Monday, June 27, 2005
Twins Discussion Question
Twins Minor League Report
LOTS OF QUESTIONS
Good Monday morning everyone! Hope you had a good weekend. Today will be fairly short. I was out of town all weekend and got back late. I will later discuss some thoughts on the weekends of the Twins and their affiliates. But this is a Twins related site, so I do have to do this. I have to talk about the poor performance of the Twins of late, really the last two or three weeks. Back then, I had a discussion question asking you to send me your thoughts on what the Twins should do. At that time, my belief was that they were just fine. They had the second best record in the league and should just stand pat. Well, it is now two weeks later and things are definitely different. The Twins just lost another series, their sixth straight, to the Brewers. They are double-digits behind the White Sox and the Indians and Tigers are right on their heels.
TWINS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
So, today, I am going to ask a bunch of questions and ask for your thoughts on them. It will be a discussion question with the answers posted on Friday. Sure, it is possible that the Twins could win their next four games before this, but they are against the Royals and the Devil Rays, so those wins won't necessarily tell us where the Twins are. However, it is also possible that they lose a few of those games, and maybe that tells us exactly what we need to know. So, here are a number of questions on the Twins for you to think about:
Right now, the Twins are 40-33, 9.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central. They have basically the same record as they did last year, however, the White Sox are playing incredible baseball.
1.) The Twins have problems everywhere right now.
Brad Radke is giving up a lot of homers and has returned to a big league average pitcher. He has not been as good this year as last, not that any of us would have expected that. What is the difference?
Let's be honest, Johan Santana has not been pitching like Johan Santana is capable of yet this year. Sure, we have seen a few glimpses of greatness and plenty of strikeouts, but the consistency has not been there as much as the long-ball. What is wrong?
Joe Mays is in the final year of his Twins contracts. Mays will become a free agent at the end of the season, for no compensation. The Twins couldn't possibly be interested in bringing him back next year, could they? If not, can they trade him for anything? Maybe a minor league bat?
I just can't imagine the Twins offering Kyle Lohse arbitration. Scott Boras is his agent and you would have to assume that he would accept it and the Twins would have to pay him about $4 million to be poor next year again. So, instead of losing him for nothing, can he be traded? I envision him going to the Braves and working with Leo Mazzone and becoming the star pitcher that we all think he is capable of becoming. I hope for him that that can happen, however, it will never happen with the Twins
Joe Nathan is off, and he has been for the last four to six weeks. Is it just inconsistent save chances or is something different with what he is doing?If the Twins fall out of contention, is he worth trading now before he starts getting expensive? The team could give the closer's job to Jesse Crain, or even call up Travis Bowyer to replace him for the league minimum.
Juan Rincon has been better of late, which is good to see again. He joins Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier as the consistent bullpen options right now. Do you think that his suspension affected his pitching? Physically, or mentally?
JC Romero continues to be awful. Pennant contending teams usually like having another lefty out of the bullpen. Maybe the Twins can get something, anything for him!?
Same thing with Terry Mulholland. He has not been bad and has really done a lot in his roles for the Twins, but he can't be in the Twins plans and trading him would allow someone new to get some pitching time with the Twins.
Right now, it is impossible to say much bad about the offensive performances of a few Twins (Hunter, Stewart, you guys), but others are really struggling.
Which of the Twins outfielders is most expendable and should be traded now? The easy answer is Jacque Jones because 1.) he's struggling and 2.)the Twins will get nothing in return for him this offseason. However, Torii Hunter is going to get expensive starting next year, so should the team look to trade their clear leader? Maybe his value is as high as it'll get right now?
Here is an interesting thought. The Twins have done well the last couple of seasons bringing up players from their minor league system who have found a way to contribute right away. Michael Ryan two years ago. Justin Morneau, Terry Tiffee last year. This year, it has been the likes of Luis Rodriguez and Glenn Williams. However, it seems that eventually the league catches up to them and finds ways to get them out. So, who is to blame for that? Is it the player for not making adjustments? Is it the hitting coach for not finding the means to help the player know what the pitchers are trying to do to each hitter so that they can work on those weaknesses? I don't know what the answer is to that question. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Michael Cuddyer is a big question mark to me. I personally still think that he will hit, and I also think that he will hit for power. However, he has not found a consistency this year, even with consistent playing time. He will show some power at least for doubles, but then he'll go in prolonged slumps. He takes a lot of pitches and some walks, but seems to find himself in 0-2 and 1-2 counts frequently. Do you still see a future for him with the Twins? Also, is it just me, or is Michael Cuddyer far better defensively at 2B? Suddenly his offensive output doesn't look quite as bad if he plays that position.
Juan Castro or Jason Bartlett?
What can they do with Luis Rivas? Keep marketing him as a utility infielder and try to get a low Class A outfielder for him? Release him?
With Glenn Williams and Luis Rodriguez playing well, what are their roles, particularly when Nick Punto comes back? Let's not forget that the Twins slump very directly corresponded with the Punto injury.
What should be done with Matthew LeCroy?
Will Justin Morneau make the necessary adjustments. I think he'll stay in that .280 range, but when will his power stroke come back?
There are probably more thoughts or questions that you ahve about the Twins right now. I guess the overall summary Discussion Question is:
What is the state of the Twins now and what should be done about it?
PROCESS - OK, the process remains the same for the Discussion Questions. This question is posted today and will be kept up all weekend. I will also post it on Monday. I will then take all of the responses to these questions that I receive and post them on this website on Thursday night at 11:30 p.m. So, read and re-read the questions, consider your response, and then be sure to e-mail me before Thursday night.
That's right, another series loss, this time to the Brewers. Kyle Lohse and Matt Guerrier combined for eight shutout innings to help the Twins to a 5-2 win on Sunday. Luis Rodriguez was 3-5, which included his first big league home run in the first inning to give the team a lead that they never lost, as much as Joe Nathan tried to give it away. Shannon Stewart went 3-5 with a double Friday night, the team lost 3-1. Brad Radke gave up another homer (he waited until the second inning this time!), but pitched well for his five innings. Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon and Matt Guerrier all pitched well out of the 'pen. Michael Cuddyer went 1-2 with two walks, and Torii Hunter hit his 12th homer. On Saturday, Hunter hit his 13th and 14th homers to give the Twins an early 4-1 lead. One would have thought that would have been enough with Johan Santana on the mound, but he gave up six runs over his five innings. He also walks four batters. Glenn Williams played each game of the series and had at least one hit in each to extend his hitting streak to 11 games to start his career. Shannon Stewart went 3-5 including his 10th homer of the year.
I hate to admit it, but the Brewers are fast approaching becoming my second favorite team to follow. I love how they made the decision to really be bad for a couple of years while developing an incredible minor league system that should soon really begin to show itself. Rickie Weeks was called up a few weeks ago. He is hitting about .300 and hit his first big league home and triple on Saturday night. That same night, Prince Fielder drilled his first big league homer off of Jesse Crain. Prince is a big 20 year old who many fear will become his father and become one-dimensional. But at every level, he has not only hit for power but also for average. I think he could be very good. It will be interesting to see what happens at 1B with the Brewers since Lyle Overbay has been playing so well. Will Overbay be traded, or will he move to the OF? David Krynzel is close, but Brady Clark has been great in CF. Carlos Lee is a great hitter. Geoff Jenkins has been really good at times. But Anthony Gwynn is also hitting well at AA and could be a year away from being ready. I'm not a JJ Hardy fan, but he could become a solid big league SS. Ben Hendrickson and Jose Capellan are a couple of pitchers worth watching. And, they've got some guys including Mark Rodgers and the recently drafted Ryan Braun from the University of Miami to make the system even stronger.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins (or I guess the Brewers today) or anything baseball. Feel free to e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
The Redwings lost two of three to Louisville, but you know what I think of that... who cares?! The starting pitchers were the stories. Friday night, JD Durbin's rollercoaster season hit another valley. He gave up five runs on four hits and four walks over three innings. Saturday, Francisco Liriano gave up four runs on four hits and three walks in six innings. On Sunday, Scott Baker gave up three unearned runs and struck out eight in eight innings and got a no decision. Also worth noting is that Travis Bowyer pitched twice and didn't give up a run in two innings. At the bat, Kevin West hit his 8th homer. Garrett Jones hit his 14th of the year, a mammoth three run shot on Saturday. It may not be a real important stat but one I thought was interesting. Sunday, the Redwings had nine hits with each of the starters having one single.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
There were plenty of storylines in New Britain over the weekend. They won two out of three against Altoona. To me, Glen Perkins was the main story though. On Friday night, he made his AA debut. In six innings, he gave up two runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out six. In the game, Pat Neshek got the win by throwing two scoreless innings and striking out three. Saturday night, the team was led by Levele Speigner and Doug Deeds. Speigner won his second game by throwing eight shutout innings. Deeds went 3-4 with his 22nd and 23rd doubles and his eight homer. Luis Jimenez was also 3-4 and Danny Matienzo hit his 16th homer. Sunday, Errol Simonitsch made his first AA start. He gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks over four innings. Not a good start, but certainly something to build on! The other story worth following was the performance of Denard Span. In each game, he led off and started in centerfield. He had one hit in each game.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
With Perkins and Simonitsch off to AA, the Miracle needed some pitchers to step up! Well, on Friday night, their All-Star Nick Blackburn pitched a complete game. He gave up just a run on six hits. Saturday night, Scott Tyler pitched six shutout innings. He gave up just three hits and struck out nine! Chris Schutt got the win by pitching three relief innings, giving up just an unearned run. One of the team's replacements in the pitching staff was Justin Jones. The lefty acquired from the Cubs for Doug Mientkiewicz made his first start of the season Sunday. He gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks over four innings. We can't make too much of that though because he was coming off an injury too. As for offense, it was good to see that Matt Moses played in all three games after missing a few games because of a pulled hamstring. On Saturday, he was 2-4 with a walk and he stole his 13th base. On Sunday, Scott Whitrock hit is 10th homer. OH, the team won two out of three over the weekend.
The Snappers won two out of three over the weekend. The only game they lost, surprisingly, came when Anthony Swarzak was pitching. Sunday, Swarzak gave up eight runs on eight hits and a walk in just 3 2/3 innings. In that game, Tarrence Patterson went 2-4 and stole his 12th base. Trevor Plouffe had a double. On Friday night, the team won 8-3 and were led by David Winfree who went 3-5 with his 17th double and 8th homer. Four other players (Deacon Burns - 22nd double, Dwayne White and Paul Rutgers) had two hits. The other with two hits was Landon Burt who was playing his first games in a couple of months. Trevor Plouffe also hit his 5th homer. On Sautrday, Kyle Waldrop got the start and gave up just a run on seven hits over seven innings. Of course, he walked none and struck out four. Chris Brown went 3-4. Luike Hughes was 2-5. Mark Zamojc hit his fifth homer of the year, a grand slam in the first inning. Tarrence Patterson hit his fourth.
On Friday night, Twins 1st-round pick Matt Garza made his professional debut. In four innings, he gave up two unearned runs on a hit and two walks. 2nd Round pick, Kevin Slowey got the save by pitching the final 2.2 innings. Of the eight outs he recorded (and batters he faced), seven of them came via the strikeout. 3B Travis Kalin led the offense going 2-4 with his first homer. The E-Twins got a 6-3 win on Saturday night. On this night, Matt Betsill was playing 3B and he hit his first homer. Juan Portes hit his first homer. Catcher Eli Tintor went 2-4. Ryan Mullins was on the hill to start this game. He went four innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks. He did strikeout seven. Armando Gabino pitched two shutout innings for the win. Daniel Powers threw three shutout innings (and struck out five) to pick up the save. Finally the E-Twins picked up another win on Sunday afternoon. Eduardo Morlan is another pitcher that the Twins drafted in 2004. He started and went six one-hit innings striking out eight for the win. Alexander Smit pitched the next two innings and gave up a run on two hits. But he walked none and struck out six. In 6.2 innings since his demotion to E-Town, Smit has 15 strikeouts. Juan Portes went 3-4 with a double. Yancarlos Ortiz, Mark Robinson and Erik Lis each had two hits. Lis hit his first homer.
On that note, I am going to call it a day!I hope everyone has a great week! 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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