Friday, August 26, 2005
Twins/White Sox Series
Twins Minor League Report
THE BIG THREE
Good Friday morning to everyone!!
The first thing I want to mention is that I will be traveling down to St. Paul this weekend and make an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair. The people at WCCO radio who have been kind enough to let me participate in the Blogger's Minute throughout the season will have myself, the Twins Geek and the Twins Junkie appear at the fair during the 6:00 hour of Twins Talk. Normally Jack Morris is on the show. However, due to prior commitments, he will be unable to attend. He will be replaced by Ron Coomer. I look forward to the opportunity. If you have a chance to stop by the WCCO booth at the Fair for that, be sure to say hello. If you can't be there, check out the show on 830 WCCO, or hear it online here.
Yesterday afternoon, Carlos Silva pitched incredibly again, and got nothing to show for his efforts. He gave up just a single run over seven innings, but the Twins did not score a run for him. Down 1-0 with two outs in the ninth, Michael Ryan hit a ball down the first base line that was somehow called fair for a double. Luis Rodriguez ran through a stop sign, but scored easily to tie the game. Unfortunately a couple more questionable plays in the top of the 10th gave the White Sox the lead with a bloop single to left off the bat of Timo Perez. The Twins could not even come close to hitting Bobby Jenks. Ryan went 3-4, and those were three of the Twins seven hits.
The Twins now head to Texas for a three game set against the Rangers. Tonight the Twins will send Kyle Lohse to the mound against Kenny Rogers. Saturday pits the veteran Brad Radke against CJ Wilson, who is 0-6 with a 9.62 ERA in 11 games (6 starts). And finally, on Sunday, Johan Santana will face off with Chris Young who was good early but may be re-thinking his decision not to sign with the Sacramento Kings at this point in the season.
I look at the Rangers pitching situation and it is bad, has been for years. If they really have no intention of resigning Alfonso Soriano after the season, why would they have not accepted a Twins trade earlier this week? They weren't going to get Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano for him, but if they lose him after the season, they will get nothing in return. So, why not accept a deal from the Twins that included two or three secondary Twins pitching prospects? Who knows? Maybe one of them becomes better than expected. Maybe one becomes a solid #3 starter. Maybe one or two becomes a solid reliever. Why not take something?!
THE BIG THREE
Today, I wanted to talk a little about the Twins Big Three Starters. It is really impressive what those three have done so far this year. If you read The Baseball Savant's article from this week on the AL's Top potential starters for the team's that could make the playoffs, you will see where the Twins Big Three rank. As a matter of fact, it isn't even close. But each of the three pitchers does it a little differently, and to me, that is OK. Actually, I am good with "Whatever Works" if it means that the starters are pitching this well! In other words, if the Twins can find their way into the playoffs, their Big Three will match up against any of the league's other rotations.
Johan Santana was solid in the first half and has turned back to Cy Santana in the second half. Carlos Silva has been the Twins' most consistent starting pitcher the entire season. Brad Radke has been solid again all season!
Through 26 starts, Santana is 13-6 with a 3.22 ERA. Here are how his numbers rank in the American League (with Major League rankings):
Wins - 13 - Tied 5th
ERA - 3.22 - 3rd (14th)
Complete Games - 3 - Tied 3rd
Shutouts - 2 - one of just four in AL with two.
Innings - 181.2 - 4th (8th)
WHIP - 1.01 - 2nd (6th)
Opponent AVG - .220 - 2nd (8th)
Opponent OB% - .256 - 1st (Tied 3rd)
K/BB - 5.56 - 4th (4th)
K/9 - 9.36 - 1st (3rd)
H/9 - 7.43 - 2nd (8th)
Pitches per Inning Pitched - 14.53 - 6th (Tied 13th)
VORP - 50.2 - 2nd (9th)
Notes - The reigning Cy Young winner showed us his human side in the first-half. Santana's human side is still All-Star caliber. But what he has done since the All-Star break is reminiscent of 2004. Suddenly, a repeat Cy Young is certainly well within the realm of possibility! Santana was able to pick up some Wins early in the season with some help that Radke and Silva did not get. He has thrown innings. He continues to strike out a great number of hitters without walking too many. Santana can dominate hitters with three high-caliber pitches. He is a strikeout hitter who also gets a lot of fly balls when he is on. If Santana continues to pitch the rest of the 2nd half as he has since the All-Star break, there is no reason that he should not win the Cy Young award. Hopefully the Twins bats will give him enough support to convince those voters who think that the "Win" stat is the best stat to determine the league's best pitcher.
Through 26 starts, Radke is 8-10 with a 3.78 ERA. Here is how his numbers rank in the American League (with Major League rankings):
ERA - 3.78 - 15th
Complete Games - 3 - Tied 3rd
Innings - 173.2 - Tied 7th (17th)
Hits - 7th in AL
WHIP - 1.15 - Tied 4th (Tied 13th)
Opponent OB% - .291 - 4th (Tied 12th)
K/BB - 5.58 - 3rd (3rd)
K/9 - 5.49 - 23rd
Pitches per Inning Pitched - 14.46 - 5th (Tied 8th)
VORP - 33.0 - 15th (32nd)
Notes - It is really good to see Radke putting up solid numbers again following his career season in 2004. No, he isn't quite to that level. No, he still is not getting the run support to get "Wins", and sure, he gives up too many runs and home runs in the first inning. But look at the overall picture and see that he is putting together another great season. I had to include that he ranks 7th in the league in number of hits allowed. Why? Because that makes the fact that he is still fourth in the AL in WHIP and opponent on-base percentage even more impressive. Radke lives with great control of an 89-90 mph fastball and a great changeup. He is a fly ball pitcher who needs support from his defense.
Through 23 starts, Silva is 8-6 with a 3.26 ERA. Here is how his numbers rank in the American League (with Major League rankings):
ERA - 3.26 - 5th
Innings - 173.2 - Tied 7th (17th)
Hits - 192 - Tied 1st
WHIP - 1.15 - Tied 4th (13th)
Opponent OB% - .297 - Tied 7th (Tied 19th)
K/BB - 6.60 - 1st (1st)
K/9 - 3.42 - 49th
Pitches per Inning Pitched - 12.03 - 1st (1st)
VORP - 40.5 - 8th (19th)
Notes - I should point out the Silva missed three starts in April with his DL stint. That makes his innings pitched numbers even more impressive. He is averaging 7.25 innings per start. That is great. But it is also manageable because of his major league low pitch per inning count. Like with Radke, I felt the need to show how many hits Silva has allowed, the most in the league. I showed that because despite that, his WHIP is absolutely incredible. Silva really is remarkable this year. He really only throws one pitch, a heavy, sinking fastball with great movement. He gets many groundballs. When there are runners on base, he has received the help of many double plays. He doesn't strikeout many hitters at all.
Johan Santana, Brad Radke and Carlos Silva have been incredible this season. Combined, they are 29-22 with a 3.42 ERA. They have made 75 starts and gone an average of 7 innings per start, which of course, helps out the bullpen and keeps it fresh. All three rank in the Top 6 in the AL in WHIP. All three rank in the top 5 in Strikeouts per walk.
I think it is also important to note that these pitchers have been taken care of well while they are putting up these numbers. Baseball Prospectus has a stat called Pitcher Abuse Points. It takes things like Number of pitches per start, and total pitches and other things and determines how 'overused' a pitcher is. In those rankings, Johan Santana ranks 68th, Brad Radke ranks 117th and Carlos Silva is at 188th. That bodes well for them staying strong throughout the rest of the season.
Kyle Lohse has really been solid since the All-Star break. He has had some really good starts and his 4.10 ERA is well below league average. That is just fine for a #4 starter.
Joe Mays needs to be replaced in the starting rotation because he has really struggled of late. Scott Baker has made two strong starts for the Twins. Dave Gassner made two starts for the team in April, one was great, one was really bad. If Baker replaces Mays as the #5 starter, we can expect even better numbers from the rotation. Next year, when Francisco Liriano is in the rotation too, the five starters could be incredible!
One thing is really unfortunate. If the Twins had even just a league-average offense, they would likely have another 12-15 wins this year. If that was the case, The Twins would not be worrying about hanging in the Wild Card race, they would be holding off the White Sox for the best record in the American League.
Is there a better top three pitchers on any other team in baseball? I would contend that there isn't. But I am sure that there are plenty of you out there that might vote for another team? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please e-mail me. OK, Astros fans, you may have a case, but be sure to make it!
MAYS (AND TWINS) MAILBAG
I wrote yesterday about how I felt that Joe Mays needed to be removed from the rotation. I appreciate Ron Gardenhire's loyalty to him (although you NEED to read Sundappled Wood from yesterday as I completely agree with his opinion on that topic!), and understand the need to give a guy making over $8 million this season every opportunity. But if the team is going to really try to make it to the playoffs, they need to win every game. They can't give away one out of every five starts. It does appear that something will happen before next Monday, Mays' next scheduled start. Anyway, I got a number of great e-mails on the topic, and wanted to share some of them with you.
AGREE AGREE AGREE – I was listening to the game last night, and after the first inning I was thinking to myself, ‘When are they going to drop Mays from the rotation? I wonder how upset SethSpeaks will be tomorrow!’
You are crazy man. Mays is great. I think that he is just in need of a little confidence boost and he will be just fine.
Okay, but seriously, Mays should have been replaced in the lineup about2 months ago when it became clear that his arm just wasn’t holding up. It looked like he was going to be serviceable in the number 5 slot at the beginning of the season, but it is clear to me that he just doesn’t have enough left in the tank to finish out the season. I agree with you that they need to DL the guy. If they move him to the bullpen instead, you know that Gardy is going to be tempted to go to him thinking (for some unknown reason) that he is the best option out of the pen. Perhaps he is….in a game were we are up or down by 10 runs. Much the same is true of Mulholland. Gardy goes to the guy again and again, admittedly a lot less over the past few weeks. I dare say we need Baker in the rotation and Liriano in the left handed specialist role if we want to catch Cleveland let alone make a play for the wild card. Speaking of….I have heard that both of those guys are slated for the September 1st call up along with Bowyer. Good news! The bad news comes along with the position players they are giving the nod to. Couldn’t we use a little more help with the bats right now? Are Rivas, Bowen, and Big Buck or Jason Tyner really the answer? God I hope that Glen Williams can come back and play like he was…while I am at it I can wish that Kubel would get that knee rehabbed and make it back for the end of the season…..sigh. We need some real hitting man. We can’t bank on the Nick Puntos of the world any more that we can count on Mays.
Anyone who would disagree with you about Mays is a moron. Mays has got to go. I appreciate Gardy's loyalty to his players, but he also owes it to his players to give them a chance to win. If Silva/Baker would have pitched last night, maybe the score would have been 3-1 in the 9th instead of 6-1, and we would have had an unbelievable comeback win.
As much as I hate to admit it, I think the Twins are a long shot, at best, for the wild card. I know they're only two and a half out, but they need to pass three teams to get there. Oakland and Cleveland are two up and coming teams, and the Yankees are, well, the Yankees. I hope I'm wrong. If the Twins don't make the playoffs, I hope they can derail the Sox enough so Cleveland can catch them. For some reason I just don't like the White Sox!
That said, I must say I agree with you in regard to Joe Mays. I've always liked Mays, and hope he can resurrect his career, but if the Twins are going to have any shot at the postseason, they have to put their best starters out there. The lineup does not have enough pop in their bats to overcome early deficits. I think Baker is the guy for right now.
By the way, how is Kubel's rehab going? I'm optimistic about next year. Add Baker and Liriano to the pitching staff, hopefully add a healthy Kubel to the outfield. Cuddyer seems to be improving and Mauer and Morneau will have a year of experience under their belts. Now, if only they could stabilize the middle infield.
It looks to me like Lew Ford is a better hitter when he plays in the field. Dare I suggest trading Shannon Stewart and letting Jacque Jones go? Would an offseason Shannon Stewart trade bring us a decent second baseman? That would leave the Twins with Ford, Hunter, and Kubel as regular outfielders.
I can't really disagree with your position, but the Twins organization, which has been pointed out on other sites has shown a somewhat consistent philosophy in how it tries to handle their young arms. Having heard several Terry Ryan interviews over the course of the season, when the Mays/Lirano/Baker topic came up it seemed like they had in mind exactly what they intended to do and what time frame they were going to put on it. I would say this too, after working in corporate life more than a decade where several "business" decisions are made every day which affect people's lives, I think from a corporate culture standpoint the Twins organization seems to deal with the players in these situations in a very deliberate way. While it might seem obtuse in how the Mays decision played out, the same philosophy may be why guys like Brand Radke chose to stay or why guys like Stewart decided to re-sign with the club. Just a theory.I think the one hard thing to stomach this year is that I think things may have played out better if they just would have stuck to their guns on the original plan with Bartlett at short and Cuddyer at 3rd. Injuries and slumps aside, I think when they flinched and started all the rotating faces nonsense, they missed a real opportunity to see these guys come together. Maybe that combined with some platooning of Jones which has long been advocated would have put the Twins in a better position.
From Raider Mike:
Here's what bothers me.....If you and I know that Mays should be replaced with either Baker or Liriano, why dont the Twins? Buehrlie vs Mays? I knew that was going to be an L 2 weeks ago. We still cant hit, but with either one of the prospects in the rotation, we have a chance to win every single day. Trust me, I go to New Briatin games all the time and Ive seen both of them pitch ALOT.....and I remember when Joe Mays was down here...HE ISNT AS GOOD.
Do you have any additional thoughts on Mays, the Twins, or any of the other questions or comments included? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Francisco Liriano or Scott Baker? Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano? Which will replace Joe Mays in the Twins starting rotation on Monday against the Royals? My guess, of course, is Scott Baker, but Liriano threw seven more solid innings last night at Rochester. However, I think that by pitching on Thursday, he would not be able to pitch on Monday. I think that means we would see Baker. Either way, it's a better option than Mays.
ROCHESTER RED WINGS
Thursday - RED WINGS 4, Ottawa 0 - Francisco Liriano had to struggle, he really had to work last night. He gave up more hits than he has in any of his previous Rochester starts, but he worked out of some tough situations and did so with some big strikeouts. In seven innings, he gave up two runs on eight hits. He didn't hurt himself though as he walked none and struck out nine. Brent Schoening came in and pitched a scoreless inning despite a two out walk. Travis Bowyer came in for the ninth inning. He struck out Midre Cummings, and after a catcher's interference, a liner to Garrett Jones turned into an unassisted double play to end the game. It was Bowyer's 23rd save which set the team's record. Luis Maza led the offense going 2-4 with two RBI.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Thursday - Rockcats 5, Reading 4 - Doug Deeds was huge in the Rockcats come from behind win last night. The OF was 3-5 with his 32nd and 33rd doubles and three RBI. Danny Matienzo went 3-4 with his 33rd double. Gil Velazquez went 2-4. Errol Simonitsch started and lasted five innings. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on nine hits. He walked none and struck out four. Kevin Cameron gave up just an unearned run on two hits over three innings. Daylon Childress got his 2nd relief win of the week with his scoreless ninth.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Thursday - Game 1 - MIRACLE 6, Dunedin 2 - Adam Harben improves to 9-5, and dropped his ERA to 2.57. In six innings, he gave up two runs (1 earned) on seven hits and a walk. Jay Sawatski pitched a scoreless seventh. Trent Oeltjen had a big all-around game. He was 4-4 with his fourth homer, four RBI and his 21st stolen base. Matt Tolbert, Kyle Geiger and Mark Zamojc each had two hits.
Thursday - Game 2 - MIRACLE 4, Dunedin 6 - Jake Mauer went 3-4 with two RBI. Matt Tolbert went 2-4 with a double. Jose Leger went 2-3 with a double. Jan Granado gave up four runs on seven hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out two. Chris Schutt then gave up two runs in the final two innings.
Thursday - SNAPPERS 3, Dayton 6 - Matt Garza started and was roughed up. In four innings, he gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits. He didn't walk any and struck out eight. John Williams came in and threw three one-hit innings. David Shinskie pitched a scoreless ninth. David Winfree is up to .292 after a 3-4 night. Yes, he also committed his 33rd error. Landon Burt, Deacon Burns and Chris Brown each had a double.
Thursday - E-Twins 5, Bluefield 8 - Sean Richardson went 2-2 with a double, his 6th home run and two walks. Larry Jones went 2-4 with his eighth and ninth doubles. Juan Portes hit his 12th home run. But it wasn't enough. Armando Gabino started and gave up seven earned runs on eight hits and a walk in just 4.2 innings. Ryan Gehring came in and gave up just an unearned run on two hits over 3.1 innings.
GULF COAST TWINS
Thursday - GCL Twins 2, GCL Red Sox 3 - Brandon McConnell may have taken the loss, but he also threw a complete game. He went all eight innings and gave up three runs on ten hit and a walk. Josh Dean went 2-3 with a walk.
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.
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