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Alexi and Arbitration

11 Feb

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In the next couple of days, the Alexi Casilla arbitration situation will be over. Arbitration hearings are to be complete by February 15th. The sides are not to discuss when a hearing is scheduled, so we don’t know when the Twins and Casilla would have a hearing in front of an arbiter. Of course, it is also possible that the two sides will come to an agreement before going to arbitration.

This is Casilla’s second year of arbitration. Last year, he signed before a hearing and played the 2011 season making $865,000. 2011 was a strange season for Casilla. He began the season as the Twins starting shortstop. In April, he hit .167/.227/.200 in 22 games. Trevor Plouffe was called up and got almost a dozen games at shortstop. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was rehabbing his broken leg, was being moved to shortstop. Casilla was really bad. However, once you get past April, Casilla had a very solid season. Check out his monthly splits:

  • April – .167/.227/.200
  • May – .288/.351/.424
  • June – .274/.349/.400
  • July – .283/.333/.404
  • Season – .260/.322/.368 in 97 games.

Unfortunately, he played just one game in August and September combined due to an injury. If you recall, he came back for one game and was immediately placed on the disabled list again afterward.

Casilla’s 97 games played in 2011 was on less than his career-high of 98 games played as a 23 year old in 2008. He will go into the 2012 season as the Twins starting second baseman, but frankly, many question if he isn’t best as a utility middle infielder.

Casilla and his representation is asking for $1.75 million. The Twins offer was $1.065 million. The midpoint is $1.407 million. Here are some comparables:

  • Robert Andino (Orioles) – Settled for $1.3 million
  • Mike Aviles (Red Sox) – Settled for $1.2 million
  • Jeff Baker (Cubs) – Settled for $1.375 million
  • Emilio Bonifacio (Marlins) – WON at $2.2 million
  • Mike Fontenot (Giants) – Settled at $1.05 million
  • Chris Getz (Royals) – Settled for $968,000
  • Jed Lowrie (Astros) – Settled for $1.15 million

After reviewing this list and doing some comparison, I don’t think that Casilla is wrong in asking for $1.7 million. I personally think that the midpoint of $1.407 million seems fair. Obviously the Twins biggest case is that he hasn’t ever played in 100 games, so I don’t blame them for coming in low.

My guess: Right before it would go to an arbitration hearing, they’ll agree to a one year, $1.4 million salary. I think that if it does go to arbitration, Casilla would likely win.

Did You Know?

It was on this day (February 11) in 1974 that this whole arbitration system was established? According to JJ Swol of Twins Trivia, 48 players invoked their new arbitration rights including Twins pitcher Dick Woodson. Woodson was seeking $30,000 and the Twins were offering $23,000. My how things have changed in nearly 40 years. Woodson won, by the way. 

Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!


Organizational Depth Chart: Middle Infielders

31 Jan

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Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – Now Available as an e-book for $6.99 by clicking here. You can, of course, still get the print version for $13.99 by clicking here.

 Last week, I started looking at the depth throughout the Twins system. I reviewed the catchers, first basemen and third basemen. After a weekend at Twins Fest (which I’ll write about very soon), I thought it would be good to get back into the Organizational Depth Chart series. Today, I am going to write about the Middle Infielders. I decided to put the shortstops and second basemen together because so many of these players can and will play both positions. As I’ve said before, the purpose of this series is two-fold (if not more). First, it’s a look at the depth at or near the big leagues. Second, it’s a glance at the depth at the position throughout the system. You can find out who might be coming up to the Twins if there is a need, and you can find out who the prospects to watch might be.

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended

Minnesota Twins  

Jamey Carroll (SS), Alexi Casilla (2B), Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes

About the time spring training starts, Carroll will turn 38 years old. Most consider him a utility player, and he probably is because he plays multiple positions. He has accumulated more than 350 plate appearances five of the last six years. The last two years, he has combined for 924 plate appearances. He played 129 games at second base, and another 135 and shortstop. The Twins are bringing him in for the next two seasons to be their starting shortstop. He’s an on-base machine, perfect for the #2 spot in the lineup. Alexi Casilla has proven himself to be a solid utility infielder but has often shown that he can’t handle an every day job. I thought last year was his last chance to prove that, but he’s getting another opportunity in 2012. I’m not going to say Luke Hughes is the answer, but Casilla has received so many opportunities, I’d rather Hughes get a shot at the regular, daily second base job with Casilla as a role player. We don’t know if Hughes will hit, but he does have some pop in his bat. We know that Casilla won’t do much. I’m understanding that Nishioka needs and deserves to start 2012 with an empty slate. 2011 was an awful year for him. He was adjusting to so many things on and off the field, and then he was hurt within the first week and never fully recovered. The best thing would have been for him to get a lot of time in the minors last year. Maybe that can happen in 2012.  

Rochester Red Wings

Brian Dozier (SS), Pedro Florimon (2B), Ray Chang, Brian Dinkelman

Brian Dozier was the minor league player of the year in 2011 and hopes to build upon that starting in spring training in 2012. There is little chance he’ll open with the Twins. In fact, there’s a better chance he returns to New Britain and based on the past, I would not be shocked if he did start the season with the Rock Cats. But he’s ready for AAA, and nearly ready for the big leagues. Part of why I would like to see Hughes get the starting gig with the Twins, is because by June, he could move to the bench with Carroll shifting to second base and Dozier jumping to the Twins. But, let’s see how he starts the 2012 season before counting any eggs, or something like that. The Twins claimed Florimon from the Orioles in December, but nearly immediately placed him on waivers. He cleared and was outrighted to Rochester. He jumped from AA to the big leagues with a September call-up. He will certainly get plenty of time at shortstop with Dozier moving to second. Chang will play all around the infield. He was the Red Wings starting shortstop while he was with the team last year, before his broken leg. Dinkelman finally got his chance with the Twins last year and hit .301. He struggled in Rochester. He can play second base but can also play the corner outfield positions.

New Britain Rock Cats

James Beresford (SS), Estarlin de Los Santos (2B), Chris Cates

James Beresford is tremendous with the glove. He is a smooth fielder with soft hands and a strong arm. He can play both middle infield positions well and is a leader on the infield. His play in international competition has really been impressive. He has hit for average in his minor league career. He takes really good, quality at bats. But because he is almost exclusively a singles hitter, he will not be walked often. He also doesn’t strike out much. He works very hard to gain weight, and hopefully that will happen soon to give the opponents a little concern for extra base hits. De Los Santos was once considered a quality prospect in the Twins system. He was added to the 40 man roster, but that lasted just a year. 2011 was a lost year for him. He spent most of the season on the Disabled List, rehabbed quite a bit in the GCL. He got a little time at Ft. Myers, played second base before he finally ended his season with elbow surgery. Although he could have become a free agent at the end of the season, he signed quickly to remain with the Twins. Cates is a strong defender at both middle infield positions. He also has a very strong arm.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Tyler Grimes (SS), Danny Santana (2B), Reggie Williams, Adam Bryant

Grimes was the Twins 5th round pick just last year out of college baseball power house Wichita State. He missed a little bit of time after signing with the Twins and reporting to Beloit. He can hit. He’s another on-base percentage guy with some pop in his bat. He has good speed and plays solid defense. Santana primarily played shortstop in Beloit, but he will likely get time at second base and in centerfield as well in 2011. He has great range, soft hands and a very strong arm. He does have pop in his bat although his 2011 numbers don’t necessarily show it. He has a immense talent and all the tools, but he will need to start putting it together. Reggie Williams was a fourth round pick in 2007 out of high school. He is a terrific athlete, and he will play all around the diamond in 2012. He can play four infield positions and probably all three outfield positions. He primarily plays 2B, 3B and LF, but who knows, we may even see him behind the plate this year.

Beloit Snappers

Levi Michael (SS), Eddie Rosario (2B), AJ Pettersen, Stephen Wickens, Nick Lockwood

One question we’ve been hearing all offseason is Where will Levi Michael start his 2012 season? The Twins have had top college pitchers jump straight to Ft. Myers. All indications are the Michael will begin the season with the Beloit Snappers. Making me want to get to Beloit early in the season is an infield that should include Michael, Rosario and Miguel Sano. I would also expect that Michael would get no more than a half-season in Beloit before being promoted. Rosario was the Appy League co-MVP last year when he hit .337 with 38 extra base hits, including 21 home runs in 67 games. He also is a tremendous center fielder. During Instructional League, he was moved to second base. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I would assume he will continue to get some time in the outfield as well. Sano will likely see some time at shortstop. Minnetonka native and former Gopher and last year’s 25th round pick AJ Pettersen said he is willing to play anywhere, but he is a natural shortstop who started there for the Gophers four years. Wickens is a Canadian who is a four year college shortstop as well with very good on-base skills. I would expect that Michael will be promoted in mid-June with Niko Goodrum moving up to take his spot. Nick Lockwood is a tremendous defensive second baseman. Although he didn’t hit much at E-town last year, he has a strong, line drive swing and uses the whole field.

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Niko Goodrum (SS), Jorge Polanco (SS), Wander Guillen (2B)

Goodrum had a very strong season with the Elizabethton Twins, even if it was lost behind the big seasons of Sano and Rosario. He is a tremendous athlete who will take a while to develop. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the season at Extended Spring Training. I would, however, be surprised if he spends any more time with Elizabethton. I would expect him to be promoted to Beloit whenever there is a need, or whenever Michael is promoted. Polanco signed with the Twins for over $750,000 two years ago. He and Miguel Sano split 2010 between the DSL and GCL. Polanco returned to the GCL in 2011 and didn’t do much with the bat. Touted for his terrific defense at shortstop, he played 19 games there in 2011, 14 at third base and 11 at second base. He also played all three outfield positions. He will spend 2012 in Elizabethton. Wander Guillen is a third baseman, but with Travis Harrison around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Guillen play more at second base, where he has played a little the past two seasons. He also should advance to E-Town in 2012 after splitting 2011 between the DSL and GCL.


1.)    Eddie Rosario, 2.) Brian Dozier, 3.) Levi Michael, 4.) Niko Goodrum, 5.) Danny Santana, 6.) James Beresford, 7.) Tyler Grimes, 8.) Jorge Polanco


After what Twins fans saw at the shortstop position in 2011, it was pretty clear that the Twins needed a change in 2012! Alexi Casilla started the season as the shortstop and through five weeks was hitting about .150. Trevor Plouffe got a couple of games. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was given an opportunity. It wasn’t pretty all season. Jamey Carroll should bring consistency to the position. He may not have a ton of range, but he will make most of the routine plays and it winds up that trait is pretty important. Cailla and Hughes may be a solid platoon and the Twins should see again what they have in Nishioka, if anything. Brian Dozier is on the cusp and we should (or at least could) see him by July. The lower levels of the system actually provide a bunch of solid prospects to at least be excited about. Rosario is intriguing as a second baseman. Scouts love Levi Michael and he could move fairly quickly. He was one of five college shortstops the Twins drafted in 2011 (Michael-1, Grimes-5, Bryant-9, Pettersen-25, Wickens-33), each of which should get a lot of playing time in 2012. Accumulating a lot of talent in the lower levels is great, and hopefully a couple of them will continue to progress through the system.  

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

Twins Arbitration Scenarios

15 Jan

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Major League players with less than six years of service time and more than three years of service time are eligible for salary arbitration. As we all know, there are a bunch of Super-2 arbitration-eligible players as well each year. On Tuesday, arbitration numbers will be exchanged. The teams will say how much they are offering to the player, and the player and his agent will submit the value that they think they should receive. Of course, in most cases, the team and the player come up with a value somewhere in the middle and numbers never get exchanged.

When the offseason began, and TwinsCentric was working on its Offseason GM Handbook, the Twins had eight arbitration-eligible players on their roster. Since the end of the season, there have been a few changes:

  • Phil Dumatrait – Was Designated for Assignment and removed from the 40 man roster. He became a free agent but returned to the Twins on a minor league contract. That means, he is no longer eligible for arbitration.
  • Jason Repko – Was Designated for Assignment and removed from the 40 man roster. He became a free agent but has not yet signed with another organization.
  • Matt Tolbert – Was Designated for Assignment and removed from the 40 man roster. He became a free agent but has not yet signed with another organization.
  • Jose Mijares – Was non-tended last month by the Twins. Less than a week later, he signed with the Kansas City Royals.
  • Kevin Slowey – Was traded to the Colorado Rockies in December.

That leaves the Twins with three arbitration-eligible players. The Twins will likely attempt to sign all three before Tuesday’s deadline. It is also possible they are working on multi-year deals with one or more of them. Here they are:

1.)     Alexi Casilla – In 2011, the 2B/SS made $700,000 in his first year of arbitration. In the Offseason GM Handbook, TwinsCentric predicted that he would get $2.5 million in arbitration. If I were to place my bet, I think it will be closer to $1.5 million.

2.)     Glen Perkins – In 2011, the lefty reliever made $865,000 in his first year of arbitration. TwinsCentric projected him to make $1.8 million, and I think that is about right. I also believe that the Twins may look to lock up Perkins for three years (to buy out one year of free agency). Perkins may be hesitant to sign a long-term deal knowing that there is a chance he will get some time as Twins’ closer this year, and closers make a bunch more money. However, if he wants to stay with the Twins, it’s possible that he could be signed in the neighborhood of three years and $8 million.

3.)     Francisco Liriano – In 2011, Liriano made $4.3 million. Despite a frustrating season, he will likely get a raise. TwinsCentric predicted that he would be awarded $6 million, but I think it will be closer to $5 million. A year ago, I said that the Twins should sign him to a 4 year, $40 million deal. At this point, I’d be very hesitant to give Liriano a multi-year deal. However, if they are at all interested, now is the time to do it. This would be a buy low scenario. Could the Twins now have the talented (but enigmatic) Liriano to a three year, $18 million now? If so, would you consider it?

We will learn quite a bit before Tuesday’s deadline. Many years the Twins get all their arbitration situations figured out before numbers are even exchanged. This year, the Twins have three very interesting situations.

What do you think will happen? Leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

Twins Infield Situation

5 Jan

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The locker room in Ft. Myers will be full when spring training begins in February, and there will be a lot of infielders. Of course, that doesn’t meant that there aren’t still a lot of question marks. Here’s a look at the Twins infield positions as they stand now:

  • First Base – Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit, Luke Hughes, Joe Mauer, Aaron Bates, Chris Parmelee, Steve Pearce
  • Second Base – Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jamey Carroll, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, Michael Hollimon
  • Third Base – Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Sean Burroughs, Michael Hollimon, Ray Chang
  • Shortstop – Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Ray Chang

First Base

If Justin Morneau is right and healthy and able to play 150 games, he is an MVP candidate. Therein lies the issue. What can be expected from Justin Morneau in 2012? And, unfortunately, the answer at this time is that we don’t know. It’s not a question of effort, as I often hear. His long-term well-being is far more important than its effects on the Twins. But if he can be back, the Twins have a chance. Joe Mauer showed last year that he can handle the position, if needed, and to keep him in the lineup more. Ryan Doumit can also play the position. Did you know that Aaron Bates hit .316 last year in Rochester with an On-Base Percentage over .400? He can play multiple positions too. He played in the big leagues for the Red Sox in 2009 after being their 3rd round pick in 2006. We saw Chris Parmelee in September and what we saw tells us that if needed, he can contribute. Steve Pearce is nice depth as well and has long been a big hitter in AAA.

Second Base

Alexi Casilla goes into the season as the starter at 2B, but which Casilla will show up, and will he be able to stay healthy for a full season? Luke Hughes was solid at second base and provides some power as a starter or off the bench. Tsuyoshi Nishioka will likely be in a utility role and spend time at both middle infield positions. Jamey Carroll may end up at second base at some point. I think we can assume that Brian Dozier will be plenty of time at second base in the minor leagues and could be ready at some point in 2012. Pedro FLorimon, Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang also provide depth.

Third Base

Danny Valencia remains the starting third baseman. The numbers from 2011 didn’t match his rookie season of 2010, but if he continues to hit line drives like he did in 2011, the hits will fall in. Luke Hughes can spend some time there as well. Knowing how Ron Gardenhire works, I would not be at all surprised if we hear him talking about Sean Burroughs as competition for Valencia. That would, of course, be crazy, but Burroughs has definitely hit at the AAA level and can be a decent bench option for the Twins at some point this season. Michael Hollimon and Ray Chang provide depth. And Deibinson Romero had a solid season in AA and remains in the system.


Jamey Carroll isn’t young, and may not have a ton of range, but he will make all the plays that he gets to and he is an on-base machine who will fit nicely into the #2 spot in the lineup as well. Nishioka and Alexi Casilla can give him a day off occasionally. As we know, Brian Dozier is waiting in the wings. Will he start the season in New Britain or with Rochester? We shall see. Pedro Florimon is a flashy defender who debuted last September with the Orioles. I believe that we would have seen Ray Chang with the Twins at some point last year if not for his broken fibula.

Free Agents

The one free agent that is intriguing is Derrek Lee. He’d be a nice right-handed bat who could play 1B and also DH. Of course, he would likely cost more than the Twins are willing to spend.

Other infield free agents include: Wilson Betemit, Brooks Conrad, Craig Counsell, Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, Ronny Cedeno, Alex Cora, Adam Everett, Aaron Miles, Will Rhymes, Omar Vizquel, Jack Wilson, Russell Branyan, Jorge Cantu, Carlos Guillen, Brad Hawpe, Dan Johnson, Casey Kotchman and Xavier Nady.

Frankly, none of those names are all that intriguing. Some were good several years ago. Some are solid utility guys. The Twins have a lot of question marks, but none of these options would do anything toward helping the Twins compete in 2012. The Twins chose to invest in Nishioka, enough to give him a second chance after a season that quickly came to a halt just six games into the season. He had a lot to overcome, and maybe in a less stressful role, we can see what he is really capable (good or bad!). The Twins have solid, unspectacular starters, and Morneau is a difference-maker if only he can be healthy. There is depth at Rochester and on the bench. And, Brian Dozier is probably pretty close to big-league ready.

What would you do? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.

TwinsCentric: Versatility Needed

2 Nov

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As the four TwinsCentric guys sat down to work through our Blueprints for the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, I’m sure we jotted down some “musts.” We “must” add at least one upper level starting pitcher. We “must” balance the batting lineup. Hopefully many of you will work through a blueprint of your own and e-mail it to to be entered into a random drawing for one winner of the TwinsCentric 2012 Twins Annual next spring.  

One of my “musts” was that the roster should be full of players that have the flexibility to play multiple positions and complement each other well. I figured that with physical question marks in Justin Morneau and Denard Span and with all of the injuries that the team experienced in 2011, it would be important to have players who can play a couple of roles. Here is how some of that could play out:

  • Michael Cuddyer – He can play RF, 1B, 2B, 3B and D. That isn’t saying that he plays any of them particularly well, but to know that he could fill in at any of those positions definitely helps. Cuddyer is a free agent, but versatility is one of his many traits that make him a top free agent this offseason.
  • Joe Mauer – Obviously he needs to continue catching, but it is great that he has now accumulated some innings at 1B as well, and played RF fairly well in the game he played there. This could become more important.
  • Backup Catcher – There are several options out there who hit right-handed, can catch 80+ game and spend time at 1B or at another position.
  • Luke Hughes/Trevor Plouffe – Both are out of options. Both could be used as trade chips. Both are right-handed with the ability to hit the ball out of the ball park. Hughes can play 1B, 2B and 3B. Plouffe can play all four infield positions and the two corner outfield positions. (No, not particularly well, but in a pinch it helps.)
  • Alexi Casilla – The Twins seem poised to make him a starter at 2B or shortstop, but does he have more value to a team if he is a utility player, playing three infield positions?
  • Outfielders – Ben Revere and Denard Span can play LF and CF, and RF if needed. Rene Tosoni never played LF until he was up with the Twins last year. He had primarily played RF with some time in CF. Jason Repko was taken off the 40 man roster, but he could play several positions.

If you have enough flexibility in your roster, you could afford to keep Drew Butera on the roster so that the backup catcher and Mauer can play most days in the same lineup. Or, you could have a big bopper to pinch hit, someone like Jim Thome or Vlad Guerrero, if that’s the direction that you choose.

Versatility and roster flexibility is always important but with so many question marks heading into the offseason, I think it’s particularly important for the Twins this year.

Any thoughts or comments?


  • Parker posted some Quick Hits at Over the Baggy, discussing Joe Nathan, Ryan Madson and more.
  • Seth hosted last night’s Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. He was joined by Cody Christie (North Dakota Twins Fan) and they discussed their offseason blueprints and several other Twins topics.
  • Seth posted some thoughts on the Twins claims on LHP Matt Maloney and RHP Jeff Gray on Monday.
  • Brian Dozier was named yesterday to represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League’s annual Rising Stars game which will be played on Saturday evening. On Monday, Dozier knocked in the go-ahead run for Mesa. Brett Jacobson got the win in the game, and Dakota Watts threw two scoreless innings for the save. On Tuesday, catcher Chris Herrmann went 1-3 with a walk.
  • The Winter Leagues in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela continue to run. The Puerto Rico League will get started on Friday. On Thursday, the Australian Baseball League will start their schedule. Here is a quick look at the Twins organization players in the ABL:
    • Sydney Blue Sox – Jacob Younis and Todd Van Steensel.
    • Melbourne Aces – Josh Hendricks
    • Brisbane Bandits – Rory Rhodes
    • Perth Heat – Luke Hughes, Liam Hendriks, Allan de San Miguel
    • Canberra Cavalry – Mark Trau and Tim Atherton.
  • If you are looking for a review of the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, we’ve got a couple for you. Check out the reviews by Puckett’s Pond and Twinkie Town.
  • It was disappointing to read yesterday that Ryan Lefebvre is no longer a candidate for the Twins radio job. Also, as someone who listened to a lot of Rochester Red Wings games the last couple of years, it was disappointing to hear that their play-by-play man, Josh Whetzel, was also told that he is not in the running.   

Any thoughts?

How the Twins won 8 out of 10

12 Jun

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Before we start, a quick reminder:

World Series Contest

I am going to be holding some contests here and on Twitter and Facebook over the next week or two thanks to A&E who has now come out with “A&E Minnesota Twins Vintage World Series Films DVD.”  It includes both the 1987 and 1991 teams! The ’87 team beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. The ’91 World Series was the first that had two worst-to-first teams as the Twins and the Atlanta Braves played one of the greatest seven-game series ever, including Jack Morris’s amazing Game 7. So be sure to look here and other places for some contests for a free copy.

On Saturday afternoon, the Twins scored five first inning runs and Scott Baker threw a complete game as the Twins won for the eighth time in ten games. First, it was a four-game sweep in Kansas City. Then they won two out of three in Cleveland against the division leaders. With the win on Saturday, the Twins have won two of the first three games of this four-game series against arguably the best team in the American League, the Texas Rangers.

After playing horrible baseball through the first 54 games of the season, the Twins have found a way to play great baseball over the past ten games. They have managed to do that without Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and in recent days without Denard Span or Justin Morneau.

Do I believe that this type of success is sustainable? With the current roster? No. But as those aforementioned players come back, along with Glen Perkins, the team is certainly moving back in the right direction.

So, how did a team that was playing so poorly suddenly run off eight wins in ten games? I went to the numbers and it has been a combination of good starting pitching, great bullpen work and very strong offense. Here are some of the numbers for you to consider:

  • Over those ten games, the starting pitchers have thrown 65.1 innings. They have given up 70 hits, walked 11 and struck out 41. That’s a 2.62 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. They have given up eight unearned runs, four of them came on Friday night in Brian Duensing’s seven run second inning. Scott Baker and Carl Pavano each threw a complete game during that time frame and seven innings in their other start. Brian Duensing threw eight shutout innings in one of his starts. Anthony Swarzak picked up his first career win to start this run. Francisco Liriano returned with five shutout innings.
  • As good as the starters have been, the bullpen has been even better. There may be a direct correlation there as well. Starters go longer and pitch better, maybe it’s easier to come in and perform. But they have come through in some tough situations. In those ten games, the bullpen has a 1.09 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 24.2 innings. They have given up just 16 hits, walked eight and struckout 12.
  • Ben Revere made the comment in his Fox interview following Saturday’s win that he likes being a leader and getting the team going. I assume that he meant that he enjoys being a leadoff hitter and setting the table for the game. Revere has been a catalyst, but he has not been the only offensive performer over the past ten days. Here’s proof that a lot of people are contributing:
    • Revere has gone 13-44 (.295) with two walks and a double. He has scored seven runs, driven in four runs. He also has three stolen bases.
    • Alexi Casilla has gone 14-42 (.333) with four walks and three doubles. He has four stolen bases, has scored six runs and driven in four runs.
    • Michael Cuddyer has gone 12-38 (.316) with four walks. He has four doubles, three home runs, six runs scored and ten RBI.
    • Delmon Young has gone 14-40 (.350) with a walk, three doubles and a long home run. He has scored seven runs and driven in six.
    • Matt Tolbert has gone 10-33 (.303) with a walk, three doubles, five runs scored and six RBI.
    • Luke Hughes has gone 9-25 (.360) with a walk, three doubles and seven runs scored.
    • Drew Butera has gone 8-20 (.400) with a walk, three doubles, six runs scored and six RBI.
    • Before his concussion, Denard Span went 4-14 (.286) with a double, a triple, a run scored and three RBI.
    • Jason Repko was 3-12 (.250) with a double, a run and three RBI. He played a huge role in one of the wins in Kansas City.
  • Before missing a couple of days lately, Justin Morneau had gone 2-24 (.083). Danny Valencia has gone 5-35 (.143) with four walks, a double, two runs and two RBI. Rene Rivera has gone 3-16 (.188) with a walk, a double, two runs and an RBI.

So again, in order to go on a nice ten-game run like the Twins have, it takes a whole team. The Twins have been able to get strong starting pitching and bullpen work. They have received offensive contributions from some unlikely sources, some young players and some of the veterans that much had been expected earlier. Ben Revere has been a catalyst, and Michael Cuddyer has been an incredible run producer.

And, as a fan, the best thing is that the Twins have been fun to watch again. Not just because of the wins, but primarily because the brand of baseball is just much better.

Of course, as we are now down to 98 more games, the Twins will need to play very well for the next nine or ten ten-game stretches. Are they capable? As those injured players return, how will they impact the Twins team? Are you surprised to see any of the above numbers? Feel free to comment here.

Weekend Twins Notes

11 Apr

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Twins Notes

As mentioned, I went to the Twins/A’s game on Saturday night. I love going to Target Field. We got there about 45 minutes early and just hung out on Target Plaza. As I prefer to do, I went into the stadium as soon as the gates opened. It’s fun for me to watch batting practice, any field work and just walk around the whole stadium. Also, I know I recommended it before, but I did go to the State Fair booth in centerfield and got the Ribs & Fries for $8.50. As you recall, these are Michelbob’s ribs. I didn’t expect them to be as good as those I had in Naples, but they were really, really good. I definitely encourage people to get that!

I have to admit, though, that the Twins/A’s game was pretty disappointing. Not just because if was 1-0. I actually love a good 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 type of ball game, but this was not a well played game. Both teams didn’t take advantage of opportunities to score more runs. Delmon Young threw out a runner at home to end the first inning, but the other missed opportunities were due to really poor execution. The Twins had a runner on third base and nobody out and didn’t score. Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes each hit the ball hard a couple of times. Gio Gonzalez is one of the best pitchers that most fans haven’t heard much about, so he does deserve a lot of credit. But even he wasn’t totally on his game. There were a lot of deep counts. And, of course, had the Twins found a way to sneak out a second straight 2-1 win, all would have been worthwhile.

Things were worse for the Twins on Sunday. I listened some, watched some… I actually fell asleep on the couch while trying to watch the Twins play. That’s how bad it was… Making it even worse for me is that I was asleep for the Twins three-run inning and missed both a Joe Mauer non-weak groundout (he doubled) and the monumental 590th home run of Jim Thome. Unreal. The only Twins offense of the weekend, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open for it.

Here are a couple of Quick Twins Notes:

  • While Alexi Casilla struggles at the plate and in the field, Trevor Plouffe has eight hits in his last three games at Triple-A Rochester, including three home runs and two doubles. Plouffe played 2B on Sunday and committed an error. I know that many Twins fans are ready to end Casilla’s time as the Twins regular shortstop. That would be a mistake. The Twins made the decision in the offseason that Casilla would be their starting shortstop. It would be wrong to end that after just nine games. In fact, I really believe in the theory that players need six weeks to two months before making big decisions like that. The Twins made their beds, now they have to sleep in it for a little while. Casilla is hitting just .167 and frankly, not even putting together good at bats. But as of today, there is not a better option in the organization. Six weeks in Rochester may tell us that Plouffe can be the regular SS for the Twins, but again, we shall find out. It is probably the harder decision, to stand by Casilla, but for now, it is the right thing.
  • While being frustrated, watching that game on Friday night, I was amazed by the ovation that Mauer continued to get despite weak groundout after weak groundout. I wondered aloud (via Twitter) when it would be OK for the Target Field fans to start booing Mauer, if somehow they needed to wait until after the opening weekend, or would it be longer? Of course, I know that at the end of the year, Mauer will hit over .310. I think that he’ll show some more power than last year. I’m not worried, but at the same time, the weak grounders are very frustrating.
  • Equally frustrating is Mauer’s defense. His unwillingness to block a lot of pitches in the dirt. In the game I was at, pitchers had two wild pitches in which Mauer just stabbed at the ball. Part of me is fine with that. I don’t want to see a talent like Mauer taking a bunch of baseballs off the chest. We all prefer he catch more games and if being a little lazy at times is how he can get there, ok.
  • Please note that neither of those Mauer opinions have anything to do with his contract, or the fact that he is making just over $10 million more in 2011 than he did in 2010.
  • When Tsuyoshi Nishioka was put on the Disabled List, it was an obvious choice to call up Luke Hughes and make him the starter at 2B. Hughes was nearly on the roster to start the season, so it made sense for him to come up. That’s why, when Kevin Slowey was put on the Disabled List on Saturday, I was a little surprised that the team went with Alex Burnett as the promotion. The final bullpen spot seemingly came down to Jeff Manship and Jim Hoey, so I assumed Hoey would come up. However, he had pitched two innings on Friday and would not have been available on Sunday. Burnett was sent down to minor league camp relatively early.

Hey, the big picture is that we knew that the Twins early schedule would be difficult. They’re 3-6, and still have 153 games to go. We knew Chicago would be tough. I don’t think anyone is buying Cleveland or Kansas City as contenders yet, are they? So, let’s let this play out. There is too much talent in the Twins lineup for it to struggle much longer. The starting pitching has been solid. The bullpen hasn’t been bad. They’ll be OK. It’s just at times like this when you have to trust the process, I guess.

Or, you can panic and worry, or quit watching the team… Up to you?! J

I got home last night and hosted the Sunday night Twins podcast. It was fun answering your questions. I got a couple of callers. So, be sure to download that. I talked about the weekend in the minor leagues on there, including some of the highlights. I will get you caught up on the minor league information (including just how hot Trevor Plouffe’s bat is, Joe Benson’s first homer of the season, the 4-0 Ft. Myers Miracle, the hitting of Oswaldo Arcia and Danny Ortiz and the strikeouts of Adrian Salcedo, and more).

However, after a long weekend and a lot of travel (in gloomy, gray, rainy conditions), I ended up passing out. Sleep was very much needed as I’ve got a very busy week. The Twins have an off day today, and I need it as much as they do! HA!

However, at 10:00 tonight, Travis Aune and I will be co-hosting Twins Minor League Weekly (now on both Monday and Thursday nights). So, be sure to check that out for all kinds of minor league information!

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.