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Twins Trade Jose Morales for Paul Bargas

16 Dec

The Twins today traded backup catcher/1B/DH/PH Jose Morales today to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for 22 year old left-handed pitcher Paul Bargas.

Morales has had an eventful career since the Twins drafted him as a 2B in 2001, two rounds after taking Joe Mauer. He always put up solid offensive numbers, but he was just hurt so often.  He played one game for the Twins in 2007, went 3-3 with a double, but he hurt himself sliding into 2B and was done for the year. He would spend parts of 2008-2010 with the Twins. In 2009, he was frequently the Twins DH. He is a decent catcher with a poor arm. But he is fairly athletic for a catcher. He should play more with the Rockies.

Obviously this is a big thing for Drew Butera in that it appears he will remain the Twins backup catcher. Morales was options in 2008, 2009 and 2010, so he would not have been able to go to Rochester again in 2011.

Bargas was the Rockies 13th round pick in 2009 out of UC-Riverside. He pitched in 58 games out of the bullpen in 2010 for Asheville, the team’s Class A affiliate in the Sally League. He went 5-4 with 5 saves and a 3.59 ERA. In 67 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 65.

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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 Rochester Red Wings Preview

7 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The 2010 Twins minor league roster previews are brought to you by the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Get your copy here!

Second, I will be on KFAN at 10:30 central time with Paul Allen. If you can get it on the radio, great. If not, head over to KFAN.com and listen live.

And, by the way, if you’re able to, be sure to join me and the rest of TwinsCentric at Majors Sports Café in Blaine on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until the end of the Twins/White Sox game. Drink and appetizer specials. Lots of prizes to give away. Lots of talk with Twins fans. It’d be fun to meet you!

On Thursday night, Anthony Swarzak will take the mound for the Rochester Red Wings against Boof Bonser and Pawtucket. Tom Nieto will be the Red Wings manager in 2010 after leading the New Britain Rockcats a year ago. Floyd Rayford will be the hitting coach while Bobby Cuellar is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Red Wings roster to start the 2010 season (note – prospect ranking for my choices for Top 30 Twins prospects as updated in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook):

The Starting Pitchers

Anthony Swarzak, Jeff Manship (16), Glen Perkins, Mike Maroth, Yoslan Herrera.

As far as upside, I think most would agree that Glen Perkins could be the most talented pitcher in this group. Does that mean he’s the best pitcher? Probably not. Manship and Swarzak both profile as back of the rotation starters. Both showed in 2009, in short stints with the Twins, that they are capable big league pitchers, but they also both showed that they have more to learn. Having talked with Manship several times, I know that he’ll take a lot from what he learned at the big league level and incorporate it into his game. I like to assume the same for Swarzak. Mike Maroth is a veteran. He was the last 20 game loser in the big leagues. I had so much respect for him during his Tigers days for being strong enough mentally to keep pitching, and he wasn’t as bad as that win-loss record indicated. Of course, a couple of years later, he was that bad and out of baseball. This spring, he was given a chance by the Twins and had a solid camp, so he can be a veteran in the AAA rotation. Herrera signed a four year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates after defecting from Cuba. Those four years are up. He became a free agent and signed with the Twins. At 28, he’s not a prospect, but he has been solid enough in the minor leagues that this is a worthy risk to take. I also believe that Matt Fox and Ryan Mullins will each get an opportunity to start at some point during the season.

The Bullpen Arms

Anthony Slama (23), Rob Delaney, Jose Lugo, Kyle Waldrop, Tim Lahey, Matt Fox, Ryan Mullins, Ron Mahay.

The back-end of the Twins bullpen is incredibly talented and should be a strength of this roster. Anthony Slama has done nothing but dominate since signing in early 2007. Rob Delaney has been just about as good, although he struggled more in his time in AAA than did Slama. Jose Lugo is pretty similar to Jose Mijares. Occasional lapses and loss of control, but has tremendous stuff, especially against lefties. Kyle Waldrop was a pleasant surprise in camp this spring. The non-roster invitee was one of the Twins first-round picks in 2004 out of his Tennessee high school. He missed all of 2008 with surgery in his shoulder. He stayed healthy in 2009 and should be strong in 2010. Fellow 2004 first round pick Matt Fox and 2005 3rd round pick will be the righty and lefty (respectively) to pitch out of the bullpen, and as I said earlier, both could get opportunities to start. Tim Lahey was drafted as a catcher, and soon the Twins made him a reliever. He quickly worked through the system and last year he really struggled. But he lost nearly 30 pounds in the offseason and looked strong in camp, so it will be a very big year for the right-hander. And remember, in all likelihood, Alex Burnett will be optioned to Rochester, a place he has not yet played. But he could be the best relief pitching prospect in the Twins system too. Ron Mahay will start the season in Rochester, but he is expected to be up with the Twins relatively soon. Big league veteran, Brad Hennessey, who had a couple of very good years with the San Francisco Giants, missed last year and will spend the first couple of months this year. But this was a nice

The Catchers

Wilson Ramos (2), Allan de San Miguel.

When it came to on-field, baseball decisions, Wilson Ramos was probably the story of spring training. Ramos did not lose the battle to Drew Butera, but Butera was – rightfully – given the Twins backup catcher duties until the return of Jose Morales. Ramos is an incredible prospect. I ranked him the team’s #2 prospect this winter. He has displayed an ability to hit for both average and power, and play a very solid catcher defensively. The incredible thing is that he isn’t even the top prospect in the International League this year. Both Jesus Montero of the Yankees and Carlos Santana of the Indians will also be playing in the league.

De San Miguel has been in the Twins farm system for a long time and yet he is still just 23 years old. He knows and understands that his future with the Twins is as a backup catcher, and he has embraced the role. Offensively, he hasn’t hit for average or power, but he has really improved his ability to get on base. But again, that’s all secondary to what he provides for the pitching staff. Jose Morales would likely rehab in Rochester at some point, and when he returns to the Twins, Drew Butera would likely come back to Rochester to back up Ramos.

The Infielders

Brock Peterson, Luke Hughes (27), Trevor Plouffe (21), Danny Valencia (7), Erik Lis, Matt Tolbert, (Matt Macri)

Peterson became a free agent this past offseason, but the Twins were happily able to bring him back. He was the Red Wings top hitter in the second half of 2009. Plus, it’s fun to cheer for a former 49th round draft pick! Erik Lis likely will not play much first base and will get plenty of at bats as the team’s designated hitter. This is a big year for Trevor Plouffe. He’s still just 23, but now in his third year at Rochester. With the acquisition of JJ Hardy, Plouffe may need to play other positions as well. Danny Valencia is immensely talented, and there are questions at 3B with the Twins. There could be a scenario in which he is up with the Twins by June, but most of that depends as much on the performances of Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, along with his own performance. Matt Tolbert, simply, is not very good, but he can play all around the infield and on opening night, he will actually be the Red Wings leadoff hitter and center fielder. Ron Gardenhire loves him, so he likely remains in the plans. Matt Macri begins the season on the Disabled List.

The Outfielders

Brian Dinkelman, Jason Repko, Jacque Jones, Dustin Martin, (Brandon Roberts)

Jacque Jones was one of the great Twins stories of spring training. Brought back for camp, almost as a courtesy for all he did at the beginning of last decade for the team, Jones was not going to make the big league roster. But he almost did, and now he will head to Rochester. If a need arises in the outfield for the Twins, Jones might be the first promoted. On Monday, the Twins signed Jason Repko, a centerfielder who had spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers four of the past five seasons. Not a great hitter, he is right-handed and probably the best option to play center field. Dustin Martin had a very good 2008, a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, and a nice showing in spring training 2009. And then the season started, and Martin didn’t even get an invite to big league training camp this year. Brian Dinkelman was a second baseman throughout his career, until Steve Singleton was promoted to New Britain last year. Then Dinkelman started playing in the outfield, and he performed fairly well. A good contact hitter who finds ways to get on base, I think he will be hitting near the top of the Red Wings order throughout the year. Finally, Brandon Roberts spent most of the past two years in New Britain, on their Disabled List, and that’s where he will begin the 2010 season with the Red Wings.

SUMMARY

Overall, I think this is a very solid roster. For AAA, it is a good mix of veteran players, with decent AAAA types of players and a good number of prospects who will likely contribute to some degree, some significantly, in the next couple of seasons. On Opening Night, Danny Valencia will be batting 8th with Brian Dinkelman betting 9th. I’m not saying agree with that, but if that is the case, this should be a very strong lineup. As I mentioned before, the back end of the bullpen should be very strong, so the starters can hopefully provide at least six good innings each night. The fans in Rochester should get to see some quality baseball this season. Hopefully they can not only develop players for the Twins to use as necessary, but also compete for a playoff spot in the International League.  

If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to ask… Leave your questions or comments.

2010 Twins Predictions – Hitters

6 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

We are now one game into the 162 (or 163) game season, so I wanted to post all of my predictions for the world to mock and ridicule. You had previously seen my projections for Joe Mauer and Delmon Young, but here are the rest of the Twins hitters.

  BA OBP SLG OPS 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Joe Mauer 0.321 0.404 0.517 0.921 41 2 24 104 2
Jose Morales 0.265 0.308 0.299 0.607 6 0 0 11 0
Drew Butera 0.227 0.261 0.273 0.534 1 0 0 3 0
Jim Thome 0.243 0.348 0.491 0.839 8 0 13 39 0
Justin Morneau 0.294 0.365 0.543 0.908 38 1 32 122 0
Orlando Hudson 0.274 0.347 0.408 0.755 27 5 8 54 6
JJ Hardy 0.287 0.349 0.448 0.797 34 2 18 82 2
Nick Punto 0.262 0.332 0.371 0.703 22 3 3 41 12
Brendan Harris 0.257 0.306 0.372 0.678 23 0 9 39 0
Alexi Casilla 0.159 0.197 0.202 0.399 2 1 0 8 1
Delmon  Young 0.309 0.344 0.471 0.815 33 5 21 82 18
Denard Span 0.296 0.381 0.411 0.792 25 8 8 56 26
Michael Cuddyer 0.281 0.360 0.508 0.868 33 3 27 107 4
Jason Kubel 0.317 0.396 0.578 0.974 43 1 34 132 0

Yes, you read it right. I believe that Jason Kubel will put up better offensive numbers than Joe Mauer. Take a look, review the numbers. Let me know what you think… Leave your comments.

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.

Backup plan?

16 Mar

With Jose Morales likely to miss the start of the season, who will be Joe Mauer’s backup backstop on Opening Day? That is the topic of my weekly StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog. Check it out here, and leave your comments.

Twins Win Again

16 Sep

Also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins completed a three game sweep of the Cleveland Indians with a 7-3 win. Michael Cuddyer drove in a run in the 1st inning, 5th inning and 7th inning on a single, a home run and a double to lead the way. Joe Mauer went 2-3 with a walk and drove in two runs. Nick Blackburn got the start and the win. He gave up two runs in the 7th inning after six shutout innings. Joe Nathan recorded his 41st save by getting the final two outs. The win temporarily cut the Twins deficit in the AL Central. 

  • Joe Mauer, in his last four games, has gone 10-13 with three walks. It has raised his batting average from .363 to .374.
  • In his last four games, Michael Cuddyer has gone 8-16 with two doubles and two home runs.
  • Are we able to say, yet, that Jose Morales is the team’s backup catcher? In this game, he went 2-3 with two doubles.
  • Matt Tolbert is apparently now the team’s 3B. But he went 2-4 in the game and plays a solid defense. In his last four games, he is 6-12.
  • The Tigers beat the Royals 4-3 on Wednesday night to put their lead back to 4.5 games over the Twins.

World Cup Update:

  • Wednesday
    • Nelvin Fuentes walked one and struck out one batter in his appearance for Puerto Rico.
    • Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with a double for Canada.

If you have any opinions, comments or updates, please leave them in the Comments section.