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Guess Who’s Back? Twins Notes

19 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It started out with all good intentions. I had been extremely busy with work for a couple of weeks. We had been putting together nightly Twins podcasts during the Winter Meetings. I took a day off of work and had a fun weekend in the Cities with my daughter and my sister. On Friday night, I enjoyed being a guest on the Gleeman and the Geek podcast. That was a ton of fun! Then on Saturday we went to the Como Zoo which was a blast as always. After some time at the mall, it was a lot of fun to hang out with Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, Aaron Gleeman, Cody Christie, Howard Sinker, Darren “Doogie” Wolfson, Rhett Bollinger, Judd Zulgad, and Phil Mackey on Saturday night. I got to enjoy the role of DD yet again! It was a great weekend. The only concern was how tired I would be making the drive back up to Warroad, a good seven hour drive.

However, that’s where all the positivity ended for the past week. Around 3:30 Sunday morning, I woke up not quite feeling right. But about 6:30, I had figured out what my problem was. It was a problem I had twice previously, five and six years ago. I had a kidney stone. You don’t want all the details. This is probably more than enough, but a trip to the doctor on Monday was followed by a ‘passed stone’ on Wednesday morning. I thought that was it. Nope! Increased pain Wednesday night meant a trip to the hospital which turned into a trip to Fargo and a Saturday surgery that frankly didn’t rid the remaining stone. However, enough was done to alleviate the pain until I can have another surgery next week sometime to finish.

I apologize for being away from my computer completely for over a week. I read some of the comments on my phone that talked about how I ‘used to’ blog all the time about the Twins. OK, not going to apologize. I literally could not look at my computer screen for more than a minute at a time without getting nauseous.

But, I do need to thank my parents who were great, helpful all week and were there the whole time. My siblings were constantly asking questions. And there are a ton of you who sent messages and notes and well wishes. I just needed to say thank you to everyone and there’s no easy way to do that. So, here I’ll just blog it. Thank you!

Unfortunately, in the one week where I literally had to stay away from the computer, the Twins were quite busy. So, without going into too much detail, I thought I’d post my thoughts on several of the topics in an attempt to catch up.

CUDDYER FOR WILLINGHAM

OK, it wasn’t a trade, of course, but in essence, the Twins ‘traded’ Michael Cuddyer for Josh Willingham. As you know by now, Cuddyer inked a three year, $31.5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies. I hate to see Cuddyer leave. He had been with the Twins and in the organization since he was drafted in the first round of the 1997 draft. Although he certainly had his ups and downs, he was a very popular, major contributor to the Twins success for nearly a decade. And yes, part of that is his good-guy attitude, his willingness to talk to the media all the time, his work in the community, and to some demographics, there were the dimples.

Willingham is the same age as Cuddyer and has been equal, if not a little better, offensive player. The Twins got a very similar player for the same three year tenure but for $10.5 million less. The Twins also will get two draft picks for losing Cuddyer. I’ve liked Willingham for a long time. I named him as a Top 20 Rookie Hitters for 2006 because of his power and Isolated Discipline. That is what makes him. He won’t hit for a high average, and like Cuddyer, he won’t play great defense, but he can be a force in the Twins lineup.  

So, although I will miss Cuddyer and his presence on the roster and in the city, at the end of the day, the Twins got the same player for less money and added two draft picks.  As I’ve written previously, Michael Cuddyer will always be a Minnesota Twin. I am curious where he would rank among the all-time best Twins players. Off the top of my head, he has to easily be in the Top 20.    

INTERESTED IN KUBEL?

I keep hearing and reading that the Twins are now targeting Jason Kubel, even after bringing in Willingham. Like Cuddyer, Kubel has been in the Twins organization since being drafted in the previous millennium. I think Kubel is an impact free agent who will really help whatever team that he signs with. Its’ pretty clear that he doesn’t want to return to Target Field. And with Ben Revere, Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit on the roster and the likes of Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson on the horizon, I just don’t think that the Twins really need to spend $5-7 million for a year or two on Kubel. That is especially the case if the Twins have a lower payroll. They need to add another pitcher. I would love to see Edwin Jackson in a Twins uniform, but if I had to put money on which free agent pitcher the Twins will sign, I’d have to say Paul Maholm. I know that the Twins have been linked more to Jeff Francis and Joel Pineiro, but I can’t get past Maholm as the right option.

HOEY AND FLORIMON DESIGNATED

The Twins designated two players off of their 40 man roster. RHP Jim Hoey was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. The hard-thrower just could not get his straight fastball by big league (or often AAA) hitters because he never did find a secondary pitch. The Twins have added several players who throw hard and struggle with their control.

SS Pedro Floriman, who the Twins claimed a week earlier, as also DFAd, but he was able to clear waivers and will remain in the Twins organization. He still has an option remaining, so this is great news for the Twins.

TWINS NON-TENDER MIJARES

In a somewhat surprising move, the Twins did not tender a contract for 2012 to LHP Jose Mijares. It isn’t that he has pitched well the last couple of years (He Hasn’t), but he is still young and does have really good stuff when he’s on. Because of how he has pitched the last couple of years, he would likely have made around $750,000, just over $250,000 over the league minimum. That said, it also is a clear indication that the Twins will be moving Brian Duensing to the bullpen where he’ll join Glen Perkins. Not a huge loss, although I will not be at all surprised when Mijares resurfaces elsewhere and becomes a dominant reliever again.

INTERNATIONAL DRAFT

Imagine if there was an international draft in place today? The Twins would have the second overall pick. Even though that probably means that Yu Darvish would not have made himself available, the Twins could have been left with either Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler, both incredibly talented outfielders from Cuba.

TWINS SIGN MORE MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENTS

I thought the Twins had already signed a bunch of minor league free agents, but they signed a few more pretty impressive names.

  • Sean Burroughs – the former Little League World Series hero hasn’t done much in the big leagues, but is a very solid AAA player who did some pinch hitting in 2011 with the Diamondbacks. With a big league invitation, is it at all possible the team could be signing him as competition for Danny Valencia?
  • Rene Rivera – We saw what the catcher could do in 2011. Decent behind the plate. Horrifying offensively.
  • PJ Walters – The RHP is 26 years old and pitched in five big league games in 2011 between the Cardinals and the Blue Jays. In 24 AAA starts, he went 8-7 with a 5.17 ERA between Memphis and Las Vegas (AAA). He went 7-4 with a 4.27 ERA in 17 starts in the International League before heading to the PCL where he posted a 8+ ERA. Looks like a solid AAA starter.
  • JR Towles – The former Astros backstop used to be a pretty good prospect, the guy in line to take over for Brad Ausmus years ago. In parts of four years in the big leagues, he has hit .187.
  • Steve Pearce – In 2007, Pearce hit a combined .333/.394/.622 with 40 doubles and 31 home runs between High-A, AA and AAA. He became a Top 100 prospect, and although he has continued to hit well in the minor leagues since, it hasn’t transferred to the big leagues. In parts of five big league seasons, he has hit .232/.302/.366 with 29 doubles and nine homers in 521 plate appearances. No surprise that the Twins drafted Pearce out of high school in the 45th round.
  • Daryl Thompson – He made one appearance with the Reds in 2011 and in three innings, he gave up five runs on six hits and five walks. Not so good. Last year, between AA and AAA, the 25-year-old went 4-8 with a 4.26 ERA. In 137.1 innings, he walked 40 and struck out 123.

 BILL SMITH RETURNS TO TWINS FRONT OFFICE

It is no surprise to hear that Bill Smith will be back with the Twins as a special assistant to the president and GM. Hey, the guy did a ton of great things for the organization for the 25 years prior to him becoming the Twins GM, back when no one knew his name. So, I think it’s great news that Smith will return to the organization in his new role.

So, did I miss anything? Am I all caught up? Feel free to comment.

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Twins Bullpen Blitz

14 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net and www.StarTribune.com –

It will be another offseason full of difficult decisions for the Minnesota Twins front office. There are double-figure free agents. They have two contracts with 2011 options that they need to determine if they should be picked up. There could be as many as nine arbitration situations. Although the Twins have a fairly solid core of players under contract for 2011, it will be interesting to see how those players are complemented.

One area that could experience the most turnover is in the bullpen. Over the last decade, Twins fans have seen how important a strong bullpen can be as well as how much it can hurt if the bullpen struggles. Even with Joe Nathan out for the entire 2010 season, the Twins went into the playoffs with what was believed to be solid, deep bullpen.

However, that group in the bullpen was comprised of several players who may not be in a Twins uniform in 2011 for various reasons. Here is what we know today:

Joe Nathan – We know that the Twins will be paying the veteran closer $11.25 million for the 2011 season even if we can’t confidently predict how good and how healthy he will be.

Matt Capps – He has a year of arbitration left. Looking historically at closers in their final arbitration year, it is likely that Capps could demand somewhere between $7 and $9 million in 2011. He was solid in 2010, and he would provide insurance should Nathan not be ready. He is prone to allowing plenty of base runners.

Jesse Crain – Despite the hanging slider to Mark Teixeira in Game 1, Crain proved himself to be one of baseball’s better relievers through most of the 2010 season. He is a Type B free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepted, he could make $3 to $3.5 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines it, the Twins would get a supplemental 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. After his season, it is likely that Crain could command a three or four year contract at an average of $3.5 to 4 million a season.

Jon Rauch – He was solid as the Twins closer through most of the season’s first half. Very hittable, but he racked up good save totals. He was also so bad late in the first half and early in the second half that the Twins had to trade their most big-league ready prospect for Capps. He also would be a Type B free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepted, he could earn as much as $4 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would get a supplemental 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. He could likely get a two year contract in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Matt Guerrier – Guerrier has racked up the relief appearances over the last four years. He has remained remarkably durable. He has also pitched at a very good level, well enough that he would be a Type A free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration, and he accepted, he could earn $4 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would get the signing team’s first round pick next summer (unless the signing team owns one of the first 15 picks in draft, in which case, the Twins would receive their 2nd round pick) and a supplemental first round pick. Because he isn’t a strikeout pitcher, Guerrier could struggle to find a team willing to give up and early draft pick to sign him. If the Twins do not offer him arbitration, Guerrier could probably sign a two year deal worth between $6 and 7 million total.

Brian Fuentes – The Twins got a good one when they acquired Fuentes from the Angels. The 35 year old southpaw was amazing against left-handed bats. He led the league in Saves in 2009 and recorded 25 saves with the Angels in 2010 before the trade. He made $9 million in 2010. He becomes a Type B free agent because his 2011 option would only vest with 55 games finished (he finished 35 total in 2010). If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepts, the Twins would likely pay him between $9 and 10 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would gain a supplemental 1st round pick next summer. If the Twins do not offer arbitration, he could sign with a team needing a closer and get two years and $14-15 million. Or, if all teams see him as an 8th inning lefty type, he could still get two years and $8-9 million.

Clay Condrey, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay – We have to assume that these free agents will not be back with the Twins in 2011, and if so, it would be like Mahay’s minor league deal signed late in spring training.

Pat Neshek – He made $650,000 in 2010, his first arbitration year. If he is offered arbitration, he likely would be in the $650,000 to $750,000 range. If not, he would become a free agent.

Glen Perkins – Perkins got enough time in 2010 with the Twins to make himself arbitration-eliglble this offseason, a year later than he wanted. He would probably make $750,000 in arbitration, if offered.

Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Swarzak, Jose Lugo – These pitchers all have less major league service time than required to be arbitration eligible, so they would make about the league minimum, around $420,000. Mijares would likely be closer to $450,000-500,000.

More to Consider:

  • The Twins bullpen generally consists of six and sometimes seven relievers, including the closer.
  • Joe Nathan is pretty much untradable right now. Until he proves he is healthy, the assumption must be that he will be paid by the Twins.
  • There are free agent bullpen options left and right, many of whom will be available and looking for a job as spring training approaches. So your bullpen does not completely need to be filled by the above players.
  • It cost top prospect Wilson Ramos to acquire Matt Capps from the Nationals. There is no way that the Twins would non-tender Capps. But think about this; would you rather have Matt Capps at $8 million, or bring back Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier at a combined $7 million? Would you rather pay Capps $8 million. Could the Twins trade Capps before arbitration to bring back more young talent?
  • How much money should the Twins tie up in the bullpen? Potentially $20 million is locked up between Nathan and Capps. If we assume a $110 or even $120 million payroll, how many dollars should the bullpen cost?
  • With that in mind, would you rather have Capps at $8 million or JJ Hardy $6 million and a veteran, right-handed bench bat who could spell Justin Morneau at 1B for $2 million?
  • If the Twins bring back Carl Pavano and pay him $9 million in 2010, there could be a starter or two who would pitch out of the bullpen. Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing will be in the rotation. Scott Baker will get a big pay raise in 2011, so he should start. Nick Blackburn’s salary jumps up to $3 million in 2011. Kevin Slowey could get $2 million or so in his first year of arbitration. Without a trade, there are six starters right there, and one would likely get pushed to the bullpen.
  • And that doesn’t even take into account a couple of pretty strong starting pitching prospects in Kyle Gibson and David Bromberg, both of which could be ready by June for the big leagues. It also doesn’t factor in a couple of very hard-throwing bullpen arms who could be ready soon like Carlos Gutierrez or Billy Bullock.

So, if you’re the GM, and you have to worry about a payroll, and you alone have the final call on the Twins roster, what does it look like? Which free agents do you offer arbitration? Which do you want back? Which young pitchers do you want to be on the big league roster? How do you make it all work?

The TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook is now available for pre-order at just $4.95 for the first 500 copies sold THIS WEEK. To learn more about the entire Twins roster, all the questions they have to ask, and the options that they may have, this is a must-have electronic book. We will look at the 40 man roster decisions, outline the entire Organizational Depth chart, review the cases for and against the many Twins players eligible for arbitration, look at the Twins players who can become free agents, look at other players around the league who will be available via free agency as well as potential trade targets. This book is as comprehensive as it gets. If you’re not convinced, you can get last year’s version for FREE as a sample of what you will be getting.

PODCASTS – Last night, the Twins Geek and I were both on Fanatic Jack’s podcast and we talked about all of the Twins free agents and arbitration-eligibles and some possible trade candidates. It was a lot of fun and if you have a chance, please listen to it here. Of course, if you missed my podcast on Tuesday night, you can http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sethspeaks/2010/10/13/sethspeaksnet-weekly-minnesota-twins-podcastlisten to that here.

BLOGS

Arizona Fall League

The AFL is back in swing now and the Twins prospects are playing for the Peoria Saguaros. In their first game, on Tuesday night, Chris Parmelee went 1-4 with a double. Joe Benson was 0-2. Ben Revere was 0-1. Tyler Robertson gave up one run on a hit and three walks in his first inning. Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs in his two innings. Last night, Ben Revere went 1-4 with an RBI. Chris Parmelee was 2-4. Joe Benson went 1-3 with a run scored. Carlos Gutierrez struck out two in a scoreless inning. The one Twins prospect that has not played in their first two games is David Bromberg. The righty will start for the team on Friday.

Lots of things covered above, please Leave your comments here.

Droppin’ some notes

13 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

After spending three-plus hours hanging out with six great kids at Chuck E. Cheese for my young’ns 4th birthday party, I don’t have a lot left in me tonight, so here are some notes:

EVENTS

1.)     I will be on KFAN and KFAN.com with Paul Allen today at 9:15 am, so be sure to check out on your radio or listen online.

2.)     On Saturday at noon, the Twins and Yankees will be playing in New York. The TwinsCentric guys will be hosting another TwinsCentric Viewing Party during the game. This will be at Majors Sports Café in Bloomington. Hopefully many of you will be able to attend. There will again be drawings for prizes including a couple of Twins tickets. And not just that, but there will again be drink and appetizer specials. Oh, and you can watch the Twins game with a whole bunch of Twins fans.

3.)     Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

TWINS NOTES

1.)     The Twins got another two-run, seven inning performance from Carl Pavano. It was the third straight game that he gave up two runs. It was the first one in which he recorded a win. The veteran gave up two first inning runs,  but that was it. He was excellent again. Brian Duensing and Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect 8th inning before Jon Rauch threw a perfect ninth inning for the save. A Justin Morneau single scored Denard Span to tie the game at two a piece in the 3rd. Then in the fourth inning, Span singled in Delmon Young.

2.)     What a day for Delmon Young. First, if was Delmon Young Day in the Twins blogosphere. He responded by going 3-4, including doubles in his first two at bats.

3.)     JJ Hardy was put on the Disabled List, and to no one’s surprise, the Twins promoted the no-hit, decent glove Matt Tolbert. Yes, I am bitter. There is no reason that the Twins should not have called up Trevor Plouffe and given him a week’s worth of starts.

4.)     After the game, the Twins activated Jose Mijares from the Disabled List and optioned Wilson Ramos to AAA Rochester. The decision to demote Ramos makes complete and total sense. He’s a terrific prospect with tremendous upside with the bat, both in terms of batting average and power, but he has work to do. The semi-surprise was that Jose Mijares was brought back from the DL so quickly. He was really bad before he was put on the Disabled List. He worked and rehabbed for a few weeks. He went to Rochester and got hit hard both Friday and Sunday, and then he was activated by the Twins on Thursday. Why not have him make another appearance or two with the Red Wings? Brian Duensing and Ron Mahay have been tremendous. A player on a rehab assignment can be in the minor leagues for 20 days, so I just don’t understand the need to rush him back.

5.)     In a Dan Barriero interview with Bill Smith on KFAN on Wednesday afternoon, Smith said that Jose Morales was going to begin a rehab assignment in Rochester today. With both Morales and Ramos going back to Rochester, it will be interesting to watch the catching carousel. I assume that Allan de San Miguel will stay in Rochester. Jair Fernandez will likely go back to Ft. Myers, although he could go to New Britain and allow Danny Rams to go back to Beloit. It will be interesting to see what happens.

TWINS/YANKEES SERIES

The Yankees series is going to be talked about by Twins fans all over. What do the Twins need to do? After losing every game in 2010 to the Yankees, could it be a successful series if the Twins win just one game? Would it be the end of the world if they were swept (of course not, but there are some who seem to believe that.) Obviously, they are the Yankees. They spend a ton. They have some very good players. Many are past their primes (yet still productive). The Twins have nothing to be intimidated by though. They can beat this team. So what do you think? Here are the position-by-position matchups (although they don’t actually match up:

  1. Catcher – Joe Mauer or Jorge Posada – Advantage Twins, and by a long shot.
  2. 1B – Justin Morneau or Mark Teixeira – Push – Normally, I’d probably acknowledge Teixeira by a slight margin, but first, it is close enough, and second, Tex isn’t off to a terribly good start while Morneau is among league leaders in about everything.
  3. 2B – Orlando Hudson or Robinson Cano – Advantage Yankees, and by quite a bit, at least offensively. Hudson may be a bit better with the glove.
  4. 3B – Nick Punto or Alex Rodriguez – Advantage Yankees, and I hope I don’t need to add too much to this.
  5. SS – Harris/Casilla or Derek Jeter – Advantage Yankees, and if JJ Hardy was playing, it wouldn’t be a whole lot closer.
  6. LF – Young/Kubel or Randy Winn – Advantage Twins, even if Gardner or Thames is out there for the Bombers.
  7. CF – Denard Span or Brett Gardner – Advantage Twins, although Gardner has taken steps forward this year.
  8. RF – Michael Cuddyer or Nick Swisher – Push – Both are pretty good, maybe a bit underrated. If I had to pick an advantage, I’d give the slight nod to the Twins.
  9. DH – Kubel/Thome or Marcus Thames – Advantage Twins, even with Kubel’s slow start. The Yankees actually use the DH spot to give guys days off from the field a lot.
  10. Game 1 – Francisco Liriano vs AJ Burnett – Burnett is actually pitching pretty well this year, and Liriano was the AL Pitcher of the Month in April. Hopefully this will be a good matchup.
  11. Game 2 – Scott Baker vs Andy Pettitte – Advantage Twins, but Pettitte is a crafty veteran, capable of still having some decent games. (UPDATE – Baker is pitching on Friday night, and Liriano is starting on Saturday. Probably doesn’t affect much of the analysis though.)
  12. Game 3 – Nick Blackburn vs Javier Vazquez – Advantage Twins. Vazquez can be so good, but the Yankees fans hate him already. He’s been bad. Blackburn has been great his last two outings.
  13. Closers – Jon Rauch vs Mariano Rivera – see 3B reasoning.
  14. Bullpens – I’ll take the Twins bullpen any day of the week.
  15. Bench – I don’t think it can get much worse than the Twins bench with Butera, Casilla and Tolbert on it. The odd man out in the Kubel, Young, Thomas saga is the other. The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo and Greg Golson. I might even take the Twins bench!

In other words, this should be a very good series between two very evenly matched teams. The Twins are 22-12. The Yankees are 22-11.

MINOR LEAGUE NOTES

1.)     Rochester lost 5-2 to Indianapolis. Matt Fox started and gave up three runs (on a Pedro Alvarez home run) on four hits and two walks in 3.1 innings. Cole DeVries made his first AAA appearance and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in 3.2 innings. Tim Lahey also pitched a scoreless inning. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with his sixth double. He had two of the team’s five hits in the game. Danny Valencia collected a single to give him a 16 game hitting streak.

2.)     Ft. Myers beat Tampa 2-1. Drew Thompson and Ramon Santana each went 2-4. Liam Hendriks He gave up just one run on three hits in seven innings in an impressive Florida State League debut. He walked none and struck out eight. Billy Bullock struck out three (And walked two) in two scoreless innings for his seventh save.

3.)     New Britain’s game with Trenton was postponed by rain. The same happened to the Beloit-Kane County game as well.

4.)     On Thursday, Deolis Guerra will make his AAA debut for the Red Wings in a morning game (11:00 eastern, 10:00 central).

Alright, I must sleep. I hope you all have a great day! Leave any comments here.

2010 Roster Projections: Minnesota Twins

21 Mar

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Alright, Opening Day is just two weeks away. The minor league seasons will begin in about 2 ½ weeks. It’s late time for me to post my roster projections. I know a lot of people in the cities of the Twins affiliates appreciate this, having an idea of who they may be able to see in their home stadium this year. Today I will be posting my projected Twins roster. Tomorrow I’ll post my projection on the Rochester Roster and so on through the week until I post my projected Beloit roster on Friday.

So here we go, starting with, the Minnesota Twins:

The Hitters

  Minnesota
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Orlando Hudson
3B Brendan Harris
SS JJ Hardy
LF Delmon Young
CF Denard Span
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel
Bu C Drew Butera
Bu IF Nick Punto
Bu IF,OF Alexi Casilla
Bench Jim Thome
DL (Jose Morales)

 Analysis: I guess there really aren’t any surprises here. Yes, Nick Punto will likely start at 3B just as much as Brendan Harris. I think as long as he isn’t traded, Alexi Casilla will make the roster because he is out of options and they don’t want to lose him for nothing. And, I think I’ve been fairly clear on my thoughts that Wilson Ramos needs at bats and time behind the plate, so being a backup, even for a short time, makes no sense. Mauer, Morneau, Hudson, Hardy, Young, Span, Cuddyer, Kubel, Thome. This is a pretty exciting lineup that is going to score a lot of runs.

The Pitchers 

  Minnesota
SP Scott Baker
SP Nick Blackburn
SP Kevin Slowey
SP Carl Pavano
SP Francisco Liriano
   
CL Matt Guerrier
8L Jose Mijares
8R Jon Rauch
BP Jesse Crain
BP Pat Neshek
BP Anthony Slama
BP Clay Condrey
DL (Joe Nathan)

Analysis: Starting Five looks set and looks really good. We’ve spent the last couple of months trying to convince ourselves that Francisco Liriano could turn things around, and so far, so good. The other four are just very solid, if not underrated. I put Matt Guerrier in the closer’s role, just because he did such a good job in the 8th inning (often against the other team’s best hitters), that there is no reason to think he can’t do it in the 9th inning. If not, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain or even Pat Neshek can get the job done. My thoughts on Neshek’s return have changed somewhat. He appears to be back and continues to get better and stronger. I now believe that he will make this roster, and who knows, by midseason, he could be closing too. Clay Condrey hasn’t been very good in spring, but he was solid for the Phillies the last three years, so I trust that over six or seven innings in March. Finally, the final bullpen spot may be determined by how much Gardy wants a second left-hander. If he is insistent upon it, then Brian Duensing is the guy. If he’s looking for the best relief pitcher, then Anthony Slama is the guy. Slama hasn’t pitched much this spring, but when he has, he has done well. It will be good to see him facing some big league hitters the next couple of weeks.

If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.

What Would YOU Do? Joe Nathan Edition

10 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I honestly had already started the blog entry before the Friday night debacle because I do think that it is an interesting topic for discussion. I also think that it is important to step back from any one game in making these types of decision. Much as I don’t think that the Twins front office should decide what to do with Orlando Cabrera based on what he did in the final couple of weeks. The Twins should certainly not make any decisions based on Joe Nathan’s blown save in a must-win against the Yankees in the playoffs. So, here are some quick pros and cons:

Pros

  • In his six years as Twins closer, he is 22-12 with a 1.87 ERA. His WHIP has been 0.93.
  • 246 saves in six seasons.
  • In 2009, he set a Twins record with 47 saves. He was 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
  • After his strikeout rate dropped to 9.7 and 9.8 in 2007 and 2008, it jumped back up to 11.7 in 2009.
  • Has only pitched between 67.2 and 72.1 innings in any season with the Twins.
  • Want a closer who dominates the AL Central. I would say that applies to Nathan:
    • Career vs. White Sox – .151/.212/.277 (.489), 3-2, 24 Saves, 2.06 ERA, 0.77 WHIP
    • Career vs. Tigers – .153/.248/.257 (504), 2-1, 30 Saves, 1.55 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
    • Career vs. Royals – .144/.204/.230 (.434), 3-0, 35 Saves, 0.85 ERA, 0.72 WHIP
    • Career vs. Indians – .201/.258/.360 (.618), 3-1, 26 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP
  • Aside from the Yankees, the only team that Nathan has a career ERA of over 2.98 is the Texas Rangers (3.72).
  • Called a leader in the clubhouse, and especially in the bullpen.
  • Is quite active in the community.

Cons

  • Will turn 35 years old in November. How many pitchers over the age of 34 continue to dominate the way Nathan has? I know, but Mariano Rivera is a freak!
  • Will make $11.25 million in 2010, $11.25 million in 2011, and has a $13.0 million option for 2012 (with a $2 million buyout). The dollars aren’t a concern, but coupled with his age, it has to be at least mentioned.
  • Career vs. New York Yankees (Reg. Season Only) –
    • .255/.333/.382 (.715), 0-3, 4 Saves, 4.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP

I knew the Con list would be significantly shorter. Joe Nathan has been baseball’s best closer over the past six years. There is nothing about Joe Nathan, other than his ability to pitch well against the Yankees, to complain about.

So, in my mind, the big questions become:

  1. Who takes over as the Twins closer?
  2. What type of package could the Twins get for Joe Nathan?

Let’s start with the first. As you know, I think that any solid reliever who can dominate can be a quality closer. To expect anyone to be as good as Nathan has over the past six years is unrealistic. I do think that Jose Mijares has the stuff to get lefties and righties out (even though that wasn’t the case this year). Jesse Crain, if he is what he was in August and September, can certainly do the job. Jon Rauch? How about Anthony Slama? Or, could they bring in some hard thrower who had previously struggled as a starter to get the job done?

The second question is obviously much harder to project. Which teams need a closer, preferably National League teams. But for a dominant closer with a major track record who keeps himself in tremendous shape, you could expect to get two very solid prospects and maybe another player or two.

One philosophy that I can’t argue with is that it is better to trade a player too soon than too late. There is also a philosophy that says Joe Nathan is really, really good. Why would you trade him? Which side of the fence would you tend to lean toward? Obviously this is a no lose situation. If the Twins keep Joe Nathan, they continue to have one of baseball’s best. If they trade him, it would be for a package of players that would hopefully contribute to the Twins as long as Nathan has. To leave your thoughts, particularly additional Pros and Cons, please click here.

This is another of many, many decisions that the Twins General Manager Bill Smith will have to make after the Twins playoff run is complete (hopefully with their third World Series championship!). And when the Twins 2009 season does come to an end, the TwinsCentric group will give you a ton of great information to help you understand all of the decisions the Twins GM and present you with the opportunity to decide what you would do. (More details to come)

Sunday Stream of Consciousness

1 Jun

also avilable at www.SethSpeaks.net

Watching the Twins lose six in a row on the road earlier in the month was rather frustrating. Then they won 20-1 in Chicago before winning five of seven at home. Then they went back on the road and lost their first two games to the Rays. But more important than anything else, on Sunday, they were able to beat Matt Garza and that makes everything right with the world again. It was great seeing Brendan Harris touch him up for a home run. It was great to see Delmon Young come in to face him and get a single.

In the end, we see over and over and over again, whether at the Metrodome or on the road, that the key to a team’s success starts with that day’s starting pitcher. I know. It’s boring and sounds so cliché, but sometimes it’s important to remember how clichés got to become clichés! You’re only as good as your next day’s starter, right? Tom Kelly used to say that all the time, and well, it is one of baseball’s great truths. Friday night, it was Scott Baker giving up a three run homer to Evan Longoria. On Saturday, it was Francisco Liriano looking pretty clueless. On Sunday, it was Nick Blackburn looking pretty much in control the whole game with the exception of two solo home runs. Garza looked pretty good though and for awhile it looked like that would be enough for the Rays to sweep the Twins, but single runs in the 6th and 7th innings gave the Twins a 3-2 win. Sean Henn, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan finished the final three innings without allowing a run to preserve a win for Blackburn.

Why was the offense able to score in the 6th and 7th? Did they wear out Garza? I don’t know about that, but I know I did my part by leaving the house and going to watch the cartoon Up at the theatre. What as excellent movie, one of the best feature cartoon movies that I have seen! That’s right! I quit watching them and decided to enjoy the weekend! So, you’re welcome!

Plenty of topics to discuss, and as you can see, I am just rambling. That’s the beauty of titling something a Stream of Consciousness blog. I can ramble and that’s the purpose! That’s what I am going to do today, trying to touch on several Twins-related topics. I’ll write for awhile and just see where it takes us, so please enjoy and certainly feel free to comment.

As I have said, starting pitching is the key to everything. Right now, it seems that the Twins can count on Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey to give them decent starts and a chance to win. Anthony Swarzak came up to replace the injured Glen Perkins and has since made two very good starts. Perkins had really struggled for several starts before going on the Disabled List, so I am not certain if the struggles were related to the arm, or what. But I do know that I agree with the theory that a player should not lose his spot to an injury. That is why, after his rehab stint at Rochester, I believe that Glen Perkins should be given a couple of starts before possibly being shifted back to the bullpen if that is what needs to be done.

The problem is that Swarzak is a good pitching prospect, but nothing in his minor league numbers indicate that he will be able to sustain this level of excellence over a long period of time. As one who believes in minor league track record being an indicator of big league success, I also understand that there are exceptions to every rule. So of course you just run with Swarzak while he is the hot hand and just hope . The problem is that Swarzak could stay in the rotation because one of the two guys that we all counted on heading into the season, Francisco Liriano, has been horrific of late. He looks completely lost on the mound. It’s all about control of the fastball, and from pitch to pitch, he does not seem to know where the ball is going. It’s as if he still thinks he’s a dominant pitcher and he’s fighting himself so hard to get there again and overdoing everything. I really do not know what is best for him. He does have an option left, so he could be sent to Rochester, but I don’t necessarily think that is the best idea. He could be sent to the bullpen for awhile too, but who would he replace? R.A. Dickey continues to do great out of the bullpen. Sean Henn and Jose Mijares have been solid as lefty relievers. I guess this could be the opportunity to let go of Luis Ayala and see how Liriano responds. What do you think?

Scott Baker continues to get hurt by the big inning and/or the big home run. Friday, it was the three run blast by Longoria that essentially ended that game. Baker has really been very good most of his innings, but in each start he has had that one bad inning where he can not control the damage. Instead of giving up one or two, he gives up three to six. A team can come back from one or two, but it really puts you behind the eight ball when you’re always down by a handful of runs.

It is all so frustrating to me because the Twins are playing so inconsistently and average despite getting amazing production from Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel all season. In May, Michael Cuddyer stepped up his game big time while Joe Crede showed the power that he can have from the right side. This team is too talented to be playing like this and to not think that a division title is in reach. But what happens when three-fifths of the season-opening starting staff is not performing to expectations? Swarzak is already up. Kevin Mulvey could probably come up and be a solid back of the rotation type. What if Liriano can’t get things figured out? What if Glen Perkins then struggles? What if Baker doesn’t stop giving up huge innings? If you go through the season’s second half with two rookie pitchers in your rotation, that isn’t necessarily good. Brian Duensing and Philip Humber do not appear to be big league starter material and none of the starters at AA New Britain look ready.

We have spent the last couple of years wondering why the Twins would go after pitchers like Livan Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson. Why did they insist on bringing in veterans who were not good instead of just trusting their own young players? Well, maybe now we are seeing why. And yet, I can’t be mad at the front office for not getting a veteran. All five starting pitchers showed enough last year that there was no need for a veteran starter. The starting pitching was supposed to be a sure-thing, the thing that would lead the Twins to a division title. Pedro Martinez, anyone?

The bullpen has actually been much better of late. The reason? Well, when Slowey, Blackburn and Swarzak have pitched, they have been able to go seven innings. Bill Smith is not above criticism for not going out and getting a bullpen arm to solidify the back end of the bullpen, and yet, I agreed with him that they didn’t need to prioritize it too high. We knew Joe Nathan would be fine, and he has been. Many assumed Jose Mijares would be solid, and since returning he has been good. I believed Matt Guerrier would be fine, and he has been. I thought Jesse Crain would take another step forward, to get back to what he was the first three years of his career, but since his disabled list stint, he has been non-trustable. Luis Ayala was a reasonable, cheap risk, but he has not been good at all. R.A. Dickey, as I have stated several times, has been just fine in the role that he was brought in to fill, so no arguments there. Again, the key is the starting pitching, but the bullpen arms are not above criticism either. Now, Juan Cruz has been alright for Kansas City. Nothing spectacular by any means, and I fully understand not giving up a first round pick to acquire him (although when I saw the dollars and years that he signed for, I thought that it made sense). But Cruz walks a ton and moving to the American League never seems to be a good thing for a relief pitcher. Other names that fans wanted at various times included Eric Gagne, Russ Springer, Joe Nelson, Brandon Lyon and others, and none of them have done well either. So again, I don’t blame the Twins in not being big players in the free agency market because free agents rarely have an impact worthy of the contract they sign.

(Meanwhile, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama sit in AA, just waiting for a promotion. I agree with the thought that a player who dominates in AA is ready for the big leagues and could be promoted if necessary. But at some point, those two players should be moved up somewhere, whether it is to Rochester or to the Twins. I don’t pretend to know if they are ready to help the Twins today. I know their numbers indicate that they could probably both be pretty good. Slama needs to throw more strikes, and Delaney could give up some hits. But both have done enough at the AA level to move forward.)

(The one prospect that I believe is ready to play at the big league level offensively and defensively is Danny Valencia, and as long as Joe Crede is healthy, there is no reason to call him up. Could he be at Rochester? Certainly, and I think he would do well there, but Luke Hughes needs at bats too.)

The Twins understand that building from within is the best way to develop a team over the long haul. It is a philosophy that has been very successful for the organization. But then that success is dependent upon the players developing as they need to. The Twins have developed some very good players (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, Span, Slowey, Blackburn, Baker, etc.). They were able to stare down Scott Boras and get Joe Crede for a very fair market deal. But the player development right now is kind of a question mark.

Look at the AAA roster. How many players there do you think will be contributors to the Twins at the big league level? More important, how many of them could help the Twins right now, today? Jose Morales could, and yet, I think Twins fans need to look at his track record and realize that he is not a .350 hitter. At the big league level, he could possibly hit .280/.310/.310, which frankly, isn’t terribly exciting. But he is one guy who could contribute on some level. Luke Hughes and Dustin Martin are two others that I think could contribute for the Twins if called upon, but neither of them is star caliber and I don’t know that either of them is really starter caliber. I still hold out hope for Trevor Plouffe to be a future Twins SS, but again, his batting average doesn’t indicate that he would be much better than Nick Punto at SS.

Which brings me to my next point… when the Twins locked up Nick Punto last winter for two years and $8.5 million, it didn’t bother me too much. I looked at the other free agents on the market at SS and none of them seemed to be much better than Punto, particularly for the price tag that they would insist upon. Edgar Renteria had already signed with the Giants for two years and $18 million, and he is no better than Punto. We heard rumors for players like JJ Hardy and Yunel Escobar, but the price tags in terms of players were so high that those options didn’t make sense. So although I would have preferred to go into this season with Punto not on the team, I understood that he was probably the best option available and the dollars and years that he got were certainly fair market value (in December, before free agent dollars seemed to completely disappear). My caveat to being comfortable with Punto was that he not return to 2007 form and just give 2006 or 2008-like performances. Again, that’s not to say he was good during those two years, but as a nine-hitter it would be acceptable. Well, to this point in the season, Punto has been even worse than he was in 2007, and worst yet, his defense has taken a major step backward. I always thought it was a bit overrated (because of the constant web gems), but he now has very little range and no arm.

The biggest problem with the SS situation is that there isn’t anyone close to ready to take the position from him. Brendan Harris will do just fine in replacing him. He is a far better option, so that is actually an upgrade right now. But I have noticed, as Gardy has said, that Harris does not do as well when he plays too much. But again, Plouffe isn’t ready. Steve Tolleson just got promoted to AAA this week, but I don’t think he would be ready to step in today (but maybe in a month?). There are not other options in the system right now.

It’s a good think that Justin Morneau has been incredible this year and Joe Crede has been everything that could be expected because Punto, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher have been terrible. Casilla has been somewhat disappointing. Tolbert is what he is, as I have said all along,  he is a better version of utility player than Punto is. He’s a little better offensively (which doesn’t say much) and he’s not quite as good defensively (which does). I said that Buscher is a solid left-handed bat off the bench, a guy who takes good at bats and generally does what the situation calls for. I don’t think we have seen that this year, and his defense has never been real solid. I’m not certain how much value he provides to the team. In fact, that would be the one way right now that I could see the Twins bringing Jose Morales back to the roster. Morales could be the new left-handed bench bat, occasionally get some time behind the plate, and give Gardy the confidence to keep Joe Mauer in the lineup most games. Again, I feel it necessary to temper the expectations people seem to have for Morales, but I do think it is fair to say that he could contribute as much with the bat (and maybe the glove) as Buscher.

Watching Mike Redmond play baseball is painful. In years past, it was because he seemingly was always getting beat up behind the plate and yet still finding a way to hit .300 or higher while providing excellent defense and leadership from the backup catcher position. This year has been painful for a couple of new reasons. First, he simply can not throw any more. I don’t know how hurt he still is, but that has not improved over the season’s first couple of months. Secondly, if I’m an opposing defense and Redmond is up, I bring all the outfielders in to about 200 feet and swing the CF toward the gap in right center. You could almost put on a left-handed batter shift for him too. In the past, it was almost “cute” as told to us by Dick Bremer when he flails singles to right field or barely throw the hole on the right side. This year, those balls are being hit even softer. I don’t know how he continues to get any hits (and he has). I have no problem with keeping Redmond around for the rest of the season. I just sincerely hope that this is the end of the line.

Gardy-led teams are known for being overachievers. That is always the case when the expectations are low. But what about in those years when the Twins have come into the season with expectation? They have not played well. This year may be the biggest visual of that. This team has way too much talent to be flailing around .500. But to be fair, I don’t know if this team has ever had this many holes either. A broken bullpen. A horrific middle infield. Two 23 year old outfielders that need playing time to get better but provide so little to helping the team win. And now starting pitching problems that were not expected. I don’t think that can be pinned on a manager, and yet in some organizations, it is. I personally agree with the ideas of longevity, and we all know that Gardy and his coaching staff aren’t going anywhere, so it’s not worth worrying about.

In the end, it comes down to the players and making plays. It’s the players that will turn the season around, or they won’t.

Now I know, I don’t whine too often on here, and one thing that you can almost certainly not get from here that you can get most places is the seemingly sophomoric need to say the same thing every day. Could I write about Brian Buscher or Nick Punto being bad every day Sure. But why? What good is that? Why pile on?? I could write about being wrong about Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez daily, but why? What good comes from that? I prefer to write more often about being completely wrong about Denard Span and Nick Blackburn! So many of these above topics, you may not read here again until something happens. There are enough other topics that can be covered and a lot more positives. There is an entire minor league system of players dreaming of getting to the big leagues that is worth talking about.       

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Danny Valencia, New Britain Rockcats

Saturday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – David Bromberg, Ft. Myers Miracle

Sunday – SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Whit Robbins, New Britain Rockcats

Sunday – SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Robertson, Ft. Myers Miracle

ROCHESTER REPORT

Saturday –Rochester 6, Lehigh Valley 3 – Jason Jones picked up his first win in the Twins organization in this game. The righty went 5.2 innings and gave up three runs. He allowed six hits (two homers), walked one and struck out four. Jason Pridie went 3-5 with his 13th and 14th stolen bases. Jose Morales went 2-4 with his fourth double. In his first AAA game, Steve Tolleson went 2-3 with a walk and a double.

Sunday –Rochester 1, Lehigh Valley 5 – Kevin Mulvey started this game for the Red Wings. He gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out six. Tim Lahey pitched a scoreless inning. The Red Wings managed just four hits. David Winfree hit his eighth home run.

ROCKCAT RECAP

Saturday – New Britain 6, Binghamton 5 – The Rockcats got a couple of big home runs and the second win of the season by Jay Rainville. Rainville gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Frank Mata came in and gave up two hits and a walk before getting the final out of the sixth. Rob Delaney struck out four in two shutout innings. Anthony Slama recorded his 10th save with a scoreless ninth. Danny Valencia went 2-3 with his sixth homer and two RBI. Rene Tosoni was 2-4 with his seventh home run and three RBI. Whit Robbins went 1-2 with two walks.

Sunday – New Britain 15, Binghamton 7 – It was a big offensive game for the Rockcats, with nearly the entire lineup contributing. Whit Robbins led the way by going 4-6 with his 11th double. Brandon Roberts was 3-5 with a walk and his third homer. Erik Lis was 3-5 with his seventh double. Rene Tosoni went 2-5 with his eighth double and eighth home run. Matt Moses went 2-4 with a walk and three RBI. Brian Dinkelman went 2-4 with two walks. Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-5 with a double. Danny Valencia was 1-2 with two walks. Ryan Mullins was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion. He gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings. Yohan Pino gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in two inning. Zach Ward pitched a scoreless inning.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Saturday – Ft. Myers 7, Brevard County 1 David Bromberg has continued to pitch well this season despite not getting as many strikeouts this year. This game was a little different. Bromberg went six innings and gave up just one run on six hits and a walk. He struck out 12 to improve to 5-0 and reduce his ERA to 1.94. Kyle Waldrop picked up his first save of the season by throwing three shutout innings. Chris Cates went 3-5. Mark Dolenc went 3-4 with his ninth double and ninth stolen base. Rene Leveret went 2-5 with his first stolen base. Deibinson Romero was 2-5 with his 11th double.

Sunday – Ft. Myers 2, Brevard County 0 Tyler Robertson improved to 3-2 in this game. He threw six shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six. Santos Arias, Spencer Steedley and Blair Erickson combined to throw three shutout innings. The Miracle managed just five hits. Ben Revere hit his sixth double. Rene Leveret hit his seventh double.  

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Saturday – Beloit 2, Kane County 5 Michael Allen fell to 0-7 in this game, but he really has been pitching a little better as the season has progressed. In this game, he gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out six in six innings of work. Bruce Pugh gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out four. Michael Tarsi gave up two hits in a scoreless inning. The Snappers managed just six hits in this game. Nathan Hanson hit his seventh double.

Saturday – Beloit 4, Kane County 11 Dan Berlind gave up five runs (4 earned) on six hits and three walks over 5.1 innings. He struck out five. Joe Testa gave up three runs (1 earned) on two hits in two innings. He struck out three. Matt Williams went 0.2 innings and gave up just a hit. Curtis Leavitt gave up three runs on five hits in one inning. He struck out two. Jeff Lanning went 2-4. Angel Morales went 1-2 with two walks and his sixth homer. Ramon Santana hit his fifth home run and Michael Harrington got his first homer.   

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

Friday Night Report

2 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

From my BaseballDigest.com Game Recap – The big story of this first Twins game of May was the return of Joe Mauer. The Twins All-Star, Silver Slugging, Gold Gloving catcher had missed the entire season with a back injury. But after a week of rehab games in the Florida State League, May Day became “Mauer Day” for the Twins.  Joe Mauer helped make it a great day for the Twins and their fans all around.

Mauer came to bat with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, and with the crowd still on its feet, Mauer hit a long, opposite field home run off of Sidney Ponson to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. It was his first swing of the season. In his next at bat, with his next swing, Mauer lined a Ponson curveball down the left field line for a double. He would walk in his third plate appearance. In his fourth at bat, he did something else he does quite a bat, hit into a double play. But what a 2009 debut for Mauer! 2-3 with a walk, a double and a home run.

And most important, Mauer helped the Twins to a 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Justin Morneau was also 2-3 and hit his sixth home run of the season, a two run shot in the fifth inning. Brendan Harris went 2-4.

Kevin Slowey improved to 4-0 on the season despite giving up five runs on eight hits in just five innings. The bullpen was another big story in this game. Matt Guerrier threw two shutout innings. Jose Mijares struck out the side in the 8th inning. And Joe Nathan recorded his fourth save of the season.

The Royals and the Twins are now both 12-11 on the season. This marks the first time the Twins have been over .500 since they were 3-2.

On Saturday evening the Twins will send lefty Glen Perkins to the mound. Perkins is just 1-2 on the season despite a 2.48 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He has completed eight innings in three out of his four starts this season, including all three of his Metrodome starts. He will face Brian Bannister who since returning from the minor leagues is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA. He has allowed just one run in his 13 innings.

OTHER NOTES

  • Carlos Gomez was back in centerfield for the Twins, and he contributed with a ground rule double. He had been in Florida with his wife, who gave birth to their first child, Yendel Gomez.
  • Brendan Harris was at 3B in this game because Joe Crede is back in Missouri with his wife who gave birth to their third child.
  • Phil Mackey stated simply Joe Mauer is good at baseball. And again, be sure to check out his new blog, Minnesota Poker Magazine.
  • Have I mentioned yet that tonight’s Twins starting pitcher, Glen Perkins, was the co-host with me of Thursday night’s MNGameNight.com podcast? If you haven’t checked it out yet, please be sure to do so.
  • Have I mentioned yet that on Monday night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, Pat Neshek will be joining me to awhile to talk about his rehab and what else is keeping him busy? Anyway, check out Pat’s Blog and vote on something very important when you get there!  

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

BIG STORY – The big story of this game though has to be the return of Drew Thompson to the lineup. He went 0-4 with two walks for the Beloit Snappers. So why highlight him? Well, it was his first game since the middle of the 2006 season. The Twins second round pick in the 2005 draft, Thompson fractured his back in 2006, and has been working his way back since. He likely could have played early, but with such an injury, the Twins wisely did not send him back to Beloit until the weather warmed. Despite not playing in nearly three years, Thompson is still just 22 years old. The son of former Giants 2B Robbie Thompson, Thompson could move up quickly if he is healthy.

ROCHESTER REPORT

Friday – Rochester 9, Indianapolis 3 – These two teams were supposed to play two games on Friday because of Thursday’s rain-out, but rain again meant that they were able to get just one game in. Anthony Swarzak had been a tough-luck loser throughout April, but maybe things will be better for him in May. He picked up his first win of the season after giving up three runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings. He struck out six. Armando Gabino struck out one in two perfect innings. Justin Huber returned to the lineup, and made his presence known. His first inning grand slam gave the Red Wings a 4-0 cushion right away. It was his only hit of the game. Matt Tolbert, Dustin Martin, Trevor Plouffe and Jason Pridie were all 2-5 in the game. Martin and Plouffe hit doubles, and Tolbert hit a triple.

ROCKCAT RECAP

Friday – New Britain 9, Trenton 7 Whit Robbins has really been hitting well of late, and in this game, he went 4-5. Wilson Ramos went 3-5 with his third and fourth doubles. Brian Dinkelman remains on fire. He went 3-4 with four RBI. Danny Valencia hit his fourth double and third home run in five at bats. Brandon Roberts also went 2-5. Matt Fox made the start in this game. The 2004 supplemental first round pick gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits and three walks in 5.1 innings. Jose Lugo went the next two innings and gave up two runs. Frank Mata got two outs to get out of the 8th inning. Rob Delaney pitched the ninth and gave up two runs on three hits. He struck out two and the Rockcats got the win.  

MIRACLE MEMOS

Friday –Ft. Myers 2, Charlotte 5Deolis Guerra gave up two runs in 5.1 innings. He gave up three hits, walked three and struck out six. Blair Erickson gave up a run on one hit in 2.1 innings. He struck out four, but he took the loss. Alex Burnett came in and got the final out but not before giving up four hits, and two additional runs. Chris Parmelee went 2-3 with a triple. Rene Leveret went 2-3 with a walk. Chris Cates was 1-3 with a walk.   

SNAPPERS SNIPPETS

Friday – Beloit 3, Dayton 4 (12 innings)Shooter Hunt was on the mound again on this night, and there was a contingency of the Twins brass there to see what he was doing. He had yet another frustrating night. In three innings, he gave up three runs (2 earned) on just one hit. He struck out four. Now for what you were looking for; he walked six and threw three wild pitches. Dan Berlind came in and gave up four hits and struck out four in four shutout innings. Danny Rondon was perfect through three innings. Matt Williams gave up an unearned run in his second inning of work to take the loss. He struck out three. The Snappers had seven hits. James Beresford was 2-3 with a walk and his third stolen base. Evan Bigley hit his first homer of the season. Angel Morales hit his second home run.

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.