Saturday July 12, 2003
SPECIAL SATURDAY EDITION -
A couple of quick baseball notes -
Pirates first baseman, Randall Simon, was suspended for 3 games for knocking down the running sausage on Wednesday night.
Big day for the Marlins. Rookie phenom, Dontrelle Willis was named to the All-Star team to replace the injured Kevin Brown. I picked up Willis for my fantasy team right after he came up, so that was good. I still happen to think that Hideo Nomo deserved the spot too! Also, donít be afraid to compare Willisís numbers to fellow rookie Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then tell me why itís so clear that Willis is an All-Star, and Webbís name doesnít even get mentioned.
In the other big news yesterday for the Marlins, Florida is suddenly a buyer, I guess. Last night, they received closer Ugueth Urbina from the Texas Rangers in exchange for 3 minor league prospects. My initial reaction was to think that Florida must have some other moves up their sleeve. I donít think Urbina should get too comfortable in his Marlins uniform.
But, maybe they plan on keeping him. They must think that theyíll be able to stay in the Wild Card race or something. When they made the trade, the Marlins were 13 Ĺ games behind the division-leading Braves, and were still 4 Ĺ games behind in the Wild Card race. Well, we think the Twins are still in contention and should be making some moves, so why not the Marlins?
There are still two reasons why I think that something else is in the works. First, theyíre saying that Urbina will be setting up Braden Looper, Floridaís current closer. That makes absolutely no sense. Urbina is ten times the closer Looper is! (Note - he is the closer on my fantasy team, so this is a really bad move from that perspective!) Second, why would they give up three ďtop-levelĒ prospects for a set up man if they didnít have something else in mind? Letís take a look at the three players that the Rangers received:
Adrian Gonzalez - Clearly, he is the big name in the deal. The 2000 draftís first overall pick, Gonzalez is a very solid defensive first baseman. But, he has also hit well throughout the minor leagues. This year, heís split time between the Marlins AA and AAA affiliates. He has hit the ball very well at AA, and experienced some definite struggles with AAA pitching. Gonzalez was basically taken first overall that year because he was willing to sign a $3 million signing bonus. The 2000 draft was generally considered a weak draft, unlike the 2001 draft when guys like Joe Mauer, Mark Prior, Dewon Brazelton, Mark Texiera and Gavin Floyd were all great picks.
Will Smith - An outfielder who was just a 6th round pick in 2000, he has continually made progress and been successful in the minor leagues. Heís not quite as high a prospect as Gonzalez, but could develop into a solid major leaguer. He is currently at AA.
Ryan Snare - Another Ďtopí prospect, Snare is a pitcher at AA. He was 5-4, with a 3.67 ERA, before the trade.
All three were named as top 10 prospects of the Marlins though. Why would they give up that much for a ďmiddle relieverĒ? Stay tuned!
TWINS GAME - July 11, 2003 - at Anaheim Angels
Pregame thoughts -
Of course everyone is excited that Johan Santana is back in the starting rotation, where he should have been the whole time. I do think that heíll do well. Hopefully he can give them 6 or 7 innings and give up 2 or less runs and strike out 8 to 10 batters. If thatís the case, the Twins could win.
Ramon Ortiz, the Angels starter, has been solid for a couple of years. He wonít be easy to hit at all.
The Outfield should be interesting, with Torii Hunter not around and Lew Ford unable to play.
Yesterday, I thought aloud, wondering if Cristian Guzman was taken out of the game in the mid-innings of Thursday nightís game as a disciplinary move. Turns out, I was right. Manager Ron Gardenhire announced that he is benching Guzman for the Angels series. Itíll be very interesting to see how Guzman reacts to the demotion. Itíll also be interesting to see not only who plays shortstop the next few games, but also how the rest of the team reacts to the benching. Will it finally be something to fire up the team?
Letís see what happens. Iíve seen other web writers discuss their thoughts throughout a Twins game, so I am going to try that myself. I will just make notes of what Iím thinking as the game goes along. I donít even know how it will look. I hope itís interesting and fun. If nothing else, itís a rundown for those people who chose not to stay up for these late, West Coast games.
First Inning -
Well, Chris Gomez is leading off and playing shortstop. I think thatís the right choice for SS. I always thought Gomez was brought to the Twins as a potential replacement for either Guzman or Rivas if necessary. Hocking would then be able to remain the utility player. Of course, Gomez struck out.
They just showed the lineup and Denny Hocking is in CF. Thatís probably the best position for him to play. Kielty really isnít fast enough for CF, and Mohr is really the only one of the three that is good in left.
Mientkiewicz is in the 2 spot again. I really like his bat there. Yes, he has great plate discipline. Yes, he puts the ball in play. And because of those two things, the second slot is best for him. But, he has earned that spot by hitting well, and Gardy moving him there shows confidence in him. Ground out to 1B.
Koskie hit a shot right at 1B, Scott Spezio for third out.
Darin Erstad is constantly bashed by stat-heads for not putting up great numbers. Even when he struggles, it seems that the Angels are a far better team when he is in the lineup. When I was in college in Moorhead, MN, and playing baseball, Erstad, who had just been drafted #1 overall by the Angels was living and working out in Fargo, ND at the time. He would come to Concordia College and take batting practice and throw with some guys that were on our college team before our seasons started and before he went to spring training. Erstad was a great guy, talked with everyone, just seemed like a regular guy. This year, heís come off a hamstring injury so his at bats and timing arenít where they would normally be. He is an amazing defensive centerfielder, sacrificing his body all over the field. He is the definition of the word ďgamerĒ, and I can understand why Peter Gammons loves him.
They just showed a statistic that the Angels hadnít struck out in their last 50 at bats. So, I may need to reduce the number of strikeouts I would predict for Santana.
But, Santana keeps throwing strikes and has a 1-2-3 first inning.
Second Inning -
Matthew Lecroy is again in the lineup, again as the Designated Hitter. I hate to continue bringing this up, but wasnít Justin Morneau brought up to play. I wrote last Monday about how bad the Twins are with their top prospects once they get to the big leagues. How is he supposed to improve? That said, Lecroy is hitting well and deserves to play, but with Tom Prince now gone, Lecroy is the backup catcher. What happens if Pierzynski gets hurt? Lecroy rips a shot past Ramon Ortizís head, into center field.
AJ Pierzynski hits into a double play. Whatís new? It seems like he does that at least once or twice a game, and recently it seems like every time the bases are loaded and he comes up, itís a double play.
Bobby Kielty is hitting sixth and hits a ball about 8 feet to end the half inning.
Garrett Anderson is so good. What a sweat swing! Single to right.
Troy Glaus cost Corey Koskie a spot on the All-Star team. OK, the fans who voted Troy Glaus in as the starter in the All-Star game cost Corey Koskie a spot on the All-Star team. Johan struck him out. I feel better!
Shawn Wooten is a shorter, ummÖ stockier version of Matthew Lecroy. He can flat out hitÖ Just really canít run. Fly out to right field.
Bengie Molina was on the list of players that fans could vote in as the 32nd player for the All-Star game. I thought that was kind of ridiculous. Maybe Mike Scioscia put him on there, but his numbers are very similar, if not better than AJ Pierzynski, plus, Molina is a far better defensive catcher. And, Santana struck out Molina on a pitch that was way up and away. But, thatís ok!! Two innings, two strikeouts for Santana!
Third Inning -
Dustan Mohr is up and he really hasnít done much for awhile. I am a Mohr fan. I like his intensity. He has Chad Allen intensity, but Mohr is, or can be, a far better hitter than Chad Allen was. Mohr watched a curveball that was caught far closer to the outside corner than the one called on Molina (a curveball caught on the outside corner definitely crosses the plate).
I think we all know that Denny Hocking wonít be back next year, unless he were to be willing to sign a deal for about $300,000 for next year. He definitely has value in the role he has. There are just many, many other options if Hocking wants any more money than that. Hocking worked out a walk.
Luis Rivas. The much-maligned by Twins fans and coaches, Luis Rivas. His offensive numbers have been fine the last couple of months. Heíll never be a power hitter, so I donít even understand why people even look at his slugging percentage or OPS (which contains slugging percentage). Heíll be a slap hitter his whole career. My concern with him is definitely his defense. He doesnít get to much and makes a lot of dumb mistakes. That said, he turns the double-play better than any non-Bret Boone second baseman. He was hit by a fastball.
Chris Gomez just drilled a shot off of Ramon Ortiz. How slow is Gomez? Kennedy made a great play on the ball, but wow! Guzman would have beat it out, well, if he would have run it out.
Mientkiewicz up, 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd. This situation has been the twins Achillesí heal the whole season. And, as seems to be tradition, Mientkiewicz grounded weakly back to the pitcher for the third out, stranding two more runners. I shouldnít pick on Mientkiewicz. Heís actually one of just a few Twins I would actually want up there in that situation.
Benji Gil was a #1 pick WAY back in 1991. He was rushed to the majors for the Rangers at age 19. He clearly wasnít ready at that time, and it may have slowed his growth. After that, he lost his whole ďprospectĒ status, and went to a few other organizations. Heís found a fit with the Angels now as a role player. A couple of years ago, he went hard into 2B and took out Luis Rivas in what the Twins considered a bad slide. I remember that because he was supposed to bat a couple innings later and was pinch hit for. I think everyone knows he would have been hit.
Quick inning for Santana, another of the 1-2-3 variety.
OK, weíve been through the order for both teams once, now Iíll just make a few comments each inning, or else this could get really long!
Fourth Inning -
Ramon Ortiz has been compared to Pedro Martinez for a few years now. And for obvious reasons. Theyíre both under 6 feet tall and have wiry arm motions. Ortiz can be very solid, just not always consistent.
Corey Koskie seems to be hurt. I donít know whether itís a rib problem, as Dick Bremer is guessing. It looks to me more like his back might have gone out on him. Iím just going to guess a few options if Koskie canít continue. With Lew Ford unable to play and Torii Hunter not around, Justin Morneau is the only position player on the bench (other than Guzman). He could go in to first base and Doug Mientkiewicz could go to 3B. Option #2 might be to have Morneau at 1B, Mientkiewicz move out to RF, with Kielty shifting over to CF and Denny Hocking moving in to 3B. Uggh! Option #3 would be to actually play Cristian Guzman at SS and moving Chris Gomez to 3B. That may make the most sense.
With 2 outs, AJ doubled to RF, off the wall. 2 feet higher and the Twins would have a lead. Runner in Scoring Position again, 2 outs, againÖ Bobby Kielty up. Another Twin I like up in this situation. He drew a walk, to bring up Dustan Mohr who walked on 4 pitches. Bases loaded, 2 outs, a chance for a big inning, but with 2 outs, this could be a HUGE mid-inning plate appearance. And, with the way the Twins have played the last month, it should be clear what would happen. Hocking struck out swinging at a terrible pitch.
Well, the Twins went with option #3. Cristian Guzman is back in the game at shortstop, and it makes sense.
Rod Carew is in the broadcast booth with Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven. In discussing why Guzman had been benched, Carew brought up the example of Andruw Jones from about 5 or 6 years ago. Carew said that Jones didnít run out a ball and manager Bobby Cox took him out of the game. Actually, what happened was Jones was in CF, and tried to make a play on a line drive. He missed the ball and it went to the CF wall. Jones jogged after the ball as the batter rounded the bases. Immediately, Cox made an example of Jones, replacing him in CF. I had never seen that before or since. Normally a manager waits until the next half inning to make a change, as was the case with Guzman.
Bobby Kielty just made a diving/sliding/catch thing in RF on a pop up by Tim Salmon. Dick Bremer sure was excited about it. Any other outfielder would have caught it easily. Well, except newly acquired Twin Kevin Young.
After a single by Garrett Anderson followed by a balk to second, Johan Santana got Troy Glaus to hit a very high pop up to shallow RF. Kielty tried another diving/sliding/catch thing and missed it, allowing Anderson to score. The unfortunate thing is that it is a double, and the run is earned. Boy, do the Twins need to get Jacque Jones back, and Torii Hunter! With those two out there, and Dustan Mohr (the best defensive RF option), the Twins outfield is as good as anyoneís (except Seattleís).
Fifth Inning - (Score now Angels 1, Twins 0)
Luis Rivas led off for the Twins and hit a routine grounder to shortstop and Bengie Gil booted the ball for an error. David Eckstein is not a great ball player, but like Erstad, the Angels are a better team with him in the lineup.
Hit-and-run, Rivas takes off and Gomez hits a hard groundball right to the 2nd baseman, who was up the middle to cover 2nd base. He tagged Rivas and threw Gomez out at first. Thatís just bad luck!
Mientkiewicz walked to bring up Cristian Guzman, who is now in the 3 spot in the order. Hopefully this is right: Heíll go 3-3 with a single, a homer and a triple. And, if he does, will he stay on the bench if Koskie can play tomorrow? Well, on a 1-2 pitch, Guzman punched a single to right center.
Lecroyís up, runner in scoring position, 2 outs - Lecroy grounds out to 3rd base.
Santana, three up, three down, one strikeout.
Sixth Inning - (Score - Angels 1, Twins 0)
Just found out, Corey Koskie left the game with a lower back strainÖ HmmmÖ Maybe I should have majored in pre-Med!!!
Twins go 1-2-3. Ortiz is over 100 pitches. Will he stay in? I almost hope so, otherwise we have to face the likes of Brendan Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez!
Darin Erstad led off with a double and moved to third on a ground out. Another situation where the Angels now have a runner on third and less than 2 outs. On a 3-0 pitch, Santana grooved a fastball down the heart of the plate and Tim Salmon hit a deep fly ball, real deep, as in over the fence, to give the Angels a 3-0 pitch. Iím sorry to continually second guess Ron Gardenhire, but why did they even pitch to him there???? Thatís just not smart at all! Salmon has been around a long time! Walk the man, and take your chances with the next hitter. I realize itís Garrett Anderson and he already has 2 hits, but still, you donít give in to Tim Salmon, especially on 3-0. I just donít understand!!! Itís not like this is the first time this has happened all year! Does Gardy think that Mike Scioscia wonít give Tim Salmon the green light? Gardy gives most of his playerís green lights, and none of them have the credentials that Tim Salmon has. UGGH! To make it worse, Santana struck out Garrett Anderson, and Glaus grounded out weakly to first base.
Seventh Inning - (Score - Angels 3, Twins 0)
Scot Shields is in for the Angels. Peter Gammons has compared him to Johan Santana in that with his stuff, he could/should be in the Angels starting rotation too. He gave up an infield single to Luis Rivas, but 3 other ground balls and the Twins were out of the inning.
Santana is done. He went 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 3 earned runs, walked none and struck out 4. And, dissecting the runs, the first came on a pop up that someone should have caught, and the 2nd came when Gardy had him pitch to, instead of walking, Tim Salmon on a 3-0 pitch. 6 innings, 3 earned runs, a quality start for Santana.
Juan Rincon is now in. Strikeout, Fly out, fly out. Good inning for Rincon.
Eighth Inning - (Score - Angels 3, Twins 0)
All-Star Brendan Donnelly is now in the game. He and his 0.40 ERA. He got the first two Twins hitters to fly out. Then Adam Kennedy made an amazing, full-stretching dive into shallow right field to field an AJ Pierzynski ground ball and threw him out to end the inning.
JC Romero is on for the Twins. After getting the first out, Romero did what heís done best this year. He walked a batter, Darin Erstad. And, that was followed by a home run by Scott Speizio. Romero got the next two hitters out.
Ninth Inning - (Score - Angels 5, Twins 0)
Donnelly is staying in for the 9th inning. Kielty grounded out and didnít run the ball out. Dustan Mohr struck out. And Denny Hocking grounded out to 2B to end the game.
FINAL SCORE - Angels 5, Twins 0.
Santana deserved better. He pitched well. The Twins just canít hit, and not having Jacque or Torii in the lineup really hurts. I think Jacque Jones being out is bigger than a lot of people may want to think! Corey Koskieís status will be important. Hey, on a positive note, Ron Gardenhire was suspended for a game and wonít be in the dugout tomorrow. Look for Brad Radke to get a win tomorrow afternoon!
Matchup - Brad Radke (5-8, 5.56) vs. Jarrod Washburn (7-9, 4.39)
The Royals won tonight, so the Twins are now 5 Ĺ games back of them.
Yesterday, I asked the questions - Where the Critics right? Was last yearís success really a fluke? The answer to those question are becoming more and more difficult to want to answer. Again, Iíd love to hear your thoughts, so please e-mail me with what you think.
The Twins are on Fox tomorrow. Itís a regional game, and Rex Hudler will be the analyst. Should be interesting to hear him talk.
Is a move imminent? Should the Twins become sellers? Hopefully Terry Ryan has some answers!
Well, this was kind of fun! I may have to do it again some time. I hope youíve enjoyed it.
Have a great rest of the weekend!
Back to Archives Home