Weekend Twins Notes
As mentioned, I went to the Twins/Aís game on Saturday night. I love going to Target Field. We got there about 45 minutes early and just hung out on Target Plaza. As I prefer to do, I went into the stadium as soon as the gates opened. Itís fun for me to watch batting practice, any field work and just walk around the whole stadium. Also, I know I recommended it before, but I did go to the State Fair booth in centerfield and got the Ribs & Fries for $8.50. As you recall, these are Michelbobís ribs. I didnít expect them to be as good as those I had in Naples, but they were really, really good. I definitely encourage people to get that!
I have to admit, though, that the Twins/Aís game was pretty disappointing. Not just because if was 1-0. I actually love a good 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 type of ball game, but this was not a well played game. Both teams didnít take advantage of opportunities to score more runs. Delmon Young threw out a runner at home to end the first inning, but the other missed opportunities were due to really poor execution. The Twins had a runner on third base and nobody out and didnít score. Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes each hit the ball hard a couple of times. Gio Gonzalez is one of the best pitchers that most fans havenít heard much about, so he does deserve a lot of credit. But even he wasnít totally on his game. There were a lot of deep counts. And, of course, had the Twins found a way to sneak out a second straight 2-1 win, all would have been worthwhile.
Things were worse for the Twins on Sunday. I listened some, watched someÖ I actually fell asleep on the couch while trying to watch the Twins play. Thatís how bad it wasÖ Making it even worse for me is that I was asleep for the Twins three-run inning and missed both a Joe Mauer non-weak groundout (he doubled) and the monumental 590th home run of Jim Thome. Unreal. The only Twins offense of the weekend, and I couldnít keep my eyes open for it.
Here are a couple of Quick Twins Notes:
∑ While Alexi Casilla struggles at the plate and in the field, Trevor Plouffe has eight hits in his last three games at Triple-A Rochester, including three home runs and two doubles. Plouffe played 2B on Sunday and committed an error. I know that many Twins fans are ready to end Casillaís time as the Twins regular shortstop. That would be a mistake. The Twins made the decision in the offseason that Casilla would be their starting shortstop. It would be wrong to end that after just nine games. In fact, I really believe in the theory that players need six weeks to two months before making big decisions like that. The Twins made their beds, now they have to sleep in it for a little while. Casilla is hitting just .167 and frankly, not even putting together good at bats. But as of today, there is not a better option in the organization. Six weeks in Rochester may tell us that Plouffe can be the regular SS for the Twins, but again, we shall find out. It is probably the harder decision, to stand by Casilla, but for now, it is the right thing.
∑ While being frustrated, watching that game on Friday night, I was amazed by the ovation that Mauer continued to get despite weak groundout after weak groundout. I wondered aloud (via Twitter) when it would be OK for the Target Field fans to start booing Mauer, if somehow they needed to wait until after the opening weekend, or would it be longer? Of course, I know that at the end of the year, Mauer will hit over .310. I think that heíll show some more power than last year. Iím not worried, but at the same time, the weak grounders are very frustrating.
∑ Equally frustrating is Mauerís defense. His unwillingness to block a lot of pitches in the dirt. In the game I was at, pitchers had two wild pitches in which Mauer just stabbed at the ball. Part of me is fine with that. I donít want to see a talent like Mauer taking a bunch of baseballs off the chest. We all prefer he catch more games and if being a little lazy at times is how he can get there, ok.
∑ Please note that neither of those Mauer opinions have anything to do with his contract, or the fact that he is making just over $10 million more in 2011 than he did in 2010.
∑ When Tsuyoshi Nishioka was put on the Disabled List, it was an obvious choice to call up Luke Hughes and make him the starter at 2B. Hughes was nearly on the roster to start the season, so it made sense for him to come up. Thatís why, when Kevin Slowey was put on the Disabled List on Saturday, I was a little surprised that the team went with Alex Burnett as the promotion. The final bullpen spot seemingly came down to Jeff Manship and Jim Hoey, so I assumed Hoey would come up. However, he had pitched two innings on Friday and would not have been available on Sunday. Burnett was sent down to minor league camp relatively early.
Hey, the big picture is that we knew that the Twins early schedule would be difficult. Theyíre 3-6, and still have 153 games to go. We knew Chicago would be tough. I donít think anyone is buying Cleveland or Kansas City as contenders yet, are they? So, letís let this play out. There is too much talent in the Twins lineup for it to struggle much longer. The starting pitching has been solid. The bullpen hasnít been bad. Theyíll be OK. Itís just at times like this when you have to trust the process, I guess.
Or, you can panic and worry, or quit watching the teamÖ Up to you?! J
I got home last night and hosted the SethSpeaks.net Sunday night Twins podcast. It was fun answering your questions. I got a couple of callers. So, be sure to download that. I talked about the weekend in the minor leagues on there, including some of the highlights. I will get you caught up on the minor league information (including just how hot Trevor Plouffeís bat is, Joe Bensonís first homer of the season, the 4-0 Ft. Myers Miracle, the hitting of Oswaldo Arcia and Danny Ortiz and the strikeouts of Adrian Salcedo, and more).
However, after a long weekend and a lot of travel (in gloomy, gray, rainy conditions), I ended up passing out. Sleep was very much needed as Iíve got a very busy week. The Twins have an off day today, and I need it as much as they do! HA!
However, at 10:00 tonight, Travis Aune and I will be co-hosting Twins Minor League Weekly (now on both Monday and Thursday nights). So, be sure to check that out for all kinds of minor league information!
Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.