Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
American Idol Thoughts
Discussion Question of the Week - Twins in 2009!
MINOR LEAGUE UPDATE
(WARNING - Today's posting got really long. So, you may want to stop by a couple of times today to get it all! And don't forget to answer the Discussion Question by Thursday, please!)
Good morning! Well, the Twins Minor League season got started about a week after the major league season, so we are just over a month into their season. so, I thought it would be fun to take a deeper look into the Twins affiliates and who is playing with those teams and how some of those players are doing.
As you know, I happen to believe that the Twins have the best organization in baseball. A huge part of that is that I believe that they have the best minor league system. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I fully believe that there are 30-40 players in the Twins minor league system right now that will contribute at the big league level in some way in the future, whether for the Twins or another organization. Today, I am not going to update my Twins Top 30 prospect list. I will probably do that closer to mid-season. I just want to go through the Twins system and give a little credit to some guys who are off to a good start and deserve some recognition. I will discuss many of the Top prospects and how they're living up to such billing.
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how this report will turn out, but I love writing about and reading about the Twins minor league system. I hope you do too! All I know is that I will try to be more positive than Dirk Nowitzki talking about his teammate Erick Dampier!!
The Twins top affiliate has already aided the Twins this season. David Gassner came up and got a win, and b has had a number of great at bats for the Twins. But there are more players there who could contribute if needed.
Top Hitting Prospect - Garrett Jones is the biggest offensive prospect for the Redwings. He busted on the scene last year in New Britain, and has continued to hit fairly well in his first month at AAA. You can find his stats on the left side of the screen. The lone concern with the big lefty is the strikeouts. In 111 plate appearances, he has struck out 34 times. That's once every 3.3 at bats. But he is maintaining at .300 average with some power.
Top Pitching Prospect - Well, Scott Baker is currently with the Twins, at least for a couple more days. He is the top pitching prospect though (and his impressive stats are on the left). In his absence, I will still say that JD Durbin is the top prospect. So far, his problem has been control and walks. But he had a great start in his last outing and hopefully will be able to build on that. Hon. Mention - Boof Bonser spent the last two years at AA. In his first AAA month, he went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and has almost a strikeout an inning. I think he has reclaimed his prospect status. Also, how crazy is it that Gassner was the first starter called up by the Twins this season, he's 3-1 at AAA, and he's probably the #4 rated prospect in Rochester's rotation?
The Lesser Known Hitting "Prospects" - I think Josh Rabe is an intriguing prospect. He has hit well the last few seasons, whatever level he is at. I think he is very similar to Michael Restovich. He is a big man, but he can play all three OF positions and run well. He hits for decent average and some power. No, he'll likely never be a star, but could probably contribute at some point. Similarly, Kevin West is likely without a position at the big league level, but he can hit and has lots of power. Luis Rodriguez is just 26 and in his third season in Rochester. He puts up good numbers, walks as much as he strikes out, but he has never been given a chance. And Rob Bowen is getting plenty of playing time, splitting time pretty evenly with Chris Heintz, and he's hitting .273 so far.
The Lesser Known Hitting "Prospects" - I happen to think that there are three bullpen members in Rochester who could be very solid big league bullpen guys in the near future. I think that Travis Bowyer has the biggest potential simply because he throws 99 mph. But lefty Ricky Barrett should not be overlooked, and he has already moved up from New Britain. Willie Eyre had a great spring and has done well in the season's first month.
The Veterans - Brent Abernathy has been the subject of a lot of e-mails I have received this past month. When will he be called up to play 2B? Well, it won't happen. He's not on the 40 man roster, and the fact is, he isn't better than Rivas. It's also a fact that he's not worse either. He's hitting over .300 and playing a number of positions so far. Michael Ryan got off to a fast start and has been productive. He may be giving himself a shot at a late-season callup as a left-handed bat off the bench. Jason Tyner was brought in to play CF and he is getting on base 36% of the time. Todd Dunwoody continues to be a very productive left-handed bat. FYI - Augie Ojeda is hitting .145. Bud Smith threw a no-hitter for the Cardinals a few years ago, but arm problems cost him a few years. He recently moved up to Rochester and has pitched two games in relief.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
The Rockcats are another diverse team. There a a number of very good prospects. But there are also a number of guys who are at the point in their careers where they need to make their move forward, or worry about being cut.
Top Hitting Prospect - I am very high on Alex Romero. Scouting systems don't put him in the Top 10 prospect lists, but he is in the Top 20. The last two winters, he has really made a name for himself in the Venezuelan Winter League, playing well against a lot of big league players. But he has also hit in the minor leagues. Last year, he was good at Ft. Myers and so far, he has been solid at New Britain. He is hitting .245/.308/.429, but has six doubles, four homers and 13 RBI. I think that his average will creep up higher. The power he has started the season with is actually somewhat surprising and really encouraging. Maybe he won't have the Jason Kubel-like climb that I had hoped for, but I do think he is a legitimate prospect.
Top Pitching Prospect - Well, he's not only the top prospect in New Britain, but I think that Francisco Liriano is the top pitching prospect in the Twins system (apologies to Scott Baker, it's close!). That is not based on his 1-4 record, or even his 4.07 ERA. No, it is from the 49 strikeouts and 15 walks in 42 innings. It is from reports of a 98 mph fastball with a Johan Santana-like change up and a curveball. Peter Gammons even talked about Liriano is his most recent column saying that the lefty could be in the Twins bullpen by the end of the year!
The Lesser Known Hitting Prospects - Doug Deeds is an outfielder with a good power/speed combo. He is hitting .283/.328/.407 so far. He has eight doubles. He is not a prospect on the level of Romero, but I do think that he could continue to advance. Danny Matienzo may not be good defensively, but he can hit. He has hit for power throughout his career. Eleven of hit 28 hits so far have gone for extra-bases.
The Lesser Known Pitching Prospects - Colby Miller made a name for himself when he started the season with 20 consecutive scoreless innings. He is still doing well. He has made six starts and thrown 38 innings. He is 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA. Levale Speigner pitched a lot of innings last season at Quad Cities and Ft. Myers as a starter and a reliever. He has started six games this year. He is 0-4, but has a respectable 4.38 ERA. Justin Olson is another guy that primarily pitched out of the 'pen last year, but he too is starting. He is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA. But in 32 innings, he has 30 strikeouts. He throws major gas too and could certainly be in a big league bullpen in the future. Pat Neshek has a great website and did a great Q&A for this site, but he is also a legitimate bullpen prospect. According to his site, he is now hitting 94 on the radar gun, and throwing from the angles he throws from make him a real prospect. Also, he has 21 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. That's 12.9 K/9 innings.
The "Veterans" - Selwin Langaigne is 28 years old and new to the organization. He is hitting .309 though. Luis Maza had a huge 2004 season at New Britain and because of all the vets at AAA, he is back for his third season with the 'Cats. He is off to a slow start, hitting just .240/.290/.372 with four homers. Jake Mauer is now 27 years old and has played in just 13 games, with just 23 at bats, playing a utility role. James Tomlin struggled a year ago in his first campaign with the Rockcats, and is hitting just .214 this year. Tommy Watkins is a veteran leader on this team. In a recent article, I read that he is a leader on this team, but he is older and is hitting .171/.266/.286, so you have to wonder.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Three of the organization's top prospects are playing at Ft. Myers this spring. I happen to think that there are another three or four guys who are certainly worth watching as well. There are a few decent hitting prospect, but this team is abundant in starting and relief pitching prospects.
Top Hitting Prospect - No question about this one. Matt Moses got off to a fast start offensively. That is surprising for a couple of reasons. First, he played very little last year at Low A because of injuries, and didn't hit well when he did play. But also, the Florida State League tends to be a difficult league for hitters. Now, Moses has cooled off in the last week or so, but he is still hitting .342/.395/.586 with ten doubles, five homers and 25 RBI. He has also stolen eight bases. It is also important to put Denard Span in this list. No, I never see him being an All-Star caliber player, but the former #1 pick will be given every shot to make it. In previous years, his offense did not come together and he fought injuries. This year, he has missed ten games already with a hamstring problem, but when he has played, he has been great. He is hitting .356/.435/.411. That is not bad!
Top Pitching Prospect - Well, he missed a couple of early starts with a wrist injury, but Glen Perkins is pitching now and is showing why he was the team's second first round pick last year out of the University of Minnesota. In his four starts, he has pitched just 16 innings. He is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA. In those 16 innings, he has struck out 20 batters and walked just three. I appreciate that the team is choosing to be cautious and patient with Perkins, but once he is deemed 100% and gets his arm ready to throw more pitches, I expect him to move quickly through the lower levels of the team's system.
The Lesser Known Hitting Prospects - I have been very high on Australian OF Trent Oeltjen the past couple of seasons. He too missed some time at the beginning of the season with an injury, but he has come back and shown that he can hit and run. Scott Whitrock strikes out a LOT (34 Ks in 99 PA's!), but he hits for power (3 HR) and has speed (9 SBs). Brock Peterson is really without a position, playing some 1B, some 3B and frequently DHing, but he does have power.
The Lesser Known Pitching Prospects - Adam Harben is a Top 10 Twins prospect, ranking higher than Perkins on some lists. He is off to a 2-3 start, but has a very strong 3.38 ERA. In 29.1 innings, he has 25 strikeouts. A problem so far this year is the 17 walks he also has allowed. Scott Tyler came back as a prospect last year in his second season at Low-A. He is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA so far this year. Errol Simonitsch is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA. He strikes out some, but he walks very few (5 BB in 32 IP). Doesn't he just sound like a Twins pitcher (Radke-like)? And Nick Blackburn is another pitcher who gets very little discussion. However, the lefty is off to a great start. He is 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA. In 38 innings, he has just 23 strikeouts, but a very impressive three walks. Jay Sawatski was the Twins 8th round pick last year and moved quickly up the system last year. He has thrown 18 innings in 11 games this year. He is 1-0 and is yet to allow a run. He has four saves. Tristan Crawford has 25 strikeouts in 17.1 innings (13 K/9), and Chris Schutt is in the bullpen this season and has 22 strikeouts in 15.2 innings (12.6 K/9).
Beloit is the Twins new Low-A affiliate. After being in Quad Cities the last few seasons, that city chose to go with the Cardinals as their team, so the Twins had to find a new location. Beloit it is. This is a very young team, as evidenced by its starting rotation.
Top Hitting Prospect - I think that the best hitting prospect is 1B Johnny Woodard, but he has played in just seven games so far. I think that the top hitting prospect right now is 3B David Winfree. So far, he is hitting .277/.311/.393 with seven doubles, two homers and 17 RBI. Obviously, SS Trevor Plouffe, the team's first first round pick is the top prospect and the team expects him to hit as well as field. However, at this point, he is really struggling offensively. He is now hitting .143/.227/.214 with a double, 2 homers and 11 RBI. He has walked an impressive 11 times so far, and I fully expect him to be alright.
Top Pitching Prospect - Where do we start? The Twins drafted five pitchers with their six picks in the top two rounds of last year's draft. Perkins was a college pitcher and is up at Ft. Myers. Matt Fox is yet to pitch this season. The other three pitchers were high school types with very high ceilings. All three are now pitching in Beloit. Anthony Swarzak was a second round pick. He has been the best so far. He is 3-2 with a 3.44 ERA. In 34 innings, he has walked 14 and struck out 43 (11.4/9 IP). Kyle Waldrop was the third first round pick. He has had his ups and downs. He is 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA. In 39 innings, he has struck out 27. But part of his package is his control, and he has shown that with just five walks so far. Jay Rainville was another second round pick. He is frequently compared to Roger Clemens. He was scheduled to stay at extended spring training, but an injury put him in the rotation. He is 2-1 with a 3.70 ERA. In 24.1 innings, he has struck out 21 and walked just nine.
The Lesser Known Hitting Prospects - OK, I also frequently get asked about Deacon Burns. He had a huge post-draft season at E-Town last year. He has also got off to a great .289/.344/.463 start. He has eight doubles, five triples, a homer and 19 RBI. He's even stolen 5 bases. So, why is he not thought of as a top prospect? Well, I think there are a number of reasons for that. First, he was a late round pick. Second, he was from a small college. Third, he is not tall, and scouts don't like that. Fourth, the fact is that because he is from college, he is three to four years older than many of the players he is playing against. He should be more advanced at this time. However, 1.) occasionally a late-round pick makes it, 2.) sometimes guys from small colleges do make it, 3.) there have been plenty of smallish players to play in the big leagues and 4.) he still had to adjust to pro life, the wood bat and other things. In other words, if he continues to work hard and improve, he will really earn his advances through the system. If he keeps earning promotions, you just never know. I hope that answers the question fairly.
Some other names in Beloit worth mentioning. Mitchell Zamojc has been good. He's hitting .309/.389/.532 with five doubles, four homers and 15 RBI. Jeremy Pickrel is hitting .306/.390/.597 with three doubles, three triples, four homers and 15 RBI. Luke Hughes is getting most of the playing time at 2B and is highly regarded. He is hitting just .217/.283/.297 so far, but has shown glimpses of power.
The Lesser Known Pitching Prospects - I had a Q&A with Holland's Alexander Smit this past winter. He signed with the Twins when he was 16 and has played with the team's short-season teams since. He is experiencing his first full season team, and he has struggled. He is 1-3 with a 6.58 ERA. In 26 innings, he has struck out a very respectable 24 (8.31 K/9). I ranked Steven Duguay too high on my prospect list because of his K-rate. He has been just as good this year with a 1-1 record and a 1.40 ERA. In 19.1 innings, he has 24 strikeouts (11.2 K/9). Kyle Aselton is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA. He has 23 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. Angel Garcia was the #1 pick in the Rule V Draft, but he was returned to the Twins and sent down to Beloit. He wasn't happy about it. He is still returning from Tommy John surgery over a year ago, so the team is moving him slowly. In 13 innings, he has 16 strikeout. One problem is the nine walks though. And finally, Josh Hill has pitched just 10 innings, but he has struck out 16 hitters. That's 14.4 K/9 innings.
I thought I'd take a real quick look at who is leading the Twins minor league organization in a number of categories. Some are obviously more important than the others. There aren't many pitching categories because it is really hard to distinguish a few things. First, the 'Win' stat is not that important to me. Second, it would be best to separate pitching stats between starters and relievers, and well, I just don't have that much time at this point. Maybe next month? I could also calculate WHIP and some other statistics, but again, it is early in the season, and i really just don't have that kind of time. I did calculate K/9 IP because I like that stat. I also did separate them into the top 5 starters and relievers. (Remember, all of these stats are through Monday, May 9):
1.) Deacon Burns - Beloit - 121
1.) Luis Maza - New Britain - 121
3.) Doug Deeds - New Britain - 113
4.) David Winfree - Beloit - 112
5.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 111
1.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 22
1.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - 22
3.) Denard Span - Ft. Myers - 19 (again, he also missed 10 games!)
4.) Mitchell Zamojc - Beloit - 18
4.) Josh Rabe - Rochester - 18
1.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 38
2.) Deacon Burns - Beloit - 35
3.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - 33
4.) Doug Deeds - New Britain - 32
5.) David Winfree - Beloit - 31
1.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 10
2.) Deacon Burns - Beloit - 8
2.) Terrance Patterson - Beloit - 8
2.) Doug Deeds - New Britain - 8
5.) 4 tied with 7
1.) Deacon Burns - Beloit - 5
2.) Jeremy Pickrel - Beloit - 3
3.) 4 tied with 2
1.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - 7
2.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 5
2.) Michael Ryan - Rochester - 5
4.) 5 tied with 4
1.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 25
2.) Brock Peterson - Ft. Myers - 20
2.) Michael Ryan - Rochester - 20
4.) Deacon Burns - Beloit - 19
5.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - 18
1.) Brock Peterson - Ft. Myers - 15
2.) James Tomlin - New Britain - 13
3.) Mitchell Zamojc - Beloit - 12
3.) Luis Rodriguez - Rochester - 12
5.) 5 tied with 11
1.) Brock Peterson - Ft. Myers - 37
2.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - 34
2.) Scott Whitrock - Ft. Myers - 34
4.) Luis Maza - New Britain - 28
5.) David Winfree - Beloit - 27
1.) Scott Whitrock - Ft. Myers - 9
2.) Terrance Patterson - Beloit - 8
2.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - 8
4.) Jason Tyner - Rochester - 7
5.) 4 tied at 5
Batting Average (min. 70 at bats)
1.) Denard Span - Ft. Myers - .356
2.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - .342
3.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - .314
4.) Selwin Langaigne - New Britain - 309
4.) Mitchell Zamojc - Beloit - .309
1.) Denard Span - Ft. Myers - .435
2.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - .395
3.) Mitchell Zamojc - Beloit - .389
4.) Kevin West - Rochester - .370
5.) Felix Molina - Ft. Myers - .367
1.) Jeremy Pickrel - Beloit - .597
2.) Matt Moses - Ft. Myers - .586
3.) Garrett Jones - Rochester - .571
4.) Mitchell Zamojc - Beloit - .532
5.) Michael Ryan - Rochester - .519
1.) Nick Blackburn - Ft. Myers - 4
2.) 5 tied with 3
1.) Steven Duguay - Beloit - 4
1.) Jonathon Martinez - Beloit - 4
1.) Jay Sawatski - Ft. Myers - 4
1.) Pat Neshek - New Britain - 4
1.) Travis Bowyer - Rochester - 4
1.) Francisco Liriano - New Britain - 42
2.) Kyle Waldrop - Beloit - 39
3.) Nick Blackburn - Ft. Myes - 38
3.) Colby Miller - New Britain - 38
5.) Levale Speigner - New Britain - 37
1.) Francisco Liriano - New Britain - 49
2.) Anthony Swarzak - Beloit - 43
3.) Boof Bonser - Rochester - 30
3.) Justin Olson - New Britain - 30
5.) Levale Speigner - New Britain - 29
Strikeouts per Nine Innings (Starters)
1.) Glen Perkins - Ft. Myers - 11.25
2.) Anthony Swarzak - Beloit - 11.38
3.) Francisco Liriano - New Britain - 10.50
4.) Boof Bonser - Rochester - 8.73
5.) Justin Olson - New Britain - 8.43
Strikeouts per Nine Innings (Relievers)
1.) Josh Hill - Beloit - 14.40
2.) Tristan Crawford - Ft. Myers - 12.98
3.) Pat Neshek - New Britain - 12.89
4.) Chris Schutt - Ft. Myers - 12.63
5.) Travis Bowyer - Rochester - 11.50
So there you have it, a pretty in-depth look at the Twins minor league system. I think that you can see that I am pretty excited about the future of this organization. There are hitters at every level. And most exciting, there are pitchers, specifically left-handed pitchers and power pitchers throughout the system. Obviously the true story of how good this system is will not be able to be measured for a number of years, when we see whether or not these prospects become big leaguers, or suspects. But why not be excited? The ceilings are so high on so many of these players.
Now the lone question is what will happen with this system? Will players continue to improve their skills in the organization and eventually be brought up to Minnesota? Will the Twins ever become a player in the trade deadline and use some of this depth to bring in that one player they believe will take them over the top? I don't know that. But it is great to have such options!
I would love to hear your thoughts on the Twins system. Maybe you think I'm too positive? Maybe I missed someone? Any thoughts? Please e-mail me.
What an entertaining game! And no, not just because my team, the Twins, won. It was a really good game. There was power shown by the Orioles early. There was some 'small ball' tendencies shown by the Twins to simply keep them in the game. Then the Twins played the power game in the tenth inning to grab the win 6-4. There was strategy, and there were some great matchups. And yes, I am obviously very happy that the Twins won. I think that the Twins and the Orioles are the two best teams in the American League, so this is a fun series. Below are a few notes about the teams and the game:
The fact is, Jacque Jones traditionally can not hit left-handed pitching. You can look up the numbers yourself (or stop by Aaron's Baseball Blog whenever Jones plays against a lefty). He's not good. But this year, something has been different. I have one theory. Maybe I'm wrong, what do you think? Jacque Jones swings the same against all lefties, regardless of the count. If the ball happens to find that swing, then Jacque hits it well, like he did with the homer off of Steve Kline last night. If it is not in that spot, he can look very bad. This year, the left-handed pitchers have been hitting his bat with much more frequency!
On Monday night, it was Daniel Cabrera. Last night, it was lefty Eric Bedard that shut down the Twins offense. Bedard has a great mix of pitches. He has a couple different fastballs and tops out at 94. But he also has a very good changeup and curveball in the upper-'70s. He was good. In 7 innings, he gave up three runs, but just one was earned, on just three hits.
The Twins had just seven hits for the whole game. Yet they still managed to score six runs. Yes, I understand people don't want to talk about 'small ball', but sometimes it works. When you have games like last night, you have to find ways to score runs. Look at the 8th inning for the Twins. Nick Punto got on base and stole second. He went to third on a wild pitch, and when Joe Mauer really battled to hit a fly ball, Punto was able to score the game-tying run.
Brad Radke was not at his best last night. He missed on his location a few times and paid for it with the long ball. Javy Lopez hit a long, two-run homer to give the O's the lead. The pitch that Rafael Palmiero hit his home run on missed its intended target by a foot. Brian Roberts drilled his 10th homer of the season.
Yesterday I said that Miguel Tejada is the best hitter in the American League. I'll stick by that comment. I liked seeing Brad Radke willing to throw inside to him too. He threw a fastball that Tejada jumped out of the way awkwardly because it was at his knees. That got Radke a glare (for some unknown reason). I was thrilled to see Jesse Crain throw Tejada an 0-2 fastball high in the zone. Tejada jumped back, but the pitch, which was at head level, was not inside at all. Crain got Tejada to fly out two pitches later
Speaking of Jesse Crain, he continues to be impressive in his opportunities. The Rincon suspension has really forced Gardy to go to Crain, and he has responded. Although the radar gun is still showing him in the low-90s, he pitches just seem to be jumping more, they seem to be more crisp. I can't explain that, just an observation. He also just has a more confident look, like Gardy is finally going to me!
Joe Nathan is the best closer in baseball. I know, I've said that before. But through the season's first five weeks, no other closer has been as consistent. No other closer has better control. And, although Francisco Rodriguez has a better slider to go with a 96 mph fastball, he completely tips his slider. So, if a hitter knows it's coming (and he throws it too much), and it hangs just a little, that is why K-Rod has blown a couple of save chances. Nathan has four or five pitches in his repertoire that is he willing to throw at any time, in any count, and pin point control. Of course, I say this, so that means that he will blow a save today. If that is the case, I apologize!
By the way, the Twins make a up game to the White Sox because the Devil Rays were able to beat the Sox again last night! Jorge Cantu hit a walk-off homer against Shingo Takatsu in the bottom of the 9th to give the Devil Rays the win. It's way too early to even be tracking such things, but the Twins are now 3.5 games behind.
Today, the Twins and O's will finish their three game series. Remember earlier in the season when I said that the Twins need to get a law passed that no game started by Johan Santana should go un-televised? Well, Santana is on the mound this afternoon, and the game is not on TV, and that's unfortunate. Here is that matchup:
The bill to approve a new Twins stadium passed the House Committee yesterday. That's one of many steps necessary, but it is a positive step.
Here is a New York Times article on Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau! Gotta love the attention from even the biggest of media markets! It discusses how there has not been a defending division championship team that has started two younger players than these two as their #3 and #4 hitters in the last 30+ years.
The Baseball Savant dedicated a full paragraph to Justin Morneau yesterday.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Tuesday - REDWINGS 5, Columbus 3 - Henry Bonilla made a very solid start. He went six innings and gave up a run on six hits and two walks. He struck out five. Ricky Barrett gets the win as he went one scoreless inning. Willie Eyre pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Travis Bowyer pitched a perfect 9th for his fifth save. Jason Tyner went 2-5. Kevin West continues to hit and was 2-4 with a double and 3 RBI. Glenn Williams was 2-4 with a triple. Josh Rabe had a double and a walk in two at bats. And, the big news of the game was... <drumroll please>... Corky Miller got a hit. It took him nine AAA at bats, but Miller got a hit. Not only that, but it was an 8th inning home run!
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Tuesday - ROCKCATS 2, Norwich 1 - Matt Yeatman had a nice start. You remember he was one of two pitchers the Twins acquired from the Brewers for Matt Kinney a couple years ago. He gave up a run on six hits and two walks in five innings. Jan Granado pitched the next three innings and allowed just one hit. Pat Neshek recorded his 5th save with a scoreless ninth. Danny Matienzo led the offense with a 2-3 day. He hit his eighth double and fourth home run. Luis Maza and the newly acquired Ricky Bell each had a double. Bell was released last week by the Reds organization and the Twins signed him to a minor league deal. He is the son of Buddy Bell (meaning he is the brother of David Bell, and the grandson of Gus Bell).
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Tuesday - MIRACLE - No Game Scheduled.
Tuesday - SNAPPERS 4, Peoria 10 - Jay Rainville had a rough start. He gave up six earned runs on ten hits and a walk in just 4.2 innings. He struck out two. Kevin Culpepper went the next 2.1 innings. He gave up a run on three hits and struck out four. Kyle Aselton struggled in his two innings. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on four hits. He did strike out four. Luke Hughes and Dwayne White were both 2-4 with a double. Trevor Plouffe had a double and two RBI.
GIAMBI TO THE MINORS?? - Jason Giambi is struggling, and of late, he has not been getting consistent at bats. It's a bad cycle. Yesterday, Giambi met with Joe Torre and Brian Cashman to determine what to do. Giambi admitted that a trip to the minors was discussed but nixed as Giambi feels he is close. Well, there is a lot from that discussion worthy of comment. First, Giambi has to OK a trip to the minors. Even if it might be good for him, he wouldn't, and shouldn't do that. Second, even if he did, he would have to clear waivers. With all the money he is still owed on his contract, I can't imagine anyone touching him, so that is probably a mute point. Finally, I just again have to say how much I really admire Jason Giambi. He has been standup with the media throughout all of his tribulations of late. He took all of the steroid questions, which is something he never should have had to do has his grand jury testimony not been leaked. And now to answer questions involving the talk that the former MVP has been so bad that they would consider a minor league assignment. That takes guts. I have always appreciated the way Giambi is with the media, and he has shown a lot of class through all of this. This is made doubly impressive considering it is the New York media that is grilling him. I definitely wish Giambi the best of luck.
MORE YANKEES RAMBLINGS - There was so much talk last week, after the Yankees had been defeated in three of four games against the Devil Rays to fall into a last place tie with Tampa in the AL East. They were 12-19. Questions were all over the place. Are the Yankees really this bad? What do they need to do? Well, they have since won four in a row, and although there is still plenty of concern, there are also signs of life. But it is a very interesting topic, one certain worthy of discussion. What happened to the Yankees? Well, the first thing to know is that they did this to themselves with the contracts they gave out, and who they gave those contracts to. A 36 year old Gary Sheffield instead of the 29 year old Vlad Guerrero. The talented, and now healthy, righty with a track record Jon Lieber was allowed to leave and the one-year-wonder with a huge injury history Jaret Wright was brought in for the same money. Tony Womack was signed to a two year deal. A team that needs to get younger gave up a lot of talent to get a 42 year old starting pitcher, and then gave him a two year extension. They have the worst defensive outfield in baseball, and don't really have a centerfielder, but they decided to pass on trying to sign Carlos Beltran.
The Yankees are old. Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown have all thrown a LOT of pitches in the big leagues. Posada is "old" for a catcher. Tino Martinez is in his final years (And playing very well!). Sheffield is getting older. Even the guys that were young just a couple of years ago, Jeter, A-Rod and Giambi are now all over 30. OK, A-Rod will soon turn 30. What they need is to do two things?
First, they need to look back at those championship teams and realize who the core to that team was. Those teams were led by the likes of Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. They were led by guys that had grown up in the Yankees system. To those guys, they added solid, but unspectacular players who may not rack up huge statlines, but just got the job done and did all those little things that stat-heads think don't matter. Guys like Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, Jim Leyritz, and a younger Tino Martinez were all vital cogs that made things work. The Yankees need to start developing their minor league system, and start trusting them. They can't just trade every prospect they have for the next 35 year old pitcher or pinch hitter that becomes available. They may be starting in the right direction. Calling up Robinson Cano is a good start. He has raked in the minor leagues the last two or three seasons and deserved this chance. Chien-Ming Wang has now made three starts, and the team needs to stick with him and give him a real chance to stay in the rotation. The can NOT trade Eric Duncan. I have named three Yankees prospects, and honestly, that is about all they have at this time.
Second, they need to stop giving out such long contracts and simply spending money just to spend money. It may have made sense in 2001, but four years later, a player isn't the same and you still owe him $65 million for the next four years? That makes no sense. No, it's impossible to predict the future and injuries and things like that, but just some basic fiscal responsibility needs to come into play, even for the Yankees.
It is a fun topic. I am not one of those Yankees haters that wants them to lose just because they're the Yankees. No, I have a lot of respect for most of their players and certainly for Joe Torre. I also don't think that Brian Cashman deserves as much blame as he will likely get. No, the reason that I would like to see the Yankees and their $200+ million salaries not even make the playoffs is simple. I want them to remain home in October to finally shut up all of those people who think that there are financial problems in baseball! A couple of years ago, Bud Selig called the Twins winning an aberration. But the Twins had a plan, and that plan has kept them successful for four straight seasons. And with the current roster and the strength and depth of the minor league system, things look good for the next decade or more. Maybe the Twins weren't the aberration. Maybe it is the free-spending teams that were really the aberrations!?
TONY PENA RESIGNS - The Royals are going to start looking for a new manager because yesterday, Tony Pena resigned as their manager. Ownership and GM Allard Baird gave him their confidence, but I don't know that it mattered much. The Royals are the worst team in the league. Is that Tony Pena's fault? Not at all. See, when he became manager three years ago, he was told that the team was going to be built and they would be a year or two from competing. Well, that year, the team got off to a fast start. Pena seems smart enough to realize that they were not that good (even if publicly, he had to say all the right things), but Baird seemed to think that the Royals really could compete with the Twins in the AL Central. So, he traded a few prospects in exchange for Brian Anderson. He traded a couple more prospects to bring in some more "help." Well, the Twins won the division, and the Royals' plan to build was forgotten. Baird went out on the free agent market last year and built what was supposed to be a good bullpen, and even brought in Juan Gonzalez thinking that would all help. But the Royals were out of contention last year by mid-May, and soon Carlos Beltran was traded, and the bullpen was broken up, and Mike Sweeney was hurt again, and Juan Gonzalez (shockingly) missed the rest of the season. So what did they do this offseason. They signed Anderson to a long-term deal, the re-signed Matt Stairs to take away at bats, the sign Jose Lima to a $2.5 million contract. What does all this mean? Tony Pena came in to an organization that had a plan. Their GM got excited because of a little success and because of it, the plan was put on hold, and so was any progress. The Royals have very little positive in their organization right now. I like David DeJesus and Ruben Gotay, and that's about it. I feel awful for Zack Greinke. He's a great young pitcher and who knows if he'll win a game. He's 0-4 right now, so you'd assume he's pitching poorly, right? No, he's got an ERA of 3.38.
To summarize my thoughts, Tony Pena is not to fault in this. If I was a Royals fan, I would blame Allard Baird and the ownership!
American Idol Thoughts
Last night was another night of American Idol performances. This week, each of the remaining four contestants had to sing two songs again. The first was a country song, and I'm sure you'll be able to figure out how I feel about that musical genre in the tone of my thoughts. The second was a song written by Gamble and Huff. Here were my thoughts:
Carrie Underwood - Sin Wagon - Dixie Chicks
Just an awful song, particularly if you're trying to showcase any vocal talent. But then again, country music is never really about vocal skill, is it? It's generally more about in-breeding and watching CMT with the volume muted! Of course, Carrie looks very (hot!) comfortable singing in the genre and will make a LOT of money from it. Now, Simon made a comment also saying how comfortable she is singing this music. It was something to the effect of "it is like you're just singing in the shower." OK, there is an excellent visual!
Bo Bice - Great Day to be Alive - Travis Tritt
He actually made the verses sound non-country, so his performance was actually bearable.
Vonzell Solomon - How do I Live Without You - Trisha Yearwood
Speaking of uninspired performances, Vonzell was just very slow and it was boring to listen to. She was flat the entire song, and screamed the louder notes. It was really her worst performance to date, and could have cost her. Of course, all that may be forgotten because Paula asked her how she was doing, and Vonzell started crying. I am very curious as to what that was all about. But, I had to think that it was brilliant because showing that kind of emotion can only help out a contestant! (Who? Me? Cynical? No!!!)
Anthony Federov - I'm Already There - Lonestar
He started a little slow, but he picked it up the rest of the way. Great song choice, and I actually like this song (shhh... don't tell anyone, please!). I thought he was very good.
Carrie Underwood - If You Don't Know Me By Now
Great song, just put together a little strange (or as Simon later said, the arrangement was horrible). She was just boring. She start showing some flair by the end, but I just didn't think it was a good performance, and I'm really worried that Carrie could be in some trouble tonight. I would like to think that her previous performances would come into play, but it was not a good night for her, and the judges were not afraid to tell her so. Even I'm being negative about Carrie, and that just shouldn't happen.
Bo Bice - For the Love of Money
What a terrible song to pick! Why? It just didn't show any range. It didn't showcase him. It is almost as much about the background vocals as the lead singer.
What a great song to pick! Why? It's a crowd favorite, and where Bo actually had to sing, he was very good. He should be pretty safe!
Vonzell Solomon - Don't Leave Me This Way
As pathetic as her first performance was, this was the complete polar opposite! Vonzell was remarkable. As with last week, I don't think she missed a note. She looked like she was just having a great time. She was energetic. She showed incredible strength in her voice. It was a perfect performance and may have saved her.
Anthony Federov - If You Don't Know Me By Now
Same song as Carrie. He chose not to do as much with it. I think the simple approach, although far safer, was far better. I thought that he was very good vocally as well.
I will rank the performers from #1 (best) to #4 (worst). In doing that, I would be saying that my choice for who should be eliminated would be number 6.
1.) Anthony Federov - In my mind, he was at least "good" in both songs.
2.) Bo Bice - Made country bearable for me, and although he picked a bad second song, it worked for him.
3.) Carrie Underwood - A bad night of song choices, I think, but vocally, she was still good.
4.) Vonzell Solomon - Horrible first song is hard too overlook despite an incredible second performance.
So, by that, I would have to say that the Bottom Two should be Vonzell Solomon and Carrie Underwood. I am not convinced that is how it will turn out. I do think that Vonzell could be ousted, but the tears may help her. I don't think Carrie was better than either of the guys, but I do think that she a big enough following to help her through a weak week. Bo would seem to be safe because of the crowd's and the judges' reactions. Anthony has really improved tremendously throughout this competition, and I am hesitant to give him that #1 spot. I do think he was the best in my mind last night. That said, I think that the actual bottom two will be Anthony and Vonzell. I think that Vonzell will be out, but those tears may send Anthony home.
What do you think? E-mail me.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
We found out last week that the Twins hope for a new stadium rests with the state legislature. Hennepin County has agreed to help fund and build an outdoor stadium for the Twins. The legislative session will go through May 23. If they agree to allow the three cents on ever $20 tax, in Hennepin County only, then work will begin on the new stadium. The estimated time of opening would be Opening Day 2009. Herein lies the basis for this week's Discussion Question:
Who will make up the Twins Opening Day Roster in 2009? I think that is a fun question because you need to think about who is currently with the Twins and how long they will stay around (or the Twins will be willing to pay them). You need to consider that the Twins generally build from within, so which minor leaguers will be contributing to the team in four years. Of course, it is all just guessing. But it is fun to project.
So please, consider the question, take some time to think it through. Maybe you want to list the 25 man roster? Maybe you just want to name a starting nine alone with five starters and a closer. Feel free to do with the question what you will. Send me an e-mail with your response, and then on Friday, your thoughts will be posted, along with mine.
On that note, I am going to call it a day. I hope you have a great day! Thanks again for stopping by this site. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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