Friday, July 21, 2006
Twins Minor League Report
Good morning everyone! Just a couple of quick notes before talking about our Twins and their minor league affiliates. I talk a lot about Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey. See how they both did last night, and maybe you can understand why! And Alexander Smit is making himself a positive story down in Beloit.
Before we get started, I think I found an auction that I need to go to! Maybe you'll be interested as well? I don't know how much I can afford to bid, but if anyone can help me out...
Be sure to check out the Twins Forums over at scout.com Twin Cities Dugout throughout the weekend. They have some really excellent posters and can always use more. Also, check out their YNOT game. It is fun to follow.
Also, there is a pretty thorough list of other Twins bloggers on the left of this screen. If you have some time, please check them out and bookmark them if you think they're good. I have not been very good about linking of late. Lots going on, but I do enjoy reading them all.
On that note, I hope you enjoy what you read below, and please e-mail me or leave Comments below if you have any questions, comments or ideas. Thanks!
Yesterday afternoon, the Twins finished off a four game sweep of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with a 6-4 win. The win gave Johan Santana his 11th win of the season. It wasn't his best start. He threw a lot of pitches and lasted just six innings. He gave up just three runs though and stranded a lot of base runners, but it was still a quality start. Pat Neshek put on a show. No, it wasn't on TV, but what he did is always impressive, especially when it is just your third career outing! He struck out the side in the 7th inning. Juan Rincon came in and gave up a run in his inning. Then Joe Nathan got the save with a scoreless ninth. He gave up a leadoff single and then struck out the next three batters.
You have to love the Twins bullpen right now. Joe Nathan, in my mind, is the best closer in baseball. Juan Rincon is as good as any 8th inning guy. Jesse Crain has really come on in the last month to reclaim the 7th inning. However, even with how well Crain has pitched, don't be surprised to see Neshek continue to get some of those 7th inning, close game situations too. That's not a bad thing. To have three guys (Rincon, Crain, Neshek) to pitch the 7th and 8th innings is a positive thing. It allows two of them to pitch on a given day with one resting. Dennys Reyes has been excellent as the lefty out of the 'pen whether it has been to go an inning or to just get one guy out. If the team needs to go to the bullpen earlier, Kyle Lohse has been getting it done, and Matt Guerrier may be back soon (he will be starting a rehab assignment in New Britain this weekend). The starters really only have to get through six (preferably seven) innings and hand it off to this bullpen. I am still trying to figure out why Willie Eyre is still on the roster now. He has not pitched in two full weeks. Regardless of how well he is (or isn't) pitching, he should go down to Rochester just to get innings.
I'm not one for worrying about the standings this early in the season, but I do think it is important right now, with the trade deadline looming, to just take a look at them.
Detroit Tigers 64-31
Chicago White Sox 58-36 5.5
Minnesota Twins 54-40 9.5
Cleveland Indians 42-52 21.5
and how about their standing in the AL Wild Card race?
Chicago White Sox 58-36
New York Yankees 55-38 2.5
Minnesota Twins 54-40 4.0
Toronto Blue Jays 53-42 5.5
So, the Twins are in the playoff race. Four games is not too much to make up. With Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano, they will have a chance every time out. Brad Radke has turned it around and been very good the last six weeks. Scott Baker had a quality start in his first start back with the Twins and hopefully can build off of that. Carlos Silva, I believe, is a huge question mark at this time.
I have heard that the Twins are actually quite happy with their offense right now, so it is not as if Terry Ryan will feel the need to go out of his way to bring in a bat. I have heard, however, that he would consider trading for a back-of-the-rotation starter if he can get a good deal. My thinking on that would be "WHY?" No, I'm not confident in Carlos Silva right now, and Scott Baker is probably a question mark. However, the Twins do have an option in-house. Matt Garza. I know. He's just 22 years old and still in the minors so we don't know what we would get from him. But he has dominated on the way up. Normally a college pitcher hits his first struggles when he gets to AA (see Perkins, Glen). Garza flew threw New Britain and has now had two good starts in Rochester. Would it be too much to bring a 22 year old into a pennant race? Francisco Liriano is 22 and he has handled it well. Sure, everyone is different but from all reports on Garza, it would seem that he would be able to handle it. The concern is that you don't want to rush a guy too soon (see Johnson, Adam). But the Mets are a playoff-bound team and they have called up their 2005 top pick Mike Pelfrey and he is 2-0 so far.
Who could the Twins acquire? What starter? If he's 'just a fourth of fifth starter type', why trade a prospect or two for him. Would that guy really be better than Baker or Silva? Not necessarily. So, why not go with Garza and see how he does?
The question of acquiring Shea Hillenbrand has come up. Actually, when I first heard that he was Designated for Assignment by the Blue Jays, I asked several people what they thought. I thought that he could come in and play 3B. Maybe we could trade Luis Castillo straight-up for him. Nick Punto could move to 2B, and we would not have to worry about Castillo's vesting 2007 contract. I thought maybe the Twins could deal Kyle Lohse straight-up for him. But the way Lohse is pitching, I think that the Twins could get a better prospect for him as Hillenbrand will be a free agent at season's end and likely not be back. Also, with how much the Nationals were able to get for Gary Majewski and Bill Bray (Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez), there may be a market for Lohse that is more than we would guess. Then we start hearing more about the Hillenbrand situation. He wrote the words "This is a sinking ship" on the team's lineup board. Check out this article and we see a player that his former teammates have called a clubhouse cancer. I just don't think he is worth the headaches.
As those two pitchers were left-handed, I do think that the Twins should explore dealing Dennys Reyes. The career journeyman has been very good for the Twins, but when will he remember that he is Dennys Reyes? Could we actually get someone of substance for him now? It's the old buy low-sell high philosophy.
I no longer think that the Twins need to be too active at the trade deadline. They really can't be. Their bigger trade chips, Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart, are on the Disabled List. It would take a brave team to deal for them. I do think that the Twins can continue to win without them, as they have. No, Jason Tyner does not replace Torii Hunter in the field, and he doesn't have the power that Hunter has. But hasn't it been nice to not see Hunter flailing away at pitches, particularly first pitches? Hasn't it been nice seeing Tyner put together quality at bats? And, the Twins rise was directly corresponding to Shannon Stewart initially being put on the Disabled List. I think that a big key to the Twins hopes is the health of Jason Kubel. If he can hit and be able to play the field, he and Rondell White can cover the DH and LF spots and the six and seven spots in the lineup very well.
All told, the Twins continuing to win without Torii Hunter should make it increasingly obvious that they should not spend $12 million on him for 2007. I know that many still believe they should, but he is very replaceable.
OK, let's get to some thoughts and numbers on some of the Twins and Indians as we head into this three game weekend set:
Joe Inglett, the rookie infielder of the Indians, is hitting .286 on the season. However, he went five for nine (.556) in his last three games after starting his career 1-12.
Remember when Casey Blake was hitting in the mid-.300s, leading the AL in hitting? Well, he's down to .295 now. However, we all know that he will hit against the Twins. He went 4-11 with a homer in the series last weekend. And then he went 0-9 in their series against the Angels.
Travis Hafner was just 1-12 against the Angels, but the hit was a home run. He had a 12 game hit streak, but he went 0-8 in the final two games of the Angels series.
Victor Martinez is playing about a game a series at 1B of late. Since the Eduardo Perez trade earlier in the month, Martinez has been the 1B platoon partner with Ben Broussard at 1B. Martinez went 6-11 (.545) in the Angels series, but all six hits were singles.
Broussard has smartly been platooned at 1B. He simply does not hit left-handed pitching, but on the year, he is hitting .319. He is definitely in a lot of trade rumors.
Ronnie Belliard went 4-11 against the Angels. He too could be traded, something that almost all of the non-core veterans of the Indians are dealing with in the next two weeks as a result of the team's very disappointing season. Todd Hollandsworth didn't play a lot earlier in the season, but the lefty-hitting OF has started the team's last six games. I assume they are showcasing him to contending teams. The veteran could be a good bat off of a team's bench. Aaron Boone has been losing time to Joe Inglett, but he is definitely involved in trade rumors. I am sure that the team would love to be able to deal him and get Andy Marte up to the big leagues.
Jhonny Peralta has been disappointing this season. He started the year as the team's #3 hitter. They moved him down to the six spot and he did ok again. He moved back up to the 3 spot for awhile. In the Indians last game, he was batting 8th. He has had a hit in nine of his last ten games though. He is 13-40 (.325).
Grady Sizemore is one of the better all-around players in the game (.293, 16 HR, 14 SB, quality defense). He is 7-17 (.412) during his current five game hitting streak.
For the Twins:
Luis Castillo went 0-4 on July 1st and his batting average dropped down to .268. Since then, he has gone on a 14 game hitting streak during which he is 22-57 (.386) to improve to .287. He has five doubles, a triple and a homer in that time.
Nick Punto is currently on a 13 game hit streak. He went 0-4 on July 3rd to fall to .281. Since then, he is 22-49 (.449) with five doubles and two triples and is now hitting .326. To take it further, Punto has hit in 21 of his last 22 games. He is 32-79 (.405) in that time. I still am not completely sold on the long-term future of Nick Punto as the team's third baseman, but I am thrilled with what he has done and as long as he's in the lineup, I will hope for the best.
Joe Mauer has a five game hitting streak. He has gone 8 for 18 (.444) with three walks in that time to put him at his current .377 batting average.
Michael Cuddyer is hitting just .266. However, with Runners in Scoring Position this year, he is 30-92 (.326/.440/.620) with nine doubles, three triples, four home runs and 44 RBI. That's what you want from a cleanup hitter, right? Drive in those runners!
Justin Morneau is 5-15 in his last four games. Of course, he is 2-11 in his last three games. So, that's why you have to be so careful with small sample sizes.
Rondell White is 8-18 (.444) since his return even with his 0-4 yesterday.
Jason Kubel has not looked good since the break, physically. To watch him run down the 1B line is painful. However, in that time, he is 5-15 (.333) as well. Like with Morneau, however, he was 3-5 in one of those games.
Jason Tyner has been terrific since his recall. He has hit in six of seven games, and he has had some big hits. He just puts together good, smart at bats and hits line drives. Will it last? Who knows? Probably not. There is a reason he's been in AAA for so long. But, I do like that he has just one strikeout in 27 at bats. I would like to see him walk more, but what pitcher is going to walk or pitch closely to a guy with zero career home runs in 861 big league at bats.
Jason Bartlett. Well, I'm sure many thought that despite his fast start, reality would set in. Well, I happen to believe it has. He is still hitting .304/.398/.402 through 31 games. That is no longer a very small sample size. No, it's not a full season, and he will have to continually make adjustments. But he is doing what we thought he could. Hit for decent average and find a way to get on base. He is also playing spectacular defense!
The Twins have been incredible at home this season. Can they win on the road, and beat a team that they should beat on the road? Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Friday - 6:05 - Carlos Silva (5-9, 6.75, 1.57, .336) vs CC Sabathia (7-5, 3.59, 1.18, .245)
Saturday - 6:05 - Scott Baker (3-5, 5.89, 1.51, .319) vs Jeremy Sowers (1-3, 7.15, 1.50, .312)
Sunday - 12:05 - Francisco Liriano (11-2, 1.94, 0.95, .196) vs Jake Westbrook (7-5, 4.44, 1.34, .273)
Do you have anything to add about Thursday's game or the weekend series in Cleveland? 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 - Kevin Slowey, New Britain Rockcats
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Errol Simonitsch, New Britain Rockcats
Baseball America came out with its midseason Top 100. I don't have the Baseball America online subscription (I don't have that kind of money!), so I don't know exactly what the list looks like. I have read that Matt Garza is now in the Top 25 after not being in the Top 100 before the season. I believe Kevin Slowey is in the bottom third of the list. John Manuel of Baseball America took the time to answer lots of questions on their list yesterday. There are several question about the Twins in there. There are a couple about Garza and Slowey. The first one is a question about Anthony Swarzak.
Here are last night's updates. If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Thursday - Red Wings 7, Syracuse 2 (6 - Rain) - I almost feel bad continually mentioning Matt Garza, but how can you not? He has just flown through the Twins system and has now had two very good starts in Rochester. On this night, he went all six innings and gave up two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out eight on his way to his first AAA win. Kevin West helped him out by going 3-3 with his 7th home run and three RBI. Tommy Watkins was 2-3 before being ejected from the game (yeah, just what the depleted Rochester team needed, right?). Glenn Williams was 1-3 with a walk and his 6th home run.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday - Rockcats 4, Erie 0 – I almost feel bad continually mentioning Kevin Slowey, but how can you not? He has just flown through the Twins system and has now had five good starts in New Britain. On this night, he had his best start. He went 7.1 shutout innings and. He gave up five hits, walked a surprising three hitters, and struck out five to get his third win. Maybe he will be joining Garza in Rochester soon. Trent Oeltjen went 2-4 with two doubles. Matt Moses and Danny Matienzo were also 2-4 with two RBI each.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday - Miracle/Jupiter – Double Header Rained Out.
Thursday - Snappers 6, Clinton 4 – Speaking of quality pitching, Alexander Smit has been spectacular since moving into the rotation. He improved to 3-1 with 6.2 shutout innings. He gave up three hits. He walked two and struck out eight. Frank Mata struggled. He went 1.2 innings and gave up four runs on five hits. David Shinskie got the final two outs, one on a strikeout. Tarrence Patterson went 3-4 and was also hit by a pitch. Edward Ovalle went 2-4 with his 18th double and second triple. He too was hit by a pitch. Dwayne White went 4-5 with his ninth double, fourth homer, 5 RBI and his fourth stolen base. Erik Lis was 3-5 with his 31st double.
Thursday - E-Twins 3, Greeneville 1 – Alex Burnett finally had a good start again. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out four. Dan Leatherman was excellent again with two shutout innings. Danny Hernandez gave up a hit and a walk, but he struck out two in his shutout inning. Richard Sojo is coming on again. The OF went 3-4 with his third double and three RBI. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with his first two doubles. Dan Berg was 2-3 with a walk. Danny Santiesteban hit his third home.
GCL TWINS REPORT
Thursday - GCL Twins 4, GCL Pirates 1 – Rodolpho Palacios led the offense by going 3-4. Chris Parmalee is really coming on. He went 2-4 with his third stolen base. Allen started and gave up a run on two walks in one inning. He struck out two. Adam Revelette went the next five innings and gave up only one hit. He struck out five and got his first win. Thomas Wright, Loek Van Mil and Brad Tippett each pitched a scoreless inning. Tippett recorded his seventh save.
Thanks again for stopping by this site. Have a wonderful weekend! If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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