Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Catching Up Again
It seems as though I have had a lot of "Catching Up" postings of late. In reality, I haven't. Maybe a day a week, but this was a Holiday weekend, so that is OK, right? But I am back and ready to post again. A lot has happened since I posted on Friday morning. The Twins were colded-out, and then played two afternoon games in frigid Chicago. Last night, they started a three game home series against the New York Yankees. Carlos Silva and Sidney Ponson pitched on either side of Johan Santana, so we have seen a lot. The minor league seasons of all four Twins full-season minor league affiliates have now played at least twice. There have been highlights from each of the teams, and we will certainly point those out. I missed the Twins Bloggers-and-Fans Get Together at Buffalo Wild Wings last Saturday, but from the sounds of it everyone had a great time, and I really hope that they will do it again in the near future so I can get down there and meet many of you too.
So again, today will be some catching up, several links and hopefully a bunch to make you think. As always, please feel free to e-mail me any thoughts, or post some Comments below.
TWINS-YANKEES GAME 1
If you want some great information on this series, be sure to check out Stick & Ball Guy's site. His Charting the Competition series includes a wonderful Q&A with Alex Belth of Bronx Banter (a Yankees blog) who also writes for Sports Illustrated and wrote an autobiography on Curt Flood. And also, be sure to check SBG's site in coming days for Baby SBG updates!!
Don't you just hate when the Twins get blown out on national TV. For the second straight Monday, the Twins were on ESPN. I like to listen to the national broadcasters. It definitely is not because of intelligence. Listening to Rick Sutcliffe might just be the worst experience ever. What you learn is that they are simply regurgitating what they are being fed, what is in the media notes and really, they are giving voice to what the national beliefs are about the Twins. So, we hear a lot about how wonderful Derek Jeter is. We also have to deal with how important Torii Hunter is and how much he does. We listen to the "small market" junk. And that is really the reason that I watch the national broadcast. I want to know what the national perception of the Twins team is. So, it is frustrating, but then again, sometimes I think Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven can be frustrating too... but at least they are entertaining.
Honestly, Erin Andrews is the best part of the ESPN coverage. First there are the obvious reasons, but secondly, she provided stories that were actually interesting.
I know it sounds stupid when a guy gives up eight runs in just 5.2 innings, however, Sidney Ponson showed me something last night. Now, I am not making any excuses for Ponson. He gave up the runs, and I know that I am one of many who did not like his signing and would rather see Matt Garza (or Scott Baker, or Glen Perkins, or Kevin Slowey, or, or, or...) in the rotation. However, I do not think his performance was as bad as the results ended up being. In the first inning, he gave up three runs. However, he was not hit hard at all. Johnny Damon blooped a double that hit the line in right field. Derek Jeter hit an infield single. Bobby Abreu hit a soft liner in front of Torii Hunter to score the first run. Alex Rodriguez flew out to right. Jason Giambi walked (which obviously is never a good thing for a pitcher to do). Then Jorge Posada hit a fly ball to left field that kept tailing away from Jason Kubel, bounced and went over the fence for a two run ground rule double. He then got Robinson Cano and Doug Mientkiewicz to end the inning without further scoring. In the second, he gave up a two-run homer to Bobby Abreu after a long at bat. Again, this is clearly not a desired result, but aside from the final pitch, he made some great pitches and at that point, you have to give credit to a great hitter. But, what impressed me was the zeros that he put up in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
And yes, in the 6th inning, he gave up the three run homer to A-Rod (which was a blast!), but that inning, in my mind, was on Gardy. He should not have sent him out there for the sixth inning. I realize that Ponson was brought in to be an innings eater. However, with the days off at the end of last week, and Johan Santana's great outing on Sunday, the bullpen was plenty rested. Ponson came off the mound after the top of the 5th with some confidence. He had put three straight zeros on the board. He had gone through the Yankees lineup three times. That was the right time to take him out. Matt Guerrier could have pitched the next two or three innings, and then Pat Neshek, Juan Rincon and Dennys Reyes could have finished it up. Of course, this is all in hindsight and if Ponson had gone out and thrown another scoreless inning in the sixth, this would all be forgotten.
What did I see from Ponson that was positive? I saw a consistent 94-96 on the fastball. For the most part, he was around the plate, and usually on the low-part of the plate. Aside from the hanger that Abreu launched, his curveball looked good. I thought he looked composed on the mound.
What did I see from Ponson the was negative? Obviously the bad pitches were not good. I didn't think that his fastball showed a lot of movement. Ponson is touted as a groundball pitcher, but we really didn't see that. I would assume that would be seen because of downward movement.
In all, despite the results, Ponson showed me enough to get a few more starts. I would like to see what he can do against a lineup that isn't the Yankees. In other words, no need to make any changes just yet.
A couple more thoughts - Down 8-2 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Luis Castillo came up to bat. Why did Luis Rodriguez not get that at bat? L-Rod is yet to play. This totally goes against a philosophy that the Twins have employed for as long as I have been a fan. They usually like to get everyone into the games right away, and at least play them on a somewhat regular basis. Situations like this are times to do that so that when they are needed in a more important situation, they can be ready. The strange thing is that L-Rod is not the only Twins player not to get so much as an at bat or an inning in the field. The other is Chris Heintz. Likewise, why not let Heintz catch the bottom of the 8th and take the at bat in the 9th?
As great of a player as Derek Jeter is, I too am so tired of hearing about it all the time! It is absolutely annoying.
And Jason Bartlett, what happened? I don't care about the fact that he hasn't hit yet because he will. But his defense at SS has been spotty at best!
It appears that Rondell White and Jeff Cirillo will both be put on the Disabled List as soon as shortly after the game. But, who will they bring up? Another OF would be good, but is Josh Rabe the guy? He could replace Rondell White, but since he is not on the 40 man roster, is that really an option right now? Denard Span is on the 40 man roster, but first, he hasn't really played LF much in his career and secondly, he needs to play daily, not be a bench player. My thought is that the guy called up to replace White would be Garrett Jones. First, in the short-term, Jason Tyner can start in LF (and preferably bat 9th) with Jason Kubel DHing and getting some time there as well. Garrett Jones could DH a game or two when Kubel is in LF and be a power left-handed bat off the bench. Also, he is on the 40 man roster and the Twins need to evaluate him at this level.
But what about a replacement for Jeff Cirillo? Cirillo will DH some and back up at the corner infield positions. Well, Garrett Jones would replace the backup 1B need and be a DH possibility. Luis Rodriguez can still be the backup at 3B. So, a need to replace Cirillo directly is not really necessary. One option would be Alexi Casilla, but since he would not be playing every day, that would be incredibly stupid. Honestly, there are no other AAA bats that are really worth considering at this time. Matthew Lecroy, Glenn Williams and Rabe aren't on the 40 man roster and there is no reason to put any of them on it now. So, maybe another arm for the bullpen (like Scott Baker or reliever Julio DePaula), but not Matt Garza or Glen Perkins if they aren't going to be starting. Until Lew Ford comes back from injury, there just is not a lot of depth available for a reserve role.
Updated Note - According to LaVelle, it is Josh Rabe and Alexi Casilla coming up. No problem with Rabe. I just hope that Casilla plays! And I wonder who will be taken off of the 40 man roster.
TWINS/WHITE SOX SERIES
Friday night's game was colded-out. They made that decision in the afternoon. I actually don't have a problem with that. The Twins and White Sox play 19 teams a year. They will be down in Chicago a couple more times, so making a good-weather double-header makes a lot more sense.
Carlos Silva pitched Saturday. I watched the beginning of the game and saw hit give up a run on three singles to start the game. I was all excited and talking with people about how, as much as I want the Twins to win any time they play, I thought that a horrible Silva performance might hurry the decision to take him out of the rotation. Well, that was the only run that Silva gave up in his five innings. He gave up five hits and walked one. So, that should be enough to give him a few more starts.
Sunday afternoon's Easter Matinee was exactly how the Twins would draw things up in a perfect world. Johan Santana starts and goes seven shutout innings. He gave up just one hit and it was a very weak bleeder between 2B and RF. Jesse Crain pitched the 8th inning (and although he gave up a solo homer, that is the role he should be in). And, Joe Nathan shut the door in the 9th. The offense in the 3-1 win came from the reigning MVP Justin Morneau, who drilled a three-run homer.
So now Johan Santana is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA. The scary thing is that Santana is normally not great in April. Maybe this is the start of a really, really special season. Or, maybe it is two starts and we shouldn't make too much of it... but that's what we do, right?
MINOR LEAGUE UPDATES
Throughout the season, I will try to give some highlights of each of the Twins minor league games. Through mid-June, that will mean the four full-season teams. At that point, we will start looking at the game highlights of the short-season teams as well. As I have said before, I know I would have loved to have been given the opportunity to play minor league ball. Do you know how good and talented you would have to be just to get drafted and advance through the minor leagues? These players deserve credit and recognition, and that is why I do this. Also, I want to provide a place where you can go to find out how the minor league teams and players are doing. For the most part, I really don't care how the teams do in terms of wins and losses. As a Twins fan though, I want to see that progression through the system. Whether that progression happens seemingly overnight as with the likes of Matt Garza and Alexi Casilla, or if it takes a long time as it did with Josh Rabe and could with Tommy Watkins. These are great ballplayers working incredibly hard with a single goal in mind, just to get a chance to be a big leaguer.
With that in mind, I will generally show the game scores. I will show how the pitchers did in the game, positive or negative. I will also try to show some hitter's highlights. For today, I will do this for last night's games. I will follow it with some highlights from the weekend games and some general thoughts on the team. If you have any questions or comments or ideas on this, please let me know.
Rochester Report - Red Wings 1, Norfolk 8 - In the bottom of the 6th inning, Josh Rabe hit a solo home run to tie the game at one. It was all downhill after that point. Glen Perkins started for the Red Wings and gave up just one run on two hits and a walk in six innings (JR House hit his first of two homers in the first inning). Tristan Crawford gave up two runs in the seventh on a two-run homer by former Twins and Red Wing Terry Tiffee. Julio DePaula gave up a run in the eighth and then Brian Bass gave up four runs (just 2 earned because of an error of his own) in the 9th inning. Denard Span led off and went 2-3 with a walk. Matthew LeCroy went 2-3 with a double.
The Red Wings were set to open their season on Friday night, but snow, rain and ice made that impossible. So, they started on Saturday. Matt Garza started in sub-freezing temperatures. He went just 3.1 innings and gave up three unearned runs on two hits and an unusual five walks. I am intrigued by the standard starting OF of the Red Wings. Josh Rabe is in left. Denard Span is in CF. Those are not surprising. Garrett Jones has started each game now in RF. We knew this would happen as they intend to try him out there. But that leaves the vastly underrated Doug Deeds on the bench. He has been used as a pinch hitter each game. He could also replace Glenn Williams at 1B. Trent Oeltjen, a better player in my opinion than Denard Span, is essentially the 5th outfielder and he deserves to play. Is that just good depth, or is that just loyalty to veterans? Tonight, Kevin Slowey will be making his first AAA (regular season) start.
New Britain News - Rockcats 8, Portland 6 - Brian Duensing got the start for the Rockcats. He went just 2.2 innings, but he gave up no runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter. Jesse Floyd came in and got the Win despite giving up three runs on five hits and no walks in the next three innings. Jay Sawatski got two outs but he gave up a run. Danny Powers then gave up two runs one two hits and two walks in 1.1 innings. Finally Tim Lahey recorded a save with 1.1 shutout innings. The Rockcats scored three runs in the 2nd inning and four runs in the 6th inning. In each case, Brock Peterson, Luke Hughes and Kyle Geiger each had an RBI. Luke Hughes and Kyle Geiger were both 2-3. Brian Buscher went 2-5. Six different hitters each had a double.
On Saturday, the team opened its season with a 7-6 loss to New Hampshire. In the game, Garrett Guzman went 3-5 with a home run. Korey Feiner also had three hits. Nick Blackburn started and went three innings (3 earned runs). Anthony Swarzak went the next 2.2 innings and took the loss. One positive was that Jose Mijares pitched 1.1 perfect innings. It is interesting that, even with Matt Moses in Rochester, David Winfree is playing 1B and DHing, and Brian Buscher (a minor league Rule V draftee) has played 3B and hit third.
Ft. Myers Memos - Miracle 3, Sarasota 4 - Jay Rainville pitched to a few batters in the Miracle's season opener last Thursday. It was likely something to get him on the mound before making his first start... which he did last night. The righty went 3.1 innings and gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks. He did not have a strikeout. His progress throughout the season will be interesting to watch. Kyle Aselton came out of the bullpen and threw 1.2 scoreless, hitless innings. He walked one and struck out two. David Shinskie threw three shutout innings before Angel Garcia struck out two in his perfect inning. With the bats, Eli Tintor went 2-3 with a walk and a double. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 and stole a base. Strangely, however, he also committed his third error.
On Friday, the team lost 3-2 to Sarasota in 12 innings. Oswaldo Sosa went the first 4.1 innings and gave up only an unearned run on five hits. Ryan Mullins had a perfect, three strikeout inning in relief. Frank Mata gave up an unearned run in his inning, but he walked four hitters which is not good! In that game, Whit Robbins went 2-5 with a double and two RBI. On Saturday, the team lost 7-6 to the Reds. Juan Portes, who played RF in this game, went 3-5. Alexander Smit got the start and gave up four earned runs on eight hits and a walk in 4.1 innings. He struck out three. Yohan Pino went another scoreless inning in the game. And, Erik Lis is officially an OF now.
Beloit Snappers Report - Snappers 5, Kane County 4 - Chris Parmalee hit his first full-season home run. He went 1-3 with two walks and the home run. Danny Valencia, who the Twins were inexplicably able to get on the second day of the 2006 draft, went 2-5 with his first homer of the season. Young Alex Burnett made the start and struck out five in his four innings of work. He gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. Former Gopher Cole DeVries came in and gave up an unearned run on a walk in his inning. Danny Vais got the Win, giving up just one run on one hit in 2.1 innings. Sean Land got the Save with 1.2 perfect innings of relief.
On Saturday, the Snappers played their first game and won 2-1. Jeff Manship got the start and the righty went 5.2 innings and gave up just one run on four hits. He walked none and struck out six. Expect him to move up a level within two months. Dan Leatherman, one of 2006's better stories in the Twins organization, got the Win. He went 1.1 innings. The Snappers managed just five hits. Garrett Olson and Greg Yersich had the two RBI. So far, Valencia has played 3B and 1B in the two games. Garrett Olson has played 1B and DHd (But will likely be the main 3B). Johnny Woodward got a start at 1B too.
Here are just a few more links and thoughts for you:
Chris Coste was optioned to AAA Ottawa yesterday which, of course, I think it pretty dumb. With his hamstring concerns, I fully understand him doing some rehab time at AAA (or actually preferably at Clearwater) just to catch up. However, it is really unfortunate that the team decided to simply option him. A lot of people don't understand this decision.
The Boston Red Sox claimed JD Durbin. Very surprising, but they do need bullpen help.
I learned that by checking out the highly entertaining story today from Section 220!
I will keep it pretty basic for today. It's already pretty long and I didn't warn you to get a cup of coffee first, so we'll call it a day. Feel free to e-mail me or Comment below.|
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