also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –
Before we start – Be sure to see how Joe Benson and Danny Rams did last night! Who else had good games in the Twins minor league system, you can get to that later in today’s blog.
Day 1 of my Twins Train experience was a long one, but it was a lot of fun. Things got started when the chartered bus left its starting point at a little before 2:00 a.m. central time. A rest area stop, a breakfast stop and a quick lunch break were the only stops along the drive. We arrived in Detroit at our hotel by about 3:15 p.m. (Eastern time). The 12 hour drive wasn’t bad at all, very comfortable. At about 5:00, we went over to Comerica Park and watched batting practice. The ushers were very nice, welcoming us Twins fans to the stadium. Watching Twins batting practice was a lot of fun. Watching Jason Kubel and Jim Thome hit blast after blast was very fun. Kubel puts on a display of towering shot after towering shot.
When the game started, we went to our seats out in left field, right behind the Twins bullpen. We got to see Francisco Liriano warming up, up close and personal. I have to say, that the Detroit fans (OK, probably a small percentage of them, but still…) were as rude as I have ever seen. I’m certain alcohol was involved in a couple of situations. Once the game started, and Francisco Liriano got absolutely lit up, it only got worse. But that’s alright, we laughed about it and still had a great time even if the Twins didn’t play well at all.
Please do me a quick favor. Click on this Twins Train link and just peruse the site a little bit. There are two more Twins Train trips on the schedule for August, and that Lambeau Field trip this fall. Just check out the itineraries. It is nearly a step-by-step account of trip. You can see what is on the schedule for today in Detroit too. People on this trip are already talking about doing another trip, whether this year or making it more of a one trip a summer thing.
Several on the bus were closely following the Twitter updates throughout the trip and throughout the day. I have been posting semi-frequent tweets (which you can see if you Follow Me at www.Twitter.com/SethTweets). The day started with posts about how Cliff Lee was going to the Yankees, that it was imminent. In the afternoon, it was reported that it was agreed but Seattle had to say yes. Soon after, Seattle said No, that they were concerned about one of the Yankees prospects coming over. And in a strange twist, it didn’t take long before it was announced that the Mariners were sending Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers in exchange for 1B Justin Smoak and three other prospects.
I have received several questions about what a similar package from the Twins would have looked like. Smoak ranks probably even a little higher than Aaron Hicks in most prospect ranking lists, but he already has experienced some big league success, so there really isn’t a comparable there. The pitchers acquired are probably similar to something like Deolis Guerra and Carlos Gutierrez. So, think about that, would you (or should the Twins) have considered offering a package of Aaron Hicks, Wilson Ramos, Deolis Guerra and Carlos Gutierrez for 2-3 months of Cliff Lee? I think not.
Some have wondered what the Cliff Lee trade does to potential sales of the TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer. Well, thank you for your concern, but I think that, although Lee was a huge hope for the Twins and several other teams, it should only increase interest in the primer. Lee was The Big Fish, of sorts, in this trade deadline. But now what happens? Teams like the Twins, Phillies, Reds and all the other teams believed to be in the Lee Sweepstakes will have to look elsewhere. Will they look at Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, Kevin Millwood or other available starters like Ted Lilly? And there are still a lot of relievers and position players that are available too. Maybe teams that didn’t get Lee will focus on shoring up other positions. So, I believe that the value of what is in the Trade Deadline Primer may be even more relevant now. Again, you can pick up your copy on Monday! Over 175 pages of content for just $9.95.
The other question I am getting a lot is “Should the Twins be sellers at this point?” To that, I can’t help but shake my head. First, the Twins are only three games back in the AL Central. To sell now would really hurt. Let’s not forget the typical M.O. of this team, to come from behind in the division and win it. They did it in 2006. They did it in an even more unlikely way in 2009. So, three games back in early July should not have you thinking they should be sellers… yet. This roster has too much talent and they SHOULD be better, and they should get better.
That said, this team has been incredibly disappointing. And the struggles are going on two months now. When do the Twins play their best? When expectations are low. When have they been most disappointing? When expectations are high. This team loves the underdog role.
Do I think Ron Gardenhire should be fired? I have to admit, I’m listening to his detractors a lot more of late, but I would still say that is not the right answer. But something needs to happen to get this team playing. All those attributes that we as Twins fans like to hold on to, things like Twins playing hard, doing little things right, the little engine that could, kind of stuff… none of that is true with this team. The Twins will be in the top 10 in the league in revenues in 2010. They have a payroll of nearly $100 million. Watching them play when the payroll was closer to $60 million was much more fun. They at least played hard.
Also, nothing annoys me more than called third strikes. Uggh!
Quick Minor League Highlights:
- Rochester lost 8-6 to Pawtucket. Wilson Ramos was 3-4. Brock Peterson went 2-3 with a walk and his 13th home run. Brian Dinkelman was 2-4 with a walk and his fifth home run. Jacque Jones and Jose Morales were each 2-5. Brendan Harris got another hit to raise his average to .095. But it was his first Red Wings home run. Matt Fox started and gave five runs on four hits and three walks in four innings. Rob Delaney took the loss as he gave up three runs (2 earned) on two hits in two innings. Anthony Slama pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two. He also gave up a hit and a walk.
- New Britain lost 7-5 to Portland, but Joe Benson hit his 12th and 13th home runs (at AA, he has 17 now total). Chris Parmelee hit his fifth AA homer. Tyler Robertson fell to 1-9. He gave up seven runs on ten hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. Cole DeVries struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings.
- Ft. Myers beat St. Lucie 3-1 behind another strong performance by Dan Osterbrock. He gave up no runs, two hits and one walk in six innings. He struck out seven. Joe Testa recorded the save. He gave up one run on two hits in three innings. Evan Bigley went 2-4 with his 20th double. Estarlin de Los Santos went 2-4 with his second triple. Angel Morales was 1-2 with a walk.
- Danny Rams led off the bottom of the 9th with his eighth home run, given the Snappers a 4-3, walk-off win over Wisconsin. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with his 24th double. Miguel Munoz gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in seven innings. Eliecer Cardenas got the win with two scoreless, hitless (two-walk) innings.
- Elizabethton lost 4-2 to Princeton in Appy League action. Ryan O’Rourke gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings. He didn’t walk any, but he struck out six. Jean Mijares pitched one scoreless inning. Danny Ortiz went 2-3. Oswaldo Arcia hit his sixth double. Jhonatan Arias hit his first double.
- The GCL Twins lost 3-2 to the GCL Red Sox. Alexi Casilla went 1-3 with a double. Kennys Vargas went 2-4. Fred Hanvi and Candido Pimentel each doubled. Cesar Ciurcina threw five shutout innings. He gave up three hits and a walk while striking out four. Nathan Fawbush gave up three runs on one hit and two walks in 1.1 innings. Bart Carter gave up a hit that scored the runs but got the next two outs. Eddie Ahorrio pitched a scoreless inning.
So that’s it for today. We are heading to the Comerica Park area early, maybe check out Chris Chelios’s bar or some of the other establishments down there. We get a nice pregame meal, and our seats will be along the third base line. Game time is 4:00 here, 3:00 in Minnesota.
What do you think? Please feel free to comment on anything you’ve read today.