also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -
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.
Pregame – Radio/Podcast Time
As has now become a regular time slot, I will be on The Paul Allen Show on KFAN, its affiliates and www.KFAN.com (and iheartradio, and…) this morning at 10:20 to talk about the Twins.
Last night, I was a guest on Fanatic Jack’s Twins Talk on 612sports.net. We talked several Twins topics and a lot of discussion of Twins prospects. It was actually a lot of fun!
Tonight at 10, Travis Aune and I will co-host Twins Minor League Weekly and discuss the goings on in the Twins farm system We will also spend quite a bit of time comparing and contrasting our Top 50 Prospect lists. Should be a fun show!
1st Inning – Twins 2, Dodgers 1 (The Right Way to Judge the Series)
When the Twins lost the first game of the series 15-0, it was their sixth straight loss, and the team was once again ten games back in the division after cutting their deficit to just 6.5. Frustration had set back in. Two days later, the Twins now have a two-game winning streak, the Tigers have lost two in a row to the Mets (and given up 30 runs). So now the Twins are just eight games behind the Tigers. As frustrating as the six game losing streak was, let’s not forget that after the games of June 1, the Twins were 16.5 games back in the division. How thrilled would we have been in the Twins had only been eight games back by the All Star break, which is still two weeks away.
Some negatives will point out that the Dodgers outscored the Twins 19-7 in the series. Doesn’t matter! The Twins won the series 2-1.
Nick Blackburn had a rough one on Monday night. His complete lack of strikeouts and pitch to contact mean that every once in awhile he will have a game like that, but it should in no way affect anyone’s thoughts on Blackburn or his season. Obviously the offense did nothing and the defense did no favors. It was an ugly game in every way. However, getting over big losses like a 15-0 loss is easy to go. In fact, it was probably easy to be over it by the late innings.
Brian Duensing pitched “well enough” on Wednesday night for the Win. He really fought himself and his control in the fourth and fifth innings. Thankfully Luke Hughes hit a big two-run homer in the bottom of the 5th to give the Twins a 6-4 lead and the bullpen got the job done after that. Most impressive for me was the performance of Joe Nathan. He was touching 94 mph on the radar gun, and his pitches were all moving a lot. The value that a fully-healthy Joe Nathan could provide for the Twins is huge.
And finally, Wednesday afternoon’s game was all about Scott Baker. He threw another 7.1 scoreless innings. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out nine. As the Twins Geek wrote, whether or not you want to admit it, Scott Baker is an ace-type pitcher. Who would have known that two batters into the game, the lone run of the game would score?!
I have to admit that for me, it was a lot of fun getting to see former Twins farmhand Trent Oeltjen do well too. It led to my TwinsCentric blog on the Twins from Down Under.
2nd Inning – Tsuyoshi Nishioka
When the Twins signed Nishioka, I was excited. I thought it was a great decision to get a solid baseball player from Japan. The primary reason it was a great decision was because of the marketing potential. With all the scouting reports and people I had talked to about Nishioka, I was hoping he could post an OPS of .700. I thought if he could hit .280/.340/.360 it would be a solid rookie season. Well, six games into the season, he had a broken leg and miss the next two months. He has been back for a little over a week, and he has really struggled both offensively and defensively. That is no surprise. Clearly he has looked nervous and is making a lot of adjustments. The game in Japan and the game in the US are not identical.
To think that what we are seeing in Nishioka is the finished product is not fair. We don’t know. However, right now, he looks really bad from the left-side of the plate. More disturbing, he has looked awful at shortstop. As bad as some thought Trevor Plouffe was at shortstop, Nishioka has been much worse. That’s not to say that he is much worse, just that he is playing much worse right now.
I really wish that the Twins would have let Nishioka spend the full 20 day rehab limit. It would have been a great way for him to get at bats, to see the pitches and the strike zones. It would have been a good way for him to get a lot more ground balls on natural surface as opposed to the artificial turf in Japan. Also, another week to ten days of rehab would have helped them realize even more that Alexi Casilla was doing a great job at shortstop and he was one of the team’s top hitters over the previous six weeks. As nice as it likely was that Nishioka could get reps at shortstop, there was no reason to make the move. He could still be at second base, playing better defense, and maybe relaxing more.
Also, there is absolutely no reason in the world for Trevor Plouffe’s bat not to be in the big leagues. He has been an extra base machine. And frankly, his defense was better than Nishioka’s. As Nick Nelson mention on his TwinsCentric blog yesterday, the Twins should send Nishioka to Rochester and bring up Plouffe to play shortstop. I have no problem with that plan, with one exception. I would call up Plouffe to play second base and move Casilla back to shortstop.
Most important point of this “inning” is that I am in no way saying that Nishioka is not or cannot be a big league player. He just isn’t a big league shortstop with the glove or the arm. Trevor Plouffe may or may not be a big league shortstop defensively either, but at least he has a big league bat.
3rd Inning – Top 50 Twins Prospects
As you can tell, I really enjoy following the Twins minor league system, and one of the most fun things to do is to make and update my Top 50 Twins prospects. Typically I update it before the June draft, following the minor league season and then finalize for the Prospect Handbook. I was a little bit late, but yesterday, I did update my Top 50 Twins prospect list and encourage people to comment and ask questions. There was a change at the top of the list, and there was plenty of movement from January through June. So, scroll down to check out the updated list.
4th Inning – AL Central Standings
It is far too early in the season to be scoreboard watching or to worry about the standings, but I needed to fill nine innings and a lot of fans seem to need to know the day-to-day standings. And hey, when the Twins were 16.5 games down four weeks ago and are now just 8.0 games back now, I don’t mind showing it.
Cleveland Indians 42-37
Detroit Tigers 43-38 —-
Chicago White Sox 39-42 4.0
Minnesota Twins 34-45 8.0
Kansas City Royals 33-48 10.0
So again, just because I was a math minor and occasionally feel the need to do some word problems, let’s do this:
Word Problem 1: The Twins are currently 34-45. To win the AL Central will require 85 wins. What would the Twins record have to be the rest of the way to win the AL Central? What would their winning percentage be?
Answer 1: The Twins would need to have a record of 51-32 which would be a winning percentage of 61.4%
Word Problem 2: What would the records of Cleveland and Detroit and Chicago need to be to win 84 games (meaning they would finish a game behind the 85-win Twins)
Answer 2: Cleveland 42-41 (50.6%), Detroit 41-40 (50.6%), Chicago 45-36 (55.6%)
Essay 1: Give TWO reasons that the Twins can win the AL Central.
Answer 3: First, the Twins have had a ton of injuries and when rosters are healthy, the Twins have the most talent in the division. They just need to get healthy and get rolling. Second, the AL Central is really bad.
Essay 2: Give TWO reasons that the Twins will NOT win the AL Central.
Answer 4: Although there may be several answers to this question, my response is that it’s still June and there is no reason to think that the Twins can’t win the division. Not yet!
You’re the teacher. How did I do?
5th Inning – All-Star Discussion
For the last three or four weeks, the general discussion has been that the Twins would have one representative at the Major League All-Star game next month in Arizona.
Without doing the complete review of each American League roster, I now believe that despite the Twins record, there should be TWO Twins representatives at the All-Star game. I still completely believe that Michael Cuddyer should be a representative. I have said that he should be named the Utility Player for the AL roster since he has started at five different positions for the Twins this year. And, he is now hitting .286/.351/.454 with 16 doubles, ten homers and 30 RBI. There is no question that he should represent the Twins.
However, Scott Baker should also be added to the AL roster. He is 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. In his 105.2 innings, he has issued just 29 walks and struckout 101 players. He has been a work horse and has never pitched better.
At the end of the day, I am not certain that the Twins will get two representatives. I think the fact that so many Yankees will be voted in will hurt those chances. But regardless of the honor, Twins fans have to know that both players are very deserving.
6th Inning – Minor League Notebook
Rochester lost 4-1 to Pawtucket and managed just two hits. Dustin Martin went 1-2 with a walk. Eric Hacker started and gave up two runs on eight hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. Carlos Gutierrez faced five batters. He gave up one hit, walked three and hit another batter. Jim Hoey came on and got the four batters he faced out. Cole DeVries pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
New Britain lost to Portland 4-3. Bobby Lanigan posted another Quality Start. He gave up three runs on six hits and three walks in six innings. Tony Davis went the next 1.2 innings and did not allow a run despite a hit and four walks. Bruce Pugh got an out but gave up a solo home run to take the loss. The Rock Cats had just five hits. Chris Herrmann, Brian Dozier and Yangervis Solarte were each 1-3 with a walk. Herrmann hit a double.
By the way, did anyone notice that in Deolis Guerra’s seven games out of the bullpen, he has walked three and struckout 23 in 13 innings? (hat tip to SethSpeaks.net contributor mini_tb)
Beloit beat Clinton 14-5. Michael Gonzales 3-5 with his 10th and 11th home runs and five home runs, and I continue to wonder why he is in Beloit. Jairo Perez was 3-5 with his fourth home run. Danny Santana went 3-5 with his 10th double. Nate Roberts went 2-4 with a walk. Ryan O’Rourke gave up two runs on five hits in five innings. He struckout six. Blayne Weller gave up one run on two hits in three scoreless innings. Ben Tootle gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in one inning.
Elizabethton was able to beat Johnson City for the first time in a 4-3 decision. Eddie Rosario came into the game with a home run in three straight games. In this one, he went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth and fifth home runs. Matej Hejma hit his first homer. David Hurlbut gave up one run on five hits in five innings. Bart Carter struckout four in two scoreless innings. Steven Gruver gave up two runs on two hits and a walk and got two outs. Madison Boer came in and got the final four outs, two of them on strikeouts.
The GCL Twins lost 2-0 to the GCL Rays. Hein Robb started and threw four scoreless, no-hit innings. He walked two and struck out six. Cole Johnson threw two scoreless innings. Mark Trau gave up one run on one hit and two walks in two innings. Matthew Tomshaw gave up one run two hits in his inning. Kelly Cross went 2-3. Philip Chapman went 2-4. Estarlin de Los Santos played in his second rehab game and went 1-4.
7th Inning – Doug Simonich Wins 1,000
Doug Simunic is the manager of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks and has been since their first season in 1996. Over the weekend, he recorded his 1,000th career win as a manager. In his 15+ seasons with the Redhawks, Simunic has led the team to a league title five times. He has led the team to 50-win seasons in all but one of those years. Congratulations!
8th Inning – National Coach of the Year – Perham’s Dave Cresap
I’ve written a lot about the Perham High School Boys Basketball team this year and for good reason. The Zach Gabbard story is tremendous, and when I was at the Turtle Fest parade in Perham, he was sitting in a float commemorating the team’s state championship and passing out candy. One Clap for Zach generated a lot of dollars to help the Gabbard family. Assistant coach Brent Hanson is producing a movie, For Three, that will be opening and available on July 14.
On Wednesday, Perham’s coach, Dave Cresap was honored by Max Preps as the National Male Sports Coach of the Year. He beat out legendary hoops coach Bob Hurley and the coach of the Texas Class 5A football championship team for the honor.
9th Inning – Alright, the game was called after 8 innings due to rain, or heat, or curfew, or something…
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.