Monday June 21, 2004
GRIFFEY HITS 500TH HOMER
JASON SCHMIDT IS GOOD!
CJ NITKOWSKI DESIGNATED
TWINS AUTOGRAPH PARTY - I'll be there, at least for some of it. Let me know if you will be too.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK - I have added more background information to the question
TWINS DROP TWO TO CREW
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Welcome back to the work week. I am sure you are as excited as I am to be at work again, right? Here are a few brief topics. But first, I want to thank Lew Ford's dad, Buck, for writing his Father's Day Message for this site on Friday.
Well, the Twins lost two of three to the Brewers in Milwaukee. The series was a commercial for outdoor baseball with a retractable roof, as Twins television play-by-play man Dick Bremer continued to tell us over and over again how wonderful outdoor baseball is. It got to be a bit much. However, he is absolutely right! Watching baseball outdoors is far better than at the Dome. The Dome is drab and boring. And don't forget that it is a football stadium first and foremost, so most seats are faced slightly the wrong way. Proceeds from the concessions and the box seats still go to the Vikings. The Twins don't get anything for parking. So, it is fully my opinion that the Twins need a new stadium. (Note - I really don't think that the Vikings do, so don't think that I would be at all vocal about the Vikings attempts at a new stadium, although I would not be opposed to it either).
This is the Midwest and fairly far north. Sure, Minneapolis is over six hours south of where I am, but it is still north of most other baseball cities. Because of that, I think that a new stadium should have a retractable roof. That should be part of any new stadium. I don't care if it adds cost. Notice how well that works in Milwaukee. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees, they shut the roof. If there is a chance of rain, they shut the roof. Now, I would say that once the snow stops falling, they could keep the roof open as long as there is no rain. But again, since I do live so far from the Dome, if I drove down there for a weekend, and it was raining, I would want to know that the game would still be played.
Now, having a new stadium does not ensure an increase in revenue. Yes, the first year there will be increased attendance just because of the novelty of the new stadium. After that, attendance should be based on whether or not the Twins have a competitive team. The Terry Ryan/Ron Gardenhire led teams have been competitive the last three seasons. My guess is that until there is an owner other than Carl Pohlad in charge, the team's salary will not significantly increase. And, this may surprise you, I am OK with that. I am in favor of a smart budget. I don't want the Twins to become a team that just spends money just to spend money. I enjoy the decisions that the team has had to make. I enjoy dissecting trades and second-guessing signings, etc. I like that winning the division is something that makes me happy. I can't even imagine being a Yankees fan where if they don't win the World Series, it is a bad year.
That said, I want the Twins to have the freedom to be able to re-sign the likes of Joe Mauer, Jacque Jones, Johan Santana and Justin Morneau when they become free agents. I would be happy if they felt they could spend fair-market value on the likes of LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado.
I have been to Miller Park in Milwaukee. I went there two years ago when the Twins played there. On the Saturday night game that we went to, the weather was a bit ominous at the start of the game, so the roof was closed. By the 6th inning, the weather became nice and they opened up the roof. It was really cool to watch and took just 10 minutes. We then went to the Sunday afternoon and sat right behind home plate. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and the roof was open the whole time. It was great.
I also went to Coors Field in Denver about three or four years ago. It was on a Labor Day Sunday afternoon. The Rocky Mountains were in the background. It was 98 degrees. It was just great, the way baseball was meant to be played.
So anyway, I have been hesitant about expressing my opinions on a new stadium. I prefer to talk about the Twins on the field, and their minor leagues and baseball in general. But, I think it is important at some point for us to realize that Carl Pohlad will not hesitate to put the team up for Contraction in 2007 if he doesn't get a new stadium. And, not to wish for the worst, but if Pohlad is gone and his sons take charge of the Twins, who knows what will happen. I don't think they care about baseball at all. I think they would take the best price for the team even if it means letting them leave the state.
So, I know I have e-mailed my state representatives a couple of times each. They have responded incredibly pathetically (my opinion). But I think if more and more of us discuss this, maybe something really can get done.
GRIFFEY HITS 500th HOMER
Ken Griffey, Jr., finally connected for his 500th career home run yesterday. He became the 20th person to accomplish that impressive feat!
Griffey has been one of my favorite players ever. I collected baseball cards starting in about 1982. I kind of lost interest for a couple of years, but in 1988, I got back into it and found out that cards are actually worth something. I liked the Donruss Rated Rookies cards of Mark Grace and Roberto Alomar in 1988 because on the back of their cards, where the stats should be, it simply said "No Major League Experience." I always thought that was so cool.
So, in 1989, I knew who Ken Griffey Jr. was. He had his Donruss Rated Rookie card, and a Fleer card. And Bowman's collation was so terrible that you could look at their packs and know exactly the string of players he came after so you could get a lot of them. Then Upper Deck had its very first set, and Griffey was Card #1 in that set. I was so excited to get his cards.
My brother and I talked about him all the time. In fact, instead of saying "Ken Griffey, Jr." all the time, we just called him "KGJ." We knew what we meant.
So anyway, the last few years, fans have lost interest, and really been down on Griffey. I think that is so unfair. Each one of his injuries were caused by anything other than hard work. He would dive for a ball in the outfield and his shoulder would be hurt. He would try to score from first base on a double and rounding third, his knee popped out. These are injuries on hustle and giving everything for his team.
So now, he has come back and hit for great power this season. Now that he is a member of the 500 home run club, maybe he will finally regain the respect of baseball fans that he never should have lost!
SCHMIDT THROWS ANOTHER 1 HITTER
Jason Schmidt is great. He missed the first few weeks of the season, and now he is 9-2 and has two one-hitters. It is my opinion that he is the most dominant pitcher in baseball right now.
CJ NITKOWSKI DESIGNATED
Over the weekend, the Braves designated left-handed relief pitcher CJ Nitkowski for assignment. What will happen next for him? I don't know. But I am sure that he will deal with it the best way possible and whatever is in his future, he will be very successful with it. Last month, I was fortunate to do a Q&A posting with him, check it out here.
GRANDMA'S MARATHON EXPERIENCE
One of the first two or three blogs that I read every day is BrentNet. Brent is a guy from my home town. He writes about anything and everything. From baseball to basketball. Movies, games, and just stuff he reads. It's really interesting and very well written. This past weekend, Brent participated in the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. He has been chronicling his preparation for the last month or two, maybe even more. Today, he discusses his weekend in Duluth, including how the race went, mile-to-mile. It's a great read. Check out the site and send Brent an e-mail. Congrats to Brent! Just think about it for a minute. That's 26.2 miles. And he ran the whole thing without even walking. I couldn't run one mile without stopping to walk. OK, fine, you're right, I couldn't run 0.2 miles without stopping to walk!
If you have any questions, comments or thoughts on any of these thoughts, please e-mail me.
TWINS AUTOGRAPH PARTY UPDATE - The below is what I wrote last week. I asked the question "Will I be going again this year?" Well, over the weekend, I found out that the answer to that question is "Yes." I will be going to the Twins/Brewers game on Friday night and then spend some time at the Autograph party on Saturday.
I just got some e-mail from the Twins on their annual Autograph Party. It will take place on the plaza outside the Metrodome on Saturday, June 26, from 11:30 - 5:15. Current Twins will sign autographs from 12:30-2:00. Twins Alumni will sign from 2:30-4:00. There will be a live memorabilia auction from 4:00-5:15. There will also be a silent auction throughout the day. Oh, and the Twins will play the Milwaukee Brewers at 6:10 that night!
I went to the Autograph Party last year for a couple of hours. The event is free to get into. If you would like to get autographs, you will need to buy an autograph card for $25. Of course, the money all goes to charity. I actually took a few pictures of the event, which you can find in my Photo Album, so check those out. I did go through the tent with all the Silent Auction items. I got goose bumps seeing all of the stuff. Autographs bats and balls and helmets and pictures of current and former Twins players. There are also autographed paraphernalia players from other teams or other sports. There is some great stuff.
Will I be going again this year? Well, we will have to see if I can find anyone to go with me. I would love to hang out there all day! I think it would be a lot of fun to talk to some of the players if possible. I know that I went there with my sister last year, and we both agreed that this event would be wonderful to take a 5-10 year old kid to. But it is also great for the adults. I don't like all of the autograph hounds. When I say that, I don't mean guys like me, who would love to get autographs just to collect for myself. I would also love to go there and just shake hands with the players, and maybe take a picture with them to capture the moment. No, what I mean are the adults who show up with five dozen baseballs or a couple dozen bats and sprint from line to line. They aren't there to enjoy the opportunity to meet with the players. They are there to capitalize on the event. They will be selling much of what they acquire. That is why I have absolutely no problem with the team charging money for the autograph cards.
So, in summary, if at all possible, head to the Metrodome on Saturday, June 26 for the Autograph Party.
There's Still TIME!! It may look bleak, but there is still a chance. If you want, be sure to head over to The View from The Bleachers and vote in The World Series of Blogs! I am in contention in the American League with Athletics Nation, Blue Jay Way and Firebrand (Red Sox). I am still pretty much getting crushed, so help me out, check out the site and vote early and often!
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK - I started posting this question toward the end of last week, and I wanted to give it a more prominent spot in the entry today. I have also added a little more to it , a little more to consider.
As I have mentioned time and time again, I would encourage everyone to read and bookmark the Baseball Savant website. It is well worth the read every time he writes. About once a week, David updates each team's Pythagorean Numbers, meaning, based on a team's Run Differential, you can predict what record a team will end up with. Here is how the American League Central will look at season's end, according to these numbers:
1.White Sox 98-64 (+7)
2.Tigers 83-79 (+5)
3.Indians 79-83 (+6)
4.Twins 78-84 (+3)
5.Royals 61-101 (-12)
The Savant begins his analysis with this:
The Twins really do have to consider themselves the luckiest team in the AL. They really can't hit ranking 10th in the AL in runs scored per game, and their pitching/defense isn't much better ranking 8th in the AL in runs allowed per game, but here they sit a half a game out of first place in the AL Central.
So, the question of the week is this... Why do the Twins consistently have a better actual record than they "should" according to this measure? For a little background information, consider this:
Season Pythagorean Number Actual Record Differential
2000 69-93 69-93 0
2001 81-81 85-77 +4
2002 86-75 94-67 +8
2003 85-77 90-72 +5
So, as you can see, using Run Differential to predict a team's season record is relatively close. However, the Twins are an extreme exception. Most team's actual records are even closer to their Pythagorean numbers. But over the last three seasons, the Twins have won 17 games more than they should, 20 more if you count this year's numbers too.
To use a small example, remember the Twins/White Sox first series of the season? The Twins won two one-run games, but the White Sox won the other game big. So for the series, the Twins were outscored like 18-8 (numbers approximate). By that, the Twins should have lost 2 out of three, but instead won 2 out of three.
In addition to this look at the Twins, I received my Sunday Statistic package from Lee Sinnis' ATM Reports. I know I have mentioned it before, but signing up for his daily report is one of the best things a baseball fan can do. Here is where the Twins and White Sox rank in terms of RCAA (Runs Created Above Average):
1 Whitesox 41
T2 Tigers 32
T2 Yankees 32
4 Redsox 30
5 Angels 17
6 Indians 0
7 Royals -2
8 Mariners -7
9 A's -10
10 Orioles -13
11 BlueJays -34
T12 Devil Rays -39
T12 Twins -39
14 Rangers -61
So there you see it. The White Sox are best in the American League 80 RCAA more than the Twins, yet the Twins are 1.5 games ahead of the Sox in the division.
In case you were curious, here is how the Twins players rank individually in RCAA:
Lew Ford 11
Joe Mauer 4
Shannon Stewart 4
Corey Koskie 3
Matthew LeCroy 3
Justin Morneau 2
Rob Bowen 0
Nick Punto 0
Jose Offerman -1
Michael Restovich -1
Alex Prieto -2
Luis Rivas -2
Torii Hunter -4
Jacque Jones -5
Michael Cuddyer -6
Michael Ryan -6
Doug Mientkiewicz -11
Henry Blanco -13
Cristian Guzman -15
Anyway, therein lies the question... why have the Twins played above their "expected" level? David and I have spent a lot of time discussing this issue. What is it about the Twins or their style of play that accounts for this?
Please think it over and e-mail me your responses. I will post your thoughts on Friday, so please e-mail me your response before Thursday. Thanks!
TWINS DROP TWO TO BREW CREW
Friday - Twins 1, Brewers 4
Ben Sheets is Good! Maybe I should just leave it at that. Don't worry, I won't. Sheets went 6 innings to pick up his 6th win of the season Friday night. He gave up one run on four hits. He walked two, but was able to strikeout six. The Twins lone run came on a Luis Rivas RBI single. In the game, the Twins had had just four singles and a Torii Hunter double.
Carlos Silva gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks in just four innings. Joe Roa came in and gave up a run in two innings pitched. Grant Balfour got two strikeouts and walked one in 2/3 of an inning before Aaron Fultz got the final four outs, three on strikeouts.
Sheets was relieved by the hard-throwing Jeff Bennett. Danny Kolb recorded his 20th save of the year. Former Twins catcher, Chad Moeller, hit a home run for the Brew Crew.
Saturday - Twins 6, Brewers 7
Brad Radke finally got some run support and for six innings, it looked like he would fully take advantage of it. The Twins scored first when Corey Koskie doubled in Doug Mientkiewicz with a double in the first inning. In the 6th inning, Jacque Jones drilled a 3-run homer deep into the right field bleachers. Jones did his patented bat flip and ran the bases with his immobile. I suspected the next batter, Joe Mauer, to get hit in the back for Jones act. But instead, Mauer got a fastball away and went with it, hitting it over the fence in left centerfield.
So, the Twins were up 5-0 and Radke was cruising. However, in the 7th, it all crashed down. The Brewers scored six runs. Radke left with the Twins still up 5-4 and a runner on. Aaron Fultz was brought in to face Scott Podsednik who he had made look silly the night before. Fultz has been great out of the Twins pen. On this night, not so much as Podsednik hit a 2-run homer to give the Brewers a 6-5 lead. But the Twins answered in the top of the 8th, when their hottest hitter, Luis Rivas hit a solo home run to tie the game.
But in the bottom of the 8th, Terry Mulholland came into the game to face back to back lefties. It didn't go so well. On his first pitch, he hung a curveball to the Brewers best hitter, Geoff Jenkins. Now, Jenkins has one of the sweetest swings I have ever seen. I really enjoy watching him hit. Well, that swing uncorked a picturesque home run that gave the Brewers the 7-6 win.
So Radke finally got the run support, but the one bad inning did them in. Fultz has been great much of the year, but not in this game. Mulholland has been great much of the year, but not at all this night.
Sunday - Twins 4, Brewers 2
The story on Sunday was Johan Santana. I think it is safe to say "He's Back!" Yesterday, he pitched his third consecutive great game. As a matter of fact, he was dominant. It was by far his best game of the season. In 8 innings, he gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out 12, including striking out the side twice. Gardy even let him throw 116 pitches. But the story goes beyond his arm. It also included his bat. Santana went 2-4 on the game with an RBI.
Actually, Johan was the only Twins hitter with more than one hit. Watching him swing the bat made me wonder if any of his teammates were watching to get pointers. Specifically, I found it interesting that Jacque Jones was unable to make any contact in his first three at bats yesterday, but Santana not only had two singles but fought off some very tough pitches. I don't say this to bash Jones. I just think it says a lot about Santana.
Joe Nathan picked up his 19th Save with a scoreless ninth inning. He gave up two singles, but did strike out three hitters.
Lew Ford's first inning double to the left-centerfield gap extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He came around to score along with Doug Mientkiewicz on Torii Hunter's double.
The White Sox lost two out of three to the Expos in Montreal over the weekend, so the Twins maintain their 1.5 game lead in the AL Central. Saturday night, the Sox called up Arnie Munoz to pitch for them. He gave up 11 runs in just over 3 innings, including 9 in the 2nd (Juan Rivera hit two homers in the inning). He was sent down after the game. The Sox attempted to comeback, but in the end, the Expos won 17-14. Yesterday, Sox starter Jon Garland had a no hitter into the 6th inning. Then with 2 runners on, he gave up a single to Jose Vidro to score both. The Expos added a couple more later and won 4-2.
So, what do you think about the Twins now? Any of the players? Gardy? Trade possibilities? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
With the MLB Draft completed almost two weeks ago and players signing, the Twins rookie league teams in Elizabethton and Ft. Myers will get under way this week. Because of all the additional players drafted by the Twins as well as the players in Extended Spring Training, changes were made throughout the Twins minor league system. Elizabethton starts its scheduled games tonight. Twins first round pick Trevor Plouffe is on that roster.
New Britain released Ronnie Corona and Jason Richardson. They also sent Elvis Corporan down to Ft. Myers. Henry Bonilla moved back from Rochester. Reliever Kevin Cameron and IF Kualana Kuhaulua were promoted from Ft. Myers. P Colby Miller comes to the team from Extended Spring Training.
Ft. Myers added LHP Ricky Barrett, Reliever Levale Speigner and utility infielder (and former Gopher) Ben Pattee were promoted from Quad Cities. Quad Cities also released reliever Jon Uhl.
Also, this morning, MLB will announce the rosters for the Futures Game. It will again be the top minor leaguers in a game of the US vs The World. There are a number of Twins prospects who could play in the game. To me, Scott Baker and Jason Kubel should be on the USA team. Justin Morneau should play for the World Team. And, Jesse Crain could play for either team. Sleeper choice? 2B Luis Maza for the World Team? We can hope.
Friday - Redwings 1, Columbus 5 - Chris Heintz went 3-4 with a double. SS Luis Rodriguez went 2-5 with a double and an RBI. Justin Morneau did have a double. David Gassner well to 8-5 (with a 3.33 ERA). He went seven innings and gave up four runs on eight hits (no walks). Adam Johnson pitched the final two innings. He gave up a run and struck out two.
Saturday - Redwings 4, Charlotte 2 - JC Romero made his second start for Rochester. He went four innings and gave up just one hit and one walk. He struck out six. Jeromy Palki came in and went three innings. He gave up one run on a hit. Beau Kemp picked up the win despite giving up a run on three hits. Jesse Crain came in and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his 14th Save of the year. Justin Morneau had another big game. He was 2-3 with a walk and his 17th home run. LF Josh Rabe went 4-4.
Sunday - Redwings 8, Charlotte 5 - The bats were the story for Rochester yesterday. CF Todd Dunwoody went 3-4 with an RBI double. RF Jason Kubel went 2-5 with his 2nd AAA home run and 2 RBI. DH Juan Diaz finally got his visa situation resolved and played for the Redwings. He went 2-4. LF Josh Rabe was 2-3 with a walk. C Chris Heintz went 2-3 with 2 RBI. Luis Maza had a triple. Willie Eyre struggled. In 5 1/3 innings, he gave up four runs on six hits and three walks. Kevin Hodge came and in pitched 2 2/3 scoreless, one-hit innings, striking out six.
NEW BRITAIN ROCK CATS
Friday - New Britain 2, Norwich 4 - The Rockcats had just six hits. Two of them were by Jake Mauer (including a double). Jon Pridie got the start. He went 6 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs on six his and a walk. Jason Miller went 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Saturday - New Britain 0, Norwich 3 - Scott Baker continues to impress, even in defeat. He had a shutout through 8 innings but was left in for one inning too many. All told, he went 8 1/3 innings and gave up the three runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out seven. He is now 3-2 with a 2.28 ERA with New Britain. Bobby Korecky got the final two outs. The offense, well, did nothing.
Sunday - New Britain 2, Norwich 6 - Henry Bonilla got back from AAA and got ripped. In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up five runs on 9 hits and two walks. Kevin Cameron made his first AA appearance and gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk. Travis Bowyer pitched another shutout inning despite giving up two hits. 1B Garrett Jones went 2-4 with 2 RBI. SS Kaulana Kuhaulua went 1-4 with an infield single in his first AA game.
FORT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - Miracle 4, Dunedin 3 - 2B Brett Tamburrino went 4-4 with a triple. C Jose Morales went 3-4. DH Garrett Guzman went 2-4 with 2 RBI. Matt Yeatman went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs, all unearned, on five hits and four walks. He struck out four. Justin Olson picked up his 5th win pitching the final two innings. He gave up no runs on a hit and a walk and struck out two.
Saturday - Miracle 7, Dunedin 4 - CF Alex Romero went 2-4 wit ha walk. DH Danny Matienzo was 2-3 with his 3rd home run and three RBI. Jeff Randazzo had a rough start. He gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on eight hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. Erik Lohse came in and got the win going 1 2/3 innings. He didn't allow a hit or a walk. Levale Speigner gave up an unearned run in two innings pitched in his first Ft. Myers game. He struck out three. Jannio Gutierrez recorded his first Save of the year.
Sunday - Miracle 3, Lakeland 8 - Marcus Moseley didn't get much defensive help in his short start yesterday. In 2 2/3 innings, he gave up five hits and walked two. He gave up seven runs, but just two of them were earned. Ricky Barrett made his first Ft. Myers appearance. He went 2 1/3 innings and gave up a run on two hits and a walk. Josh Gray pitched three shutout innings before John Thomas pitched a one-hit 9th.
THE SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Friday - Swing 7, Beloit 4 - Chris Schutt pitched well enough to keep the Swing in the game. In seven innings, he gave up four runs on six hits and three walks. Peter Tautor then pitched the final two innings and gave up just one hit. Dusty Gomon hit his 6th home run of the year. Scott Whitrock went 3-4 with a double. Then with 2 on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th in a tied game, Whitrock hit his 8th home run of the year to give the Swing the win.
Saturday - Swing 3, Beloit 2 - Adam Harben is making himself a quality prospect for the Twins. In this game, he pitched 7 innings and gave up two runs on five hits and three walks. He also struck out seven. For the season, he is just 3-4 but has an ERA of 3.36. Eric Brandon picked up his 2nd save of the year with 1 1/3 perfect innings. RF Scott Whitrock went 3-3 with a double and two triples. 1B Mark Zamojc went 2-4 with a double.
Sunday - Swing 0, Beloit 4 - The Swing had just five singles for the game. Scott Tyler pitched the first five innings. He gave up one run on just one hit and three walks and struck out five. Billy Mauer gave up an unearned run in 1 2/3 innings. Tristan Crawford and TJ Prunty (both added to Quad Cities from the Twins Extended Spring Training roster) each pitched 2/3 of an inning without giving up a run.
Any questions or comments on the Twins minor league system, e-mail me.
That is it for me for today. Have yourself a great week!!! As always, if you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me.
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