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Sunday Stream of Consciousness

1 Jun

also avilable at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Watching the Twins lose six in a row on the road earlier in the month was rather frustrating. Then they won 20-1 in Chicago before winning five of seven at home. Then they went back on the road and lost their first two games to the Rays. But more important than anything else, on Sunday, they were able to beat Matt Garza and that makes everything right with the world again. It was great seeing Brendan Harris touch him up for a home run. It was great to see Delmon Young come in to face him and get a single.

In the end, we see over and over and over again, whether at the Metrodome or on the road, that the key to a team’s success starts with that day’s starting pitcher. I know. It’s boring and sounds so cliché, but sometimes it’s important to remember how clichés got to become clichés! You’re only as good as your next day’s starter, right? Tom Kelly used to say that all the time, and well, it is one of baseball’s great truths. Friday night, it was Scott Baker giving up a three run homer to Evan Longoria. On Saturday, it was Francisco Liriano looking pretty clueless. On Sunday, it was Nick Blackburn looking pretty much in control the whole game with the exception of two solo home runs. Garza looked pretty good though and for awhile it looked like that would be enough for the Rays to sweep the Twins, but single runs in the 6th and 7th innings gave the Twins a 3-2 win. Sean Henn, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan finished the final three innings without allowing a run to preserve a win for Blackburn.

Why was the offense able to score in the 6th and 7th? Did they wear out Garza? I don’t know about that, but I know I did my part by leaving the house and going to watch the cartoon Up at the theatre. What as excellent movie, one of the best feature cartoon movies that I have seen! That’s right! I quit watching them and decided to enjoy the weekend! So, you’re welcome!

Plenty of topics to discuss, and as you can see, I am just rambling. That’s the beauty of titling something a Stream of Consciousness blog. I can ramble and that’s the purpose! That’s what I am going to do today, trying to touch on several Twins-related topics. I’ll write for awhile and just see where it takes us, so please enjoy and certainly feel free to comment.

As I have said, starting pitching is the key to everything. Right now, it seems that the Twins can count on Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey to give them decent starts and a chance to win. Anthony Swarzak came up to replace the injured Glen Perkins and has since made two very good starts. Perkins had really struggled for several starts before going on the Disabled List, so I am not certain if the struggles were related to the arm, or what. But I do know that I agree with the theory that a player should not lose his spot to an injury. That is why, after his rehab stint at Rochester, I believe that Glen Perkins should be given a couple of starts before possibly being shifted back to the bullpen if that is what needs to be done.

The problem is that Swarzak is a good pitching prospect, but nothing in his minor league numbers indicate that he will be able to sustain this level of excellence over a long period of time. As one who believes in minor league track record being an indicator of big league success, I also understand that there are exceptions to every rule. So of course you just run with Swarzak while he is the hot hand and just hope . The problem is that Swarzak could stay in the rotation because one of the two guys that we all counted on heading into the season, Francisco Liriano, has been horrific of late. He looks completely lost on the mound. It’s all about control of the fastball, and from pitch to pitch, he does not seem to know where the ball is going. It’s as if he still thinks he’s a dominant pitcher and he’s fighting himself so hard to get there again and overdoing everything. I really do not know what is best for him. He does have an option left, so he could be sent to Rochester, but I don’t necessarily think that is the best idea. He could be sent to the bullpen for awhile too, but who would he replace? R.A. Dickey continues to do great out of the bullpen. Sean Henn and Jose Mijares have been solid as lefty relievers. I guess this could be the opportunity to let go of Luis Ayala and see how Liriano responds. What do you think?

Scott Baker continues to get hurt by the big inning and/or the big home run. Friday, it was the three run blast by Longoria that essentially ended that game. Baker has really been very good most of his innings, but in each start he has had that one bad inning where he can not control the damage. Instead of giving up one or two, he gives up three to six. A team can come back from one or two, but it really puts you behind the eight ball when you’re always down by a handful of runs.

It is all so frustrating to me because the Twins are playing so inconsistently and average despite getting amazing production from Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel all season. In May, Michael Cuddyer stepped up his game big time while Joe Crede showed the power that he can have from the right side. This team is too talented to be playing like this and to not think that a division title is in reach. But what happens when three-fifths of the season-opening starting staff is not performing to expectations? Swarzak is already up. Kevin Mulvey could probably come up and be a solid back of the rotation type. What if Liriano can’t get things figured out? What if Glen Perkins then struggles? What if Baker doesn’t stop giving up huge innings? If you go through the season’s second half with two rookie pitchers in your rotation, that isn’t necessarily good. Brian Duensing and Philip Humber do not appear to be big league starter material and none of the starters at AA New Britain look ready.

We have spent the last couple of years wondering why the Twins would go after pitchers like Livan Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson. Why did they insist on bringing in veterans who were not good instead of just trusting their own young players? Well, maybe now we are seeing why. And yet, I can’t be mad at the front office for not getting a veteran. All five starting pitchers showed enough last year that there was no need for a veteran starter. The starting pitching was supposed to be a sure-thing, the thing that would lead the Twins to a division title. Pedro Martinez, anyone?

The bullpen has actually been much better of late. The reason? Well, when Slowey, Blackburn and Swarzak have pitched, they have been able to go seven innings. Bill Smith is not above criticism for not going out and getting a bullpen arm to solidify the back end of the bullpen, and yet, I agreed with him that they didn’t need to prioritize it too high. We knew Joe Nathan would be fine, and he has been. Many assumed Jose Mijares would be solid, and since returning he has been good. I believed Matt Guerrier would be fine, and he has been. I thought Jesse Crain would take another step forward, to get back to what he was the first three years of his career, but since his disabled list stint, he has been non-trustable. Luis Ayala was a reasonable, cheap risk, but he has not been good at all. R.A. Dickey, as I have stated several times, has been just fine in the role that he was brought in to fill, so no arguments there. Again, the key is the starting pitching, but the bullpen arms are not above criticism either. Now, Juan Cruz has been alright for Kansas City. Nothing spectacular by any means, and I fully understand not giving up a first round pick to acquire him (although when I saw the dollars and years that he signed for, I thought that it made sense). But Cruz walks a ton and moving to the American League never seems to be a good thing for a relief pitcher. Other names that fans wanted at various times included Eric Gagne, Russ Springer, Joe Nelson, Brandon Lyon and others, and none of them have done well either. So again, I don’t blame the Twins in not being big players in the free agency market because free agents rarely have an impact worthy of the contract they sign.

(Meanwhile, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama sit in AA, just waiting for a promotion. I agree with the thought that a player who dominates in AA is ready for the big leagues and could be promoted if necessary. But at some point, those two players should be moved up somewhere, whether it is to Rochester or to the Twins. I don’t pretend to know if they are ready to help the Twins today. I know their numbers indicate that they could probably both be pretty good. Slama needs to throw more strikes, and Delaney could give up some hits. But both have done enough at the AA level to move forward.)

(The one prospect that I believe is ready to play at the big league level offensively and defensively is Danny Valencia, and as long as Joe Crede is healthy, there is no reason to call him up. Could he be at Rochester? Certainly, and I think he would do well there, but Luke Hughes needs at bats too.)

The Twins understand that building from within is the best way to develop a team over the long haul. It is a philosophy that has been very successful for the organization. But then that success is dependent upon the players developing as they need to. The Twins have developed some very good players (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, Span, Slowey, Blackburn, Baker, etc.). They were able to stare down Scott Boras and get Joe Crede for a very fair market deal. But the player development right now is kind of a question mark.

Look at the AAA roster. How many players there do you think will be contributors to the Twins at the big league level? More important, how many of them could help the Twins right now, today? Jose Morales could, and yet, I think Twins fans need to look at his track record and realize that he is not a .350 hitter. At the big league level, he could possibly hit .280/.310/.310, which frankly, isn’t terribly exciting. But he is one guy who could contribute on some level. Luke Hughes and Dustin Martin are two others that I think could contribute for the Twins if called upon, but neither of them is star caliber and I don’t know that either of them is really starter caliber. I still hold out hope for Trevor Plouffe to be a future Twins SS, but again, his batting average doesn’t indicate that he would be much better than Nick Punto at SS.

Which brings me to my next point… when the Twins locked up Nick Punto last winter for two years and $8.5 million, it didn’t bother me too much. I looked at the other free agents on the market at SS and none of them seemed to be much better than Punto, particularly for the price tag that they would insist upon. Edgar Renteria had already signed with the Giants for two years and $18 million, and he is no better than Punto. We heard rumors for players like JJ Hardy and Yunel Escobar, but the price tags in terms of players were so high that those options didn’t make sense. So although I would have preferred to go into this season with Punto not on the team, I understood that he was probably the best option available and the dollars and years that he got were certainly fair market value (in December, before free agent dollars seemed to completely disappear). My caveat to being comfortable with Punto was that he not return to 2007 form and just give 2006 or 2008-like performances. Again, that’s not to say he was good during those two years, but as a nine-hitter it would be acceptable. Well, to this point in the season, Punto has been even worse than he was in 2007, and worst yet, his defense has taken a major step backward. I always thought it was a bit overrated (because of the constant web gems), but he now has very little range and no arm.

The biggest problem with the SS situation is that there isn’t anyone close to ready to take the position from him. Brendan Harris will do just fine in replacing him. He is a far better option, so that is actually an upgrade right now. But I have noticed, as Gardy has said, that Harris does not do as well when he plays too much. But again, Plouffe isn’t ready. Steve Tolleson just got promoted to AAA this week, but I don’t think he would be ready to step in today (but maybe in a month?). There are not other options in the system right now.

It’s a good think that Justin Morneau has been incredible this year and Joe Crede has been everything that could be expected because Punto, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher have been terrible. Casilla has been somewhat disappointing. Tolbert is what he is, as I have said all along,  he is a better version of utility player than Punto is. He’s a little better offensively (which doesn’t say much) and he’s not quite as good defensively (which does). I said that Buscher is a solid left-handed bat off the bench, a guy who takes good at bats and generally does what the situation calls for. I don’t think we have seen that this year, and his defense has never been real solid. I’m not certain how much value he provides to the team. In fact, that would be the one way right now that I could see the Twins bringing Jose Morales back to the roster. Morales could be the new left-handed bench bat, occasionally get some time behind the plate, and give Gardy the confidence to keep Joe Mauer in the lineup most games. Again, I feel it necessary to temper the expectations people seem to have for Morales, but I do think it is fair to say that he could contribute as much with the bat (and maybe the glove) as Buscher.

Watching Mike Redmond play baseball is painful. In years past, it was because he seemingly was always getting beat up behind the plate and yet still finding a way to hit .300 or higher while providing excellent defense and leadership from the backup catcher position. This year has been painful for a couple of new reasons. First, he simply can not throw any more. I don’t know how hurt he still is, but that has not improved over the season’s first couple of months. Secondly, if I’m an opposing defense and Redmond is up, I bring all the outfielders in to about 200 feet and swing the CF toward the gap in right center. You could almost put on a left-handed batter shift for him too. In the past, it was almost “cute” as told to us by Dick Bremer when he flails singles to right field or barely throw the hole on the right side. This year, those balls are being hit even softer. I don’t know how he continues to get any hits (and he has). I have no problem with keeping Redmond around for the rest of the season. I just sincerely hope that this is the end of the line.

Gardy-led teams are known for being overachievers. That is always the case when the expectations are low. But what about in those years when the Twins have come into the season with expectation? They have not played well. This year may be the biggest visual of that. This team has way too much talent to be flailing around .500. But to be fair, I don’t know if this team has ever had this many holes either. A broken bullpen. A horrific middle infield. Two 23 year old outfielders that need playing time to get better but provide so little to helping the team win. And now starting pitching problems that were not expected. I don’t think that can be pinned on a manager, and yet in some organizations, it is. I personally agree with the ideas of longevity, and we all know that Gardy and his coaching staff aren’t going anywhere, so it’s not worth worrying about.

In the end, it comes down to the players and making plays. It’s the players that will turn the season around, or they won’t.

Now I know, I don’t whine too often on here, and one thing that you can almost certainly not get from here that you can get most places is the seemingly sophomoric need to say the same thing every day. Could I write about Brian Buscher or Nick Punto being bad every day Sure. But why? What good is that? Why pile on?? I could write about being wrong about Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez daily, but why? What good comes from that? I prefer to write more often about being completely wrong about Denard Span and Nick Blackburn! So many of these above topics, you may not read here again until something happens. There are enough other topics that can be covered and a lot more positives. There is an entire minor league system of players dreaming of getting to the big leagues that is worth talking about.       

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Danny Valencia, New Britain Rockcats

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – David Bromberg, Ft. Myers Miracle

Sunday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Whit Robbins, New Britain Rockcats

Sunday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Robertson, Ft. Myers Miracle

ROCHESTER REPORT

Saturday –Rochester 6, Lehigh Valley 3 – Jason Jones picked up his first win in the Twins organization in this game. The righty went 5.2 innings and gave up three runs. He allowed six hits (two homers), walked one and struck out four. Jason Pridie went 3-5 with his 13th and 14th stolen bases. Jose Morales went 2-4 with his fourth double. In his first AAA game, Steve Tolleson went 2-3 with a walk and a double.

Sunday –Rochester 1, Lehigh Valley 5 – Kevin Mulvey started this game for the Red Wings. He gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out six. Tim Lahey pitched a scoreless inning. The Red Wings managed just four hits. David Winfree hit his eighth home run.

ROCKCAT RECAP

Saturday – New Britain 6, Binghamton 5 – The Rockcats got a couple of big home runs and the second win of the season by Jay Rainville. Rainville gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Frank Mata came in and gave up two hits and a walk before getting the final out of the sixth. Rob Delaney struck out four in two shutout innings. Anthony Slama recorded his 10th save with a scoreless ninth. Danny Valencia went 2-3 with his sixth homer and two RBI. Rene Tosoni was 2-4 with his seventh home run and three RBI. Whit Robbins went 1-2 with two walks.

Sunday – New Britain 15, Binghamton 7 – It was a big offensive game for the Rockcats, with nearly the entire lineup contributing. Whit Robbins led the way by going 4-6 with his 11th double. Brandon Roberts was 3-5 with a walk and his third homer. Erik Lis was 3-5 with his seventh double. Rene Tosoni went 2-5 with his eighth double and eighth home run. Matt Moses went 2-4 with a walk and three RBI. Brian Dinkelman went 2-4 with two walks. Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-5 with a double. Danny Valencia was 1-2 with two walks. Ryan Mullins was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion. He gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings. Yohan Pino gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in two inning. Zach Ward pitched a scoreless inning.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Saturday – Ft. Myers 7, Brevard County 1 David Bromberg has continued to pitch well this season despite not getting as many strikeouts this year. This game was a little different. Bromberg went six innings and gave up just one run on six hits and a walk. He struck out 12 to improve to 5-0 and reduce his ERA to 1.94. Kyle Waldrop picked up his first save of the season by throwing three shutout innings. Chris Cates went 3-5. Mark Dolenc went 3-4 with his ninth double and ninth stolen base. Rene Leveret went 2-5 with his first stolen base. Deibinson Romero was 2-5 with his 11th double.

Sunday – Ft. Myers 2, Brevard County 0 Tyler Robertson improved to 3-2 in this game. He threw six shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six. Santos Arias, Spencer Steedley and Blair Erickson combined to throw three shutout innings. The Miracle managed just five hits. Ben Revere hit his sixth double. Rene Leveret hit his seventh double.  

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Saturday – Beloit 2, Kane County 5 Michael Allen fell to 0-7 in this game, but he really has been pitching a little better as the season has progressed. In this game, he gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out six in six innings of work. Bruce Pugh gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out four. Michael Tarsi gave up two hits in a scoreless inning. The Snappers managed just six hits in this game. Nathan Hanson hit his seventh double.

Saturday – Beloit 4, Kane County 11 Dan Berlind gave up five runs (4 earned) on six hits and three walks over 5.1 innings. He struck out five. Joe Testa gave up three runs (1 earned) on two hits in two innings. He struck out three. Matt Williams went 0.2 innings and gave up just a hit. Curtis Leavitt gave up three runs on five hits in one inning. He struck out two. Jeff Lanning went 2-4. Angel Morales went 1-2 with two walks and his sixth homer. Ramon Santana hit his fifth home run and Michael Harrington got his first homer.   

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

Friday Morning Twins Notes

22 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The Twins losing streak ended at six games. And, it ended in style. The Twins beat the White Sox on Thursday afternoon by a score of 20-1! Normally I am not a fan of those types of games, but I really think that the Twins needed a game like that. As great as the offense was, I choose to start with the start of Nick Blackburn. He has been the Twins top starter much of the season. In this game, he threw just 83 pitches over seven shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and walked three.

But everyone wants to talk about the offense, and rightfully so. The first thing that should be mentioned is that Ron Gardenhire finally put Joe Mauer in the #2 spot in the lineup. He has always been a prototypical #2 hitter, the team’s top on-base percentage guy, but he was also the team’s best overall hitter, so it made sense for him to bat third. Now, he is proving himself to be a prototypical #3 hitter, adding power, and he is moved to the #2 spot. But it’s hard to argue because putting out-makers like Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert into the second spot makes no sense. Also, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel have proven that they are worthy of hitting #3 and #4. Michael Cuddyer has been on a tear for a month now and fits into the #5 spot. Joe Crede has added some power, so he is ready to fill that #6 spot. Sure, the bottom of the lineup is pretty weak still, but at least they bat less than the top guys. It will be interesting to see if Gardenhire would use four left handed batters at the top of the order against a left-handed starter. (We will find out tonight when the Brewers send Manny Parra to the mound to face the Twins.)

As Nick Nelson said on the MNGameNight.com podcast on Thursday night, “as long as the Twins average 20 runs a game with Mauer in the two-spot in the lineup, they might as well stick with it.” Hard to disagree with that logic!

  • How did Joe Mauer do in that #2 spot of the lineup? Not too bad. He went 3-4 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He hit two doubles and a grand slam. Adding a sacrifice fly earlier in the game, and he drove in six runs. Not a bad day at all.
  • Michael Cuddyer had another big game. He went 4-6 with his eighth double, sixth home run and three RBI.
  • Matt Tolbert hit his first home run of his big league career in the 7th inning. It gave the Twins a 20-0 lead. He had three hits and four RBI on the game.
  • Jose Morales had three more hits. He also walked twice. The time he got out, he flew out to the fence in right field. For his efforts, he was returned to AAA Rochester after the game. The move was obvious as Delmon Young had to be taken off of the Family Emergency list before Friday’s game.
  • Joe Crede hit his sixth home run, a long shot following the Cuddyer three-run homer.
  • Jason Kubel went 3-4 before being replaced by Carlos Gomez, who add another hit.

Now of course, we need to see what the team does to respond. The offense certainly has not been the Twins problem of late. Nick Blackburn has not been a problem at all. So, each game is very much dependent on that night’s starting pitcher. On Friday night, Kevin Slowey and his 4 walk to 35 strikeout ratio will attempt to keep the Brewers offense down. On Saturday, Anthony Swarzak will make his big league debut. On Sunday night’s Game of the Week, Scott Baker will try to put together a strong start. The Twins offense will face lefty Manny Parra, followed by righties Braden Looper and Dave Bush.

If you happen to be going to any of the Twins/Brewers game at the Metrodome this weekend, be sure to pick up a copy (or 13/14 copies) of the Twins scorecard. In it, you will be able to read the Twins Dugout Splinters. I wrote the Twins splinters for the weekend series. Also, if you are able to attend the Twins Autograph Party on Saturday morning, I would recommend it. It is a nice, fun event. You can get autographs if you want, check out some very interesting and fun memorabilia at the auctions, and even meet some players. It’s also just fun to people watch!

With that, here are some more Twins-related articles or stories for you to peruse while downing your Friday morning cup of coffee:

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Thursday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Nick Romero, Ft. Myers Miracle

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

ROCHESTER REPORT

Thursday –Rochester 5, Norfolk 4 (12 innings) – The Red Wings enjoyed their off day, and came back with a little overtime effort. Kevin Mulvey started and had a lead going into the 9th. He got two outs but couldn’t get the third without the game being tied. All told, he went 8.2 innings. He gave up three runs on six hits. He walked none and struck out three. Mike Gosling improved to 5-1 with 2.1 scoreless innings. He struck out four. Bobby Keppel recorded his first save of the year. He gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 12th. Alexi Casilla went 3-5 with his third triple. He is now hitting .353. Justin Huber went 2-5 with his third home run. Matt Macri went 3-5. David Winfree led of the top of the 12th with his sixth home run.  

ROCKCAT RECAP

Thursday – New Britain 7, Reading 1 Ryan Mullins has been much better of late. In this game, he got his second win with six strong innings of work. He gave up one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out four. Frank Mata got four outs, allowing just a walk. Jose Lugo got the next four outs without a run scoring, but he did give up a hit and walked two. Yohan Pino got the final out. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his third homer. Erik Lis was 2-4 with his third homer. Steve Tolleson and Brandon Roberts were each 2-5 with a stolen base. Jeff Christy was 2-4. Danny Valencia hit his fifth homer, and Rene Tosoni hit his sixth home run.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Thursday – Ft. Myers 2, St. Lucie 1Nick Romero made his Florida State League debut, and had a memorable game. He played at 2B and went 2-3 with a walk. His final hit came in the bottom of the ninth inning, a single that scored the game-winning run. Chris Parmelee went 2-4. Mike McCardell started and gave up just one run on four hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out seven. Alex Burnett got the win by pitching three shutout innings. He gave up one hit and walked one.

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Thursday – Beloit 5, Peoria 7 – The Snappers scored five runs in the 8th inning to cut their deficit to 6-5, but it wasn’t enough. Dan Berlind started and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out seven. Michael Tarsi made his first appearance of the year. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out three. Curtis Leavitt came in for his Midwest League debut. He gave up two runs on a hit and two walks. But he did strike out three. Matt Williams gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Drew Thompson went 2-3 with a walk. Ramon Santana went 2-4 with his seventh double. Jonathan Waltenbury and James Beresford each had two hits in the loss.   

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

What Would I Do?

21 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

NEW – I posted a new Star Tribune blog last night. I have a paragraph about sports in it!

The losing streak is at six games now. Hopefully the Twins can salvage one win on this road trip this afternoon. But then they return to the Dome to start a three game border battle with the Brewers on Friday night. I will be at the Anthony Swarzak debut on Saturday night. Before that game, the Twins will be honoring Corey Koskie, so that should be good to see too.

Yesterday I talked about how I’m not worried, but within that, I also subtly commented that this is the time to start making some changes as well. Since as bloggers and blog commenters we want to think we have all the answers, I guess I better explain some of my thoughts on what they should do, besides listen to Bobby McFerrin and Bob Marley. Craig Breslow is now gone. He’ll be with Oakland.  

  • Luis Ayala may have bought himself a little bit of time with last night’s performance. He will need to prove that was not a fluke over the next two weeks. If it was lightning in a bottle, there are some moves that could be made that would cause a trickle effect through the system. If the Twins were to release Ayala, they could promote Rob Delaney to the big leagues from New Britain. I’m not convinced he is ready yet, but he does have potential and seems smart enough and strong enough to learn and adjust. At that same time, I would move Anthony Slama up to AAA. Spencer Steedley and Blair Erickson would then move up to New Britain. Joe Testa is more than ready to move up to Ft. Myers, and Danny Rondon or Matt Williams could join him. Shooter Hunt could come off of the DL in Beloit, or someone like Tom Stuifbergen or Liam Hendiks could move up to Beloit.
  • As we have discussed for a couple months, if not longer, I would send Carlos Gomez back to Rochester and promote Dustin Martin. I would have Denard Span play daily in CF with Delmon Young and Martin platooning in LF.
  • The Twins decided in the offseason, and we all agreed, that they did not need a veteran starting pitcher this year, as they have added in the past. The five young starters would be a strength of the team and the least of their worries. Right now, even more so than the bullpen, the starters are the weakest link. Let’s see how Anthony Swarzak does over his 2-3 starts. If he does well enough, could the Twins bring Glen Perkins back in the bullpen?

I guess my main point would be that there aren’t a lot of things that the Twins can do. I know people don’t like hearing it, but this truly is a young team. The players that are playing need to play. The pitchers that are struggling and inconsistent need to pitch innings. Obviously the core of the lineup is still young and needs to play. Could the Twins look to trade a veteran, such as Nick Punto? Sure, but I don’t think they would do that. Could Mike Redmond bring back a Hi-A middle infielder? First, this is no time to wave the white flag, and second, there is just too much talent on this roster to not eventually work through it.

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Wednesday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Steve Tolleson, New Britain Rockcats, Alexander Soto/Ramon Santana, Beloit Snappers

Wednesday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – David Bromberg, Ft. Myers Miracle

TRANSACTIONS – Infielder Nick Romero was promoted from Beloit to Ft. Myers. The Miracle put Estarlin de Los Santos on the Disabled List.

ROCHESTER REPORT

Wednesday –Rochester– After playing for 18 straight days, the Red Wings finally got a much-needed day off. 

ROCKCAT RECAP

Wednesday – New Britain 6, Reading 4 Steve Tolleson was hitting .180 a week ago. In his last six games, he has gone 12-23 and is now hitting .244. In this game, he was 2-3 with two walks and his second homer. Danny Valencia was 3-5 and is hitting .327. Brian Dinkelman and Yancarlos Ortiz each had two hits. Following two rough starts, Jay Rainville had a very good start in this game. He gave up two runs on five hits over six innings. He walked none and struck out five. Jose Lugo came in for the 7th and hit the batter he faced. Rob Delaney came in and gave up an unearned run on three hits in 1.1 innings. Zach Ward got the final two outs of the 8th. Anthony Slama picked up his eighth save with two strikeouts in an inning.   

MIRACLE MEMOS

Wednesday – Ft. Myers 2, St. Lucie 5Tyler Robertson pitched well but fell to 2-1 on the season. The young lefty worked the first six innings. Have gave up three runs (2 earned) on six hits and three walks. Kyle Waldrop threw two scoreless innings. Santos Arias gave up two runs on four hits over his inning. Ben Revere went 2-4. Chris Parmelee went 1-3 with a walk.

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Wednesday – Beloit 14, Peoria 9 – The bats were certainly out for the Snappers in this game. Ramon Santana is back, and didn’t miss a beat. In this game, he was 3-4 with a walk, his fourth home run and four RBI. Alexander Soto is really playing well too. He went 3-5 with two homers. He has four on the season. Michael Harrington went 3-5 with a double. Jonathan Waltenbury, Angel Morales and James Beresford each went 2-5. Michael Allen made the start. He gave up five runs on five hits in 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out seven. Blake Martin gave up a run on two hits and a walk in 0.1 innings in his season debut. Danny Rondon came in and gave up two runs in two innings. He struck out four. Joe Testa worked a scoreless inning as well.  

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

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.

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