Monday Morning Notes

23 Aug

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It’s going to be a quick update today. Got back from the lake pretty late last night and decided that sleep would be for the best. So, I woke up really early instead and jotted down a few notes. Today, please feel free to comment with any other thoughts that you have after a weekend series win against the Angels. Seriously, this team is playing so well right now. They won two out of three against the Angels, and two out of three against the White Sox. They had a nice 7-2 home stand and have been one of baseball’s best teams since the All Star break. The team headed to Texas late after last night’s game, and will now start a four game series against a very good Texas Rangers team. These games are important. You see, the Twins and Rangers are the current leaders in their respective divisions. Between those two teams (assuming they are the two division’s representatives in the playoffs), the team with the higher record will have home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Wild Card team. They play seven games before Labor Day, and they are important. Here are some thoughts on the Twins, but please feel free to add storylines if I missed any because I had to listen to the game on Friday night, only watched bits and pieces of the Saturday game and thanks to spending more time at the lake than planned on Sunday (a good thing), I had to listen to most of the Twins game, although I also had to spend most of the drive listening to kids’ songs.

  • Unfortunately, arguably the biggest story of the weekend was more injuries. Before the weekend started, Nick Punto was put back on the Disabled List, and Matt Tolbert was brought back. Saturday’s game was painful in a few ways. Kevin Slowey got hit in the second inning, and he left the game after the third inning with that pain behind his right elbow again. Later in the game, Ron Mahay injured his non-throwing shoulder. The two were put on the Disabled List following the game, and Nick Blackburn and Anthony Slama were called back up. Blackburn makes sense for two reasons. First, there isn’t exactly a better option at Rochester, and he has been solid there. Second, this team made a serious commitment to him this spring and will continue to give him opportunities. He has done it before and should be able to do it again. He was supposed to start for Rochester on Monday night, but instead will start for the Twins. In doing so, the Twins also pushed Francisco Liriano back to Thursday, giving him an extra three days to rest his “tired arm” I know some people don’t like that and may want him to push through it, but this is the smartest thing to do. The team has a five game lead in the division and can afford to do this. No, that doesn’t mean they are giving away anything, but Liriano is so important to this team that you have to make sure he’s right, and he’s strong, especially in September and October. And the other promotion with Anthony Slama who has certainly had some ups and downs since his return to Rochester, but is a good pitcher.
  • With Mahay on the DL, and Glen Perkins unable to get left-handed hitters out, the Twins are essentially without a Left-handed relief specialist. Unfortunately, Jose Lugo is the lone lefty in the Rochester bullpen and he’s been overused and has an ERA over 6, and walks too many. Ryan Mullins is a soft-tossing starter, but he’s out for the year with a back injury. In New Britain, Tyler Robertson (a good prospect, young, left-handed) has been pretty bad in his first AA attempt. Blake Martin was just promoted from Ft. Myers.2009 draft pick from the University of Florida, Tony Davis, is probably the lefty in the minors most ready to help the Twins, but he is walking a ton. I have no doubt that the Twins are claiming any left-handed reliever that is being put through waivers. But I also think that having a lefty specialist is quite as big of a deal as many seem to think.  The Angels won a World Series several years ago with no lefties in their bullpen. Of course, that requires that the right-handers in the bullpen actually get left-handed bats out. Or… 2010 third round pick Pat Dean, a lefty out of Boston College, is dominating at Elizabethton. Maybe he can be the Twins’ version of Chris Sale!!
  • The Twins added another game to their division lead over the White Sox this weekend thanks to some horrific scheduling. When Friday night’s game between the White Sox and the Royals was rained out, they scheduled a double-header for Saturday night. Instead of playing a day-night double header with the first game at noon and the second at the normal time, they played two games at night… In fact, the second game didn’t start until after 11:00 central time because the first game went 11 innings (and the Royals won!). That second game didn’t finish until after 2 a.m. which is terrible, and the teams had to play another 1:00 game on Sunday. Three games started and completed within about a 22 hour period. I don’t care if I’m happy that the White Sox lost two of those three, that kind of scheduling isn’t fair for anyone!
  • There are sayings that ball players use sometimes to talk about a batter taking really good swing. “Good wiggle!” “Swing out of your shoes!”  Well, after watching the swing that Danny Valencia put on his home run ball, I think those could apply as he took one of the biggest swings I have seen in a long time. Fortunately, he connected and gave the Twins a needed first run in last night’s game. With Punto back on the DL, Valencia is going to continue playing 3B. He would have anyway, even with Punto back, but Punto could have given him a day off a week or so. With Matt Tolbert as the backup option, let’s hope that Valencia doesn’t get too many more days off!
  • At 9:30 tonight, I’ll be hosting the Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. Tune in, ask questions. I’ll be taking your questions or comment on the Twins and their minor leaguers throughout the show.

Here are some notes from Sunday’s minor league games:

  • Rochester 3, Lehigh Valley 1 – Anthony Swarzak won for the fifth time this season. The righty gave up one run on five hits in 6.2 innings. He walked one and struck out four. Rob Delaney got the next four outs, two via the strikeout. Alex Burnett gave up a hit and a walk but pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. Brendan Harris and Brock Peterson each went 2-3 with a walk.
  • New Britain 3, New Hampshire 6Tyler Robertson gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks in 4.1 innings to take the loss. Loek Van Mil gave up a hit, walked three and struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings. Tony Davis threw two shutout innings. The Rockcats managed just three hits.
  • Ft. Myers and Bradenton had their game suspended in the 2nd inning. 2010 draft pick and St. Cloud State alum David Deminsky made the start for the Miracle and struck out two in two scoreless innings before the rains came.
  • Beloit 5, Burlington 8Edgar Ibarra gave up six runs (3 earned) on seven hits and three walks in five innings. Zach See then gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in his two innings. Andrei Lobanov pitched one scoreless inning. Daniel Santana was 2-4 with a walk and his second triple. Wang-Wei Lin went 2-2.
  • Elizabethton 2, Bluefield 0 (10 innings) – The winning run scored on a wild pitch, but the E-Twins are in a close division race, so they’ll take them any way they can get them. Logan Darnell started and gave up just two hits in seven shutout innings. He walked four and struck out ten. Dallas Gallant then threw two scoreless innings before Jose Gonzalez came in and recorded his fifth save. The E-Twins managed just four hits. Derrick Phillips hit his fourth double.
  • The GCL Twins had Sunday off.
  • Cole DeVries is on his way to Rochester. Will he start in place of the scheduled Nick Blackburn tonight?

Any questions or comments on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.


3 Responses to “Monday Morning Notes”

  1. mike wants wins August 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Why two utility infielders? Do most teams insist on carrying two? I’m not sure who I’d rather have up than Tolbert, but I’ve never understood the obsession with two utility infielders.

    Slama had bad outings, and good outings here. No reason to give up on him already (which I feel the Twins did when he was up).

  2. joelthing August 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Twins have a catcher, two infielders and an outfielder on their bench, today. If you have a DH that can also play the outfield, you can scratch the extra outfielder (which the Twins would probably do when Morneau comes back). The duo infielders allow for a pinch-running need, or if you need to repalce two guys in the infielder. Hopefully, one can be the third abckup at first, or that fifth outfielder.

    Too bad the Twins can’t convicne Morales to become a backup first baseman (and maybe outfielder). Imagine the third catcher also being able to play 1B or the OF?

    It is nice to have a Mike Lamb type guy on the bench, too. A better hitting (i.e. more power) 3B backup, who can also play second or first. Usually your backup for SS can play 2B.

    Now, if starters would push mroe often into the 7th inning, would there be a need for 12 pitchers?

  3. mike wants wins August 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I thought about this more. IF I could find one, I’d want another OFer that can get on base and catch the ball. I really want better late inning defense in the OF. That said, I have no idea who that would be (ideally he could also hit well – which would make him a candidate for starting, which makes the discussion silly……).

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