Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Dog Days of August
OK, the July Trade Deadline has come and past. We are now in the dog days of August. It is time for a few things. First, it is now time for the Twins to make their move in the playoff race. It can be tough for some Twins fans, particularly after the disappointment at the deadline, but it is time for them to really remain positive. The deadline is past and nothing can be done about it. They need to realize that this is their team for now and will be barring any trades in August or even September. I read some people who think that the Twins owe it to them to spend, spend, spend. The Twins aren't annually in playoff contention because they make dumb decisions. Some Twins fans have left comments that people should stop going to games. You can imagine how I feel about that. If you were a great Twins fan the first four months of the season, there is no reason not to be a great, true fan the rest of the season as well. If you went to games before, keep going. If you're only able to watch the team on TV, keep watching. That's being a true fan!
This is a strong team with a lot of talent. They have stars like Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter. They have young players who should just continue to get better as the season goes along. Guys like Jason Bartlett, Jason Kubel, Scott Baker, Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier. As much as they provide little real value to a team, you have to appreciate the effort and heart of guys like Lew Ford, Jason Tyner and Nick Punto. Speaking of heart, you have to mention the role Mike Redmond can have down the stretch. I also think that Jeff Cirillo will come up big more than a couple of times down the stretch. And with Matt Garza and Alexi Casilla on the team, they can provide the additional spark and talent that this team needs.
Now, am I saying this team doesn't have holes? Not at all. The lineup can have up to three to five weaker bats. Johan Santana is the ace, and I think that the Twins and their fans have to be thrilled about that. Carlos Silva will be around and if he can continue to pitch as he has much of the year, he will be OK. Scott Baker, Boof Bonser and Matt Garza will be very important and at least Baker and Garza are living up to the necessary level right now. The bullpen is solid with Nathan, Neshek and Guerrier. It will be crucial for the Twins to do what they claim that they can and make Rincon half-way decent again. Dennys Reyes will have to stop walking so many hitters. But, this is a VERY solid team.
I know. I know. Detroit is excellent and so is Cleveland. The Twins will definitely need one of those teams to fade. Right now, as a Twins fan, I'm thinking Wild Card. Cleveland is there, and so are the Seattle Mariners. However, the New York Yankees are the team to watch right now. Their offense is incredibly potent. Chien-Ming Wang isn't dominant, but he knows how to pitch. Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina are old, but can be solid. Neither is really 'good' anymore, but if they can simply find a way to be league average, they will be able to win. Phil Hughes is back this week. And, for the first time in a long time, the Yankees have pitching depth in the minor leagues. Joba Chamberlain has been moved to the bullpen at AAA, and he could come up and easily replace Scott Proctor.
The Twins certainly have an uphill climb. It will be tough. But there are more than 55 games to go. You never know what can happen. Maybe the Luis Castillo trade upset enough players that it will be Castillo's final chance to help instigate the Twins. But as Twins fans, this is not the time to get upset or down. Two months to go, you never know what can happen!
Twins 5, Royals 3
The Twins got another excellent start from their starting pitcher, Carlos Silva, along with some early offense to help gain their fourth straight win. Here are some thoughts from the game and on the Twins:
It has to start with Carlos Silva talk. He improved to 9-11. Eight innings. Seven base runners (six hits, one walk). The two runs scored off of him were both on solo home runs. Silva had been struggling. His ERA had gone up in five of his past six starts. But, he really had good downward movement on his pitches, and as important, he changed speeds very well. He threw just enough curveballs to keep it in the hitter's minds, but he stuck with the sinker for the most part. I thought that he did a really nice job of changing speeds on the sinker.
Joe Nathan gave up a home run to Mark Grudzielanek to lead off the 9th inning, but then he got the next three outs for his 24th save. He gave up a run in an outing for just the second time in his last 17 appearances.
How happy was I to see Alexi Casilla drill a line drive single in his first at bat back with the Twins to drive in a run? Casilla had a good game. He also singled to center in his second at bat. It was impressive seeing him run the bases, scoring from 1st base on a double by Jason Bartlett. Defensively, he looked great. He showed much more range than Luis Castillo had already. He has a good arm and made all the plays. A nice first game, but it will be interesting to see how his playing time is determined over the coming weeks and how Nick Punto will get in the way of that.
Lew Ford showed much of what he can do, much of what made him good in the first half of 2004 and makes him a solid 4th OF option in my mind. He was 2-3 with a double, and a stolen base. Likewise, Jason Tyner went 1-4 and now has a five game hitting streak during which time he has gone 9-19 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Of course, once Michael Cuddyer comes back later this week, both will be back on the bench regularly, but when the do get the opportunity, getting surprising solid performances from them will be very important.
The Twins 3-7 hitters went 1-17 with two walks and Torii Hunter's home run. However, hitters one, two, eight and nine went 7-14 with three runs and four RBI.
Over at Stick & Ball Guy's site, the genius of "ubelman" posted some terrific stats and thoughts on platoon splits. Check it out!
Head over to Tony, Killer and Carew... They have been posting on the top 20 single game pitching performances by Twins pitchers (according to Bill James' game scores). Of late, they have had two Jim Merritt starts from the early 60s. Jim Kaat has a game mentioned.
By the way, you have to love those Torii Hunter home runs to left field that take about 0.24 seconds to leave the park. They don't get much higher than about 12 feet off the ground. He also has that bat flip thing that you would think would irritate most opponents.
Finally, be sure to check out The Bleacher Bums list of some of the Twins top trades of all time. I think both of the 1987 trades were vastly overrated, but winning a World Series will hide actual statistical contribution of players.
Twins Minor League Updates
Here are the game reports of their minor league affiliates.
Tuesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Trevor Plouffe, New Britain Rockcats
Tuesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Brian Bass, Rochester Red Wings
Tuesday - Red Wings 3, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 1 – Darnell McDonald continues to lead this offense. On this night, he went 3-4 with his 23rd stolen base. Matt Tolbert hit his 19th double, but after the 1-3, his batting average dropped to .298 for the season. Tommy Watkins and Garrett Jones each had two walks. Brian Bass improved to 5-2 with 7.1 strong innings. He gave up one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out five. Bobby Korecky saved his 30th game of the season. He got the final five outs.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Tuesday - Rockcats 6, Erie 2 – Rashad Eldridge helped the Rockcats by hitting his sixth home run of the year, his second homer in as many nights. It was a three run homer that set the tone for the game. He went 1-2 with two walks in the game. Trevor Plouffe remained hot with a 3-4 game including his 31st double. Garrett Guzman and Matt Moses each went 2-4. Jesse Floyd picked up his fifth win. In six innings, he gave up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Tuesday - Miracle, Dunedin – The game was postponed because of rain.
Tuesday - Snappers 7, Ft. Wayne 4 – Tyler Robertson has been incredible since his promotion to the Snappers. On this night, he improved his record to 6-2. He gave up just two runs (1 earned) on four hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out nine. Dan Leatherman gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in 1.1 innings. Jose Lugo got two outs to get out of the 8th inning. Anthony Slama picked up his 6th save, striking out two in an inning. Joe Benson sparked the offense. He was 3-4 with a walk, two RBI and his 15th stolen base. Wilson Ramos went 3-4 with three RBI. Danny Santiesteban went 2-4 with his eighth double. Eli Tintor went 2-5.
Tuesday - E-Twins 3, Princeton 6 – Michael Allen pitched well again in this start. He gave up only an unearned runs in five innings. He allowed one hit, walked none and struck out nine. Loek Van Mil took the loss. The lanky righty struggled with his control, walking three and allowing a hit on the way to giving up two runs (1 earned) in just one inning. Caleb Moore then got roughed up in his inning. He gave up three runs on two hits and a walk, but he did strike out two. Blair Erickson pitched a scoreless inning. Rene Tosoni went 2-4. Eric Santiago was 1-2 with two walks and one RBI.
GCL TWINS REPORT
Tuesday - GCL Twins, GCL Reds – This game was postponed because of rain.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today. Have a good one!|
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