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It’s been a busy writing day for me, so here are some random ramblings on some Twins related subjects…
· Here is my new article on the Star Tribune Your Voices blog. It’s on parents and coaches.
· How good is Joe Mauer? How good do you want him to be? What are the expectations? What is far? How historically good has he been? The Twins Geek puts it all together in a great posting!
· With Mauer’s ability to start the season on time in question, the Twins catching situation has been brought up a number of places. Here is my opinion:
o Mike Redmond – he’s an excellent backup catcher, but
o Jose Morales – if Mauer is going to miss a couple of weeks or more, I would much rather see Morales as the every day catcher because he is improved defensively and he can hit a little bit.
o Drew Butera – I think Butera will be just fine as a backup catcher. It can be an important role. And in 2010, when Redmond is likely gone, Butera can take it over.
o Wilson Ramos – I know it’s popular right now to think that Ramos is ready for the big leagues. Why? Because there isn’t a lot to talk about early in spring training, and he has played very well offensively and especially defensively. But it is vital to remember that Ramos spent all of 2008 in Ft. Myers. I just am not a fan of a player skipping two levels and into the big leagues. Players can come up from New Britain. Joe Mauer did. Especially if you believe that Mauer will be out a month or less, there is zero reason to push Ramos that much. Remember, he is just 21 years old. Now, I would keep him in big league camp and try to get him into the lineup against some big league starters too. Nothing wrong with that challenge. How did Matthew Lecroy do when he was rushed to the big leagues the first time? How did that affect his overall development?
· Nick Nelson takes a look at the Twins Second Base Situation.
· In a WBC elimination game last night, Team Mexico beat Australia 16-1 to advance to the second round. Australia had beaten Mexico handily earlier. Luke Hughes hit just .250, but he had some big hits and took a couple of walks. Former Twins prospect Trent Oeltjen hit .500. James Beresford, a Twins middle infield prospect who played part time at Elizabethton, hit .444 in the three games. Mexico advances and keeps Luis Ayala from returning to the Twins. Canada’s Justin Morneau and Jesse Crain will be back in camp, as will Italy’s Nick Punto. Hughes ought to be back within a couple of days as well.
· This weekend, the Twins minor leaguers are to report to camp. I have chatted with several of them. Many are already in Ft. Myers. The rest are basically in route. Minor League camp is interesting for several reasons, including:
o Overall, minor league camp is only about three weeks long. That isn’t much time to impress or disappoint, so the players will have to come to camp sharp. It also tells us that most of the player assignments have likely already been determined. Now there are probably some players that could go to either Beloit or Ft. Myers who might be watched more closely, but for the most part, decisions have already been made. That makes sense. What they did in 2008, or in the offseason, should have more to do with that decision than what they do in a two to three week period.
o Several players who have been at big league camp the last three weeks will likely be sent back to minor league camp. Of course, since both camps are in the same complex, that is really just logistics. But it can be important for a few reasons:
§ Players that are on the Twins 40 man roster who are sent back to minor league camp will not be able to play in official Twins spring training games.
§ Non-Roster Invitees that are sent down can still be used in official spring training games.
§ Other Twins minor leaguers not on the 40 man roster or not invited to big league camp can play in official Twins spring training games. In other words, guys like Anthony Slama and Jeff Manship are still likely to pitch in a Twins uniform.
§ Players like Danny Valencia and Dustin Martin are likely to be sent to minor league camp fairly quickly. They both have been impressive in big league camp, but reality says that neither of them will make the big league roster out of training camp. So they can go to minor league camp and get more repetitions. Also guys like Matt Macri and Joe Crede and Matt Tolbert can get more playing time at 3B. The players who will be in the Twins OF to start the season will start playing more than half-games now. Opening Day is about three weeks away, and it is now time for them to start playing more.
§ Major Leaguers can play in Minor League games. In fact, a major league hitter can go to a minor league game and lead off every inning of a nine inning game if he feels the need to get some at bats. Veteran pitchers who don’t want to travel, but still want to stay on schedule, can also pitch in minor league games.
· Twins prospect Trevor Plouffe is the most recent Twins player to have an MLBlog! It is simply called Plouffe! His first entry shows him to be a bit reluctant, but it is worth reading for the information he shares (and the visual!) on Delmon Young!
· With the recent admissions of Vlad Guerrero and Miguel Tejada that they lied about their age, it came out yesterday that MLB is investigating over 40 prospects from the Dominican Republic about possibly lying about their ages. It is certainly an interesting topic. You can definitely understand the financial reasons that the players themselves would lie about their ages. The assumption is that the teams are doing their due diligence on this topic and trying to be as accurate as they can. But once they sign a player and the player has given them proper paperwork (or paperwork that can’t really be questioned), there isn’t much that they can do. Last year, I had heard that Minor League Baseball had sent a letter to players about telling the truth about their names and ages or their contracts could be voided. At the time, I started hearing rumors about a player in the Twins organization who was actually several years older than was in the press guide. I haven’t posted that name and I won’t until I would get something more concrete. I have to think that the Twins (or any team’s) response if information like that came out and was proven would be dependent upon the player’s age and talent level. It will be interesting to see if anything more comes of this.
· Phil Mackey is rubbing in the fact that he’s in Ft. Myers, watching baseball, hanging out at the beach and generally having a great time!
· John Sickels calls Anthony Slama a Sleeper Prospect for the Twins.
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