Friday Notes

3 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I meant to blog last night after I got to my parent’s place, but I kind of fell asleep. So, here is a quick ten-minute blog posting for the morning.

  • First things first, I am on my way to the Twin Cities, in 11 minutes, for tonight’s TwinsCentric/KFAN’s Lindsay Viewing Party. The Twins play the Royals at 7:00 tonight, and we will all be at Smalley’s 87 Club down by Target Field. There will be drink specials throughout the night. There will be some prizes. Basically it is an opportunity for a bunch of Twins fans to get together and watch the Twins play. Sure, it’s been a frustrating year, but we can still have fun talking about the team. It is also an opportunity to contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations will be encouraged, but certainly not required. So, if you’re able, join us tonight!
  • I have to admit that I am thrilled that the Twins called up Brian Dinkelman. Drafted by the Twins in 2006 out of a small NAIA school in Illinois. He has gradually worked his way through the Twins entire system. He has been in big league training camp the last year. He has been very consistent, and he is again having a terrific year. It does tell us where the Twins season is going, sure, but you have to feel happy for a guy like that.
  • Of course, it comes, in part because Trevor Plouffe has struggled defensively, and he has made his way into Ron Gardenhire’s doghouse. Has Plouffe struggled? Sure. Is it as bad as Gardy and the team is making it sound? I don’t think so. But, as the Rochester Baseball Observer pointed out very well, the Twins need to trade Plouffe now because as long as Gardy is manager, he will never get a real opportunity. It’s all part of the double-standard that the manager has with some of his players. Plouffe gets called out for everything wrong he does and we rarely hear about the good stuff.. Danny Valencia gets called out every day for something. Matt Tolbert made a play the other day that he threw past Valencia at third that cost at least two runs. Gardenhire’s response? It was the right play, just a bad throw. And frankly, I agree. But Tolbert wasn’t thrown under the bus, was he? In fact, the only thing we heard was that Valencia wasn’t back in the right position. Well yeah, he tried to make the play in the hole. Plouffe is a doghouse guy, even though he is as good of a person as there is. It’s not the first occurrence of this. It happened to Pat Neshek a year ago. Matt Garza. Jason Bartlett. The only one that has escaped it is Glen Perkins, and I have no idea how that happened. Gardy learned from Tom Kelly who was notorious for being tough on your players, preferring sometimes the scrappy veterans. Gardenhire is the same way. And this isn’t a fire-able offense, but it is my one frustration with Ron Gardenhire.
  • Last night, I was on the Twins Minor League Weekly podcast with Travis Aune. We talked about last night’s box scores, some transactions and our players of the month of May, so please check it out. (Note, you’ll have to bear with a short technical difficulty early in the show, but it’s only about a minute)
  • The Twins acquired former top outfield prospect Jeremy Reed from the Brewers AAA team as depth at Rochester.
  • A few injury updates to report on.  It sounds like Aaron Hicks could be back within a few more days from his thumb bruise. I have heard that Brandon Roberts could be back from his oblique injury in the next week. Angel Morales is likely out 2-3 more weeks with his elbow injury. Estarlin de los Santos will be out at least another four weeks with his elbow injury. The Twins have gone the way of rest and rehab with elbow injuries again this year. It’s the way they went with Neshek and Loek Van Mil. This year, they have done so with Miguel Munoz, Angel Morales and Estarlin de Los Santos. Hopefully it is the right decision for them.
  • Brian Dozier, Danny Rams and Bruce Pugh were named to the Florida State League All-Star team yesterday. Congratulations to them.
  • SS/2B Steve Singleton and LHP Michael Tarsi were promoted from New Britain to Rochester yesterday after their game.
  • Final thought, I know people don’t like him and think it is all about the nepotism, but you have to have a ton of respect for Red Wings infielder Toby Gardenhire. Maybe it is just a small sample (ok, no maybe about it), but after a 2-4 day yesterday with two doubles, he is hitting .294 in AAA with six doubles. There’s no way he sustains that, but I do think it shows that he has worked really hard, and he can play at that level. Am I saying he’s great? No. But he should not get beaten up as bad as he does. And if he gets a brief promotion, oh well. I have no problem with that (well, depending on who comes off the 40 man roster to make it happen, of course.)

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

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23 Responses to “Friday Notes”

  1. TT June 3, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Seth –

    I don’t think you can blame the manager for calling out players who make mental mistakes and not calling out players who make physical mistakes. Tolbert doesn’t need to hear the manager telling him to throw more accurately. Valencia being out of position is a different issue.

    This is a little like the play a month ago where Butera made a bad throw, Casilla tried to make the play rather than preventing the ball from going through and Hughes was out of position to back the play up. Calling out Butera for a lousy throw doesn’t make a lot of sense. You can argue about whether Casilla should have made the safe play. But there is little argument that had Hughes been in position to back up the catch, the runner would have had to stay at third.

    Nor can you blame him for calling out young players for mistakes and letting it slide when a veteran makes the same error. From experience he knows the veteran isn’t going to make the same mistake very often and already knows it was a mistake. With the young player he isn’t certain of either. Just look at the excuse you are making for Valencia’s being out of position. Valencia could well make that same excuse and think the problem was entirely Tolbert’s throw.

    What happened with Perkins? The answer is easy, he started to perform well. I think, in general, Gardy is persuaded by players getting the job done on the field. And players get in his “doghouse” by not getting the job done.

    • Kunza June 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      Totally disagree. Have you ever heard Gardenhire rip Cuddyer? Punto? Span? Tolbert?

      This manager clearly has set a double-standard with players. If you can’t see that you’re not watching the same team I am. All managers and coaches have their favorites and their whipping boys.

    • USAFChief June 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      This might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.

      It’s Valencia’s fault that Tolbert threw the ball into the dugout? Forget the fact the ball was a chopper in the hole and Valencia HAD to try to field it, and thus had no opportunity to be standing at third base, even if he WAS standing at third base, the ball goes into the dugout. It was 8 feet over Valencia’s head. Not to mention the proper play was to get out number 2 at first base rather than risk a throw that had zero chance at success even if he makes a good throw. Good lord.

      And blaming Luke Hughes because defensive genius Drew Butera can’t throw the ball in the air to second base? Blaming Luke Hughes because Alexi Casilla can’t be expected to knock the ball down and keep it in the infield? This is the major leagues. Catchers CAN be expected to make a good throw, and infielders CAN be expected to at least knock the ball down. I’ve seen them do it! Major league teams don’t have BOTH infielders leave their position every time a runner takes off from first–vacating both the SS and 2nd base positions–precisely because they DO expect the catcher and one infielder to make the play. When those players prove they can’t do that, they replace THOSE players, not someone else simply because the manager plays favorites.

      Sheesh.

      • mike wants wins June 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

        +1 on Chief, Kunza, gobbledy, and Seth’s comments.

  2. gobbledy June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    one of the few times somebody calls out gardy and the way he treats some players, nice job seth. did anyone hear a word about cuddy trying to steal 3rd last night? imo thats right up there with casilla bunting with two strikes and gardy was apoplectic over that.

  3. Sean June 3, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    I’m fine with trading Plouffe if anybody wants him. I don’t think he will even be in baseball next season though. As far as I know Plouffe has only ever played short. He has never played it well in the minors and he was probably the worst player ever I’ve ever seen in the 15 games I saw him at the position. If he good play great defense his poor hitting wouldn’t be a major issue, but alas Cuddyer probably could play short as well as him. So, based on that he can’t play in the majors. He isn’t a prospect or a player. His hitting isn’t good enough for any other position.

    • mike wants wins June 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

      Sean, players sometimes take time to ripen. While I doubt Plouffe will ever be a star, I think it is a little early to say he’ll never be a MLBP.

      • TT June 4, 2011 at 9:23 am #

        “I think it is a little early to say he’ll never be a MLBP.”

        Plouffe has hit nine home runs between AAA and the major leagues this year. If that show of power isn’t a fluke, I think its safe to say he is going to find a job in the major leagues.

      • mike wants wins June 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

        If that’s how you agree with me, don’t bother.

  4. Matt June 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    You’re right about Gardy’s doghouse, Seth. Especially the point about that Tolbert throw – it was at least as bad as any of Plouffe’s. But it’s obvious that Plouffe shouldn’t be a major league shortstop until he can consistently make that throw to first.

  5. Christian June 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    I have to disagree with you on the fireable offense issue. The main job of a manager is managing the talent at hand; if he can’t get along with, or doesn’t like or can’t work with certain players, it is certainly grounds for removal. I get that he takes a hard tack with young players until he shows they are capable, but to favor other less talented players because they fit his mold isn’t necessarily the greatest quality in a manager.
    I think Gardy more often than not manages his players well, but sometimes he really irritates with his preference for scrappy underachievers. I get why he does it – every hard-working middle infielder probably reminds him of himself as a youth – but I can’t say it’s always good for the team.
    And TK walked away when he saw that the game had changed on him (or vice-versa); I hope that when it happens to Gardy he’ll be able to recognize it. If they go into a rebuilding mode in the next few years – and I hope they don’t – I’m not so sure I’d be thrilled with Gardenhire as manager.

  6. TT June 4, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    “Not to mention the proper play was to get out number 2 at first base rather than risk a throw that had zero chance at success even if he makes a good throw”

    Once again Chief, Gardy didn’t agree with you. He explicitly said Tolbert made the right play, he just didn’t execute.

    Your response just supports my point. Gardy called Valencia out because he thought he was out of position and he wanted Valencia to know it. Your opinion is irrelevant. But if Valencia shares it, then its Gardy’s job as manager to correct him.

  7. TT June 4, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    “Have you ever heard Gardenhire rip Cuddyer? Punto? Span? Tolbert?”

    Yes. But you aren’t going to hear him “rip” them for things they already know.

  8. TT June 4, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    “Catchers CAN be expected to make a good throw, and infielders CAN be expected to at least knock the ball down. I’ve seen them do it!”

    I have seen them fail to do it also. Major league players make physical errors all the time. That’s why backing up plays is part of the game. So if you “expect” them to never make errors, you are a fool. Nothing the manager says is going to change that.

    Gardy isn’t some frustrated fan shooting off his mouth. His job is to help players to play better. And complaining about physical mistakes isn’t going help anyone. Mental errors are an entirely different issue.

    So on the play in question Gardy thought Valencia was out of position and said so. He wanted Valencia to change his approach in the future. He thought Tolbert made the right play and said so. Tolbert knew he made a bad throw – he didn’t need to hear Gardy say it. He didn’t want Tolbert to shy away from making the right play next time because he made a bad throw this time.

  9. TT June 4, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    “Major league teams don’t have BOTH infielders leave their position every time a runner takes off from first–vacating both the SS and 2nd base positions–precisely because they DO expect the catcher and one infielder to make the play”

    No, the reason they don’t have BOTH infielders leave their position with the pitch is in case the batter hits the ball. Once the ball is in the catcher’s mitt the position of the other infielder is behind second base backing up the throw. Hughes wasn’t there and it appeared he was not even trying to get there. That is a mental error. Butera’s bad throw wasn’t, it was a physical error that every catcher makes occasionally. Casilla’s may have been a little bit of both, depending on whether you think he should have still been trying to get the out or focused on just knocking down the bad throw.

    It comes down to a very simple thing. If a guy trips and falls while running to first base, you don’t start complaining that major league players aren’t supposed to trip while running. But if a guy jogs to first on a ground ball, you do complain. Because running out a ground ball is something the player has control over. Physical mistakes are going to happen, no matter how good a player is.

  10. SoCalTwinsfan June 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    “It’s a tough move,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Plouffey’s a great kid and has had a little bit of a rough time up here, so it’s hard sending him down because we like him so well.”
    I agree Gardy has some players that he doesn’t get along with, but I don’t remember him saying things like this about them, so I don’t think Plouffe is one of those players, at least not yet. And if Valencia is in Gardy’s doghouse, why is he out there every day? I think Valencia comes off a bit cocky and Gardy feels like he needs to stay on him to keep him working, but if he truly was in Gardy’s doghouse, I don’t think he would be playing every day and moving up in the lineup as well.

    “did anyone hear a word about cuddy trying to steal 3rd last night?”

    Yes, Gardy said it was a mistake, but the good thing was the Twins were able to overcome it. It hurt the Twins so much they were only able to score six runs that inning.

  11. USAFChief June 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    “”No, the reason they don’t have BOTH infielders leave their position with the pitch is in case the batter hits the ball. Once the ball is in the catcher’s mitt the position of the other infielder is behind second base backing up the throw. “”

    Uh, that’s what I said, TT. Teams don’t vacate both the SS and 2nd base positions every time somebody takes off from first. Hughes would have to be superman to hold his position (which in this specific case was cheating into the hole towards first because there was a LH hitter up) until the catcher catches the ball, and then magically transform himself to a position 20 feet directly behind 2nd base in order to back up the throw from the catcher. In truth, it can’t be done.

    If it could be done, I assume you’re also blaming Tolbert (the SS) for the bounced throw from Butera that got past Cuddyer (the 2nd baseman) into CF in Detroit the other day, right? Shouldn’t “Tolbzie” have been standing 20 feet behind second base…somehow?

    Major league teams do not expect the off middle infielder to back up the throw from the catcher because in order to do so, both infielders would HAVE TO be out of position. Ever hear of a little thing called a hit and run TT? Why is that a play? Could it be because when a runner takes off from first, there’s a good chance one infielder will be out of position, moving with the pitch to cover second base. You seem to be telling us the Twins should have BOTH infielders on the move every time a runner on first runs.

    You’re wrong TT. Laughably, inarguably wrong. All you have succeeded in doing is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt, to anyone with baseball experience, that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  12. TT June 4, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    “Uh, that’s what I said, TT.”

    Uh, no it isn’t. You seem to think that the second baseman should just stand around and watch once the pitch is in the catcher’s mitt. That is not the case.

    “In truth, it can’t be done.”

    That depends on where the second baseman is set up, how quick he is and where the ball was thrown. If the ball had been on the bag or to the shortstop side of the bag you might be right, but it wasn’t. It was up the line. And if you watched the play, you would have seen Hughes standing just a few feet from the play but not deep enough to get to the ball.

    Your argument seems to be that a second baseman can sometimes make a play on a hit ball behind second, but never a throw from the catcher.

    • USAFChief June 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

      My argument, TT, is that you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. But then, that’s not news.

  13. TT June 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Can someone find me a description of the role of the second baseman on steals that DOESN’T include backing up the throw? Here are three descriptions I found, I haven’t found any that don’t include this basic expectation;

    http://www.theoleballgame.com/baserunning-stealing-second.html

    http://baseball.azplayers.com/baseball-positions.html

    http://bb_catchers.tripod.com/catchers/drills_swipe.htm

  14. Seth June 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    In that Tolbert-Throw play, Gardy didnt call out Valencia for being out of position. He was going to try to make a play in the hole. There was no bashing of Valencia on that at all.

    But you’re right, that was a physical error on Tolbert and those happen. Plouffe’s errors were physical (at least in the game that he got benched 3 games for). There is an inconsistency, for sure.

    Also, the comments and the accusations and the tone of many of these comments are embarrassing. Obviously it’s a few only, but I never wanted this to be like the STrib comments and some seem to want it to be, and that’s too bad. I’ll have to reconsider having comments again.

    • mike wants wins June 6, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Seth, the site is richer for having comments. Sometimes, things don’t go well in the comments area. Generally, the commenters here are pretty reasonable. I’d write this thread off as “one of those days”, and not count it as a trend.

  15. USAFChief June 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    In today’s Twins game, Butera bounced another throw on a steal, Casilla (the SS) couldn’t knock it down, it skipped into CF, and the runner advanced to third. Tolbert’s fault (the second baseman) for not backing up?

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