This article also appears at www.SethSpeaks.net
So here is what I’ve gathered from reading these comments the past few days: Gardy can’t manage a good game to save his life, Bill Smith has had a terrible year as GM, Delmon is below average, Gomez is hopeless, Everett should be DFA’d, Harris can’t play any defense, Buscher can’t throw straight, and the entire bullpen is in shambles (outside of Nathan – who isn’t used correctly anyway). Good thing baseball is a team game since it sounds like most of the individual parts stink! : )
– Dome Dog, in yesterday’s comments section.
I thought that comment from this site yesterday perfectly covered my thoughts on what is going on in Comments sections lately. I’ve got to be honest with the readers of this site right now. I have become increasingly frustrated by the negativity with comments and some of the commenters at the Star-Tribune blogs. I have to be honest… I am beginning to see more and more of that here as well. That kind of frustration is the kind of thing that makes a person not want to put in the time any more. Fortunately, in talking with someone yesterday afternoon, I was able to remember what made me want to start blogging in the first place. I wanted a blog that I would want to read, and if others liked it and wanted to read it, great. And that is what keeps me going. So, I thought I would take a few minutes and just comment on some of the topics that have repeatedly created negative conversation.
My main comment on any of these topics is this… any decision throughout a game can be right or wrong depending on execution. It may not be the right thing ‘by the book’ and it may work out. Sometimes a manager can make all of the “right” decisions in a game, and it doesn’t mean that each of them will work much-less that the team will win. Maybe I’m too level-headed to be a good blogger. Maybe what people want is negativity and controversy. If that’s the case, I apologize, but you’re not going to find much of that here. I will try to present both sides of any decision. Why? Because what if I was the manager of the Twins? What would I do? Well, I would take a look at all the stats available to me. I’d look at splits. I would look at matchups considering both the Twins pitcher in the game and the opponents starter. I would try to understand current injury status and get an update on the bullpen. I would occasionally go against the grain, going on gut feel rather than what the book would tell us. The main goal being to do what you think is the best decision for the Twins to win that day.
You know what? I guarantee that Ron Gardenhire does all of those exact things as well. And I guarantee that he is conversing with his coaching staff on what’s going on. And I can guarantee that you would do all the same things.
So yes, there will be occasions when I don’t understand that Gardy is thinking, whether it is bullpen usage, lineup construction or in-game decisions. I have to wonder though, how many times is he right? We don’t talk about those things, do we? In my mind, he makes a lot of decisions with every game. I have a suspicion that he makes the right choice 90% of the time. We just choose to grade him upon the 10% What we forget is that sometimes decisions in that 90% don’t work out. Occasionally, those decisions in that 10% do work out. In the end, it probably all is a wash.
I wrote this on Joe Christensen’s blog about Ron Gardenhire the other day in the comments:
Face the facts, the 2008 team was supposed to be a in a rebuilding year, and they have outperformed expectations by a huge amount… This team is in playoff contention. Maybe, just maybe, Ron Gardenhire deserves a little bit of credit for that. Instead, all anyone wants to talk about are:
Nick Punto and Adam Everett are the middle infield right now – Well, first of all, Alexi Casilla is hurt. The team has decided that Brendan Harris is not a big league 2B. Nick Punto is really the only option for the position. Harris can play SS from time to time. A healthy Adam Everett is significantly better defensively and has much more range. If I’m the manager and I have a groundball pitcher, I want my best middle infield defense on the field. That is Punto and Everett. No, neither can hit much at all. But do you remember baseball of year’s past? Defense won. Teams in the ’70s and ’80s didn’t score as much and defense was a premium. Contrary to popular belief, defense does matter. And, how is that Twins offense doing this year overall? Oh, they’re near the top of the league?
Nick Punto batting second – OK, I can not explain this one to anyone. He can’t hit at all. He isn’t very good at the fundamentals, like bunting. He pops up a lot. I can’t understand it at all. This is a fair point and it can be stated. But why does it need to be pointed out every day?
Brendan Harris – although I don’t completely agree with it, it appears that Harris’s role is 3B platoon against left-handed pitching and bat off the bench. He has Derek Jeter-like range at SS and 2B, 3B is the right position and yet Brian Buscher has done enough with the bat to show he should play against righties.
Joe Mauer isn’t a #3 hitter – OK, maybe he’s not, but if he isn’t on this team, who is? Justin Morneau? Sure, well, then who is the #4 hitter? Again, the offense generally hasn’t been the team’s problem.
Delmon Young should be sent to the minors – I can’t even believe this one gets this much discussion. He has been just fine with the bat since mid-May. In the last couple of weeks, the power has definitely shown up. He did struggle early in the season defensively, no question. But I don’t know if people realize the transition from RF to LF. The ball does move differently. Also, moving into the Dome can’t be easy for anyone. Notice that we haven’t been able to complain about his defense for quite some time? He got off to a rough start and some people just can’t get past that, and it’s too bad.
Carlos Gomez – Wow, was it frustrating when Gardy kept Gomez in the leadoff spot for so long despite his struggles and Span’s success. The only thing more frustrating was reading the same exact things every day in blog comments. Exactly the same things! Then Gardy did move him to the 9 spot, and he hasn’t been as horrible. Many want him sent to AAA or benched. Like the middle infield situation, you want a CF that can cover a lot of ground. I don’t think there is an OF in baseball that covers as much ground as Gomez does. With him now hitting 9th, I have no problem with Gomez being in the lineup most days. Sure, Denard Span could play CF too, and the drop off in CF defense and range wouldn’t be overly significant. But the drop off in RF defense from Span to Kubel or someone else would be significant. The Twins have several fly ball pitchers. With the new Soul Patrol able to cover so much ground in the OF, the Twins pitchers have to be thrilled.
Brian Bass – how is he on the roster? This is a very fair question, but the first thing to note… this is not Gardy’s fault. Gardy can only use the pitchers that are on his roster. The fact is that the bullpen has been used a lot. Matt Guerrier appears to be shot. Jesse Crain and Dennys Reyes have been used a lot. Craig Breslow has been used more. Boof Bonser and Brian Bass are on the roster and they have to be used sometimes. That’s the reality.
Randy Ruiz – some say he should be used more. Some say he should be used less. Can’t make everyone happy.
And then there is the Bill Smith bashing which is equally frustrating:
Livan Hernandez – As frustrating as he was to watch pitch, he really was only a detriment to the team in his last 10 starts. He did serve a purpose on the team. Leadership? Maybe, depends on who you ask. Allowing the Twins to be more patient with Francisco Liriano? Crucial.
Mike Lamb – it hasn’t turned out well at all, but a the time, he was the best free agent at a position of Twins need. He had played over 120 games a year the last four years in Houston. He had good on-base skills and hit a lot of extra base hits. I still think it was the right move, just hasn’t worked out.
Craig Monroe – I always enjoy the people who write that Craig Monroe didn’t need to be signed because Randy Ruiz had been signed. Ruiz had very few games above AA before this year, and no one could have anticipated what he did with the Red Wings. Is he really a better hitter than Monroe? I don’t think we can say that at all yet. He’s also older. I thought Monroe got paid too much, but he was a guy worth the risk based on his 2006 season.
Adam Everett – he has been hurt all year. That is what has been disappointing. With the bat, he is performing as should have been expected.
Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eddie Morlan – I thought this was a great trade at the time, and I think that it will be a great trade in the long term. The Twins needed hitting, and right-handed bats. They have a surplus in pitching. Makes sense. Garza has been solid. Bartlett hasn’t hit like I know he can, but his defense has drawn great praise from his teammates. Morlan was hurt much of the year. Harris has certainly played an important role for the Twins this year. Has he hit like we thought he would? No. But he has been able to play 3B when needed. Pridie struggled early but has been crushing the ball of late. To summarize, both teams are reaping the rewards from this trade already and both will for years to come.
The Johan Santana Trade – This one has been maligned by so many. My first comment is that giving any pitcher six or seven years and over $100 million is crazy. Secondly, the Twins obviously got the best available package of players. Even through his struggles, I think we have all seen the potential of Carlos Gomez. Kevin Mulvey is very young for AAA and he is more than holding his own. Philip Humber really struggled most of the year but has been very good since returning to the rotation. Deolis Guerra has been remarkably disappointing to this point in the season, but again, based on his age, it would be silly to give up on him at this point. Santana has been Santana. No surprise there.
Torii Hunter – Giving him $90 million was crazy. The already old Angels OF will be incredibly old and expensive in a couple of years!
Carlos Silva – Anyone still upset about not keeping him around after he got four years and $48 million from the Mariners?
Trade Deadline – he wasn’t able to pull off a trade ,but I 100% agree that you don’t give up the future for short-term help. Did the Twins really need a 3B? Wouldn’t have hurt, but not a huge priority. Could they have used a 2B? No knowing what Alexi Casilla’s health situation was, it was hard to answer that at the time as well.
The Bullpen – Clearly the organization likes the sinker ball of Brian Bass. Early in the year, when he was solely the long relief man, he was fine and gave some innings. The fact that Boof Bonser dropped to the bullpen and they have two long relievers, that really hurts the bullpen. Bass, I think, could clear waivers (although I have to wonder if he has as I would assume he was put on waivers after the July 31st deadline). Bonser, I think he would be claimed by several teams. I think this team needs a bullpen arm. I advocated LaTroy Hawkins for the last 4-6 weeks. Aaron Gleeman pointed out the lost opportunity with Chad Bradford. That said, he’s got another year on his deal as well, and we don’t know what it would have cost the Twins to acquire him. The Twins allegedly claimed Alan Embree and the A’s took him back. Believe me, Bill Smith is not just twiddling his thumbs. They are reviewing the waiver wire every day. I’m guessing he is spending plenty of time on the phone. He is doing what he needs to do. By the way, I’m at the point where I would probably call up Robert Delaney now.
I know people want to win now because you don’t know what will happen in the future. True and yet it also fails to remember that ‘later this year’ or ‘the playoffs’ are also in the future meaning we don’t know what would happen if the Twins do go for it this year. As I reiterate all the time, the playoffs are a crapshoot. The key is getting there and seeing what happens. I’d rather the Twins win or compete year after year than ‘go for it’ one year and give up future competitiveness for a chance this year.
OK, this got to be fairly long, but my main point would be this… the 2008 season has been incredibly exciting for the Twins. Against the odds, they have put themselves in position to win. They are a very young team, so all of these experiences the next 4-6 weeks will be very important in their development whether they struggle or succeed. They also need that. Why? Because as exciting as the 2008 Twins are, the youth means that 2009 and 2010 are likely to be even more exciting. So, we should really all be giddy right now. Instead, comments on blogs are filled with little more than criticism, complaining and self-righteous braggadocio about how things would be better if I were in charge of the team (as manager or GM). None of us would ever make a mistake. Players would execute every time and perform to expectations.
I enjoy having the Comments on this site. I would like to keep them. It’s a great means of interaction. I do enjoy hearing various, differing opinions backed with some numbers or other information. But I want it to be fun, and honestly, it isn’t terribly fun right now reading all negative comments and hearing the same things every day. I just have to wonder if any of us can just watch a Twins game without analyzing every little decision. I don’t know if I can.
So, keep the comments coming, but let’s keep it fun, and positive and civil.
Twins 4, Yankees 2
I just spent way too much time on a topic I shouldn’t have to instead of highlighting the fact that the Twins just took two of three from the New York Yankees at the Dome. The third game had many interesting storylines, but…
- As is always the case, pitching is what wins, and Kevin Slowey and his pitching were excellent on Wednesday. Slowey gave up a first-inning run for the first time in 19 starts, easily a Twins record. That was it. He gave up just that one run on just three hits in six innings. In reality, he would likely have gone one more inning because he had just 91 pitches through six. But the Twins half of the 6th involved a hit, two walks, a pitching change with unlimited warmups, an ump being knocked out and replaced and a Twins run, so it did make sense to have him done after six. It was noted that Slowey had an ERA of 9.00 against the Yankees. Ironically, that was Glen Perkins’ ERA against the Bombers before his eight shutout innings on Monday night.
- Joe Mauer was able to play which should be a relief to all Twins fans. He went 2-3 with a walk and stole his first base of the year. He also threw out Bobby Abreu trying to steal 2B.
- Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He came in to start the eighth as well, but he gave up hits to both hitters. Dennys Reyes came in and struck out the two batters he faced. Jesse Crain came in and got a strikeout, but it resulted in a wild pitch. A run scored and the inning continued. But he was able to get a fly out to end the top of the 8th. The bullpen had done well enough to get the game to Joe Nathan in the 9th. Nathan, of course, struck out two in a scoreless inning for the save.
- For the second straight game, Delmon Young hit a three run homer. It was his seventh of the year, and third in less than a week.
- The White Sox also won, so the Twins are still a 1/2 game behind them.
Twins Minor League Updates
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Steve Tolleson, New Britain Rockcats
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – David Bromberg, Beloit Snappers
Several quick minor league notes:
Brian Duensing threw 1.1 shutout innings. He got all four of the batters he faced out including two of them on strikeouts. Be sure to check out his blog Brian in Beijing.
Former Twins 3B Gary Gaetti’s son, 26 year old OF Joe Gaetti, was acquired from the Oakland A’s organization. After five years in the Rockies organization, he was released. He signed with the A’s and started in AA where he hit .316/.382/.490 with 10 extra base hits in just 24 games. He moved up to AAA where he was hitting .266/.349/.561 with ten doubles, 13 homers and 31 RBI in 51 more games. I still have no verification on if the Twins acquired him via a trade or as a free agent.
Wednesday – Rochester 5, Syracuse 3 – Kevin Mulvey improved to 6-8 and dropped his ERA to 3.73 with another quality start. He went 6.2 innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits. He walks one and struck out four. Carmen Cali gave up a hit in 0.2 innings. Bobby Korecky got the save by getting the final five outs. Matt Macri was the offensive hero. He went 3-3 with a walk, his sixth and seventh homers and four RBI. Luke Hughes was 3-3 with a walk and his fourth double. Those two accounted for six of the team’s seven hits (yes, Jason Pridie did have the other one, and a stolen base).
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday – New Britain 8, Erie 3 – Steve Tolleson and Brian Dinkelman won this game. Tolleson went 4-4 with a walk, his 24th and 25th doubles, seventh homer and three RBI. Dinkelman went 3-5 with his tenth double. David Winfree went 2-5. Jay Rainville started the game and went 5.1 innings. He gave up three runs (just one earned) on four hits. He walked and struck out two. Jose Mijares came in and allowed the two runs he inherited to score, but went 1.2 innings without allowing another run. Rob Delaney was perfect for the next two innings, with two strikeouts, to record his second save.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday – Miracle 3, Dunedin 1 – This was a very interesting game to me. A couple of pitchers were brought up to the Miracle to make an appearance. Joe Testa made the start, and got the win. He went five innings and gave up just one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out three. Andrei Lobanov struck out three in two scoreless innings. Jose Lugo got the save by going the final two innings. The Miracle offense managed just five hits. Garrett Olson went 2-2 with a walk and his fourth double. Danny Berg had an RBI double, his eighth.
Now, we shouldn’t make too much of the two pitchers called up from the GCL Twins to the Ft. Myers Miracle. Although it is technically a three level jump (over Elizabethton and Beloit), it is located in the same facility. Although I have not yet found out the reason behind these moves (I’m trying to find out), it could be one of two things. It could be that the Miracle roster was below its level and they needed someone to pitch last night. It could be a temporary fix to allow someone from Beloit to be promoted for the rest of the season (Hmmm… who could/should that be?).
UPDATE – Cole DeVries was experiencing some back pain, so he misses the start. Testa and Lobanov were chosen to walk across the parking lot and pitch for the Miracle.
Wednesday – Beloit 3, Peoria 5 – David Bromberg threw an excellent game. He threw 7.1 shutout innings and struck out 11. He gave up five hits and three walks. Santos Arias got the final two outs of the eighth inning and the Snappers had a 1-0 lead. And then the top of the 9th happened. Arias got two outs, but gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits. Michael Tarsi gave up an unearned run of his own to go with the two inherited runners he allowed to score before getting the final two outs. Ben Revere was back with another Revere-like performance. He went 2-3 with two walks and three stolen bases. He now has 41 on the season. The Snappers got two runs back in the 9th, but weren’t able to cut the deficit any further.
Wednesday – E-Twins 7, Bristol 4 – Brad Tippett put together another strong start. In seven innings, he gave up just one run on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. Steve Blevins struck out one in a perfect eighth inning. Mark Hamburger came in for the 9th and gave up three runs on five hits. Angel Morales went 3-4 with a walk and his tenth and eleventh doubles. Dominic de la Osa went 2-4 with a walk. Jonathan Waltenbury was 2-5.
GCL TWINS TALK
Wednesday – GCL Twins 1, Pirates 4 – Angelo Sanchez started this game and in three innings gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks. He did strike out four. Michael Mopas went the next three innings and gave up only an unearned run. Khol Nanney threw two shutout innings. Josmil Pinto was about the extent of the offense. The catcher went 2-4 with his ninth and tenth doubles.
Have a gooden!