Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Good morning to everyone! Welp, I am now back, and by the time you read this, I will likely be back at work!! It was wonderful weekend down in the cities, a very nice wedding, and hotel and half-day at the Mall of America, and some time at the lake, and it was just good. And now reality is back.
So, I'm going to get some sleep ,but I did want to comment on a few things briefly and would love your feedback. I'd also love to hear your thoughts on our Minor League draft for the Twins that we held last week and posted yesterday.
NO DEAL AT THE DEADLINE
The Twins essentially had three options by the trade deadline; be a buyer, be a seller, do nothing. If they felt they were a playoff team, they would want to be buyers. If they feel they are out of all contention, they could rid themselves of some salary and pick up some prospects. Or, they could do nothing, which is exactly what they accomplished at this time. Nothing, which I happen to think was the worst option. They could have been buyers and pretended like they still had a playoff chance. That would have meant giving up some future for probably a two-month rental. However, it shows the team and its fans that they will try.
I think being a seller was their best option. Fact is, this is not a playoff team. As much of a Twins fan as I am, they should have been a seller. They should have traded Kyle Lohse, Joe Mays and JC Romero. Honestly, for anyone, not even big prospects. Why? In losing those three, they would not have been any worse. They could have replaced Lohse and Mays with Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano (or even Boof Bonser) and not been any worse off. Romero could be easily replaced. I would have even been completely supportive of a Joe Nathan for Andy Marte trade.
But the Twins did nothing, which I think is the worst of the three options. It shows no direction. None. Do they think they can compete? I don't know. Could they just not find anyone who would want any of those three pitchers? I don't know. Actually, I really can not imagine too many teams would want them, but rumor had it that some might.
TWINS PLAYOFF CHANCES
OK, even before the Twins did nothing at the trade deadline, the realist in me knew that the 2005 season and playoff hopes were pretty minimal. Yes, their pitching staff, despite their lack of strikeouts, is incredible. Unfortunately, their offense is just too weak. But why does this surprise us? Look at who is included in the lineup. There are veterans who are not performing to their expectations (Stewart, Hunter, Jones, others). There are young players who are not performing up to their expectations (Morneau, Ford, Cuddyer). And there are a lot of guys with less than two years of big league experience who are simply young and inexperienced. That's not a put-down, it's just reality.
(by the way, it does look like Justin Morneau is starting to get back into the 'swing' of things which is a huge postive for the Twins and their fans.)
If we're being truthful, the only Twins bat that has met expectations has been Joe Mauer. That is it!
And then, this happened, and it really did not help the situation...
Well, Torii Hunter is out for awhile. Nobody seems to be real sure how long. Initially, it was 4-6 weeks. Then we heard it would be at least two weeks. Then we heard he could be lost for the season. Assuming the Twins are out of the playoff chase, I think that he should stay out for the remainder of the season. I love his defense. He can show flashes of offensive brilliance at times. But if the Twins aren't going to win, there is no need to risk rushing a return and possible re-injury.
Lew Ford will be fine as his replacement. He is just as fast. Is a far more consistent hitter, despite his low batting average. And defensively, there is no equal to Hunter, but Ford is fine, even if he completely misplayed that ball yesterday!
BYE BYE BOONEY
Well, it was a low-risk investment, and the Twins got very low rewards for taking a chance on Bret Boone. Boone was awful with the Twins, as he has been for the Mariners the last two years. He showed he can't hit, can't hit for power and really has lost a lot defensively too. But as much as I think we all knew that he would not help the Twins, it was worth the chance. I can't fault the decision. We still do not know who the player to be named later will be, but at this point, I figure that the Twins only wasted a couple of weeks of at bats on Boone. For the slight chance that he still had just a little left, it was worth the effort.
But that had to come to an end. Those 2B at bats can now be taken by Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez and Michael Cuddyer; guys who have a chance to play in the Twins future plans.
THE TWINS OFFENSIVE OFFENSE
So what is wrong with the offense? Where do I start? Scott Ullger? Absolutely, but like Dick Such with Tom Kelly, Ullger seems pretty safe with Gardy at the helm. I just think that there are a lot of hitters that just do not know what they're doing at the plate. In any given game, any inning, you see Twins hitters swinging at questionable pitches on the first pitch of the at bat. You see others watch two nice pitches go right down the middle only to fall behind 0-2. It is hard for me to get down on the hitters. Not everyone is as perfect as Mauer. Mauer just seems to know what he is doing at the plate. Some players have enjoyed a lot of success from time to time because of their aggressiveness (Jones, Hunter), but also notice that such aggressiveness can also lead to prolonged slumps.
It is tough to know what is best. Hunter and Jones can hit doubles and homers on first pitches and you think it's great. Then they can swing at a first pitch and pop up or ground out weakly and we can wish they'd be more patient. Lew Ford is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He feels comfortable taking a few pitches in most at bats. Unfortunately, it has created a lot of 0-2 counts at which time he becomes aggressive.
How about Terry Tiffee? I always thought part of his struggle earlier in the season was that he swung at first pitches so often, frequently grounding out. But he had an at bat where he watched six pitches, the last two for strikes right down the middle.
I guess in all this, what I'm getting at is that there is no one way to fix the problems of the Twins hitters right now. It is not that simple. And as frustrating as it is for you and I, it has to be 10 times harder and more frustrating for them.
One way to help the struggling offense is to play the better offensive options. Instead of playing the hitting-inept (yes, defensive genius) Juan Castro...
What are my thoughts? In just two words, "ABOUT TIME!" I don't know what more there is to say. He was pounding the ball in Rochester, and that was the reason given for his demotion. He has done all he can at that level and certainly has deserved this opportunity.
PALMIERO SUSPENDED FOR STEROIDS
The big news over the weekend was the Rafael Palmiero failed a drug test and was suspended for 10 days by the league. Am I surprised? Not at all. Do I believe that he took things "unintentionally?" I don't know. Fact is, Palmiero was not good in 2004, and was not good for the first month or six weeks of 2005. During those times, his results were clean. Then suddenly in mid-May he started hitting like crazy again, and now he fails a test? It is more than a little suspicious isn't it.
Then again, I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to make a statement that Performance-Enhancing Drugs actually enhance on-field performance. Just one person, one argument. The question has again been asked whether Palmiero is a Hall of Famer. The sad thing is that before this revelation, there were people who thought that the 3,000 hit, 500 home run hitter was not a Hall of Famer, which is absolutely ridiculous to me. Based on all I've written, I'm sure you won't be at all surprised to know that I would still vote for him on the first ballot, but I am not naive enough to think that he will be.
The saddest part about Palmiero's test results is that it just adds validity to Jose Canseco's allegations. Of course, the names that I read were included in Canseco's book would not have surprised me anyway, even without the book.
ONE MORE THING
And finally, can you imagine sitting through this game? Either you would have been bored to death, or would have loved the suspense and drama of this game. In a central Minnesota amateur baseball tournament game between Lastrup and Pierz, Lastrup won 1-0 in 28 innings! Here are some interesting facts from the game:
Pierz and Lastrup pitchers combined to throw 720 pitches. Brewers starter Jason Sadlovsky went 14 innings and threw 193 pitches. His Lakers counterpart Jason Gross tossed 10 innings and threw 120 pitches. Lastrup's Dan Saehr came in and threw 15 innings of middle relief and threw 164 pitches. Lastrup's Reggie Litke caught the first 25 innings, then pitched the final three to get the win.
The teams combined for 37 hits and stranded 43 baserunners. The game lasted five hours and 50 minutes as the teams played the equivalent of three games.
And the game actually meant something. The winner went to the Regional tournament. The losing team was done.
OK, that is far more than I was thinking I would write. Not sure how much there will be tomorrow either. If you have any thoughts on the Twins or anything, please e-mail me.
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