Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Hello everybody, and yes, I am finally back!! I had a wonderful, long, four day weekend. Spent a lot of time with the family, extended family and some friends. It was really nice. Spent some time at the cabin fixing things up and picnicking, and swimming and tubing (yes, my arms hurt) and more. Oh, and yesterday morning I even got to go to the dentist!! That went well and I got a new toothbrush. Who could ask for anything more from a four day weekend?
So, as you can imagine, I am very excited about heading back to work in the morning! Yes, it will be a lot of fun, I'm sure, but time away is so great! If you can believe it, I went from Friday morning until Tuesday late afternoon without being on a computer. That is incredible for me.
But it is now time to get back into the swing of things. It is time for me to go back to work. It is time for me to get back to writing the site. In an attempt to slowly work my way back into this, today, I will be just posting a number of random thoughts and ramblings and links on a number of topics. Hopefully you will find them interesting in some way.
I had thought about going back through four or five days worth of major league and minor league box scores and highlighting strong performances. But I just think that sometimes moving forward is just the best. It is unfortunate because there were some strong performances since I last wrote. Errol Simonitsch struggled in his first AA start, but came back with a great second start. Terry Tiffee has been hitting great at Rochester. His batting average is now approaching .250 and he is hitting for power too. Felix Molina is hitting over .300 since his call up. Boof Bonser got another win. Despite struggling in the first inning, Anthony Swarzak got his 8th win. Jay Rainville picked up his sixth. If you believe what you read in the papers, a Matt Moses call-up to New Britain appears imminent. I am missing other strong performances, but I think it is best to just start over again with new stuff. So, let's get started:
OK, I got a part of my birthday present from my family this week, a week after my birthday. It is really cool because it was something that had to be ordered and wasn't ready the week before. My family had six SethSpeaks.net t-shirts made up. They are simple. They're dark blue shirts with sethspeaks.net in red letters. Nothing flashy, but still a nice t-shirt that I happen to think is really cool. I mention this because I am just curious if there would be a "market" out there for these t-shirts. I am just curious if it would be worth it for me to buy a dozen or a couple of dozen t-shirts and then sell them basically for cost. So, if you would be at all interested, please send me a quick e-mail and let me know. At that time, I can determine whether it would be worth having some made.
I was hoping to get home last night before the start of the Twins/Angels game at 9:05, but I missed the first inning. The game matched pitching phenoms, Scott Baker and Ervin Santana. Baker was called up a couple of days ago, probably just to make this one start. What it does is allows the Twins to give Brad Radke a couple of extra days off to rest his sore neck. He will start on Friday night now. And despite his 2-6 record at Rochester, Baker has really pitched well there, with the exception of his last start there. Anyway, Baker went five strong innings and allowed just one run. Unfortunately, the offense did nothing against the young Santana despite plenty of chances. The Angels really didn't hit much hard off of him, except the home run ball drilled by Molina. Again, this was just one start, and a first big league start at that, and Baker showed exactly why he should be considered a top prospect. He gave up some hits, but he threw strikes. He pitched smart. He showed some good poise. He threw harder than I thought he did. He was hitting 92-94 on the radar gun consistently. His progress makes trading Kyle Lohse or Joe Mays a lot more possible! And that would be a good thing, as many of those who responded to last week's Discussion Question agreed.
That brings me to another question that has been on my mind for awhile. I, and many of you, follow the Twins minor leaguers on a daily basis. Many of you may actually care about the records of the Twins affiliates, and others of you are like me and could really care less about that and more about player development. Either way, the Twins minor league system is generally well regarded throughout baseball. The Twins system and their prospects are consistently ranked anywhere from first to fourth in the big leagues. So I don't think it's unfair for me and others to be pretty excited about the Twins future. However, am I (or are we?) biased about individual players? For instance, I rank Scott Baker as the Twins #2 prospect. Baseball America had him ranked as the Twins #10 prospect and I'm sure if they were to re-rank them, he would rank higher. We think he'll be a great major league pitcher, but according to Baseball America, he wasn't even on of the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball. Francisco Liriano is now ranked as my #1 prospect. I ranked him 4th after last season. Baseball America ranked him as the Twins #5 prospect heading into this season and he too was not on BA's Top 100 list. I certainly think highly of many Twins prospects like Matt Moses, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Waldrop and Jason Kubel. Those are all guys that Baseball America and other prospect watchers like. But what about guys like Boof Bonser, or Deacon Burns, or David Winfree, or Denard Span, or Errol Simonitsch, or Travis Bowyer, or any of a number of guys that we consider prospects, or at least guys that have a big league future. Do other organizations have this many players that would fit into a legit prospect status? Are these guys only on my radar because I look at the daily box scores? What do you think? I would love to hear from fans of other organizations? I know that the Baseball Savant would tell me that his Reds don't have this same outlook. I would guess that Brewers fans feel very similar about their minor league prospects. E-mail me.
Just a thought after watching Francisco Rodriguez strike out Shannon Stewart to end a 2-1 win by the Angels over the Twins last night... what do you think the Over/Under would be for the age in which K-Rod throws out his arm and has to have arm surgery? He is 23 years old now... So, I would put the Over/Under at ... 25? Think he can stay healthy for another year and a half?
I frequently update the readers here on the progress of Chris Coste. He was a 3-time All-American at Concordia. Two of those years I was on the team and he was the best hitter that I have ever seen. He is spending another season at AAA, this year for the Phillies affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He already has 14 doubles, 14 homers and 54 RBI. He has been hitting mostly fourth or fifth in their lineup, depending on if Ryan Howard is with them, or in Philadelphia (where he is again now). I saw that Coste pitched a scoreless inning against the Rochester Redwings over the weekend. I got the following in an e-mail from Josh Buchholz, the Director of Baseball Operations for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, regarding Coste. This came from an official message from Rotowire:
Coste's good first half at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the Phillies has manager Charlie Manuel interested in him as a third catcher and corner infielder, the Phillies' official site reports.
Manuel said: "He doesn't have what I'd call a picturesque swing, but he do some things. There are definitely things he can do at the plate, and I like him." Coste is hitting .282 with 13 homers and 51 RBI while playing mostly third base. He's not going to carve out a career at the age of 32 but might get a cup of coffee.
Last night, Rochester got a strong start from Francisco Liriano. The lefty improved to 2-0 there by giving up three runs over seven innings. He struck out nine. Travis Bowyer got the last four outs and struck out two for his 18th save. Jason Tyner, Jason Bartlett and Terry Tiffee were all 2-3.
New Britain got beat 8-0. Glen Perkins started and gave up two runs in just 3 1/3 innings. He walked four. Then Justin Olson came in and got hit hard. In 2.2 innings, he gave up five runs (4 earned) on two hits and five walks. The team had just four hits.
Not a good night for Ft. Myers either. They lost 11-3 to Sarasota. All-Star Nick Blackburn gave up seven runs (5 earned) on eight hits and two walks in his 4.2 innings. Kyle Phillips and Trent Oeltjen each went 3-5. JR Taylor was 2-4 while Matt Moses and Brock Peterson were each 2-5.
Beloit got another win. Kyle Waldrop gave up five runs (3 earned) on ten hits over six innings. He did walk none though and improved to 5-5 on the season. Angelo Fermin, Chris Brown, Javi Sanchez, Trevor Plouffe and Terrance Patterson each had two hits.
Elizabethton was rained out and the Gulf Coast Twins got a 9-8 win over the GC Red Sox. Richard Sojo was the story. He went 4-4 with two doubles, a triple and three RBI.
Did you see the press conference that Bret Boone had after he had been Designated for Assignment by the Seattle Mariners? I happened to watch just the "highlights" of it and almost got choked up. It is refreshing to see that a player cares that much. Yes, Bret Boone is just a shell of the player he was even two years ago. It has been a drastic fall from grace for the second baseman. However, if you are a player, you have to ask if going to Seattle is really something you want to do. After everything that Boone had done for that team in previous years, he deserved better. They did the same thing to John Olerud a year ago.
Do the Twins want Boone? I hope not. A year ago, I wrote a column saying that I thought that the Twins should have traded for Boone. At the time, I figured he was just in a slump and it would be a good time for the Twins to 'buy low' on the All-Star second baseman. But as is frequently the case, I was wrong. Boone appears to be done and as much as the Twins infield situation is a mess, Boone is not a better option than Luis Rodriguez, Michael Cuddyer or Nick Punto (although I would say he would be a better option that Brent Abernathy and Luis Rivas). Teams have 10 days to claim him or work out a trade for Boone, but no one wants to pick up the remainder of his big salary. So, at the end of that time, he will be released and will be available to sign with anyone. If the Twins could get him for the league minimum, it would be worth considering just in the hope that he can have a strong three months left in his career. Otherwise, let someone else grab him. I see now that Aaron Gleeman wrote an article essentially saying that the Twins should NOT consider signing Boone.
Name Change Alert - The 7th Angel site is now... Home is Where the Heart Is.
The All-Star teams were announced on Sunday night. Johan Santana made the team, to the surprise of no one, primarily based on his 2004 season. Joe Nathan made it, and I really don't know why. Good season, but All-Star caliber? And now, there is a chance that Torii Hunter could be added as the 32nd AL-All Star. However, it will be determined by online voting. Fans will vote between Hunter, Carl Crawford, Scott Podsednik and Derek Jeter. OK, why even have the vote? Does anyone really think that Jeter won't win that??? So hey, Twins fans, lets go to mlb.com and vote for Torii and see if we can make it happen.
So, which two Twins made The Baseball Savant's AL All-Star team? Which three or four just missed the cut?
And, since I am going to keep it short today, I am going to post the Savant's response to my Twins Discussion Question regarding the state of the Twins. It is always fun for me to read an "outsider's perspective" (although I think we're starting to convince him to be a Twins loyalist, or at least follower!). Enjoy! And be sure to check out the Baseball Savant's site. See how the Twins 5-1 week last week affected their Pythagorean Number, and what his other thoughts on the Twins are.
That July 1st entry about the Twins was BANANAS! It was absolutely fantastic and I loved reading it. I'm getting a little better about knowing the Twins so I'll bore you with my thoughts on the state of the Twins! Oh if the Reds could have your problems! :)
I don't think much is wrong with Radke. Like you said his ERA is 4.07, but his 2003 ERA was 4.49 and his 2002 ERA was 3.72. Heck his 2001 ERA was 3.94 and his 2000 ERA was 4.45. His 2004 ERA, which was the anomaly was 3.48 and Radke was still just 11-8 as a starter. Everything points to 2004 being a career year for Radke. It sort of makes sense too seeing that he was 31-years old last season. Heck, Radke's ERA hasn't been at 3.48 or below since he was playing in the AA-Southern League back in 1994 when he was 21-years old. Radke is definitely giving up more HR than what he did in 2004, but his 2003 HR/9IP was 1.36, which is still probably way too high. His HR/9IP in 2005 is 1.63 so if he were to cut that down to 1.1 or 1.2 then his ERA probably drops too down to 3.7 or 3.75. Maybe lower. The problem with Radke to me with only the numbers to go by is that he might be leaving some balls up. You'd know a lot more about that than I would because you get to watch him all the time, but a pitcher who's more finesse than power normally is not getting as much movement down in the zone which leads to the increased HR/9 rates. Expectations for Radke might be out of whack due to his insane 2004 season. You have to remember that Radke ranked 3rd in the AL last season in VORP among starting pitchers. THIRD!
Doesn't every pitcher wish he could be "off" and still have that line? Good grief he's good. The HR/9 is high for Santana but his control has been pretty good this season so it's not like he's giving up the 3-run jimmy jack every time he takes the mound. I'm with you on Santana. Nothing is really wrong with him. It's hard to envision him having a 2nd half like he did last season, but if one pitcher in the AL is capable of a run like that, it's Santana. Maybe he was tipping his pitches, but tipping or not, opposing hitters just can't hit him.
3.Keeping Mays or not
I'm a HUGE believer in strikeouts so I'm inclined to deal Mays as quick as you can. Losing him wouldn't be a huge deal to me. Gassner can start, Baker can start, Mulholland can start and so could Durbin if he was brought up. The Twins bullpen can also alleviate stresses from deficiencies in the starting rotation by shortening games to 5 or 6 innings. If Mulholland or Baker can give you 7 or 8 then bonus, but the bullpen can get you out of quite a few jams. It at least appears that the Twins are struggling pretty bad offensively. I don't know what you could get out of Mays, but geez, Joe Randa comes to mind although I would hope the Reds could get more than Mays given the plethora of Twins pitching. That is the Reds fan talking in me though! Maybe I'm wrong here, but the Reds seem like a really big trading partner for the Twins. I'm not so sure I wouldn't be pressing for both Austin Kearns and Joe Randa if I'm Minnesota.
4. Keeping Lohse or not
I agree with you on Lohse. Get him out of there as soon as possible although he isn't going to Atlanta! :) I think the Twins would right to keep Santana, Radke, and Silva although I think you have to start wondering how you break in the rookie pitchers like Durbin, Baker, Perkins, Liriano, and even Gassner to a certain extent not to mention guys like Swarzak, Rainville, and Waldrop. Durbin, Baker, and Gassner are probably ready right now with Liriano and Perkins not really far behind. Ryan not wanting to have 2 rookies in the rotation could be quite hampering. The A's are dealing a couple in Haren and Blanton and things are working out well. Harden is only in his 2nd year so they theoretically have 3 rookies and if Dan Meyer wouldn't' have gotten hurt then that potentially made for 4 young guys in the rotation. Sure, the A's were terrible early on, but they are playing fantastic now. With all of this in mind, I can't see keeping Lohse and Mays. The Twins are in desperate need of some offense and anywhere you can save money to spend on offense is probably a good thing at this point.
5. Joe Nathan
John Schuerholz must have been drunk on that Capellan for Kolb deal so the best advice is for Ryan to liquor up Schuerholz and start whispering Nathan for Marte in his ear! :) The Twins are so interesting because with their pitching they seem to have some interchangeable parts. If Nathan catches fire, then why not deal him because you have Crain? I wasn't even aware of Bowyer, but I saw him in Indy a week or so ago and he throws HARD!!!! Good night he throws heat. Heck, even Neshek could be part of the discussion at this point. Trade Nathan, move Crain into the closer's role and bring up Bowyer to fill the void. Now instead of Nathan/Crain/Guerrier/Rincon, it's Crain/Guerrier/Rincon/Bowyer. Is it really that different? It sure wouldn't seem so. For some teams, if you were to trade away 2 of your 5 starters, and your closer, then you would think you weren't competing, but I don't think the Twins would be any worse off. It's just an amazing situation to have from a strategic point of view in my opinion. Still, I think you deal Nathan.
Agree entirely with your comments on Rincon. From what I read, it seemed like he took it pretty hard from a teammate perspective.
Man all i have is the stats since down in Indiana we don't' get many Twins games so from a stats perspective, Romero doesn't look awful. I'll take your word for it in his inability to prevent baserunners from scoring. It's like the Nathan thing though in that if you traded Romero it wouldn't really affect the team in my opinion.
The concerns about Mulholland seem to stem from whether or not the Twins are in contention. After games of July 1st, the Twins are tied for the Wild Card lead with the Orioles. Sure, they probably can't catch Chicago and I think Cleveland and Oakland are going to present bigger problems than New York or Texas, but the Twins would still seemingly have to be considered the favorites to win the Wild Card at least to me anyways. It would be hard for me to think the Twins will ever think they are fully out of it enough to trade Mulholland. Like you say, he's a pretty important piece of the puzzle and if the Twins didn't get rid of Mays, Lohse, and Romero, he becomes all the more integral for the Twins pitching staff in my opinion.
9. The Outfield
Wow, I don't know. I'm with you, my first inclination is that it would be nice to have Ford-Hunter-Kubel in the OF come 2006. It would hard to give up Hunter because defensively he brings so much to the table. Jones and Stewart are expendable in my opinion here, but the Twins are hurting in minor league position player prospects from what I can tell. I really like Morneau, Mauer, Kubel, and Ford but the entire infield is gone and DH could be problematic. Here is a trade for you. What about Shannon Stewart for Nomar Garciaparra? Nomar might be coming back for the last two months of the season. Because of the last couple of years, he's bound to take an even bigger pay cut after this season and the Cubs have already paid a lot of his $8-$9 million dollar salary for 2005. It's certainly risky and the Cubs probably won't do it, but the Stewart could fill in for the platoon they have in LF right now and they haven't had Nomar the entire season so would they really miss him? I'm a Nomar junkie and maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think his career isn't close to being over and he was showing some signs before he got hurt that in my opinion that pointed towards exploding on the NL. It's more of a wishful trade I suppose, but one that could help the Twins out immensely.
Why you wanna gut my Reds team? What has Dan O'Brien every done to you! :)
And with that, I am going to call it a day! I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed your 4th of July Holiday!! 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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