Wednesday August 4, 2004
TWINS SHUT OUT ANGELS
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
"THE REAL DEAL" DEALS!
Normally I talk about the Minnesota Twins on this site. Those of you who have been reading throughout the season know that I also try to keep tabs on the Twins minor league affiliates. Basically what I do is read the box scores and story lines and summarize them into who pitched and who had multi-hit games and home runs. It's not real in depth, but I find it interesting to see how the future Twins players are doing now, before they're known. And, here you can see them all in one place.
Just in the last week, I wrote updates of the guys I put in my Twins Top 30 Prospects posting last December. (see Prospects 1-10, Prospects 11-20, Prospects 21-30) I ranked Joe Mauer #1, and when healthy, he has been better than expected. I had Justin Morneau ranked #2, and he has been a power source at AAA and now with the Twins. But today, I want to discuss the guy I had ranked as the Twins #3 prospect, JD Durbin.
When Doug Mientkiewicz was traded last week, it caused a reaction among the Twins players and fan base, and that is fair. Mientkiewicz was a fan favorite and seemingly a good teammate. Torii Hunter has said many great things about Mientkiewicz since they have probably been together in the Twins organization the longest. However, that same day, it was another quote by Hunter that really got me thinking. He said, "Call Up The Real Deal. He's not afraid to throw strikes."
Well, The Real Deal (a nickname Durbin gave himself a couple seasons ago) was not called up to the Twins from AA New Britain right away. Jesse Crain (my #4 Twins prospect) was called up to the Twins from Rochester to take Mientkiewicz's spot on the Twins roster. JD Durbin was called up to Rochester to replace Crain on their roster.
Last night, Durbin made his first AAA start, and did he make the best of it!? He went seven innings without giving up a run. He gave up just four hits, and he did not walk a batter. Maybe the most impressive part of his performance was the 13 strikeouts! Generally speaking, a pitcher with more than a strikeout an inning is very good. As a matter of fact, Johan Santana is one of just three pitchers who are averaging more than 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. Well, Durbin had almost two strikeouts an inning.
In all likelihood, with the struggles of the Twins 5th starter spot, JD Durbin would already be in the Twins rotation. Unfortunately he had to have some shoulder surgery earlier in the season and missed a couple of months. He is back now and touching 96 mph on the radar gun. Durbin also mixes in a tough slider/curveball and was sent to AA to work on his changeup. Scott Baker has risen to Rochester from Ft. Myers. He tops out at about 93 mph, but he is believed to be just a little more polished than Durbin. That said, I think both could very well contribute to the Twins right now.
Kyle Lohse has been terrible all year. To this point, I have been completely behind the decision to keep Lohse in the rotation because the last two years he has been solid, winning 14 games each year, and I want to continue to believe that he will turn things around. But it is now August and Lohse has not improved. You could argue that he has actually regressed. The Twins do have a 5 game lead in the AL Central, but Lohse's start tonight may be really big for him. Should he falter again, it is clear that there is an answer ready at Rochester.
Terry Ryan has been quoted a few times saying that sometimes the best move a team can make is to stay within the organization.
When Doug Mientkiewicz went on the DL, Justin Morneau was summoned from Rochester and performed, making Mientkiewicz expendable. The move to Morneau was the best situation for the Twins. Mientkiewicz was a known commodity, limited as he was offensively. Morneau wasn't a name, or those who remembered him struggling last season probably did not want to see him given another shot. Fact is, Morneau's ceiling is far higher than Mientkiewicz's could ever be.
Jesse Crain may not be known to all casual Twins fans, but I think those who keep tabs on such things have to understand just how big a role Crain could play for the Twins in the final two months. He could have more impact on the Twins than had they received a starting pitcher in return.
Kris Benson/Scott Baker?? Victor Zambrano/JD Durbin? I know which pitchers I would take to help me win. I would take the younger guys with live arms.
So many fans wanted, and maybe still want, the Twins to go out and get another starting pitcher. Let's be honest, when it became known that Randy Johnson was really not available, there was not a pitcher out there (including Kris Benson) who was worth dealing anything of value for. Would Kris Benson really have made a difference? Odds are maybe 50/50. Would Victor Zambrano helped the Twins? Not really.
Well, with Durbin making an impressive first start at Rochester just days after Scott Baker gave up a run in seven innings, the Twins have two options to fill a spot (or two) in their rotation for the last two months who could have an even bigger impact on the race.
Now, the common Twins fan may not understand this. I know so many people who are very leery of rookies, who do not trust the word "prospect." Everyone wants a "sure thing" instead of someone where the word "potential" comes up about every third sentence. But sometimes risk creates reward. With the likes of Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano, you pretty much know what you're going to get, middle of the road pitchers. With Durbin or Baker, the possibilities are far higher... and possibly lower.
There is risk, but there is also upside. Not everyone understands it, but when veterans are replaced by rookies, there is generally a reason. Four or five years ago, the reason for the Twins to cut salary was to play the youngsters. Now, the Twins have their set payroll which probably will not increase, so salary is an issue. However, I think it is important for fans to realize that it is very possible that this next group of rookies (Morneau, Bartlett, Crain, Durbin, Baker and Kubel) has the potential to be incredible. The current Twins, the guys who won the past two AL Central titles were good. Combining the future stars with the current stars only makes the team better.
Most analysts and fans do not think that the current Twins team can make the playoffs, but would not be able to compete for a World Series title. I don't disagree, and having JD Durbin and/or Scott Baker contributing at the major league level only helps that cause.
What do you think? Is it time to give JD Durbin the nod? Do you think he's ready? Is it too late and he shouldn't be brought up in the thick of a pennant race? Let me know what you think. E-mail me.
Following another day off, the Twins began a three game set against the Anaheim Angels. The Angels have struggled some of late, but still have a lineup that contains Vlad Guerrero and Jose Guillen. Actually, the Angels got plenty of hits. 11 to be exact. However, Twins starter Carlos Silva was really getting the opportune ground balls when he needed them. The Angels frequently got base runners, however, the Twins were able to turn six double plays in the game. Even on the last play of the game, with runners on 1st and 3rd, Carlos Silva got a ground ball to Justin Morneau, who threw to Jason Bartlett at 2B, who sent a return through to Silva, who was covering the base to complete the game-ending double play, maintaining the complete game shutout. Silva was apparently excited about it as he tossed the ball as high as he could and into the bleachers down the 3B line. Ron Gardenhire was not impressed by that arrogant (or simply excited) display. But he had to be excited about Silva's performance. Silva is not a strikeout guy, but his pitches move so much he coaxes a lot of ground balls. In 9 innings, he gave up 11 hits and walked two. He struck out just three.
The offense did pretty well too, once it got going. Neither team was really hitting the ball well, until the bottom of the 4th, when Torii Hunter ripped a line drive just over the left field fence for a solo homer. Jacque Jones singled on the next pitch, and Corey Koskie deposited the following pitch well over the fence in rightcenter field. In the 6th inning, the Twins got a two-run single from Henry Blanco a few batters before a two-run double off the bat of Shannon Stewart. In the 7th, Justin Morneau drilled a hanging two-strike curveball well over the centerfield fence. Finally, in the 8th, Henry Blanco's homer gave the Twins the 10-0 win.
Shannon Stewart led the way as a good leadoff hitter would by going 3-4 with a walk. Henry Blanco was 2-4 with 3 RBI. The homers were Hunter's 13th, Koskie's 15th, Morneau's 6th and Blanco's 7th.
One other highlight was the major league debut of Jason Bartlett. With the lead securely in hand, Bartlett replaced Cristian Guzman at SS. He was kept plenty busy. He turned two double plays and made a couple of throws to 1B for outs. he also committed one error. In his lone plate appearance, he struck out on a curveball. From the one at bat, I can tell I will like him. He looks like he knows what he's doing at the plate. He wasn't afraid to take a few pitches, but he always looked ready to swing. I'm more convinced that he will be able to handle the Twins SS job next year.
Here are the up-to-date standings in the AL Central:
American League Central Standings
Minnesota Twins 60-45 .571 ---
Chicago White Sox 54-49 .524 5.0
Cleveland Indians 53-54 .495 8.0
Detroit Tigers 50-56 . 472 10.5
Kansas City Royals 37-67 .356 22.5
Tonight the Twins and Angels face off in game 2 of the series. The Twins also mentioned that, instead of Brad Radke on Thursday, he will be pushed back a day and Terry Mulholland will start in his place. Here are the remaining pitching matchups:
Wednesday - 7:10 - Kyle Lohse (4-8, 5.21, 1.66, .314) vs Ramon Ortiz (3-6, 3.94, 1.27, .248)
Thursday - 12:10 - Terry Mulholland (3-3, 4.32, 1.46, .296) vs Aaron Sele (6-0, 4.66, 1.46, .284)
Again, with the emergence of JD Durbin and Scott Baker, I really believe that tonight is a big start for Kyle Lohse.
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Redwings 3, Ottawa 0 - Again, the big story in this win was the the AAA debut of JD Durbin! Seven innings. Four hits, No walks. No runs. 13 strikeouts. That's pretty remarkable! Beau Kemp and Joe Beimel finished the final two innings to preserve the shutout. Todd Dunwoody led the offence, going 2-4 with two RBI. Michael Ryan was 1-3, but did hit his 4th home run. He is currently hitting .188 at Rochester.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Rockcats 5, Norwich 1 - Kyle's brother, Erik Lohse, started for the Rockcats. He pitched four inning sand gave up just four hits and two walks. Most importantly, he did not allow a run. He struck out four. Kevin Cameron came in and didn't allow a run in three innings of relief. Travis Bowyer pitched the final two frames and gave up a run on a hit. James Tomlin went 3-5 with a double. Rob Bowen was 3-3 with his 9th homer. He is now hitting .199. Kevin West hit his 21st homer.
FT. MYERS MIRACLE
Miracle 1, Tampa 2 - This game was suspended because of rain in the 5th inning. It will be completed tonight.
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Swing , Beloit - This game was suspended because of rain in the 4th inning. It will be completed tonight. Justin Arneson was put on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps.
E-Twins - The E-Twins got some offense, but just not enought pitching. The offense was led by CF Tarrence Patterson who was 3-5 with two home runs. He now has six homers in the short season. SS Trevor Plouffe was 2-5 with a double. C Javier Sanchez went 2-5 with his first homer. 2B Luke Hughes was 1-4 with his 2nd homer of the season.
Thank you very much for stopping by this website and please continue to do so. The hit counts are continuing to go up and I appreciate that!! If you ever have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me. Have a great day!
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