Thursday, June 12, 2008
Before getting to the Wednesday game notes, I wanted to put out some numbers that I think are very interesting. I was going through my "Favorites" and flipped to Travis Talks. Travis had a posting comparing Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey that I think you should read. Based on comments you read here and other places, there are a lot of people who seem to think that Kevin Slowey is a AAAA pitcher or should be traded, or will never amount to anything as a starter. I think I have been consistent in saying that I think he can be a #2 type of pitcher, certainly a #3. In fact, in a comment I made on one of the STrib blogs recently, I made the prediction that Slowey will win 150 games in his career. Of course, I was bashed. But I am going to stand behind my thoughts on Slowey. Of course, there is no such thing as a sure thing. A guy can dominate the minor leagues and never really make it in the big leagues. Likewise, a guy can be a minimal or little known prospect in the minors, get a big league opportunity and make the most of it. But I still do not understand the comments on about Kevin Slowey. And yet, how can I not? We've been through this before, with Scott Baker. Baker raced through the Twins system in 2004. He debuted in 2005 He went back and forth from the big leagues to Rochester until last year when about midseason and turned a corner. Most Twins fans gave up on Baker several times. He didn't strike out enough. He didn't have an out pitch. He didn't have the makeup. Those were the things we kept hearing. Yet, at AAA, he dominated. But he never dominated to the level that Kevin Slowey did last year. So, believe me, 21 games is not enough for me to give up on a guy who has done this much.
Travis compares the minor league numbers of Baker and Slowey. He then compares the big league numbers of the two players. In doing so, he says that he would take Baker all day long, and that he and Liriano will be the next Johan and Radke. Now, I want to first say that I believed in Scott Baker almost as much as I believe in Slowey. I am thrilled that he was able to turn the corner and is now a fairly consistent starter and should be a solid #2 or #3. I write this today with no ill-will or ill-thought about Baker. I only write because my comment for Travis in his comments section basically said that "Yes, Baker's big league numbers look better after 56 big league games than Slowey's does after just 21 big league games. But I think it would be interesting to see how Slowey's numbers after 21 big league games compare to Baker's numbers after 21 games.
Curiosity got the best of me, so I went to retrosheet.org and looked it up. Here is what I found:
Wow! That is much more similar than I ever could have guessed. I mean, every number is very similar. They each have six wins, but more losses. Their ERAs are identical! The WHIP is within 0.36. The strikeout rate is close. The number of innings is less than three. The hits difference is two. I mean, if you look at the first 21 games of Scott Baker's career and compare them to the first 21 games of Kevin Slowey's career, they are the same. Then recall that after 17 games, Baker was sent back to Rochester. He came up about two months later and made his next two starts, and he was up and down a couple more times.
My point is not to say that Kevin Slowey will have an identical career to Scott Baker's. We can't know that. My point is not to say that he will be better than Scott Baker. Can't predict that. My main point through this exercise is that we can really not make a statement of any kind about what Kevin Slowey can become as a big league starter. There is little reason not to believe that Slowey is very capable of becoming a very good big league starter.
Let's look quickly at a couple of other things:
STUFF - Baker sits between 90-92 and hits 94. Slowey sits between 88-91 and touches 93-94. Scott Baker has a very good curveball/cutter. He also has a solid changeup. To this point, we really haven't seen the secondary of pitches from Slowey with any consistency.
CONTROL - Slowey will walk fewer, but he has missed inside the strikezone when he has struggled. That's the same issue that Baker had early.
OUT-PITCH - This is the one I don't get. People say that Slowey doesn't have an out pitch, but his strikeout rates are very similar to Baker's in the big leagues and were better throughout the minor leagues. We have seen a lot of long at bats, but I can't imagine that Slowey didn't have an out pitch and was as dominant as he was at AAA.
MENTAL MAKEUP - During Baker's first two yeas in the big leagues, and right up until his start in Shea Stadium last year when his rotation spot was officially in jeopardy, Baker would walk off the field and look scared. He would continually peak to the manager either wondering if Gardy would take him out of the game OR hoping Gardy would take him out of the game. From a mental makeup side, Slowey appears to be tough and very confident. I happen to think that is an advantage.
Again, this is not anything against Scott Baker. I think he can be a solid #2 pitcher as well. I just think that Slowey deserves some patience, especially during a season in which the Twins are building for the future.
I know this is a controversial topic and with Slowey coming off of two rough starts, I know how Twins fans work, so I don't expect everyone to agree with me. But I would love to hear your thoughts and arguments on why Slowey's 19 starts are so much worse than Scott Baker's.
Oh, and if you want to bring up Home Runs, I will tell you that Slowey has given up 24 homers. Scott Baker gave up 18.
Wednesday Night - Twins 8, Cleveland 5
Any other Twins thoughts?
Twins Minor League Updates
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Sergio Santos, Rochester Red Wings
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Matt Fox, Ft. Myers Miracle
Wednesday – Rochester 7, Durham 9 – Because Philip Humber had a sore elbow, it was bullpen by committee for the whole game for the Red Wings. Julio DePaula started and gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in 2.2 innings. Ricky Barrett came in and gave up a run on a hit and three walks in one inning. Tim Lahey then gave up six earned runs on four hits and two walks in 1.1 innings. Carmen Cali kind of saved the day. He struck out three in three shutout innings. Bobby Korecky struck out two in the ninth. Sergio Santos had a big day, with three doubles in four at bats and a stolen base. Jason Pridie went 2-5 with his 13th stolen base. Randy Ruiz hit his ninth homer. Ryan Jorgenson knocked his second home run.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday – New Britain 6, Altoona 5 – Kyle Aselton was again solid as a starter. He gave up two runs on six hits and two walks in five innings to win. Jason Miller gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Ben Julianel gave up two runs in his two innings. Steve Tolleson had two doubles in four at bats. He now has 20 on the year. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his 12th double and third home run. Erik Lis went 2-3 with a walk and his 24th double. Trevor Plouffe went 2-4 with his 17th double. David Winfree was 2-4.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday – Ft. Myers 3, Vero Beach 1 – Matt Fox made his first start of the year for the Miracle. He threw four shutout innings, allowing just three hits. He walked none and struck out three. Henry Reyes then went the next 2.1 innings and gave up a run, but he is credited with the win. Anthony Slama recorded his 12th save by striking out four in 2.2 scoreless innings. Whit Robbins went 3-4 with his fourth triple. Allan de San Miguel hit his first home run of the year. His 1-3 game boosted his season batting average all the way up to .123!
Wednesday – Beloit 0, Cedar Rapids 5 - Not much offense for the Snappers in this game. Jair Fernandez had a double, but the team managed just five hits. Brian Kirwan gave up three runs (2 earned) on six hits and two walks in four innings. Charles Nolte then gave up only an unearned run in his 3.2 innings. Brad Tippett allowed only a walk in his 1.1 innings.
Let's talk Twins!