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.

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17 Responses to “See. Wuh. Ha. Happened.”

  1. Chris April 29, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    Seth,
    I heard Jack Morris express concern over Liriano’s mechanics this year, worried about too much strain on his arm, waddya think? I worry about the teams overall batting average seems low and the clutch hitting issue…worrisome to you or not…and finally have we just feasted early on bad teams more than our actually being dominate???
    I know, I know, “enjoy the season” Great work by the way. Chris in WBL.

  2. Span Man! April 29, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Hi Seth,

    I love reading your blog but sometimes you are way too positive. I don’t hear many negative things from you and last night’s game needs to hear negative things…lots of them. Especially when it comes to Crain. Crain is god awful. The guy is throwing batting practice out there every time. Slama or Delaney would help the team a lot more and at least provide some sort of effort. Crain looks like he doesn’t care…it’s ridiculous.

    Also, terrible coaching by Gardy last night. Why take Burnett out? And where is the ownership of the “ace” role by Baker. That guy needs to get his head out of his ___. I’m patient with Baker though because he historically starts slow.

  3. SoCalTwinsfan April 29, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    Baker was not good before the fourth inning last night, but the Tigers didn’t make him pay until the fourth. It just happened to be right after the Twins took a big lead. He had a bad game, it happens. Get over it people. In his career, opponents have a .742 OPS against Baker. In high-leverage situations, it drops to .688. And how could last night even be remotely considered a big game? Wait until the second half of the season at least, when Baker’s career ERA is 3.71 as opposed to 5.04 in the first half. He did the same thing last year when he was dominant down the stretch in a pennant race and was very good in Game 163. (Oh how quickly we forget).

    Jesse Crain has an 8-2 K/BB rate in 10 innings this season with one HR allowed. Sounds like he’s had an awful lot of bad luck. For instance, the first pitch he threw last night was down out of the strike zone and the guy hit it off the wall. Sometimes, you have to tip the cap.

  4. joe April 29, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I don’t know if it’s that some people feel some sort of satisfaction from being critical – if it makes them feel like they’re smarter or know more or something? Or if they get some sort of theraputic satisfaction from ranting to the general public when things go wrong?

    Well it’s not fun for the rest of us to read. Disagree with a move or provide a player critique, but put some thought and rationale into it. Don’t just spew imotional hyperbole. “Crain wreck”. Wow, that’s insightful AND original. It was probably funny the first time someone said it. Probably. Dead horse beating makes you look stupid.

    Let’s try to be better than that.

  5. JA April 29, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Bad nights happen, even to Jesse Crain. Players are human, not machines, they will not have their best from time to time. If Crain was so bad, what about Neshak, he was off as well. On the positive, Alex Burnett looks completely ready for even a bigger role in the pen.
    Totally agree with you Seth on the Hardy fact, he needs some time to get his knee right before it becomes a bigger issue. 15 day DL, with Plouffe up or Casilla getting some time?

  6. TT April 29, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    There are people of a variety of ages on the internet. Get used to it. 13 year olds are going to talk like 13 year olds. Some 20 year olds are still going to talk like 13 year olds. And cranky old farts are going to be cranky. They can all be Twins fans. Don’t expect much insight, intelligent analysis or originality. Be surprised and pleased when you get it.

  7. Seth April 29, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Great comments everyone… just a few quick comments:

    1.) note to self – don’t blog about a Twins loss after listening to a Fanatic Jack podcast! 🙂
    2.) I am a big Scott Baker fan. I think he’s a very good pitcher, adn in the end, he will have some very good numbers, again.
    3.) This game was anything but a big game.
    4.) Chris – on Liriano… not worried yet. Morris knows pitching, but I don’t know enough about arm injuries to pretend I know.
    5.) Joe, I don’t see the phrase “Crain Wreck” in the comments, and I’ve never once written or said it (well, I guess I just did in this note, but…).
    6.) Not ready to say that Hardy needs to go on the DL, but it would be good to give him a little time. But I also think that Hudson needs a day off.
    7.) I think Twitter is cool. It’s fun. However, as I’ve been scolded this morning, it is a very reactionary and over-reactionary place for an emotional game. I didn’t mean my Twitter comments as a negative thing. My bigger point was just to remind people that 1.) it was just one game, 2.) there will be other losses, 3.) need to look at the bigger picture too, not just one game, but the 162 game season, or at least at a 14-7 start. I apologize to those who were offended by that.

  8. Han Joelo April 29, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    I’m not saying Crain is or is not a viable long term bullpen guy, but to say he didn’t look like he cared is wrong. I’d say he did a good job of keeping his composure in spite of the Tigers just raking whatever he threw. Getting through two more innings was big.

    I was very impressed with Burnett’s mound demeanor and offerings. I thought he would be out there for at least a couple of innings. Unless he falters, I hope he is up to stay.

    As for Baker, he just can’t get Ordonez out. I think his game plan should’ve been to just walk him, but it seemed like it got in his head or something. Anyway, one lousy loss, but the positives:

    Burnett. Kubel starting to get hits to drop. Hughes looked good except for that last AB.

  9. TT April 29, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Slama is walking way too many AAA batters. How many of those strikeouts are minor league hitters chasing pitches that major league hitters will lay off? Waldrop should be ahead of him on the callup list. He doesn’t have the strikeouts, but he throws the ball over the plate.

    I think the idea that the approach when hitting 7th is the same as when hitting cleanup isn’t really true. Players should be aware of who is hitting behind them and what they can deliver. A hitter like Cuddyer who has good power but doesn’t hit for high average may feel a lot more comfortable in a spot where an all or nothing approach often has more value.

    On relievers’ roles, I think you minimize the importance of mental preparation. Knowing when they are going to be used allows pitchers to start getting ready to go into the game. Expecting that level of readiness for the entire game, day after day for 162 games is asking too much.

  10. Michael in N.Cali April 29, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    “Every team will lose 60 games.”

    Just to correct you:

    1906-Chicago Cubs 116-36
    1902-Pittsburgh Pirates 103-36
    1886-Chicago White Stockings 90-34
    1909-Pittsburgh Pirates 110-42
    1954-Cleveland Indians 111-43
    2001-Seattle Mariners 116-46
    1927-New York Yankees 110-44

    +7 more, I’m just to lazy to continue. Also, 23 teams have failed to win 60 games, so contrary to to your beliefs it is possible.

    Am I the only one who thinks Span is in the wrong here? Bad jump, looping route and then he can’t hang onto the ball. I’ll say this, he is know Austin Jackson out there!

  11. Funkytown April 29, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    Gibson perfect thru 5 innings today (THURS) in Jupiter

  12. Jon April 29, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Seth,

    You have a great baseball mind! Nice thoughts on KFAN today. Thanks for bringing everyone back down to Earth.

  13. Funkytown April 29, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Gibson 1 hitter 1 walk complete game. Faced the minimum

    Scratch single in the sixth. Picked off. walk, dp. then a hit batter in the 7th and a 2nd dp.

    Look for LaVelle to have a blog on it today, he was going to get a hold of Gibson.

    • Kyle B April 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

      Hmmmm 1 hit, 1 bb, 6 K, and a gb/fb ratio of 16:1.

      Kyle likey

      Kid will definately will be up in New Britain by mid season. And next year in Spring Training, we are going to hear people clamoring him to start up in the big leagues, but come on. We all know that’s not going to happen. I’m prettecting a September callup next year.

  14. torgo23 April 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Twins are overrated and aiming for a 5+ game losing streak. Offense needs to produce and the dead weight pitchers need to figure it out or go home.

  15. little cezar April 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    This was a bad post. A mix of irrelevant and bad analysis. What does this game have to do with scotty B’s big gameness. This wasnt a big game and he was bad from the start. Also your assertion that scott baker isnt a big game pitcher is just a perspectiveless observation. Have you charted scotts performance in say 100 “big games”? What are the qualifications of a big game. Maybe you can write an article that quantifies just how unclutch baker is along with how many wins orlando cabrerras club house leadership was worth.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hitting the Foul Pole » Blog Archive » Yeah, that game sucked. But get over it, because there’s fun to be had! - April 29, 2010

    […] Seth Stohs says it better than I can: […]

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