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It’s been awhile, but I think it is time for a new Nine Innings with Seth. Here are nine topics or subjects that are at least a little different. As with a regular ball game, there are some quick innings, and other innings tend to drag on a little bit! Hopefully there is plenty of information here today that you will enjoy.
1st Inning – Seven out of Eight Ain’t Bad
It started with a sweep of the Royals in Kansas City. It continued with winning two out of three games in Cleveland. Last night, the Twins beat one of the best teams in the American League, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers’ starting pitcher, Derek Holland, is going to be a stud. 95 and left-handed is generally a great combination. But Delmon Young hit a home run (GASP!) and later Michael Cuddyer came through with a big, three-run blast that gave the Twins a 4-1 lead. Of course, the Rangers came back to tie the game at four. But Alexi Casilla, who has been tremendous lately offensively and defensively, came through with another big, game-winning hit, a solid single down the left field line.
The Twins have won seven of their last eight games, and they have gone from 16.5 games back of Cleveland to “just” 11 games back of Cleveland. More important, they are 10 games back or Detroit and 5.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox. Both of those teams have won eight of their last ten games. Those are the two teams that we said all along the Twins should be comparing themselves against. Cleveland came back to the pack. The Royals were done awhile ago.
So, again, in my mind, the Twins are now ten games back in the AL Central. What happens if by the end of June, they are seven games back of the Tigers? Or if by the All Star game, they are five or six games back? If we believe that 85 wins will win the AL Central, the Twins will need to go 61-39 over the final 100 games of the season. Which way of looking at it makes it look better for the Twins chances the rest of the way?
Consider that in the next two or three weeks, the Twins will gain Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, Denard Span and maybe a more healthy Kevin Slowey and Joe Nathan. As Twins fans, we’ve got 100 more games to go. Hopefully most of you are able to think Glass Half Full!
2nd Inning – Span to 7-Day Disabled List
The Twins did announce that Denard Span will be put on the new 7-Day Disabled List for Concussions. He acknowledged last night that he has a “mild concussion.” On Twitter this morning, he acknowledged, “having my first concussion ever sucks. It seems like my energy level isn’t the same. I feel lazy.” And that’s understandable. Obviously the key point here is that we hope that he is able to return soon to 100% physically and mentally. Rene Tosoni will be back with the Twins tonight.
I find it hilarious that some people saw Tosoni struggle during his brief time with the Twins last month and make an assumption that he will not be a big league caliber player. Sure, he struggled and at times really looked the role of guy who had played just 19 games at AAA. He also hit a ball into the Powerball area in deep right centerfield. He’s always been a solid performer throughout his minor league career. I don’t expect his stay this time to be long-term, but I do expect him to be a Twins contributor for years to come.
3rd Inning – Minor League Scoreboard
Here is a quick update of the Twins minor league affiliates’ games from Thursday:
- Rochester lost 7-1 to Columbus. Scott Diamond struggled again. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and four walks in just 4.1 innings. Cole DeVries gave up one hit and one walk but no runs in 1.2 innings. Michael Tarsi walked one in a scoreless innings. Anthony Slama gave up a hit but no runs in his inning. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his sixth double. Jeff Bailey walked twice.
- New Britain got a big win. They topped Akron 14-3. Chris Parmelee went 3-5 with a walk. Dan Rohlfing went 3-5 with his third and fourth doubles. Mark Dolenc went 3-5. Evan Bigley went 2-5 with his fourth home run. Jair Fernandez went 1-3 with two walks. Brian Dozier was 1-2 before being hit in the face by a fastball. It fractured his sinus bone and will likely be out for awhile. Liam Hendriks improved to 6-2 when he gave up one run on seven hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out three. Tyler Robertson picked up his seventh save. He gave up two runs on seven hits in three innings.
- Ft. Myers lost 11-5 to Palm Beach. Brad Stillings started and gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in three innings. He struckout five. Kane Holbrooks came in and gave up four runs (2 earned) on five hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. Jhon Garcia threw 1.2 scorless innings, with two strikeouts. Shooter Hunt gave up three runs on one hit and four walks in 0.1 innings. Dakota Watts got the final five outs. Anderson Hidalgo went 3-5 with his second home run. Aaron Hicks remained hot. He was 2-4 with two walks. Jhonathan Goncalves went 2-3 with two walks. Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 1-3 with a walk. Joe Mauer went 1-3 with a double.
- The Beloit Snappers and Ft. Wayne completed a game which was suspended the night before and the Snappers won 11-8. Manuel Soliman started on Wednesday night and gave up five runs on ten hits and a walk in 4.1 innings. Nelvin Fuentes came in and gave up a run on a hit before the game was suspended. When they resumed play on Thursday, BJ Hermsen took the mound. He gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks in 3.1 innings. Jose Gonzalez picked up the save as he struckout two in 1.1 innings. Lance Ray went 3-3 with his 11th and 12th doubles, and his fifth stolen base. Michael Gonzales went 3-4 with his ninth double. Jairo Perez was 2-4. Wang-Wei Lin hit his second home run.
- In the second (regularly-scheduled) game, the Snappers won 3-0. Ryan O’Rourke started and struckout four in 3.2 one-hit innings. Michael Tonkin then gave up just one hit in his 2.1 scoreless innings. Clinton Dempster recorded his fourth save with a perfect final frame. Andy Leer was 2-3 with his eight and ninth doubles. He drove in two runs. Nate Roberts drove in the third run. Danny Santana went 2-3.
4th Inning – Twins Returns/Roster Situations
Because of all of the injuries, there are a lot of players that are on the rosters (25 and 40 man) who will be sent down or taken off of the 40 man roster. Here are some thoughts on some of the injuries:
- Joe Mauer – I hope that Gardy gets his way and Mauer spends more time rehabbing to show he can play four or five games in a row without a day off. However, when Mauer comes back, the Twins will have to decide between Drew Butera and Rene Rivera. To me, it is an easy choice, but in reality, it is pretty difficult. On the field, both are similar. Neither can hit. Both occasionally get a hit. Both are terrific defensively. Butera has a couple of options. Rivera does not have options. I don’t think that Rivera would be claimed, but with the slim catching situation, I would keep Rivera up and option Butera. (That said, the Twins are going to need 40 man roster spots when Mauer and Nishioka come off the DL.)
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka – I hope that Nishioka gets an opportunity to rehab and get some development time. I think he will have to go to New Britain very soon because the Rock Cats need players. I also think it would be good for him to get more and more at bats before throwing him back into the Twins lineup. Nishioka is going to be very solid for the Twins, but it will be good for him to get more time. When Nishioka comes off the Disabled List, I would anticipate that Brian Dinkelman would return to Rochester. I would also project that Dusty Hughes would be removed from the 40-man roster.
- Denard Span – It will be interesting to see how long Span is out. I assume that it won’t be long and that Rene Tosoni would be sent back down to Rochester.
- Jason Kubel – I hope he is able to return from the DL on time. At that point, I think that it would make sense to send Rene Tosoni down to Rochester again (unless he’s already sent down because Span is back). However, After that, the options would be Ben Revere, Luke Hughes or Matt Tolbert.
- Jim Thome – The story is the same with Thome. When he is able to come back, a second of that above group would be sent down.
Obviously the Twins could work out a trade for Delmon Young during that time, but that wouldn’t be likely. Due to his struggles through this much of the season, I think it is increasingly possible that Danny Valencia is a possible guy who could be optioned, and Luke Hughes could eat some of his playing time. If Nishioka is back and shows he is able to play SS, then Tolbert could be sent down. In other words, it it going to be very interesting to see how the transactions look as these five regulars come back over the next couple of weeks.
5th Inning – Draft Thoughts and Notes
The Major League Baseball draft might be the least scientific event in sports. Think about it. Each team drafts for 50 rounds and hopes that they can find one impact player each year. The hope is that three or four of the players drafted will make it to the big leagues. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I’m sure they want each of their picks to be great, All Star caliber players, but history tells us that if they can get just one in a draft, it’s a good draft.
So, over the past three days, the Twins selected 52 players. It started with the selection of Levi Michael, the 30th overall pick, on Monday night and ended with their selection of high school pitcher Bryan Burgher, the 1,527th overall pick. The Twins are required to make at least some sort of offer to each of those players. However, it is typical that they would sign between 20 and 25 of them. They will really focus on signing their top 10 picks and hopefully their top 15 picks. Here are some quick numbers about the Twins 2011 draft:
- The Twins drafted 35 pitchers (19 right-handed, 16 left-handed), eight middle infielders, six outfielders, two catchers and one corner infielder.
- “You can never have too much pitching” is a cliché. It is a cliché because it is true.
- Since the Twins will likely focus on signing their first 15 picks (and then whichever of the rest are willing to take a low offer), here is a breakdown of those picks: 11 pitchers (7 left-handed, 4 right-handed), three shortstops, one catcher, one outfielder and one corner infielder.
- 5th-round pick Tyler Grimes has already signed and will report to Beloit over the weekend.
- The Twins drafted 17 high school players, but just three of those were in the first 15 rounds. In fact, their final six picks were from the high school ranks. That’s not to say that they won’t sign. In fact, two years ago, the Twins signed Tyler Herr, a 6-8 right-handed high school pitcher who was drafted very late. But most likely, they will watch these guys this summer and determine if they want to sign them or let them go to college.
- 12 of the 52 players were college seniors. They will get very small bonuses because they have no leverage, so they will all likely sign and get an opportunity to start a career in Elizabethton.
- There were a few local stories. When the Twins drafted Madison Boer from the University of Oregon with their 2nd round pick, they got a guy who is from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and was a 2008 All-Metro player. 16th round pick, LHP Austin Malinowski pitched for Centennial High School in Lino Lakes this spring. He’s committed to Arizona, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins can sign him. Then the Twins drafted a couple of Gophers. In the 25th round, they took AJ Petterson who played SS for the Gophers but will likely move to 2B right away. In the 41st round, they drafted TJ Oakes, a right-handed pitcher who will go to the Cape Cod League this summer.
- In the 24th round, the Twins drafted a RHP from an Illinois high school named Nick Burdi. He was projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, but is likely to go to Louisville. It would be fun to hear how those negotiations go.
- 14th round pick Adam McCreery and 8th round pick Jason Wheeler are both 6-8 tall.
- 7th round pick, Steven Gruver went 5-7 with a 3.95 ERA this year at Tennessee. He’s got one of those last names that just doesn’t work for a pitcher.
- It was another good day for the Northwoods League who saw many of their alumni drafted again this year. Wheeler was the Pitcher of the Year there last year when he went 8-1 with a 1.35 ERA for the St. Cloud River Bats.
Now it’ll be fun to see which guys sign and when and how they get their careers started.
6th Inning – Who’s Number 1
This spring when I finished the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011, it included my Top 40 Twins prospects listing. I argued that I could really have chosen any of three players for the top spot. I went with Kyle Gibson because I think he can be a tremendous big league starter, a very good #2 type of pitcher. He has been very good this year in Rochester. He continues to get ground ball outs, but he is also striking out more than a batter an inning. Prospect rankings can also be based to some degree on likelihood that a player will make it.
I chose Miguel Sano as my #2. Again, prospect rankings are based on upside and when it comes to upside, Sano has a ton of it. Now, he’s likely to spend this full season with Elizabethton and I anticipate that he will be very good and put up some big power numbers, but he’s just 18, so we shall see. If he puts up numbers similar to those that Angel Morales and Oswaldo Arcia put up there in recent years, it will be great to see. But the reality is that he has a long ways to go.
Aaron Hicks is still #1 on a lot of Twins prospect rankings, and again, for good reason. He is an incredible athlete who got stronger this year. After a slow April start in Ft. Myers, he has been terrific since mid-May. Having seen him a few times in Ft. Myers, I definitely understand the ranking. I still believe he can be a very good big league ball player. He’s already a plus defensive centerfielder with the best arm in the organization (better than all but a couple of pitchers). He has great speed, and I think that the power will develop.
But I would like to add another name to the Twins top prospect mix. In my mind, the discussion now has to contain RHP Liam Hendriks. He turned just 22 years old in February, but the Australian was pushed to AA New Britain even though he made just 12 starts in Ft. Myers last year. He missed 4-5 weeks due to an emergency appendectomy and started the season in Beloit. He missed the entire 2008 season due to a spinal injury. Currently with the Rock Cats, he is 6-2 with a 2.63 ERA. In 65 innings, he has allowed just 14 walks and struck out 61. He is listed at 6-1 and 190 pounds. He throws 92-93, has good movement, and has four pitches that are good and improving. He is a very smart pitcher, but he is also incredible competitive. As Travis pointed out on Twins Minor League Weekly last night, he has had a Quality Start in eight of his last nine starts. In his last three starts, he has given up two runs in 20 innings. He just keeps getting better.
I’m not certain how I would officially rank these four right now. And if you asked me again tomorrow, you might get a different answer. I think Gibson is still number one. Today, I think I would have Hendriks at #2. I would have Aaron Hicks at #3 and Sano at #4. (and Sano only because I look forward to seeing what he will do). Joe Benson was my #4 prospect, and he has been very good again this year, so this is in no way a knock on him. I just think Hendriks has solidified himself as a Twins Top Prospect.
7th Inning – World Series Contest
I am going to be holding some contests here and on Twitter and Facebook over the next week or two thanks to A&E who has now come out with “A&E Minnesota Twins Vintage World Series Films DVD.” It includes both the 1987 and 1991 teams! The ’87 team beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. The ’91 World Series was the first that had two worst-to-first teams as the Twins and the Atlanta Braves played one of the greatest seven-game series ever, including Jack Morris’s amazing Game 7. So be sure to look here and other places for some contests for a free copy.
Here is Contest #1: As you know, I’m always looking for people to give me blog ideas, or even write a guest blog. For Contest #1, all you need to do is send me an e-mail telling me why you are a Twins fan. Send me an e-mail with 80-120 worlds saying “Why I’m a Twins fan.” I will accept all entries through Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. I will put your name on paper, and I will put all names into a hat. I will likely then have my five-year-old daughter pull one name out of the hat, and that will be the winner.
As I mentioned, all entries will be posted on SethSpeaks.net at some point over the next couple of weeks (unless you specifically say “Seth, Do Not Post this.” Again, to enter this contest, just send me an e-mail with a small article (80-120 words) on Why you are a Twins fan!
I look forward to your responses, and again, thanks to A&E and MLB Productions for letting me do these contests. It should be fun, and it is obviously a great item any Twins fans would want. I remember those 1987 and 1991 World Series, and this is a great reminder, so fun to remember! (Of course, if you would like, you can also just purchase the DVDs here.)
8th Inning – Jim Perry
In May of 1963, the Twins traded pitcher Jack Kralick to Cleveland in exchange for a right-handed pitcher named Jim Perry. At that point, Perry had gone 52-49 with ERAs of 2.65, 3.62, 4.71 and 4.14. He would go on to be one of the best pitchers in Twins history. This weekend, Perry is being inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.
In his ten seasons with the Twins, he went 128-90 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. In 1883.1 innings, he gave up just 1,711 hits, walked 541 and struck out 1025. He finished third in Cy Young Award voting in 1969 when he went 20-6 with a 2.82 ERA in 261.2 innings. In 1970, he was named the Cy Young Award winner when he went 24-12 with a 3.04 ERA in 278.2 innings. He was an All Star in both 1970 and 1971. But the thing about Perry was that he was remarkably consistent throughout his time with the Twins. In his nine full seasons with the Twins, he only had one season in which he posted an ERA over 3.44 (and that was 4.23 in 1971 when he still through 270 innings).
In March of 1973, the Twins traded Perry, then 37, to the Tigers for Danny Fife and some cash. Fife threw 56.1 innings for the Twins over just two years.
Bert Blyleven credits Perry (and Jim Kaat) in helping him out early in his Twins career. Now Perry will join those two in the Twins Hall of Fame, and really, it’s about time!
9th Inning – Blog Spotting
- Aaron Gleeman’s Link-O-Rama today has a lot of topics and I get to be featured in it quite a bit!!
- North Dakota Twins Fan posts an interesting look at the Topps rookie card of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Check it out!
- Nick Nelson wrote a tremendous blog on some of the curious comments from Gardy on Delmon Young.
- The Baseball Outsider takes a look at the Twins Disabled List. Uffdah!
- Granny Baseball astutely points out that it is not (just) the bullpen.
- K-Bro discusses the Range of Emotions for Twins fans!
- Peanuts from Heaven provides analysis on all of the Twins 2011 draft choices… in 5 words or less!
- Travis Talks hands out his final May Awards.
- Knuckleballs says it is about time to Get Reacquainted with the Twins team we remember.
- That’s Twins Baseball provides a new Motivational Poster
- Twins Fan from Afar looks at Ron Gardenhire vs. Danny Valencia.
- Here is a link to last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly. Travis and I discussed minor leaguers and the Twins draft.
- On Saturday morning, about 11:05, I will again be on WQPM in Princeton, Minnesota, talking about the Twins. You can listen live here. (1300 am)
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.