Thursday, July 19, 2007
Hello All! Another hard-to-watch Twins game last night against the Tigers! Uggh! Well, answering a few questions the last few days has caused more and more questions and I certainly don't mind answering them. So thank you to all of you have sent in questions. With as much as I have been gone of late, and as much as I am struggling right now for topics and energy, it has really helped me. Thank you! And of course you can continue to send me your questions.
A quick programming note... I don't know how many readers here live in the Bismarck, North Dakota area, but this morning at 11:00 a.m., I will be on Bismarck's ESPN radio station (am 710) with Jack Michaels to talk Twins. I look forward to the time and who knows, maybe it could become some sort of regular appearance. So, if you have a chance, be sure to check that out. I understand that FSN's Marney Gellner makes a weekly appearance as well.
John Sharkey over at Gameday posted a really incredible article on the Nick Punto Playing Time situation. It truly represents how I feel about Nick Punto playing so much. Obviously he writes far more eloquently than I, but he makes a great point. I guess if I were to summarize my thoughts on the Punto situation it would be that I can't be upset at Punto for not playing well. Remember when we were all upset at Jacque Jones for his inability to hit left-handed pitching? Eventually that disappointment was no longer in Jones for not hitting lefties, but instead it was directed at Gardy for continuing to put him in a situation where he could not really succeed. The Punto situation is nearly the same. I'm no longer disappointed in Punto (which isn't hard because this is the production I would have expected) but in Gardy for continuing to play him.
OK, I'm as big a Jason Kubel supporter as there is and I fully believe that he will be an All-Star in his career. I also realize he came into the game as an injury replacement for Torii Hunter. But in the Bottom of the 5th inning, after Justin Morneau was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score the Twins first run, Kubel made his first appearance in more than three games. I know that's not an easy situation, but HOLY CRAP... Swing the bat. I know it's lefty-lefty, but three fastballs right down the middle have to be tough to watch! Maybe not! Watch them trade Kubel now because he's in Gardy's doghouse. I can see it now.
So, will Kubel play this afternoon, or is he so far in the doghouse that he won't even play against a right-handed starter? Seriously, I can understand Gardy deciding to use Mike Redmond as a pinch hitter for Kubel in the 7th against a lefty. However, the at bat was against Bobby Seay, not Andrew Miller. I guarantee Kubel would have had a better at bat. And, using Redmond put the team in a tough spot should anything happen to Mauer. I probably would have left Kubel in there.
Gardy was definitely sending a message to the Twins and their fans that last night's game was very important. He was over-managing (in part due to injuries to Torii Hunter and Mike Redmond). He left Santana in an extra inning which meant that he threw 118 pitches. That might seem good to do, and it may not end up hurting anything. But remember a year ago, the Twins left Francisco Liriano in a couple of games an extra inning JUST TO GET HIM A WIN, and what happened? I appreciate Gardy looking out for his players (at least the favorites) and trying to help them statistically. But part of a manager's job is to do more than win today, it's to win over 162 games. As big as many people want to make these Tigers games, and they are important, they are still just individual games.
Yesterday, I surprised a lot of people by daring to question Joe Mauer. In the ninth inning the night before, he watched a 2-0 90 mph fastball right down the middle for a called strike. Basically I thought that situation called for a big swing. Whether he hit a home run, I would like a middle of the lineup guy to take a shot and be a little more aggressive. Normally, I love Mauer's patient approach at the plate, but there are certain times where you would just really like him to be a little more aggressive. You don't want him to bunt when there are runners in scoring position. You want him to wait for a good pitch and drive the ball as he does. Mauer is a very smart hitter. He goes to the plate with a plan. He generally understands situations and what to do. For instance, in the 6th inning of last night's game, he laid down a bunt for a single. In that case, the bunt was perfect. A left-hander was on the mound and Brandon Inge was playing deep. The Twins needed to get something going and needed someone on base. In most cases, Mauer's on-base percentage and patience is a positive. Sometimes, as a good teammate, you have to trust your teammates. He has to believe that Michael Cuddyer will come through, and if he doesn't maybe Justin Morneau or Torii Hunter will. So again, to summarize, I was critical of Mauer's approach in that one at bat. In general, I think his approach is the way that should be modeled by kids!
That was a long, long game!
Alright, let's get to some more questions:
Which relievers at AAA or AA (besides Cali) have a chance to move up to the Twins next year, like Neshek and Crain did? Any closers in the minors that have a chance to replace Nathan or is Neshek the closer in waiting?
Do you think they’ll sign Nathan?
First of all, I believe that the Twins next closer will be Pat Neshek. So, I'll get that out of the way right away. Nathan has been as good as any closer the past three years, but paying a guy who will maybe throw 70 innings in a season $12 million a year is more than ridiculous. And, Neshek is the Twins top reliever right now. He has a lot of minor league closer experience. By the start of next season, he will have a year and a half of grooming in the big leagues under his belt. He's ready now, but all of what he is doing now is only making him more prepared.
So, to the rest of the question. Are there any relievers at AAA or AA who could be a closer for the Twins? My current opinion is no. Rochester's closer is Bobby Korecky who came to the Twins with Carlos Silva and Nick Punto in the Eric Milton trade. I think he can be a decent middle reliever for the Twins in a year, but I don't think he will be a closer. The Twins seem quite high on Ricky Barrett, and I'm not sure why because he seems to constantly be hurt. He is left-handed. Jay Sawatski is another lefty reliever who just moved up to Rochester. He was an 8th round pick of the Twins in 2004. He is one that I believe will pitch for the Twins, but likely in a LOOGY type role. And Julio DePaula didn't show much in his brief time with the Twins earlier in the season, but I believe he will be back in the next year and be able to contribute.
At AA, there really isn't a designated closer. Tim Lahey is a guy to watch though. He was drafted as a catcher out of Princeton. He was converted to a pitcher because he has a great arm. He may take a little bit of time to progress, but he is doing well for the Rockcats. Jose Mijares is already on the Twins 40 man roster. He's a big lefty who throws hard and has good stuff. He has done well at AA too, picking up some saves even. In his brief time with Rochester, he struggled some, but I think he could help the Twins at some point too. Danny Powers was an 8th round pick in 2005 who has struggled some in 2007 but had a nice year in 2006.
The main 'closer' type in the minors that I like is Eduardo Morlan. He was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2004. He is now the closer for Ft. Myers. He may have the best stuff of any of those great 2004 high school pitcher picks, and he ranks as my #5 Twins prospect. He wants to be a reliever. He has the pitches to be a closer. He will likely continue to be groomed in the closer's role as he moves up the system. I think that he will be used in the Twins bullpen by opening day of 2010, and depending on Neshek's status at the point, he could be closing a year or two later.
From Aaron Kalina
So what are your thoughts on the E-Town Twins? Is it just the level of play that allows them to just pound their opponents, or is there a special collection of players that could dominate minor league baseball for the next 4-5 years like the Mientkiewicz, Koskie, Pierzinski group in a few years back? And, who are the guys you think are worth getting excited about?
The Twins send their college draft picks from this year to Elizabethton. Although many of them would likely do well at Beloit, it gives them the summer to adjust to life on the road, getting paid, the wood bat, the organization and so much more. So, they are likely ahead of the competition. They also have players from around the world who have been playing pro ball (in the Dominican or Venezuelan Summer League, or in the GCL) for two to four years. I think that can be an advantage over several of the teams in the league that send some high school draft picks and younger players. Elizabethton and Danville are really the two teams in the league that are always in the championship series (OK, at least they have been the last two years). There are several players on the roster that I think should be getting the attention. Deibinson Romero was the one member of the team that showed up on my Top 50 list the last two installments. The 3B has a lot of potential. Rene Leveret appears to have a lot of power and an overall ability to hit. Rene Tosoni and Ozzie Lewis have also been impressive so far. Michael Allen and Derek Bromberg are two pitchers that I believe have a chance. Certainly with the team the offense gets a lot of the glory, especially when the scored double-digit points so many times early in the year. Brad Tippett is a reliever from Australia who did a nice job last year for the GCL Twins and this year has started out well for the E-Twins.
This year's early round picks came from the high school ranks so the likes of Ben Revere, Danny Rams and Angel Morales (their top three picks) begin their career in the GCL. It will be interesting to see if all three will start the 2008 season in Beloit (as Chris Parmalee and Joe Benson did this year, Drew Thompson and Paul Kelly did the year before, etc.). So, the E-Twins don't necessarily have a lot of the big name prospects at this time. That does not mean that the E-Twins roster is not full of big prospects. I will just begin to get more excited about them when they show success with a full season team like Beloit.
One more from Aaron Kalina
Speaking of getting excited, is it wrong that Trevor Plouffe is becoming my guy right now in the system? His bat has slowly gotten better every year, and he’s had a pretty successful stint at New Britain, but how would you project him from here? You’ve touched on that in your prospect rankings, but I’m curious how you would really analyze his Twins future.
I don't think it is bad at all for Twins fans to start being excited about Trevor Plouffe. After starting the last two years really poorly and then having solid second halves to seasons, his numbers at the end of the year never looked real good. He was committing a lot of errors. Yet the Twins just continued to push him up a level, knowing that he was no more than two years younger than much of the competition he was playing against. Well, this year at AA New Britain, Plouffe was able to get off to a very good start for the Rockcats. He had a strong April when he hit .310. He struggled a little in May (.231), but in June he was again very good (.325). Right now, he is hitting .283/.332/.428 for the season. He has always shown good plate discipline in terms of walks. In the past, I couldn't help but wonder if he was showing too much patience and hence putting himself in poor pitch counts. Now the numbers that really have me excited about the future of Trevor Plouffe. 25 doubles, two triples and seven home runs. 34 extra base hits in 346 at bats. That is exciting to me because the Twins need all the pop in the lineup that they can get. Defensively, he is known for having very good range, soft hands and a strong arm. He was quite the pitcher in high school and many teams were scouting him as a pitcher.
In terms of Plouffe's future with the team, I think it is now quite bright. Obviously he must continue to improve both offensively and defensively. My assumption is that the Twins would like him to spend 2008 at AAA Rochester. If that is the case, he could be in line for a late season call up next year. I think that Jason Bartlett is safe for 2007 and likely for 2008. But he will have to continue to improve to hold off Plouffe. If Bartlett makes himself into an All-Star, well then maybe Plouffe becomes a potential 3B of the future. If Plouffe hits like he can, he will be with the Twins for a long time. They will find a place for him even if Bartlett plays well enough to stay at SS.
What will Matt Garza’s status be for 2008 if he stays in the majors for the rest of this season, will we gain an extra arbitration year from keeping him in the minors until the all-star break?
Well, his status for 2008 will be non-rookie. He will make about $425,000. But your more important question regards his arbitration status. Was keeping him in AAA until the all-star break enough to keep him from being arbitration-eligible for an extra year. Was he held back long enough so as not to be a "Super-2." Super 2's are determined after the season and are based entirely on the number of days that they spent on the major league roster. At that time, (I believe) the top 17% of players with more than two years of big league time and less than three years of big league time, will be eligible for arbitration. In all honesty, I don't know what to think. If he hadn't been up last August, I would say that he wouldn't be eligible until 2011. But it is possible that he will be after the 2010 season
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 - Brandon Roberts, New Britain Rockcats
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Jeff Manship, Ft. Myers Miracle
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Wednesday - Red Wings 4, Syracuse 5 (10) – Bobby Korecky gave up a single and a walk before throwing a bunted ball away giving Syracuse the win in the bottom of the 10th. Brian Duensing starts and gave up three runs in six innings. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out two. Denard Span went 3-4. Matt Tolbert went 2-4 with his 16th double, fourth homer, a walk and three RBI. Alexi Casilla was 2-5.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Rockcats 13, Connecticut 6 – The Rockcats scored four runs in the 7th and eight runs in the 8th to win this game big. Brandon Roberts led the offense with a 4-5 day. He had his 3rd triple. Korey Feiner went 3-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Felix Molina went 3-5 with his 14th double. Brock Peterson went 2-4. Kyle Waldrop started and went five innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits. He walked three and struck out two. Danny Powers gave up a run in two innings. Jose Mijares improved to 4-0 as he too gave up a run on two hits.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 10, Vero Beach 2 - Jeff Manship gave up two first inning runs and then threw seven shutout innings after that. He gave up five hits, walked just one and struck out eight. Manship improved to 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA. Adam Hawes pitched a perfect ninth. Danny Valencia led the offense by going 3-5 with his fourth homer and two RBI. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his fourth homer and fifth stolen base. Erik Lis went 2-5 with his third triple. Jeff Christy went 2-4. Steven Tolleson hit his fourth homer and Edward Ovalle hit his eighth homer.
Wednesday - Snappers, Wisconsin – Game was suspended due to rain.
Wednesday - Game 1 - E-Twins 3, Bristol 1 – The Twins managed just six hits in this game, but it was enough. Greg Yersich went 2-3. David Bromberg went the first 4.1 innings and gave up a run on four hits. He walked four and struck out seven. Brad Tippett improved to 4-0 with 1.2 scoreless innings. Blair Erickson picked up his second save, striking out two in an inning.
Wednesday - Game 2 - E-Twins 11, Bristol 2 – The bats showed up again in Game 2! Rene Tosoni and Deibinson Romero each went 3-4. Tosoni hit his first homer. Ozzie Lewis went 2-3 with a three-run homer (his third) and five RBI. Ben Petsch went 2-4. Wesley Connor went 2-2 with a walk, his fourth double, his second homer and two RBI. Mike McCardell moved up to the team and made his first start. He went five innings of one-run ball to record his first win. he gave up three hits, walked one and struck out nine hitters. Steven Hirschfeld pitched a scoreless innings. Mike Rogers gave up a run in his inning.
GCL TWINS UPDATE
Wednesday - GCL Twins 4, GCL Orioles 3– The Twins scored all four runs in the 8th inning and held on for the win. They managed seven hits, but only James Beresford had two. Dan Berlind gave up two runs in five innings. He allowed four hits, four walks and struck out eight. Lee Martin got his first win as he threw two shutout innings. Charles Nolte gave up a run and struck out three in two innings.
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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