Here We Go

14 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The All-Star Break is now past. Throughout the first half of the season, through the struggles of April and May, we continued to talk about how good the Twins have traditionally been in the second half of the season. We talk about how the season is a marathon and not a sprint. We would say things like, “As long as the Twins don’t get too far back while Player X, Y, Z, L, M, N, O, and P were out with injury, we’ll take our chances. We talked about how if the Twins could cut the lead in the AL Central to eight or nine games by the All Star break, they were right back in contention. Well, as the second half starts tonight, the Twins are 6.5 games back of the division leaders in Cleveland.

Are the Twins buyers or sellers? Simply, we do not know that answer yet. The Twins entered the Break after winning three out of four games at Chicago. The come out of the break with a twelve game home stand which included four games each against Kansas City, Cleveland and Detroit. There is a good chance we will be able to answer that buyer/seller question after those games.

Joe Mauer has now been back for a few weeks and shown signs. Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been much improved at shortstop and at the plate in the last two weeks. Jim Thome is back. In some great news, Denard Span has been cleared and will soon get into some rehab games in Rochester. Delmon Young has been activated after spending a week rehabbing with the Red Wings. When will Jason Kubel be back, and can he produce as he did during the first two months of the season? When will Justin Morneau be back and the fact that he can feel his fingers help him to make more solid contact when he is back?

The ‘stars’ are coming back. Before the season, we always talk about what players can help the team to another division title. Which player will step up? Who will surprise? But at the end of the day, to win, you need to get production from the guys you are supposed to count on. That is Morneau, Mauer, Cuddyer, Thome, Kubel, Span and Young. How those guys do in the 2nd half will have the biggest role in how the Twins do.

Of course, it’s fair to say that pitching is really important. And if that’s where it starts, then we have to talk about Scott Baker. All indications are that he just needed to skip a start and a break, so hopefully he has no lingering effects with this elbow injury. Each of the other four starters had a hiccup. Pavano and Liriano struggled early. Duensing struggle some in four June starts. Blackburn enters the Break with three straight bad starts. Anthony Swarzak has been nice in spot starts. These guys are key. As much as we want to see Kyle Gibson up with the Twins, if the team doesn’t need to drop any of their pitchers from the rotation, that would be a positive.

The question marks with this team are in the bullpen. It was discussed in the offseason. Losing four decent relievers in one offseason is hard to account for. Glen Perkins has stepped up remarkably. Joe Nathan definitely looks better since his return from the DL recently. Matt Capps had his three-game hiccup, but he’ll be a solid guy in the bullpen. After that… question mark after question mark. And that’s not good. That said, consider what bullpen arms are available. Are any of them worth a Top 10 Twins prospect? In fact, with the player traded impact considered, how many of them are better than a healthy Anthony Slama, a relaxed Jim Hoey and the soft-tossing Chuck James.     

As a guy who follows the minor leagues, it has been fun to see the emergence of Ben Revere. Sure, he hasn’t hit much, but he has had a very strong impact on the Twins anyway since he returned. Likewise, Rene Tosoni, who was sent down following Sunday’s game, struggled immensely his first time up. No surprise there, he had 19 games at AAA this year after missing more than half of last year at AA due to shoulder surgery. However, in his second trial with the Twins, he got more playing time and you could see the improvement. We saw the power potential, but we also saw his ability to take a lot of pitches, to use the whole field and to play solid defense. The improvement was great. Luke Hughes improved with playing time. Nishioka has improved with playing time. Trevor Plouffe dominated AAA pitching after his most recent demotion. Can he come back now and make the necessary adjustments to make himself a viable super-utility player?

But there are a lot of good questions for the Twins in the second half. How does Plouffe get into the lineup? What happens in the outfield now that Young is back? What about when Span comes back? What about when Kubel comes back? What about when Morneau comes back? At the end of the day, these are good questions. Getting back proven talent is always a good thing. And, frankly, don’t we prefer a bench including Butera, Young, Thome, and Plouffe or Hughes much better than a bench with Butera, Rivera, Repko and Tolbert?

Regardless, I’m excited for the start of the second half. As much as the first two months were discouraging, the Twins are now back in it, and I will take my chances with this roster any day of the week. Here we go!!

 

Minor League Notes:

Andrew Albers was promoted from Ft. Myers to New Britain. Estarlin de Los Santos ended his rehab assignment and went to Ft. Myers. Brad Stillings was activated from the DL and Matt Tone was put on the DL. In Beloit, Tyler Grimes and Nate Roberts were put on the 7-Day DL. Sam Spangler was promoted from E-Town to the Snappers.

Chuck James represented the Rochester Red Wings in the AAA All Star game. He faced four batters and walked two and struck out two.

In the AA All Star game, three New Britain Rock Cats played. After his Futures Game appearance, Liam Hendriks pitched a scoreless inning in this game. Brett Jacobson pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. Yangervis Solarte went 0-2 with a walk.

Ft. Myers beat Daytona 4-3. Dan Rohlfing went 4-4 with a triple. Estarlin de Los Santos went 3-5 with a double in his first game with the Miracle. Steve Liddle was 2-3 with a walk. James Beresford went 2-4. Pat Dean started and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in 7.1 innings. Bruce Pugh recorded his 10th save by getting the final five outs.

Beloit beat South Bend 5-1. BJ Hermsen improved to 9-6 with seven strong innings. He gave up one unearned run on three hits and two walks. Michael Tonkin struck out four in the final two innings. Daniel Santana went 2-3 with his 11th double and 20th steal. Adam Bryant went 2-4 with a walk. Michael Gonzales went 1-2 with two walks and his 13th home run.

Elizabethton beat Pulaski 6-3. Eddie Rosario went 2-4 with his sixth home run. Kennys Vargas was 2-3 with a walk and his fourth double. Tyler Koelling, Nick Lockwood and Matej Hejma each had two hits. Pedro Guerra started and gave up three runs on six hits. In 4.2 innings, he walked one and struck out five. Steve Evans threw 2.1 scoreless innings. Nick Alloway gave up two hits and got an out on a strikeout. Matt Summers went the final 1.2 innings. He struck out two and gave up just one hit.

The GCL Twins lost 4-3 to the GCL Orioles in 10 innings.. Hyun-yi Chen struck out three in three one-hit innings. 17-year-old Gerardo Ramirez gave up one run on two hits and a walk in two innings. Kyle Wahl struck out five in two scoreless innings. Matt Tomshaw gave up two runs on three hits in two innings. Marcus Limon took the loss as he gave up the winning run with one out in the 10th.

  • I’ll be on the Paul Allen Show on KFAN this morning at 10:20 to talk about our favorite baseball team! Be sure to tune in to am 1130 in the cities, its affiliates or at www.KFAN.com.
  • I will be traveling to Beloit this weekend to watch the Snappers games on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Check out www.SnappersBaseball.com and if you’re going to be going to Beloit (5 1/2 hours from the Twin Cities!) this weekend, call them and mention SethSpeaks.net and Seth will be donating $5 to the charity of the Snappers’ choice. The Snappers will have fireworks on both Friday and Saturday nights, and they will have Canvas Pictures as giveaways on Sunday. Be sure to consider the all-you-can-eat special as well.
  • Do you remember the story of the Perham (MN) high school basketball team. One of their best players, Zach Gabbard, collapsed on the court with a heart attack. Several surgeries later, Gabbard is much-improved. The Yellowjackets story was incredible, led by National high school coach of the year (named by Max Preps) Dave Cresap led the team to the Class AA State championship. Assistant coach Brent Hanson, who himself has twice collapsed while playing/coaching basketball, put together a documentary/movie of the 2011 Perham Yellowjackets called For Three. Check out the trailer here. The movie will premiere at the Comet Theatre in Perham with two showings on Thursday night and one more on Sunday. You can also order a DVD now through the website www.ForThreeMovie.com.

Please feel free to leave your comments on anything discussed today or any other Twins topics.

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15 Responses to “Here We Go”

  1. Randy Schlagel July 14, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I watched the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers on the 4th of July in their brand new Werner Stadium. You must check it out sometime–it is built in a bowl in ground so outfield has slopes for fans to sit on blankets–kiddie park…seating for around 6500 plus outfield for 9500. Just unbelievable beautiful. I’m not from Omaha–MN all the way! It would be perfect for Saints, eh?

  2. roger July 14, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    I stopped in Omaha a couple times the past few weeks. Didn’t get to see the new AAA ballpark, but was puzzled why they aren’t playing in TD Ameritrade Park which is the new, 24,000+ seat ballpark that is the new home of the College World Series. Maybe it is too big for a AAA ballclub, or maybe it was economics. Just wondering?

    As for the next three weeks, I don’t think that the Twins have to be either buyers or sellers. I think they can be both, ie, do two moves that help this year and the future. One, is getting a couple more good starts out of Kevin in Rochester and doing everyone a favor and trading him for a good reliever. Then trade one of the corner outfielders (Kubel or Young) for another reliever and good prospect. Solves problem for this year and fills two spots for the future!

  3. DH in Philly July 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Yay – Baseball is back!!! Thus ends the longest three days in the sports calendar.

  4. mike wants wins July 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    No one is trading a good prospect for Young or Kubel, let along a RP and a prospect. I’d rather slowey was in the rotation than Blackburn, but I don’t see that happening. I too wish they’d trade him so he can play baseball (just as I wish they’d bail on Slama so he can play MLB).

  5. Jack Steal July 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Seth,

    Where are you coming up with the stat that Ben Revere has not hit much. The kid is hitting .275 better than the beloved M & M boys. Just because he has a .310 OBP and a .309 SP is the reason why you continue to diss him time and time again. He has has less than 500 AB’s in MLB, never advanced past AA New Britain, and is only 23 years old. I wonder where the great Aaron Hicks will be at that age. I just don’t understand your hatred towards this guy. The only reason, let me say that again “THE ONLY REASON” the Twins are 6.5 out in the A.L. Central is because of Ben Revere. Revere has also scored 24 runs and has 11 SB’s compared to Span and his 32 runs and 4 SB’s. Revere is never going to hit for a lot of power and has a terrible arm. However he is one of the fastest players in MLB, will be a elite base stealer, and can get to balls in the outfield that Span clould only dream of. Ever watch Span go after a ball in the outfield?? He lets up when he gets close to the wall because he is scared he will hit it. Revere has instincts you can’t teach and is not afraid of anything. I guarantee Revere will get on base at about a .330-.340 clip once he gets enough at bats and has seen more ML pitching. One last thing, Span did not make it up to the big show until he was 25 and looked lost in the minors which is why they wanted CF Carlos Gomez in the Santana trade. You always tell me not to be so negative, yet your hatred towards one the most exciting players since possibly Kirby Puckett is really questionsble at best.

    • mike wants wins July 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      Um, wow. Seth doesn’t hate Revere. He’s made that clear year after year by ranking him as one of the Twins’ top prospects.

      Discussing how Revere has done so far DOES NOT imply that he cannot do better in the future. The truth is, Revere has not been good with the bat, not compared to other OFers. You are confusing potential with actual production. His actual production as a hitter has not been good. His OBP is awful, as is his SLG. A lot of his runs lately have come because Nishi or others have gotten on base in front of him, then Revere has hit a ground ball, and been on base with a fielder’s choice. He made it less likely that the Twins would score, not more so.

      I have never understood this anger that people get when someone talks about facts, like Revere’s relative offensive production. The past cannot be argued with, frankly. It happened, and it is measurable.

      Seth’s post was about the production that has happened, not about the potential, and even if it were, there is not a ton of evidence that Revere will be great in the future. He looks like a 3rd-5th OFer to many of us.

  6. Rich July 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Hey, any of the top draft picks getting close to signing? Do you feel that we will sign all of the top 5 picks? Thanks

  7. roger July 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Ouch!!! Good thing you are getting out of town for the weekend Seth! With that said, I also was somewhat surprised at your comment about Revere. Like many, I give him more credit than any other position player for the Twins resurgence on June 2nd. He may never be the greatest hitter in the league, but damn, he is exciting and makes things happen.

    So count me amongst the group who would like to see Ben as part of the Twins outfield for years to come. I think he will make believers of most of us. As for the comparision to Hicks, Seth knows that I like to see performance on the field before annointing players for the the highest rankings in the organization. The good news is that this year Hicks is beginning to do it, on the field! Top three, not yet for me but moving up.

  8. Paul Pleiss July 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Seth,
    you touched on it briefly, but what happens when Span comes back to the club? Will we be looking at Revere/Span/Cuddy?

    With all of the injuries early in the season I feel like we’re getting a lot of our guys who are “on the cusp” very valuable big league experience… I wish we could keep them all. I’m really looking forward to the rosters expanding later in the season, getting everyone up and just trying to figure out what the lineup will be day to day to day (well… I kind of get to do that now anyways)

  9. darin July 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I was waiting for someone to make the comment that when Kubel, Morneau and Span return it will be just like pulling of a major trade. That always makes me laugh when someone makes that comparison. I guess you would have to give them a little credit for supposedly pursuing Cliff Lee at the deadline. But they will never pull off a blockbuster deal for an ace, because they value their prospects so much.

  10. DH in Philly July 15, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I admire Seth and what he has done and recognize he has provided me with many years worth of free entertainment and information. With that said, I always felt that he turned Revere into a referendum on Joe Benson, who he prefers. It seems like he is of the opinion that you have to choose one. I like both players and readily admit both have short-comings (Revere = arm, OPS and Benson K’s). But I hope the both succeed independently.

    Of course, maybe I’m all wet.

  11. mike wants wins July 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    check out the stats here….drill into the details on Revere’s hitting if you want…..his runs created on offense are a “70” where “100” is league average….

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=cf&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=190&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0

  12. mini_tb July 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I think we may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves with the Ben Revere lovefest. He is a player whose high energy style and infectious smile mask his actual mediocre production. He’s fun to watch and all, wreaks havoc on the basepaths, and plays well defensively, but since when does a guy with a .307 on base percentage in the leadoff spot lead to a team scoring more runs?

    I do like Revere, and I do think he’ll do better than a .307 OBP, but I’m just not sure he’s all that praiseworthy yet.

    Let’s hope he has a nice 4 for 4 game tonight with a couple steals just to spite me. :)

  13. jay July 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Max Kepler had his 1st HR July 14th in Elizabethton !

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Friday Links « Puckett's Pond | A Minnesota Twins Blog - July 15, 2011

    [...] is another 2nd half preview, this time from Twins and minor league expert Seth Stohs.  Also, Seth will be in Beloit, Wisconsin [...]

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