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Tonight will mark Game #162 for the Minnesota Twins. I have to admit, it is a bit bittersweet thing for me. As much as this 2011 season needs to end, and we all need a break from the negativity for a while. At the same time, it’s a realization that we won’t see any live Twins baseball games until next February in Florida. That means we’ll go through October, November, December, January and half of February with nothing. As much as the losing has been frustrating, it is always enjoyable to watch your favorite team play, and for me, seeing all of the young players get an opportunity is very fun.
Of course, there is no real offseason in baseball, at least not for the teams or for bloggers. The fun begins as soon as the World Series is complete and players become free agents. Things like the 40 man roster decisions, trade discussions, free agents and rumors for all of the above will be prevalent, and we’ll continue to discuss those here. However, TwinsCentric is already working on the 2011/2012 Twins Offseason GM Handbook. That should be available by the end of the World Series, just before all of the Hot Stove League action begins. So, be sure to watch out for that.
It was always funny to me that many fans seemed to be rather negative on Rene Tosoni. Yes, a couple of weeks ago, he was hitting about .160 in his big league time. However, so many seemed to forget that when he was first called up to the Twins, he had played in just 19 games in AAA after missing the final 2/3 of the 2010 season with shoulder surgery. A year ago, I called him Jason Kubel-light. The only weakness in his game has been his inability to hit left-handed pitching. He is a good outfielder. In the minor leagues, he played a vast majority of his games in right field. He occasionally would get a game in center field, but he really is a corner outfielder. He has played a lot of left field with the Twins after hardly ever playing there in the minor leagues. I mentioned last week that I thought he was being almost too patient. I would say that has changed since then. He is currently on an eight-game hitting streak during which time he is 10-22 (.455) with five doubles and two home runs. He now has five home runs on the season after hitting a huge grand slam in last night’s win.
Trevor Plouffe has certainly had his ups and downs with the Twins this season. We have seen the power and power potential. We have seen good defense, and occasionally we see some really bad defense at shortstop. We have seen him get time at 2B, left field, right field, and we know that he got some time at 1B in Rochester. He has also played 3B in the past. After a slump early in September, he now has seven multi-hit games in his last 11 games played. In that time, he also has four doubles and two home runs.
I have been tough on Ben Revere since he has come up. I often get accused of ‘hating’ Ben Revere. I ranked him as the Twins #7 or 8 Twins prospects after last season. I’ve had him as high as #3. I am a big fan of Ben Revere. I would also say that when he was hitting .260/.290/.290, he wasn’t hitting very well. I will stand by that. However, at no point did I say that he has no value looking forward. Everything in his minor league track record says that he will hit for a better average, and if he can get on base at a 35% clip, he can be very valuable. Although not a great outfielder yet, his range is terrific. The arm is what it is. We’ll just have to deal with it. If he gets on base 35% of the time, he could steal 70-80 bases. Those intangibles that Dick and Bert seem to mention all the time, like the energy and excitement he brings and his nice smile. Those things mean a lot more when he’s hitting and getting on base. And hey, in September, he is hitting .320/.353/.361. That’s still just a .714 OPS, but that one month sample is the type of numbers that we can really hope to see from Revere in coming years.
I mentioned Dick and Bert, and I really wish I took my own advice and muted the Twins telecast on FSN. Their negative comments and shots at Kevin Slowey have been far over the line. During Slowey’s start on Monday night, it was unbelievable. He has been terrific for five innings in his past two starts. He has then struggled in the sixth innings. Not surprising completely, and it is something that Slowey will need to work on. But Blyleven went out of his way to be just mean. When discussing why Slowey was having issues in the middle innings, Bert responded by saying that ‘his problems started in April.’ I get it, Bert was frustrated that Slowey didn’t want to move to the bullpen and struggled to transition to that. Fine. But, Bert and Dick don’t make negative comments about current Twins players. So, the fact that they did speak in such tones means that it is coming from the Twins (be it the manager, one of the coaches, someone). Slowey deserves better than that. Here’s hoping that the Twins kept Bert Blyleven around on TV for 2011, his Hall of Fame season, and it will be his last season with the Twins broadcast team.
Since being called up August 28th, Rene Rivera is 2-29.
Twins fans should turn their attention to the Minnesota Lynx, don’t you think? I mean, Minnesota is so used to losing, why not follow the team that is heading to the WNBA championship series to face Atlanta. Game 1 will be on Sunday.
Mike Maroth lost 20 games with the Tigers in their epically bad season almost a decade ago. After losing a couple of years to injury, the Twins signed him to a minor league deal a couple of years ago, sent him to AAA, he made a couple of appearances, but he didn’t make it to the Twins. He was hurt most of that year too. Anyway, he was named the pitching coach of Lakeland yesterday. That is the High Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers in the Florida State League.
On Tuesday, the Twins claimed RHP Esmerling Vasquez from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will turn 28 years old in November. He throws pretty hard, averaging 93.4 mph on his fastball in 2011 .He also throws a changeup about 15% of the time at about 83.5%, and he throws a 75.1 mph curveball about 15% of the time. In parts of three seasons with the Diamondbacks’ big league club, he has walked 80 and struckout 120 in 137.1 innings. In his minor league career, he has 276 walks and 478 strikeouts in 512.1 innings. Based on that, he appears to be another Jim Hoey or Juan Morillo. He throws hard, but can’t throw strikes. Lester Oliveros’s minor league numbers say the same thing about him. However, he is still just 23, so there is hope for a little improvement with him. Then again, it doesn’t hurt to add another hard thrower to the 40 man roster. A lot of players on the current 40 man roster will be coming off of the 40 man roster after the season. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Matt Capps will be free agents. Joe Nathan may become a free agent. Several players could be non-tendered. Several others with less than 3 years of experience could also be removed from the 40 man roster. Frankly, the two players in the Twins farm system that are obvious adds to the 40 man roster are Carlos Gutierrez and Oswaldo Arcia. There are a few others (Solarte, Morales, Stuifbergen, Perez, Pugh) that have to be strongly considered. But this is a free opportunity to get a hard thrower on the 40 man roster before he becomes a free agent.
To make room for Vasquez on the 40 man roster, the Twins put Alexi Casilla and his hamstring on the 60 Day DL.
Things are definitely starting to get more and more interesting for the Cedar Falls Hoose-Cows!!! Check out the latest installment here.
The Twins will be playing tonight, trying to avoid losing 100 games. Although finishing 63-99 is really not much better than going 62-100, it will be nice to keep the losses to double digits.
A couple of quick Twitter Questions:
True – I would agree with that. Parmelee has been very impressive in September, even hitting his fourth home run last night. But as I mentioned last week, I’ve been as impressed with his approach at the plate as the actual results. Although I do believe he needs another half-season in the minor leagues (and his first half-season in AAA), I do think that he has shown enough that the team can feel fine if they need to call him up early in the season as a replacement.
There are a lot of guys that I think are under the radar. I think there is a perception that the Twins minor league system is weak. And, maybe some of the teams have been, but that does not mean that there are not some very good individual prospects. Brian Dozier seemingly came out of nowhere. I ranked him in the 30s last year, and this year, he’s definitely in the Top 15. To name a maybe underrated player from each affiliate:
- Rochester – Aaron Bates – although he signed with the Twins in early May as a minor league free agent, he had a terrific AAA season, and he’s still just 26 years old.
- New Britain – Chris Herrmann – There were a lot of very good prospects in New Britain this year (Dozier, Benson, Parmelee, Solarte, etc.) I think that Chris Herrmann has a chance to contribute to the Twins in several ways starting in 2013. His ability to get on base is incredible.
- Ft. Myers – Dan Rohlfing – he spent a bit of time in New Britain as a backup catcher, but he moved back down to Ft. Myers and played nearly every day, including some time in the outfield. He took a big step forward in 2011.
- Beloit – Lance Ray – The lefty hitting 1B/RF has a great swing and a gap power. He hit 16 homers this year too. After a slow start, he put up some good numbers.
- Elizabethton – JD Williams – Everyone talked about Sano and Rosario, but Williams was incredible. He hit over .320 and got on base 44% of the time.
- GCL Twins – Josh Hendricks – The Australian 1B is probably the name to watch. He’s a big kid from Australia who has good power.
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