Friday, July 28, 2006
Twins Minor League Report
Hard to be a Twins Blogger!
Hello again everybody! I am back, for a day, and I am not completely sure what this site will bring for you next week either. For work, I am going to be traveling from Sunday afternoon through Friday. I will then be flying out to a family function in Nebraska. We will have to see if I will be staying in hotels with free wireless internet or not, but it is possible that this site could be called On the Road with SethSpeaks next week. I can't promise that there will be anything new every day, but I will try to at least make some sort of contact. So be sure to stop by the site from time to time throughout the week to see where I am, and what is going on. I will try to keep up with our beloved Minnesota Twins and their minor league affiliates. Monday is the trade deadline, so I will certainly do my best to send in my thoughts on any trades that go down, specifically if the Twins are involved.
Second, before I get started... I'm participating in a fantasy football draft on Saturday afternoon. Can you help me out? Any good sites I can go to for some cheat sheets? I don't have another draft for another month, so drafting this early is unusual for me!
Today, I have to whine just a little bit, and I hope you don't mind. Do you even understand how difficult it is to be a Twins blogger right now? What do we have to write about? It is easiest for bloggers to write when the Twins are losing. It is easy to be critical of the general manager, manager, players, the beat writers, batboys and everyone with the team when they're losing. That's what bloggers do, right? We love to point out what a team is doing wrong and give them our opinions for what they should be doing to turn it around. Let's face it, we all are excellent GM's in our own minds!
But the Twins have now gone 34-8 in their last 42 games. I don't think we could find too much to complain about right now if we looked real hard. So, what is there to complain about? Well, I am complaining about there being nothing to complain about. It's all I've got!!!
Let's take a quick look down memory lane at the Twins 2006 season.
A week before the season opened, the Twins decided that Juan Castro was the right choice for the starting shortstop job and sent Jason Bartlett down to AAA to work on his leadership. That decision gave bloggers like me thousands upon thousands of words. It was horrible decision. I don't know how it happened! But, in mid-June, Jason Bartlett was recalled and he has been the every day shortstop ever since. Juan Castro was traded the next day for Brandon Roberts who has done a very nice job for the Ft. Myers Miracle in the last month.
Before that, Terry Ryan found it necessary to sign the veteran Tony Batista to play some 3B. They told us that he would hit for some power, drive in some runs. They knew that he wouldn't hit for average and wouldn't get on-base. They knew that he had no range defensively, but he would make all the plays. In early June, Batista was released. No longer did Twins bloggers have to discuss his overall ineptitude on a baseball field. The ironic thing was that he played better than most bloggers would have predicted. It was still terrible, but probably more than could have been expected.
Jason Kubel, coming off of his missed 2005 season, made the Opening Day roster. He then got a 16 at bat trial before he was sent back to Rochester. That's ridiculous! That said, he needed to go down because he was just not getting at bats with the Twins. Once he was brought up, he immediately contributed significantly.
Why was he brought back up? Of course, because Shannon Stewart was hurt again! Stewart has been one of the worst leadoff hitters in baseball the last two seasons. Yet, Gardy kept batting him leadoff. He is also one of the worst outfielders in baseball. Yet Gardy kept playing him in left field. Once he was hurt, Kubel got to play. As Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto have made the left side of the infield much better, getting Stewart out of left made the left field defense much stronger.
I know that I have been an advocate of giving Michael Cuddyer a full-time gig for a long time. We have all talked about how in 2005, after a horrible April, he was the Twins best hitter based on OPS. However, it took more than a month for him to finally be given the starting RF job. He had a huge month, was moved to the cleanup spot in the order, and has continued to drive in runs while playing a very solid right field. It meant that I typed a lot of words on this site over the years, and now, if I was like that, I could sum it all up with "I told you so." But I don't want to do that!
Speaking of "I told you so", Justin Morneau! Joe Mauer!
Rondell White was a signing that I definitely supported. He got off to an historically horrific start to this season. He was the topic frequently on this and other Twins sites. He was playing poorly. Should the team release him? They certainly couldn't continue to play him. They sent him down to AAA for 'rehab.' He came back a little early because of injuries much to the chagrin of us bloggers. And he came back with three home runs in his first series back. He has been a solid bat since his recall. Can't complain about that any more!
The idea of trading Torii Hunter has been one of my favorite topics for the last 12 months or more. My last Blogger's Moment was two minutes on why Hunter was not the 'face of the organization' and why he should be priority number 7 or 8 in terms of him being on the 2010 roster in the new stadium. Then on July 16th, he was hurt and put on the Disabled List. There went his trade value. However, he has been more than adequately replaced in the field and with the bat by Jason Tyner (and Josh Rabe who was called up to replace him). His injury and the Twins continued success should remind management that it just is not worth picking up that $12 million option for next season! To me, that's another positive!
In Spring Training, I, like everyone else, thought that starting pitching would be the team's biggest strength. But April was a horrible month for the starters. Scott Baker was the best pitcher in April, and he wasn't good. Three of the starters had ERAs over 8.00. May was not much better, although Johan Santana reclaimed his spot as the team's best starter. But after that, we just did not know what to expect from the Twins starters. But then the event that bloggers the world over had been clamoring for happened. Francisco Liriano was put into the starting rotation. Carlos Silva was demoted to the bullpen and Kyle Lohse was sent packing to Rochester. Brad Radke started pitching like we knew he could. Johan Santana was AL Pitcher of the month in June. Francisco Liriano came in second. Both would become All Stars. Now the Twins have three quality starters and two starters who have done just enough to keep their team in games. Starting pitching remains a question, but the offense has helped make those fourth and fifth starters bearable.
Joe Nathan was not getting save opportunities in the first two months of the year. Even worse, Gardy was simply not using him at all. At one point, Willie Eyre had more innings pitched than Nathan. Gardy started using him in tie games and he has come through. And, Nathan has been the best closer in baseball all year.
Scott Ullger was a bad hitting coach. Bloggers knew that. Joe Vavra was an unknown (who the team's 'leader' was telling media members that he wasn't going to listen to). But now the Twins have a very strong, well-rounded offense. I think that Vavra had seen how much success these young players had in the minor leagues, and instead of over-coaching, he just lays low in the background and let's some natural talent come out of the hitters.
Finally, I think that Terry Ryan went away from the strategy that made this team so successful in the last few seasons. The team had been built primarily from within. In this offseason, the team acquired Luis Castillo, Rondell White, Tony Batista and Ruben Sierra. The year before, he brought in Juan Castro. For some reason, Gardy believed that veterans were what was going to take this team to the next level. What happened? The veterans brought the team down. I'm a big fan of youth, and trusting those players even through struggles. When Juan Castro was making the same errors and gaffs that Bartlett was bashed for, it needed to be pointed out. When Tony Batista let ground ball after ground ball get by him, it had to be pointed out. Ruben Sierra got hurt. Rondell White was bad. In the end, who have made the Twins go? The veterans? No. It's been the youth. Liriano, Mauer, Morneau, Bartlett, Kubel, Tiffee, Bonser. Neshek. These guys may be young, but they are the core, along with Santana, Rincon and Nathan. And now, that is happening!
So, what do I and the rest of the Twins bloggers have to complain about? Sure, we can talk about the Twins fourth and fifth starter spots and say that Silva and Baker could be replaced by Matt Garza or Mike Smith. Sure, we may still think that Kyle Lohse shouldn't have been offered arbitration and should still be traded by Monday. But if he's not, he is now doing fairly well out of the Twins bullpen. Sure, I can say that Willie Eyre should be returned to Rochester for a little while.
But the Twins have won 34 of their last 42 games. They just caught up with the Chicago White Sox due to their three game sweep. They made up 8.5 games in 13 days! Complaining at this point just seems pretty bad, pretty petty. Doesn't it? But, what will the Twins bloggers write about? Rainbows and Butterflies? Maybe we need to start writing about the Kansas City Royals?
Help a blogger out!! What can I complain about?! Leave some Comments below, or feel free to e-mail me.
The Twins now get to take on the best team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers at home. In an interview I did last night, I was asked if because the Twins are throwing Liriano, Radke and Santana, Twins fans should expect a sweep. My comment was "I would never assume a sweep against the best team in baseball." But the Twins have themselves set up as well as they could hope right now, at least in terms of pitching. The Twins won't have to see Justin Verlander. But the Tigers have the best record in baseball for a reason. They are a very strong team with a good offense and solid pitching. Also, don't forget that the Royals will win at least 60 games this year. The bad teams beat the best teams, so the great teams can certainly beat other great teams. Here are those pitching matchups for this weekend:
Friday - 7:10 - Francisco Liriano (12-2, 1.93, 0.97, .197) vs Zach Miner (6-2, 4.07, 1.40, .275)
Saturday - 6:10 - Brad Radke (9-7, 4.74, 1.48, .317) vs Nate Robertson (9-6, 3,70, 1.29, .255)
Sunday - 1:10 - Johan Santana (12-5, 3.04, 1.01, .224) vs Jeremy Bonderman (11-4, 3.66, 1.17, .237)
Do you even remember when the Twins played in Detroit in early May? That was the weekend that the Tigers swept the Twins by a combined score of 33-1. That is a great example of how much the Twins season has turned around. Here are some thoughts on some of the Tigers hitters going into this series:
Marcus Thames has been a good story for the Tigers this year. He is hitting .275 with 19 homers and 43 RBI. I remember watching Thames in 2002, in his very first major league at bat. It came against Randy Johnson and he hit a home run. Thames was a member of the Yankees at that time. Anyway, he is having a nice season, but in his last six games, he is 0-20.
Twins Killer Craig Monroe has seven hits in his last 12 at bats. Three of the hits have been doubles. He just always does well against the Twins.
Magglio Ordonez is having a nice comeback-type season. He is hitting .300 with 16 homers and 70 RBI. He is just 2-13 (.154) in his last three games.
Carlos Guillen has eight hits in his last 16 at bats over four games.
Brandon Inge may only be hitting .246, but of late, he is doing well. In his last seven games, he is 12-25 (.480) with three homers and 10 RBI. That includes an 0-3 on Wednesday.
Curtis Granderson has gone 12-30 (.400) over his last seven games. That includes a tough 0-6 game!
Chris Shelton got off to a great start, but he fell back down to earth in a hurry! However, he is five for his last 13 in his last three games.
Ivan Rodriguez is hitting .311 on the season. He went 0-4 on Tuesday to end a 14 game hitting streak. Over that time, he went 24-64 which is a .375 batting average.
Dmitri Young has had a lot of troubles, much like his younger brother. He came off the DL and has now played five games since then. He is 8-19 (.421) with two homers.
A couple of other Twins notes:
I am really happy that the Twins were able to lock up back up catcher Mike Redmond for a couple more years. It is deserved. He has done everything that a backup catcher should. He has hit well when he has played, and he calls and catches a very nice game. I don't think that the Twins have a replacement for Redmond nearly ready for 2007, so this was the right move to make!
Here is an article on fantasy baseball and how Major League Baseball is trying to claim ownership of its players' statistics. It is really quite interesting.
Ever wonder what a starting pitcher does on the days in between his starts? Lavelle Neal takes a look at a stretch of days in between two Johan Santana starts.
We now have the Top 5 Twins prospects. Head over to Twinkie Town to vote for #6!
I have truly enjoyed the last couple of blog entries over at Nick & Nick's Twins blog. I commented that I especially liked this line, "And the middle of the order? Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and yes Michael Cuddyer, are not playing over their heads. Their talent and minor league track records suggest this kind of play is entirely possible." Minor league track records are a thing that I get bashed about all the time. It was the minor league numbers of Jason Bartlett over the last three years that told me that given the chance, he would do well with the bat. Many believed that Justin Morneau was a .270 hitter or less because of last year. Well, if you look at his minor league numbers, he has always been a .300 hitter, along with the power.
And finally, you have to be reading Stick & Ball Guy. He's the best in the business! Bookmark it!
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Tigers, the AL Central or Wild Card races, or anything? Send me an e-mail, or Comment below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Alex Romero, Rochester Red Wings
Thursday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Danny Valencia, Elizabethton Twins
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Kevin Cameron, Rochester Red Wings
Thursday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Omar Alcala, GCL Twins
Here are the last two night's updates. If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Wednesday - Red Wings 6, Charlotte 1 - He is the master of the slow start, but Alex Romero is again starting to hit, this time with the Red Wings. The lefty went 3-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Glenn Williams went 2-3 with a walk. Luis Maza went 2-4 with his 10th double. Garrett Jones was 2-4 with his 23rd RBI. Quinton McCracken added a double. Peter Munro started and got the win, his seventh. He went six innings and gave up a run on five hits. He walked one and struck out six. Kevin Cameron came in and got his sixth save with three shutout innings.
Thursday - Red Wings 2, Charlotte 11 - On this day, Quinton McCracken went 2-4. Erubiel Durazo and Garrett Jones each hit a double. Jason Miller took the loss. He went four innings and gave up five runs on eight his and three walks. Henry Bonilla then allowed five runs on five hits and two walks in just three innings. Matt Ford gave up a run in two innings.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Rockcats 3, Trenton 1 – Adam Harben got another start and did really well. He gave up just one run on three hits and a walk in five innings. Matt Guerrier picked up the Win as he went three perfect innings with four strikeouts. Levale Speigner got his 10th save with a two hit, no run inning. Trent Oeltjen went 2-4. Felix Molina was 1-2 with two RBI. Matt Moses was 1-2 with two intentional walks.
Thursday - Rockcats 3, New Hampshire 7 – The Rockcats took eight walks to go with just five hits and fell in this game. Alexi Casilla went 1-2 with three walks. He hit his third double, and he stole three bases. He has nine already in New Britain. Matt Tolbert went 1-2 with three walks and his fourth stolen base. Scott Whitrock was 0-2 with two walks. Garrett Guzman hit his fourth homer. Justin Olson lasted just three innings. He gave up six runs on ten hits and a walk. Tristan Crawford went three shutout innings. Jay Sawatski gave up a run in two innings. He struck out three.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 2, Vero Beach 8 – Brandon Roberts' hot July just continues. He went 2-5 with his third home run and two RBI in this game. He stole his 37th base. Sam Taylor went 1-3 with two walks. Josh Hill took another loss. He gave up five runs on five hits in 4.1 innings. He walked three and struck out four. Jose Mijares gave up a home run in his 1.2 innings. He struck out four though. Chris Schutt went the final two innings and gave up two runs.
Thursday - Miracle 2, Vero Beach 4 – David Gassner got another rehab start in. He went four innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. JP Martinez then threw three shutout innings. Tim Lahey took the loss. He pitched a scoreless inning ,but then he allowed a base runner and a blast in the 9th to take the loss. Brock Peterson went 2-4 with his 12th home run. Steve Tolleson went 1-3 with a walk and his second homer.
Wednesday - Snappers 3, Burlington 6 – Ryan Mullins again had a decent start and took a loss. The lanky lefty went six innings and gave up just two runs on five hits. He did walk three and struck out just one. Frank Mata got just one out. He gave up a hit and walked three. Armando Gabino got the final two outs of the seventh. Eduardo Morlan pitched the eighth and gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits. Whit Robbins went 2-2 with his eighth double and two walks. Dwayne White was 1-3 with a walk and his 11th double.
Thursday - Snappers 4, Burlington 2 – Eli Tintor has been one of the best hitters in the system the last few weeks. On this game, he went 2-3 with a walk, his seventh home run and his fourth stolen base. Erik Lis was 2-5. Jose Cordero went six innings and allowed just two unearned runs. He gave up three hits, a walk, and he struck out six. Danny Vais went the next 1.2 innings without allowing a run to record his third win. David Shinskie got the final four outs for his seventh save.
Wednesday - E-Twins 4, Johnson City - 9 – Richard Sojo led the offense by going 2-3 with a walk. Michael Lysaught was 2-4 with his first double and two RBI. Steve Singleton was 2-5 with his first triple. Jose Lugo lost for the third time. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on five hits and two walks in three innings. Brandon McConnell gave up a run in three innings. Aaron Craig came in and gave up three runs. Matt Fox then pitched a scoreless, two strikeout inning.
Thursday - E-Twins 4, Greeneville 5 – Danny Valencia has been a good pick so far. He went 3-4 with his third homer, a walk and two RBI. Yancarlos Ortiz went 3-4 with his second stolen base. Brian Kirwan went the first seven innings and gave up three runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out 11. Justin Staatz got two outs. Danny Hernandez came in, but he gave up two runs in the 9th to blow the save. Matt Williams got the last out.
GCL TWINS REPORT
Wednesday - GCL Twins 4, GCL Reds 11 – Deibinson Romero has a name that I had better get used to spelling. He went 2-3 with a walk, his third home run and three RBI. The Twins had just six hits, but they also walked ten times. Matt Lawman, Joe Benson and Chris Parmalee each walked twice. Michael Allen took the loss. He gave up three runs on five hits in two innings. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three. Adam Revelette went the next three innings. He gave up five runs (2 earned) on six hits, a walk, and he had a strikeout. Bruno Sanchez gave up a run in two innings. Walter Patton gave up a run on three walks in his inning. Jakub Toufar gave up a run in his inning.
Thursday - GCL Twins 3, GCL Pirates 2 – Omar Alcala started and in 7.2 innings, he gave up just one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out just one. Brad Tippett got his eighth save. He gave up only an unearned run in 1.1 innings. Deibinson Romero was 2-4. Chris Parmalee was 2-4 with his fifth double.
Thanks again for stopping by this site. Again, I will be out of town next week ,but be sure to check out the site from time to time. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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