Twins Notes

28 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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.

Last night, I was joined late in the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast by Brandon Warne of BrandonWarne.com, Upper Deck Report and FanGraphs.com.

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:

RT @brandonwarne52 SethTweets T/F Parmelee can replicate his AA numbers in the bigs in near future (2-3 years)?

 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.

RT @sasgendo @SethTweets Is there any prospect in the Twins system you have your eye on that may be a little under the radar?

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.

  Feel free to comment.

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26 Responses to “Twins Notes”

  1. Gord September 28, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    Lance Ray had 16 home runs at Beloit.

    • Seth September 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      corrected… thank you!

  2. Chuck September 28, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Would like to correct part of your blog. Mike Maroth was named this month as the pitching coach for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Lakeland is in the Florida State League. Mike Redmond was manager of the Lansing Lugnuts which is an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Lansing Lugnuts are in the Midwest League.

    • Seth September 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      Corrected. Thank you!

  3. jim September 28, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Nick Lockwood lead all Twins minor league infielders with a .991 stat line with only 2 fielding errors in over 300 chances. Gardy says he wants defense……take a look at that line…WOW

    • Seth September 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      very impressive.

  4. peterb18 September 28, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Disagree with your comments on Bert. Hope he continues on the broadcast and to continue to call a spade a spade. As far as Slowey is concerned, did you notice the look on his face after some plays in the field? That says it all! He is self-centered and a problem in the clubhouse.
    Tosoni has shown promise the last week. But, time will tell. However, it appears that Hughes is a marginal big-leaguer at best.
    The season was summed up the other night in the 9th inning when Tolbert pinched hit for Butera. Sub 200 hitter pinch hitting for another sub 200 hitter!

    • adjacent September 28, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      If we are going to judge the pitchers for how they react to misplays in the field, what do we have to say about Pavano? Between you and me, to keep your cool with this fielding, you almost have to be St. Francis, or somebody like that.

  5. mike wants wins September 28, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Excellent post, Seth. Thanks for the updates during the year.

  6. Grant A September 28, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Your dismissal of Bert is a bit harsh – even if his criticism of Slowey went overboard (granted, if I had to watch the entirety of every Twins game this season I too would lose my temper).

    There’s nothing reprehensible about a team’s broadcasters criticizing the team. And frankly it’s obnoxious when a team’s broadcasters are obstinate homers.

    And the reason people believe you dislike Ben Revere is based on your own commentary, such as on Twitter a few weeks back when you scoffed at the notion of him receiving a single ROY vote. Granted, he’s clearly not the best rookie in the AL this year, but he’s accrued nearly 2 WAR, which places him in the top 10 amongst position-player rookies.

    • mike wants wins September 28, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      I don’t get how saying someone is not the best rookie in the league means you “hate” them. Bizarre definition of hate. Truly bizarre. Seth has had Revere in his top 10 prospects every year since he was drafted. Criticism and honest assesment does not equal hate, it just doesn’t.

    • JS September 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      Revere doesn’t deserve any ROY votes. Have you seen the rookie class in the AL this year? The ROY ballot has 3 spots. Top ten doesn’t cut it.

      Ben Revere is a fine player, and I think he’ll help the team in the years to come, but a star he is not.

      • Seth September 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

        That’s exactly my point… a Rookie of the Year ballot gets three votes. I would vote Hellickson, Trumbo, Nova, Hosmer, Arencibia all ahead of Revere, and that’s without looking at who I’m forgetting.

  7. mike wants wins September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    As an announcer, Bert is pretty bad. He rarely says anything instightful at all. It’s a series of cliches, over and over again. And, he is a homer. It’s clear he says what the Twins want him to say.

  8. gobbledy September 28, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    as i said yesterday berts actions early in his career were a lot worse than anything slowey has done.
    imo you can get by with plouffe and tasoni sharing rf, with plouffe being a utility guy in the infield and get cuddy production out of them for 10m less. best bet at improving the ss spot is clint barmes about the only semi decent ss free agent they can afford. another catcher that can play 100 games and hit along with a new 3b after valencia is traded the lineup should be a little better, get them back to .500. that leaves a really lot of work to fix the pitching staff and i have no idea how you start with that.

    • DH in Philly September 29, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      Bert could pitch – I see no evidence of that ability from Slowey, who is loved only as the second-string QB is loved (eg. why isn’t he pitching? he couldn’t be worse than what we have!).

      • mike wants wins September 29, 2011 at 11:21 am #

        Slowey was a better pitcher than Duensing or Blackburn coming into this year, this isn’t at all like the 2nd string QB (I can’t believe I am defending Slowey, I’ve not been in that position before).

  9. Mark September 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    With respect to Parmalee going back to the minors for another half season, frankly, I think that approach is over. We need to realize that the 100 loss season is not an aberration and that we are now in rebuilding mode.

    “Rushing” players through the minors is not a bad thing, particularly if you are a rebuilding team that is not focused on winning at the major league level. The Twins did it in 1982, moving players like Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Jim Eisenreich, Randy Bush, Frank Viola and Tim Laudner from A and AA level to the major leagues were they stayed. Seemed to have worked out for them.

    The slow pace of moving prospects up the minor leagues one rung at a time is not going to work, and actually has probably worked to the detriment of the team for quite some time. If Kent Hrbek would have been drafted by the modern Twins organization, he would have started in GCL as a late round HS player. Moved to Elizabethton the next year. Then, after smashing the ball there, to Beloit the next. Maybe he would have spent the second half of that season in Ft Myers, but he would have repeated that step the following year with a late promotion to New Britain. Then to New Britain to start the next season, some time in Rochester, and then onto the Twins. That is a minimum of 5 years in the minors. By the time he becomes an established player, it is his 6th year of professional baseball (this is the exact path that Justin Morneau followed). To put that in perspective, Hrbek in his actual first six years of professional baseball career already had 3 complete seasons at the MLB level, with 67 MLB homers, and had finished 2nd in the AL MVP race.

    Next year, Chris Parmalee and Joe Benson needs to be in the lineup. Brian Dozier needs to be in the lineup. Liam Hendricks needs to be in the rotation. Even Brian Dinkelman needs to play. They need to continue to put Ben Revere out there. They need to sink, or swim. If they lose 102 games like the 1982 Twins team did, then that is the price we pay to rebuild the roster. Some of these prospects will work out and others will not. Along the way there will be other prospects added to the mix, as the 1982 group added players like Kirby Puckett and Greg Gagne. A couple of players may come out of no where, veteran players can be added to fill holes like the Twins did with Dan Gladden, Roy Smalley, Juan Berenguer and Bert Blyleven, or how the 1991 team used Pags, Chili Davis, Shane Mack, Bryan Harper, Night Train Willis, and especialy Jack Morris.

    It takes time and patience. And many of the guys we have followed on Seth’s site are going to be critical ingredients to the process.

    • mike wants wins September 29, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      What a great post. Really. Had parmalee and Benson been promoted this year, like they should ahve been, we wouldn’t have to hear all this baloney about them not having any time at AAA. This is exactly what I’ve been saying for years. Thanks for saying it so well.

      • Seth September 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

        I agree with some of it… I would add that until about August 1, this wasn’t a rebuilding year. 2012 will be a little different. I also don’t believe in pushing guys beyond what they can do. it’s not about “getting time in AAA”, it’s about making sure they’re ready for the big leagues when they’re called up. Nothing about Parmelee’s 580 or so AA at bats screams that he’s big league ready, and his defense needs a little work. What he’s done in 60-70 big league plate appearances is great! But would be no harm in another 200 AAA at bats next year. I am a huge Benson guy, but if you watch him and think that another 200 minor league plate appearances woudln’t help, I’m missing something. Or Hendriks is a very solid prospect, but it’s not like he dominated in AAA. He could come up and be OK, probably, but there’s no reason for it.

  10. rhobbs September 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Seth, you will think I lost my mind perhaps but why wouldn’t the Twins re-acquire Nick Punto? He is infinitely better than any middle infielder they have and has the fire that this disinterested lot needs. He is a free agent. Also, I agree with you on Bert. For a guy who played 20 plus years in the Show, he seems to know nothing about the game. He incessantly mouths the same old cliches and BS. To compare him to Jon Miller is to compare a stripper to Baryshnikov.

    • gobbledy September 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

      punto has played 62 games this year. the last thing we need is anohter guy that will spend half the year on the dl.

      • rhobbs September 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

        That is the thinking that sent JJ Hardy and his 29 homers to Baltimore. You should be worried about what the guy will do NEXT year.

      • Seth September 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

        30 HR for Hardy. 🙂

        I’d have no problem bringing Punto back at the $750,000 he got last year. I would have been fine with that this year. He’s defensively incredible.

      • mike wants wins September 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

        Lots of us said bring Punto back for $1MM.

  11. Shane Wahl October 1, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Why would Arcia be added in the offseason? Isn’t the case that if a player is signed before they turn 18 that they get 5 years with the organization before needing to be added to the 40-man?

    Rushing vs. holding back too long is a difficult balance. I am convinced that both Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young would be much better players today if they each spent another year at AAA back in 2007 or whatever. You don’t want to ruin players by pushing them too quickly before they learn to round out their game. Benson must work on making contact still. Parmelee may be ready, but 200 at bats at Rochester would test his consistency. Tosoni should have not been brought up this year until September. Dustin Martin would have been a better player for the Twins to call up as he would have performed better (even if only marginally) and he is not a top 50 prospect, so there isn’t much risk in damaging his future (they did it with Dinkelman, so why not Martin?).

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