Monday Night, September 3, 2007
Hey ya'll, I'm not sure if there will be a Tuesday posting, so I thought I would try to get all caught up from a long weekend away tonight. But I also have so much to do in terms of postings. I need to do the August Grades. As the minor league season's are coming to an end, I need to do my post season Top 50 Twins minor league prospect list. (Note - any input any readers would like to share on any of the Twins minor leaguers should be e-mailed to me. I'd love to hear any opinions that others have as well.) Of course, later in the week, you will be able to see the Week 1 picks of our NFL "Expert" Panel. And of course, I hope to be posting a few Q&As over the coming weeks. There are a few new names this year. But for now, I am just going to Bullet Point several thoughts tonight , but be sure to stop back throughout the week! Let's get it started:
First of all, congratulations to Nick Blackburn whose 2007 season has been absolutely remarkable. I am guessing that even in a Twins loss yesterday, he spent a lot of time smiling. In the 9th inning, he came in and made his major league debut. Kenny Lofton hit an infield single off of him on the first pitch, but he induced a tailor-made double play with the next pitch. Two pitches later, he got to be the beneficiary of a great Torii Hunter play to end the inning.
Next, I watched most of Scott Baker's performance on Friday night. My family and I sat around the TV and watched every pitch. Baker was incredible. He looks so smooth. He almost looks as though he is giving no effort and he he throws pretty hard. I definitely think he was thinking too much when he walked the leadoff batter. He really wasn't even close. But that almost relaxed him because he got the next guy to ground into a fielder's choice. Unfortunately, the no-hitter was broken up by Mike Sweeney, who hadn't played for two and a half month, came up and blooped a single into a place no one could get to. I realize that was an unquestioned, obvious hit, but wouldn't you rather give up a no-hitter on a hard-hit ball? Baker has been incredible! At least there were a few people and bloggers who believed in him all along!
Hard to believe it is a real stat, but Johan Santana has gone 0-5 now against Cleveland this season. But it is true. It makes me have to believe that Cleveland has found something that Santana is tipping because they are not just beating him, but they are hitting the ball hard off of him. Maybe it is how he digs into his glove, or where he stands or something, and it is apparent that the Cleveland team has kept it in house because no other teams have figured it out.
Maybe Alexi Casilla should only play against CC Sabathia! After his 4-4 yesterday, he is now 7-8 against the lefty. Of course, I don't know if many of those have been hit very hard.
It's funny that people are so surprised almost that the Cleveland team is playing better. They have won 11 of their past 13 games now. Are they playing better, or are they fully taking advantage of their schedule right now? In those 13 games, they have played the Royals three times, the White Sox three times and the Twins four times. They are definitely taking advantage of the weaker half of the division.
You know, I always find it so funny when I hear analysts on telecasts or sports shows talk about needing a "veteran presence," and guys who have "been there before." I acknowledge that it can be important if it is the right person, but I also don't believe that it is mandatory. Maybe this is why Nick Punto continues to play on a daily basis instead of Brian Buscher, or why Jason Tyner is playing as much as Jason Kubel of late. If we went back and read quotes in spring training, we know that is the reason that Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson (and yes, Carlos Silva too) made the team while Scott Baker, Matt Garza, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey started in Rochester. Now I look at some of the teams in the pennant races and see plenty of impact rookies called up in the heat of the pennant race. The Indians will be playing Asdrubal Cabrera, Franklyn Gutierrez and Ben Francisco. Detroit called up Cameron Maybin (who had spent maybe two weeks at AA) to take Craig Monroe's roster spot. The Mariners brought up Adam Jones. Even those big, mean old big market teams are getting into it. The Yankees have brought up Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and put them in key roles. The Red Sox have brought up Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. Buddy Carlyle (Braves), Kyle Kendrick (Phillies), Justin Germano (Padres), Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra (Brewers, although Parra got hurt and is now out), Felix Pie (Cubs). And of course, there is Arizona who gives significant playing time to Stephen Drew, Micah Owings, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young and even Justin Upton while staying in the NL West race. My point - Twins fans need to relax on the likes of Alexi Casilla, Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey and other young players. And people also need to stop pointing out the mistakes of the young players using those old too much pressure, haven't been there before, types of excuses. Rookie Mistakes are mistakes made by rookies. What are mistakes called in the media when a veteran makes one?
Congratulations also to the Elizabethton Twins who beat Danville in two games to win the Appalachian League championship. On Thursday night, Rene Tosoni hit a two-run, 10th inning home run to break out a scoreless game. Tosoni had three hits in that game. Then on Friday night, Mike McCardell threw six shutout innings, and the E-Twins won 5-1. This was a truly impressive team. Sure, some of the players were a little old for the league, so I can't wait to see how they do next year in Beloit.
After the game, Deibinson Romero, Rene Tosoni and Greg Yersich moved up to Beloit.
The Beloit Snappers won the first half division title in the Midwest League, hence they are going to be the lone Twins full-season affiliate to make the playoffs. They will take Tuesday off before starting the playoff series on Wednesday. On Saturday, they beat Quad Cities twice. In the first game, Joe Benson and David Hernandez went 2-3 with a double. Tyler Robertson won his 9th game despite giving up four runs on six hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out eight. Anthony Slama got his 10th save by getting the final five outs. In the second game, Danny Santiesteban had two doubles, and Chris Cates went 2-3. Four relievers pitched in the game and Jose Lugo got the win. On Sunday, Santiesteban went 4-5 with a double. Ramon Santiago and Chris Cates each had three hits. Rene Tosoni went 2-6 with a double. Joe Benson was 2-4 with two walks. Matt Betsill homered. Cole DeVries won his 9th game with five shutout innings. Four relievers each threw a scoreless inning. And in the last game of the regular season, on Monday, Matt Fox got the win after giving up a run over six innings. Jose Lugo struck out three of the four batters he got out for the save. Joe Benson was 3-3 with his eighth triple. Deibinson Romero was 2-5 with a double, and Greg Yersich was 2-3 with a double.
Rochester's season comes to an end after nearly making the playoffs. Saturday night, they lost 6-5 to Buffalo in the 10th inning. In the game, the Cliburns again over-used Bobby Korecky, who gave up one run and got the loss, in 3.1 innings of work. Korecky needs to go home, and just put his arm in ice for about the next three weeks. On Sunday, the Red Wings got a great pitching performance from Brian Bass. The veteran righty threw a complete game shutout, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out 11. Doug Deeds went 2-2 with two walks and hit 8th and 9th homers! Darnell McDonald had two doubles in four at bats. Monday, it was again Deeds with a big game. He went 3-4 with his 7th double. Glenn Williams had a single, double and triple. Matt Macri hit two home runs. Dave Gassner got his sixth win despite allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings. Jay Sawatski gave up a run in two innings. Then Tim Lahey got his first AAA save with two perfect innings.
New Britain didn't make the playoffs, but they ended the season with four straight wins against Portland. Saturday they beat Portland 7-5. On Sunday, they beat Portland twice. In the first game, Eddie Morlan struck out four in 2.1 innings for his first AA win. Armando Gabino finished off his amazing 2007 season with a perfect inning for his fourth save with the Rockcats. In game two, the team own 12-3. Jesse Floyd went all seven innings and gave up three runs and struck out eight. Brock Peterson hit his 15th homer and drove in five runs. Garrett Guzman led the offense by going 4-4. Guzman again led the way on Monday. He went 5-5 with his 23rd double, 14th homer and 6 RBI. He ended the season with a solid .312 average. Brock Peterson went 4-5. David Winfree also went 4-5 with his 27th double and four RBI. Ryan Mullins got the win. Interestingly, Matt Moses played a lot of 2B the last weekend with Trevor Plouffe out of the lineup and Felix Molina shifting over to 3B.
Ft. Myers ended its season on Sunday with a 17-5 win over Dunedin. Kyle Waldrop got the win. He gave up three runs on nine hits in seven innings. Dustin Martin went 4-5 with two doubles and four RBI. Erik Lis went 3-6 with his 18th homer and five RBI. Jeff Christy hit two doubles and a home run. Toby Gardenhire went 3-5. Brian Dinkelman, Steve Tolleson, Danny Valencia and Dwayne White each had two hits. That game was a little different than Saturday's game. The Miracle beat Dunedin, but that game was just 1-0. Erik Lis's 17th home run was the game's lone run. Jeff Manship finishes his season with a Miracle record of 8-5. He went 5.1 shutout innings. Danny Powers got five outs, and then JP Martinez recorded the save with two scoreless frames.
Apparently to become a sports columnist, all it takes is a few snappy lines, something negative to say, and an audience that seems to want to buy anything you right. Mr. Jim Souhan appears to be a great example, and his most recent article is yet another perfect illustration of this. Souhan does a few things. He not so subtly calls Joe Mauer soft and unwilling to play while hurt. I'm not really one to disagree and yet I would not question him. We don't know how hurt he is. Neither does Souhan, and neither does that infamous medical man Torii Hunter. Souhan has also boarded that crazy bandwagon that says that Joe Mauer should move to 3B. Now, I'm not saying that a position change doesn't make sense, or at least somewhere that he can play when not catching. But seriously, do these people that think Mauer can just move to 3B realize how difficult playing 3B can be? It's not like saying, "Hey, you've been a running back for your whole life... now go play Defensive Tackle." Or, how about, "Hey, you've been doing a great job teaching Phy Ed in the elementary school for 15 years, but next year, we would like you to teach two advanced placement calculus classes." Is it possible? Sure. Is it something that could be done? Sure. But it would take a while. And, when Mauer is one of the best defensive catchers in the game, you do let this work itself out.
Thankfully, the Strib does have intelligence on its payroll, and Joe Christensen wrote the other side of the story using quotes from Gardy and Joe Mauer themselves. And thankfully there are blogs like Stick & Ball Guy's that tell the truth.
Looks like Boof Bonser is going to get one more start to make a positive impression and stay in the Twins starting rotation. If he doesn't do well in his next outing, it could be Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn getting starts down the stretch in his place. Sure, Boof pitched well last September and in the playoffs, but previous to that, he projected as a fifth starter, maybe a fourth starter, but many fans still are living with what he did in about five or six starts. I'd be happy to see Blackburn get some starts because his success at Rochester this year earned him a shot. But we have to remember that he projects as a Matt Guerrier (circa 2005, 2006) type of pitcher. Boof Bonser's September 2006 is another good reminder of the importance of remembering Small Sample Size.
Lew Ford was called back up on Monday. I've read some comments that this was a stupid move and Ford should not be brought back up. First, Ford is making just under one million dollars this year. He is going to be brought up just out of principle. Second, why is this bad? He isn't going to play a lot. He's been hurt. He won't be back. They don't need to drop anyone from the 40 man roster at this time, so if he's on the roster and making money, why not call him up?
When the Twins offense hit on its improved cylinders in 2006, Joe Vavra was given a lot of credit for the improvement. I was speaking to "Kunza" over the long-weekend, and he asked the question of whether Vavra should be taking any of the blame for the team's poor offense in 2007? My initial response was that it isn't Vavra's fault that the offense has so few quality bats. But, I do think that there are plenty of examples of Twins hitters who have gone backwards in 2007 that the question is certainly a fair one.
Here is Roger's weekly minor league update which basically takes us up to the weekend. Check it out and leave your thoughts.
There are a lot of issues involved in the above, and that is just some quick thoughts from the weekend. Please feel free to e-mail me or leave comments down below.|
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