Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
American Idol Thoughts
Good morning everybody! Just a few quick thoughts on the Twins 2-1 win last night in Kansas City. There is a daily update of the Twins minor league games played. And, it's Wednesday, so that means my thoughts on last night's American Idol performances.
By the way, Alex Rodriguez, have a day! 4-5 with 3 homers and 10 RBI in the Yankees win. That's pretty good!
The Twins got eight great innings from Johan, were able to take the lead in the 9th and Joe Nathan dominated the last inning. Another great, one-run win for the Twins. They are now 3-0 against the Royals this season, with three one-run wins. Not sure what to do with that. I mean, I'd rather they be 3-0 with three one-run wins than 2-1 with two blowout wins and a loss. But the Royals are a team that they should be able to beat more handily. That said, you must give credit to Jose Lima and Andy Sisco for the jobs they did. Also Ambiriox Burgos did great, but he broke bats and they turned into hits in the 9th. So yes, just be happy with the win. Then when he consider that Jason Bartlett and Juan Castro really couldn't play and Shannon Stewart was a late scratch from the lineup with a small injury, lets just be happy with the win!
Absolutely incredible. I mean, I could leave it at just that sentence, those two words, and those who watched him last night would have to agree. His mechanics were perfect. He was hitting 94 with the fastball. His changeup was kept low in the strikezone and he mixed in that slider at the right times. Even the one run that he did give up wasn't anything to write home about. I mean, Matt Diaz fisted a blooper into right field. Eight innings. Five Hits. One walk (and it was intentional). One run. Eight strikeouts. What impressed me most was how many weak pop-ups he was getting to the right side of the infield, especially early in the game. This was as good as Johan has been this year, and the best is yet to come. It was his 17th consecutive winning decision. He improves to 4-0 on the season, and his ERA drops to 3.55. He has now pitched 33 innings. He has walked three and struck out 45. Absolutely incredible!
It is so nice to have the big man back in the middle of the lineup. Again, he had the double and homer in his first game back. He had a double on Monday. Well, last night, he had a first-inning at bat that reminds us all that he is not a one-dimensional, homer-or-nothing type of hitter. With a runner on 2B and two outs, Morneau fell behind 0-2. At that point, he fouled off a couple of pitches before taking a tough pitch and just slapping it into left field for an RBI single. Yes, home runs are great, but an at bat like that shows you that he will be an incredible hitter.
OK, someone has to talk about this in a rational fashion. Michael Cuddyer is a good player and a very good hitter. I have backed him consistently throughout his career, and I will continue to do so. Believe me, I am as frustrated with what he has (or hasn't) done yet this year, particularly with runners in scoring position. I have been more frustrated with all of the called third strikes that he has taken. Defensively, he has made some errors. But to me, the errors have been the resulf of good range. That is one thing I have been very impressed with Cuddyer defensively. He certainly has shown more range than Corey Koskie. But he has made a lot of errors. But it is still just three weeks into the season and certainly not time to panic yet. He will just need to make a couple of adjustments at the plate and he will be just fine. He has always been a slow starter. Hopefully Gardy continues with his confidence and will keep him in the lineup.
But I did notice a couple of things in watching Cuddyer's at bats last night. The main thing I noted was that he was constantly out on his front foot in his swing and more in his follow-through. In other words, he knows he's struggling and he's trying to do too much with the ball. In that anxiety, he is not staying back in a level stance. When this happens, you notice that his front shoulder is also dipped down a little bit. That results in a lot of ground balls. I think that has been the result of many of his at bats. Now, when he came up against the hard-throwing Ambriox Burgos in the 9th inning, he put together a good at bat. When he saw the 98 mph fastball, he was forced to just react and we saw his good swing. He also stayed back and was able to see the split-finger pitch and the at bat ended up with a great walk.
This is what happens in big league baseball. Advanced scouts see holes in swings and pitchers make adjustments to hitters. The good hitters are the ones that find ways to make more adjustments to the pitcher's adjustments. Michael Cuddyer is trying to find his way right now, and I have no doubt that he will. But a player needs more than three weeks to do that.
I think this deserves its own paragraph and section: What is up with the LeCroy Leg Bend? I have seen that in many of his at bats the last week or so. Usually it happens on the first pitch of an at bat. Obviously it is on a pitch that he has no intention of swinging at. But as the pitcher is delivering the ball to the plate, LeCroy does a big dip/leg bend thing. I don't know if he thinks that will make the strike zone smaller (it won't) or what he is trying to do. I don't get it in that, you can't get any timing down by doing that. It's like when a batter fakes a bunt on 3-0. It doesn't help in any way. It's just a curiosity thing, I guess.
So much was made of the infield defense last night when the new group of players combined for two errors. Fortunately, Johan was able to get the team out of the inning without a run being scored. The first, Cuddyer went far to his left to make a play and his throw was high to first and Morneau leapt to catch it. Shortly after, Santana picked off the runner. He threw to Morneau who double-pumped a throw toward the SS. The throw hit the runner in the helmet and he was safe at second. Anyway, two legit errors, very correctable errors.
OK, my point is that so many people are still talking about the great defensive infield that the Twins have had in recent years. And they have. The combination of Mientkiewicz, Rivas, Guzman and Koskie was great defensively. However, fans need to stop whining about the lack of defense by these new guys. Fact is, they are new guys, they aren't the same players. You also have to remember that economics as much as anything is the reason those players are gone. That's the reality of Pohlad-ball. That said, would the team really be any better with Koskie and Guzman manning the left side of the infield? Would the Twins pitchers really have lower ERA's or give up less runs with those guys? I don't think so. Silva gave up a lot of hits last year, and he'll give up a lot of hits this year.
I'm rambling, but basically I'm saying that the team made their decisions to let Guzman and Koskie go. I, as you know, wish they had kept Koskie and moved Cuddyer to 2B. But I think we're all fine with Guzman being gone. Yes, I would still like to see Terry Tiffee at 3B with Michael Cuddyer moving back to 2B, but that isn't possible right now. This is the defense we have, so why complain about it. Also, Justin Morneau is far better at 1B than any of us would have guessed.
Grant Balfour will have his elbow scoped in Cincinnati later this week. The results of that testing will determine whether he will need to have Tommy John surgery. You have to wonder why it took so long for the Twins medical staff to come to this conclusion. And, wasn't it a forearm injury at first? Now it's the elbow? What's the real story here.
The Twins Geek wrote an excellent article (with some interesting comments) on what this could mean for the Twins bullpen.
Here are the remaining pitching matchups for this series:
Twins Minor League Report
For those of you interested in such things, please be sure to e-mail me a list of the six Twins minor league prospects that you would like to see statistically updated every day. I have quite an interesting list of players so far. Later in the week, I will start keeping tabs on six Twins prospects. Thanks for your input.
Tuesday - REDWINGS 2, Pawtucket 9 - Jimmy Anderson got another start and fell to 0-1. In four innings, he gave up three runs on seven hits and four walks. Not good. Jim Abbott came in and didn't help. He got four outs, but gave up six earned runs on four hits and three walks. Trey Hodges did well, allowing just two hits in 3 2/3 innings. The Redwings had just five hits, but all five went for extra-bases. Michael Ryan was 2-4 with a double. Luis Rodriguez had a double. Brent Abernathy had a double and is hitting .404. Josh Rabe had a pinch hit homer, his second of the year.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Tuesday - ROCKCATS 4, Reading 10 - The Rockcats got some hits and runs, but were unable to keep Reading from doing the same. Luis Maza was 2-5 with his 4th homer. Danny Matienzo was 2-5 with a triple and his 3rd homer. Doug Deeds was 2-4 with a double. Selwyn Langaigne was 2-4. Luis Jimenez was also 2-4. Levale Speigner started and fell to 0-3. He went six innings and gave up six runs (4 earned). He gave up nine hits, walked one and struck out four. Jason Miller came in and got hit well. In two innings, he gave up four runs on two hits and three walks.
One of the funniest lines I've read lately comes from Dianna's most recent posting over at Twins Territory. It is in regard to Luis Jimenez who, as you recall, was the one player in the Twins system to get busted and suspended for failing a steroids test. She wrote:
Jimenez is only hitting .067. But maybe that's not surprising for a guy that, in hison his substance suspension said "I've weighed 270 pounds for three years and I don't have muscles."
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Tuesday - MIRACLE, Clearwater - Rained Out.
3B Matt Moses was the subject of Baseball America's Daily Dish on Monday. He is also ranked #11 in this week's Prospect Hot Sheet.
Tuesday - SNAPPERS 5, Wisconsin 3 (10 innings) - Alexander Smit had another really good start. He gave up just one run on four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out five. John Williams came in and got two outs. He gave up two runs on two hits and a walk. William Pettit came in and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Steven Duguay came in and pitched the 9th and 10th innings. He gave up a hit and struck out three for the Win. Trevor Plouffe, who was hitting .084 before his final at bat hit a two-run single for the winning runs. He was 2-5 on the game and is now hitting a robust .100. Terrance Patterson went 3-5 with a walk and two doubles. Korey Feiner was 1-2 with a double and three walks.
American Idol Thoughts
Last night was another night of American Idol performances. This week, each of the remaining six contestants were able to pick any song since the millennium. You remember last week that I ended up missing half the show because the volume went out on my cable system. Well, this week I was able to hear the entirety of all six performances. Here were my thoughts:
Carrie Underwood - Some Martina McBride country song
Horrible song choice. I mean, I guess she understands that she is country, and that does fit her voice. Just not a good song. She sang well. She also looks so much more comfortable moving around on stage when performing country.
Bo Bice - I Don't Wanna Be
Great song choice! Incredible stage presence and attitude. I just thought this was an excellent performance. Arguably his best.
Vonzell Solomon - "I Turn to You" - Christina Aguilera
I think that she missed a bunch of notes throughout the song. Great song to show off vocals, it just didn't work at all.
Anthony Federov - "I Surrender" - Celine Dion
Maybe Anthony was right all along. Maybe he knew what he was doing. He was horrible early in the competition. I don't know how he is still around. That said, he was great the last two weeks, and last night may have been his best performance yet. Yes, I thought he was incredible. He showed range. It was just really good.
Constantine Maroulis - "This is How You Remind Me"
Someone really has to explain to me what the appeal is with Constantine. I don't get it. He is not an attractive individual at all. Vocally, he was just completely off most of the song last night and that isn't unusual. And that pouty look is just plain dumb! He does own the stage and performs well. But there should be some actual talent behind it. But he should be safe for another week because...
Scott Savol - Some Luther Vandross song
Just really bad. Absolutely horrible. He missed so many notes, both high and low. And why would he pick that particular song. It isn't all that popular and just didn't work. He's been horrible the past three or four weeks and it is time for him to leave!!!
I will rank the performers from #1 (best) to #6 (worst). In doing that, I would be saying that my choice for who should be eliminated would be number 6.
1.) Bo Bice - I know. I can't believe I have him rated this high either.
2.) Anthony Federov - It literally hurts to rank him this high!
3.) Carrie Underwood -
4.) Vonzell Solomon -
5.) Constantine Maroulis -
6.) Scott Savol - Get him out of here! Please!!
So, by that, I would have to say that the Bottom Three should be Vonzell Solomon, Constantine Maroulis and Scott Savol. I think that is probably who will end up there. I would then hope that Scott would be the one to depart.
As always, if you have any thoughts, please e-mail me.
That's it for today. Have a great day! If you have and questions or comments or ideas, please feel free to e-mail me!
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