Following the game last night, the Twins sent Terry Tiffee back to AAA Rochester and recalled OF Michael Ryan to be a left-handed hitter off the bench. Tiffee has really struggled in the pinch-hitting role and Ryan has been hitting well at AAA.
Also, the team put Luis Rivas on the Disabled List with a bad back. They purchased the contract of Brent Abernathy to take his place. I am almost a little surprised at the Abernathy choice, only because he wasnít on the 40 man roster. But the team did have some space there, so they didnít have to designate anyone for assignment. Good for Abernathy. He has hit well over .300 all season at Rochester. He has also played at least four positions this season so he will give the Twins some flexibility.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
MAILBAG AND MORE
Good morning, everyone! I am working on two bigger projects for the rest of the week, so today, I am going to just cover a few topics related to baseball. Some are confrontational. Others are simply for discussion. Some have to do with actual baseball. Some have to do with other baseball-related topics. And of course, we've got Twins Thoughts and the minor league updates. So, let's just get started, huh?
OK, yesterday, I mentioned that both Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew finally signed with the teams that drafted them last June. I wasn't going to discuss this any further, but I do feel the need to vent a little bit. I remember in 1993 when I was a senior in high school thinking I was going to be drafted in the first round of the major league baseball draft. I was pretty sure that I was better than Alex Rodriguez and although there were very few scouts at any of our central Minnesota high school baseball games, I just assumed that someone would have told someone about me. Why do I write these things, especially considering I ended up getting a dozen or so plate appearances over two seasons at a Division III school? I actually bring it up because when I was thinking I would be a 1st round pick, I kept thinking about how I wanted to set an example. I wanted to sign the hour after I was drafted for a plane ticket to Florida and a case of sunflower seeds. Who needed the million dollar signing bonus? I just wanted to get started right away. I was arrogant to think that I would end up being good enough that I would make my money later, you know, once I actually earned it. Herein lies my issue with the Weaver and Drew signings. What was the purpose of their holding out? In both cases, they ended up signing a deal that was offered to them six to nine months ago. I can fully understand a star college pitcher waiting to sign until after the season so that they don't have to pitch more innings. I can even understand holding out until the team offered me something in between what the player drafted ahead of me and the player behind me got. But what is the purpose. Do these guys really need the extra money? I am just assuming that Jered Weaver and his family are doing OK. I would like to think that Jered Weaver would believe in himself enough to know that, he will get his major league contract whenever he gets called up to the big leagues. He will now be sent to Hi-Class A and pitch there for awhile. Well, had he signed right away, he likely would be at least in AA by now, and maybe even with the Angels already. In Drew's case, you would have to believe that he would have learned something from his brother JD's draft situation. He did get a major league contract but again, was it really worth it. He too will now start in Hi-Class A and could move up to AA by season's end. But he could be further along by this time as well. Now, some are upset that the draftees make so much money. I can understand that thinking. A first round pick signs about a $2 million signing bonus, and then the play for five-digit salaries throughout the minor leagues. However, these college guys should be smart enough to realize that their big pay day will be when they become arbitration eligible and eventually a free agent, and particularly in Weaver's case, he may have delayed that process. Big picture, to us common folk who make $20,000-$35,000, what is the difference between getting a signing bonus of $5.25 million or $4 million or even $2 million.
Is anyone else just laughing at the whole Juan Gonzalez thing? When the Indians signed Gonzalez to a minor league contract, I laughed. But, we knew he'd make the team, right? And then during spring training, he was essentially named the starting right fielder and added to the 40 man roster. That day, he hurt his hamstring. And I laughed. You see, when is the last time Gonzalez has been healthy. Why would a young, building, winning team waste their time on Gonzalez. This is a guy who refused to come off the disabled list a couple of years ago. This is a guy who refused to be traded from a bad team to the Kansas City Royals who wanted him for a late-season pennant drive. And then the Royals decided to sign him last year. Sure, he played great for the first month or so of the season, and then spent the rest of 2004 on the Disabled List. Shocking, right? So, Gonzalez has been 'rehabbing' since the injury. Last week, he went to Buffalo, Cleveland's AAA Affiliate to start his rehab assignment. Did anyone else laugh a lot when we heard that he pulled himself out of their lineup that first day because he "was too tired!" That's hilarious! So anyway, yesterday the Indians activated Juando and brought him to Minnesota to play last night. Because of that decision, the Indians had to designate OF Ryan Ludwick for assignment. Now, that isn't a huge deal as Ludwick has battled injury throughout his career and he's basically a 5th outfielder. However, did anyone really expect Gonzalez to 1.) do anything to help the team win and 2.) stay healthy? So when Juan Gonzalez came up to make his first at bat, I jokingly wondered how long it would be. Well, he hit a chopper to 3B and on the fourth step out of the batter's box, his hamstring was aggravated again. And, being the jerk that I am, I laughed!
Who else is waiting for the White Sox to start their rapid decline? I know I, for one, have been waiting for about six weeks for it to happen, and it just hasn't. They are getting great pitching and just enough runs to win. But I think we, as Twins fans, finally had our basis for optimism. On Monday, Frank Thomas came back and was inserted right into the lineup in the three hole. After three at bats, Thomas left the game with an injured hip flexor. So, I have very mixed thoughts. I am anything but a Frank Thomas fan, so I don't mind him being out of the lineup. However, I know that as soon as he becomes an important part of the White Sox lineup, that team will start to fall. Frank Thomas just seems to have that affect on a team. Sure, he is a great hitter (and walker) who has a career OPS of about 1.000. He can hit for average and power. However, he has also shown many instances of moodiness and an ability to bring down a team. Although this White Sox team is playing over their heads still, inserting Thomas can only be thought on negatively. Maybe someone else can answer the question for me. What is it about Thomas and his presence that has hurt the Sox in the past and likely will again in 2005? The other question to consider is when will Crazy Carl do something, well, crazy and what will cause it? Send me you thoughts.
Ever wonder if there was a good way to evaluate how good a General Manager is? Is Terry Ryan better or worse than Billy Beane? Where does Theo Epstein compare to Brian Cashman? David Gassko is a student in Massechusetts who put a lot of time and thought into this analysis. He wrote an article for The Hardball Times on the subject that is very interesting. It is a great study and worthy of the read and some thought. He determines/ranks the General Manager's 2004 performance looking at things like Cost per $ and ability to improve a team in-season. Of course, I do have a few thoughts. Billy Beane ranks quite high, and I will give him a lot of credit for Oakland's success in the past three to five years. However, it will be very fun and interesting to see this same analysis next season when the A's are coming off a bad season. Will their be a SABRmetric ruckus caused when that report shows that, despite a small payroll, the A's don't have even enough wins to give them good cost per win rating. I think that this is an excellent analysis. However, I think that a person would have to look at these results for the past five or more seasons to give a true value for each GM. Billy Beane would have been a top the list ecah of the past five years. Next year, don't be surprised to see him on the bottom half. Expect Terry Ryan to continue showing up at the top of the list. Why? The Twins have won in recent years because of pitching. Not because of OPS, or on-base percentage, or really offense in any way. Oakland, for as much as many want to believe, won in recent years because of Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. Without those guys, the A's are a bad team!
A friend of Seth Speaks named Roger frequently writes with some great ideas and thoughts. In recent days, he has sent me a number of great e-mails on the upcoming draft and what the Twins should consider doing with it. He has also done some great analysis on the pitchers in the Midwest League. He verified what I know all Twins fans have likely thought. The Twins have a very young starting rotation in Beloit with Anthony Swarzak, Jay Rainville, Kyle Waldrop and Alexander Smit all being just 19 years old. Most pitchers in that league are 21-23.
Here is an excellent e-mail response regarding next week's draft from Roger:
Seth,How do you know a second round pick will turn out to be Jesse Crain, Scott Baker, Anthony Swarzak or an 8th rounder will turn out like Jay Sawatski. As for the second rounders, every team in baseball passed on them...some twice...including the Twins at least once. Was Denard Span a better pick than Jesse Crain? Was Matt Moses a better pick than Scott Baker? Were five Twins picks better than Swarzak? As of today, the answer to all three is NO. Five years from now, who knows.I think the Twins like picking the high school kid in the first round. A lot of teams shy away from the first round high school kid...so the Twins can probably get a guy they rate higher with their typical lower first round pick. Plus, it seems their scouts work hard to get to know the kid and they pick a kid they feel they can sign who most scouts think is unsignable...and he drops like Waldrop last year (who I still think will be as good as the other two).In any case, my mock draft for the first FOUR rounds follows:1 (#25) - Taylor Teagarden C University of Texas1s (#39) - Chaz Roe RHP Lexington, KY (Lafayette HS)2 (#56) - Justin Bristow SS Richmond, VA (Mills Goodwin HS)2 (#75) - Matt Garza RHP Fresno State U.2s (#82) - Kyle Russell OF Magnolia, TX (HS)3 (#86) - Vance Worley RHP Sacremento, CA (HS)3 (#107) - Justin Smoak 1B Goose Creek, SC (HS)4 (#137) - Josh Wall RHP Walker, LA (HS) "Ranked higher, erratic spring,could fall?"I will be thrilled if they actually get one of these guys. I think the best chance of one of these guys actually being picked is Roe at the 39th pick.
Roger, I really like that first question. It almost has become a trend for the Twins the past few years to take a high schooler with their first pick and follow him up with a polished college player in the second round. I completely agree that Moneyball has scared a number of teams away from taking a risk with a high school player in the early rounds. I believe that is good for the Twins in that they don't have a problem developing players. Because other teams pass on them, the Twins are able to take high school players that they feel have a great upside and try to develop them. As for the draft picks, it's all a guess. The more I have read on Taylor Teagarden, the more I think he would be an excellent pick if he is still available at that point. Catcher is a weak position in baseball, not just in the Twins organization. Reports on Teagarden say that he is great defensively and will hold his own on offense. The Twins need depth in the position, and with Mauer around for hopefully another five or six years, maybe more, the team would likely be in need of a quality backup catcher by 2007. Teagarden should be ready by then. I can't imagine Garza still being available that late. But like you, I'd love to see those guys taken!
Here is an e-mail question from another SethSpeaks friend named Tony:
Seth,I watched the Angels/White Sox game yesterday afternoon and came away even less impressed with the White Sox. The Angels are without their best hitter and their lights out closer, and still almost won the game. Shields gave up an "I'll just stick my bat out and see what happens" hit to Timo Perez for the game winning double in the 9th.They won, but they just don't impress me that much, especially against a depleted Angels team.What do you think?Tony
I think that is a fair question. I think that the White Sox pitchers have been great. Mark Buehrle is a legit Ace. Freddy Garcia has been very good so far. Until his last couple of starts, Jon Garland was as good as anyone. Jose Contreras has quality "other" numbers. El Duque was fine until he got hurt. Brandon McCarthy is as good a pitching prospect as there is. Dustin Hermanson and Damaso Marte have been great out of the bullpen. At this point, the White Sox have won because of their pitching. I think that there are still a lot of question marks with their staff though after Buehrle. Garcia is rarely consistent. Contreras is all over the place. Garland is a huge question mark, and who knows when El Duque will be back. Offensively, they have power from Konerko and they have speed in Podsednik. Is there anyone else in their lineup that scares you? AJ Pierzynski has surprisingly actually been quite good so far. Carl Everett usually crushes Twins pitching. Jermaine Dye is an injury waiting to happen. I think my thoughts on Frank Thomas above were fairly blunt. In other words, I certainly have a lot of respect for the White Sox and what they have done so far this season. However, I don't expect it to last. I expect the Twins to be in first place before the All-Star break, much sooner if Thomas is able to play again soon!
Good, long-time friend of SethSpeaks, Leslie Monteiro, has started his own Minnesota Sports Journal weblog which is really great from what I've read so far. He knows the Twins and the Timberwolves really well and, in general, just keeps close tabs on all the Minnesota sports teams. So, check out his site. I'm sure you'll want to add it to your daily reads. Anyway, he sent me the following e-mail:
Well the first quarter of the season is over so it's time to hear your thoughts on the 2005 Twins so far. Overall, I think they have done a good job. Sure there has been times I have been very frustrated and sure there has been times where I thought the season is over. With that said, they have one of the best records in the AL and they are leading in the wild-card race. Twins should also be very thankful to be 5 games out. They should be 8 or 10 games out for first. The fact the Sux has played so well yet only have first place for five games is a good thing. With that said, the Twins need to play a lot better than they are capable off especially offensively. Jim Souhan talk about how this is the year the Twins offense was going to break out. I am still waiting. I will give them till August.
The reason why the Twins have a great record is because of their pitching. Their starters has been good. Johan is Johan. Brad has been solid. Carlos is having a great start and a chance to be in the ASG. Joe Mays has been a great story. Kyle Lohse is Kyle Lohse. Their bullpen has been great.
Overall, I give them a B. With that said, they gotta play a lot better. They have survived so far. The team needs to heat up offensively. They have to do better than they are capable off. If this team is winning a championship, the offense really need to be better. I still have faith in them. What choice do I have? You know the pitching will be good. I am hoping the offense heats up and Kyle Lohse start pitching well by the time the All-Star Break.
I am disappointed with Jason Bartlett. Here's hoping he gets it going and come back strong. He is still the future of this team. I like to see him be a big part of the team success.
First Quarter Grade: B
Leslie, I will be doing my Twins May Report Card later this week. In it, I will give a grade for May as well as an overall grade for the season. I will, make a few other comments as well. So, be sure to check back for that!
And then tomorrow I hope to have a quality entry for you. I have a few topics in mind that I am trying to put together. I would love to hear suggestions from you as well. So, feel free to e-mail me.
Have a great day!
TWINS FALL TO CLEVELAND
I don't really know what to write about last night's Twins loss to the Cleveland Indians 4-3. Maybe it could be summed up by saying that Juan Castro had all three RBI for the Twins. That's sad! Carlos Silva didn't pitch poorly in his seven innings. He just got two pitches up to left-handers and they both were deposited for home runs. Oh, he also threw a pitch at Jody Gerut's head after a Victor Martinez two run homer.
RANT COMING - TAKE COVER - OK, I hear a lot of Twins fans complain about how the umpire only gave the Twins a warning after Silva's decapitation attempt. I happen to think that the ump was right. Not much bothers me about baseball, but throwing at someone's head is one of them. I am 100% in favor of allowing a pitcher to throw inside. I like nothing more than a pitcher drilling a hitter in the butt or knees or even lower back with a pitch just to protect the inside part of the plate and allow him to be successful on the outside part of the plate. I do believe that is part of the game. I also feel that if a batter is hanging out over the plate, he needs to be busted inside just to back him up. Again, my only point is that it should come nowhere near the head. It also bothers me that if a player hits a home run off of a pitcher, said pitcher needs to hit the next batter. This doesn't always happen, but more often than it should.
My opinion on this is that it is the pitcher's job to get the hitter out. It is the hitter's job to get on base and knock in runs. Well, when a batter hits a home run, he does his job well. The pitcher who allows the home run doesn't do his job well. So, because the pitcher screwed up, it is OK for him to hit the next batter? That makes no sense. Hey, just because the pitcher didn't do his job gives him no right to put the batter's life in danger.
Finally, as a player, I would appreciate a manager who sticks up for me like that. But lets be honest, the Silva pitch was what it was. There's no denying that. It just wasn't worth it to get ejected.
The other side of this rant is that it annoys me when a batter stares out at the pitcher. I remember a few weeks ago when the Twins were playing the Orioles. Brad Radke threw a pitch well inside that Miguel Tejada had to jump back from. It almost hit Tejada in the lower leg. And he glared out at Radke. To me, that is a very smart pitch by Radke! Tejada should say thank you for not aiming at my head with that pitch! Of course, later in the game, Jesse Crain almost hit Tejada in the head. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a batter fly away from the plate and go after the pitcher after a pitch is high. Manny Ramirez is the worst at it. I have seen him charge the mound on pitches that weren't even inside!
OK, that's enough on that. The whole hitting people as like a payback for someone hitting a home run against you is dumb. Also, charging the mound or even glaring at a pitcher for daring to pitch inside (below the waist) is equally dumb!
For the Twins, Jacque Jones had two singles.
The Twins will now have to win the next two games to win this series. Here are the remaining pitching matchups:
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Tuesday - REDWINGS 1, Richmond 0 (12) - Depending on your perspective and opinions, this game was either incredibly entertaining, or incredibly boring. I'll say it was very exciting, but only because of the pitching performances. Scott Baker got back on the mound after a rough start. He proceeded to go eight strong innings. He gave up just four hits and walked none. He struck out five, all without allowing a run. Travis Bowyer pitched a scoreless ninth inning. Ricky Barrett improved to 2-0 with three great innings. The Redwings could only muster four hits in 12 innings, all of them singles. But when Kevin West singled in Augie Ojeda in the bottom of the 12th, it made it enough for a Rochester win!
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Tuesday - ROCKCATS 4, Norwich 2 - Francisco Liriano made another start and this time got enough run support to claim the Win. He went 6.2 innings and gave up a run on five hits and wo walks. He struck out nine. Pat Neshek was brought in to protect and preserve the win. He went 2.1 innings and gave up a run on two hits. He struck out a very impressive five batters for his seventh save. You will notice that Neshek's stats are now included on the left-hand side of this screen because he is pitching so well. Luis Maza went 2-4 with his ninth double. Doug Deeds knocked his fourth home run.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Tuesday - MIRACLE - No Games scheduled in Florida State League.
Tuesday - SNAPPERS 2, Burlington 3 - Kyle Waldrop finally had another very quality start. He gave up only an unearned run on four hits in six innings. As per usual, he didn't walk a batter, and he struck out five. Kevin Culpepper took the loss as he gave up two unearned runs in his 2.2 innings of relief. Luke Hughes and Korey Feiner each went 2-3 with a walk. David Winfree was 2-4 with an RBI double.
That's it for today! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
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