Wednesday Game Notes: Twins Sweep White Sox

5 May

Before we start, I will be on KFAN, The Fan Radio Network and KFAN.com at about 10:20 on the Paul Allen show.

The Twins may be struggling during the early part of this season, and it’s not hard to come up with several reasons why. There are the injuries to several key players. There is a lack of defense. There is a lack of offense. There is a lack of basics. There is the fact that as of now, nine players who started the year in Rochester have had to play for the Twins, ready or not. There are logical reasons to understanding the Twins early struggles. Speaking to the offense, when we see a lineup that includes Casilla, Repko, Butera, Holm, Tolbert, etc., we shouldn’t expect these guys to be hitting higher than they are.

The White Sox struggles likewise are surprising. Their bullpen, assumed to be one of their biggest strengths coming into the season, has been a mess. Their offense is horrible, almost as bad as the Twins. The difference is that the White Sox haven’t had the injuries. The offensive struggles have been from the guys that are their core. In other words, they don’t have guys on the Disabled List that they can look forward to coming back. Their lineup is their lineup.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins topped the White Sox 3-2 to complete a two-game sweep. Nick Blackburn gave up just one run on four hits in 6.2 innings. He walked four batters for the second straight game and struck out just one. Jose Mijares got the final out of the seventh inning. Glen Perkins came in for the 8th inning and gave up an unearned run on a walk and a hit. He got just one out before Ron Gardenhire went to his closer, Matt Capps. Capps got out of the 8th, and although he put a couple of guys on in the 9th, he got the save.

The Twins offense did not exactly return to juggernaut-mode in the series. They scored just four runs in the two-game sweep. Jason Kubel drove in three of the four runs. He hit the home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he drove in the first run of the game with a single in the first inning. He added a sacrifice fly later in the game. Rene Tosoni drove in the third run of the game that proved to be needed in the 3-2 win.

With another day off today, the Twins (11-18) will head to Boston for a four-game series against the Red Sox who are now 14-16. Amazingly, they are just four games out in the AL East.

As you know, Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere were on the bench for the Twins on Wednesday. They were added to the roster when Jim Thome and Jason Repko were put on the Disabled List. I would expect that when the Twins play on Friday night, Plouffe will be starting at shortstop and Revere will be manning the Green Monster.

Following the game on Wednesday afternoon, the Twins announced that backup catcher Steve Holm was being sent down to Rochester. No subsequent move was announced which, of course, made the Twitter world start thinking. The easy answer is that the Twins will promote either Danny Lehmann or Rene Rivera to the big league club. Either would need to be added to the 40 man roster. Because the Red Wings did not play on Wednesday and the Twins don’t play on Thursday. Holm could be playing for the Red Wings on Thursday night, and if he can, there is no reason that the player called up to wait until Friday to go to Boston. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me wonder if there isn’t something else going on. Could the Twins be looking to sign a free agent catcher? Could the Twins be working on finalizing a trade? If so, they would wait until the trade is officially finalized to announce the Holm move. So, again, I assume that it will be either Rene Rivera is 27 years old and hitting .200/250/.333 for the Red Wings. Danny Lehmann impressed in big league camp this spring. He has been the organization’s top minor league catcher the last two years. After going 6-13 (.462) in New Britain, he moved up to Rochester where he has gone 7-25 (.280) with a double and a home run. Of course, I prefer the Twins go with Lehmann, in part, because I prefer when the Twins promote from within. He was the Twins 8th round pick in 2007 out of Rice. He is the defensive equivalent to Drew Butera with a slightly better bat. I believe that Butera is a guy who can hit .180-210 in the big leagues (despite his current .111 batting average). I think that the 25-year-old Lehmann could hit .200-.240 in the big leagues.

As I mentioned on my podcast the other night, this is the time of year when transactions start happening in the minor leagues, and we saw some of that yesterday. Early in the day, the Twins:

  •  promoted C/OF Chris Herrmann from Ft. Myers to New Britain.
  • Josmil Pinto moves from Beloit to Ft. Myers to take his place.
  • Ray Chang was promoted to Rochester on Tuesday night (after the Plouffe promotion), and
  • last night, Steve Singleton got the call that he was also headed to the Red Wings.

Just as a reminder, I post all of this information, and much more, on Twitter immediately after I learn of it. So, if you want this kind of information sooner, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach last night 6-2. Kane Holbrooks picked up his first win. The right-hander gave up two unearned runs on six hits. In six innings, he walked one and struck out three. Blake Martin recorded the three-inning save. He didn’t give up any runs, hits or walks and struck out just one. Danny Rams went 3-4. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with his fourth double. Aaron Hicks was 1-2 with two walks and a double.

Beloit beat Wisconsin 4-1. Adrian Salcedo went seven innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. Clint Dempster struck out five in two one-hit innings to record the save. Daniel Ortiz went 2-4 with his ninth and tenth doubles.

Since the Twins don’t play today, you can follow the Twins minor league teams throughout most of the day. Here are the times (all central) and starters:

  • Rochester hosts Gwinnett at 6:05. Anthony Swarzak will pitch against Braves prospect Mike Minor.
  • New Britain hosts a double-header against Richmond starting at 9:35 this morning. Steve Hirschfeld, my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month, will start the first game. Liam Hendriks will start Game 2.
  • Ft. Myers will host Palm Beach in their “Cinco de Miracle” game. Andrew Albers threw 4.2 scoreless innings in relief in his last appearance, and now he will get a start.
  • Beloit will host Wisconsin again today, starting at 11:00. Andrei Lobanov will start for the Snappers.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

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19 Responses to “Wednesday Game Notes: Twins Sweep White Sox”

  1. mike wants wins May 5, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Interesting stuff with the catchers. I’m not even going to guess at this point. I just want two better options than they have now.

    • gobbledy May 5, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      many bad moves by bill smith have hurt this team. as bad as butera has been it’s not his fault he is supposed to be a one day a week guy not full time. way bigger problems on this team, poor pitching and the big hitters not producing, cuddy has the same number of rbi as butera in twice the at bats. his job and pay grade say drive runs in and now he is nothing but an over paid utility guy. as gardy says if everyone else is doing their jobs…. problem is only kubel has. even span has slowed down after a fast start. lucky they’re in the central with a bunch of other poor teams so there is still hope! 86-88 wins may get us another 3 and out in the playoffs.

      • mike wants wins May 5, 2011 at 10:18 am #

        I don’t totally blame Smith. The cupboard is barren in the minors because Terry Ryan and the scouts and the minor league coaches have not produced players.

        The Nishi move was meant to plug one hole. It was reasonable to assume that Cuddy and Young and Mauer would produce like last year. That has not happened.

        Do I think Smith is great at his job, nope, not even close. Do I think this is all his fault (or even mostly his fault)? Nope, I don’t.

      • Ed Bast May 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

        Smith has been GM for since 2007. The minor league system is primarily his. If the minor league scouts and managers aren’t getting the job done, bring in people who will. Bill is the Boss. It starts and ends with him.

        Smith backed himself into a financial corner this offseason by signing guys to premature or outright ridiculous contracts. His trades have been awful. After years of middle infield shufflepuck, he traded an above-average SS for 2 dime-a-dozen minor league relievers. He decided to let Alexi “I Am Not A Major League Starter” Casilla be a major league starter at his worst position. Out of sheer arrogance, he assumed the Twins Way would transform a bucket of cow dung into a lemonade of a bullpen. Out of sheer arrogance, he installed one of the worst hitters in the past decade as the backup to his oft-injured starter. Out of sheer arrogance, he assumed his best hitter would dominate Day 1 after taking 8 months off and refused to invest in a backup plan. He continually refuses to acknowledge repeated playoff failures by improving starting pitching or adding RH bats. The minor league system is completely bereft of middle infielders and heavy on “finesse” (aka crappy) pitchers and “speedy” (aka crappy) outfielders. He mishandles nearly every injury the Twins face, making it more difficult than it already is (as a result of his robbing the team’s depth) for the team to cope with injuries by letting guys eat up rosters spots on the bench for a week before calling up a replacement. He is especially vague on injuries concerning the team’s best players (Morneau and Mauer), leaving fans in the dark about 8-figure-per-year investments and franchise faces. After 1 season of Target Field sellouts he has the gall to slap fans in the face with ticket increases. He had the gall to slap outstate fans in the face by moving Sunday TV games to cable. He had the gall to take the largest payroll in team history and build a blatantly worse team than the year before, and spinning it as an “increase in speed”. Under his direction, the team has achieved as many playoff wins as the Royals, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, and Blue Jays.

        Etc., etc.

      • mike wants wins May 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

        I actually agree with a lot of what Ed said, but not all of it.

        The handling of injuries is mindboggling to me. Thinking Casilla and Butera are MLB players is just really bad thinking. I hated the Capps and Hardy trades.

        The minor leagues are not lacking in prospects for pitchers. They may not have an ace down there, but how many teams do?

        The minor league OFers have some upside. I don’t know how good they’ll be, but there is upside there.

        But, the minor leagues are bereft of MIF prospects. Reading the internet, the minor leagues are bereft of many good SS prospects in all of baseball. This is not just a Twins’ problem, from what I read on line.

        I don’t think the GM sets ticket prices.

        I cannot believe I just spent 5 minutes defending Bill Smith (since I don’t think he’s particularly good at his job).

      • Ed Bast May 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

        To be fair, I think Smith has done about 4 things right:

        -The Hardy for Gomez trade
        -The 2010 offseason in general
        -Signing Mauer
        -Not signing Liriano to an extension this offseason

        Granted, some of those he went ahead and negated (re-trading Hardy, doing nothing at the 2010 deadline to help the team in the playoffs). But those are about all I’ve got, in the interest of fairness.

  2. DH in Philly May 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    I liked Lehmann a lot when he was with Rice – I hope he gets a shot

  3. gobbledy May 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Ed how do you really feel?

  4. jb May 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I don’t think it’s a big mystery about the catching roster spot. The official transaction will not be made until tomorrow so as to not initiate major league service time (in Lehman’s case) or extend Rivera’s. Holm gets taken off the big league roster right away and his service time stops. The Twins have been operating this way for years. No big mystery to me.

    • Seth May 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

      Not sure what service time has to do with any of these guys. One day isn’t going to do anything for any of them.

  5. Observer May 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    I would disagree on the MIF comment. I think the minors have very good prospects there. No one knows what these guys will do when they get their shot, but they have good prospects there. If you are looking for Jeter or Hanley Ramirez….so is everyone. But if you’re talking about guys that can play the position and produce offensively, they have them. The system may be a bit flipped upside down (better ones may be on their way).

    I think if Singleton ever gets an opportunity in this system he will surprise all of the naysayers. He’s far better than anyone is giving him credit…even the Twins. Target Field is perfectly designed for his line drive gap power, and he’s more than adequate defensively. He could be the everyday SS. He has the range and arm. His line shows him at 2B so those of you have never seen him wouldn’t know the difference. He doesn’t fill out the lineup card. He just goes where they tell him to go.

    Look at the start Solarte has had in New Britain. Maybe too few games to tell, but he can flat out rake. Hopefully he can stay healthy enough to give us all a body of work to evaluate.

    Dozier and Beresford continue to improve at every level.

    I would say the bigger concern is the 87-91MPH “pitch to contact” philosophy. You have to be really good to fool major league hitters for 9 innings with high school heat. One mistake and the flood gates open. They need to create competition amongst more 95+ guys (not just one or two).

    Nothing like a little high heat to get everyone’s attention.

    • mike wants wins May 6, 2011 at 8:23 am #

      95+? The average MLB fastball is around 91-92. Where are these mythical 95+ guys? I don’t think people understand how fast pitchers actually pitch in MLB.

  6. USAFChief May 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    “I believe that Butera is a guy who can hit .180-210 in the big leagues ”

    Seth, Butera only ‘hit’ .214 in over 1600 minor league PAs.

    What you see is what you get with Butera. But even if you’re right, and he could somehow hit .210 with no walks and no power, that’s not acceptable, no matter how strong the urban legend of his unbelievable defense.

    Calling up Rene Rivera ignores the problem. The problem isn’t the backup to Drew Butera. The problem is the backup to Mauer. Drew Butera IS the problem.

    • mike wants wins May 6, 2011 at 8:24 am #

      This. Drew Butera is not a MLB player. He just isn’t. Not for 162 games, not for 1 game.

  7. Lenny Webster May 5, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Butera is as over his head offensively as Casilla is defensively. His defense isn’t so phenomonal that it negates his enemic offense. Enemic may not even be the word for it right now. The truth is he probably shouldn’t be on a mlb roster even as a 2nd catcher. I dont want to rehash the ridiculous trade for capps but its hard not to blame bill smith for this gaping hole he’s left this club at catcher. Yes, players play but the orginization has put Casilla and Butera in spots they shouldn’t have to be in. Mostly for joe mauer’s contract. Cuddy’s agent must be a genious for working out that vesting option. Another horrible deal.

  8. Bill in Sarasota May 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Ramos hitting .344 / .947 OPS.

    and he’s making $6.6 million less than Capps.

    And he hits Right Handed.

    Oh well.

    • Seth May 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

      Does anyone else get tired of typing the same thing every single day? I will never understand the seeming need to complain every single day. Thankfully it’s only a very, very small percentage of the readers. I hope that everyone who reads this blog feels that they can comment here.

      • DH in Philly May 6, 2011 at 8:13 am #

        Amen!!!

  9. USAFChief May 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Perhaps people wouldn’t feel the need to point out Drew Butera’s terribleness every day if they didn’t have to read people making excuses for him every day.

    Just a thought.

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