Thursday, August 25, 2005
Twins/White Sox Series
Twins Minor League Report
TIME FOR CHANGE-
THE MAYS DECISION
Well, I am an idiot. I went to bed after Matthew LeCroy's home run cut the White Sox lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the 7th inning. I missed the 9th inning comeback that almost was! So what did I miss? A Nick Punto two-run homer that cut the lead to 6-3. A Matthew LeCroy double that scored Joe Mauer to cut the lead to 6-4. And a Michael Cuddyer liner to left that Timo Perez fought the lights to catch for the final out of the game. Almost! Close. But in the heat of a pennant race, is close really good? I mean, you have to appreciate the effort on the comeback, but every game is important at this point. A three run ninth inning is great, but it really doesn't mean much when your team is down five runs going into the inning!
But what did anyone expect last night? The Twins went with their make-shift lineup against one of the league's best left-handed pitchers. Jacque Jones wasn't with the team, but he wouldn't have played anyway. Shannon Stewart's injury seems to be better than expected, but he was unable to play. So the Twins went with the outfield of Brent Abernathy (who put in a couple of web gems, and I would argue after seeing him play LF twice now that he is better defensively than Stewart with a far stronger arm, even if he only has the arm of a 2B!), Lew Ford and Michael Cuddyer. With Cuddyer in right, Terry Tiffee got a start at 3B. Mike Redmond was catching, and Joe Mauer was the DH with Matthew LeCroy at 1B.
But it wasn't the team's lineup that made me know that the odds of a Twins win was not good going into the game. Sadly, the team decided that Joe Mays should continue to be in the rotation. Mays pitched as would have been expected. He didn't get out of the fifth inning. In 4.2 innings, he gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk. He allowed a first inning home run to Carl Everett to put the team down 2-0 right away.
Of course, Gardy threw his patented "Obviously, he's busting his tail out there and trying everything he can." line that Twins fans are sick of.
Of course he is working hard. No one is questioning how hard Mays is working. No one is questioning how hard he has worked the last two years since he had Tommy John surgery.
So... Why? Why is Joe Mays still in the rotation? I mean, he wasn't good in the first half of the season. Since the All-Star break, he is 1-6 with a 7.48 ERA. But that is just the beginning of the story. He has given up 64 hits in 43.1 innings. Opponents are hitting .346 against him, and his WHIP is 1.8! Those are the statistics. Simply watching Mays, and you see what the problem is. He is only hitting 86-88 mph on his fastball, and it has no movement. I was telling someone the other day that it really looks as though he is just throwing the ball toward the catcher and hoping the hitter will hit it at someone. He is fooling no one. What is Mays' impression of his work of late?
"I haven't done my job. I pretty much stunk the past 2 1/2 months."
So why is Mays still in the rotation? I have no 'real' idea. However, it is clear that the reason is monetary and political. Mays is making over $7 million this year and needed to be given every shot to stay in the rotation. The theory is that you can't put a $7 million pitcher in the bullpen. Well, my theory is that there are just five weeks left in the season and the team is still in the race, so it is fair to put $1 million in the bullpen, hidden away!
But for those of you who are like me and are questioning the decision-making of Ron Gardenhire more and more with every word he utters, and many of his decisions in-game and with personnel and the things he says to the media, here is another quote of note:
"We're really stuck here"
No Gardy, you're not! First, you had an off day on Monday. Mays' spot in the rotation could have been skipped! There was NO need for Mays to make that start last night! None!
But, you have two options available at Rochester that everyone knows will be better, or certainly no worse, than Joe Mays. Scott Baker has already shown in his two big league starts that he is more than ready. There, he is 5-8, but he has an ERA of just 3.01. He throws 92-94 mph with location on his fastball. But he also has two other major league ready pitches, and an ability to strikeout some batters. He is ready!
Or, maybe it is finally time to unveil Francisco Liriano on the world, or the American League portion of the world. Liriano is mentioned on this site approximately every day! Maybe more than once. Liriano went to spring training with the Twins but was sent down early. He started the season at New Britain and went 3-5 with a 3.64 ERA. He struck out 92 hitters in 76.2 innings. He was called up to AAA Rochester and since then, he has become the best pitcher in the minor leagues. In 12 starts, he is 8-1. That means nothing, look at his other numbers. His ERA is just 1.59. In 79 innings, he has 93 strikeouts. He has allowed just 43 hits and 22 walks! That is a WHIP of 0.82! Again, those are just the stats. We know that Liriano throws a fastball between 93 and 96, and has hit as high as 98. He has a slider between 86 and 88 mph. And, his changeup has been compared to Johan Santana's. His manager was quoted as saying that his fastball might be his third best pitch.
The alleged concern by the manager is these pitcher's youth. Baker will turn 24 next month. Liriano won't turn 22 until the end of October. But both pitchers are ready to contribute. A month ago, I would have said that they should have replaced both Mays and Kyle Lohse in the rotation, but Lohse has really been solid the last five or six starts.
So, what do I suggest? Well, I know it is harsh, but everyone understands that this is a business. I would released Joe Mays (or be kind and try to get him onto the Disabled List? Maybe a shoulder injury?) and eat the remainder of his contract. I would replace him in the starting rotation with Scott Baker. When? Now! Or, by Monday when Mays is next scheduled to start. If it is possible to put Mays on the Disabled List, the team could wait until after September 1st to call up Liriano. At that point, I would call him up and put him into the bullpen. He could dominate out of the bullpen the rest of the season. At this point, does anyone out there think that he is any worse than JC Romero, much less Terry Mulholland. If there is a disabled list spot, and Liriano takes to that bullpen role, and the Twins find a way into the playoffs, he could have the kind of impact in the playoffs that Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) had a couple of years ago when the Angels won the World Series.
This article, and any decisions made about Joe Mays, are not personal. I like Joe Mays. He seems like a great guy. On Sunday before the game, those in attendance saw him hitting grounders and popups to his son on the Metrodome's turf. His daughter was trying to be helpful. Mays is probably a great father. He's probably a good teammate. He has worked so hard to come back from Tommy John surgery often trying to do too much, too fast. But now is not the time for sentimentality. The Twins are in the playoff hunt still, and they need to give themselves the best chance to win every game. They can not afford to essentially give away every fifth game by keeping Mays in the rotation.
Is it possible that anyone out there disagrees with me on this one? If so, E-mail me. Well, you can e-mail me even if you do agree. I'd love to hear any thoughts on this topic.
OK, some other quick thoughts on last night's game:
Jason Bartlett had two doubles in four at bats.
Terry Mulholland threw three shutout innings to end the game. That is the type of role that he has some value pitching in, those situations when none of the Twins real, good relievers should be wasted.
Matthew LeCroy had two more hits and two more RBI. He has been good. Of course, the home run came off a lefty, Buehrle.
In the Wild Card race... the A's won while the Indians and the Yankees lost. So, the Twins remain 2 1/2 games behind all three of those teams.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Another perfect day in the Twins minor league system, five wins, and no losses. JD Durbin returned to the starting rotation, and Dave Gassner is pitching again, but out of the bullpen for now.
One question that I think has to be asked though... Alex Romero is the top hitting prospect at New Britain. He is producing by hitting over .300 with some extra-base power. Rumor had it that if Shannon Stewart's injury would have meant a DL stint, Romero would have been the player called up to replace him. So, why is he batting 6th in the Rockcats lineup?
ROCHESTER RED WINGS
Wednesday - RED WINGS 4, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 0 - JD Durbin returned to his role as a starter and was fantastic. In five scoreless innings, he gave up just two hits and a walk, and he struck out three. Dave Gassner came back and went an inning and two-thirds out of the bullpen. He gave up three hits and walked one, but didn't give up a run. Beau Kemp, Ricky Barrett and Travis Bowyer combined for 2.1 shutout innings. Luis Maza led the offense going 2-4 with two doubles. Kevin West was also 2-4.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Wednesday - Rockcats 7, Reading 1 - Levale Speigner backed up his shutout last week with six more shutout innings. He gave up four hits and no walks to pick up his sixth win. Jannio Gutierrez gave up a run in his two innings before Justin Olson struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning. Luis Jimenez hit hit 26th double and 15th home run, with four RBI, in four at bats. Felix Molina was 2-2 with his second homer. Doug Deeds was 2-3 with a walk, and Denard Span was 2-4.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Wednesday - MIRACLE 4, Clearwater 3 - Scott Tyler picked up his sixth win by giving up three runs over six innings. He gave up five hits and a walk, and he struck out five. Tristan Crawford went two shutout innings, and Julio DePaula recorded his fourth save with a scoreless ninth. Trent Oeltjen went 3-5 with his 17th double. Allan de San Miguel went 1-2 with two walks.
Wednesday - SNAPPERS - No Game Scheduled.
Wednesday - E-Twins 7, Bristol 6 - Looking at the score, you could question the pitching, but starter Brian Duensing was great. In six innings, he gave up just one run. He gave up six hits and three walks, but he also struck out nine. Danny Powers then struck out two in his scoreless inning. Joe Gault gave up a run in his inning. Tim Lahey gave up four runs (2 earned) in his inning. Josh Land went 3-5 with two doubles. Matt Betsill went 3-5 with his second homer. Erik Lis was also 3-5. Edward Ovalle went 2-4 with a double. Yarcarlos Ortiz had two singles.
GULF COAST TWINS
Wednesday - GCL Twins 8, GCL Red Sox 6 - Alex Burnett gave up four runs in five innings. Matt Williams gave up two runs (1 earned) on 2.2 innings. Walter Patton walked the only batter he faced. Aaron Craig got the team out of the eight and pitched a scoreless ninth to be credited with the win. Henry Sanchez went 2-3 with a walk and his second home run. Josh Dean went 2-4. Odannys Perez was 1-2 with a walk. He also stole his 15th base.
On that note, I am going to call it a day! I hope everyone has a good one! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
Back to Archives Home