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Droppin’ some notes

13 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

After spending three-plus hours hanging out with six great kids at Chuck E. Cheese for my young’ns 4th birthday party, I don’t have a lot left in me tonight, so here are some notes:

EVENTS

1.)     I will be on KFAN and KFAN.com with Paul Allen today at 9:15 am, so be sure to check out on your radio or listen online.

2.)     On Saturday at noon, the Twins and Yankees will be playing in New York. The TwinsCentric guys will be hosting another TwinsCentric Viewing Party during the game. This will be at Majors Sports Café in Bloomington. Hopefully many of you will be able to attend. There will again be drawings for prizes including a couple of Twins tickets. And not just that, but there will again be drink and appetizer specials. Oh, and you can watch the Twins game with a whole bunch of Twins fans.

3.)     Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

TWINS NOTES

1.)     The Twins got another two-run, seven inning performance from Carl Pavano. It was the third straight game that he gave up two runs. It was the first one in which he recorded a win. The veteran gave up two first inning runs,  but that was it. He was excellent again. Brian Duensing and Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect 8th inning before Jon Rauch threw a perfect ninth inning for the save. A Justin Morneau single scored Denard Span to tie the game at two a piece in the 3rd. Then in the fourth inning, Span singled in Delmon Young.

2.)     What a day for Delmon Young. First, if was Delmon Young Day in the Twins blogosphere. He responded by going 3-4, including doubles in his first two at bats.

3.)     JJ Hardy was put on the Disabled List, and to no one’s surprise, the Twins promoted the no-hit, decent glove Matt Tolbert. Yes, I am bitter. There is no reason that the Twins should not have called up Trevor Plouffe and given him a week’s worth of starts.

4.)     After the game, the Twins activated Jose Mijares from the Disabled List and optioned Wilson Ramos to AAA Rochester. The decision to demote Ramos makes complete and total sense. He’s a terrific prospect with tremendous upside with the bat, both in terms of batting average and power, but he has work to do. The semi-surprise was that Jose Mijares was brought back from the DL so quickly. He was really bad before he was put on the Disabled List. He worked and rehabbed for a few weeks. He went to Rochester and got hit hard both Friday and Sunday, and then he was activated by the Twins on Thursday. Why not have him make another appearance or two with the Red Wings? Brian Duensing and Ron Mahay have been tremendous. A player on a rehab assignment can be in the minor leagues for 20 days, so I just don’t understand the need to rush him back.

5.)     In a Dan Barriero interview with Bill Smith on KFAN on Wednesday afternoon, Smith said that Jose Morales was going to begin a rehab assignment in Rochester today. With both Morales and Ramos going back to Rochester, it will be interesting to watch the catching carousel. I assume that Allan de San Miguel will stay in Rochester. Jair Fernandez will likely go back to Ft. Myers, although he could go to New Britain and allow Danny Rams to go back to Beloit. It will be interesting to see what happens.

TWINS/YANKEES SERIES

The Yankees series is going to be talked about by Twins fans all over. What do the Twins need to do? After losing every game in 2010 to the Yankees, could it be a successful series if the Twins win just one game? Would it be the end of the world if they were swept (of course not, but there are some who seem to believe that.) Obviously, they are the Yankees. They spend a ton. They have some very good players. Many are past their primes (yet still productive). The Twins have nothing to be intimidated by though. They can beat this team. So what do you think? Here are the position-by-position matchups (although they don’t actually match up:

  1. Catcher – Joe Mauer or Jorge Posada – Advantage Twins, and by a long shot.
  2. 1B – Justin Morneau or Mark Teixeira – Push – Normally, I’d probably acknowledge Teixeira by a slight margin, but first, it is close enough, and second, Tex isn’t off to a terribly good start while Morneau is among league leaders in about everything.
  3. 2B – Orlando Hudson or Robinson Cano – Advantage Yankees, and by quite a bit, at least offensively. Hudson may be a bit better with the glove.
  4. 3B – Nick Punto or Alex Rodriguez – Advantage Yankees, and I hope I don’t need to add too much to this.
  5. SS – Harris/Casilla or Derek Jeter – Advantage Yankees, and if JJ Hardy was playing, it wouldn’t be a whole lot closer.
  6. LF – Young/Kubel or Randy Winn – Advantage Twins, even if Gardner or Thames is out there for the Bombers.
  7. CF – Denard Span or Brett Gardner – Advantage Twins, although Gardner has taken steps forward this year.
  8. RF – Michael Cuddyer or Nick Swisher – Push – Both are pretty good, maybe a bit underrated. If I had to pick an advantage, I’d give the slight nod to the Twins.
  9. DH – Kubel/Thome or Marcus Thames – Advantage Twins, even with Kubel’s slow start. The Yankees actually use the DH spot to give guys days off from the field a lot.
  10. Game 1 – Francisco Liriano vs AJ Burnett – Burnett is actually pitching pretty well this year, and Liriano was the AL Pitcher of the Month in April. Hopefully this will be a good matchup.
  11. Game 2 – Scott Baker vs Andy Pettitte – Advantage Twins, but Pettitte is a crafty veteran, capable of still having some decent games. (UPDATE – Baker is pitching on Friday night, and Liriano is starting on Saturday. Probably doesn’t affect much of the analysis though.)
  12. Game 3 – Nick Blackburn vs Javier Vazquez – Advantage Twins. Vazquez can be so good, but the Yankees fans hate him already. He’s been bad. Blackburn has been great his last two outings.
  13. Closers – Jon Rauch vs Mariano Rivera – see 3B reasoning.
  14. Bullpens – I’ll take the Twins bullpen any day of the week.
  15. Bench – I don’t think it can get much worse than the Twins bench with Butera, Casilla and Tolbert on it. The odd man out in the Kubel, Young, Thomas saga is the other. The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo and Greg Golson. I might even take the Twins bench!

In other words, this should be a very good series between two very evenly matched teams. The Twins are 22-12. The Yankees are 22-11.

MINOR LEAGUE NOTES

1.)     Rochester lost 5-2 to Indianapolis. Matt Fox started and gave up three runs (on a Pedro Alvarez home run) on four hits and two walks in 3.1 innings. Cole DeVries made his first AAA appearance and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in 3.2 innings. Tim Lahey also pitched a scoreless inning. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his sixth double. He had two of the team’s five hits in the game. Danny Valencia collected a single to give him a 16 game hitting streak.

2.)     Ft. Myers beat Tampa 2-1. Drew Thompson and Ramon Santana each went 2-4. Liam Hendriks He gave up just one run on three hits in seven innings in an impressive Florida State League debut. He walked none and struck out eight. Billy Bullock struck out three (And walked two) in two scoreless innings for his seventh save.

3.)     New Britain’s game with Trenton was postponed by rain. The same happened to the Beloit-Kane County game as well.

4.)     On Thursday, Deolis Guerra will make his AAA debut for the Red Wings in a morning game (11:00 eastern, 10:00 central).

Alright, I must sleep. I hope you all have a great day! Leave any comments here.

See. Wuh. Ha. Happened.

29 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before jumping into today’s blog entry, I wanted to mention that I will be on KFAN (and KFAN.com) with Paul Allen again today during the 11:00 hour. Be sure to tune in, listen live or podcast it after the fact.

So, the Twins scored two runs in the top of the first inning on a two-run homer by Jim Thome. Then Luke Hughes hit a home run in the top of the 3rd inning, in his very first at bat. Then they scored three more runs. It was 6-1. It was the fourth inning. But then Scott Baker was the definition of non-clutch in the bottom of the fourth, giving up four runs which cut the lead to 6-5. A double into the bottom of the 5th inning and Baker was gone. Alex Burnett came in and did very well to get out of that mess. Then came the sixth. Burnett gave up a base runner, so he was taken out of the game. Ron Mahay came in to face Johnny Damon and got him to fly out on a great catch by Denard Span, who seemingly outran the ball to the left center field gap. After the catch, Span took two or three steps, spun to throw and the ball fell from his glove. The umpire inexplicably calls it a drop. Ron Gardenhire captured his first ejection of the year, and rightfully so. Pat Neshek came in with runners on 2nd and 3rd and just one out. He walked Magglio Ordonez before hitting Miguel Cabrera in the arm to allow a run. Then Jesse Crain came in and two swings of the bat later, the game was over, for all intents and purposes. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • If you read many Twins fans on Twitter, you might think that this is the worst 14-7 team in baseball history!
  • Did you know? That it is a 162 game season, and that each team will lose from time to time. In fact, the Twins may, at some point, maybe as early as today, lose (gasp) two games in a row.  Sorry, but a little bit of perspective is needed here. Every team will lose 60 games. Every team will win 60 games. Of those 60+ losses, some of them won’t be pretty or fun-filled losses. Games like this happen. That said…
  • At the end of the year, Scott Baker is going to have some very good numbers. I think my projections had him winning about 16 games, and finishing with an ERA in the upper threes. However, I have always agreed that the moniker “Big Spot Scott” has never been earned. In big games, you can count on him not being very good. Most of the time his calm demeanor is beneficial, but there is a difference between calm and cool, and calm and shaking on the inside. This was anything but a big game, but with a 6-1 lead, it would be nice to see just a little toughness. Again, he has never claimed to be an ace. He signed the long-term, very fair contract a year ago, and the dollars were very fair for a young #3 pitcher with #2, Brad Radke like upside. Personally, I think that he can be a better pitcher than Radke. But the point doesn’t change, Baker is not a big game pitcher.
  • Jim Thome needs to play more. I think we all agree with that. But Jason Kubel needs to play most every day. Delmon Young needs to play most every day. Michael Cuddyer needs to play every day. This is a great problem to have, but it is tough and will create plenty of second guessing, no matter which player does not start.
  • I have been Jesse Crain’s biggest supporter. I always say, he has a fastball at 96 (which actually moved at times earlier in the season), slider at 88 and that slow curve at 76. I definitely thought it was the right decision to give Crain another year. I much prefer working with the guys you’ve got with upside, than sign free agents. Crain was rocked when he came in with the bases loaded. I don’t blame the manager for bringing him in with the bases loaded in the 6th. I mean, Pat Neshek had come in and walked a guy and hit another guy. I would bet that he would not call it his best performance and probably would have taken himself out. He was fooling nobody. It is also important to note that he also pitched the 7th and 8th innings, when he could start the inning himself, and he was dominant. That said, another few weeks of this from Crain, and even I will be supporting the need for a Change of Scenery for Crain. He is out of options, so he can’t be sent to Rochester. Plenty of teams would claim him, and he would be lost. At that stage, I probably will be able to be convinced that that would be just fine. I would like to see him go to Colorado or somewhere in the NL because I still believe that he can be very good. The other side of this discussion remains… Anthony Slama is more than ready and has earned the opportunity.
    • Some may call out the Twins front office for signing Crain after offering him arbitration this offseason. I 100% agreed with that decision. Like I said, I am getting to the point where I am going to fully admit that I was wrong, and should they decide to let him go, they will be admitting it as well. But it is hard to be too disappointed in the Twins front office. Of course, there are misses, as there are with every team. But I again have to ask the readers here a few questions. Raise your hand if you thought that the Twins should have signed Juan Cruz to that 2 year $8 million deal a year ago. In doing so, they would have given up their 2009 #1 pick which turned out to be Kyle Gibson. I thought the price was fair for Cruz. I was wrong. How many of you wanted the Twins to trade for Freddy Sanchez last July and keep him around for 2010? How would that look right now? How many were disappointed when the Twins didn’t sign Eric Gagne a year ago? My point here isn’t to say that the Twins front office is a bunch of geniuses who never get one wrong. They wouldn’t say that. It’s more to say that if we ran things, we would have hits and misses too. I like admitting when I’m wrong. I prefer to be wrong, like I was wrong on Denard Span a couple of years ago.
  • In his post-game press conference, Ron Gardenhire said that the umpires told him that Denard Span ‘caught the ball’ and when he spun to throw, they didn’t see what happened. They were blocked somehow. Clearly as he was turning to throw and reached into his glove, the ball popped out. It was ruled an error, and manager Ron Gardenhire, after hearing the pathetic excuse, was finally ejected. I rarely agree with Gardy getting ejected, but this one was worth it. But that call is not why the Twins lost. Who knows what would have happened after that play. Maybe there would have been another quick groundout and the game is still 6-5 Twins. But very soon, the Twins were down 11-6.
  • Personally, I thought there was a little bit of over-managing in the 6th inning. Alex Burnett had done well. When Johnny Damon came up, you could understand Gardy going to the lefty, Ron Mahay. However, with Ordonez and Cabrera coming up, you knew another pitching change would be required. It’s easy in hindsight to say that maybe keeping Burnett in would have meant more, but with Burnett, his development is important as well. Would Gardy and Rick Anderson have wanted Burnett pitching to Ordonez and Cabrera anyway? With his stuff, I think I would have taken that chance. But who knows? That wasn’t what caused the loss.
  • It was good to see Jason Kubel get three hits and raise his batting average another .035 to .212. 
  • With Justin Morneau out, Ron Gardenhire’s lineup remained the same with the exception that Jim Thome was slotted into the Number Four spot in the lineup. No real argument with that. However, it does make me wonder about this whole idea of (and I haven’t heard this anywhere, but it may come into play) Michael Cuddyer is comfortable hitting fifth, and Jason Kubel is comfortable batting 6th. I think that it is annoying to think that the bullpen pitchers can feel better pitching in the 8th inning than the 6th or in the 7th instead of the 9th. A reliever’s job is to come into whatever situation, in whatever inning they are called upon and get hitters out. Likewise, if you are batting anywhere from #3 to #8 in a lineup, your job each at bat does not change. In other words, if the #4 hitter comes up with a runner on 2B, his job is to have a good at bat and ideally drive in the runner from second. Likewise, if a #5 hitter comes up with a runner on 2B, his job is to have a good at bat, and ideally drive in the runner from 2B. If a #7 hitter comes up with a runner on 2B, his job is to take a good at bat and preferably drive that runner in from second. In fact, whatever the lineup position, the job of the hitter is to put together a quality at bat, look for a pitch that he can hit hard, and if he doesn’t get strikes, take the walk and get on base. The only possible exception would be the leadoff hitter in the first at bat or two each game when, they should take a couple of extra pitches just to give the rest of the lineup an idea of what the pitcher may throw, but even the goal of the leadoff hitter is to have a good at bat, and get on base, and if there are runners on base, if he gets a pitch, drive them in.
  • Admittedly, I just made too big of a statement on the value of lineup construction and roles for someone who doesn’t believe that it makes too big of a deal. The only possible exception would be the leadoff hitter in the first at bat or two each game when, they should take a couple of extra pitches just to give the rest of the lineup an idea of what the pitcher may throw, but even the goal of the leadoff hitter is to have a good at bat, and get on base, and if there are runners on base, if he gets a pitch, drive them in.
    • Admittedly, I just made too big of a statement on the value of lineup construction and roles for someone who doesn’t believe that it makes too big of a deal. Yes, I want on-base guys in the #1 and #2 spots, I want the best hitter batting third. Then I want to line up as many good hitters as I can throughout the rest of the lineup. Like I said, I don’t know if Ron Gardenhire made the comment that he prefers to keep Cuddyer in the #5 spot, or anything like that, but I happen to think that Cuddyer could handle hitting 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th.
  • I feel that with more activity  and more people in social media, that I have had to utter the phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” a lot. It’s amazing to me that people somehow forget that there is a 162 game season, not a one game series or a best two out of three series. The big picture is the 162 game season. I think it is becoming clear that several Twins players need a day off. In my mind, Orlando Hudson is at the top of that list. Watching JJ Hardy run to 2B on a double made it very clear that his knee or quad or calf or something is not right. He may need a day or two off. Giving Justin Morneau these days off may be a blessing in disguise. And yes, Joe Mauer needs to get days off from time to time. The key point being that the results of the 162 game season is far more important than the results of any one game. And, please, that does not minimize the value of every game. The last two seasons, each ending with a Game 163, have proven that.
  • It is hard to believe, but with a 14-7 record, the season is almost 1/8th complete already. It is amazing how quickly it goes.

SethSpeaks Wednesday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Reggie Williams – Beloit Snappers, Jason Repko – Rochester Red Wings

SethSpeaks Wednesday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Bruce Pugh – Ft. Myers Miracle

Red Wings Report   

Wednesday – Rochester 5, Lehigh Valley 4 Allan de San Miguel had never caught a knuckleball pitcher. He told me after the game, “I thought it would be a lot harder. I was really happy with how it went.” Charlie Zink made his first start for the Red Wings. He went five innings and gave up two runs on four hits. In strange stat of the night, Zink walked six batters and struck out none. Jose Lugo came in and gave up two runs on two hits in two innings. Rob Delaney came in and gave up two hits, but no runs in two innings. He also struck out four. Jason Repko had a big game. He went 3-4 with a walk, a double and his second home run. Brian Dinkelman went 2-4 with a walk. Danny Valencia hit a game winning double in the 8th inning.

New Britain Notes

Wednesday – New Britain 3, Richmond 5 – Another day, another blown save and another loss for the Rockcats. Santos Arias entered the game in the 8th inning with a one run lead. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but gave up three runs in the ninth for the loss, his fourth. Cole DeVries made his first start of the season. He gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in just four innings. He struck out three. Spencer Steedley came in and continued to pitch great. He threw three shutout innings, giving up just one hit and walking one. The Rockcats again managed just five hits in the game. Joe Benson was 1-3 with a walk and his third double. Estarlin de Los Santos had a two run double.

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Ft. Myers 0, Jupiter 3 – Bruce Pugh has incredible potential. He throws 94 and is working on other pitches. Tonight, his stuff really came together. The right-hander threw seven shutout innings. He gave up just four hits, walked one and struck out 12 opponent batters. Tony Davis came in and pitched a perfect eighth inning. Billy Bullock came in for the ninth inning and recorded his third save. He gave up no runs on one hit and struck out two. The Miracle bats again managed just five hits. Drew Thompson was 1-3 with a walk and a double. Deibinson Romero and Evan Bigley were each 1-3 with a walk.    

Snappers Snippets

Wednesday – Beloit 11, Burlington 1Tom Stuifbergen continues to impress. The Dutch right-hander gave up one run on five hits. He walked three (high for him) and struck out five. Kane Holbrooks and Dakota Watts each pitched a scoreless inning. Reggie Williams had a big game. He went 3-4 with a home run and a stolen base. The incredible streak of Aaron Hicks continued. He was 2-4 with a walk, his third home run, four runs scored and his fifth stolen base. James Beresford was 2-3 with a walk and his third stolen base. Steve Liddle hit his third homer.  

Do you have any thoughts on the 14-7 Minnesota Twins, or their minor league system? Leave your comments here.

2010 Twins Predictions – Hitters

6 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

We are now one game into the 162 (or 163) game season, so I wanted to post all of my predictions for the world to mock and ridicule. You had previously seen my projections for Joe Mauer and Delmon Young, but here are the rest of the Twins hitters.

  BA OBP SLG OPS 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Joe Mauer 0.321 0.404 0.517 0.921 41 2 24 104 2
Jose Morales 0.265 0.308 0.299 0.607 6 0 0 11 0
Drew Butera 0.227 0.261 0.273 0.534 1 0 0 3 0
Jim Thome 0.243 0.348 0.491 0.839 8 0 13 39 0
Justin Morneau 0.294 0.365 0.543 0.908 38 1 32 122 0
Orlando Hudson 0.274 0.347 0.408 0.755 27 5 8 54 6
JJ Hardy 0.287 0.349 0.448 0.797 34 2 18 82 2
Nick Punto 0.262 0.332 0.371 0.703 22 3 3 41 12
Brendan Harris 0.257 0.306 0.372 0.678 23 0 9 39 0
Alexi Casilla 0.159 0.197 0.202 0.399 2 1 0 8 1
Delmon  Young 0.309 0.344 0.471 0.815 33 5 21 82 18
Denard Span 0.296 0.381 0.411 0.792 25 8 8 56 26
Michael Cuddyer 0.281 0.360 0.508 0.868 33 3 27 107 4
Jason Kubel 0.317 0.396 0.578 0.974 43 1 34 132 0

Yes, you read it right. I believe that Jason Kubel will put up better offensive numbers than Joe Mauer. Take a look, review the numbers. Let me know what you think… Leave your comments.

2010 Roster Projections: Minnesota Twins

21 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Alright, Opening Day is just two weeks away. The minor league seasons will begin in about 2 ½ weeks. It’s late time for me to post my roster projections. I know a lot of people in the cities of the Twins affiliates appreciate this, having an idea of who they may be able to see in their home stadium this year. Today I will be posting my projected Twins roster. Tomorrow I’ll post my projection on the Rochester Roster and so on through the week until I post my projected Beloit roster on Friday.

So here we go, starting with, the Minnesota Twins:

The Hitters

  Minnesota
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Orlando Hudson
3B Brendan Harris
SS JJ Hardy
LF Delmon Young
CF Denard Span
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel
Bu C Drew Butera
Bu IF Nick Punto
Bu IF,OF Alexi Casilla
Bench Jim Thome
DL (Jose Morales)

 Analysis: I guess there really aren’t any surprises here. Yes, Nick Punto will likely start at 3B just as much as Brendan Harris. I think as long as he isn’t traded, Alexi Casilla will make the roster because he is out of options and they don’t want to lose him for nothing. And, I think I’ve been fairly clear on my thoughts that Wilson Ramos needs at bats and time behind the plate, so being a backup, even for a short time, makes no sense. Mauer, Morneau, Hudson, Hardy, Young, Span, Cuddyer, Kubel, Thome. This is a pretty exciting lineup that is going to score a lot of runs.

The Pitchers 

  Minnesota
SP Scott Baker
SP Nick Blackburn
SP Kevin Slowey
SP Carl Pavano
SP Francisco Liriano
   
CL Matt Guerrier
8L Jose Mijares
8R Jon Rauch
BP Jesse Crain
BP Pat Neshek
BP Anthony Slama
BP Clay Condrey
DL (Joe Nathan)

Analysis: Starting Five looks set and looks really good. We’ve spent the last couple of months trying to convince ourselves that Francisco Liriano could turn things around, and so far, so good. The other four are just very solid, if not underrated. I put Matt Guerrier in the closer’s role, just because he did such a good job in the 8th inning (often against the other team’s best hitters), that there is no reason to think he can’t do it in the 9th inning. If not, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain or even Pat Neshek can get the job done. My thoughts on Neshek’s return have changed somewhat. He appears to be back and continues to get better and stronger. I now believe that he will make this roster, and who knows, by midseason, he could be closing too. Clay Condrey hasn’t been very good in spring, but he was solid for the Phillies the last three years, so I trust that over six or seven innings in March. Finally, the final bullpen spot may be determined by how much Gardy wants a second left-hander. If he is insistent upon it, then Brian Duensing is the guy. If he’s looking for the best relief pitcher, then Anthony Slama is the guy. Slama hasn’t pitched much this spring, but when he has, he has done well. It will be good to see him facing some big league hitters the next couple of weeks.

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Spring Training Q&A: Nate Hanson

15 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we get to the Q&A with Twins prospect Nate Hanson, here are a couple of notes from the weekend:

  • One Saturday, the TWINSCENTRIC Viewing Party at Major’s Sports Café in Apple Valley was a great success. Although we don’t have an official count, we know that there was at least 60 and probably closer to 70 in attendance. It was a ton of fun meeting many of you and putting faces to e-mail addresses and names. I got there about 11:25 and there were already people there, including a father-son from Iowa. They had made the 200 mile trek that morning and it was great to meet them. I told them that they would likely be the winner of the farthest distance traveled award (if there were such a thing!), but soon after, I met someone who had driven up from Chicago for the day. So… wow! But again, I think it was a great time. It was so much fun to be seeing live baseball again, although with all of the mingling, I’m not certain how much of the game I actually saw, but that’s alright. The crowd was excited for the Wilson Ramos double off the centerfield wall. They were thrilled for Pat Neshek’s two strikeout performance. Matt Tolbert’s horrendous defensive outing didn’t go unnoticed. I shouldn’t even mention names because then I know I’ll forget someone and feel bad, but here’s a try. All four TwinsCentric guys were there (John Bonnes, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and myself). Doogie Wolfsen and Phil Miller were in attendance. Andrew-Bryz Gornia (Off the Mark), Karlee Kanz (OMG Mn Twins), Eric Johnson (Undomed), Josh Johnson (Josh’s Thoughts), Barb and Kristie (Knuckleballs). Roger Dehring of Twinkie Town fame was there. Phil Mackey couldn’t be there, but he sent shots over the phone! And Scott from the Twins Train was there as well. Of course, what people who were there are still talking about today is the Kirsten Brown brownies!! They were incredible, and in fact, I mentioned on Facebook that I thought she should change the name of her blog from K-Bro’s Baseball Blog to K-Bro’s Baseball and Brownies Blog! Overall, I think the day was an incredible success. I had a great time, and I hope everyone that was there did. Hopefully we can try to do something like this once a month around the Twin Cities. Let us know what you think.
  • By the way, the general consensus at the event regarding Joe Mauer was surprisingly similar to my thoughts. Maybe he doesn’t want to play in Minnesota. Maybe he does want the money. All of that is his right as a free agent at the end of the year. Therefore, the Twins need to do what they have to. Committing $20-25 million to a catcher who missed a month of the year LAST YEAR, missed most of 2004, and has missed time with stress reactions and other injuries caused by being a catcher, it isn’t the smartest allocation of funds. I know, we all know, that with Mauer, the hometown kid, there is more to the story, but it is going to be interesting to see how this plays out, and what the fan reaction is to whatever happens.
  • As I was getting myself ready for the viewing party, I was running around tying up loose ends. I also was on another podcast. DW The Great (Twin-Keys) asked me last minute if I could be a guest for a few minutes on his new Saturday morning/10:00 a.m. podcast, so I said I would. First question was “So, Seth, what do you think of the Denard Span extension?” “umm… well… what is it?” It was announced just before 10:00, so I hadn’t seen it yet, but we did know it was five years. I know a lot of people are leery of these long-term extensions, but I am a huge proponent of them. Later it came out that the deal was for five years and $16.5 million. To me, that sounds very fair. There is risk. I mean, Span isn’t even arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season, but I love the idea of these deals. If Span simply stays on the same level that he has in his first two seasons, this is a great deal for the Twins. If he improves at all, that’s where the true benefit to the team comes in. That said, for Span it’s great because anything can happen and he is assured that he will make $16.5 million. I love long-term deals. They can be risky, but they provide salary certainty for the Twins, and they show commitment to the build-from-within philosophy. I love this deal for the Twins, and I’m thrilled for Denard Span too.

With that, let’s get to the Q&A of the Day! Nate Hanson was born in California, but he grew up in Minnesota. He went to Eden Prairie High School before being a member of the University of Minnesota Gophers baseball team. So when the Twins made him their 28th round draft pick in the 2008 draft, it was a very exciting thing for him and his family. He was primarily a 3B in college, but with the Beloit Snappers in 2009, he also played some at first base, shortstop and second base. He even pitched in one game. He can even boast a 0.00 ERA! That said, he is quite humble and likely won’t boast about anything. He should move up to Ft. Myers in 2010 and again probably play around the infield. Today, he answers our questions so we can get to know him a little better.

(To see all previous SethSpeaks.net Q&As, click here) (and feel free to leave questions or comments here)

…Let the Questions Begin!

SethSpeaks: Now that you’ve had a few months to look back and reflect, what are your thoughts on your 2009 season?

Nate Hanson: I had a decent year overall. Played a lot of games and actually played some first base which was a new experience for me and a fun one at that. I finished the year strong and was healthy the entire year which was big.

SethSpeaks: What do you do when you’re not playing baseball or working out in preparation for the upcoming season?

Nate Hanson: This past fall I went back to school. I also give lessons to youth kids in my community, so I stay busy when I am not preparing for the upcoming season. I also am a crazy Vikings and Wild fan so I watch a ton of hockey and football!

SethSpeaks: When did you start getting ready for the 2010 season, and what was your routine?

Nate Hanson: I started in October. I eased my way back into lifting and hitting. Around Christmas time, I was hitting and lifting 3-4 times a week. Then after the first of the year, I was throwing and hitting and lifting about 5 days a week.

SethSpeaks: What are your goals for the 2010 season? Where would you like to play, and are there any statistics that you are looking to improve?

Nate Hanson: My goals for 2010 are to have a successful year statistics wise and help our team make the playoffs wherever I am. I want to improve my batting average a bit and that will come with more consistency. More so just have good at bats and do whatever I can to help the team win ball games when I am at the plate.

SethSpeaks: What does spring training mean for you, and what are you looking forward to this year?

Nate Hanson: Spring Training is a time to get prepared for the upcoming season. You must work hard and show you belong. I can’t wait to get rolling with spring training and the season and run into the big leaguers and pick their brains a bit on the game of baseball.

SethSpeaks: Who was your Favorite Player?

Nate Hanson: I had a few favorite players, but I would say right now David Wright. He plays the game the game with passion and plays it hard. I love the way he plays 3B!

SethSpeaks: Any question who your Favorite Team was/is?

Nate Hanson: When I was younger I was a huge Angels fan as I was born in CA. But when I moved to MN, I became a Twins fan. I like all my MN sports team, especially the Wild!

SethSpeaks: What were you hearing leading up to the draft about where you might be selected? when it was the Twins that took you, what went through your mind?

Nate Hanson: I heard some stuff but I wanted the process to run its course. I knew if it was meant to happen it would happen, if not, I had another year of school. Then when Mark Wilson called to tell me he and the Twins had drafted me, it was awesome. Nothing better than the home town team drafting you!

SethSpeaks: Best thing of career in baseball? 

Nate Hanson: Well, I am getting paid to play a game and a game I love to play. I get to be a role model for the youth in my community and that really is what it is all about.

SethSpeaks: Toughest thing of career in baseball? 

Nate Hanson: It is tough playing 142 game season after you have played 56 in a college year. Also tough finding it deep inside you when you are in slump. You know you have a game every day and need to find a way to stay positive.

SethSpeaks: Funniest story in your minor league career? 

Nate Hanson: There have been many, but I will say last year in Beloit it seemed like everyone was a prankster! It kept the team loose when we were struggling as a team.

SethSpeaks:  What would it mean to make your big league debut?

Nate Hanson: It would be a dream come true. That is what everyone says, but it would be. Being from MN, playing at Target Field would be mean the world to me and everyone who helped me throughout my baseball career.

Thank you very much to Nate Hanson for taking some of his time to respond. As you can see, he spent some time and put some thought into his response. If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

A Look Back: Denard Span

26 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

It certainly has not taken Denard Span very long to make himself one of the best leadoff hitters in the league.  Two years ago, the Twins brought in Carlos Gomez and Jason Pridie to compete with Denard Span for the starting centerfield job. Gomez won. Span went back to AAA Rochester.

He certainly had his ups and downs throughout his minor league career that began when the Twins used their first round pick on him in 2002. The Tampa native had the opportunity to play college football, but signed late with the Twins and began his playing career in Elizabethton. It wasn’t a rapid-rising situation for Span. He had some strong stretches, but also some weak stretches. But steadily he worked his way up the system, and on April 6, 2008, Span made his big league debut. He was sent back to Rochester but after an injury, he was back with the Twins in no time, and it was for good. He hit .294 and got on base 38.7% of the time as a 24 year old rookie. In 2009, he hit .311 and got on base 39.2% of the time. He hit 16 doubles, a league-leading ten triples and eight home runs. He played all three outfield positions, but manager Ron Gardenhire made it clear that the team needed to find a single place for Span to play in 2010. When the Twins traded Carlos Gomez to the Brewers for JJ Hardy after the World Series, Span became the team’s starting centerfielder. He has given the Twins their first pure leadoff hitter since 1996, Chuck Knoblauch’s final season with the Twins.

On Saturday, Denard Span will turn 26 years old. What does that mean? It means that he is entering his prime and his best years could be yet to come. Today, I am going to look back at all of my prospect rankings going back to the beginning. I want to see where I ranked Span and what I had to say about him at the time. Span has said numerous times, including on a recent episode of The Show with Seth Stohs, that he read everything and used any negative comments as motivation.  So, what did I say about the Twins future centerfielder?

September 2003

Denard Span Ranking – #5

2002 Twins #1 pick, Span signed late last year and didn’t play at all. This season, they kept him in extended spring training until the Rookie League season started. He played pretty well for Elizabethton, unfortunately shortly into the season, Span had an injury and was out for a few weeks. As you can see by the numbers, Span will not be a power hitter. He is always compared to Kenny Lofton. If he becomes that good, the Twins should be very happy!

September 2004

Denard Span Ranking – #16

The Twins #1 pick in 2002, Span has struggled so far. But, his speed and athleticism keep him high on this list. Fact is, despite not having a real high batting average at Quad Cities this year, he was beginning to really show improvement in terms of getting on base (.256/359/.288). Once he is on base, he can flat-out run (11/15 SBs). As he better learns the art of stealing bases and base running, he will become a dangerous weapon. However, just 34 games into the season this year, he broke his hamate bone (in his hand). He had surgery and the team is hoping that he will be able to participate in instructional league. His name has appeared in some trade rumors. I think the Twins would like to keep him around and in 3 or 4 years, when he has developed, he could take over CF for the Twins.

June 2005

Denard Span Ranking – #9

All anyone wants is to see a completely healthy season from Span. Actually, they are probably thrilled that he has only missed about ten games so far due to minor injuries. But it also looks like Span has learned how to hit. That .337 batting average with the .410 on-base percentage tells us that, as well as the few strikeouts. No, he has no power. But that isn’t the type of player he is. It bothers me when people compare a Span-like player to a Justin Morneau-like player. Both serve a different role on a team, and both can be important even if Span’s OPS never gets real high because of the lack of power. Anyway, back to Span. When healthy, he has been great and finally is starting to show the promise that the Twins saw when they drafted him in the 1st round three years ago. ETA – Sept. 2007. 

September 2005

Denard Span Ranking – #8

Everyone with the Twins says that Denard Span was greatly improved in 2005. It is very hard to argue with them! Coming into the season, Span struggled with a couple of things. He struggled with batting average. Some seemed to believe that he was trying to hit for too much power, rather than just use his speed. That may be true, but it certainly doesn’t show in his numbers. In 530 plate appearances coming into the season (two seasons, between rookie league and Low A), he had just sixteen total extra base hits. Here are two stats that he showed in those two years that I really like. First, he walked 60 times and struck out 89 times. It isn’t a great rate, but it isn’t bad and it is just one struck out every six plate appearances. I also like his isolated on-base percentage of .089 (and .096 in 2004). Those are very good numbers for a leadoff hitter. His ‘other’ problem through two years was just staying healthy. He missed significant time each season due to injury. So, what did he do in 2005? He started the year at Fort Myers and in 49 games, he hit .339/.410/.403 with seven extra-base hits. He walked 22 times and struck out just 25 times. He was 13 of 17 in stolen base attempts. He moved up to New Britain and played well from the start. In 68 games there, he hit .285/.355/.345 with eleven extra-base hits. He walked 22 times and struck out 41 times (but in 290 plate appearances, just one in seven). I have heard the argument that for Span to be successful, he will need to have a .400+ on-base percentage. Why? Because then with a .340 slugging percentage, his OPS would still be just .750. However, he is a leadoff hitter whose job it is to get on base. So, that type of hitter should be judged only by on-base percentage. Speed is a huge part of his game. He was just ten of 18 stealing bases at AA, and was picked off a number of times, so that is one facet of his game that still needs to be worked on. Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote, “Span has not shown he’s a polished base stealer yet, despite plus-plus speed. He has struggled to get jumps at times and doesn’t read pitchers particularly well. He has shown the ability to receive instruction, so the Twins believe he will become a better base stealer as he matures.” 2004 was an excellent season for the young Span. Span will likely start next season back at New Britain with a Rochester promotion at any time. Depending on what happens with Torii Hunter in the offseason, Span could make his big league debut at some point next year. Cooper also wrote, comparing Span to Hunter, “Span is more of a Juan Pierre type, with a better arm, than a power and speed guy like Hunter. But unlike many of the speedy leadoff hitters, Span understands that and is more interested in working counts than trying to pop home runs.”              

June 2006

Denard Span Ranking – #10

Span got off to a great start in April causing many to believe that he might truly be the heir-apparent to Torii Hunter, but May was not as good for Span. The lefty is now hitting .284/.332/.342. He hit a home run in his first at bat of the year, and has not hit any more since. He has just seven extra base hits in 190 at bats. Span is clearly an excellent athlete with incredible speed, so the main number I will watch with him is the on-base percentage, and .332 is not good. Also, I would like to see him try to steal more bases, although this year he is 10-14 which is an improvement. I still think that he can be a solid leadoff type hitter for the Twins, but I am unsure that his ceiling is real high.

September 2006

Denard Span Ranking – #12

Like Matt Moses, Denard Span also moved up to New Britain in 2005 and then spent all of 2006 with the Rockcats as well. Unlike Moses, Span at least remained steady and probably did improve a little bit in areas that the Twins would want him to. In 134 games, Span hit .285/.340/.349 with 16 doubles, six triples and two home runs. Speed is his game and he stole 24 bases in 34 attempts. Although 68% is not great, and more improvement is needed, it was a little better than he had been in his career. Span will never be a power hitter, so for him to have even a .700 OPS, he will have to get on base about 37% of the time. Span is still not ready, but according to our friend Roger’s statistical ranking of prospects, Span finished second in the organization to only Alexi Casilla. So, although none of his numbers really stand out, Span was solid, and at 22 years old and because he will only be put on the 40 man roster this winter, the team can and should continue to be patient with him. Unlike Moses, all reports are that Span is a good teammate and well respected. 

June 2007

Denard Span Ranking – #27

Throughout spring training he was called the Centerfielder of the Future, Torii Hunter’s heir-apparent. With a solid spring showing, and a lot of at bats, I was just about believing the hype. And then the regular season began, and reality set back in. We had heard that he had a new approach and was showing some pop in his bat. I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet. He’s hitting .216. He is getting on base less than 28% of the time. He does have nine doubles and two triples, which gives him a slugging percentage of just .286. Now, he is still just 23. He is in his first year at AAA. But from what we’re seeing, he will not be a quality replacement for Torii Hunter. It is becoming much more likely that he will have a career similar to that of Jason Tyner. Now, to say something positive… he is 11 for 13 in stolen base attempts, a much better percent than he has had previously in his career. 

September 2007

Denard Span Ranking – #30

I spend a lot of time talking about wanting to see a player improve throughout the season. Well, if we simply look at Batting Average by month this year for Denard Span, it went .214, .212, .290, .273, .324, .444. That is a positive and yet, I certainly do not believe that he is ready to take over the Twins CF position. However, I would say that Span could become a solid #4 outfielder in the big leagues. I would like to say that he could be a Jason Tyner-like player. He hasn’t shown an ability to get on base at a high rate, he has little to no power and he is not an efficient base stealer. An OPS over .720 would be unlikely for him. I’d like to see Span get another year at AAA and see where he is in July or August. If the improvement and confidence continue, maybe he can become a solid starter in two more years.

June 2008

Denard Span Ranking – #25

Denard Span came to spring training this year clearly on a mission to prove everyone wrong. I think it is fair to say that he has done just that. He had a very good spring, doing all the things that the Twins could have asked. As a leadoff hitter, he has taken a lot of pitches, taken walks, stolen bases (even at a good percentage). When called up to the Twins, he played RF, a position that he had not played as a pro. After he was sent down, Span crushed the ball and did very well until he landed on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. Before that, he hit home runs in three consecutive games. Now, he isn’t suddenly a power hitter, but he has shown that he doesn’t have to be just a slap-happy hitter either. I think that if need be he can be a solid big league centerfielder. Defensively in center, I think he is excellent. At the corners, he just needs some time. So, when he comes back from the DL, I hope he gets to move around a little bit. For the Twins, I see Span primarily as a #4 or #5 type of outfielder. If dealt to another team, he could be another Juan Pierre type. 

And by the end of 2008, Span was no longer a prospect. He was a big leaguer, and a very good one at that. He has proven a lot of people wrong over the years. He has shown that we can’t only look at numbers to determine how good of a prospect will be. Denard Span equals class. He is a terrific guy. He was named the Twins’ Rookie of the Year in 2008, and in 2009, the Twins media made him their choice as the Media Good Guy. How good can Span be? It will certainly be fun to watch and find out.

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 3

19 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

If you would like to hear my interview with Denard Span, please click here.

Today, we conclude our look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. Today, I will post our final six selections. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 17-22)

Round 17 – 65th Overall – Roger – LHP – Matt Tone

I debated between two excellent young lefty relievers and decided to go with the more experienced, Matt Tone.  I was hoping that Lobanov could slide through another six picks, however, Seth picked him with the next pick.

Round 17 – 66th Overall – Seth – LHP – Andrei Lobanov

(Lobanov, Lugo or Steedley? How do I pick? Well, I take the youngest, the guy with the 35 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, of course.)

Round 17 – 67th Overall – Josh – IF – Ramon Santana

(I believe that Ramon Santana and Luke Hughes can battle to see where each plays, one will start at second base and the other will start at third base. Santana had a great year in 2009, but he turned 23-years-old this year when the average age in the Midwest League is 21. Santana helps extend my lineup. I also considered both Steven Liddle and Michael Harrington with this pick.)

Round 17 – 68th Overall – Travis – OF – Michael Harrington

(The reason I drafted him is not because of his low batting average but his extra base power.  For quite a long time last season he led the whole organization in doubles and that to me is very impressive.  It will be interesting to see if he can improve on the other parts of his game to become a true prospect.)

Round 18 – 69th Overall – Travis – RHPBobby Lanigan

(I was very happy to get him because he is on the cusp of good things going forward.  He is a little bit inconsistent, but the sky is the limit as he has all the tools to be a very good pitcher.  I will be interested to see if he shows the promise the Twins saw in him when they drafted him as high as they did.)

Round 18 – 70th Overall – Josh – OFSteve Liddle

(As I mentioned above, I considered taking both Steven Liddle and Michael Harrington when I took Ramon Santana. Travis took Harrington which left Liddle, which was completely fine by me. Although he was taken in the 15th round last of June’s draft, he went to Vanderbilt (a college baseball powerhouse) and played great in the Appalachian League this year (but keep in mind that he was a year older than the rest of the competition). Liddle should start in Beloit in 2010 and could move up quickly through the system. His uncle (also named) Steve Liddle is the Twins’ bench coach. )

Round 18 – 71st Overall – Seth – 1BMichael Gonzales

(I need a 1B. Next pick, I’ll take either Miguel Munoz or Martire Garcia, just hoping Roger doesn’t take both of them!)

Round 18 –72nd Overall – Roger – SSDaniel Santana

(I believe that one of the better middle infield prospects in the organization is Daniel Santana.  He was one of the better hitters for the GCL Twins last simmer, while showing excellent speed with 11 stolen bases in only 12 attempts.)

Round 19 – 73rd Overall – Roger – LHP – Spencer Steedley

(I then went back to a veteran of last year’s Arizona Fall League to pick up another top reliever for my bullpen, Spencer Steedley.)

Round 19 – 74th Overall – Seth – RHP – Miguel Munoz

(Well, they were both still available, so I’ll take the guy that hits 94. Not much left in OF or any bats, several good BP options.)

Round 19 – 75th Overall – Josh – LHP – Kyle Carr

(With Andrei Lobanov, Spencer Steedley, Matt Tone and Joe Testa already taken, I knew that Kyle Carr or Jose Lugo would be my pick. I went with Carr primarily because he’s a couple years younger and should be in Ft. Myers in 2010. That’s really what it boiled down to.)

Round 19 – 76th Overall – Travis – LHP – Jose Lugo

(The reason I drafted him is everything that I hear about him is positive.  Everyone tells me that he will be in the big leagues in the not too distant future so I really wanted to know more about him.  After doing research on him I agree he will be a Twin soon.)

Round 20 – 77th Overall – Travis – OF – Dustin Martin

(The reason I selected Martin was the simple fact that last year he was two different people and I want to see which one he is.  In spring training with the Twins he hit the cover off the ball hitting over .400 and doing a good job in center field.  However, with the Red Wings he really struggled and with his age it is almost time to put up or shut up because there is a dealth of center fielders in the upper minors for the Twins so there is definitely an opportunity.)

Round 20 – 78th Overall – Josh – SS – Nick Lockwood

(I needed a middle infielder and at this point its slim pickings. Nick Lockwood was taken in the 9th round and signed to a $125,000 signing bonus last June to forgo his commitment to the University of Southern Florida to sign with the Twins. He is solid defensively and showed good power in High School. Roger took Daniel Santana a couple rounds before, who I was hoping to take in either the 21st or 22nd round, so I wanted to make sure I took Lockwood. I also considered taking Anderson Hidalgo with this pick.)

Round 20 – 79th Overall – Seth – RHP – Bruce Pugh

(Since we’re talking about success 2-3 years down the road, I’ll go with a sleeper pick instead of Chris Province)

Round 20 – 80th Overall – Roger – OF – Mark Dolenc

(I closed out my outfield with a player I was looking to take for about five rounds, Mark Dolenc.  Without a lot of publicity, Dolenc was one of the better outfielders in the organization last summer when he hit .288/.332/.392 for Ft. Myers.  He also had 27 stolen bases in 33 attempts, which is a better stolen base success rate than either Revere or Benson.)

Round 21 – 81st Overall – Roger – LHP – Michael Tarsi

(With Seth picking one spot ahead of my 20th pick, he again picked the player I was eyeing for one of these two picks, Bruce Pugh.  With Pugh gone, I closed out my bullpen with a big left handed long reliever/starter, Michael Tarsi.)

Round 21 – 82nd Overall – Seth – EX – Anderson Hidalgo

(Solid offensive season at E-Town, and Gleeman’s got him in his top 40!)

Round 21 – 83rd Overall – Josh – OF – Romy Trinidad

(With my “Extra” pick, I wanted another outfielder and it came down between two Dominican players, Romy Trinidad and Candido Pimentel. I went with Trinidad because he’s a year younger and is three inches taller than Pimentel. Trinidad hit .312/.443/.363 as an 18-year-old in the DSL last summer and should be making his way to the States in 2010.)

Round 21 – 84th Overall – Travis – IF – Nick Romero

(I am very surprised he was not selected earlier as he was playing just about every day at 2nd for the Miracle.  He has some things to work on in his game, but he plays good defense and if you can do that the rest will take care of itself.)

Round 22 – 85th Overall – Travis – OF – Jonathan Goncalves

(I selected him because we don’t know much about him and if he has the ability to be a good prospect or someone that will hang around for a year or two.  He did not do much at E-Town, but he did not get a lot of opportunities so my hope is that he gets more at bats so we can know if he a contender or a pretender.)

Round 22 – 86th Overall – Josh – 1B – Jonathan Waltenbury

(I kind of shot myself in the foot on this pick. I had a feeling Travis might take Nick Romero and I took the risk of waiting for him in the 22nd round. Travis ended up taking Romero with his next pick and Jonathan Waltenbury was really the only other player that appealed to me. He climbed prospect charts in 2008 but fell off in 2009. He’ll likely repeat Single-A Beloit but he still has good upside.)

Round 22 – 87th Overall – Seth – OF – Matej Hejma

Not much to choose from. D. de La Osa is older. Wang-Wei Lin is a 5-tool type, but 22 and not out of GCL due to injuries.

Round 22 – 88th Overall – Roger – C – Allan de San Miguel

(With the final selection in the Seth Stohs 2010 draft, I selected my extra player/back up catcher.  It seems like Alan de San Miguel has been around for forever.  But he didn’t turn 22 until last week, thus, is very young for someone who played on all four full-service teams last year.  An excellent defensive catcher who has never hit for a high average, de San Miguel had his best season at the plate last year.  At his age, should he continue to improve with his bat again this year his future will also continue to brighten.)

SETH’S TEAM SUMMARY

Real Briefly, I am going to write about my team, and then I will encourage you to check out the other drafters/bloggers for their thoughts on their rosters (here is Josh’s):

LINEUP

James Beresford – SS

Steve Singleton – 2B

Rene Tosoni – RF

Danny Valencia – 3B

Aaron Hicks – CF

Michael Gonzales – 1B

Chris Herrmann – C

Anderson Hidalgo – DH

Oswaldo Arcia – LF

Bench: Reggie Williams, Matej Hejma, Estarlin de Los Santos

Starting Rotation: Deolis Guerra, Blayne Weller, Matt Bashore, Miguel Munoz, Edgar Ibarra

Closer: Carlos Gutierrez

Bullpen: Santos Arias, Rob Delaney, Andrei Lobanov, Bruce Pugh

There you have it, Part 3 of the Minor League draft, and my team. For more information, lineups and more from each of the other teams, check out the sites of Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson and Travis Aune. Have yourself a great weekend. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Draft – Part 2

18 Feb

also available at http://www.SethSpeaks.net -

Just a quick update on tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Podcast. I really am excited about the new format and hope that it goes well. I’ll be able to mention more later about the specifics, but I can now say that both Denard Span and Baseball Daily Digest’s Joe Hamrahi have confirmed that they will be guests on the show. Be sure to check back right here for a link to the podcast itself. It will be posted right around 9:00. I will also be setting up a chat room for you to talk Twins and ask questions. There will be time at the end to take your questions and comments. There is even a toll-free phone number which is new, so anyone can call! It should be a fun show. I’ll head to the studio a little early to make sure we’ve got everything set up.

Today, we continue to look at the Twins Minor League draft held last week. Roger Dehring, Josh Johnson, Travis Aune and myself conducted a 22 round mock draft, just to see how it might turn out. The specifics of the draft can be found in yesterday’s blog posting in which I showed our first eight rounds of picks. Today, I will post our selections for rounds 9 through 16 before finishing the draft on Friday. So, here we go:

 THE DRAFT (Rounds 9-16)

Round 9 – 33rd Overall – Roger – 3B – Wander Guillen

(I may have overreached with the selection of my third baseman, Wander Guillen, who was leading the DSL Twins in hitting and OBP at the age of 16!)

Round 9 – 34th Overall – Seth – OF – Oswaldo Arcia

(Had thought of taking him with my previous pick (or Wander Guillen, just to make Roger mad), but Arcia is another guy with five tools..)

Round 9 – 35th Overall – Josh – RHP – Shooter Hunt

(As I’ve said, I knew I needed to take a high-upside guy at some point and Hunt is just that. I originally wanted to take Oswaldo Arcia to fill out my outfield, but Seth took him with the pick before. Hunt may have the best ‘stuff’ out of any Twins farmhand and is thus a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, which is just what this staff needs. If he can regain any of sense of control, Hunt shouldn’t have a problem at becoming this staff’s ace.)

Round 9 – 36th Overall – Travis – RHP – Liam Hendriks

(I am very excited about the potential Liam has as he can be dominant.  He is very similar to Tom Stuifbergen except that I think Hendricks has the potential to be better.  I look for him to get better and better the farther we get away from his arm injury of a couple years ago.) (Seth Note – Hendriks missed the 2008 season, but it was not with an arm injury. He had some surgery on his spine.)

Round 10 – 37th Overall – Travis – 3BDeibinson Romero

(My interest in him is well documented as I used to always have him in my top 10’s and he has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.  I am curious how many chances the Twins are going to give to him because the potential is there to be very good.)

Round 10 – 38th Overall – Josh – SSJorge Polanco

(Something that is worth noting about this process is that I’m not necessarily sticking to my Top 50 Prospect list. With the 38th Overall pick, I chose someone who didn’t even make my original Top 50. But since I’m making my team and I have to look at different aspects, Jorge Polanco (and others) have been taken higher than where they’d rank on my Top 50 List, which is kind of interesting to note. I wanted to have a defensively-gifted shortstop and I thought Polanco would be gone by my next pick, so I wanted to strike early. I also considered to wait a round or two and take Estarlin De Los Santos, but I am taking the risk on Polanco. Besides being defensively-gifted at a premium position, I also like that he’s viewed as a #2 hitter and incase I can’t grab someone who can handle the bat later (such as Brian Dinkelman), I want someone to bat near the top that possess good on-base skills and reports suggest that he has that potential. With this pick, I also considered Matt Bashore, who would have filled out my rotation.)

Round 10 – 39th Overall – Seth – RHPRob Delaney

(He just has had such an amazing track record of success in his minor league career. He’s close to the big league club.)

Round 10 –40th Overall – Roger – RHPCesar Ciurcina

(I went back to the DSL with my tenth pick to close out my starting rotation with Cesar Ciurcina.  Although he is a bit older, Ciurcina had numbers similar last summer to those put up by Salcedo the previous year.  Is Ciurcina as good as Salcedo?  We will know more about him after this season when we see him in the GCL.)

Round 11 – 41st Overall – Roger – 2B/OF – Brian Dinkelman

(I went back to the infield and took a young man who has been one of the better hitters every step of his career, Brian Dinkelman.  Dinkelman’s best position appears to be second base.  Is he good enough defensively to earn a spot with the Twins in the next 16 months?)

Round 11 – 42nd Overall – Seth – LHP – Matt Bashore

(I really want to grab a SS (probably Beresford), but Bashore, if healthy, was a top pick, and he’s left-handed.)

Round 11 – 43rd Overall – Josh – RHP – Michael Tonkin

(Out of all of the rounds, this one has stung the most. Both Roger and Seth consecutively stole my picks (Brian Dinkelman and then Matt Bashore), but thankfully there were still high-upside pitchers (like Michael Tonkin) available.  Tonkin has projectable size and should add velocity as he matures. I really feel comfortable with my rotation after adding Tonkin. Hopefully I can get to the same point with my lineup, because I’m concerned about what’s left and what I still need.)

Round 11 – 44th Overall – Travis – OF – Evan Bigley

(The sky is the limit for Bigley who hit the cover off the ball in E-town and then again in Beloit.  That led to a promotion to Fort Myers where he struggled a bit.  I look for a big year this year from Evan as I look for him to dominate the FSL and will be in New Britain before the end of the year.)

Round 12 – 45th Overall – Travis – LHP – Joe Testa

(This is a guy that just splashed across the scene in 2009 and turned many heads.  He changed the feeling of many that he was just another relief pitcher and convinced many that this is a guy that is worth keeping track of myself included.  I look for his career to continue to skyrocket after his monster 2009 season.)

Round 12 – 46th Overall – Josh – 1B/DH – Erik Lis

(I am lacking a strong bat from the left side and I am at the point where I want to start focusing on the bullpen, so I wanted to make sure I had Erik Lis wrapped up. He’ll fit well in the middle-of-my-order and will play first base (depending on who I could possibly grab later). I also considered Loek Van Mil with this pick).

Round 12 – 47th Overall – Seth – SS – James Beresford

(It is time to address the middle infield. There are three solid SS prospects, and I would like two of them. I guess that means I would rank Beresford the highest of the three.)

Round 12 – 48th Overall – Roger – LF – Juan Portes

(I needed to fill in the balance of my outfield and was elated that spring training invitee Juan Portes was still available. A very raw prospect when drafted in 2004, Portes had a break out year last summer when he led the Rock Cats in hitting.  Does he have enough power to make it to the Twins as a corner outfielder appears to be the biggest question?)

Round 13 – 49th Overall – Roger – 1B – Brock Peterson

(I filled out my infield with the best story in the organization the last several years, former 49th round pick Brock Peterson.)

Round 13 – 50th Overall – Seth – SS – Estarlin de Los Santos

(I guess that means I would rank De Lo second. The third guy to consider was Brian Dozier, but de Los Santos was added to the 40 man roster, and when healthy, he is probably the most pure Twins SS prospect (other than apparently 16 year old Jorge Polanco.))

Round 13 – 51st Overall – Josh – RHP – Loek Van Mil

(I’ve never been very high on Loek Van Mil. Besides his height, he doesn’t really appeal to me. He walks a lot of guys and at 25-years-old he will likely be starting the year in Double-A. But…but… I do believe that his high 90’s fastball would be perfect as a setup man and hopefully I’ll be able to nab Kyle Waldrop in the next round. Plus, I think a Van Mil growth chart would be a good promotion.)

Round 13 – 52nd Overall – Travis – RHP – Matt Fox

(I was hoping that Matt Fox would fall to me because I am very high on him.  He has battled through injuries and setbacks to become an option for the Twins.  I look for him to keep going on that road and, by season’s end, possibly get a call-up by the twins.)

Round 14 – 53rd Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Hirschfeld

(He is another guy I was hoping to get as he is another overachiever that just knows how to get hitters out.  He was very good for Fort Myers last year and can either start or relieve which I look to help him going forward.)

Round 14 – 54th Overall – Josh – RHP – Kyle Waldrop

 (As I mentioned above, I wanted to get Kyle Waldrop to help solidify my bullpen. So when I saw that he was available, it was an easy choice. I also considered both Spencer Steedley and Andrei Lobanov with this pick but I’ll probably end up waiting a few rounds with them…)

Round 14 – 55th Overall – Seth – RHP – Edgar Ibarra

(Ibarra was a very good pitcher for the E-Twins the second half of their season. Still some very good players left. Considered Reggie Williams.)

Round 14 – 56th Overall – Roger – OF – Brandon Roberts

(Seth again picked the player I was looking at for my next pick when he selected Edgar Ibarra, although he took him as a starter and I was looking at him in long relief.  With Ibarra gone, I went back to the outfield and selected Brandon Roberts who will be my center fielder and leadoff hitter.)

Round 15 – 57th Overall – Roger – RHP – Ben Tootle

(I followed with the selection of a high ceiling, hard throwing short reliever, Ben Tootle. Assuming his arm problems of last summer are behind him, Tootle could be on a fast track towards Minnesota.)

Round 15 – 58th Overall – Seth – C – Chris Herrmann

(Herrmann is moving to catcher. There are lots of catchers in the Beloit picture. I need a catcher, but Reggie Williams can’t last until my next pick, can he?)

Round 15 – 59th Overall – Josh – RHP – Pedro Guerra

(With short relief already under wraps, I felt the need for a long reliever. Guerra has dominated the Dominican Summer League two years in a row and should be making his appearance in the States this season. It was a coin flip between Guerra and Danny Ortiz, but hopefully I’ll be able to get Ortiz in the next round.)

Round 15 – 60th Overall – Travis – RHP – Steve Blevins

(One of my favorite people in the organization, and that has nothing to do with his stuff, as he is a genuinely nice guy.  On the field, he is a pretty good pitcher also, as he put up good numbers at Beloit.  I look forward to seeing what he can do going forward as he has the talent to be a future Twin if he keeps improving.)

Round 16 – 61st Overall – Travis –  SS – Brian Dozier

(He is one of those guys that I was not sure how good he could be and dealt with some injuries down the road.  With the promotion of Tyler Ladendorf, Dozier got to show what he could do and man did he deliver.  I am interested to see how fast he can move through the system as a college guy if he wants to play for the Twins he is going to have to skyrocket, but the talent is there to do it.)

Round 16 – 62nd Overall – Josh – OF – Danny Ortiz

(As I mentioned with Pedro Guerra, it was a coin flip between the two. Luckily, I got both. Danny Ortiz missed all of the 2009 season with injury but was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. At 5’11’’ and 166 lbs., he still has a lot of power and will fit in nicely with the rest of my lineup.)

Round 16 – 63rd Overall – Seth – CIF – Reggie Williams

(He lasted until my next pick!! Need a 1B and a CI, and Reggie Williams played a lot of 3B, but can also play MI and OF.)

Round 16 – 64th Overall – Roger – 1B – Whit Robbins

(I filled my reserve corner infield spot with the selection of Rochester/New Britain first baseman Whit Robbins.)

There is Part II. Check back tomorrow for the third and final part of the minor league draft, and more.. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Blatant Thievery

11 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Fanatic Jack sent me a text message last night saying he had a last minute cancellation on his podcast, so I joined him, and Topper Anton, and we had a really enjoyable discussion on the state of the Twins. Basically, Jack and Topper had some thoughts, and I felt the need to tell them they were wrong. OK, not wrong, but I gave several differing opinions. But I find that enjoyable and the entire purpose of blogging. We don’t have to all agree on everything, but we are all Twins fans and it is fun to talk about the Twins and I hope people are able to listen and enjoy.

He also gave me the opportunity to talk about several Twins minor leaguers and talk about the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Check out Jonathan Mayo’s most recent B3 blog entry on several prospect books that are now available, including mine! Thank you! (By the way, I am hoping to receive my review copy today in the mail!)

A quick reminder, Twins Target’s Andrew Kneeland’s Brain Child, Nick Punto Day, is tomorrow!

But with that, I am going to blatantly steal some content from the godfather of Twins bloggers, and the man that holds TwinsCentric together, Mr. John Bonnes, aka The Twins Geek. As we have mentioned before, we had quite the project in putting together the Twins 2010 Annual with Maple Street Press, but from what I’m told, the results and the end product are absolutely incredible. No, I say “from what I’m told” because seemingly everyone else that wrote an article for the 128 page magazine got their copy yesterday. I’m holding my breath, hoping for my copy to arrive today!

Anyway, here is what John wrote about the Twins 2010 Annual. Obviously I’m not half the writer that he is, and I don’t think I could explain this any better. I definitely encourage you to go to his site as there are already some good comments.

Maple Street Press TWINS 2010 Annual

I’m about to make a mistake that I’ve made on this site roughly 965 times – and that isn’t an exaggeration.

The nature of blogging as a second occupation is that you’re forced to a lot of writing on the fly. You don’t have time to research as much as you would like. You find yourself cutting entries short so you can get some sleep. And you really don’t take the time to let a story marinate in it’s own juices. You just crank it out and live with the imperfections.

And that’s the mistake.

This story should marinate, because I really hope I refer to it several dozen times over the next month or so. And because the people involved, who I greatly respect, deserve that time for me to get things just right.

They’re not going to get it. Here we go…..

Right about now, if you find yourself in this god-forsaken icebox of a state, a little spring would be a nice thing. I find myself watching the shadows on the snow, convincing myself that they’re getting shorter every day, and that it’s getting lighter.

Today, I got a box of spring. It had several issue of Maple Street Press Twins 2010 Annual. Anything baseballish in February is reason enough to get excited, but I’m especially excited about this because the 128 pages of content were provided by TwinsCentric and various independent baseball writers here in the Twin Cities. Just so you know what you’re getting into, here’s the stories you’ll be able to find:

The Team Section

  • Player Profiles by TwinsCentric – Each page and player has so much information, your eyes will bleed. And they ain’t sugar-coated.
  • A Division for the Taking by TwinsCentric – A candid and irreverent review of all the teams we’ve learned to hate in the AL Central.
  • On the Defensive by Phil Mackey – The Twins defense is analyzed and Mackey concludes that it has slipped considerably over the last couple of years.
  • Talkin Twins with Gardy by Darren Wolfson – A six-page interview with manager Ron Gardenhire about 2009 and the offseason.
  • No Regrets by Phil Miller – Miller was the Pioneer Press beat reporter during the Johan Santana trade scramble, and he recalls the pressures that were applied and the decisions that were made.
  • Spanning the Outfield by Alex Halsted – Denard Span talks candidly about the disappointment he felt at the beginning of the 2009 season and how Twins players mentor each other.
  • The “Little Things” by Adam V. Peterson – Does the Twins reputation for playing fundamental baseball translate into more wins?
  • The Travails of an Aging Right Fielder by Dan Wade – Michael Cuddyer had a huge year in 2009, but what does that mean for his future with the Twins?
  • No Money, No Problem by Andrew Kneeland – Kneeland looks behind the scenes at how a “small-market” team can remain competitive.
  • Power Surge by Nick Nelson – Nelson looks at the breakthrough years by Jason Kubel and Joe Mauer.
  • An Industry Leader by Parker Hageman – Hageman looks at the ups and down that Joe Nathan experience in 2009 and what it means for 2010.
  • Retrospect 2001 by Seth Stohs – Stohs revisits the decision to draft Mauer over Mark Prior and how it played out.

Stadium Section

  • Built for Baseball by Howard Sinker – Complete with gorgeous pictures, Sinker looks at Target Field
  • Between a Rock and a Home Plate by Judd Spicer – Everything you ever want to know about the Minnesota-quarried rock that adorns the new ballpark.
  • Magic and Money by John Bonnes – Thirteen small-market teams have opened new stadiums in the last 20 years. I look at how they spent their new-found booty.

Minor League Section

  • Strength in Numbers by Seth Stohs – Stohs gives a comprehensive look at the depth in the minors, position by position.
  • An International Focus by Josh Johnson – The Twins organization broke through in their signing of international prospects last year.
  • Class of 2009 Primer by Seth Stohs – Stohs reviews the Twins 2009 draft, pick by pick and talks about their future.

History Section

  • A Long History by Stew Thornley – Thornley reviews Minnesota baseball history before the arrival of the Twins, and how the Twins time in Minnesota began.
  • Popping Champagne – and Each Other by Jim Thielman – The feisty Twins of the late 60s may be best understood from the vantage point of manager Billy Martin’s fight with his own starting pitcher.
  • A Common Vision by Arne Christensen – An interview with Mike Pagliarulo touches on the spirit of the 1991 World Series Champs.

In the letter from the editor I wrote:

“The Twins sport a population of independent baseball writers that other fan bases envy for the quality and passion.”

I think you’ll see that in the Annual, and that the community can support something this ambitious. I’m proud of that, and I think anyone who supports these writers can be too.

You can learn more about the Annual (and order it) here. Or look for it on newstands and magazine racks throughout Twins territory. I hope it brings you a little bit of spring.  

That’s it for now, be sure to check back if the Twins make any news. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or leave them in the Comments section.

Nine Innings with Seth – Part 2

2 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The first four innings were played earlier, here are the final five innings of Nine Innings with Seth:

Fifth Inning – We’re #5! We’re #5! We’re #5!

So, one of the big topics over the weekend was what the Twins would do with their fifth starter spot. The first four spots in the rotation are expected to be filled by Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Carl Pavano. Why is it even a topic? After the conclusion of the 2009 season, in my mind at least, the answer was easy. Brian Duensing’s performance over the season’s final six to eight weeks earned him the right to have the first shot at the fifth starter job. However, Francisco Liriano’s performance in the Dominican Winter League playoffs certainly has people excited. It’s not just the completely dominant numbers. It’s not even the reports of the 95 mph fastball and a 88 mph slider. The excitement seems to be from a focused, and in shape, Francisco Liriano. The excitement comes from the sharpness of that slider. The excitement comes from Liriano’s lack of walks and control inside the strike zone.

Obviously the big question will be answered through spring training. Brian Duensing deserves the shot. I think we all agree with that. Nothing in his AAA numbers indicates that he will be able to sustain that kind of success, but I think most of us think that he can be a serviceable fifth starter. With Liriano, there is no question about the stuff anymore. The concerns with him are all between the ears. How confident will he be? How much does he even want it? How frustrating have the last two years been for him, not able to do what he did in 2006 before surgery? If he can bring that aspect of the game together, Francisco Liriano can still be an All-Star caliber starting pitcher. Will he ever get back to his 2006 level of dominance? Unlikely, but you never know. But again, with his stuff, he can still be an ace. In my mind, Liriano is the wild card, the X-factor in how far the Twins are able to go in 2010.

But don’t forget that the Twins have other options, even before reaching to someone like Jarrod Washburn. Glen Perkins is still around. Most can’t imagine a scenario in which he comes back, but he is a lefty who throws fairly hard and has three big league pitches, so he shouldn’t be 1.) forgotten, or 2.) given away. Anthony Swarzak came up in the middle of the season and pitched well for a few weeks. Jeff Manship came up to help an over-worked bullpen in August and got the opportunity to make a few starts. He picked up his first big league win in that final weekend series against the Royals. Both of them will likely begin at Rochester, but both could be ready if called upon to either start or pitch some long relief for the Twins.   

Sixth Inning – Podcast Updates

SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast – (Tonight at 9:00 central time) – I’m really excited for tonight’s show. Last week’s show was really fun, with five guests, including four players. This week, we go back to one hour, but the guests continue. Last Tuesday night, Denard Span and Jeff Manship were involved in the Twins Caravan and signing autographs through our show, but both of them were kind enough to re-schedule for this week. Also, there is a chance that Max Kepler will be joining the show tonight as well, which is pretty exciting. If he is unable to join, we’ll open up the phone lines and take your questions or comments for the remainder of the show. Remember the chat room will be open throughout the entire show, and I will ask Denard, Jeff or Max any questions that you would like while we have time. I’m excited. It should be a fun show, so hopefully you will be at to listen live. And if you can’t, please remember that you can listen to the podcast later, or you can download it to iTunes.

Quick reminder, you can still pre-order the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook for $12.95 through the conclusion of the podcast. At that point, it will be available for $13.95.

Also, be sure to listen in to last night’s Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast. It was a good show. His first guest was Larry from SouthSideSox.com, a White Sox blog, and they had a good discussion on the White Sox in 2010. Then Nick Nelson of Nick’s Twins Blog joined the podcast to talk about all of the Twins topics of the day.

Of course, on Wednesday night at 9, you’ll want to tune in to Fanatic Jack’s Twins Talk podcast!

Seventh Inning – Twins Fest Updates

Here are some other Twins blogs related to Twins Fest experiences that you may enjoy:

If there are any that I am missing, please let me know.

Eighth Inning – Twins Links

Here are some other Twins blog links:

Ninth Inning – TwinsCentric Gathering

I can’t really think of a ninth inning topic right now, so I thought I would just mention that the TwinsCentric groupJohn Bonnes (Twins Geek), Nick Nelson (Nick’s Twins Blog) and Parker Hageman (Over The Baggy) and I – are going to be hosting some get-togethers for bloggers and Twins fans. The first will likely be on a Saturday afternoon in March, sometime when the Twins have a spring training game that we can all watch together while talking about our favorite team. So, be sure to pre-order your copy of the TwinsCentric/Maple Street Press Twins 2010 Annual, and meet us all there. Obviously as we obtain more specific details, they will be posted at our sites.

 Alright, nine innings with Seth is complete. Please check out the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast tonight at 9, and have a great day! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or leave them in the Comments section.

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