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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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

At this point, we have reviewed the infielders and catchers throughout the Twins organization. Today, we will jump to the outfield. This information, of course, could be completely altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where all of these players will wind up. In reality, there will be changes. Several players will be released. Some will be placed a level higher (or lower) than I would guess. This is just giving readers a reminder of who remains in the Twins system from last year, and who are the new players brought in this year. That said, I try to think about where these guys will

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 spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Ben Revere (LF), Denard Span (CF), Josh Willingham (RF), Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit

A lot of people seem to wonder why Willingham would be the right fielder. To me, that’s an easy choice. At Target Field, left field, centerfield and the gaps are pretty huge. I want Span and Revere covering the ground. Willingham isn’t a good left fielder. As far as playing the strange bounces off of the right field wall, anyone can have difficulties and will have to adjust to hit. Willingham will walk a lot and hit a bunch of home runs. I was chatting with Jamie Ogden at Twins Fest, and the comment that we agreed upon was the he will have the ability to take advantage of a pitcher’s mistakes and hit them a long way. It’s nice to have a guy like that in the middle of the lineup. As for Revere, I think it’s much better for him to play 3B. Simply, the throw from LF to 3B is much shorter than it is from CF. Also, the throw to home from CF is longer. Span doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but he can throw. Span, when healthy, is a good on-base guy with speed and some extra base pop. Revere should be much improved, at least in terms of OBP, in 2012. He said that his goal is to steal 100 bases on 2012. He dropped that number to 80, but he plans on going whenever he gets a chance. Even though he didn’t play great in 2011, he made the Twins fun to watch and he made things happen. Imagine what he can make happen when he actually gets on base at a good clip! Trevor Plouffe should get plenty of time in left field, but he could also DH. He can hit lefties, and it will be interesting to see how he does in left field now that he doesn’t have the infielder’s glove. Ryan Doumit could get some time in right field as well.

Rochester Red Wings

Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Matt Carson (RF), Rene Tosoni, Mark Dolenc, Dustin Martin

Ramirez and Carson were minor league free agents brought in by the Twins. Carson is a power hitter. Ramirez is an all-around player who was a top prospect with the Tigers just a couple of years ago. Joe Benson has spent the past two years at New Britain, so he is ready for the challenges of AAA. He could move up to the Twins as necessary throughout the year, at least after the June Super 2 timeline. The same can be said of Rene Tosoni who will likely play nearly every day between the three outfield spots as well as DHing.  Benson could be a star if everything comes together. He could be a 30/30 guy with plus-defense in time. Tosoni is a guy who I think could fill a role as a platoon player and bench bat and occasional DH. He showed at times the power the he possesses. Dolenc has spent the past two years in New Britain and will likely need to advance to Rochester in 2012. He has averaged 439 plate appearances over the past four years and had a career-high 467 plate appearances in 2011. He has terrific tools, can play all three positions, gets on base, has very good speed, and plays really good defense with a strong arm. Dustin Martin put together his best year at Rochester (in his third season there).

New Britain Rock Cats

Angel Morales (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Evan Bigley (RF), Steve Liddle, Michael Hollimon

Aaron Hicks had a frustrating and inconsistent season in 2011 in Ft. Myers. He was tremendous in June and then struggled for a couple of months. He definitely represented himself well in the Arizona Fall League. His defense and arm are certainly ready for advancement. It is a big year for Hicks. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season, but he will have to continue to show improvement on the field, in his approach at the plate and show consistency. What he does in 2012 may determine whether he remains a switch-hitter as well. Evan Bigley spent all of 2011 in New Britain and showed that he could be a candidate for a midseason promotion. Angel Morales is younger than Hicks (something many seem to forget). 2011 was a lost year for him. He missed three months with his elbow injury. He had arthroscopic surgery and came back at the end of the season. He has good speed and a vastly improved approach at the plate. Although he hasn’t hit as many home runs the last couple of seasons, no one seems to be worried about his power. Liddle really struggled last season in Ft. Myers, and he had shoulder surgery following the year. The Vanderbilt product is the nephew of Twins 3B coach Steve Liddle. Hollimon can play all around the infield and can also play around the outfield. He could be the guy to go back and forth between New Britain and Rochester regardless of where the need is.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Lance Ray (LF), Nate Roberts (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Wang-Wei Lin, Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing

I was surprised when the Twins sent Arcia to Ft. Myers following rehab of his elbow. I would be surprised if he jumps up to New Britain to start the season, but not completely. If he has one thing to work on, it is cutting down on the strikeouts. I think he can end the year with the Rock Cats. Lance Ray can hit, even if his 2011 Beloit numbers didn’t strongly indicate that. He has a very fluid swing and good power. Nate Roberts was the 5th round pick a couple of years ago. He missed a lot of time on the DL with a knee injury. He is an on-base machine, taking walks and always willing to get hit. Wang-Wei Lin has steadily improved over his time, and after two years in Beloit, he will need to play in Ft. Myers. He has a good, line drive swing but the Taiwan native still has plenty to improve. Dan Rohlfing impressed behind the plate and will go to big league spring training in that role, but he can also play the outfield. At Instructs, Rams was moved to the outfield, although he will continue to catch some. The goal is to let him really focus on his swing and his bat.  

Beloit Snappers

Danny Ortiz (LF), JD Williams (CF), Tyler Koelling (RF), Drew Leachman, Matej Hejma, Jhonatan Goncalves

Ortiz was my choice for player of the month last April in Beloit, but it was a struggle through most of his season. He could start with the Snappers and spend a couple of months there (he already played in the Midwest League All-Star game last year). Tyler Koelling and Drew Leachman are two college outfielders who should advance to Beloit. JD Williams had an incredible season in Elizabethton in 2011, yet it went almost unnoticed thanks to Rosario and Sano. Baseball America just called him the fastest player in the Twins farm system, and he has the ability to bunt for hits from both sides of the plate. He played RF usually for the E-Twins because Eddie Rosario was in center. Matej Hejma is from the Czech Republic. Although he didn’t play a lot, or that well, in Elizabethton, he has to move up to Beloit because he has already played three seasons in the short season leagues. Goncalves is an interesting case. He has played most of the past two seasons in Ft. Myers, but he ended last year in Beloit which is probably where he should have been all along.  

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Max Kepler (CF), Candido Pimentel, Romy Jimenez, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez

Like Niko Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will begin the season at Extended Spring Training. Like Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will not return to Elizabethton but will instead advance to Beloit before the short season begins. He has so much talent but is still very raw. Pimentel is similar to Otis Nixon, very thin and very fast. Romy Jimenez (formerly known as Romy Trinidad) missed most of last year with an injury in his first year in the States. Kelvin Mention did miss all of 2011 with injury. Kelvin Ortiz came to the States and really struggled. He should go back to the GCL. And Dereck Rodriguez (the son of Ivan Rodriguez) will certainly spend another season in the GCL.  

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Oswaldo Arcia, 2.) Aaron Hicks, 3.) Joe Benson, 4.) Angel Morales, 5.) Max Kepler, 6.) JD Williams, 7.) Lance Ray, 8.) Danny Ortiz

SUMMARY

Barring injury, the Twins starting outfield should be solid despite the losses of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel (And to a lesser extent, Jason Repko). Benson and Tosoni are fairly close to being ready to contribute on a regular basis. Beyond that, there is a lot of talent but a lot of question marks. Can Aaron Hicks take that next step? Will Angel Morales return in 2012 with some added power? How quickly will the Twins advance Oswaldo Arcia? The ceilings of JD Williams and Max Kepler are very high, and there are so college draft picks (Roberts, Ray, etc.) who could advance fairly quickly. Of course, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano also remain in the future outfield situation as well which provide even more depth over time. Outfield is a position of strength for the Twins system. 2012 will be a big year for many of them! 

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

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Twins Outfield Situation

4 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

If the Twins season were to start today, the Twins outfield would be pretty well set. Denard Span would be leading off and playing in centerfield. Josh Willingham will be hitting somewhere in the middle of the lineup and playing in right field. Ben Revere will be playing in left field most days with Trevor Plouffe spelling him from time to time, particularly against some tough left-handers. Ryan Doumit can spell Willingham in right field from time to time while also DHing.

Waiting in the wings will be Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson, both of whom we saw in 2011, and both of whom likely would need another half-season of Triple-A seasoning before being ready for more full-time duty in the big leagues. Dustin Martin is as ready as he’ll ever be after putting up very solid numbers in 2011, his third Triple-A season. The Twins also added some minor league free agents with big league service time. Wilkin Ramirez was a highly touted prospect in the Tigers system just two years ago. Brian Dinkelman saw time during the 2011 season with the Twins and is now a career .301 hitting in the big leagues. Matt Carson hit 24 Triple-A home runs in 2011 and spent time with the A’s in 2009 and 2010.

Waiting in the wings are several outfielders including Aaron Hicks, Angel Morales and Oswaldo Arcia who could all spend time in Double-A in 2012. Also, Chris Herrmann will primarily be catching, but he is also a terrific outfielder.

Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Jason Repko will all be playing elsewhere in 2012. Willingham was added and will do a fine job providing power and on-base percentage to the middle of the lineup.

Trade Options

From time to time we hear a rumor about the Twins potentially trading Denard Span. Obviously that all originated with the Nationals rumors last year at the trade deadline revolving around Drew Storen. Trading Span before the season makes absolutely no sense. With the injury concerns that affected him much of the second half of the 2011 season, the Twins would be trading low. With his defense and on-base skills, he can provide a lot of value to a team, but he will need to rebuild that value. He is signed to a very reasonable contract and can be a new team leader for the Twins.

Then some turn their attention to Ben Revere. Should the Twins trade Revere? What is his upside? That has certainly been a discussion topic for blogs the last year or more. However, he will make league minimum for a couple more years, and if the team is working on a salary cap, and has some huge contracts (Mauer, Morneau, etc.), then having production at the league minimum is necessary. Revere will hit for more average than he did in 2011 and with that will increase his on-base percentage. He plays good defense and is a terror to opponents on the base paths.

Of course, the appropriate saying for both is that they should remain with the Twins unless Terry Ryan is overwhelmed by an offer.

Free Agents

The Twins have really filled out the offense for their 2012 season, it appears. There are some names available in free agency. There are some DH types like Luke Scott, Vlad Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez and Hideki Matsui that are still available. There are names like JD Drew and Kosuke Fukodome who certainly can get on base at a good clip. The only outfielders that would be worth going after, in my opinion, are Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, but those two will get huge signing bonuses from the big money teams.

Others: Alfredo Amezaga, Rick Ankiel, Milton Bradley, Jay Gibbons, Scott Hairston, Bill Hall, Willie Harris, Brad Hawpe, Eric Hinske, Conor Jackson, Austin Kearns, Ryan Ludwick, Xavier Nady, Corey Patterson, Juan Pierre, Cody Ross, Ryan Spilborghs, Marcus Thames and Dewayne Wise.

Frankly, outside of Cespedes and Soler, I’m not really interested in any of the above outfielders or DHs. Does that mean that I think Trevor Plouffe is better than someone like Cody Ross? No, but Plouffe makes league minimum while Ross will be very overpaid. And, Plouffe, being out of options, needs an opportunity to show whether he is a capable big leaguer or not.

I feel the Twins outfield situation is fine. Obviously they will have to play well on the field, but I wouldn’t make any additions. Would you? What would you do? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.

Saturday Minor League Scoreboard

31 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

As Denard Span to the Nationsls’ rumors continued to swirl, he was not in the Red Wings Saturday lineup. Officially, the Twins said it was because of the travel from Louisville to Rochester… I am not certain I believe that. Today if the trade deadline and after a rough loss by the Twins last night, it will be a very interesting day, to be sure. Saturday was very interesting. First, the Tigers acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from Seattle. Later, Cleveland gave up Alex White and Drew Pomeranz and two other prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez. Cleveland then dealt Orlando Cabrera to the Giants.

So, what will today bring? Will the Twins get Drew Storen, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina from the Nationals for Span. Will Jason Kubel remain a Twin? How about Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer and others? How will Kevin Slowey’s performance for the Red Wings on Saturday affect his trade prospects today, or is it possible he remains with the Twins?

To see how Slowey and the rest of the Twins minor leaguers did on Saturday, see below:  

Rochester Red Wings

Rochester 6, Scranton/Wilkes Barre – Amid all the trade discussions surrounding him, Kevin Slowey put together his best start in his time with the Red Wings. The righty went eight innings and allowed only an unearned run. He gave up just five hits, walked none and struck out eight. Kyle Waldrop gave up only a run on two hits in his inning. Aaron Bates went 3-5. Michael Hollimon, promoted due to the Luke Hughes promotion, went 2-4. Jeff Bailey and Toby Gardenhire were also 2-. Rene Rivera celebrated his 27th birthday just a little early with his fourth home run with the Red Wings.  

New Britain Rock Cats

New Britain 0, Bowie 1 – Joe Benson went 2-2 with two walks and two stolen bases in this game. Those were the only two hits and two of the three walks that the Rock Cats managed in this game. Blake Martin started and gave up one run on five hits. He walked three and struck out three in 5.2 innings. Spencer Steedley threw two scoreless innings, and Dakota Watts got the final four outs.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Ft. Myers 9, Lakeland 2 – The Miracle ended its losing streak at nine games with a big win on Saturday night. James Beresford went 3-5 with his ninth double. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with a fourth-inning grand slam. It was his fifth home run of the year. Oswaldo Arcia hit his sixth double, and Danny Rams went 1-2 with a walk. Logan Darnell improves to 8-2 with the Miracle. The lefty went the first seven innings and gave up one run on four hits. He walked two and struck out six. Ricky Bowen gave up an unearned run in two innings with three strikeouts.

Beloit Snappers

Beloit 10, Cedar Rapids 5 – BJ Hermsen improved to 11-7 with a Quality Start in front of friends and family in Cedar Rapids. The righty went the first six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk. Blayne Weller then gave up two hits and a walk in two innings ,but no runs. Ben Tootle came in and gave up two unearned runs in the 9th on two hits and a walk. Reggie Williams went 4-5. Tobias Streich went 3-4. Lance Ray was 2-3 with two walks and his 30th double. He also stole his ninth base. Jairo Perez went 2-5.Michael Gonzales doubled for the 21st time. Danny Ortiz hit his ninth home run.   

Elizabethton Twins

Elizabethton 2, Danville 3 – The E-Twins recorded ten hits, but just two runs, in this loss. Eddie Rosario went 2-4 with his sixth double. Niko Goodrum also had two hits. Rosario also stole his ninth base. David Hurlbut started and gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Derek Christensen got the next four outs. Steve Evans and Madison Boer each pitched a scoreless inning.  

GCL Twins

GCL Twins 2, GCL Red Sox 4 – The Twins managed just four hits in this game and Jacob Younis had two of them. Josh Hendricks hit his fifth double and drove in both runs. Hung-yi Chen went the first three innings and gave up two hits and a walk and struck out three. Ricardo Arevalo went the next 1.1 innings and gave up two runs (1 earned) on one hit. He walked four and struck out one. JR Krogstad came in and gave up just one hit in 1.2 innings, striking out two. Tyler Herr gave up a run on three hits and a walk in two innings. Luis Nunez pitched a scoreless inning.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Span for Storen?

28 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Before We Begin

Scroll down to see last night’s Minor League Scoreboard. Also, I will be on the Paul Allen Show this morning on KFAN, I believe at 10:20. We will be taping the segment head of time because my morning is jam-packed, but be sure to listen in and let me know what you think!

By the way, the Twins got a very nice win over the Rangers last night. Brian Duensing was excellent again, keeping the Rangers’ hitters off-balance. It was great to see Joe Mauer turn on an inside fastball for his first home run of the year. It was nice to see Michael Cuddyer unload on a hanging slider. And then with a 4-1 lead with two outs in the top of the 9th, it was fun to see the Twins score three more times, on a long, bases-clearing double by Jason Kubel. Matt Capps and Glen Perkins were excellent out of the bullpen. After that 20-6 debacle, and then falling behind the Rangers 7-3 on Tuesday night, it was great to see the Twins come back and win that one and then play a really terrific game on Wednesday. With the win, the Twins climbed to six games back again in the Central. It could be an interesting next four days! The White Sox bolstered their bullpen, but to do so, they traded Edwin Jackson, who has an ERA below four, so I’m not sure what to make of that deal. Were they buying, or were they selling? They also benched Alex Rios for Alejandro de Aza, who was the Marlins Opening Day starting CF in 2007 and who, until last night, had never hit a big league home run in 86 games and 217 plate appearances. The AL Central will be a lot of fun to follow again the last two months of the season!

The Main Story: Span for Storen?

Where there is smoke, there is usually at least a little fire, right? For at least a week, we have heard that the Nationals are targeting Twins centerfielder Denard Span. Originally reports indicated that they wanted Span, but would be unwilling to deal relievers Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. Yesterday came the report that the Nationals may be willing to include Storen in the package to get Span. That set off Twitter throughout Wednesday afternoon.

I am pretty sure that The Twins Geek is the only one who thinks that Span for Storen, straight up, would be a good idea. Check out his reasoning.

To get something, you have to give something up. I get that. I understand that.

I fully admit that part of the reason for my dislike in that deal, if one-for-one, is last year’s trade between the Nationals and the Twins. The Twins received a “proven closer” in Matt Capps for a Top 5 prospect at a demanding position. We all understood that Joe Mauer was signed for eight more years, but we also knew that the demands of the position meant that he would potentially move, or at the very least we would see the scenario where Mauer plays some 1B and DHs and having a talent like Ramos would sure be nice.

I agree with The Geek in that Drew Storen is not Matt Capps. When the Twins acquired Capps, he was the second worst closer statistically in all of baseball when looking at statistics other than “Saves.” If memory serves, Chad Qualls was the only worse closer in the game at the time. In fact, the Nationals were thrilled to trade Capps so that they could get Storen into the closer’s role. And to be fair, Matt Capps was very good in 2010. I admit that he is a good relief pitcher most of the time, but not the kind of guy that you give up a top prospect for. Drew Storen is 23 years old, is 5-2 with 25 saves and a 2.37 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93. He is very good. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft (in part due to the fact that the Nationals knew he would sign instantly). He made his big league debut less than a year later, on May 17, 2010. He has been in the big leagues ever since. I’m not sure why the Nationals didn’t wait an extra three weeks to call him up so he would not be a Super 2 after 2012, but that is a choice they made.

I really like Drew Storen and I would love for him to be the Twins closer for the next five years or more. However, there is also a reason that the Nationals have made Storen available (maybe) in a deal for Span. Span has a career line of .289/.366/.375. Most important as a leadoff hitter is that .366 on-base percentage. He posted OPS over .800 his first two seasons and struggled in 2010. He was mentioned as a Twins all-star representative this season until his concussion knocked him out. But the Nationals, like many teams, want a prototypical leadoff hitter. Span has good on-base skills, can steal 25 or more bases, and he can play a very good centerfield defense. And, as much as I like Storen, Span will play 145 or more games each year. Storen may pitch one inning in 60 games. Sure, in a dozen or so, that one inning may be coming in to a game with a one-run lead and no one on and no one out in the Bottom of the 9th.

Span is signed to a very team-friendly contract. He is set to make $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 and there is a club option at $9 million for 2015 (with a $0.5 million buyout).

Storen will make about $420,000 this year. He will make about $450,000 in 2012. He most likely will be a Super-2 free agent in 2013, and if he’s a successful closer until that time, he will likely jump to a price somewhere north of $3 million in 2014. He would then go up from there as he would be arbitration-eligible in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Trading a top prospect for a mediocre (at best) closer was crazy. Trading a proven, productive middle-of-the-field position player for a closer, even a good, exciting, talented one, is just too much for me. Especially for a guy like Span who, like Michael Cuddyer, represents the Twins very well, with class and dignity.

Now, as I discussed on Twitter, I am not against a deal. However, if the Twins are to consider trading Span, they should be blown away. I said that I would be OK with trading Span to the Nationals for Storen, RHP Brad Peacock, and 2B Steve Lombardozzi.

Yes, Lombardozzi is the son of the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins Steve Lombardozzi. The 22 year old was the Nationals 19th round pick in 2008 out of high school in Maryland, where he was also quite the basketball player. He has quickly risen through the Nationals’ minor league ranks. He began 2011 in Double-A where he hit .309/.366/.454 with 12 doubles, seven triples and four home runs in 65 games before being promoted to Triple-A. In 34 games at that level, he has hit .324/.368/.441 with eight doubles and three home runs. No, he’s not a shortstop, but the Twins inability to produce middle infielders tells me that getting one that can hit like this would be a good thing. Yes, Twins fans, I know it will take awhile, but this Lombardozzi can hit!

Brad Peacoack was the Nationals 41st round pick in 2006 out of high school in Florida. He’s had to work his way up through the system, but he has had a big year in 2011 and is still just 23 years old. He began this season in Double-A where he went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA. In 98.2 innings, he walked just 23 and struck out 129. Last night, he made his third start at Triple-A Syracuse and carried a no-hiter into the 8th inning against Columbus. He gave up just one hit in seven innings and struck out seven. His fastball sits between 92 and 94 and frequently hits 96. I would say a Triple-A rotation including Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, eventually David Bromberg, and Brad Peacock would be pretty exciting for Twins fans.

Obviously the Nationals aren’t trade Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper to get Denard Span. Catcher Derek Norris would be nice to get too. But I think a deal of Span for Storen, Lombardozzi and Peacock would be what the Twins should hope for. In fact, I’d even throw in a third-tier Twins prospect into the mix.

That said, I just have a hard time trading Denard Span unless you can get a package like the one I listed above. I like Ben Revere as much as anyone, and I think that in time, he will be a very good on-base guy for the Twins, Span is already there, plus with pop. My other fear is that if the Twins trade Span, will they keep Delmon Young? Does that deal mean anything in regard to potentially bringing back Michael Cuddyer and/or Jason Kubel?

However, if the Twins acquire Storen and make him their closer for the next five years, the team would not have to bring back Matt Capps and Joe Nathan’s option would not be picked up. That is a lot of money off of the books to be used other places. (Hat Tip to Travis Aune for pointing that out). That’s why I say, I’m not completely against trading Span if the Twins get Storen and more.

And, if Denard Span isn’t activated from the Disabled List before Sunday, he can’t be traded anyway, so all this angst may be for naught. (UPDATE – thanks to the comments section, I was reminded that a player on the DL can be traded with the commissioner’s approval. The example was Jake Peavy to the White Sox a couple of years ago.)

What do you think? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

How the Twins won 8 out of 10

12 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

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.

Nine Innings with Seth

10 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It’s been awhile, but I think it is time for a new Nine Innings with Seth. Here are nine topics or subjects that are at least a little different. As with a regular ball game, there are some quick innings, and other innings tend to drag on a little bit! Hopefully there is plenty of information here today that you will enjoy.

1st Inning – Seven out of Eight Ain’t Bad

It started with a sweep of the Royals in Kansas City. It continued with winning two out of three games in Cleveland. Last night, the Twins beat one of the best teams in the American League, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers’ starting pitcher, Derek Holland, is going to be a stud. 95 and left-handed is generally a great combination. But Delmon Young hit a home run (GASP!) and later Michael Cuddyer came through with a big, three-run blast that gave the Twins a 4-1 lead. Of course, the Rangers came back to tie the game at four. But Alexi Casilla, who has been tremendous lately offensively and defensively, came through with another big, game-winning hit, a solid single down the left field line.

The Twins have won seven of their last eight games, and they have gone from 16.5 games back of Cleveland to “just” 11 games back of Cleveland. More important, they are 10 games back or Detroit and 5.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox. Both of those teams have won eight of their last ten games. Those are the two teams that we said all along the Twins should be comparing themselves against. Cleveland came back to the pack. The Royals were done awhile ago.

So, again, in my mind, the Twins are now ten games back in the AL Central. What happens if by the end of June, they are seven games back of the Tigers? Or if by the All Star game, they are five or six games back? If we believe that 85 wins will win the AL Central, the Twins will need to go 61-39 over the final 100 games of the season. Which way of looking at it makes it look better for the Twins chances the rest of the way?

Consider that in the next two or three weeks, the Twins will gain Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, Denard Span and maybe a more healthy Kevin Slowey and Joe Nathan. As Twins fans, we’ve got 100 more games to go. Hopefully most of you are able to think Glass Half Full!

2nd Inning – Span to 7-Day Disabled List

The Twins did announce that Denard Span will be put on the new 7-Day Disabled List for Concussions. He acknowledged last night that he has a “mild concussion.” On Twitter this morning, he acknowledged, “having my first concussion ever sucks. It seems like my energy level isn’t the same. I feel lazy.” And that’s understandable. Obviously the key point here is that we hope that he is able to return soon to 100% physically and mentally. Rene Tosoni will be back with the Twins tonight.

I find it hilarious that some people saw Tosoni struggle during his brief time with the Twins last month and make an assumption that he will not be a big league caliber player. Sure, he struggled and at times really looked the role of guy who had played just 19 games at AAA. He also hit a ball into the Powerball area in deep right centerfield. He’s always been a solid performer throughout his minor league career. I don’t expect his stay this time to be long-term, but I do expect him to be a Twins contributor for years to come.

3rd  Inning – Minor League Scoreboard

Here is a quick update of the Twins minor league affiliates’ games from Thursday:

  • Rochester lost 7-1 to Columbus. Scott Diamond struggled again. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and four walks in just 4.1 innings. Cole DeVries gave up one hit and one walk but no runs in 1.2 innings. Michael Tarsi walked one in a scoreless innings. Anthony Slama gave up a hit but no runs in his inning. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his sixth double. Jeff Bailey walked twice.
  • New Britain got a big win. They topped Akron 14-3. Chris Parmelee went 3-5 with a walk. Dan Rohlfing went 3-5 with his third and fourth doubles. Mark Dolenc went 3-5. Evan Bigley went 2-5 with his fourth home run. Jair Fernandez went 1-3 with two walks. Brian Dozier was 1-2 before being hit in the face by a fastball. It fractured his sinus bone and will likely be out for awhile. Liam Hendriks improved to 6-2 when he gave up one run on seven hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out three. Tyler Robertson picked up his seventh save. He gave up two runs on seven hits in three innings.
  • Ft. Myers lost 11-5 to Palm Beach. Brad Stillings started and gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in three innings. He struckout five. Kane Holbrooks came in and gave up four runs (2 earned) on five hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. Jhon Garcia threw 1.2 scorless innings, with two strikeouts. Shooter Hunt gave up three runs on one hit and four walks in 0.1 innings. Dakota Watts got the final five outs. Anderson Hidalgo went 3-5 with his second home run. Aaron Hicks remained hot. He was 2-4 with two walks. Jhonathan Goncalves went 2-3 with two walks. Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 1-3 with a walk. Joe Mauer went 1-3 with a double.
  • The Beloit Snappers and Ft. Wayne completed a game which was suspended the night before and the Snappers won 11-8. Manuel Soliman started on Wednesday night and gave up five runs on ten hits and a walk in 4.1 innings. Nelvin Fuentes came in and gave up a run on a hit before the game was suspended. When they resumed play on Thursday, BJ Hermsen took the mound. He gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks in 3.1 innings. Jose Gonzalez picked up the save as he struckout two in 1.1 innings. Lance Ray went 3-3 with his 11th and 12th doubles, and his fifth stolen base. Michael Gonzales went 3-4 with his ninth double. Jairo Perez was 2-4. Wang-Wei Lin hit his second home run.
  • In the second (regularly-scheduled) game, the Snappers won 3-0. Ryan O’Rourke started and struckout four in 3.2 one-hit innings. Michael Tonkin then gave up just one hit in his 2.1 scoreless innings. Clinton Dempster recorded his fourth save with a perfect final frame. Andy Leer was 2-3 with his eight and ninth doubles. He drove in two runs. Nate Roberts drove in the third run. Danny Santana went 2-3.

4th  Inning – Twins Returns/Roster Situations

Because of all of the injuries, there are a lot of players that are on the rosters (25 and 40 man) who will be sent down or taken off of the 40 man roster. Here are some thoughts on some of the injuries:

  • Joe Mauer – I hope that Gardy gets his way and Mauer spends more time rehabbing to show he can play four or five games in a row without a day off. However, when Mauer comes back, the Twins will have to decide between Drew Butera and Rene Rivera. To me, it is an easy choice, but in reality, it is pretty difficult. On the field, both are similar. Neither can hit. Both occasionally get a hit. Both are terrific defensively. Butera has a couple of options. Rivera does not have options. I don’t think that Rivera would be claimed, but with the slim catching situation, I would keep Rivera up and option Butera. (That said, the Twins are going to need 40 man roster spots when Mauer and Nishioka come off the DL.)
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka – I hope that Nishioka gets an opportunity to rehab and get some development time. I think he will have to go to New Britain very soon because the Rock Cats need players. I also think it would be good for him to get more and more at bats before throwing him back into the Twins lineup. Nishioka is going to be very solid for the Twins, but it will be good for him to get more time. When Nishioka comes off the Disabled List, I would anticipate that Brian Dinkelman would return to Rochester. I would also project that Dusty Hughes would be removed from the 40-man roster.
  • Denard Span – It will be interesting to see how long Span is out. I assume that it won’t be long and that Rene Tosoni would be sent back down to Rochester.
  • Jason Kubel – I hope he is able to return from the DL on time. At that point, I think that it would make sense to send Rene Tosoni down to Rochester again (unless he’s already sent down because Span is back). However, After that, the options would be Ben Revere, Luke Hughes or Matt Tolbert.
  • Jim Thome – The story is the same with Thome. When he is able to come back, a second of that above group would be sent down.

Obviously the Twins could work out a trade for Delmon Young during that time, but that wouldn’t be likely. Due to his struggles through this much of the season, I think it is increasingly possible that Danny Valencia is a possible guy who could be optioned, and Luke Hughes could eat some of his playing time. If Nishioka is back and shows he is able to play SS, then Tolbert could be sent down. In other words, it it going to be very interesting to see how the transactions look as these five regulars come back over the next couple of weeks.   

5th Inning – Draft Thoughts and Notes

The Major League Baseball draft might be the least scientific event in sports. Think about it. Each team drafts for 50 rounds and hopes that they can find one impact player each year. The hope is that three or four of the players drafted will make it to the big leagues. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I’m sure they want each of their picks to be great, All Star caliber players, but history tells us that if they can get just one in a draft, it’s a good draft.

So, over the past three days, the Twins selected 52 players. It started with the selection of Levi Michael, the 30th overall pick, on Monday night and ended with their selection of high school pitcher Bryan Burgher, the 1,527th overall pick. The Twins are required to make at least some sort of offer to each of those players. However, it is typical that they would sign between 20 and 25 of them. They will really focus on signing their top 10 picks and hopefully their top 15 picks. Here are some quick numbers about the Twins 2011 draft:

  • The Twins drafted 35 pitchers (19 right-handed, 16 left-handed), eight middle infielders, six outfielders, two catchers and one corner infielder.
  • “You can never have too much pitching” is a cliché. It is a cliché because it is true.
  • Since the Twins will likely focus on signing their first 15 picks (and then whichever of the rest are willing to take a low offer), here is a breakdown of those picks: 11 pitchers (7 left-handed, 4 right-handed), three shortstops, one catcher, one outfielder and one corner infielder.
  • 5th-round pick Tyler Grimes has already signed and will report to Beloit over the weekend.
  • The Twins drafted 17 high school players, but just three of those were in the first 15 rounds. In fact, their final six picks were from the high school ranks. That’s not to say that they won’t sign. In fact, two years ago, the Twins signed Tyler Herr, a 6-8 right-handed high school pitcher who was drafted very late. But most likely, they will watch these guys this summer and determine if they want to sign them or let them go to college.
  • 12 of the 52 players were college seniors. They will get very small bonuses because they have no leverage, so they will all likely sign and get an opportunity to start a career in Elizabethton.
  • There were a few local stories. When the Twins drafted Madison Boer from the University of Oregon with their 2nd round pick, they got a guy who is from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and was a 2008 All-Metro player. 16th round pick, LHP Austin Malinowski pitched for Centennial High School in Lino Lakes this spring. He’s committed to Arizona, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins can sign him. Then the Twins drafted a couple of Gophers. In the 25th round, they took AJ Petterson who played SS for the Gophers but will likely move to 2B right away. In the 41st round, they drafted TJ Oakes, a right-handed pitcher who will go to the Cape Cod League this summer.
  • In the 24th round, the Twins drafted a RHP from an Illinois high school named Nick Burdi. He was projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, but is likely to go to Louisville. It would be fun to hear how those negotiations go.
  • 14th round pick Adam McCreery and 8th round pick Jason Wheeler are both 6-8 tall.
  • 7th round pick, Steven Gruver went 5-7 with a 3.95 ERA this year at Tennessee. He’s got one of those last names that just doesn’t work for a pitcher.
  • It was another good day for the Northwoods League who saw many of their alumni drafted again this year. Wheeler was the Pitcher of the Year there last year when he went 8-1 with a 1.35 ERA for the St. Cloud River Bats.

Now it’ll be fun to see which guys sign and when and how they get their careers started.  

6th Inning – Who’s Number 1

This spring when I finished the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011, it included my Top 40 Twins prospects listing. I argued that I could really have chosen any of three players for the top spot. I went with Kyle Gibson because I think he can be a tremendous big league starter, a very good #2 type of pitcher. He has been very good this year in Rochester. He continues to get ground ball outs, but he is also striking out more than a batter an inning. Prospect rankings can also be based to some degree on likelihood that a player will make it.

I chose Miguel Sano as my #2. Again, prospect rankings are based on upside and when it comes to upside, Sano has a ton of it. Now, he’s likely to spend this full season with Elizabethton and I anticipate that he will be very good and put up some big power numbers, but he’s just 18, so we shall see. If he puts up numbers similar to those that Angel Morales and Oswaldo Arcia put up there in recent years, it will be great to see. But the reality is that he has a long ways to go.

Aaron Hicks is still #1 on a lot of Twins prospect rankings, and again, for good reason. He is an incredible athlete who got stronger this year. After a slow April start in Ft. Myers, he has been terrific since mid-May. Having seen him a few times in Ft. Myers, I definitely understand the ranking. I still believe he can be a very good big league ball player. He’s already a plus defensive centerfielder with the best arm in the organization (better than all but a couple of pitchers). He has great speed, and I think that the power will develop.

But I would like to add another name to the Twins top prospect mix. In my mind, the discussion now has to contain RHP Liam Hendriks. He turned just 22 years old in February, but the Australian was pushed to AA New Britain even though he made just 12 starts in Ft. Myers last year. He missed 4-5 weeks due to an emergency appendectomy and started the season in Beloit. He missed the entire 2008 season due to a spinal injury. Currently with the Rock Cats, he is 6-2 with a 2.63 ERA. In 65 innings, he has allowed just 14 walks and struck out 61. He is listed at 6-1 and 190 pounds. He throws 92-93, has good movement, and has four pitches that are good and improving. He is a very smart pitcher, but he is also incredible competitive. As Travis pointed out on Twins Minor League Weekly last night, he has had a Quality Start in eight of his last nine starts. In his last three starts, he has given up two runs in 20 innings. He just keeps getting better.

I’m not certain how I would officially rank these four right now. And if you asked me again tomorrow, you might get a different answer. I think Gibson is still number one. Today, I think I would have Hendriks at #2. I would have Aaron Hicks at #3 and Sano at #4. (and Sano only because I look forward to seeing what he will do). Joe Benson was my #4 prospect, and he has been very good again this year, so this is in no way a knock on him. I just think Hendriks has solidified himself as a Twins Top Prospect.  

7th Inning – 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.

Here is Contest #1: As you know, I’m always looking for people to give me blog ideas, or even write a guest blog. For Contest #1, all you need to do is send me an e-mail telling me why you are a Twins fan. Send me an e-mail with 80-120 worlds saying “Why I’m a Twins fan.” I will accept all entries through Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. I will put your name on paper, and I will put all names into a hat. I will likely then have my five-year-old daughter pull one name out of the hat, and that will be the winner.

As I mentioned, all entries will be posted on SethSpeaks.net at some point over the next couple of weeks (unless you specifically say “Seth, Do Not Post this.” Again, to enter this contest, just send me an e-mail with a small article (80-120 words) on Why you are a Twins fan!

I look forward to your responses, and again, thanks to A&E and MLB Productions for letting me do these contests. It should be fun, and it is obviously a great item any Twins fans would want. I remember those 1987 and 1991 World Series, and this is a great reminder, so fun to remember! (Of course, if you would like, you can also just purchase the DVDs here.)

8th Inning – Jim Perry

In May of 1963, the Twins traded pitcher Jack Kralick to Cleveland in exchange for a right-handed pitcher named Jim Perry. At that point, Perry had gone 52-49 with ERAs of 2.65, 3.62, 4.71 and 4.14. He would go on to be one of the best pitchers in Twins history. This weekend, Perry is being inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.

In his ten seasons with the Twins, he went 128-90 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. In 1883.1 innings, he gave up just 1,711 hits, walked 541 and struck out 1025. He finished third in Cy Young Award voting in 1969 when he went 20-6 with a 2.82 ERA in 261.2 innings. In 1970, he was named the Cy Young Award winner when he went 24-12 with a 3.04 ERA in 278.2 innings. He was an All Star in both 1970 and 1971. But the thing about Perry was that he was remarkably consistent throughout his time with the Twins. In his nine full seasons with the Twins, he only had one season in which he posted an ERA over 3.44 (and that was 4.23 in 1971 when he still through 270 innings).

In March of 1973, the Twins traded Perry, then 37, to the Tigers for Danny Fife and some cash. Fife threw 56.1 innings for the Twins over just two years.

Bert Blyleven credits Perry (and Jim Kaat) in helping him out early in his Twins career. Now Perry will join those two in the Twins Hall of Fame, and really, it’s about time!   

9th Inning – Blog Spotting

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

2011 Twins Predictions

1 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Thursday was officially Opening Day, and I have to admit, it was a strange day for me. First, it was on a Thursday for the first time. I had enough troubles with ESPN getting a Sunday night season opener, after Opening Day had always just been a Monday thing. MLB decided to start the season three or four days earlier in an attempt to keep the World Series out of November. Second, the Twins didn’t play on Opening Day. Only 12 teams did. So, I guess all I can say is:

Happy Minnesota Twins Opening Day to you!

Predictions are always fun because at the end of the year, I can pick and choose which ones I will remind you that I made. Or, if they’re that far off, I can forget to remind you about my picks and hopefully you won’t remind me too often. Below are some predictions, some more bold than others, for the 2011 Minnesota Twins season with some other predictions randomly thrown in.

2011 MINNESOTA TWINS PROJECTIONS

  • Matt Capps will record twice as many saves as Joe Nathan.
  • Joe Mauer will hit less than .320, but he will hit more than 40 doubles and more than 16 home runs. He will win his fourth straight, and fifth total, Silver Slugger Award.
  • Justin Morneau will post an OPS of just over .880.
  • Delmon Young will:
    • Hit over .300.
    • Hit more than 28 home runs
    • Drive in more than 120 runs
    • Post an OPS of less than .900.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka will post an OPS of over .720 and steal more than 25 bases. He will also deserve to win the AL Gold Glove, but he won’t because Robinson Cano is a really good hitter.
  • Alexi Casilla’s OPS will be within .030 of JJ Hardy’s. He will also be within 2.0 UZR of the former Twins shortstop.
  • The date that I will stop watching the Twins on FSN with the volume on will be April 6th.
  • Denard Span will post an OBP over .370. He will steal more than 30 bases.
  • Michael Cuddyer will lead the Twins with more than 40 doubles. He will also top 20 home runs.
  • Danny Valencia will post an OPS greater than .820 with more than 32 doubles and more than 15 home runs.
  • Jim Thome will NOT post an OPS of over 1.000 again in 2011. In fact, he won’t post a .900 OPS. He will hit less than 15 home runs but more than the 11 home runs he needs to reach career home runs number 600.
    • Let’s go on a limb and say that he will his Home Run #600 on August 24th at Target Field in the 2nd inning off of Jake Arrieta.
  • Carl Pavano will throw 200 innings, but his ERA will be over 4.40.
  • Francisco Liriano will throw less than 190 innings with an ERA over 3.50 and a K-rate less than 8.5 per nine innings.
  • Brian Duensing will throw 175+ innings with an ERA of under 4.25.
  • Nick Blackburn will throw more than 210 innings with an ERA just under 4.00.
  • Scott Baker will throw 190+ innings with an ERA under 4.20.
  • Kevin Slowey will not make a start for the Twins in 2011, and he will average more than a strikeout per inning
  • I will be wrong about one of the five starters pitching well, Kyle Gibson will make his Twins debut on June 18 at Target Field against the Padres.
  • Joe Mauer and Delmon Young will represent the Twins at the All-Star game.
  • The Twins will open their 2011 home schedule with a 3-4 record, including a split against the Yankees at Yankees Stadium.
  • Ron Gardenhire will be ejected eight times in 2011.
  • No Twins hitter will top 30 home runs, however, Justin Morneau and Delmon Young will come close, while Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel will hit over 22 each.

AL CENTRAL STANDINGS (Projected)

Minnesota Twins        93-69

Chicago White Sox      91-71

Detroit Tigers              80-82

Cleveland Indians        72-90

Kansas City Royals     63-99

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFF TEAMS

AL Central – Minnesota Twins (2)

AL East – Boston Red Sox (1)

AL West – Oakland A’s (3)

Wild Card – Chicago White Sox (4)

ALDS: Boston over Chicago in 4 games, Oakland over Minnesota (in 5 games, the A’s rotation contains lefties Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden, and the bullpen has Brian Fuentes, Craig Breslow and Bobby Cramer. The Twins have not addressed their need for a right-handed bat. Unless they do, it could be another one and done.)

ALCS – Boston over Oakland in 5 games.

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFF TEAMS

NL Central – Milwaukee Brewers (3)

NL East – Atlanta Braves (2)

NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers (1)

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies

NLDS: Braves over Brewers in 4 games. Phillies over Dodgers in 4 games.

NLCS: Braves over Phillies in 7 games.

WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

                Braves over Red Sox in 6 games.

 What are your predictions for the 2011 season, for the Twins or the league. If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.

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  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST LAST NIGHTNIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, check out Twins Minor League Weekly podcast from last night. Travis Aune and I will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. Last night, we discussed the projected rosters and picks to click for the Rochester Red Wings and New Britain Rockcats. We started talking about the Ft. Myers Miracle when the 45 minute podcast abruptly came to an end. Next Thursday, we’ll discuss minor league opening night and continue to look at the Miracle and Snappers rosters.