The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

26 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

This morning, I will join Paul Allen on KFAN and KFAN.com at about 9:20 a.m. If you’re able to listen, that would be great. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday was a difficult day for Twins fans. After Scott Baker and AJ Burnett exchanged zeroes for five innings on Tuesday night, their game was suspended. The teams played the final four innings of that game on Thursday afternoon. In those four innings, only one run was scored, a solo home run off the bat of Derek Jeter. Game 1 – Yankees 1, Twins 0. In the second game, Francisco Liriano was very good. Through seven innings, he gave up just two runs. Unfortunately, through eight innings, the two teams each had just two runs. Jon Rauch came in for the 9th inning and gave up a solo home run to Nick Swisher. That was it. Game 2 – Yankees 3, Twins 2.  

There was some Good, Some Bad, and some Ugly in the games on Wednesday:

The Good

  • Starting Pitching. Scott Baker was great on Tuesday night, and Francisco Liriano was very good on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Twins and their fans, the Yankees starters were just as well. AJ Burnett matched Baker’s five shutout innings on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Andy Pettitte was impressive, giving up just two runs in eight innings.
  • The bullpens – Brian Duensing gave up the solo home run to Jeter, but that was all in three innings. Jesse Crain pitched a very good ninth inning. Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless 8th inning in the night game.
  • Drew Butera – Butera did a really good job of working with Liriano. He also picked up his first double of his career late in the game to set up a Twins rally. Speaking of doubles, Delmon Young hit a long double to CF that scored Michael Cuddyer.

The Bad

  • Runners on 1st and 3rd, nobody out, Orlando Hudson up. He gets jammed by Pettitte and lines back to the pitcher very softly for the first out of the inning.
  • Runners on 1st and 3rd, now one out, Joe Mauer up. On a 3-1 pitch, Pettitte throw another slider on the outer part of the plate. Mauer reached and lined a tailor-made double play ground ball to Derek Jeter.
  • Remember when the Twins used to actually do all the little things right? I miss those annoying days of getting bunts down and moving runners over and coming up with so much as a sacrifice fly when there is a runner on third and less than two outs. I know that nationally, the Twins are perceived as doing the little things. This team does not do the little things and that is what loses one run games to teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays. You can usually get away with it against all of the other teams in the league, but not the good teams.

The Ugly

  • The Twins have an early 1-0 lead. Runner on 1st and one out. Francisco Cervelli grounds to Brendan Harris, who throws to 2B Orlando Hudson for the force out at 2B. Hudson takes a step back, cleans off the ball on his pants leg, grabs a sandwich out of his back pocket, eats it (please note, this is a slight exaggeration), then throws the ball to 1B, missing a double play by inches. The inning continued and Kevin Russo drove in Cervelli with a double. Hudson’s occasional lapses are allegedly the reason that he lost playing time to Ronnie Belliard down the stretch with the Dodgers last year. Earlier in the year, I was told to expect many such instances. They have actually been few and far between, but this one hurt.
  • The fact that Brendan Harris playing every day is making Twins fans clamor for Nick Punto’s return to the lineup. Or Danny Valencia’s promotion to the big leagues. Harris has gone 6-39 in May, and that includes a 3-4 game earlier in the month.
  • The Twins media seems to perpetuate this sense that the Yankees are a far better team and organization than the Twins. I have the utmost respect for the Yankees organization and most of their players, but I also believe that the Twins starting nine is just as good. I’m tired of hearing that the team “has to play perfect ball” to beat the Yankees.
  • Even worse, the Twins play against the Yankees proves that media right!
  • Speaking of the media – stop talking about the Twins inability to hit home runs. Please stop saying that ball would have been a homer in the Metrodome. Yes, home runs are great, but both teams play on the same field, and while the Twins players have allowed the frustration of lack of home runs affect them, other teams haven’t. Opponents have twice as many home runs as the Twins at Target Field. And on this day, Joe Mauer just missed a homer in the second game. JJ Hardy just missed what would have been a game-tying homer off of Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning. But you know what… Derek Jeter was able to get one out of there. Nick Swisher was able to get one out of there. So no, it’s not impossible to homer in Target Field. And, I hate to agree with Bert Blyleven, but even if there aren’t homers, the field plays the same for both teams, so you have to still find ways to win games.
  • The ugliest – my attitude while watching the offensive ineptitude. And I’m the positive Twins blogger, right? Even I’m more than a little frustrated. No, I’m not ‘the sky is falling down’ like Fanatic Jack, and I still believe that what happens in these May games won’t necessarily affect what happens in October. It’s just frustrating to keep losing close games, especially against a Yankees team that frankly, isn’t that terribly great.

The Twins and Yankees play again tonight, with Nick Blackburn going against Sergio Mitre.

Here is a quick glance at what happened on Wednesday in the Twins minor league system:

SethSpeaks Wednesday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jair Fernandez – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Wednesday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Not Applicable Tonight

Red Wings Report   

Wednesday – Rochester No Games Scheduled in International League.  

New Britain Notes

Wednesday – New Britain 6, New Hampshire 11David Bromberg started and gave up four runs on nine hits in the first six innings. He walked two and struck out two. Joe Testa came in and gave up four runs on three hits and two walks (and two hit batters) in just one inning. Chris Province gave up three runs on five hits in two innings. Jair Fernandez went 2-4 with a triple. Steve Singleton was 2-4. Erik Lis hit his third home run and drove in three runs.  

Singleton Update – On May 5th, Steve Singleton was hitting .192. Since then, he has gone 29-77 (.377) and is now hitting .281.

Miracle Matters

Wednesday – Ft. Myers 4, Bradenton 10 – Michael Tarsi got lit up but at least was able to go five innings. He gave up eight runs (7 earned) on 11 hits, including two home runs. He walked none and struck out five. Shooter Hunt gave up two runs on three hits in three innings. He walked one, hit one and struck out three in three innings. Chris Parmelee went 2-4 while five other hitters each hit a double.    

Snappers Snippets

Wednesday – Beloit 1, Quad Cities 6Edgar Ibarra started and gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in four innings. He struck out five. Jhon Garcia gave up one run on three hits in two innings. He struck out three. Eliecer Cardenas gave up an unearned run on two hits in two innings. The Snappers managed just four hits. Angel Morales hit a triple.  

If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment here. 

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16 Responses to “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”

  1. Andrew May 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    At Target Field, the scoreboard said that the Yankees’ scheduled starter would be Javier Vazquez, not Mitre.

  2. Richard May 27, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Twins bottom of the order is terrible. Baseball is a game of 27 outs. Twins give up six outs whenever they play some combination of Punto, Harris, and Casilla. The solution to this is call up Valencia to play 3B. After slumping the beginning of the seaon, he has brought his average up to .301. His defense has gotten better. Call Valencia up! Maybe he can hit .300 in the big leagues!

  3. Mark May 27, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    What we are seeing is the difference between a champion and an also ran. The Twins have good players but they lack a team leader. Gardenhire is everyones buddy, he has let team discipline lag, Mauer and Morneau are great players but they are not Kirby Puckett type I’ll put you on my back and carry you leaders. It amazing that Texeria hitting around .200 has as nearly as many RBI as Morneau at .370.

  4. ricky May 27, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Valencia has an empty average right now. He’s slugging below .400. Plouffe or Luke Hughes should still be ahead. I’m even thinking they should give Joe Crede a call. His price should be down. Not sure about his health though. There’s not a lot of 3b options though that could really help the team. At least the rotation is doing good

  5. TT May 27, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    “Baseball is a game of 27 outs. ”

    That isn’t really true and simplifying things to that degree leads to misleading conclusions.

    “Twins give up six outs whenever they play some combination of Punto, Harris, and Casilla. ”

    Casilla has a the fourth best OBP on the team after Mauer, Morneau and Thome. So he hasn’t been making a lot of outs. Of course he hasn’t played that much either. But then I wouldn’t draw a lot of conclusions about Punto and Harris based on less than 100 plate appearances either. Based on their past performance they are not close to being automatic outs. In fact, Punto had one of the team’s better OBP last year, despite his lousy batting average.

  6. ricky May 27, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Brendan Harris BABIP is 100 below his career average. Maybe he’s likely to get out of his slump and get back to his normal slash line.

  7. Richard May 27, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Valencia got off to horrendous start this season. He was batting .152 for the first few weeks of the seaon. Since then he has batted around .350 for the past 30 games or so. His slugging percentage is way over .400 is you throw out the first few weeks of the season. Hughes is batting .246 and is on the DL. Plouffe is a SS and hasnt played 3B. I would take a chance on Valencia who is a career .300 hitter in the minors. He can’t be any worse than Punto (.218) and Harris (.176).

  8. TT May 27, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    “Valencia has an empty average right now.”

    I agree Valencia isn’t ready to help and his numbers may be a disappointment to people who thought he was. But he actually looks like he is making progress. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. He seems to be cutting down on his strikeouts and making contact. He has power and if he can learn to hit the breaking ball and make consistent contact, his power will eventually come through.

    His defense is a different question. You really can’t draw any conclusions from the data beyond whether he has cut down his errors. And the sample size for that is way too small at this point.

    The point of the minor leagues is to get better and as long as a player is doing things to improve, he has a shot. Valencia seems to be doing that.

  9. mike wants wins May 27, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    It’s all on Cuddy, Mauer and Kubel right now (and Young). None of those guys is delivering to either their contract (Mauer has to be better than this, power wise, or he’s not worth this much money) or their ability. Is Cuddy the Cuddy that had two good to very good years, or this one (and this is not his first year like this)? Is Young ever going to be even league average in OPS for a LF? Will Kubel hit again, or did something happen? Yes, they need a real 3B, yes SS is a black hole on offense right now. But, none of that matters if those four don’t hit.

  10. TT May 27, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I think people have to stop goal-posting numbers. There is nothing wrong with comparing arbitrary periods of the season, but when you choose the period to get the data that best supports your conclusion, the conclusion isn’t very meaningful.

    Over the last ten games Valencia has hit .282 with a .308 SLG (he had one extra base hit). Ten games is an arbitrary period from the minor league site. Valencia hit .256 in April, he is hitting .341 so far in May. A month is also arbitrary.

    How well Singleton has hit since May 5th isn’t for an arbitrary period. It was chosen to highlight (and exaggerates) how much he has improved.

  11. Large Canine May 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    clutch performance! You either do it or you don’t. I can go into a gym right now and hit a half court shot. With no one looking, no one on me and nothing on the line. I can’t hit that shot in the NCAA national title game with 3 seconds on the clock. The Twins can pad their stats with no one on base and against any team not wearing pinstripes. They can’t do it with RISP and when they really need to. I predict a 96 win season with a first round playoff loss to the Yankees. I would much rather the Twins win only 82 games, have 2 stud pitchers and win the WS.

  12. brisbane May 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Sure am glad they have that swagger this year.

  13. Mark May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Thats one of their problems… to much swagger not enough delivery

  14. USAFChief May 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    “But then I wouldn’t draw a lot of conclusions about Punto and Harris based on less than 100 plate appearances either”

    Brendan Harris has over 1000 PAs since joining the Twins. He’s posted a .255/.314/.367 line.

    Nick Punto has over 2500 PAs since joining the Twins. He’s posted a .248/.322/.325 line.

    Can we draw some conclusions from THAT data?

  15. TT May 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    “Can we draw some conclusions from THAT data?”

    You can, I wouldn’t. No more than I would expect Thome’s career numbers to reflect his level of production this year. Or JJ Hardy’s for that matter.

    Punto’s OBP last year was .337, the year before that it was .344. I believe both of those were above league average. He had a lousy 2007, but his best OBP was .352 in 2006. Harris is not that good, but he still isn’t an automatic out.

  16. 8th Inning guy May 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Cuddyer is key to this twins offensive funk. No other player in the league benefits more from where they hit in a lineup than does he. He isn’t taking advantage. He is taking morneau out of the equation more and more. Why doesn’t gardy consider moving him to 6th or 7th in the order? Take some pressure off him and see how he responds. His AB’s in the last week have been brutal. How often is he down 0-2? How about an ocasional day off to get the dust of thome?

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