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Weekend Update

11 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I watched the Friday night Twins game and blogged on it. I didn’t watch more than about half of the Saturday and Sunday games. I would love to hear your thoughts on the weekend or any of the Twins’ storylines. Here are a couple of comments and links:

  • First, be sure to listen to the Twins Geek and I talk Twins at the MNGameNight.com podcast. We talked about the Mariners series, the upcoming Tigers series, the bullpen, Carlos Gomez and Tollhouse Bars from The Voice of Reason!
  • Speaking of Carlos Gomez, the Twins Geek mentioned that Dick and Bert were openly discussing if Gomez should be sent to AAA. Blyleven actually said that he needs to play every day. Nick Nelson and Aaron Gleeman share their opinions. I’m on the other side of the story. I understand that he is great defensively, but what good is that if he’s only out there for one or two innings a game?
  • The Michael Cuddyer tear continued over the weekend. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.com wrote a nice article on how the Twins are built on players with high character. Cuddyer is kind of the poster boy for that.
  • For those of you who still aren’t checking out the Twins Page at BaseballDigest.com yet, be sure to go there, bookmark it, sign up for the RSS Feed, it’s worth it. On Saturday, Alex Halstad of Twins Territory wrote a nice article on Delmon Young called An Average Hitter. It comes complete with charts and everything. On Sunday night, Justin Murphy of Seamheads.com wrote his weekly article; This Week in Twins History.
  • I was on Twins Weekly on KFAN with Phil Mackey and Joe Nelson for a segment on Sunday afternoon. (Click here to listen) It was fun, and PMac asked me several questions about the Twins minor leagues. Specifically, we talked about Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Sean Henn, Anthony Swarzak, Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Dustin Martin, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez, Deolis Guerra, and more. You should really listen to the entire show, but if you just want to hear my part, it is about half way through the show.
  • There have been several more former Twins players listed on the Forgettable Twins blog.
  • Travis Talks gives his choices for the Top Hitters and Top Pitchers at each level of the Twins system in April (Part I and Part II). Check it out and let him know what you think.
  • Roger Dehring posted his weekly Minor League Report.

SethSpeaks.net Weekly Twins Podcast Tonight!

At 9:00 (central time) tonight, the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast will be live online. Hopefully we can get a ton of people listening and participating in the chat room. Here is the schedule for the show:

  • 9:00-9:05 – Introduction
  • 9:05-9:20 – Liam Hendiks, Twins pitching prospect, missed entire 2008 season after surgery
  • 9:20-9:35 – Drew Thompson, Twins infield prospect, missed half of the 2006 season and all of the 2007 and 2008 seasons with back injury. Last week, he returned to Beloit and played 2B. Really, it is a terrific story and it should be fun to talk to him.
  • 9:35-9:55 – Travis Aune, the author of Travis Talks. I have known Travis forever as we are from the same hometown. He is one of the more passionate baseball fans I know, and he really is learning the Twins minor league system too. Anyway, we will talk about several Twins topics.
  • 9:55-10:00 – Conclusion

There is also a possibility of another guest in there somewhere, so be sure to tune in and send your questions in to the chat room. If you are unable to listen live, be sure to download the show afterward and listen in. I would love to hear your feedback.

GAME RECAPS

The Twins won two out of three against the Mariners in the weekend series. They will have another home off day on Monday before starting a three game series against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. The Twins will send Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Scott Baker to the mound against Armando Galarraga, Dontrelle Willis and Justin Verlander.

Saturday – TWINS 9, MARINERS 6

It was supposed to be a matchup of young aces. So, of course, there was little pitching in this game. Francisco Liriano pitched long enough for the win. In five innings he gave up five runs on six hits and two walks. King Felix Hernandez gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits and three walks. The highlight, for Twins fans, has to be the back-to-back home runs by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, a feat they accomplished in back-to-back games. Mauer went 2-3 with two walks, his third double, his third homer and three RBI. Morneau was 2-2 with two walks. The homer was his eighth. Michael Cuddyer went 2-4 with his third homer, a three-run blast.    

Sunday – TWINS 3, MARINERS 5

Nick Blackburn was excellent. Seven shutout innings with just five hits and one walk. He struck out six. Unfortunately, the bullpen imploded again. Jose Mijares came in and after walking Jose Lopez, he gave up a game-tying home run to Ken Griffey. Jesse Crain came in and all three batters he faced got on base. Matt Guerrier got them out of the inning, but the Twins were now down 5-2. The Twins attempted another walk-filled comeback against Brandon Morrow. Joe Mauer singled in a run, but Morrow was able to finish the job at get the save. Mauer went 2-4. After two games off, Nick Punto returned to the lineup and went 2-3.  

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Chris Parmelee, Ft. Myers Miracle

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Brad Tippett, Beloit Snappers

Sunday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Luke Hughes, Rochester Red Wings

Sunday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Kevin Mulvey, Rochester Red Wings 

INJURY UPDATE –

You may have heard already that Wilson Ramos hurt a finger on his glove hand while catching. Seems like a very strange injury, but he was put on the Disabled List, and it has affected the catchers throughout the system. Danny Lehmann has been promoted from Ft. Myers to New Britain. Allen de San Miguel, who went from New Britain to Beloit just over a week ago, will now be heading to Ft. Myers to join the Miracle. Also, Jeff Lanning is being promoted from Extended Spring Training to Beloit. 

Danny Valencia was scheduled to be back in the starting lineup on Sunday for the Rockcats after missing several games with a wrist injury.   

ROCHESTER REPORT

Saturday –Rochester 7, Charlotte 6 – David Winfree went 2-4 and connected on his fourth home run. Justin Huber went 2-5 with his second double and first triple. Jason Pridie went 2-5 with his fifth double and two RBI. Alexi Casilla went 2-5 with his first stolen base. Jose Morales went 1-1 with three walks. Jason Jones started and gave up five runs on seven hits (including two HR) in three innings. Bobby Keppel gave up two hits and two walks in three shutout innings. Juan Morillo got the win by going two shutout innings. He walked three and struck out two. Sean Henn recorded the save despite giving up a solo home run.  

Sunday –Rochester 8, Charlotte 4 – Kevin Mulvey improved to 2-1 with six strong innings. He gave up a run on five hits and two walks, and he struck out four. Mike Gosling gave up two hits, walked one and struck out two in a scoreless inning. Tim Lahey gave up three runs on three hits and got just one out. Juan Morillo came in and got the final five outs, three via the strikeout. Alexi Casilla went 3-5 with two stolen bases. Luke Hughes was 2-3 with two walks. Jose Morales went 2-4 with his second double.  

ROCKCAT RECAP

Saturday – New Britain 7, Portland 8 Ryan Mullins had his best game in a long time. The lefty gave up one run on five hits and three walks in five innings. Frank Mata then gave up five runs on six hits and a walk in just 1.2 innings. Jose Lugo came in and struck out the one batter that he faced. Zach Ward gave up two unearned runs on two walks in one inning. The bats were pretty quiet until they scored four in the top of the 9th, but it wasn’t quite enough. Jeff Christy went 3-5. Erik Lis went 2-3 with two walks and a double. Brandon Roberts and Rene Tosoni each went 2-4 with a walk. Brian Dinkelman was 2-5.

Sunday – New Britain, Portland – Rained out.

MIRACLE MEMOS

Saturday –Ft. Myers 7, St. Lucie 5Chris Parmelee had a big game. He was 3-4 with his fourth double, three RBI and a stolen base. Danny Lehmann went 2-4 with his third double. Danny Berg went 2-4 with his fourth double. Joe Benson was 2-4 with a walk. Michael McCardell improved to 4-2, but he was a little shaky. He gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out five. Kyle Waldrop gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Henry Arias pitched a scoreless eighth. Alex Burnett got his third save with a perfect ninth inning. 

Sunday –Ft. Myers – No Game Scheduled.

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Saturday – Beloit 8, Lansing 3Brad Tippett continues to impress on the mound. He improved to 3-0 while dropping his ERA to 2.73. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits and a walk in six innings. Bruce Pugh gave up a hit in a scoreless inning. Shooter Hunt made his bullpen debut. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Steve Blevins pitched a perfect ninth inning. Dominic de La Osa went 4-5. Nathan Hanson went 3-4 with two doubles and a stolen base. Evan Bigley went 3-5. Nick Romero went 2-5 with a triple.

Sunday – Beloit 3, Lansing 6Michael Allen fell to 0-4 after giving up six run in 6.1 innings, but just three of the runs were earned. He walked one and struck out seven. Danny Rondon got the final two outs of the seventh inning after giving up two hits. Joe Testa struck out two in a scoreless inning. Adan Severino went 2-4. Ozzie Lewis went 1-3 with two walks. Allan de San Miguel went 0-1, but he walked three times.  

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

More Moves to be Made?

7 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

HELP – I need your help for a blog posting for tomorrow. I want to encourage everyone to send me a few True/False Statements, or Over/Under scenarios. For instance, e-mail me and say, “True or False, Danny Valencia will be the Twins opening day 3B when the team opens up Target Field next year.” Or “Over/Under – Joe Mauer’s Batting Average – .320.” Send up to five, and I will answer them on this site tomorrow. I think it could be a lot of fun, so please take a minute and e-mail me your questions. I appreciate your help.

YOUR VOICES – Last night, I wrote up and posted my StarTribune.com/yourvoices article on a topic that, as you would guess, is already annoying to me. But it’s timely and it is regional, so it kind of makes sense. Please check it out and be sure to leave you comments. Then be sure to read the article on the same topic that Darren “Doogie” Wolfson wrote there.

On Wednesday, the Twins made a roster move by shipping Alexi Casilla back down the AAA Rochester. They promoted Matt Tolbert back to the big leagues. Could more moves be on the horizon?

If you think that Alexi Casilla was the team’s biggest problem, you might be in for some major disappointment. Clearly, the biggest issue on this team right now it pitching. Entering the season, the assumption was that the starting five would be a cornerstone of the team. Through the first month their top pitcher, Scott Baker, is 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA. The #2 starter, Francisco Liriano, is 1-4 with a 5.30 ERA. Kevin Slowey is 4-1, but his ERA is 5.50. Nick Blackburn is 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA. Glen Perkins has been the team’s top starter so far this season, and he is 1-2 with a 3.34 ERA.

None of the five are currently in jeopardy of losing their starting jobs. In reality, I don’t think that they should even consider a move of one of the five starters for at least another month.

So, let’s get to the bullpen. Joe Nathan had one blown save, but overall, he continues to be one of the best closers in the game. I think we can say that Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares have pretty secure jobs. Brian Duensing, Philip Humber and Juan Morillo have already been shipped back to Rochester. Luis Ayala has been quite disappointing in a late-inning role. He has given up 20 hits and three walks in 13.1 innings. Craig Breslow was being counted on as a lefty out of the bullpen, and he has not been good at all. In 9.2 innings, he has given up seven hits and walked ten hitters. His two innings tonight actually significantly improved his overall performance. R.A. Dickey was brought in to be a long reliever. When he has pitched in that role, and in his one start, he was just fine. But when put into more difficult situations, it hasn’t gone well.  

So, I think it is fair to say that Luis Ayala, Craig Breslow and R.A. Dickey are three guys who will be watched a little more closely in the coming weeks. Let’s look at some pitchers in the upper minor leagues who could be considered for a promotion:

  • Sean Henn – The Twins signed the now-28 year old lefty this offseason. He is currently the default closer for the Red Wings. Last year with the Padres, he gave up 11 hits and walked nine in 9.1 innings. So far this year with Rochester, he has thrown 17.1 innings out of the bullpen. His ERA is 1.04 and he has struck out 23 batters. He has given up 11 hits, but he has walked ten batters. As good as he has been, the walk rate is a little alarming.
  • Brian Duensing – Since returning to the Red Wings, he has made three starts. He has thrown just 13 innings, and is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He has given up 16 hits, walked six and struck out just seven. He certainly hasn’t warranted a promotion at this point and can use the work at AAA.
  • Mike Gosling – The 28 year old lefty is working out of the Red Wings bullpen. He is 3-1 with a 4.96 ERA. In 16.1 innings, he has given up 16 hits. He has walked seven and struck out 21. The hit rate is OK. The walk rate is slightly high. Together, that is a WHIP of just over 1.40. He’s probably just a notch behind Henn at this point.
  • Philip Humber/Juan Morillo – Both recently were sent down to the Red Wings. Both have done well in very limited time there and just need to get more work in.
  • Anthony Swarzak – the 22 year old has started out great for Rochester. He is 2-3 with a 2.03 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. In 31 innings, he has given up 23 hits and walked just six while striking out 23. He’s allowed just one home run. Swarzak is young and he’s a starter. I think he needs to just keep working and starting at AAA for now. Let’s see how he is doing in four to six weeks.
  • Anthony Slama – So many seem to think that the 25 year old is too good for his level. He certainly was last year. This year at AA New Britain, he is 2-0 with five saves. His ERA is just 2.63. In 13.1 innings, he has 22 strikeouts. However, he also has nine walks and 12 hits allowed, so his AA WHIP is at 1.54. That doesn’t scream “Promotion” to me!
  • Rob Delaney – 24 year old Delaney spent half of the 2008 season in New Britain and did great. He is back there to start this season. He is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA. In 18.2 innings, he has given up 21 hits, but he has walked just two while striking out 22. His WHIP is 1.22. He’s been good, and that K:BB ratio is amazing. I think he should be moved up to Rochester in the next month, and then see how he is doing at that time.  

So, in reality, these are the options for promotion to the Twins, especially since Duensing and Swarzak are the only ones on the 40 man roster. None of them present a significant improvement over Ayala, Breslow or Dickey. So, in my mind, there is zero reason to make a move at this time. Again, we should probably re-evaluate these names and their numbers in another three or four weeks to see where things are.

The Twins Geek tells us that Carlos Gomez has nine at bats over the teams past twelve games.  I believe that we all believe that his ceiling is still very high, but he has a lot to learn. To learn, he needs to play. He needs consistent at bats. He needs time in the outfield, and he needs bunting opportunities and situations and such. Right now, his role with the Twins has been to start about one in four games, and do some pinch running and late inning defense.

To play more, and improve himself as a player, I believe Gomez should go to AAA. But if he goes down to AAA, I think that the Twins need to replace him with another outfielder. The three outfielders will need to start, and Jason Kubel will be the DH, so they will still need a backup outfield. That player should be a guy who can run, play good defense at all three outfield positions and at least be adequate at the plate. Here are the options:

  • Jason Pridie – The 25 year old outfielder can play three outfield positions very well. He can run very well. He can hit at the top of an order, but also has enough pop to hit some extra base hits. He strikeouts a ton. He just ended a 16 game hitting streak, and is hitting .255/.279/.292 in 106 at bats.
  • Dustin Martin – Although Martin just turned 25, the organization seems to look at him as a potential starting outfielder, so he should play every day. He can play CF, but may have enough bat to play the corners as well. He really impressed last year at New Britain, then in the Arizona Fall League, and then during training camp. At Rochester, he is hitting .308/.366/.374 with nine steals.
  • David Winfree – he is still just 23 years old and in his first season at AAA. He is hitting .272/.277/.457. Ten of his 22 hits have been for extra bases. He has one walk and 18 strikeouts, but he is a right-handed bat that could provide some pop off the bench. Can only play RF, and not necessarily very well.
  • Luke Hughes – Although he has only played 3B this season for the Red Wings, he spent plenty of time in LF and CF last year. Another right handed bat with some pop, Hughes is hitting .293/.392/.573 with 11 extra base hits.

Dustin Martin and Luke Hughes have futures as everyday types of players. Those guys should not be playing just once or twice a week, not until September. David Winfree is a right handed bat with pop, but he doesn’t fill the need for the role (defense/speed). Martin and Winfree are not on the 40 man roster at this time. Jason Pridie really fits the role of fourth or fifth outfielder perfectly. He’s got talent. He’s proven in the past that he can hit a little bit. He’s very fast. He’s very good defensively, and he can play all three outfield positions. If Gomez is actually only going to be a role player with the Twins at this early point in the season, he needs to go to AAA, and if he does, I would promote Jason Pridie.

So, as much as we may want to overreact and make a few more transactions just to make them, they do have to make sense. I don’t think it makes any sense to make any moves with the pitching staff quite yet, but that situation needs to continue to be closely monitored. I do believe that Carlos Gomez should go back to AAA and play every day, leading off and playing CF. I would then promote Jason Pridie to fill the role of fourth outfielder.

What are your thoughts? What would you do if you were Bill Smith? Leave your questions or comments here  

GAME RECAPS

TWINS 1, ORIOLES 4 (Called in 6th inning due to rain)

Tuesday night’s game was horrible because of the Twins play on the field. Wednesday night’s game was horrible because of the rain on the field. The game was delayed at the onset, and then three rain delays later, they finally called it. Unfortunately, the game was through five innings, making it an official game. The Twins were behind 4-1 at the time, so they get the loss and fall to 13-16.

Kevin Slowey got off to a bad start. In the first inning, he gave up three runs on four hits. The biggest blow as a Nick Markakis two run homer. He gave up two more hits, but no more runs, over two more innings before the game was delayed the first time. When the game started up again, Craig Breslow entered the game. He gave up a solo homer to Luke Scott. He gave up just one other hit, and most important, he did not walk a batter in two innings. Mark Hendrickson started for the Orioles and gave up just one hit over three scoreless innings. After the rain delay, former Twin Brian Bass came in. He went the final 2.2 innings and gave up a run on four hits and a walk. He struck out four. None of the Twins hits off of him were hit hard.

Mike Redmond had two of the Twins five hits.

On Thursday, Glen Perkins will face Brad Bergesen.   

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Angel Morales, Beloit Snappers

SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Anthony Swarzak, Rochester Red Wings & Cole Devries, New Britain Rockcats

ROCHESTER REPORT

Wednesday –Rochester 5, Louisville 2 – Anthony Swarzak had another strong start and picked up his second win. He gave up just one run on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out six. Sean Henn went the final two innings. He gave up a run on a Jonny Gomes home run. He struck out three in two innings. Drew Butera went 3-4 with two RBI. Luke Hughes had just one hit, but it was his fifth home run. David Winfree went 2-4 with a triple. Dustin Martin was 2-4 with a walk and his ninth stolen base.  

  • By the way, be sure to bookmark a new blog on the Rochester Red Wings called ‘R Red Wings.

ROCKCAT RECAP

Wednesday – Game 1 – New Britain 2, New Hampshire 0 Cole Devries was very strong again for his second win. He went five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out two. Rob Delaney pitched a scoreless sixth frame. Anthony Slama recorded his fourth save with a scoreless seventh inning. He struck out one. The Rockcats managed just four hits in this game. Erik Lis scored both runs. He hit a solo home run. He also scored on a Juan Portes double. Portes had two doubles in the game.

Wednesday – Game 2 – New Britain 5, New Hampshire 3 Matt Fox made the start in the second game. He went 5.1 innings and gave up two runs on two hits. He walked three and struck out four. Jose Lugo gets credit for the Win as he got the last two outs on the sixth inning. Anthony Slama recorded his second save of the day despite giving up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Brian Dinkelman went 2-3 with his fifth double and two RBI. Rene Tosoni scored three runs in this game. He was 2-2 as well as got hit by a pitch. Brandon Roberts was 2-2 with his fourth double.

INJURY REPORTJuan Portes played 3B in both of these games as Danny Valencia rested a sore wrist.    

MIRACLE MEMOS

Wednesday –Ft. Myers 5, Sarasota 6Deolis Guerra had his first rough start of the season. The 20 year old righty gave up six run on 11 hits and two walks in just four innings. Steve Hirschfeld threw three scoreless relief innings. Alex Burnett pitched a scoreless eighth. The Miracle managed just five hits, no one had more than one. Danny Berg was 0-2, but he walked three times. Deibinson Romero walked twice. Ben Revere stole his 14th base. 

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Wednesday – Beloit 0, West Michigan 3Dan Berlind made the start for the Snappers in place of Shooter Hunt. (No word on what the team is going to do with Hunt; skip a start, move him to the bullpen, etc.) Berlind went 4.2 innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out three. Joe Testa came in and went 2.1 scoreless innings. Matt Williams pitched a scoreless inning. The Snappers had just four hits. Angel Morales hit his third double and third triple.  

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Saturday Game Reports

3 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

From my BaseballDigest.com Game Recap

The Twins had several opportunities and really should have won, but instead, they had to work some overtime, burn the bullpen and in the end lost 10-7 to the Kansas City Royals in 11 innings. The game was back and forth throughout. Both teams had several opportunities to take over the game, but both teams squandered opportunities.

Glen Perkins started for the Twins and gave up five runs on ten hits in six innings. Luis Ayala came in and gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits in 1.1 innings. Jose Mijares came in and got the final two outs. But an Alexi Casilla error caused another tying run to score. Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth. Matt Guerrier threw a scoreless tenth. Then in the 11th inning, Craig Breslow came in and walked three out of the four batters he faced. He left with the bases loaded, and R. A. Dickey was the only bullpen arm still available. The knuckleballer came in and didn’t throw any knuckleballs in a walk to John Buck that gave the Royals the lead. A fielder’s choice and a single later, the Royals had the 10-7 lead that Joakim Soria held onto in the bottom of the inning.

In his second game, Joe Mauer had four more hits. Delmon Young, in the lineup because Jason Kubel was scratched because he was sick, went 3-4 with two RBI. Michael Cuddyer went 2-4 with his second home run. Joe Crede, back from a day with his wife who gave birth to their third child, went 2-5.

On Sunday afternoon, the Twins will send Scott Baker to the mound against the Royals’ Gil Meche.

OTHER NOTES

  • Craig Breslow – 6.2 innings, 9 walks. I know he’s smart and has something like 57 different pitches in his arsenal. However, he needs to pick out like four or five of them that you can throw for strikes! Otherwise, Brian Duensing should be on call.
  • Nick Punto – sure, he has been on Web Gems a lot in previous seasons. But this year, how many times has he bounced throws to 1B. He certainly doesn’t have Bartlett-like range.
  • Carlos Gomez – I don’t know if I can put up with watching him anymore. Sure, he covers a lot of ground on defense. I get that. But he can’t hit, he doesn’t even try to bunt for hits anymore, he can’t lay down a sacrifice bunt, and clearly the plate discipline that he was trying to develop didn’t happen yet. How he has a big league gig is beyond me right now.
  • Alexi Casilla – he’s not quite in my ‘ready-to-give-up-on’ or ‘send-him-to-Rochester’ lists, but it’s getting close. He at least takes pitches and generally has good swings. Maybe it’s the turf, but he does not seem to have much range on ground balls either.
  • Ron Gardenhire – He made the perfect move in the 8th inning when he brought Jason Kubel off of the bench as a pinch hitter for Alexi Casilla. It forced Trey Hillman’s hand, and he brought lefty Ron Mahay into the game. If Kubel was too sick to play today, it didn’t make a lot of sense for him to pinch hit in that situation. And, because he was pinch hitting for Casilla, the perfect move would have been to have Brendan Harris pinch hit for Kubel. That would have created a righty-lefty matchup with one of the Twins best right handed hitters. It would have been perfect to use Kubel as a decoy to get the matchup you wanted. Instead, Kubel was left in to face Mahay, and he struck out to end the threat.
  • 0-2 – That is a good pitcher’s count. Why do Twins pitchers give up so many solid base hits when the count is 0-2? It goes back to Brad Radke who did the same thing.  
  • Like Torii Hunter, Doug Mientkiewicz has never seen a microphone he didn’t like. But this time, I’m listening. It is great to read him come out with statements about his former high school teammate, Alex Rodriguez, whose most recent round of questions brought up by Selena Roberts involves him taking steroids as early as high school.There’s no way. I was with him too much, I was with him for too long. Our team was together, like, 20 hours of the day. Every day.

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

ROCHESTER REPORT

Saturday – Game 1 – Rochester 5, Indianapolis 1 – Philip Humber made his first Red Wings start and did very well. He gave up just one run on three hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out three to gain his first win. Sean Henn got the final six outs, allowing only one hit. Dustin Martin went 2-2, was hit by a pitch and stole two bases. Luke Hughes went 2-3 with an RBI.

Saturday – Game 2 – Rochester 2, Indianapolis 3 (8 innings) – The Red Wings managed just four hits in this game. Matt Tolbert had a double and a triple. Trevor Plouffe also hit a triple. Brian Duensing started this one and gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in five innings. Juan Morillo threw a perfect inning in relief. He needed just six pitches, and four of them were strikes. Mike Gosling pitched a scoreless seventh inning, but he gave up a run with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning.

 ROCKCAT RECAP

Saturday – New Britain 7, Trenton 6 Jeff Manship put together and incredible start in this game, and the bullpen held on, barely. Manship worked the first seven innings and gave up no runs on just one hit. He walked one and struck out five to earn his second win of the season. Zach Ward came in and gave up two hits and two walks before being taken out of the game without recording an out. Yohan Pino came in and gave up one hit, but did get the team out of the inning with a three run lead. Anthony Slama recorded his third save, but he struggled. He gave up two runs on a hit and two walks. He struck out one. Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with his third double and first stolen base. Matt Moses and Brian Dinkelman were each 2-3 with a walk. Whit Robbins hit his second home run. Brandon Roberts had a double and drove in three runs.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Saturday –Ft. Myers 6, Charlotte 4David Bromberg gave up two funs on four hits and four walks in five innings, but he won his second game of the season. Steve Hirschfeld gave up two runs (1 earned) on one hit and one walk. Henry Arias picked up his first save by throwing two shutout innings. Steve Singleton went 3-5 with his fifth double. Chris Parmelee went 3-4 with his third double, fourth homer and three RBI. Ben Revere went 2-5 with his 12th stolen base.    

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Saturday – Beloit 6, Great Lakes 18Dan Osterbrock had another bad start in this one and falls to 0-3. In just 2.1 innings, he gave up nine runs on nine hits, including two home runs. He walked two, hit one and struck out two. Bruce Pugh went the next 2.2 innings and gave up just one run. Henry Reyes then gave up seven runs on seven hits and two walks in just 1.2 innings. Steve Blevins gave up a run over the final 2.1 innings. The offense was able to score six runs despite getting just six hits. Ozzie Lewis and Jonathan Waltenbury each hit their first home runs of the season. Drew Thompson got his first hit, a double.   

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Friday Night Report

2 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

From my BaseballDigest.com Game Recap – The big story of this first Twins game of May was the return of Joe Mauer. The Twins All-Star, Silver Slugging, Gold Gloving catcher had missed the entire season with a back injury. But after a week of rehab games in the Florida State League, May Day became “Mauer Day” for the Twins.  Joe Mauer helped make it a great day for the Twins and their fans all around.

Mauer came to bat with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, and with the crowd still on its feet, Mauer hit a long, opposite field home run off of Sidney Ponson to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. It was his first swing of the season. In his next at bat, with his next swing, Mauer lined a Ponson curveball down the left field line for a double. He would walk in his third plate appearance. In his fourth at bat, he did something else he does quite a bat, hit into a double play. But what a 2009 debut for Mauer! 2-3 with a walk, a double and a home run.

And most important, Mauer helped the Twins to a 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Justin Morneau was also 2-3 and hit his sixth home run of the season, a two run shot in the fifth inning. Brendan Harris went 2-4.

Kevin Slowey improved to 4-0 on the season despite giving up five runs on eight hits in just five innings. The bullpen was another big story in this game. Matt Guerrier threw two shutout innings. Jose Mijares struck out the side in the 8th inning. And Joe Nathan recorded his fourth save of the season.

The Royals and the Twins are now both 12-11 on the season. This marks the first time the Twins have been over .500 since they were 3-2.

On Saturday evening the Twins will send lefty Glen Perkins to the mound. Perkins is just 1-2 on the season despite a 2.48 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He has completed eight innings in three out of his four starts this season, including all three of his Metrodome starts. He will face Brian Bannister who since returning from the minor leagues is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA. He has allowed just one run in his 13 innings.

OTHER NOTES

  • Carlos Gomez was back in centerfield for the Twins, and he contributed with a ground rule double. He had been in Florida with his wife, who gave birth to their first child, Yendel Gomez.
  • Brendan Harris was at 3B in this game because Joe Crede is back in Missouri with his wife who gave birth to their third child.
  • Phil Mackey stated simply Joe Mauer is good at baseball. And again, be sure to check out his new blog, Minnesota Poker Magazine.
  • Have I mentioned yet that tonight’s Twins starting pitcher, Glen Perkins, was the co-host with me of Thursday night’s MNGameNight.com podcast? If you haven’t checked it out yet, please be sure to do so.
  • Have I mentioned yet that on Monday night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, Pat Neshek will be joining me to awhile to talk about his rehab and what else is keeping him busy? Anyway, check out Pat’s Blog and vote on something very important when you get there!  

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

BIG STORY – The big story of this game though has to be the return of Drew Thompson to the lineup. He went 0-4 with two walks for the Beloit Snappers. So why highlight him? Well, it was his first game since the middle of the 2006 season. The Twins second round pick in the 2005 draft, Thompson fractured his back in 2006, and has been working his way back since. He likely could have played early, but with such an injury, the Twins wisely did not send him back to Beloit until the weather warmed. Despite not playing in nearly three years, Thompson is still just 22 years old. The son of former Giants 2B Robbie Thompson, Thompson could move up quickly if he is healthy.

ROCHESTER REPORT

Friday – Rochester 9, Indianapolis 3 – These two teams were supposed to play two games on Friday because of Thursday’s rain-out, but rain again meant that they were able to get just one game in. Anthony Swarzak had been a tough-luck loser throughout April, but maybe things will be better for him in May. He picked up his first win of the season after giving up three runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings. He struck out six. Armando Gabino struck out one in two perfect innings. Justin Huber returned to the lineup, and made his presence known. His first inning grand slam gave the Red Wings a 4-0 cushion right away. It was his only hit of the game. Matt Tolbert, Dustin Martin, Trevor Plouffe and Jason Pridie were all 2-5 in the game. Martin and Plouffe hit doubles, and Tolbert hit a triple.

ROCKCAT RECAP

Friday – New Britain 9, Trenton 7 Whit Robbins has really been hitting well of late, and in this game, he went 4-5. Wilson Ramos went 3-5 with his third and fourth doubles. Brian Dinkelman remains on fire. He went 3-4 with four RBI. Danny Valencia hit his fourth double and third home run in five at bats. Brandon Roberts also went 2-5. Matt Fox made the start in this game. The 2004 supplemental first round pick gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits and three walks in 5.1 innings. Jose Lugo went the next two innings and gave up two runs. Frank Mata got two outs to get out of the 8th inning. Rob Delaney pitched the ninth and gave up two runs on three hits. He struck out two and the Rockcats got the win.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Friday –Ft. Myers 2, Charlotte 5Deolis Guerra gave up two runs in 5.1 innings. He gave up three hits, walked three and struck out six. Blair Erickson gave up a run on one hit in 2.1 innings. He struck out four, but he took the loss. Alex Burnett came in and got the final out but not before giving up four hits, and two additional runs. Chris Parmelee went 2-3 with a triple. Rene Leveret went 2-3 with a walk. Chris Cates was 1-3 with a walk.   

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Friday – Beloit 3, Dayton 4 (12 innings)Shooter Hunt was on the mound again on this night, and there was a contingency of the Twins brass there to see what he was doing. He had yet another frustrating night. In three innings, he gave up three runs (2 earned) on just one hit. He struck out four. Now for what you were looking for; he walked six and threw three wild pitches. Dan Berlind came in and gave up four hits and struck out four in four shutout innings. Danny Rondon was perfect through three innings. Matt Williams gave up an unearned run in his second inning of work to take the loss. He struck out three. The Snappers had seven hits. James Beresford was 2-3 with a walk and his third stolen base. Evan Bigley hit his first homer of the season. Angel Morales hit his second home run.

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Redmond Shoulder Hurting?

29 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

It is being stressed by the Twins announcers throughout this game that Mike Redmond hasn’t played in a couple of days due to a sore shoulder.

 

Anyone else think “Sore Shoulder” is code word for “We need to make a roster move after this game, Morales is playing great, we don’t want to send other people down, so we are going to put Redmond on the Disabled List retroactive to his last game played, so that in a week or so when Jose Morales comes back down to earth, we can send him down to Rochester at that time, rather than now?”

 

In reality, it is very smart strategy. Here are the options to be involved in a transaction to bring back Joe Mauer:

 

Jose Morales – I don’t think anyone wants to send Jose Morales to the minor leagues right now. He is one of the Twins top two or three hitters right now. That will not be maintained. He still needs to work on his defense, but is no longer completely inept. Morales could catch some, but at this point, he could serve as the DH with Jason Kubel getting more time in the OF.  

 

Mike Redmond – I have read some people say that the Twins should release Redmond completely. That is the worst idea yet. Again, if he were to be released, he would be picked up nearly immediately. Then what happens when Morales inevitable regresses, or even worse, if Mauer needed to spend more time on the disabled list. Are you comfortable with Morales and Butera as the Twins catchers?

 

Brian Buscher – He’s barely playing now. He can play 1B and 3B as well as DH and pinch hit. The Twins have other options for each of those positions. Buscher has options remaining.

 

Carlos Gomez – World of talent, just really can’t hit right now. He needs to play every day, and over the last week to ten days, he has not played much for the Twins (even before he went to Florida to be with his wife during the birth of their first child. Sending Gomez down makes complete sense on so many levels.

 

What will (probably) happen? I think that after the game the Twins will announce that Joe Mauer is being activated and Mike Redmond is being put on the Disabled List.

 

What should happen? The Twins should activate Joe Mauer and put Mike Redmond on the Disabled List. AND they should option Carlos Gomez to Rochester and promote Jason Pridie to the Twins.

 

What do you think? Comment here.

Quick Update

20 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Good Monday Morning to everyone. What a great weekend for the Twins. The team started last week by facing the Toronto Blue Jays at just the wrong time, and this weekend, I think they caught the Angels at just the right time.

·      Starting pitching was one of the big stories of the weekend. Nick Blackburn gave up three runs through six innings on Friday night (before a fourth scores in the 7th and then the bullpen debacle continued). Kevin Slowey gave up a two run homer to Torii Hunter in the 2nd inning on Saturday, but that was it over seven innings. And for the third straight start, Glen Perkins threw eight innings and finally got a win. Why is that so important? Because Slowey and Perkins allowed the likes of Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Luis Ayala to get two straight days off, which they certainly needed.

·      The other key story of the weekend had to be the offense of Jason Kubel. He didn’t have a hit on Sunday, but on Friday night, he hit for the cycle, including that amazing 8th inning grand slam that gave the Twins their come-from-behind win. On Saturday, he ‘settled’ for ‘just’ a four hit game! He highlighted an offense that finally provided the pitching staff with some run support.

·      Carlos Gomez had three infield hits on Sunday, one on a bunt. That was good to see because that is and should be a big part of his game. And if it helps him get on base some, it may get opponent’s defenses thinking and he may be able to get more hits.  

·      I had a busy weekend, and very little time, but I would ask for you to check out the Twins page at BaseballDigest.com where I posted a couple of Game Recaps as well as posting a This Week in Twins History article by guest writer Justin Murphy who writes for seamheads.com and lives in Rochester, NY. We are hoping to make it a weekly feature. Parker posted this morning’s Twins Doinks, so I encourage you to check out those articles and leave your comments there.

·      Finally, be sure to check out last night’s MNGameNight podcast. John Bonnes and I co-hosted with Judd Spicer of CityPages.com as the guest. It is a good look at the Angels’ series, the AL Central and looking ahead to the Red Sox series.

·       After a much needed day off today, the Twins will play two games in Boston against the Red Sox. The Twins will send Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano to the mound against Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny. They will then get another day off on Thursday. I cannot remember a time when the Twins started the season by playing 14 days without a day off.

·      I may also be writing a little less (for me, admittedly) this week. But I do hope to post Saturday and Sunday’s minor league game reports early this evening and then go from there.

 

But for now, that’s all I’ve got. Be sure to check out the rest of the Twins blogs, and as always, if you have any comments, leave them here.   

Introducing – YOUR FIRST PLACE MINNESOTA TWINS!

25 Sep

Also posted at www.sethspeaks.net.

Did you know that there are a lot of people who say that watching baseball is boring? Seriously…  Last night’s game was a reminder of how incredible baseball is and can be, and why it is the greatest game in the world! This game hit on every single human emotion, from excitement to anger and disappointment, from hope to exuberance, and with Alexi Casilla’s game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th, finally jubilation with a 7-6 win. For those at the game, it had to be incredible… and loud! And good luck at work on Friday! Not sure if you need some headache medicine, or if you even have a voice!

On Sunday, I posted what the Twins would need to do if the lost all three, won one, won two or swept this series with the White Sox. Here is a quick reminder of where the team stands heading into this weekend’s series against the Kansas City Royals. It’s a series that the Twins have to play well to win games. Funny as it sounds, the Royals are not just playing for pride, they are playing for fourth place. Chicago heads back home for a series against three of Cleveland’s lefties, including Cliff Lee. It’s going to be an exciting weekend! Here is a reminder:

1.)    Twins Sweep White Sox à Twins (87-72), White Sox (86-72)

a.       Twins Sweep Royals à (90-72)

                                                              i.      White Sox have to sweep Cleveland AND beat Detroit to create one game “playoff” versus Twins

b.      Twins win 2 out of 3 versus Royals à (89-73)

                                                              i.      White Sox win division by sweeping Cleveland and beating Detroit.

                                                            ii.      White Sox can win two out of three against Cleveland and beat Detroit to create a one-game playoff versus Twins.

                                                          iii.      Twins win division if White Sox win two out of three against Cleveland but lose to Detroit.

                                                          iv.      Twins win division if White Sox win just one out of three.

c.       Twins win 1 out of 3 à (88-74)

                                                              i.      White Sox win division by sweeping Cleveland.

                                                            ii.      If White Sox win two out of three against Cleveland and beat Detroit, they win the division.

                                                          iii.      If White Sox win two out of three against Cleveland and lose to Detroit, one-game playoff versus Twins.

                                                          iv.      If White Sox win one out of three against Cleveland and beat Detroit, one-game playoff versus Twins.

                                                            v.      If White Sox win one out of three against Cleveland and lose to Detroit, Twins win division.

                                                          vi.      If White Sox swept by Cleveland, Twins win the division.

d.      Twins Swept by Royals (87-75)

                                                              i.      White Sox win division by winnings at least two games against Cleveland.

                                                            ii.      If White Sox win one out of three against Cleveland and beat Detroit, White Sox win division.

                                                          iii.      If White Sox win one out of three against Cleveland and lose to Detroit, one-game playoff versus Twins.

                                                          iv.      If White Sox swept by Cleveland and beat Detroit, one-game playoff versus Twins.

                                                            v.      If White Sox swept by Cleveland and lose to Detroit, one-game playoff versus Twins.

Here are some of my thoughts on the game:

·         Kevin Slowey had a tough outing. He started with three perfect innings. That said, he got away with at least three or four mistakes, hanging sliders and pitches not near Mauer’s target. So after striking out DeWayne Wise, it wasn’t entirely shocking that Slowey hung a slider to Orlando Cabrera who hit a home run. What happened after that is simply unfortunate.

1.      Jermaine Dye singled up the middle.

2.      Then Jim Thome hit a fly ball toward the baggy. Denard Span found the wall and was clearly camped under the ball, about to make an easy catch, when out of nowhere, Carlos Gomez came flying through the air and basically knocked it right out of Span’s glove. I know that the CF gets whatever he can, however, not when another fielder is standing right under the ball. If there is fault, it clearly was Gomez. But when you’ve got a guy that plays so hard, things like that are going to happen. Fortunately, both Gomez and Span more than made up for this play!

3.      A run scored on a Paul Konerko ground out.

4.      Slowey walked Griffey.

5.      Alexei Ramirez was somehow credited with a single on a grounder to 3B that Brian Buscher couldn’t make the play on. That was the fourth out of the inning.

6.      AJ Pierzynski is hard to strike out. We remember that from his days with the Twins. He gets behind 0-2 and usually sees another five or six pitchers, sometimes more. After several two strike pitches, Slowey hit Pierzynski to load the bases.

7.      Juan Uribe then hit the first pitch off of Slowey’s wrist. Slowey chased it and made a throw wide of 1B and all three runs scored giving the White Sox a six run inning and a 6-1 lead.

8.      Slowey’s night was done. He walked off the field and cameras showed a big knot on his right wrist. He was taken to the hospital for x-rays which fortunately were negative. But it was clearly a painful injury and probably affected his throw to 1B.  

·         The Bullpen – 6 1/3 scoreless innings. One inning a piece for Matt Guerrier, Boof Bonser, Jesse Crain and Craig Breslow. Dennys Reyes struck out Ken Griffey Jr, the one batter he was asked to get out. And finally, Joe Nathan was excellent for two innings and got the win. After the work they did on Wednesday night, they have to get a lot of credit for coming up big time in these big games!

·         Carlos Gomez – A single, a double and two triples. The biggest of his hits was the bloop single to right that scored the Twins 5th run and cut the lead to one in the 8th inning. Watching him round the bases to score the tying run was a thing of beauty! You knew as soon as it got by Konerko, there was no way Gomez was going to get out. With the one defensive exception, he had arguably his best game of the year!

·         Denard Span – That triple! That was huge. Seriously, I am going to find a crow somewhere and eat it. I would even welcome Denard Span telling me how to prepare the crow. He is big time and came up big in this game. 3-4 with his 15th double and sixth triple in the game. He was also intentionally walked before the Casilla single.  

·         Joe Mauer – Three more hits. Mauer went 3-5 and is sitting at .330. He got beat up behind the plate. Dick Bremer made the comment that it’s remarkable that Mauer can hit .230 much less .330 with how grueling the catching position can be. Dustin Pedroia went 1-3 with a walk for the Red Sox and enters the weekend with a .325 batting average.

·         Justin Morneau – he just needs to relax. He is getting himself out, trying to do too much. He is swinging too big, too long, and jamming himself. He just needs to relax and do what he’s done all year. To those who think he’s not an MVP candidate because of a few bad games, that’s ridiculous. Remember, the MVP is about 162 games, not a handful.

·         Nick Punto took a four pitch walk in the 10th. He advanced to second base when Gomez grounded to 2B. The first pitch to Denard Span was in the dirt. It didn’t get far away from AJ Pierzynski, but Punto got a huge break off of 2B and advanced to 3B without a throw.

·         Alexi Casilla – How big was that single for him?! He came up with just one out and Denard Span on third base in the bottom of the 8th. He didn’t get a suicide squeeze down and then struck out. So, to get another chance in the bottom of the 10th with a two-out game winner is just remarkable!

There is this big discussion about the power game and home runs of the White Sox versus the “small ball” and speed game of the Twins. Home runs are nice and they can play a huge role in a game. But honestly, watching the Twins speed game is so entertaining when things are going well. You can’t teach speed and speed doesn’t go into a slump. You can always try things to make things happen. The White Sox are so station to station that honestly, I would think they would be boring to watch. On this night, the speed game won it for the Twins. That also speaks somewhat to the whole argument on youth versus veterans. Everyone wants a veteran in those big games, right? That’s why the Twins have signed guys like Mike Lamb and Livan Hernandez. That’s why people seem to think that the White Sox have a better chance down the stretch. They’ve been there before. They played in the World Series a few years ago. Well, you know what, over this series, the Twins young players have done well. Jose Mijares pitched a big inning. Carlos Gomez had two big games with the bat and made play after play, proving he is the best CF in baseball. Denard Span was big with the bat the last two games. Delmon Young had three hits in the first two games. Jason Kubel was huge on Friday night. Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker had big starts. Kevin Slowey could have gone for awhile with a little more help in that fourth inning. In the end, talent wins, and making plays wins. Not how long you’ve been around.

Another thing to bring up… the White Sox chose to have all three of their starters pitch on three days rest. The Twins decided that, they would skip Glen Perkins, but all three starters went on full rest. I think that Gardy and Rick Anderson deserve some credit for not altering the rotation to put starters in bad situations.

Finally, the Twins go into these three games with the Royals in a very good situation. If they win all three, the White Sox have to win four games to force a playoff game. But again, it is vital that the Twins don’t have a let down. If they play well, they should find themselves in a good situation. But they have to come ready to play.

 

What do you think? That may have been one of the greatest Twins games I have ever seen!

 

With that, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com,

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