Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Hello All! I am back today to answer some more of your questions and in general, talk some baseball. I will answer more of your questions, but please feel free to e-mail me some questions. But first, some thoughts on the Twins 1-0 loss to Nate Robertson and the Detroit Tigers last night. Speaking of 1-0, be sure to check out how Kevin Slowey did last night for Rochester.
If you read the game log from Joe Christensen's Around the Majors blog last night, you would swear that Jason Bartlett cost the Twins the game. Sure, his error to lead off the sixth led to the eventual winning (or losing, from the Twins perspective) run scoring, but there were so many other things that the Twins could have done to win that blaming Bartlett is ridiculous! Here are just a few:
Matt Garza pitched great, but the run did score on a 2-out, 2-strike pitch to Magglio Ordonez. Ron Coomer said after the game that the pitch was a rookie mistake. I just shook my head thinking that a veteran was incapable of making a bad two strike pitch?
Joe Mauer - take some more pitches. He was called out on a pitch off the outside corner after watching two actual strikes go right over the plate. And then in the bottom of the 9th against soft-tosser Todd Jones, Mauer watched a 2-0 fastball go right down the middle of the plate for a strike. In my mind, that is a ball Mauer should have hit way over the baggy in right field. Instead, he swung at a 2-1 fastball likely just off the outside corner and grounded out to 3B.
Michael Cuddyer - So many times I wish that he too would be more aggressive early in the count. Well, he got jammed on a fastball by soft-tossing Todd Jones on the first pitch he saw in the 9th and weakly grounded out to 1B for the final out of the game.
Jason Tyner - He was in the lineup. OK, that is Gardy's fault.
Torii Hunter - What was up with him letting a ball bounce about five feet in front of him after he pulled up and gave up on the ball. That wasn't very Torii like.
Hey, Luis Castillo badly misplayed a ball in the top of the 9th. Somehow it wasn't called an error. Either way, it allowed a runner to reach second base, scoring position. Fortunately, Pat Neshek bailed him out and got out of the inning.
The key story though was Matt Garza. He pitched very, very well. I think that the Twins would be thrilled if he would go seven innings and give up just one run every time out! So far this year, Garza has thrown 15 innings is yet to allow an earned run. So, he is 1-1 with a 0.00 ERA.
Yesterday, Aaron Gleeman posted the Twins Adjusted Win Probability numbers through the team's first 92 games. Very interesting!
Tonight, it is Johan Santana against young Andrew Miller of the Tigers.
Finally, be sure to monitor this series from the other perspective by checking out The Detroit Tigers Weblog. It's great!
Alright, let's get to some questions:
From Matt Ellenberger
I've been struggling with the idea of either Hunter, Castillo or both of them will be gone by the end of the season. I'm almost certain that we will keep Santana, but I'm worried about Hunter leaving because he's such a good clubhouse guy and Castillo has that electric air around him that seems to jump start the offense. So my questions are how do you think the twins clubhouse will respond with the departure of one or both of those guys and do you think we could get some return on those guys before the trade deadline?
Short Answer - They'll be just fine. First of all, the 'Torii is great in the clubhouse' stuff is more than a bit overblown. Does Johan Santana pitch well because Torii is good in the clubhouse? Is Juan Rincon pitching really bad of late because of Torii's clubhouse presence? Was Joe Mauer a batting title champion because of Torii Hunter being his teammate? In reality, even if Torii is great in the clubhouse, if he's gone next year someone else will step into that role. Maybe Michael Cuddyer. Maybe Justin Morneau. Maybe Jason Bartlett. Torii Hunter has been excellent offensively this year and better than last year defensively as well. That is what matters, and it should really just be left at that.
Now, I feel a need to counter this whole assumption that Luis Castillo is good and worth all this money. As a matter of fact, I don't really know what 'an electric air around him" really means. I believe that Dick Bremer and Dan Gladden are in large part responsible. Luis Castillo is a good player, a solid veteran type with some speed. Some (Sid Hartman maybe?) seem to think he is one of the best second basemen in the league. So, as I did a year or two ago when such claims were made about Shannon Stewart, I have to look into what it really means to be a quality leadoff hitter. In my mind, there are really two important traits for a good leadoff hitter. First, he must get on base. That is key. Secondly, I think it is best for a leadoff hitter to take a lot of pitches. Why? So that the rest of the lineup can see all that the pitcher has to offer right away. Also, number of pitches seen many times relates to walks which is important to the on-base percentage. Finally, I will also look at OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) because singles are great but extra base hits are really good too and contribute to the overall value of the hitter. So, where does Luis Castillo rank among regular leadoff hitters in the American League? Let's take a look:
(quick notes - Reed Johnson is the leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays, but he missed about two months of the season with injury. I will use his career numbers. That is a little more fair to Castillo as Alexis Rios and Vernon Wells did a lot of the leadoff hitting for the Jays during that time. Also, I should probably have had Julio Lugo as the leadoff hitter of the Red Sox as he was much of the early part of the season. He was horrible in every way. Coco Crisp has been leading off for the Red Sox of late (and JD Drew has some too), so I will use Crisp's numbers, which aren't good either. Also, stats through Monday games)
|Luis Castillo||Minnesota Twins||359||716||4.00|
|Curtis Granderson||Detroit Tigers||344||910||3.91|
|Grady Sizemore||Cleveland Indians||389||854||4.28|
|Darin Erstad||Chicago White Sox||311||652||3.70|
|David DeJesus||Kansas City Royals||355||757||3.73|
|Brian Roberts||Baltimore Orioles||408||858||4.24|
|Coco Crisp||Boston Red Sox||323||710||3.77|
|Johnny Damon||New York Yankees||338||672||4.38|
|Akinori Iwamura||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||366||782||3.80|
|Reed Johnson||Toronto Blue Jays||346||766||3.79|
|Reggie Willits||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||412||782||4.38|
|Travis Buck||Oakland A's||381||857||3.76|
|Ichiro Suzuki||Seattle Mariners||406||858||3.69|
|Kenny Lofton||Texas Rangers||386||823||3.62|
I'm not going to over-analyze this information. As with any stat, you can manipulate it to say whatever you want. I will tell you that of the 14 AL leadoff hitters here, Castillo ranks 8th in OBP, 11th in OPS and 5th in Pitches Per At Bat. Last year, Shannon Stewart was the worst in the AL. Luis Castillo is clearly a very average AL 2B. Is an aging, injury-waiting-to-happen, average 2B worth $7-8 million to the Twins for a few more years? My opinion is that he is not. In my mind, Alexi Casilla could come in next year and have an OB% of .340-.350, an OPS over .700 and take a lot of pitches too. And, he would cost only about $400,000 for each of the next two or three years.
Now to the second part of your question, regarding what they could receive as part of a trade for Hunter or Castillo. For Hunter, the Twins could probably get a young, ready for the bigs prospect and one or two mid-level prospects. You have to remember that the team that is acquiring him will only have him for two months unless they are able to work out a deal to keep him. Sure, I'd love to get Clay Bucholz and Jacoby Ellsbury for Hunter, but that isn't likely to happen. I would take one of them (or Jon Lester) and a good Hi-A outfielder for him. Although, I absolutely agree with the thought that if the Twins don't get what they feel they could for him, they might as well keep him and take their chances with the arbitration process and possibly get two draft choices.
As for Luis Castillo... remember that the Twins were able to get him before the 2006 season for Scott Tyler and Travis Bowyer. That was almost two years ago when he was younger, faster and better. So again, I would like to see the Twins try to get something good for him, but if they can't, they might as well hope that he becomes a Type A free agent and take the draft choices. (and hope he doesn't accept arbitration!)
From Aaron Kalina
I was wondering what your personal thoughts are on the MacPherson article about Adam Dunn. Slowey would be a tough guy to lose, because hes so close to being big league ready should Baker go back to his old ways, Bonser continue to struggle, Perkins never getting back to health, or (God forbid) Liriano not recover from Tommy John the way he should. But then again, if this weekday series against the Tigers goes well, Ryan almost has no choice but to inquire, right?
I used to be a Dunn fan, and for as much power as he has, is it worth all the strikeouts? Yes, he can DH, so his horrible defense isn't a big deal. However, he has a clause in his deal saying if he is traded, he becomes a free agent after the year. So, I wouldn't give up Slowey for him. I'd maybe give up two lower level types for him, but not a guy that is as close and with as much potential as Slowey for a guy (Dunn) for two months. A guy who will be eaten alive by a new league of pitchers. (I guess that could go the other way too, but unlikely). He is on pace to strike out 191 times this season, which is actually three less than he struck out last year. I'm still 100% on the Dmitri Young to the Twins bandwagon. Hey, shouldn't Torii Hunter's great clubhouse presence alleviate any concerns with Young?
Several questions from Brian Mohr of The Great Fort Myers Miracle Ramblings
Casilla or Tolbert as an everyday 2b next year.
As I've said before, Matt Tolbert has really been very good since he was sent back to Ft. Myers early in the 2006 season. He has since hit well in New Britain, in the Arizona Fall League and got off to a great start in Rochester this year. His numbers have come back down to earth, but he has made himself a future big leaguer. Since that 2006 demotion, he has gone from 'organizational utility infield player' to 'solid minor leaguer' to 'could get a September call up', to 'could be a solid utility infielder' to 'could start in the big leagues if needed.'
However, the future is absolutely with Alexi Casilla. He can hit, hit for average, hit with some extra base power, steal bases, play solid defense, throw very hard and more. Sure, the Twins certainly like telling us that he has a lot to learn before he will contribute. That's what the Twins do with young players. They bring them up and expect them to be perfect right away, and when they're not, they bash them. Casilla made some young mistakes, but it does nothing to take away from how good Casilla can be.
What Tolbert's success the last 12 months or so, what he has done is likely created a competition at 2B for Spring Training.
Hunter and Santana will combine to make X amount in 2009. Over under 40 million.
I believe that Santana will be making about $20 million in 2009 and Hunter will be making approximately $16 million, so I will go with the under and say it will be about $36 million. Part of my assumption is that the Twins will keep Santana, and if that is the case, then certainly under. If Santana gets to free agency, $20 million could very, very easily become $25 million which would put the number at $41 million between the two. But, since we are a year and a half from that time, I will remain positive and think that he will stick with the Twins.
Will Joe Mauer ever hit 25 or more homers?
Yes, at some point within the next three or four years. This is a frequent question and my real answer is WHO CARES? I would love for Mauer to hit for more power, but if he doesn't, it doesn't make him a bad player. He has tremendous value without being a power hitter because of his batting average, on base skills, doubles power and excellent defense behind the plate. Home runs are really a bonus.
Will Denard Span ever be a starter for the Twins?
Yes. I think he will. I don't think it will be because of merit. I think it will be because he was given nearly $2 million to give up college football and sign with the Twins. I think it is very important for the Twins not to rush Span past AAA before he's ready. I know they want him to be with the team next year, but he has two more options remaining, and the Twins should not be afraid to use them. So yes, I can definitely see Span starting for the Twins unless he is traded, and I can't imagine another team in baseball that would want to deal for him. (Krivsky maybe?)
The starting 3b for the Minnesota Twins in 2008 will be?
I believe that Brian Buscher will compete with Nick Punto and Morgan Ensberg for the starting 3B job in spring training. Ensberg is a 31 year old 3B of the Houston Astros. Remember that in 2005 he hit 36 home runs and drove in 101 runs. He had a .945 OPS that year. It dropped to .858 in 2006 when he hit 23 homers. This year, he is hitting .227/.318/.374 with just seven homers for the Astros. That is a pretty pathetic .692 OPS. Of course, that is FAR better than Nick Punto's horrifying .587 OPS! As you would expect, Punto is the far better defender at 3B, but for the chance that Ensberg only needs a change of scenery to rejuvenate his career, it may be worth the low dollar price tag that Ensberg should have this offseason. Although in a way it is another 'cheap veteran' type of signing, unlike Tony Batista, Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz, Ensberg may still have something left. In reality, and if all things were in fact equal, Buscher may be the best bat-glove combo of the three options. (Note - the Ensberg thing is just my opinion. I have not heard anything about the team being interested, just a thought.)
From Max Donsker
With several top prospects graduating, where do you feel the Twins system ranks (now or at the end of the season) compared to the rest of MLB? Do you feel like the twins now lack top prospects?
By the end of 2007, it is likely that Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey will graduate from rookie status. Those were my midseason top two prospects. #3 Glen Perkins may have already passed the rookie eligibility timeline before his injury, but if he does get back with the Twins during this season, it is likely that he would also not be a rookie in 2008. #4 is Alexi Casilla. He is probably one 15 Day DL stint from Luis Castillo from losing his eligibility. #12 Alexander Smit is no longer in the organization. If Garrett Jones can remain on the roster, he may lose rookie status as well this year. So, I will take those off of my list. So, are there any top prospects remaining after them?
This is a good question because I was just thinking the same thing. I think that the organization's top prospect right now would be Chris Parmalee, and he is still down at Beloit. He has the highest ceiling. But as I look through the rest of the Twins system, I really don't see huge impact players or pitchers. I don't see a future #1 pitcher. I do see several pitchers that could be very solid #2-#4 type pitchers and there are many others that have the ability and potential to be 5th starters and relievers. Eddie Morlan, in my mind, is a guy who could be a big league closer, so maybe he's another high ceiling guy. In terms of bats, I think Trevor Plouffe has done the most to raise his stock. He is putting together a great season at New Britain. I think that he can be a big league starter. How many other guys in the Twins system can we say that about right now? The names of Danny Valencia and Brian Dinkelman provide hope. I think that like Chris Parmalee, Joe Benson has a world of potential and we will likely know a lot more about him in two years. Are any of these guys possible Baseball America Top 100 candidates? I would say that Parmalee is really the only one.
The Twins minor league system is certainly down, especially in terms of bats. However, you also have to remember that this is the system that has produced the bats of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, the middle of their lineup. So, I don't quite think that they deserve as much heat for not developing bats as they frequently get. And, I am certainly of the belief that having a lot of potential #2-#4 types of starters is FAR better than having one or two potential #1 starters.,
So there you have it. My answers to a few more of your questions. I would like for people to always feel free to write me questions and if they are good, I may use them on the site. So please e-mail me questions you have regarding the Twins, their minor league teams, their prospects, blogging or anything. Again, please let me know if it is OK for me to use your name on the site.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Danny Valencia, Ft. Myers Miracle
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Kevin Slowey, Rochester Red Wings
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Tuesday - Red Wings 1, Syracuse 0 Kevin Slowey put together another great start. I think he will handle his demotion just fine. Slowey threw a three hit shutout in which he walked one and struck out eight. The Red Wings managed just three hits as well. Jose Morales went 2-3. However, a homer by Alexi Casilla to lead off the first inning was the lone run of the game.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Tuesday - Rockcats 11, Connecticut 3 Trevor Plouffe continues his excellent season. He went 3-4 with his 25th double. Garrett Guzman went 2-4 with a walk and his 10th homer. Matt Moses was 2-4 with his 10th double. Luck Hughes was 2-4 with a walk. Kyle Geiger was also 2-4. Josh Hill got a spot start and went five shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out six. Tristan Crawford returned from the DL and gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits in 1.2 innings. Frank Mata struck out three of the four batters he faced. Danny Powers also threw a shutout inning.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Tuesday - Miracle 6, Vero Beach 4 - Oswaldo Sosa improved to 5-5 with a 2.23 ERA. He gave up two runs on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. Armando Gabino gave up one run in 1.1 innings. Eddie Morlan gave up a solo homer in the 9th but recorded his 13th save. Luis Ugueto had two doubles in four at bats. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with his fourth double, third homer and three RBI. Johnny Woodard hit his third homer as well. Erik Lis was 2-4 with his second triple. Juan Portes was 2-4 with a double, his fourth stolen base and three runs scored. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his third double and fourth stolen base.
Tuesday - Snappers 4, Wisconsin 3 Matthew Fox had another decent start. In five innings he gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four. Jose Lugo walked all three batters he faced. Matt Williams then went two innings of shutout relief and only allowed one of his inherited runners to score. Jesus Carnevales pitched a shutout inning. With one out in the bottom of the 9th, Chris Parmalee walked to score Yancarlos Ortiz with the game winning run. Wilson Ramos was 2-4 with a walk. Danny Berg and Matt Betsill each hit a solo home run.
Tuesday - E-Twins, Bristol The game was rained out, probably something out of Bull Durham... the E-Twins could use the day off right now!
GCL TWINS UPDATE
Tuesday - GCL Twins 15, GCL Red Sox 4 The top six hitters in the Twins lineup each had two hits. They were Jeanfred Brito, Ben Revere, Yangervis Solarte, Danny Rams, Angel Morales and Alexander Soto. Revere, Solarte and Rams each hit a triple. Morales and Soto each had a double. Soto hit his second homer. He also walked twice. Errol Simonitsch made another rehab start. In three shutout innings, he struck out five. Sean Land threw a shutout inning, but then he gave up hits to the two batters he faced in that second inning. Jose Acosta came in and both of Land's runs scored, plus two more (1 earned). Rodney Gessman and Nelvin Fuentes each pitched a scoreless inning.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
Let me know what you think. Any other topics you would like to see discussed? Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today!|
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