutout innings. He gave up just four hits, walked none and struck out five. I wonder if he has it in his contract again that if he is not with the Twins by June 1, he will become a free agent? Beau Kemp pitched another scoreless inning. Ricky Barrett came back from his poor first outing with two shutout innings. He walked two, but he struck out five. Pat Neshek dominated the ninth with three strikeouts on the way to his second save. Josh Rabe went 2-2, and Jason Hart added a double. Maza's homer was his lone hit. On another note, Garrett Jones played out in RF most of the game.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Friday - Rockcats 3, New Hampshire 7 – The Rockcats khad some hits, but it was not enough as the pitching failed for once. Matt Moses went 2-4 with a double and an RBI. Scott Whitrock went 2-4. Tommy Watkins played 3B and went 2-4 with an RBI. JR Taylor was 2-4 with a run scored. Doug Deeds had just one hit but it was a home run. Nick Blackburn was a great story last year for the Twins. He went just 4.1 innings and gave up five runs. He allowed eight hits and walked two. Justin Olson came in and went the next 2.2 innings. He gave up a run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. Lefty Jay Sawatski then allowed a run in the final two inning. He also struck out three.
Saturday - Rockcats, New Hampshire – Rained Out.
Sunday - Rockcats 5, New Hampshire 4 – Justin Jones made his first AA start and responded with a victory. The lefty went the first five innings and gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out seven. Levale Speigner and Jay Sawatski combined for 2.1 innings before Bobby Korecky came in and recorded the save. Now, he allowed two runs on four hits over the final 1.2 innings, but it was a good start. Remember that Korecky led the league in Saves in 2004, but missed all of the 2005 season after arm surgery. It is good to see him back. Denard Span led the offense. He was 3-4 with a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored. Trent Oeltjen may have been 0-2, but he walked twice and was also hit by a pitch. He stole two bases and scored three times. Matt Moses was 2-2 with a walk and two RBI. An interesting double play occurred when Denard Span threw a guy out trying to tag to third base.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Friday - Miracle 6, Sarasota 0 – Another great start by another top prospect. Anthony Swarzak, Baseball America's 100th rated prospect and Twins 2004 2nd round pick, started and went five innings. He gave up just four hits, walked two and struck out five. Angel Garcia pitched the next two innings, striking out one. JP Martinez recorded the save with two shutout innings of his own. Garrett Guzman continued his hot start with a 2-5, two RBI day. David Winfree was also 2-5 with a double and two RBI. Alexi Casilla went 1-3 with two walks and two stolen bases.
Saturday - Miracle 11, Sarasota 7 – 2005 2nd round pick, and friend of SethSpeaks, Kevin Slowey just continues to pitch wonderfully. In his first start of the season, he had a perfect game through the first five innings. In the sixth, he walked one and gave up two hits, but didn't get any fielding help either. In that inning he gave up four runs (none earned). In the game, he struck out eight and walked one. Josh Hill came in for him and in his inning, he gave up two hits and two earned runs. In a perfect illustration of why the Win statistic is worthless in evaluation of pitchers, Ryan Callahan came in and got on out... after allowing tow hits and a walk. It was a 'blown save', but because the Miracle went ahead in the next half inning, Callahan got the Win. Alexander Farfan, a Rule V pick this winter, went the final two innings. He allowed an unearned run on one hit. Another Rule V pick this winter, Erold Andrus (whose brother Elvis is a top Braves prospect) went 2-4 with two runs and six RBI. The big hit was his 7th inning grand slam that gave the team the lead. Alexi Casilla was 2-4. So were Garrett Guzman and David Winfree, but they each added a walk as well. Three games, Three Errors for Trevor Plouffe at shortstop.
Saturday - Miracle 8, Sarasota 4 – Alexi Casilla and David Winfree continued to hit well. Casilla went 3-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Winfree was 3-5 with a double and two RBI. Jeremy Pickrel went 3-4 with a walk, a triple and an RBI. Luke Hughes was 2-3 with a walk, a double and an RBI. Lefty Kyle Aselton came out of the bullpen last year in Beloit in the season's second half and was great. This year, he starts in the Ft. Myers rotation. His first start probably wasn't as bad as it looked. He gave up four runs in four innings, but just one of the runs was earned. However, he did allow eight hits and two walks. Tim Lahey picked up the Win. He went three innings and gave up just two runs. Julio DePaula got his second save by pitching two shutout innings.
The Infield situation in Beloit is interesting. I think that ideally they would start Alexi Casilla at 2B, Trevor Plouffe at SS and David Winfree at 3B. However, they also need to get At Bats for Luke Hughes. Through just four games, Casilla has played three at 2B and one at SS. Plouffe played yesterday at 3B after three games at SS. Winfree has been the team's DH each game, and Hughes has played both 2B and 3B.
Friday - Snappers 2, Cedar Rapids 1 – The dominant pitching continued to the team's lowest full season affiliate. The team also got a little something that the Twins would love to have. 2005 pick Brian Duensing, a lefty from Nebraska, started and gave up just one hit and a walk over five innings. He struck out seven. David Shinskie, a 2001 draft pick, gave up an unearned run in his 1.2 innings. Jose Lugo came in and gave up just a hit in 1.1 relief innings. Yohan Pino got the Win after he gave up two hits and in a scoreless inning. In the end though, it was Henry Sanchez, the team's supplemental first round pick in 2005, who was the story. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied at one, Sanchez drilled a game winning home run. Paul Kelly, 2005 second round pick, was the DH again and he went 2-4 with two doubles and the other RBI.
Saturday - Snappers 2, Cedar Rapids 4 (12 innings) – Adam Hawes was the ERA leader in the Appalachian League last year. He threw six shutout innings in this game. He gave up just three hits and a walk, and he struck out four. Alexander Smit came in and gave up an unearned run in his inning. Danny Vais went the next 1.2 innings and gave up another run. Yohan Pino went 1.1 scoreless. But Jose Lugo took the loss. He pitched a scoreless inning before giving up two runs in the 12th. Eli Tintor must really be enjoying his move to the outfield and playing every day. He was 3-5 on this day. Catcher Caleb Moore, 4th round pick in 2005, went 3-4 with two doubles. Tarrence Patterson and Paul Kelly went 2-6 while Dwayne White was 2-4.
Sunday - Snappers 3, Cedar Rapids 2 – Down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the 9th, the Twins rallied and on RBI singles by Paul Kelly and Erik Lis, the Snappers had tied the game. With two outs, Eli Tintor came up and was the hero with a single to right field to drive in the game-winning run. Lis was playing 1B for the first time this season and went 2-4 with a double and a stolen base. Tintor was 2-4. 2005 third round pick Ryan Mullins started this game and went six innings. He gave up two runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out seven. Danny Powers pitched two shutout innings and struck out three. Eduardo Morlan again struck out three in his inning of work to record the win.
The infield situation is just as crowded in Beloit. Paul Kelly, Andrew Thompson, Steven Tolleson, Toby Gardenhire and Yancarlos Ortiz will all see plenty of time. At 1B, Henry Sanchez and Erik Lis will both see time.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
It was, in part, a movie weekend for me this weekend. Here are some brief thoughts on what I saw:
Walk the Line - I would guess that I am one of the few who had not seen this movie about the life and times of Johnny Cash. Joaquin Phoenix is an amazing actor, in my opinion. That is not necessarily based on this movie, but he has been in so much lately. And, of course, I am a huge Reese Witherspoon fan. She does a great job as June Carter. I guess that is obvious as she won an Oscar for Best Actress for this role. It is a very good movie.
Yours, Mine and Ours - This movie, starring Dennis Quaid and the great Rene Russo, is a cutesy kind of movie. To me, it is essentially the same as Cheaper by the Dozen. Like I said, it has its moments, but this movie is what it is.
The Chronicles of Narnia - I read the C.S. Lewis book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when I was in 6th grade. While watching this movie, I realize that was 20 years ago. I am officially old! Anyway, I remember learning about all of the religious symbolism in the characters and plot of this book/movie, and now that I am older, it is very easy to read through that with the roles of the Witch and Azlan and others. I really enjoyed this version of the book a lot. I don't know how much people who have not read the book would like it though.
Brokeback Mountain - Last week, Brent of BrentNet noted that Brokeback Mountain was a movie that he wanted to watch, but he did not want to buy it or go somewhere and rent it. I thought that was interesting because that is exactly my thinking. So, I didn't rent this either, my girlfriend did, and I'm glad. Now I have seen it. It is an interesting movie. It is a new take at a love story. I understand that. However, I'm not really sure at the end what the moral of the story is. I think that the story would have been better without the visit to Mexico. I also don't know if I see a moral story involved in the marriages and such. As you can see, I am really speaking in generalities because I don't want to give away too much. Overall though, I think it was a very good movie and something people do need to watch once. If nothing else, watch it for Heath Ledger's attempt at a western/mountain man's accent. Ledger has had several accents in his career. Of course, being from Australia that is his natural accent. Or, Twins fans may also want to watch it because one of Carl Pohlad's family members was one of the Executive Producers.
Ice Age 2 - Went to this one at the theatre, which is always fun. I enjoyed the first movie, and the second was also very good. Ray Romano is excellent. So were John Leguizamo and Denis Leary. I was especially impressed by Queen Latifah's turn as Ellie. This was a cute movie, but there was the occasional adult humor that had me cracking up. I almost felt bad during one part when I burst out laughing and no one else in the theatre did.
Welp, that is it for today. If you have any thoughts, opinions, comments, critiques, or ideas on anything, please e-mail me, or let's get a discussion going in the Comments.|
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