Thursday, July 20, 2006
Twins Minor League Report
It's Your Day - Contest
Good morning everyone! Today is your day. You were given the chance to write your postings on any topic today. I was hoping more people would take advantage of the opportunity, but we did get seven very good postings. I hope you enjoy them. Of course, I have my Twins Thoughts (which followed the night's game with thoughts) and the updates on the minor league system.
On Monday, I started a Contest to give away three great Twins World Series DVDs. All I asked people to do was send me a quick e-mail with 200 or less words on any topic. Most chose to talk about their 1987 or 1991 World Series memories, but we do have a couple of other topics as well. For each entry that I received, I put the person's name in a hat. The three names that I pulled out won the three DVDs. Those three were Ty Walsh, James M and DZ. Thank you to those who took the time to send in your thoughts! Let's get to them. Here is a quick reminder of the DVDs and links to where you can buy them:
And quickly, before we get to your thoughts, here is a quick Chris Coste update, and I know that several of you are really starting to keep tabs on this for me! Yesterday, the Phillies came back with two runs in the top of the 9th to beat the San Diego Padres 5-4. In the game, Chris Coste caught and batted eighth. In his first plate appearance, he was hit by a pitch. In his second at bat, in the fourth inning, Coste connected for his first big league home run, a line drive to left field off of Padres starter Mike Thompson. In the 6th, he came up and hit a laser to right center to drive in the run. On the game, he was 2-3 with two RBI. He is now hitting .333 on the season.
From Roger Dehring
What exactly is Torii Hunter's contract situation? We all know that his contract pays him $10,750,000 this year and that the Twins have an option for $12,000,000 next year. If the Twins don't exercise that option, they will owe him a $2,000,000 buy-out.But can they get compensation if they don't exercise the option? Based on discussions I have had with a Twins executive, it is my understanding that they can do the buy-out and then offer arbitration. In this case they would receive the normal draft choices which should include a first round pick and sandwich pick following the first round.
From Ty Walsh
I may be one of the younger twins diehards in this contest seeing as I'm only 17, yet I have many twins memories forever etched in my brain. 1998 was my first year that I ever started to watch sports and I can remember going to games in the 1st row behind the twins dugout (my dad's company's tickets) and getting to meet guys like Paul Molitor, Matt Lawton, David Ortiz, Terry Steinbach, and so on. Sure they stunk it up but they were my team, and from there on out I was forever a twins fan. My favorite moment so far has to be Pierzynski's homer against Oakland in game 5 of the 2002 alds; talk about clutch AJ! My saddest moment thus far might have to be being at game 4 of the 2004 alds when Rincon blew the lead by giving up a homer to Ruben Sierra in the 8th and knocking the twins out of the playoffs, Oh man was that depressing!
From Brad in LaCrosse
Growing up on a farm in southeast Minnesota doesn't offer a lot of excitement for a teenager and the Twins were my nightly entertainment. Whether I was milking cows, on the tractor bailing hay or laying in bed trying to get to sleep in during those hot summer nights the Twins were always on the radio. Growing up in the sticks we would only go to one or maybe two games each summer and the radio was the next best thing Jon & Herb were almost like roommates.I was a senior in high school during the 87' season and will remember that stretch run forever. It was top of October and no one gave the Twins much of a chance against the heavily favored Tigers and I can't blame them. I was just happy to finally see a winner in Minnesota and getting to playoffs was fine with me. But there was Gaetti, Bruno and Dan Gladden mashing the Tigers awesome pitching staff. I don't know if the Tigers didn't take the Twins seriously or if lady luck was on our side, but they destroyed Detroit.The day after we beat Detroit, they announced on the radio that World Series tickets would go on sale the following day. The nearest location to us Dayton's in Rochester. Four of my buddies and myself were determined to see their improbable ride. Armed with a cooler, pillows, chairs and sleeping bags we drove up to Rochester to spend the night sleeping under the stars. We weren't alone in our love for the Twins, when we arrived at Dayton's the line was already about 2 blocks long. We pulled out all of our gear and prepared for a long night. In between runs to the grocery store across the street we organized some touch football games, played cards, ate a ton of junk food, and had a blast. When the doors opened the next morning that line couldn't move fast enough. We knew that there were only so many seats available but were confident that we would be lucky.We could now see the door and were getting more excited, arguing over who gets to go to which game and who was driving up to the games. Then with 6 people in front of us the doors close. An employee says that tickets are almost out and people will be let in once the line inside is gone. Those were the slowest 20 minutes of my life, as one by one the folks in front of were let in. Then another 5 minutes passes by without any type of announcement and then the good Lord must have heard our prayers. I will never forget when the guy stepped outside and said "Sorry folks, but these guys are going to buy the last tickets." Immediately we had people coming up to us offering us $100's to switch spots with them, kids and old ladies behind us started crying. For us it was going to be a dream come true. I don't know if we got the last tickets overall, but by the location of our seats they had to be close to the last because they were bad...really bad seats.The baseball Gods had to be with the Twins that year as there was no Jack Clark and a gimpy Pendleton, which caused Whitey to rely on his bench players and they were almost good enough. I got the short straw when we chose tickets and ended up with game 6 tickets. Looking at the match up we had Les Straker going up against John Tudor, thank God we were at the Dome and had the homer hankies flying. When the game started the noise inside the Dome was so loud one would have thought you were at a KISS concert instead. The game could have gone anyway until my main man, Big Kent, stepped up with the bases juiced in I think it was the sixth inning and he promptly launched the first pitch deep over the center field fence. Oh the noise in the Dome when that happened, I think all 55,000+ of us were screaming at the top our lungs.Being at that game did it for me, from that moment on the Twins would always be my first love. Sure I like the Vikes, Gophers, T-wolves & at that time the North Stars, but the Twins will always be #1 in my heart. Even now when I am away on business trips or working late at the office I am always keeping an eye on every game and I'm in a bad mood the next day when they blow the previous game. Whether they go 62-100 or 100-62 I will always be a fan!
From Joe Rakstad
I remember the 1987 World Series well. I still have the welt on my head. After Gaetti threw that ball to Hrbek, I jumped up and down so wildly that I slipped and cracked my head against a nearby box fan. I remember the two grand slams. I even remember skipping school the following Tuesday to see the parade. I was 9. It was a huge highlight.
Two years later, I moved to St. Louis. Luckily, my Cardinal fan friends hate the 85 World Series worse than 87. One of my friends has to constantly remind me that the Cardinals have won 9 World Series over the Twins measly 3. But I still remind him who won in 1987.
What's funny is that just this past Sunday, I popped in the 1991 tape again to relive the memories. And what fond memories they are. The best parts were seeing Gardenhire coaching third base, and realizing that Tom Glavine and John Smoltz are still tearing it up on the mound.
Oh, and Chuck Knoblauch, the rookie at the time, is nowhere to be found.
From Joshua Taylor of Taylor's Twins Talk
I grew up in Minnesota as a die-hard Twins fan. I was in Kindergarten when the Twins won the World Series in 1987, and that was when my love of the Twins was born. Lest I be accused of being a fair-weather fan, however, it should be noted that my interest in the team really didn't blossom until about 1993 or 1994, when I was old enough to really start appreciating the finer points of baseball. One of my most bittersweet memories was of going to the last game of the season in 1994, held in August because of the strike. As it turned out, that would be Kent Hrbek's last game. I didn't realize until I moved to Pittsburgh in 2000 to go to college (Let's Go Pitt!) how much the Twins meant to me. Following the team from afar kept me connected to the state, gave me something to talk to my friends about, and after the team started to win again in 2001 became a source of pride. I now live in Boulder, Colorado, and while the location has changed, my Twins pride has not. Ironically, living outside of Minnesota has made me a better fan.
From James M
For the last hour I've been trying to decide what to write about. For a team that has only a slight chance of making the playoffs, these Twins have a remarkable number of stories.It seems like everybody has written about Joe Mauer, his sideburns, his former Miss USA, and his quest to become the first catcher to win the batting title since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Not much I can add to that.Then there are Franky and Johnny, the scariest pair this side of Freddy and Jason, who hope to carve up the Cy Young Award as easily as they slice and dice opposing hitters. Their saga grows with every start. It seems the only thing that can stop their reign of terror is season's end.I could go on and on, about knights (and outfielders) falling in battle, feeling the agony of DE-FEET.About flights of red-winged birds heading into the setting sun to save the day.About the Jasons 3 (no goalie masks here) and Lil Nicky Punto, who brought down the lightning and revived a moribund team.About Radke and Silva and Baker (Oh My!), trying to find their way back to Oz through the dark forest.And don't forget the Dynamic Duo, Nat-man and Rincon, striking out evildoers at every turn.Great stories all.But I just heard the best story of all on ESPN, and it is simply this: Since June 8, one man leads all of baseball in batting average, slugging and RBI. His initials are JM but he doesn't wear sideburns and, until recently, he was considered a disappointment. He will soon end an 18 year drought that dates back to those glorious days of Hrby (34) and Gary(31) and Tom(32) (and Kirby Puckett too!) Call this story Supeman Returns.
I had to work the night they won the final game of the series. Everyone else I knew was out with friends and family watching it together (even my family went to a different bar to watch it – a bar with a big screen which I did not have). Sooo, needless to say I was stuck at work and there was only one person in the bar with me, my friend and classmate Stacy. Well, I remember when they won, I was jumping up and down, screaming and such and I remember my friend Stacy saying “why are you jumping up and down” and I was like “what?”….the Twins just won the WORLD SERIES! And she just shrugged her shoulders and was like “oh”. Then went back to drinking her drink!! Obviously she was not a sports fanatic like me! I remember her response was what I remembered most because even if you are only a fair-weathered fan or don’t really have a clue what’s going on…you would think that you would still be excited to know that your “home” team just won the biggest game of the year or for some of them…their life!!!
I think what I am going to try to do is write my thoughts as the game is going, from inning to inning or even play to play. Not every play, but as I notice something, or as Dick or Bert say something. We'll see how this works:
The Lineup - It is the usual lineup. I was a little disappointed not to see Josh Rabe play in LF. I figured they would want to put him out there for one game during the series. I thought the final night game would have given him a chance to start after he had caught some fly balls the first two days with the team before and after the games. Also, he won't play LF during the afternoon in the Dome because that isn't fair to the most veteran of players, much less a rookie. Of course, that likely means that Rabe will be in LF this afternoon. That said, Rondell White has hit well, and he could be important either at the trade deadline or as the team is trying to make up ground in the Wild Card race. Might as well ride the hot hand.
The first batter, Julio Lugo, struck out against Brad Radke. I thought that it was interesting that Radke threw all three of his pitches in the game's first at bat. He doesn't normally do that. Normally, he is a two pitch pitcher, fastball, changeup, inside outside.
He struck out the second batter, Jonny Gomes as well, also on a slider. Radke hardly ever throws a slider. This must be a whole new strategy. Hey, first inning, 1-2-3 inning for the Devil Rays!
During the commercial, I should mention that I heard LaVelle E. Neal on XM Radio's Home Plate Network's Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner yesterday afternoon. It was a good interview. I thought it was fascinating when he said that he talked to Francisco Liriano after the game and asked why his fastball was really only hitting 93-94 most of the game. He asked if his arm was alright and strong. Liriano told him that he felt really good, but he was just throwing two-seam fastballs until the last two innings. In a word, "WOW!"
Luis Castillo led off the bottom of the first, and he laid down a bunt down the 3B line. He was thrown out at first, but it made me wonder why he hasn't done that more. I thought we would do that frequently this year. Maybe he really is more hurt than we know.
Joe Mauer lined a single into center. He swung at the first pitch. I wonder if that is a new strategy for him. He is known as a guy who takes a lot of pitches. I think he can use that to his advantage and get some good-to-hit pitches early in the count. I always thought that Adam Dunn needed to swing at some first pitches. He almost always takes two or three or more pitches in his at bats. Pitchers know that, and so they try to get ahead. Get a good pitch and drill it!
Michael Cuddyer lined a single to left that Carl Crawford knocked down. Mauer went to 3B, and it appeared that Crawford would throw there, but instead, he almost no-looked a throw to 2B. It wasn't perfect, but Cuddyer was out because he over-slid 2B. It's really unfortunate, especially with Justin Morneau coming to bat. It's one of those situations where you want to encourage aggressive base running, but with Morneau coming up, conservative would be more appropriate.
I know that Greg Norton hit a home run on Monday against Scott Baker. However, if you are ever wondering why the Devil Rays are not a good team, it is because they have a lineup that includes Greg Norton batting fifth. (I should have waited to type this because he hit a home run off the top of the fence in left center.)
Have you ever sat down and wondered what the Twins rosters since about 1997 or 1998 would have been if Travis Lee had signed with the Twins as the #3 overall pick in the 1996 draft? What would have happened with David Ortiz? Would Doug Mientkiewicz have moved to catcher, 2B, 3B? Would they have drafted Justin Morneau in the 3rd round when they did? If Mientkiewicz moved to 2B, would we have not had to go through the Luis Rivas Era? I could go on and on, but it's not that big of a point!
Justin Morneau hit a ball that would have gone 411 feet to dead center field. Rocco Baldelli barely jumped to catch the ball at the 408 sign. It would have been a home run, but it was a very easy catch for Baldelli. The important thing to take from the at bat is that Morneau hit a 1-2 pitch squarely and could have had a home run in Baldelli didn't play so deep. It has to be considered a good at bat despite getting out.
Jason Kubel is DHing again tonight. In his first at bat, he hit a one-hopped to 2B. He did not look good running down the first base line. I know it was an easy play, but it didn't look real good. I am wondering what would happen if he hit a gapper.
Rondell White got a hanger and UNLOADED on it!! I am so happy for him. I know, I know, it's not COOL to like Rondell White, but I do! Through 2 innings, Twins 1, Rays 1.
Dionner Navarro... another example of a Yankees prospect being over hyped, and just not becoming what people thought he would. Navarro. Brandon Claussen. Drew Henson. The ones they keep (Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang), they must be the really good ones. Reports said that 12 major league scouts were watching their 19 year old top prospect Phillip Hughes the other night despite the fact that the Yankees are saying that they will not trade him.
Is anyone else tired of hearing what a bad defensive first baseman Justin Morneau is? (He just made a diving play to his right to end the top of the 3rd.) Is he Doug Mientkiewicz with the glove? No. Does he have room for improvement? Certainly. But for the most part, I think he more than holds his own over there. He has just five errors this year, and I am the first to tell you that that number means very little. I think he does just fine. I can't believe there are still some out there who think he is poor, much less call for the Twins to try to bring back Dougie Baseball!?!
A 1-2-3 third inning for Jae Seo. I really like Seo. I don't know why he hasn't become a, well, good major league pitcher. His fastball touches 90, but his curveball thing hits about 79. My assumption is that when he is off, it has to do with control and location.
Joe Mauer got a single in his second at bat. Is it just me, or is there anything more pretty in baseball than watching Joe Mauer line a single to left field?
After Michael Cuddyer grounded out to SS for the first out, Justin Morneau spun a grounder down the third base line. Ty Wigginton tried to backhand it, but only knocked it down. Is it just me, or is the Metrodome the hardest place to get on by an error? Seriously, I'm OK with it, but Joe Mauer has been given some very generous hits, and that really goes both ways. The Twins Official Scorer is very kind to hitters. Because of that, some runs that could be unearned against a pitcher are now earned runs.
Travis Lee drilled a short-hopper to Luis Castillo with Wigginton running. He threw the ball to 2B for some reason even though there was no chance to get Wigginton out. I don't' know how the ball got all the way to Jason Bartlett, and I have less idea how he caught it, remained calm and made a nice throw to first to get Lee out.
Francisco Liriano is talking to FSN. Like when he is pitching, doing this interview appears to be the last thing that he wants to do! It was rather hard to understand all of what Liriano said, but he did quite well. It always amazes me how well these players from Spanish speaking countries can speak English. I mean, to do an interview in his second language is remarkable. Imagine if you were down in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic or Miami and asked to do an interview on a Spanish speaking television station. I would sit there and say things like "Como?" and "Si" and "Puerto ir al bano" a lot! (I just finished typing this when Dick Bremer said about the same thing. However, it is quite impressive and should be commented on. I remember that Cristian Guzman said it was important for him to be able to communicate in English just to be able to express his feelings when he was doing poorly.)
Rondell White just UNLOADED his second home run of the game! I can't stop smiling!!!!!!!!
Nick Punto just had a great at bat. He tripled in two runs after a nine pitch at bat. He really has improved his approach at the plate. The side view showed he is bending his knees more, his swing just looks far quicker.
Joe Mauer was intentionally walked... again! This time, Michael Cuddyer came through with a sacrifice fly to left field! Twins 5, Devil Rays 1.
Seriously, still smiling about the Rondell White home runs!!!
With two outs in the top of the 6th, Jonny Gomes finally hit another home run.
Rondell's up! Rondell's Up!!! OK, he didn't hit a home run, but he UNLOADED a line drive down the 3B line for a double!
Jason Bartlett just tripled in White with a line drive to the left center gap. Twins 6, Devil Rays 2. A great two out hit for Bartlett.
Jae Seo is done and Shawn Camp is in. Luis Castillo slapped a single to left to score Bartlett from third. Nice piece of hitting and another two out run. I think those are so important! Nick Punto followed with another slap single to left. Joe Mauer actually hit the ball hard to left field, but it held up and was caught by Carl Crawford.
Another scoreless inning for Brad Radke in the 7th. Twins 7, Devil Rays 2.
Now Edwin Jackson is in the game. The Twins roughed him up a little last night, but he should be good. He came up to the Majors with the Dodgers late in the 2003 season. He was just 20 years old and in his big league debut, he threw against the D-Backs Randy Johnson, and beat him. Expectations have been high since and he just has not been able to put it all together. In the offseason, the Dodgers sent Jackson with Chuck Tiffany for Danys Baez and Lance Carter, two relievers. Those two have not done much for the Dodgers, and Chuck Tiffany recently had Tommy John surgery. So, a deal that seemed fairly big last winter has really been a nothing deal for both teams to this point.
With two outs in the 7th inning, Jason Kubel hit a seeing-eye single to RF making him the 9th Twins starter to get a hit.
And my man, Rondell White is batting with a standing ovation in the background. It may have gotten to him a little bit as he swung at a high first pitch and popped out. Do you believe that his resurgence (over admittedly just four games) is based on playing the field, or health, or just getting AAA at bats?
Brad Radke is out after seven innings with Dennys Reyes taking over in the 8th inning. Just two runs (both on solo homers) on four hits and no walks. It was a good performance by Radke.
Dennys Reyes has really been terrific for the Twins. Although he may not have the fastball or the 'stuff' that JC Romero had, Reyes at least has been consistent and thrown strikes. He looked great in a 1-2-3 eighth.
Ruddy Lugo is in the game to pitch for the Rays. It is surprising, but I had honestly never heard of him. That doesn't happen too much. But, he is the brother of Julio Lugo. I guess this year that the Weaver brothers both played for the Angels until recently when Jeff was traded to the Cardinals because he was horrible and his brother Jared forced his way into the rotation. This week, the Dodgers are playing the Diamondbacks with JD Drew playing against his younger brother Stephen Drew who was called up over the weekend.
Jesse Crain came in and threw a shutout ninth and the Twins have a six game winning streak.
I guess going with my man Rondell White was the right decision after all!
Today, the Twins will send Johan Santana to the mound against rookie James Shields in the attempt to get a four game sweep!
Here is a Q&A with Joe Mauer from the Star-Tribune.
Do you have anything to add about last night's game? Did something jump out to you in the game? Any thoughts on the game, please let me know! Send me an e-mail, or leave Comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Matt Moses, New Britain Rockcats
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Errol Simonitsch, New Britain Rockcats
Here are last night's updates. If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Wednesday - Game 1 - Red Wings 1, Syracuse 0 - Boof Bonser was back on the bump yesterday. He got his fourth win. He threw five shutout innings and gave up just three hits. However, he walked five hitters and struck out three. Bobby Korecky gave up only one hit over the next two innings for his third save. Andres Torres went 2-4 with his 11th RBI. He drove in Tommy Watkins, who had doubled, for the game's lone run.
Wednesday - Game 2 - Red Wings 2, Syracuse 4 - Pete Munro gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in 5.1 innings. Beau Kemp got the final two outs. Andres Torres was again 2-4 with a double, his 12th, and an RBI. Chris Heintz was 1-2 with a walk and his 17th double. Kevin West hit his sixth homer.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Rockcats 8, Reading 6 – Errol Simonitsch has really turned things around and he got another win in this game. He went the first seven innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Nick Blackburn, who threw five shutout innings his last relief outing, gave up four runs on four hits and two walks and got just two outs. Levale Speigner gave up one run over the next 1.1 innings. Matt Moses went 2-5 with his 11th homer and four RBI. Alexi Casilla went 2-4 with his second double. Garrett Guzman was also 2-4. Denard Span was 2-5 with his 19th stolen base.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle/Jupiter – Rained Out.
Wednesday - Snappers – No Game Scheduled.
Wednesday - E-Twins 3, Greeneville 1 – Garrett Olson went 2-3. Jeff Christy and Steve Singleton each hit a double. Danny Valencia was 1-3 with a walk. Sean Land started and threw another excellent game. In six innings, he gave up just one run on five hits and two walks. He struck out four. Matt Williams got his second Win with two perfect innings that included two strikeouts. Justin Staatz gave up two hits but no runs in his inning. He struck out two on his way to his first save.
GCL TWINS REPORT
Wednesday - GCL Twins 4, GCL Reds 2 (7-Rain) – Derek Bromberg got his second win of the season. He went seven innings and gave up just two runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out five. Chris Parmalee went 2-3 with an RBI and his second stolen base.
Thanks again for stopping by this site. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.