Friday, July 11, 2008
The Time Has Come
(Before we start... want to see a minor league manager (with interesting link to Kirby Puckett) go ballistic over what he thought was a stinky call? Click here.) Then, head over the Twins Trivia for a great new Q&A with former Twins player and central Minnesota native Dick Stigman.
The time has come. It absolutely has to happen, and it has to happen soon. What am I talking about? Francisco Liriano, of course. Liriano is officially ready for the big leagues and has earned his way back up to the Twins roster. I was one of those that hoped for the best when he was brought up to the Twins in April, but I thought the timing was strange. It is clear that the Twins felt the need to bring him up to show everyone how far away he was. He went to the minor leagues. He needed time to work everything out. He had several good starts, but I was in complete agreement with keeping him down.
He needed to get his velocity higher on his pitches. He has done that.
He absolutely needed to throw strikes and not walk so many. In his last seven starts, he has six walks, no more than one in any game.
He needed to show some consistency. Not just consistency over a couple of starts, but over an extended period of time. Well, in his past nine starts, including his seven shutout innings last night, he is 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA and a WHIP of 1.02.
Finally, he needed to show some dominance. He has more strikeouts than innings pitched. He has not allowed a run in his past three starts, covering 20 innings. He has averaged eight strikeouts in those games.
He is ready. So, how do the Twins get him to the big leagues? Easy, really. They attempt to send Brian Bass to Rochester. You hope that he clears waivers so that the team doesn't lose him, but if he is lost, the Twins have lots of pitchers.
The harder decision is what to do with the pitching staff. Here are the five current starters with thoughts on each:
Scott Baker - He's pitching well, and he is a given.
Nick Blackburn - He has been surprisingly good all year. He deserves to stay in the rotation. However, despite being 26 years old, he will likely pass his most innings pitched in any season by mid-August, so that is something to watch.
Kevin Slowey - Another guy who needs to stay in the rotation despite his rough start on Thursday. He is young. He actually missed a few weeks early in the season which could help him stay strong throughout the year.
Glen Perkins - He has been alright. Certainly nothing spectacular. He missed a lot of time in 2007 due to injury after being in the bullpen early in the season. I worry most about his innings pitched over the year.
Livan Hernandez - He has been horrible, regardless of that Win-Loss record. He is just so hittable, and any halfway decent, veteran team will eat him alive. But, he is a veteran, making about $6 million for the year so he really isn't a guy who should be released. Also, there just might be a team out there who might be willing to give up a prospect or two for an "innings eater." He also should not be moved to the bullpen because that would mean that he would have no value in a trade.
Therefore, the easy choice for me would be to call up Francisco Liriano, put Brian Bass on waivers (and either send him to AAA or lose him), and move Glen Perkins into long relief. He would be a third lefty in the bullpen. However, I would only use him in long relief and make sure that he gets enough work in (in game or in the bullpen) to be ready to step back into the rotation if 1.) Nick Blackburn tires, 2.) there is an injury or 3.) Livan Hernandez is eventually traded.
TWINS 7, TIGERS 6 - 11 innings
What a game! Unfortunately, I was so busy at work on Thursday that I really didn't get to see what was going on too often. Here are some thoughts:
Kevin Slowey gave up six runs in just 3.2 innings, but then the bullpen pitched as well as they have most of the season. Craig Breslow gave up two hits and two walks in 1.1 innings, yet no runs. Jesse Crain threw two scoreless innings. Dennys Reyes struck out two in his scoreless innings.
Then Joe Nathan came in. Would have been good to use him in the important roles in Boston, so he pitched for the first time in a while. It showed. He walked three (one intentionally) in the bottom of the 9th, but he left the bases loaded.
Then Matt Guerrier threw two shutout innings for the win. He's not a prototypical 8th inning guy, but he is a very solid reliever who I believe is just being used too much.
Justin Morneau is good. Seriously. Batting average. Power. Defense! In this game, he was 5-5 with a walk. Coming into the game, he was hitting .314. He is now hitting .324. His 14th homer of the year was the game-winning shot in the top of the 11th inning. He also made a great defensive play and with the help of Nick Punto, he was part of the #1 web gem of the day.
Speaking of guys whose batting average went up, how about Denard Span. He went 4-4 with a walk in the game. His batting average went up .045 points to .361. Love his approach at the plate. His stance starts out really strange, with his hands in front of him and seemingly right above the plate. As the pitch is being delivered, he gets his swing going by bringing his hands back. But what I noticed is that he has a very quick bat. There is no question that he should be the team's leadoff hitter right now.
Nick Punto went 3-4 with a walk. It may be time for a lot of us to eat some more of that crow. No, I don't think he can hit .320 (as he is now), but if he can hit between .270 and .280 and play some solid defense, he doesn't hurt the team.
Any other thoughts?
Thursday GAME NOTES
Twins Minor League Updates
Thursday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Howie Clark, Rochester Red Wings
Thursday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Mike McCardell, Beloit Snappers
Thursday – Rochester 14, Durham 1 – It was a big offensive day for the Red Wings, but the story of the game was Francisco Liriano. The lefty went seven shutout innings. He gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out eight. Carmen Cali came in and gave up a run on two hits and got two outs. Philip Humber got the final four outs. Howie Clark led the offense by going 4-5 with his tenth double. Darnell McDonald was 2-5 with his 11th homer and four RBI. Sergio Santos went 2-5 with his 22nd double, third homer and four RBI. Randy Ruiz went 2-5 with his 12th homer and three RBI. Jason Pridie went 2-5 with his 11th triple. Matt Macri was 2-5 with his 14th double. Garrett Jones, well, he was just 2-5.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday – New Britain 4, Harrisburg 1 – Jay Rainville is back with the Rockcats and had a very good first start. He gave up one run on four hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out four. Armando Gabino gave up three hits, but no runs, in two innings. Ben Julianel got the final three outs. Matt Moses went 2-4 with his 18th double. David Winfree was 1-2 with two walks. Luke Hughes and Brock Peterson each went 2-5.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday – Miracle 1, Vero Beach 12 – Not a good game for the Miracle. Alex Burnett started and went just three innings. He gave up seven runs (just three earned) on eight hits. He didn't walk or strike out a batter. Spencer Steedley got into his first game with the team and gave up an unearned run in his inning. Charles Nolte, also recently recalled, gave up two hits, but no runs, in his inning. Edward Ovalle went 2-4.
Thursday – Beloit 6, Ft. Wayne 1 – Mike McCardell needs to move up. He had another excellent start in this one. In seven shutout innings, he gave up two hits. He walked one and struck out nine. 2008 draft pick from LSU, Blake Martin gave up an unearned run in his inning. Ozzie Lewis went 2-4 with his fourth homer. Chris Cates was 2-4. Mark Dolenc went 2-4 with his 18th stolen base. Ben Revere was 1-3 with his 27th steal.
Thursday - E-Twins, Kingsport – Game Postponed by Rain.
GCL TWINS TALK
Thursday – GCL Twins 7, GCL Orioles 4 – Angelo Sanchez earned his second win of the year with a very strong outing. In five innings, he gave up one run on six hits. He walked one and struck out two. Jose Mijares pitched for the second straight day. He struck out two in a scoreless inning. Steve Blevins then gave up two runs on two hits in one inning. Former Gopher Kyle Carr gave up an unearned run in his inning. Khol Nanney got the save in his first appearance with a perfect ninth.
Have a good day!