Monday, May 14, 2007
Good Monday Morning! First things first... congratulations to Chris Coste who was called back up to the Philadelphia Phillies when Ryan Howard was put on the Disabled List.
It was a great weekend, but a lot of driving, so today I have several Twins thoughts for you to peruse as well as some highlights from the Twins minor league weekend. So let's get right too it! Please feel free to Send me an e-mail or leave some Comments below.
The Twins lost two out of three to the Detroit Tigers this weekend. They were beaten rather badly on both nights. Johan Santana pitched fairly well on Friday night, but he again threw too many pitches early, so he didn't stick around too long. Sidney Ponson made his final start for the Twins on Saturday and lasted just four innings. Here are some other thoughts on the Twins weekend, primarily from last night's 16-4 win. That is much more fun to talk about.
SEE YA SIDNEY - I was at the game on Saturday afternoon. When the first batter in the Tigers' lineup walked, I started chanting "We want Slowey!" (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap) For some reason, it didn't catch on in my section. When the fourth batter reached (after the 2nd and 3rd hitters got on), I tried, "Sllllllllooooooooowwwwweeeeeyyyyyy!!!!!" Still didn't catch on. So, I just watched Ponson give up a bunch more base runners over four innings just knowing that he would not be around much longer. So, Sunday, when I heard that Ponson had been Designated for Assignment, I was quite happy! But at the same time, I was partially surprised. Earlier in the day, I listened to the Ron Gardenhire Show and when asked about Ponson, Gardy basically said, "Yeah, he hasn't been too good." The surprising part was that he really didn't come up with anything positive to say about his pitching. He talked about him being a good teammate and doing all they had asked of him, but he did not talk positively about his pitching. That did make me wonder a little. But, I thought that Ponson had shown some improvement. He has not been good at all, but I thought that the Twins would stick with him longer. I mean, they stuck with Tony Batista and Juan Castro until mid-June last year. This move was absolutely necessary for the Twins. They needed to put someone else into the rotation. But I can't be upset at Ponson. Clearly he did what he had to do and really all that the Twins could have asked him when they gave him a chance. He lost a bunch of weight. He drank less. He apparently put in the work and the time necessary. As a fan, that's all we can ask. The fact is though that Ponson is just done. He has not been good since about 2003, and even then he wasn't great. It wasn't a bad signing, but as I said before the season, the big thing would be when the Twins pulled the plug, and if it would be too late. Well, we are in mid-May and the move has been made. We will find out later in the week who it is that will be replacing Ponson in the rotation. We will find out at the end of the year (or sooner) if it was too late or not.
MY CHOICE - So, I am sure that you all will want to know who my choice would be to replace Sidney Ponson as the Twins 5th starter. My choice may surprise many. The best pitcher right now at Rochester is Kevin Slowey. He has been excellent in each of his starts. He has excellent control and the mind, personality and composure to be very successful. I think that he could step in right now and be successful. However, he is currently not on the Twins 40 man roster (which is not a big deal as Ponson is no longer on it and Alejando Machado also could be moved to the 60 Day DL). Matt Garza has the biggest upside of any of the Twins prospects. If you take out his start last week, his numbers are very good this year... with one exception. He just has walked too many batters. He has not been real consistent yet. I don't know if he is working on things, maybe throwing too many offspeed pitches, but I believe that he could use more time. Glen Perkins has been pitching decent out of the Twins bullpen. I do believe that he also has a lot of potential as a starter. That said, I think that he needs to get extended and would likely need to spend a little time at Rochester to do so. But my choice for who the Twins should call up to replace Ponson and start on Saturday... is none other than... Scott Baker. That's right. Scott Baker is absolutely deserving of a big league call up. But what he also is deserving of is a real shot at a spot in the rotation. What I mean by that is that he needs to know that he will be in the starting rotation for no less than two or three months. He needs to be able to go to the mound and know that even if he has a rough outing or two, his manager and his teammates will stick behind him. He has to know that he is good, because he definitely is. There is a reason that he advanced quickly through the Twins system in 2004. There is a reason that he came up to the Twins in 2005 a few times and pitched very well. There is a reason that he started the season in the Twins rotation. I know, a lot of people don't buy minor league numbers as an indicator, but they do need to mean something. Baker has completely dominated AAA hitters the last three years. This year, he is getting more strikeouts. Confidence, in my opinion, is what he needs. So, as much as I would be absolutely thrilled if Kevin Slowey gets the call this week, I believe that Scott Baker deserves this right now. Also, I thought it was also quite telling that Gardy chose to spend much of his radio show, when asked about Slowey, Garza and Perkins, talking about how well Scott Baker has looked and how Tom Kelly has said that he is throwing better than ever. I think we all know that the opinion of Tom Kelly is very important to anything that is done in the organization, so that all says a lot.
GETTING TO KNOW 'EM - Garrett Jones is set to join the Twins. This is the first big league promotion for the large, slugging lefty. Jones was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1999 out of his Illinois high school. He stayed in the Braves organization for three seasons, never getting out of the rookie leagues, before he was released. Soon after, the Twins signed him and sent him to the Midwest League (Low A Quad Cities). He hit just .202, but he did hit 10 homers. In 2003, he went up to Ft. Myers where he hit just .220, but he hit 18 homers, which is impressive in the Florida State League. 2004 was really his breakout year. He moved up to New Britain and he hit .311 with 33 doubles, 30 homers and 92 RBI. For good measure, he stole 10 bases. I wrote an article called Rockcats with Bats about the monster seasons that Jones, Kevin West and Luis Maza had. He has spent the last two years hitting in the middle of the Rochester lineup. He hit a combined 45 homers in those year yet hit just .238 and .245 in those seasons. So, he is not a good hitter. He strikes out way too much. However, he has a lot of power, including home run power. Despite what happened in the Twins game last night, the Twins lineup can certainly use some power. So, I think this was a good call up. He deserves a shot. The Twins can use a guy with some power potential. Jones hit two homers for Rochester over the weekend giving him five for the season. I believe that he will be out of options next year, so I also believe it will be a good evaluation of Jones before next spring. How long will he be up? Well, that depends on how he does, but also on if the Twins decide to keep 11 or 12 pitchers on their roster starting next weekend.
COULDA BEEN - There was a lot of talk that Matt Tolbert could be called up to take the place of Sidney Ponson on the Twins roster. The middle infielder currently leads the International League in batting average. He has some extra base power, some speed and is a decent defender up the middle. I wasn't really sure why he was considered as a call up at this point. Don't get me wrong, had he been called up, I would have said he has earned it. Since he was sent back to Ft. Myers from New Britain last year at this time, he has been excellent. He moved back up to New Britain and continued to rake. He went to the Arizona Fall League and mashed there. He will get a shot with the Twins at some point. His role may be more of a utility player as well since the Twins have Jason Bartlett at SS and probably Alexi Casilla at 2B. Right now, I would say that Tolbert is better than Nick Punto, which isn't saying a lot. Punto is a utility player with a starting spot for now. I don't think he has quite the potential that Jason Bartlett had and has. So, as you can tell by my description, if the Twins needed someone with home run potential for now, Garrett Jones was the right choice. Had they wanted a line drive hitting middle infield type, Tolbert would have been ready.
KUBEL!!!! - That's to Stick & Ball Guy's site, I learned that Jason Kubel leads the American League in Line Drive Percentage... so, knowing that should hush some of his critics... but probably won't.
CONTRACT YEAR - Torii Hunter is putting together an excellent season. Last night, he had one of those special games that people will not forget. He went 3-5 with a double, two homers and seven RBI. With that game included, he is now hitting .324 with eight home runs and 29 RBI. That puts him on pace for 35 homers and 126 RBI. That puts him on pace for about six years and about $90 million. That... would put him officially out of the Twins future. The ESPN telecast (and Joe Morgan) pointed out the change in Hunter's hitting mechanics. Instead of the big Kirby Puckett leg kick, Hunter's stance starts a little wider and basically just does a quick foot tap. By being able to keep his head still, he is probably better able to see the pitches a little longer. If that can help him from swinging wildly at so many pitches, then he has the athleticism, talent and knowledge to truly be a special player.
THREE'S A CHARM - Hunter wasn't the only Twins hitter with three hits last night. Luis Castillo had two singles and a triple. Jason Kubel had two singles and a double. Michael Cuddyer had a single, a double and his third home run. And that little guy, Justin Morneau, had three singles.
FINALLY - It took eight tries, but Boof Bonser picked up his first win of the season. He didn't actually pitch particularly well though. He gave up four runs and lasted just five innings. He did have the strikeout pitches working with six in five innings. If he needs to work on one thing, it is throwing less pitches. In his eight starts, he has pitched in the seventh inning just one time. Run-support is a beautiful thing. Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan combined for four shutout innings in relief.
PUT ME IN COACH - Luis Rodriguez entered the game on Sunday in place of Luis Castillo. He singled to center in his only at bat. On Saturday, it was Luis Rodriguez who entered the game at 1B when Justin Morneau broke his nose. He immediately participated in a double play. He then singled to center in his only at bat. He then made a diving play for an out at 1B. I still don't understand why the Twins don't play him more, particularly at 3B. It also baffles me why some Twins fans just don't seem to like him. I frequently read that he should not be in the big leagues. I don't understand that. No, he doesn't do any one thing great. However, he is a utility player. He plays three defensive positions adequately. He has put in practice time at 1B, just to help the team. He is the emergency catcher. He puts together solid at bats, particularly when he is pinch hitting. Traditionally, he walks more than he strikes out. He has little, but some, power. He is in the right position, a utility infielder. In contrast, Nick Punto is out of position. He is currently the Twins starting 3B when in reality he should be a utility player.
Twins and their Minor League Updates
Here are the Twins updates from last night, including game reports of their minor league affiliates. As a preview, I will be coming up with my Top 50 Twins prospects list before the June draft which is in early June, so be sure to look for that.
Friday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Matt Moses, Rochester Red Wings
Friday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Nick Blackburn, New Britain Rockcats
Saturday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Brian Dinkelman, Beloit Snappers
Saturday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Matt Garza, Rochester Red Wings
Sunday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Brian Dinkelman, Beloit Snappers
Sunday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Brian Forystek, New Britain Rockcats
Mike Venafro was traded by the Twins organization to the Toronto Blue Jays for a dollar. Good luck to him!
Friday - Red Wings 13, Buffalo 2 – Maybe this will be the game that gets Matt Moses going. The 3B prospect and former top pick went 5-5 in the game with two doubles and three RBI. Garrett Jones went 4-6 with his eighth double, fourth homer and three RBI. Matt Tolbert went 3-5 with his fifth double and four RBI. Denard Span went 3-5 with a walk. Tommy Watkins was 2-5 with his second homer. Jeremy Cummings got the win (to improve to 3-1) by giving up two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. He walked none and struck out two. Ricky Barrett got two outs, one on a strikeout, and also had a walk. Jason Miller then threw a scoreless inning before Brian Bass did the same.
Saturday - Red Wings 8, Buffalo 1 – After a rough previous outing, it is good to see that Matt Garza had an excellent start in this game. The righty went seven innings and did not allow a single run. He gave up five hits and walked two while striking out six. Julio DePaula pitched a scoreless inning. Then Bobby Korecky gave up the run in his inning. Garrett Jones went 2-5 with his ninth double, fifth homer and two RBI. Jose Morales went 2-3 with his ninth double. Tommy Watkins went 2-4 with a double and two RBI. Matt Tolbert and Matthew Lecroy were also 2-4.
Sunday - Red Wings 0, Buffalo 8 – This game wasn't quite as good for the Red Wings. Tommy Watkins went 2-3. Matt Moses and Matt Tolbert had the other two hits. Scott Baker took the loss and had his first 'off' start of the year. That said, he was just one run from a Quality Start. In six innings, Baker gave up four runs on eight hits. He struck out seven and did not give up a walk. Carmen Cali then gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. Brian Bass gave up a run on two hits in one inning.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Friday - Rockcats 3, Trenton 1 – Nick Blackburn improved to 3-1. The righty gave up only an unearned run in his 7.1 innings. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out six. Tim Lahey recorded the save by striking out three in his 1.2 scoreless innings. Matt Allegra went 2-4 with his sixth double. The team had just three other hits. Kyle Geiger and Felix Molina each had a triple.
Saturday - Rockcats 1, Trenton 2 – Jesse Floyd pitched well. For this game at least, he has found his control. In seven innings, he gave up just one run on six hits and a walk. He struck out six. Jay Sawatski struck out two in his scoreless inning. Danny Powers took the loss. He got one out, but he gave up two hits and a walk for the run. The offense managed just six hits. Matt Allegra again went 2-4.
Saturday - Rockcats 1, Trenton 5 – Again, the Rockcat offense was a no-show. Kyle Geiger went 2-3 with the lone RBI. Gil Velazquez hit a triple. But the team had just two other hits. Tristan Crawford gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in four innings to take the loss. Brian Forystek went three shutout innings. Tim Lahey gave up a run in his inning.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Friday - Miracle 2, Brevard County 4 – Jay Rainville fell to 2-4 on the season. The righty went five innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits. He struck out four and didn't walk any. However, he gave up two home runs. Angel Garcia threw two scoreless innings. David Shinskie gave up an unearned run in his inning. He didn't give up a hit, but he did walk one. Jeff Christy led the offense. The catcher went 2-4 with his first homer of the year. Edward Ovalle was also 2-4. Erik Lis knocked his 11th double, and Whit Robbins hit his fifth double. Juan Portes had an RBI triple.
Saturday - Miracle 1, Brevard County 2 – Kyle Waldrop pitched one of his best games of the year, and yet because of the Miracle offense, he was charged with a loss. In seven innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. He walked just one and struck out nine. Eddie Morlan then struck out the side in his inning. The Miracle managed just six hits. Eli Tintor went 2-5, and Javi Sanchez hit his second double.
– No Game Scheduled. Tonight they start a three game series at home
Friday - Snappers 9, South Bend 2 – Joe Benson needed a game like this. The OF is one of the youngest players in the Midwest League and the adjustments have to be very difficult. On this day, the Twins 2nd round pick (2006) went 3-3. He hit his second double and his first home run. He also walked twice and drove in three runs. Hopefully this is just a start. Greg Yersich went 3-5 with his second double. Danny Santiesteban hit his third double and his fourth home run in five at bats. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with a walk. Brian Dinkelman was 2-5 with his sixth double. Alex Burnett was the recipient of the run support, but he also pitched very well. In 7.2 innings, he gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits. He walked one and struck out three. Armando Gabino got the final four outs.
Saturday - Snappers 6, Kane County 5 – Joe Benson remained in a zone. In this game, he went 2--3 with a walk. Brian Dinkelman stayed on his tear with a 2-4 game. He hit his seventh double and third triple, and he drove in three runs. Garrett Olson hit his fifth double. Jose Lugo lasted just four innings. He gave up five runs on eight hits and four walk. Jesus Carnevale got the win with three shutout innings. Dan Leatheman pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Then Robert Delaney notched his ninth save with a scoreless ninth.
Sunday - Game 1 - Snappers 4, Kane County 3 (7) – Cole DeVries improved to 3-1 on the season. He gave up just one run on five hits and two walks in six innings. Robert Delaney got his 10th save despite giving up two runs (1 earned) and three hits in his inning. Brian Dinkelman went 2-4 with his eighth double. Allan de San Miguel hit his second homer and drove in three runs.
Sunday - Game 2 - Snappers 5, Kane County 2 (7) – Joe Benson again had a big impact in this game. He went 1-1 with a triple and a walk. In the 5th inning, he was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game. Fellow 2006 draftee Chris Parmalee went 2-4. Garrett Olson hit his sixth double. Brian Dinkelman went 1-2 with two walks. Danny Vais started and went three shutout innings. Aaron Craig got his first win. He gave up two runs on two hits in two innings. Dan Leatherman picked up this save, his third, with three strikeouts in two innings.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today. Have a great day!|
Back to Archives Home