Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Friday, June 30, 2006

All-Star Game Thoughts #7 - Outfield

This post covers who will and who should be starting for the American and National Leagues in the Outfield in the All-Star Game.

American League
1.) Manny Ramirez - BOS (1,936,373) [.298/20/53]
2.) Vladimir Guerrero - LAA (1,932,366) [.290/16/56]
3.) Ichiro Suzuki - SEA (1,393,462) [.353/4/27]
4.) Johnny Damon - NYY (1,221,891) [.294/11/42]
5.) Vernon Wells - TOR (980,502) [.315/20/62]
6.) Jermaine Dye - CHW (801,941) [.310/20/55]
7.) Torii Hunter - MIN (737,014) [.265/12/46]
8.) Coco Crisp - BOS (643,437) [.293/3/13]
9.) Scott Podsednik - CHW (642,385) [.264/2/31]
10.) Gary Sheffield - NYY (634,708) [.309/4/19]
11.) Trot Nixon - BOS (590,766) [.329/6/42]
12.) Magglio Ordonez - DET (559,722) [.313/15/57]
13.) Hideki Matsui - NYY (512,222) [.261/5/19]
14.) Grady Sizemore - CLE (509,152) [.307/15/39]
15.) Carl Crawford - TBD (339,518) [.304/10/37]
* Casey Blake - CLE [.304/10/36]
* Gary Matthews, Jr. - TEX [.324/8/41]
* Alex Rios - TOR [.330/15/53]

The top 3 guys on this list get in, and while it is possible that Johnny Damon will receive a late boost, I don't think there's going to be a lot of movement. While the battle for the top vote-getter will be close, Manny should have the edge since he plays for the more popular team and is having a bit better of a season. As a result, I (fearlessly) submit that Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Ichiro Suzuki will be the AL Starters. Ichiro should get a chance to play a little CF in the All-Star Game.

As for who SHOULD be the starting three, I can't argue with Ichiro. Even though he doesn't drive in a lot of runs, he hits a ton. He's a place-setter, not a run-producer, and he's one of the best in the game. After that, I think Vernon Wells and Jermaine Dye both have played well enough to earn starts in the game, and I would put them in over Manny and Vlad, who are having pretty good, but not great, seasons.

After adding those two to my team as backups, I would consider one more outfielder, and would have to take Magglio Ordonez, who is having a solid season for Detroit. There are some other deserving players, like Gary Matthews, Jr., but none of them is as productive as Maggs, so he gets the honor.

National League
1.) Jason Bay - PIT (1,706,105) [.285/20/57]
2.) Carlos Beltran - NYM (1,537,849) [.289/22/62]
3.) Alfonso Soriano - WAS (1,484,845) [.271/24/51]
4.) Ken Griffey, Jr. - CIN (1,366,906) [.258/16/46]
5.) Andruw Jones - ATL (1,250,129) [.282/18/65]
6.) Jim Edmonds - STL (863,775) [.255/7/38]
7.) Bobby Abreu - PHI (780,960) [.286/8/53]
8.) Carlos Lee - MIL (668,581) [.283/25/64]
9.) Barry Bonds - SFG (639,755) [.253/11/34]
10.) Aaron Rowand - PHI (602,813) [.272/8/25]
11.) Adam Dunn - CIN (479,532) [.229/25/48]
12.) Cliff Floyd - NYM (461,058) [.238/6/19]
13.) Xavier Nady - NYM (459,315) [.267/11/27]
14.) Willy Taveras - HOU (432,914) [.267/0/18]
15.) Matt Holliday - COL (416,230) [.352/15/54]
* Shawn Green - ARI [.302/8/33]
* Jacque Jones - CHC [.300/13/40]
* Brad Hawpe - COL [.306/14/45]

How is Matt Holliday the 15th person on this list? He's the only person in the top 15 to be hitting above .300, which is remarkable in and of itself. And yet, he trails such luminaries as Willy Taveras and Xavier Nady? That's just absurd.

While Ken Griffey, Jr. could worm his way into the top 3, it sure looks like it'll be Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano starting in the PNC Park outfield on the 11th. How is Jason Bay at the top of this list anyway? The Pirates must be stuffing ballots like mad.

So who SHOULD be the starting 3? Well, for starters, Matt Holliday should absolutely be on that list. An average above .350, over 50 RBI's, and 15 HR's? Umm...against the rest of this bunch that's an absolutely. I'm going to give Beltran the benefit of the doubt and say that he belongs, but Carlos Lee gets the nod for me over Bay and Soriano.

That list almost exhausts the six guys that I would bring to the game if I were picking the NL team. The last one is Andruw Jones, who is quietly putting together a very good season for a pretty stinky team.

All-Star Game Thoughts #6 - Third Base

This post is devoted to consideration of Third Base for the upcoming All-Star Game.

American League
1.) Alex Rodriguez - NYY (1,751,939) [.279/16/55]
2.) Mike Lowell - BOS (876,520) [.303/9/40]
3.) Troy Glaus - TOR (630,421) [.247/21/54]
4.) Joe Crede - CHW (599,885) [.297/14/54]
5.) Eric Chavez - OAK (511,264) [.246/14/46]
* Melvin Mora - BAL [.290/9/38]
* Hank Blalock - TEX [.286/11/54]

Not a lot of players to put on this list. Third Base isn't exactly a position with a ton of talent right now, so it's hard to fault the fans for including Troy Glaus and Eric Chavez in the top 5, although Mora and Blalock should probably be on in their place.

While Alex Rodriguez has blown this thing out of the water and will win, I find myself surprised to be saying that he shouldn't. His batting average is below where it should be for a starter, and Joe Crede has been a much better all-around player this year. Crede SHOULD be the AL Starter.

Crede will clearly be joining A-Rod in Pittsburgh, since his manager is filling out the team. In this case, there's nothing wrong with that and he deserves to go. Who would I take as the third choice? Probably Hank Blalock, who hasn't been quite as good as he usually is, but has still been the best of the rest in this group. Who would have thought, though, that Mike Lowell would make an OK choice? Everyone thought he was done, so I guess congratulations to him for proving that he's not washed up.

National League
1.) David Wright - NYM (1,386,584) [.327/18/64]
2.) Scott Rolen - STL (1,041,250) [.344/10/50]
3.) Morgan Ensberg - HOU (687,229) [.241/18/41]
4.) Freddy Sanchez - PIT (597,249) [.363/5/41]
5.) Miguel Cabrera - FLA (561,601) [.343/12/52]
* Chad Tracy - ARI [.276/12/42]
* Chipper Jones - ATL [.288/8/38]
* Garrett Atkins - COL [.311/10/53]

Unfortunately, a couple of deserving players are going to be left home at this position this year thanks to some very solid seasons spread around the National League. David Wright is going to win the starting job, and it's tough to argue that he doesn't belong there thanks to his great production. Even though Rolen, Sanchez, and Cabrera have higher batting averages, I have to agree with the fans here and say that Wright also SHOULD be starting for the National League.

Now is where it gets tough. While Ensberg has no business in the top 5, and either Atkins or Chipper could easily take his place, none of those players would make my final cut. Scott Rolen and Miguel Cabrera have just been too darned good, and I would give them both an invite. Freddy Sanchez deserves an invitation as well, but his team is the worst in baseball, and while his batting average is spectacular, he hasn't driven in as many runs as the other guys, so he's my final cut. Tough luck to Freddy.

All-Star Game Thoughts #5 - Shortstop

This post is devoted to consideration of the Shortstop position for the All-Star Game.

American League
1.) Derek Jeter - NYY (1,867,418) [.331/5/46]
2.) Miguel Tejada - BAL (1,401,157) [.320/16/57]
3.) Michael Young - TEX (541,202) [.323/5/50]
4.) Alex Gonzalez - BOS (482,901) [.270/5/24]
5.) Juan Uribe - CHW (403,111) [.232/8/32]
* Carlos Guillen - DET [.299/9/44]
* Orlando Cabrera - LAA [.305/5/44]
* Yuniesky Betancourt - SEA [.286/4/31]
* Julio Lugo - TBD [.299/8/18]

Clearly, Derek Jeter will be starting for the American League in Pittsburgh. Jeter has had another very solid season; the guy is simply Mr. Consistent.

While the choice of Jeter isn't a bad one, I would say that the player who SHOULD be starting is Miguel Tejada. Tejada has a lower batting average, but has 11 more HR's and 11 more RBI's than Jeter. That higher level of production should earn Tejada the job, and it also should earn him a trip as Jeter's backup.

As for the third player I would take to Pittsburgh? Why not go right down the line to Michael Young, who is also having an excellent season. The fans essentially got this one right, with the top 3 players in fan voting being the three guys who most deserve to be called All-Stars. Unfortunately, Alex Gonzalez and Juan Uribe (especially Uribe with his paltry, pathetic batting average) don't belong on the list. Carlos Guillen, Julio Lugo, and/or Orlando Cabrera would all be more deserving of a spot in the top 5 in fan voting. I can live with the fans screwing up the 4th and 5th spots, though, and am overall pleased with how the fans did with this category.

National League
1.) Jose Reyes - NYM (1,068,105) [.293/8/36]
2.) Jack Wilson - PIT (986,117) [.266/7/23]
3.) David Eckstein - STL (875,209) [.319/1/18]
4.) Edgar Renteria - ATL (784,030) [.300/8/30]
5.) Jimmy Rollins - PHI (624,538) [.260/9/29]
* Ronny Cedeno - CHC [.274/2/21]
* Felipe Lopez - CIN [.271/9/30]
* Bill Hall - MIL [.268/16/39]
* Omar Vizquel - SFG [.306/3/24]

I was going to blast the fans for having Jack Wilson and Jimmy Rollins on this list, but honestly there are a lot of very bad Shortstops in the National League. Jose Reyes is going to win the starting job, and I can't argue that too hard; Edgar Renteria has playd well but their numbers are very close, and while Reyes has a slightly lower batting average he also has more RBI's, and don't forget that he plays for a much, much better team. As I result, I would say that Reyes also SHOULD win the fan voting. Good job, fans!

As for who should join Reyes in Pittsburgh, my first choice is Edgar Renteria, who is much improved from where he was last year in Boston. The third choice is a close call between David Eckstein of the Cardinals and Omar Vizquel (who somehow is still playing Major League Baseball, and well). Vizquel has been a little more productive, but I have to give the nod to David Eckstein, who has the higher batting average and plays for a better team. Sorry, Omar.

All-Star Game Thoughts #4 - Second Base

Phew...I've gotten far, far behind on this whole "All-Star Game Thoughts" series. So here goes. In the next hour or so, I'm going to attempt to finish off a discussion of who will win and who should win the starting positions in each league, along with who should get consideration as the second and third players at each position in each league. Then, sometime tomorrow, I intend to post my final All-Star team rosters for each league, taking into consideration things like the "every team gets an All-Star" provision. On Sunday, the All-Stars will officially be selected, and then the voting for the last player's in will begin in earnest. It should be an exciting 11 days until the All-Star game, and I'm actually looking forward to the game this year, just to see how badly the American League beats up on the National League.

And so, without further ado, here are the projections for Second Base.

American League
1.) Robinson Cano - NYY (1,045,221) [.325/4/27]
2.) Mark Loretta - BOS (966,652) [.321/3/33]
3.) Tadahito Iguchi - CHW (849,149) [.296/8/37]
4.) Jose Lopez - SEA (516,501) [.283/9/57]
5.) Placido Polanco - DET (456,930) [.290/3/29]
* Brian Roberts - BAL [.313/1/30]
* Ronnie Belliard - CLE [.288/5/34]
* Mark Grudzielanek - KCR [.284/3/23]
* Mark DeRosa - TEX [.343/3/25]

Second Base is a pretty tough position in the American League this year, with some pretty solid numbers throughout the league. I can't disagree with any of the names in the top five here. It seems pretty clear that Robinson Cano will win the starting job with the team, and now the only real question is whether or not he'll be healthy enough to play after being placed on the Disabled List by the Yankees not long ago.

The question of who SHOULD get the starting nod is tough. Cano and Loretta are both hitting above .320 for teams that are in playoff contention, and it's hard to argue with either pick. Serious consideration has to be given to Seattle's Jose Lopez, however. He has 20 MORE RBI's than the next closest second-baseman, with 57. That kind of production out of a second sacker is incredibly valuable. In the end, though, I'll stick with the fans on this one and give the nod to Cano.

As for his backups, I can't go any farther than the two other names I've been talking about in this post. Mark Loretta and Jose Lopez should make the team as backups, with Loretta getting the start if Cano can't go.

One quick note on Mark DeRosa: He has played only 22 of his 54 games at 2B this season, having sort of played all over the place. However, those numbers can't be ignored, and this position is probably where he "belongs." If there were room, or if this were a down year for 2B, then I would definitely advocate for DeRosa.

National League
1.) Chase Utley - PHI (1,236,143) [.291/15/45]
2.) Craig Biggio - HOU (1,097,119) [.271/6/28]
3.) Jose Castillo - PIT (1,051,990) [.280/11/43]
4.) Jeff Kent - LAD (483,513) [.271/9/40]
5.) Marcus Giles - ATL (417,997) [.238/5/25]
* Todd Walker - CHC [.296/3/33]
* Brandon Phillips - CIN [.310/7/44]
* Jamey Carroll - COL [.329/3/13]
* Dan Uggla - FLA [.312/13/43]
* Rickie Weeks - MIL [.281/7/26]
* Hector Luna - STL [.318/3/14]
* Jose Vidro - WAS [.308/5/29]

Talk about options! There are some solid numbers being put up in the National as well as the American League. Maybe I just expect all second-baseman to hit around .270, but I have to admit that I'm impressed with the quality of players at this position right now.

So, who will win the starting job? Chase Utley has too big a league to cough up, so he'll get the nod and will be starting across the state from where he usually plays.

The only obviously bizarre pick by the fans is Marcus Giles and his .238 batting average. I can't really argue with the other names, but Biggio and Kent made it on this list based on past history, not this year. Vidro, Uggla and Phillips all deserve to be somewhere on the list.

Who SHOULD win the starting spot? Utley isn't a bad choice, but I think Florida's Dan Uggla should have won the job, since he's hitting for a higher average than Utley and has similar power and production numbers.

For that reason, Dan Uggla should join Utley on the squad as his backup, and Brandon Phillips should get an invitation as well.

Stewart Returns

As expected, Shannon Stewart was activated from the Disabled List today, and there's a good chance that he'll be in the lineup as the Designated Hitter and leadoff man tonight against Milwaukee. In order to make room for Stewart on the roster, the Twins placed Rondell White on the 15-day Disabled List, retroactive to about a week ago when he last played.

I suggested on Martin Andrade's most recent podcast that the worst thing the Twins could do would be to place White on the disabled list, favoring his outright release instead. I'm thinking that I may have been too hasty, however.

My biggest problem with this move was, and is, the fact that it feels like wasted effort. White has been miserable for the team, and rather than delaying a final decision on White, my preference would have been for him to be designated for assignment, to go the way of Tony Batista off into the sunset. I now feel, however, that this might not be such a bad decision after all. White is going to go to AAA Rochester and play everyday, trying to loosen up the shoulder that has prevented him from hitting fastballs all season. The best-case scenario would be for White to find his swing again, and start producing at AAA. With players filling LF (Kubel) and DH (Stewart), the Twins don't need White anymore. But if he becomes productive, another team may just decide to pull the trigger on picking him up. The Twins probably wouldn't get much for him, but sending him on his merry way for something (even a mediocre A-ball prospect) would be a heck of a lot better than just cutting him and having to pay his entire salary.

White should be eligible to come off of the Disabled list in a little over a week. Let's hope the Twins don't make the foolish decision to bring him back up then, or ever.

Unfortunately, Dick just said on the Fox Sports telecast that Ron Gardenhire expects White to be in Rochester for about 10 days. I'm hoping this is just bureaucratese type nonsense, the type of thing you say (similar to a vote of confidence) when you want it to appear that a player or manager is still in the long-term plans. If not, I shudder to think what will happen in 10 days when White is activated. I can't think of a single player I would want to have displaced from this roster in favor of White. I suspect Terry Ryan feels the same way, but we'll see.

Down on the Farm: Rookie League Report

Elizabethton Twins

Starting Pitchers

1.) Alex Burnett - 1-0 / 0.00 ERA / 13 inn / 12-2 K-BB
2.) Jose Lugo - 1-1 / 3.60 ERA / 10 inn / 14-5 K-BB
3.) Brian Kirwin - 0-1 / 3.60 ERA / 5 inn / 4-3 K-BB
4.) Armando Gabino - 0-0 / 2.25 ERA / 4 inn / 2-1 K-BB
5.) Sean Land - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 4 inn / 4-4 K-BB

I guessed right on two of the three starters last week, but incorrectly had Brian Kirwin listed as a reliever. Incidentally, the E-Twins had 4 rainouts this week, and have played 2 days worth of doubleheaders in a row, so the starter situation could get a little messy in the week ahead. Everyone on the list above started one game this week for Elizabethton.

Alex Burnett continues to dominate, going 7 innings and striking out 6 in picking up his first win.

Jose Lugo went 5 innings in his start, and also picked up his first win while striking out 7. His ERA dropped by 1.80 points after his first start.

Brian Kirwin's first start ended with him taking the loss after going 5 innings.

Armando Gabino and Sean Land both went 4 innings in their first starts of the season.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Danny Hernandez - 0-0 / 3.00 ERA / 3 inn / 6-2 K-BB
2.) Jose Castillo - 0-0 / 9.00 ERA / 2 inn / 2-2 K-BB
3.) Matthew Williams - 1-0 / 6.75 ERA / 4 inn / 3-4 K-BB
4.) Aaron Craig - 0-0 / 4.73 ERA / 3.2 inn / 4-2 K-BB
5.) Matthew Fox - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 3.2 inn / 7-1 K-BB
6.) Brandon McConnell - 1-1 / 8.10 ERA / 3.1 inn / 5-4 K-BB
7.) Patrick Bryant - 0-0 / 47.25 ERA / 1.1 inn / 3-3 K-BB
8.) Walter Patton - 0-0 / infinite / 0 inn / 0-3 K-BB

Talk about a rough outing for Walter Patton. He allowed 4 ER and didn't get anybody out, hence the infinite ERA. Brandon McConnell also got roughed up, going from having an ERA of 0.00 to 8.10. Patrick Bryant, meanwhile, pitched an inning and lowered his ERA by 114.75 points. Ah, early season ERA's. Not the he should be bragging, with an ERA still sitting at 47.25. Matthew Fox looks like the star of the bullpen so far, having not allowed an ER in 3.2 innings, and with a very nice 7-1 K-BB ratio.

1.) Jeffrey Christy - 4 games / .182 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
2.) Gregory Yersich - 4 games / .267 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
3.) Daniel Berg - 2 games / .000 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

Daniel Berg didn't play this week, and may either have been injured or re-assigned. Hopefully by next week's post I'll know for sure.

Jeffrey Christy started 3 games behind the plate this week, but his batting average suffered, falling a massive 318 points. He did pick up his first RBI of the year.

Gregory Yersich got the call for 2 starts behind the plate, and his batting average also fell, by 108 points. He picked up an RBI as well.

1B - Joshua Dean - 4 games / .250 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
2B - Brian Dinkelman - 6 games / .417 BA / 0 HR / 8 RBI
SS - Yancarlos Ortiz - 4 games / .125 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
3B - William Luque - 4 games / .286 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
DH - Henry Sanchez - 7 games / .143 BA / 1 HR / 5 RBI
IF - Garrett Olson - 4 games / .111 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
IF - Steven Singleton - 4 games / .300 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
IF - Michael Lysaught - 3 games / .000 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

Joshua Dean started 3 games at 1B this week, halving his batting average.

Brian Dinkelman is quickly emerging as a star on this team, getting 3 starts at 2B and one at DH, while increasing his batting average by 42 points and picking up a solid 6 RBI's this week.

Yancarlos Ortiz started 3 games at SS. His batting average suffered, falling by 42 points.

William Luque picked up 3 starts at 3B, raising his batting average by 36 points.

Henry Sanchez continues to struggle. He started 3 games at DH and 2 at 1B, but dropped his batting average by 79 points. On the positive side, he did pick up 4 RBI's.

Garrett Olson started 2 games at 3B. His batting average fell by 222 points, and he still didn't pick up any HR's or RBI's.

Steven Singleton got 2 starts at SS, and he lowered his batting average by 33 points while picking up 2 RBI's.

Michael Lysaught got 2 starts at 2B, and he still has no batting average. This dude needs a hit.

1.) Danny Santiesteban - 7 games / .120 BA / 0 HR / 3 RBI
2.) Josh Land - 5 games / .294 BA / 0 HR / 3 RBI
3.) J.W. Wilson - 4 games / .286 BA / 1 HR / 2 RBI
4.) Richard Sojo - 3 games / .300 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
5.) Wesley Connor - 4 games / .231 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

Danny Santiesteban was the only members of the E-Twins to start all 5 games this week, all in CF. He actually managed to raise his BA by 20 points, but .120 is pretty anemic. He also picked up 2 RBI's.

Josh Land got 3 starts in LF, and his batting average fell by 106 points. He picked up 1 RBI.

J.W. Wilson started 3 games in RF, and picked up his first couple of hits this season. He also hit his first HR, and picked up 2 RBI's.

Richard Sojo started 2 games in LF, and like Wilson picked up his first hits of the season.

Wesley Connor started 2 games in RF and 1 at DH. His batting average fell by 19 points.

GCL Twins

Starting Pitchers

1.) Omar Alcala - 0-1 / 4.50 ERA / 8 inn / 6-3 K-BB
2.) Ludovicus Van Mil - 0-0 / 2.89 ERA / 9.1 inn / 5-5 K-BB
3.) Curtis Leavitt - 0-0 / 2.00 ERA / 9 inn / 14-1 K-BB
4.) David Bromberg - 0-1 / 6.00 ERA / 6 inn / 5-5 K-BB
5.) Tyler Robertson - 0-0 / 2.25 ERA / 4 inn / 4-1 K-BB

Having made it once fully through the rotation, I can now say with more confidence who is in the rotation for the GCL Twins. Unfortunately, my guesses last week were both wrong.

Omar Alcala was listed as 1-0 last week, but that was in error; he is 0-1. He halved his ERA and picked up 3 K's to 1 BB in his start this week.

Ludovicus Van Mil had a reasonable second start, although his ERA rose by .96 points. He did reverse the problematic K-BB ratio from his first start, striking out 4 and walking just 1 this week.

Curtis Leavitt had a very solid start, although his ERA went from 0.00 to 2.00 and he didn't get the win. Nevertheless, check out that 14-1 K-BB ratio through 9 innings of work. Very impressive stuff.

David Bromberg and Tyler Robertson both got their first action of the year as well, and it went better for Robertson than for Bromberg. Bromberg picked up 2 starts this week, but unfortunately struggled, posting an ERA of six and losing a game. Robertson pitched better, but went only 4 innings in his first start.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Robert Delaney - 1-0 / 4.66 ERA / 9.2 inn / 8-0 K-BB
2.) Carlos Garcia - 2-0 / 0.00 ERA / 5.2 inn / 3-3 K-BB
3.) Joan Ortiz - 1-0 / 3.86 ERA / 2.1 inn / 0-1 K-BB
4.) Bradley Tippett - 1-1 / 0.00 ERA / 7.1 inn / 6-1 K-BB
5.) Bruno Sanchez - 0-1 / 7.20 ERA / 5 inn / 2-5 K-BB
6.) Jakub Toufar - 0-0 / 7.71 ERA / 2.1 inn / 2-1 K-BB
7.) Luis Carrerras - 0-0 / 2.35 ERA / 7.2 inn / 8-1 K-BB
8.) Nathan Crawford - 0-0 / 4.50 ERA / 2 inn / 2-1 K-BB
9.) Jon Staatz - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 2 inn / 4-0 K-BB

Not a lot to say yet on this bunch, except that Delaney, Tippett and Carreras seem to be the go-to guys out of the bullpen at this early point in the season. Check out the sterling 8-0 and 8-1 K-BB ratios put up so far by Delaney and Carrerras, respectively. Hopefully they can keep that up. I also cleared up some deadwood players who were listed on the roster but haven't yet pitched. I'll re-add them to the list if they get into a ballgame.

1.) Wilson Ramos - 6 games / .261 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI
2.) Gilbert Buenrostro - 3 games / .222 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
3.) Rodolfo Palacios - 6 games / .300 BA / 0 HR / 3 RBI
4.) Mighuel Barrientos - 3 games / .182 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI

The GCL Twins seem to be using a rotation of Ramos, Buenrostro, and Palacios behind the plate. All three picked up 2 starts this week.

Wilson Ramos got a start at 1B to go with his 2 behind the plate, and saw his batting average fall by 72 points, and didn't pick up any HR's or RBI's.

Gilbert Buenrostro dropped his batting average by 111 points.

Rodolfo Palacios got a start at DH and one at 1B in addition to his 2 starts behind the plate. He raised his batting average by 157 points.

Mighuel Barrientos didn't start a single game behind the plate, instead seeing all his action (2 games) at DH. His batting average fell by 68 points.

1B - Deibinson Romero - 7 games / .174 BA / 1 HR / 6 RBI
2B - Matthew Lawman - 5 games / .091 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
SS - Starling De Los Santos - 7 games / .111 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
3B - David Winfree - 4 games / .200 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
IF - Juan Delgado - 4 games / .286 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
IF - Thomas Cowgill - 5 games / .231 BA / 1 HR / 2 RBI
IF - Eric Santiago - 6 games / .182 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
IF - Steven Tolleson - 1 games / .250 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

David Winfree and Steven Tolleson join the GCL Twins, presumably on rehab assignments, since both were playing at higher levels in the system earlier this season.

Winfree has yet to get his bat going after a layoff that's had him out of baseball since April. He has started 3 games at 3B and 1 at 1B for the GCL Twins so far. Tolleson, meanwhile, went 1-for-4 in his only game back thus far, playing at 3B.

Deibinson Romero started 2 games at 1B, 2 at 3B, and 1 at DH. His batting average fell by 26 points, but he picked up 4 RBI's.

Matthew Lawman started 3 games at 2B. He got his first base-hit of the season this week, but hasn't done much else offensively.

Starling De Los Santos started 2 games at SS, 1 at 2B, and 1 at DH. His batting average went up 28 points, but is still anemic. He did get his first 2 RBI's of the season.

Juan Delgado started 2 games at SS this week. His batting average stayed right where it was entering the week.

Thomas Cowgill started 2 games at 2B. His batting average went up 88 points, and he picked up his first HR and first two RBI's of the year.

Eric Santiago started 2 games at SS and 1 at DH. His batting average fell by 151 points, but at least he picked up 1 RBI.

1.) Joe Benson - 9 games / .286 BA / 0 HR / 6 RBI
2.) Kevin Harrington - 7 games / .095 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
3.) Mark Dolenc - 8 games / .207 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
4.) Chris Parmalee - 1 game / .500 BA / 1 HR / 1 RBI

Chris Parmalee has finally arrived! After being with the team for about a week, the GCL Twins finally felt that he was ready to make his professional debut, and what a debut it was: 1-for-2 with a solo homer and a couple of walks while playing in RF. Parmalee instantly demonstrated the power for which the Twins drafted him, and hopefully will keep that up in his first professional season.

Joe Benson started 4 games in CF and 2 in RF. His batting average fell by 131 points, but he picked up 3 RBI.

Mark Dolenc started 4 games in LF and 2 in RF, and upped his batting average by 96 points while picking up his first professional RBI.

Kevin Harrington, who probably figures to lose the most playing time now that Parmalee is in the lineup, started 2 games in LF, 2 in CF, and 1 in RF. His batting average fell by 48 points, but like Dolenc he picked up his first professional RBI.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Down on the Farm: Low A Report

Beloit Snappers

Starting Pitchers

1.) Kyle Waldrop - 6-2 / 2.99 ERA / 93.1 inn / 55-13 K-BB
2.) Oswaldo Sosa - 5-5 / 2.85 ERA / 79 inn / 63-26 K-BB
3.) Ryan Mullins - 1-3 / 4.42 ERA / 75.1 inn / 65-26 K-BB
4.) Eduardo Morlan - 3-4 / 2.60 ERA / 65.2 inn / 78-28 K-BB
5.) Adam Hawes - 2-2 / 5.51 ERA / 49 inn / 41-23 K-BB

Adam Hawes got 2 starts this week, going 1-0 and picking up 8.1 innings. However, his ERA jumped by .29 points.

Kyle Waldrop started one game, lowering his ERA by .10 points and going 6 innings but taking a no-decision.

Oswaldo Sosa went 7 innings in his start, but also took a no-decision. His ERA went up by .10 points.

Ryan Mullins took the loss in his start, which lasted just 3.2 innings. His ERA went up by .15 points.

Eduardo Morlan went just 2.2 innings in his start and took the loss, but his ERA only went up by .03 points.

Alexander Smit, listed as a reliever, also got a spot start this week.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Jose Cordero - 0-1 / 9.95 ERA / 6.1 inn / 6-6 K-BB
2.) Yohan Pino - 6-1 / 1.45 ERA / 43.1 inn / 55-11 K-BB
3.) Frank Mata - 4-2 / 2.45 ERA / 25.2 inn / 13-7 K-BB
4.) David Shinskie - 5-5 / 2.57 ERA / 49 inn / 39-12 K-BB
5.) Danny Vais - 1-2 / 2.23 ERA / 40.1 inn / 39-10 K-BB
6.) Alexander Smit - 2-1 / 4.19 ERA / 38.2 inn / 47-20 K-BB
7.) John Cline - 0-1 / 3.38 ERA / 2.2 inn / 3-2 K-BB

Every reliever improved his ERA from where it was a week ago, except for Cline, who had not yet pitched in a game for Beloit: Yohan Pino (.14), Frank Mata (.04), David Shinskie (.36), Danny Vais (.37), Alexander Smit (.56), Jose Cordero (10.3). Yes, Cordero imroved his ERA by over 10 points. That's what happens when you pitch 5 innings and had only pitched 1.1 innings before. Pino, Mata and Shinskie all picked up wins as well, while only Cline was saddled with a loss.

1.) Caleb Moore - 61 games / .282 BA / 2 HR / 23 RBI
2.) Allan de San Miguel - 37 games / .196 BA / 0 HR / 14 RBI
3.) Jose Leger - 3 games / .111 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

I had assumed that Jose Leger would be primarily a backup infielder with Beloit, but in the 3 games that he's played for the Snappers he was the DH once and caught twice, so I'm listing him here for now. As you can see, he hasn't been a force so far, going 1-for-9 in his three games.

Caleb Moore started 3 games behind the plate and 1 as the DH. His batting average dropped by 3 points, but he picked up 1 RBI.

Allan de San Miguel started 2 games behind the plate, raising his batting average by 2 points.

1.) Erik Lis - 67 games / .323 BA / 8 HR / 42 RBI
2.) Paul Kelly - 71 games / .274 BA / 3 HR / 38 RBI
3.) Andrew Thompson - 58 games / .266 BA / 3 HR / 17 RBI
4.) Toby Gardenhire - 43 games / .213 BA / 0 HR / 8 RBI
5.) Juan Portes - 21 games / .210 BA / 0 HR / 7 RBI
6.) Steven Tolleson - 47 games / .287 BA / 2 HR / 16 RBI

Steven Tolleson continues to be on the missing persons list, not playing in any games for another week. I assume that he is on the disabled list, but haven't confirmed that.

Erik Lis started every game at 1B, raising his batting average by 8 points and picking up 5 RBI's.

Paul Kelly started 3 games at SS, 1 at 3B, and one as the DH. His batting average went up by 2 points and he picked up a couple of RBI's.

Andrew Thompson got 3 starts at SS and 3 at 2B. His batting average stayed right where it was, but he picked up 6 RBI's.

Toby Gardenhire started 3 games at 2B, 2 at SS, and 1 at 3B. He had a pretty good week, raising his batting average by 20 points and getting an RBI.

Juan Portes played in all 7 games, starting 3 at 3B, 2 at DH, 1 at 2B, and 1 in LF. His batting average fell by 18 points, but he picked up 3 RBI's.

1.) Tarrance Patterson - 56 games / .263 BA / 0 HR / 10 RBI
2.) Dwayne White - 45 games / .223 BA / 1 HR / 10 RBI
3.) Eli Tintor - 59 games / .260 BA / 3 HR / 26 RBI
4.) Edward Ovalle - 71 games / .262 BA / 6 HR / 30 RBI
5.) Mark Robinson - 5 games / .235 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

Tarrance Patterson was all over the place this week, starting 2 games in LF, 1 in CF, 1 in RF, and 1 at DH. His batting average fell by 8 points but he picked up 2 RBI's.

Dwayne White started just twice this week, starting once in LF and once at DH. His batting average went up 2 points and he picked up 1 RBI.

Eli Tintor started 4 games in RF, and his batting average fell 5 points. He picked up 2 RBI's.

Edward Ovalle started 5 games in CF and 1 in LF. His batting average went up by 1 point, and he picked up 1 RBI.

Mark Robinson started 2 games in RF, 2 in LF, and 1 in CF. These were the first five games he played with Beloit after being assigned there from Extended Spring Training.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Down on the Farm: High A Report

Ft. Myers Miracle

Starting Pitchers

1.) Anthony Swarzak - 3-4 / 4.50 ERA / 74 inn / 79-33 K-BB
2.) Justin Jones - 1-2 / 4.33 ERA / 35.1 inn / 23-14 K-BB
3.) Brian Duensing - 1-3 / 3.81 ERA / 26 inn / 20-3 K-BB
4.) Danny Powers - 3-1 / 3.52 ERA / 30.2 inn / 28-9 K-BB
5.) Jay Sawatski - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 3 inn / 2-1 K-BB
DL - Kyle Aselton - 4-2 / 4.56 ERA / 49.1 inn / 44-26 K-BB

With Kevin Slowey's promotion to New Britain, Jay Sawatski takes over in the rotation. Sawatski was demoted from New Britain to make room there for Slowey, and at AA he was primarily a reliever. The fact that he only pitched 3 innings in his first start for the Miracle indicates either that he's still a reliever who was getting a spot start, or that they're going to slowly build up his arm strength and turn him into a starter. Reliever Josh Hill also got a spot start this week, so I'm not sure what exactly is going on. My guess is that if and when Kyle Aselton returns, Sawatski will be relegated back to the bullpen.

Anthony Swarzak got one start this week and dropped his ERA by .07 points, while picking up 6 K's to 4 BB's.

Justin Jones also got one start this week, but pitched very poorly; he lasted just 2 innings and allowed 7 ER's, causing his ERA to increase by 1.67 points.

Brian Duensing also lost his only start of the week, but he didn't pitch that badly. He gave up 3 ER over 6 innings, causing his ERA to rise by .21 points.

Danny Powers did not pitch this week.

Relief Pitchers
1.) J.P. Martinez - 1-2 / 2.93 ERA / 43 inn / 48-20 K-BB
2.) Ryan Callahan - 3-4 / 4.46 ERA / 38.1 inn / 33-15 K-BB
3.) Chris Schutt - 2-1 / 3.12 ERA / 26 inn / 32-15 K-BB
4.) Colby Miller - 2-2 / 5.54 ERA / 26 inn / 14-13 K-BB
5.) Tim Lahey - 4-0 / 4.91 ERA / 40.1 inn / 22-22 K-BB
6.) Jose Mijares - 0-5 / 5.55 ERA / 35.2 inn / 37-20 K-BB
7.) Josh Hill - 3-2 / 6.47 ERA / 40.1 inn / 27-15 K-BB
DL - Angel Garcia - 2-1 / 2.93 ERA / 15.1 inn / 13-9 K-BB

A mixed bag for the relievers this week. Martinez (.42), Schutt (.31) and hill (.09) all reduced their ERA, and Hill got a start. None of them factored in a decision.

On the other hand, Callahan (.10), Lahey (.09), Mijares (.32) and especially Miller (1.63) all saw their ERA increase. Lahey did pick up another win, and Callahan got both a win and a loss.

1.) Kyle Geiger - 55 games / .239 BA / 1 HR / 20 RBI
2.) Korey Feiner - 49 games / .210 BA / 0 HR / 11 RBI

Geiger started two games behind the plate for the Miracle, and got a start at 1B. His batting average dropped by 5 points, but he did hit his first HR of the year, and picked up 4 RBI's.

Feiner started four games as the Catcher, increasing his batting average by 13 points and picking up an RBI.

1B - Brock Peterson - 58 games / .293 BA / 9 HR / 33 RBI
2B - Alexi Casilla - 70 games / .313 BA / 0 HR / 30 RBI
SS - Trevor Plouffe - 65 games / .221 BA / 1 HR / 18 RBI
3B - Luke Hughes - 56 games / .229 BA / 2 HR / 21 RBI
DL - Johnny Woodard - 23 games / .181 BA / 2 HR / 8 RBI

Quite the drastic reduction from last week's list, which had 8 players mentioned as infielders. Jose Leger definitively resurfaced playing in Beloit, Dave Winfree returned to the Twins organization and was assigned to play with the GCL Twins for now, and Matt Tolbert was kicked up the ladder to New Britain. That clears things up a little bit.

Brock Peterson played in all 6 games this week, getting 5 starts at 1B and 1 as the DH. His batting average fell by 9 points, but he hit 2 HR's and picked up 3 RBI's.

Alexi Casilla picked up 3 starts each at SS and 2B. His batting average dropped by 1 point and he picked up 2 RBI's.

Trever Plouffe played in 4 games, 3 at SS and 1 at 3B. His batting average improved by 5 points and he picked up 4 RBI's.

Luke Hughes started 5 games at 3B and 1 at DH. His batting average stayed right where it was, and didn't hit any homers or drive in any runs.

1.) Justin Arneson - 39 games / .193 BA / 0 HR / 10 RBI
2.) Deacon Burns - 60 games / .209 BA / 1 HR / 14 RBI
3.) Jeremy Pickrel - 58 games / .244 BA / 3 HR / 27 RBI
4.) Brandon Roberts - 8 games / .156 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI
5.) Erold Andrus - 26 games / .208 BA / 2 HR / 19 RBI

Garrett Guzman received a promotion this week, and is now playing with New Britain.

Newcomer Brandon Roberts, acquired in the Juan Castro trade, started all 6 games in CF. Unfortunately, his batting average plummeted by 130 points. He did pick up a couple of RBI's.

Jeremy Pickrel got 4 starts in RF. His batting average fell by 15 points, and he didn't pick up any homers or ribbies.

Deacon Burns got 2 starts in RF and 3 in LF. His batting average inched upwards by 2 points, but he also didn't get any HR's or RBI's.

Erold Andrus got 4 starts as the DH and 1 in LF. His batting average fell by 7 points, but he picked up 1 RBI.

Justin Arneson started 1 game in LF and got into two others. His batting average fell by 3 points, but he did manage to pick up 2 RBI's.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Down on the Farm: AA Report

Starting Pitchers
1.) Errol Simonitsch - 5-7 / 3.33 ERA / 81 inn / 50-20 K-BB
2.) Glen Perkins - 2-7 / 3.58 ERA / 75.1 inn / 89-27 K-BB
3.) Matt Garza - 4-2 / 3.48 ERA / 41.1 inn / 52-13 K-BB
4.) Adam Harben - 1-4 / 3.58 ERA / 60.1 inn / 28-37 K-BB
5.) Kevin Slowey - no record

The first thing to mention is that, after a dominating first half of the season in Ft. Myers (high A), Kevin Slowey was promoted to New Britain. He hasn't made a start yet, but I would expect him to in the next few days. I'm guessing that the Twins will take Nick Blackburn out of the rotation, since he has struggled the most for the team. However, it's also possible that Adam Harben will be the pitcher most affected by the Slowey promotion. Time will tell. Incidentally, the Rock Cats played two double-headers this week, so John Thomas and Justin Olson got starts. Nevertheless, I'm going to continue to list them as relievers because their starts were essentially flukes.

Errol Simonitsch took a loss this week in the one game he started, in which he pitched just 5 innings. His ERA jumped by .25 points.

Glen Perkins improved his ERA by .11 points in a seven inning start, but he unfortunately did not get the win.

Matt Garza proved that he is human this week with two less-than-stellar starts. His ERA ballooned by 2.22 points and he lost a game. In two starts, he pitched just 5.2 innings. Hopefully he can right the ship this week.

Adam Harben pitched 8 innings this week, and lowered his ERA by .03 points, but was not the pitcher of record in either game in which he pitched.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Levale Speigner - 1-1 / 2.54 ERA / 39 inn / 26-7 K-BB
2.) Tristan Crawford - 2-3 / 3.26 ERA / 47 inn / 49-13 K-BB
3.) John Thomas - 1-2 / 5.18 ERA / 33 inn / 27-14 K-BB
4.) Julio DePaula - 1-2 / 2.63 ERA / 27.1 inn / 23-13 K-BB
5.) Justin Olson - 4-2 / 5.08 ERA / 39 inn / 48-18 K-BB
6.) Nick Blackburn - 5-7 / 5.24 ERA / 79 inn / 43-26 K-BB

As mentioned before, Nick Blackburn probably will be relegated to the bullpen with the addition of Kevin Slowey to the rotation. He replaces Jay Sawatski, who was demoted to Ft. Myers. Blackburn was still a starter this week, and picked up a win, but his ERA jumped by .23 points.

Justin Olson had a very good week, balancing out his very bad week last week. He won two ballgames, including his spot start, and his ERA dropped .83 points.

The rest of the 'pen was relatively consistent this week, although Crawford and DePaula both got pegged with a loss. Speigner picked up a win.

1.) Jose Morales - 50 games / .178 BA / 2 HR / 17 RBI
2.) Steve Lomasney - 33 games / .196 BA / 2 HR / 10 RBI

Morales got 5 starts behind the plate, and dropped his batting average by 1 point. He did pick up a couple of RBI's.

Lomasney got 3 starts and came in as a defensive replacement in one game. His batting average suffered considerably, falling 24 points.

1B - Doug Deeds - 66 games / .265 BA / 5 HR / 27 RBI
2B - J.R. Taylor - 59 games / .188 BA / 0 HR / 9 RBI
SS - Felix Molina - 58 games / .258 BA / 7 HR / 28 RBI
3B - Matt Moses - 64 games / .248 BA / 10 HR / 33 RBI
DH - Daniel Matienzo - 67 games / .236 BA / 9 HR / 43 RBI
IF - Matt Tolbert - 16 games / .321 BA / 1 HR / 4 RBI

Matt Tolbert rejoined the Rock Cats from Ft. Myers this week, after having been sent down on May 4. He picked up 3 starts at SS and 1 each at 2B and 3B. He also picked up a HR, and had several multi-hit games, including going 3-for-3 on June 23.

Doug Deeds got 6 starts at 1B and 2 at DH. His average jumped 12 points, and he had 1 HR with 3 RBI's.

J.R. Taylor got 4 starts at 2B and 1 at SS, but his playing time has been significantly cut down by the addition of Tolbert to the team. Despite the fact that his batting average is below the Mendoza line already, he still managed to drop it by 2 points, although he did pick up a couple of RBI's this week.

Felix Molina got 4 starts at SS at the beginning of the week, but started the last 3 games at 2B. This coincides with the addition of Matt Tolbert to the lineup, and Molina will most likely be getting most of his starts at 2B as long as Tolbert is a Rock Cat. His batting average fell by 7 points, but he did hit a homerun and pick up 5 RBI's.

Matt Moses started 7 games at 3B and 1 at DH. He raised his batting average by a couple of points and picked up 4 RBI's.

Daniel Matienzo started 5 games at DH and 2 at 1B. His batting average jumped by 10 points, and he hit 1 HR with 2 RBI's.

1.) Trent Oeltjen - 55 games / .299 BA / 1 HR / 17 RBI
2.) Denard Span - 70 games / .287 BA / 1 HR / 21 RBI
3.) Scott Whitrock - 38 games / .211 BA / 2 HR / 9 RBI
4.) Garrett Guzman - 5 games / .176 BA / 1 HR / 1 RBI

Garrett Guzman joined the team this week from Ft. Myers. He's started every game in LF since being called up, but as you can see he hasn't lit up the scoreboard offensively so far.

Trent Oeltjen, who had been the regular starting LF, now moves to RF. He started the first 3 games this week in LF, and then started 1 in CF when Span got the day off, with his other 4 starts all coming in RF. His batting average fell by 13 points, but he did hit his first HR of the year, and contributed 4 RBI's to the teams effort.

Denard Span got all 7 of his starts in CF. His batting average stayed right where it was, and he picked up 3 RBI's.

Scott Whitrock is now the odd man out in the equation. He picked up 3 starts in RF before Guzman was promoted, but in the five games since that promotion he has started just once, also in RF. His batting average fell by 11 points, but he did pick up an RBI.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Down on the Farm: AAA Report

Starting Pitchers
1.) J.D. Durbin - 4-3 / 2.37 ERA / 87.1 inn / 78-50 K-BB
2.) Scott Baker - 2-1 / 2.31 ERA / 35 inn / 29-15 K-BB
3.) Jason Miller - 1-2 / 2.25 ERA / 36 inn / 35-10 K-BB
4.) Pete Munro - 5-7 / 4.00 ERA / 87.2 inn / 54-23 K-BB
5.) Mike Smith - 5-3 / 3.79 ERA / 76 inn / 58-30 K-BB

Durbin and Baker both got two starts this week, while Munro and Smith got a start each. Miller did not pitch this week.

Baker went 1-1 this week and lowered his ERA by .69 points; he also pitched a complete game in the game he lost, which was just yesterday. Tough luck, Scott.

Durbin went 0-1, but pitched well enough to get a win in his second start of the week; his ERA increased by .10 over the course of the week.

Munro also took a tough-luck loss, as he lowered his ERA by .14 but went 0-1 for the week.

Smith got a win this week, and lowered his ERA by .16 points.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Pat Neshek - 5-2 / 1.89 ERA / 52.1 inn / 80-12 K-BB
2.) Ricky Barrett - 5-1 / 3.68 ERA / 44 inn / 48-22 K-BB
3.) Beau Kemp - 5-1 / 2.53 ERA / 42.2 inn / 17-18 K-BB
4.) Henry Bonilla - 3-5 / 4.64 ERA / 54.1 inn / 36-20 K-BB
5.) Kevin Cameron - 3-1 / 2.70 ERA / 26.2 inn / 23-13 K-BB
6.) Matt Ford - 1-0 / 4.22 ERA / 32 inn / 12-15 K-BB
7.) Bobby Korecky - 0-1 / 4.11 ERA / 15.1 inn / 11-3 K-BB
DL - Dave Gassner (no record)

It was a pretty good week for the relievers; all of them lowered their ERA except for Barrett (who didn't pitch), and Neshek (who pitched 4 innings and increased his ERA by just .03 points). Korecky showed the biggest improvement, loweing his ERA by .62 points.

1.) Shawn Wooten - 59 games / .239 BA / 5 HR / 25 RBI
2.) Chris Heintz - 39 games / .297 BA / 1 HR / 17 RBI

Wooten started five of the six games played by the Red Wings as the catcher. His batting average increased by 1 point and he picked up an RBI.

Heintz played in all six games, five of which he started at 3B and one of which he started behind the place. I'm close to just listing him with the infielders and listing Wooten as the clubs only catcher. His batting average went up by 6 points and he picked up a couple of RBI's this week.

1B - Garrett Jones - 73 games / .229 BA / 11 HR / 53 RBI
2B - Luis Maza - 59 games / .221 BA / 2 HR / 26 RBI
SS - Gil Velazquez - 38 games / .287 BA / 0 HR / 13 RBI
3B - Glenn Williams - 56 games / .241 BA / 2 HR / 12 RBI
IF - Tommy Watkins - 3 games / .200 BA / 1 HR / 3 RBI

Jones played in all six games for the Red Wings this week, four at 1B and two in RF. His batting average went up by 2 points and he picked up 4 RBI's.

Maza also played in all six games, all at 2B. He increased his batting average by 6 points, hit a HR and picked up 4 RBI's.

Gil Velazquez started every game for the Red Wings at SS, but saw his batting average drop 20 points over the course of the week.

Glenn Williams got into four games, two at 1B, one at 3B, and one as a pinch hitter. His batting average dropped by 7 points over the course of the week.

Tommy Watkins also got into a couple of games, but is definitely not a regular. He now has a batting average, at least, and he hit a homerun.

1.) Kevin West - 24 games / .204 BA / 2 HR / 11 RBI
2.) Josh Rabe - 68 games / .306 BA / 3 HR / 35 RBI
3.) Jason Tyner - 67 games / .323 BA / 0 HR / 19 RBI
4.) Andres Torres - 57 games / .250 BA / 2 HR / 18 RBI
5.) Alex Romero - 14 games / .160 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
6.) Shannon Stewart - 2 games / .167 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI (rehab stint)

Shannon Stewart should be back with the Twins by the end of the week, and is just in Rochester getting some at-bats and running around making sure his foot is ready for the strain of playing again. As for the real minor-leaguers in this bunch:

Tyner started all 6 games in CF this week, bumping up his team-leading batting average by 5 points and picking up an RBI.

Kevin West got into five games this week, four as the DH and 1 as the RF. His batting average suffered, falling by 12 points, although he did pick up an RBI.

Josh Rabe, meanwhile, got into four games, three in LF and one as the DH. His batting average fell by 5 points, but he did pick up a couple of RBI's.

Alex Romero got into four games also, 3 in RF and 1 in LF. His batting average went up by 13 points, but when he started the week hitting .147 that's not saying much.

Andres Torres got into just 2 games, but started just one, in LF. His batting average went up by a point.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

All-Star Game Thoughts #3 - First Base

This post is going to be devoted to who SHOULD and who WILL be starting at 1B in the All-Star Game.

American League
Sad to say this isn't much of a race. The top 5 as of 6/20 looks like this:

1.) David Ortiz - 1,257,595 (.264/21/64)
2.) Jason Giambi - 796,146 (.271/20/56)
3.) Paul Konerko - 579,666 (.320/18/59)
4.) Travis Hafner - 520,853 (.304/19/58)
5.) Chris Shelton - 350,707 (.272/14/34)

It's pretty clear that David Ortiz will be the starting first baseman for the American League in Pittsburgh. I'm going to save the whole DH position eligibility thing for the end of this post, and just say that there could be worse picks. Nevertheless, David Ortiz is not the guy who SHOULD be starting for the American League.

Instead, the answer is pretty clearly Paul Konerko. A batting average nearly 60 points higher, with only slightly fewer HR's and RBI's, playing for another very, very good team. Paul Konerko should get the nod, and in my idealized world would have. There aren't a lot of mistakes in that top-5; as much as I dislike Jason Giambi, his numbers are the equal of Ortiz's. Hafner has had a better season than both. In fact, only Chris Shelton doesn't belong, and there are a couple of guys more deserving in the AL that should be occupying one of those top-5 spots.

For starters, and I can't quite believe I'm saying this, the Twins own Justin Morneau belongs on the list. His .282/19/58 stacks up favorably with just about everybody else on the list, and that's saying something. But the Oakland Athletics' Nick Swisher also deserves some love, with his .289/19/48. Morneau edges him out for my top-5 because of the extra RBI's.

So, who should join Ortiz in Pittsburgh? Konerko has to be on that list, and with Ozzie Guillen making the selections he certainly will be. After that it gets a little tougher, if you figure that only one more 1B will be selected. Giambi, Hafner, and Morneau all deserve some consideration, and it will be interesting to see what direction Guillen goes. Of the three, I would have to give the edge to Hafner because he is about equal in HR and RBI with the other two, but has a much higher batting average. So my three AL 1B would be David Ortiz, Paul Konerko, and Travis Hafner.

Now, I promised to get into the DH eligibility thing in this post, and I forgot to do that when I originally posted, so here goes. I think David Ortiz probably belongs in the All-Star game. He drives in a lot of runs, and is usually an MVP-caliber player. This year, he might not quite belong. But the conundrum with DH's is yet another reason that I believe the fans should only select the last five players on the team, AFTER all of the important decisions on who gets to start and who the backups will be are made by others. Ortiz is not a first baseman. He is a designated hitter who, if pressed, can play at 1B. If not for interleague play, he would never get a start in the field. This applies to any player who is primary a DH; they just don't belong on the ballot when the game is being played in a National League park and there isn't going to be a DH. That doesn't mean they shouldn't get to go to the game; it just means they shouldn't be eligible to win the starting slot for a position that they don't really play. That said, this isn't something that irks me a whole lot. It's just yet another goofy aspect of playing with a DH in AL parks and not in NL parks. Why not have a DH in the All-Star game no matter where you play, by the way? Does anyone really want to see Dontrelle Willis or Johan Santana or Curt Schilling hit in an All-Star game? Interleague play provides us with that novelty for the AL pitchers, and you get to see it all the time in the NL. Why not give an extra position player a few at-bats for both leagues no matter which park the All-Star game is played in? Just a thought.

National Leagues
As in the American League, there is no surprise in the voting here:

1.) Albert Pujols - 1,777,968 (.302/25/65)
2.) Carlos Delgado - 700,771 (.264/20/52)
3.) Nomar Garciaparra - 497,585 (.357/8/43)
4.) Lance Berkman - 486,581 (.311/20/64)
5.) Ryan Howard - 459,677 (.293/25/66)

Clearly, Albert Pujols will win the starting job, and when you consider where his numbers would have been if he hadn't missed a couple weeks of the season with that freak injury, it just makes you shake your head. As a result, I can't really disagree with this selection, and will say that Pujols not only will, but should be the starter for the NL.

I also can't quibble with any of the other names on this top 5. All of them have been very good, and the names not on the list (Todd Helton, Prince Fielder, Nick Johnson) have been pretty good, but just don't stack up to that top 5. More challenging is figuring out which 2 of the 4 extras deserve a shot to play in the game.

All of them have something going for them. Delgado is playing 1B for the best team in the National League, and is putting up very solid numbers. Garciaparra leads the National League in batting average. Berkman is solid across the board with his average, homers, and RBI. Howard took the league lead in RBI away from Pujols, and has tied him in HR. His batting average isn't bad either. So who gets the nod?

With the Dodgers having no other really obvious All-Star picks (although strong cases can be made for both Brad Penny and Derek Lowe, with their 3.00 ERA's), and with his very very solid batting average, I have to give Nomar Garciaparra one of the spots. While I would normally be inclined to reward the Mets by giving Delgado a spot, I think with Berkman and Howard both playing so well, one of them deserves it more. The answer, I think, is to pick Ryan Howard. But wait...with Berkman's ability to play in the outfield if necessary, and with Garciaparra's ability to play at short or third if necessary, I see no reason why the Astros shouldn't take Lance Berkman as well. If ever there were a position with four worthy players, this is it. Of course, there's another thing to consider here; Phil Garner will be managing the National League. If it comes down to Berkman or Howard, and there isn't room for four 1B, then it will be Berkman, even if Howard is more deserving. Let's hope they can find room for all four of these guys, because they all deserve to go.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Roster Turnover Discussion

Torii Hunter often brings up in interviews the fact that he and Brad Radke are the last remaining members of the Twins 2001 team that began the Twins' resurgance. He then whistfully remembers the "glory days," and the article discussing his comments talks about how it must feel for Torii, the Gen-X guy in the Gen-Y clubhouse.

This leads me to ask two questions: 1.) Would the Twins have been better off keeping the 2001 team intact, and 2.) How fantastic is this rate of turnover at the Major League level?

I'm going to start by answering the first question definitively: NO!!!

According to Baseball Almanac, the players on the Twins with the most starts at every position were as follows (and I'm limiting myself to position players because working with pitchers would simply add to the length of this post, and I can make my point without going there):

C-A.J. Pierzynski
1B - Doug Mientkiewicz
2B - Luis Rivas
SS - Cristian Guzman
3B - Corey Koskie
LF - Jacque Jones
CF - Torii Hunter
RF - Matt Lawton
DH - David Ortiz

Lawton was gone by the trade deadline in 2001, when the Twins picked up Rick Reed from the Mets. Ortiz left after the 2002 season, and the Twins got nothing for him. Pierzynski was the next to go, and unless you've been hiding under a rock you know that the Twins acquired Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser in the trade that sent A.J. to the Giants. Then came the flood that followed 2004, when Douggie was traded to Boston for minor leaguer Justin Jones, Guzman went to the Nationals, and Koskie went to Toronto. Finally, Luis Rivas was kicked out the door following last season, and Jacque Jones went to Chicago to play for the Cubs.

Quite the exodus. But let's assume that the Twins still had all of these players. How would the team stack up today?

C - Joe Mauer (.375/5/31) v. A.J. Pierzynski (.322/4/22)
1B - Justin Morneau (.275/18/58) v. Doug Mientkiewicz (.262/2/25)
2B - Luis Castill0 (.277/2/25) v. Luis Rivas (injured)
SS - Jason Bartlett (.414/0/2) v. Cristian Guzman (injured)
3B - Nick Punto (.276/0/7) v. Corey Koskie (.268/9/26)
LF - Shannon Stewart (.298/2/17) v. Jacque Jones (.296/13/36)
CF - Torii Hunter
RF - Michael Cuddyer (.271/11/38) v. Matt Lawton (.259/0/1)
DH - Jason Kubel (.292/6/18) v. David Ortiz (.267/21/64)

So how do things stack up? Well, let's start with the DH position, because that's easy. As good as Kubel has been, Ortiz is a monster. He may not have a batting average as high as normal, but he's still mashing the ball, hitting homers and driving in runs. Advantage: OLD SCHOOL

Hands down, Joe Mauer. Not only is he establishing himself as the best hitting catcher in baseball, he is the best role-model in the game. He certainly doesn't cause the level of hatred amongst opposing teams (and his own team) that A.J. does. Throw in the fact that the Twins got tremendous value in the Pierzynski trade, and this is a no-brainer. Advantage: NEW TWINS

First Base
Last year, and maybe earlier this year, this would have been closer. Mientkiewicz hasn't hit for average at all since leaving Minnesota, but he did hit 11 homers for the Mets last year, and still flashes some of the best leather in baseball. Now that Morneau is starting to hit the Twins always believed he would, this too has become clearly a positive development for the Twins. Add to that the fact that Morneau costs less than Douggie, and is a much better overall player, and this is no contest. Advantage: NEW TWINS

Second Base

We're talking about Luis Rivas here. Is there really any question that the Twins are better off without him? They could be playing a rock at second base and be in better shape. This isn't even worth discussing. Advantage: NEW TWINS

If Guzman had done ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING AT ALL since signing with Washington, he probably could have won this position for the Old-School Twins. But the simple fact is he hasn't. He's followed up last seasons .219 batting average with an injury that has sidelined him all season. He was always overrated, but before he was a free-agent he was at least a somewhat affordable overrated player. The Twins got a steal just getting a draft pick from the Nationals for him, and were absolutely correct in letting him go even if Juan Castro was still the starting shortstop. Of course, Bartlett has taken over the job, and we don't know if he'll keep playing very well. Even if he doesn't, though, he can't be worse than Cristian. Advantage: NEW TWINS

Third Base

If we were comparing this to Tony Batista, the answer would be clear. But now we're comparing Corey Koskie with Nick Punto, and that is a closer call. Punto doesn't hit homeruns or drive in many runs, and the batting averages are pretty close. On the other hand, Punto is a better defensive player, and can change the character of the Twins batting order with his speed. Since Koskie is one of my favorite Twins from the relaunch era, I'm inclined to give him the nod, especially since we don't know if Punto is going to go the distance and actually function as an everyday third baseman. Nevertheless, the defensive bonus, the significantly cheaper cost of Punto, and the age and injury susceptibility of Koskie cause me to rate this a push. Advantage: NONE

Left Field

Yes, I know Jacque Jones was in right field for the last few years. I don't care. In 2001, he was a left fielder, and so I'm going to compare him to Shannon Stewart. I actually prefer Jones to Stewart here, and money isn't a significant differentiating factor. Stewart is injured quite a bit, and isn't really a much better player (except for the second half of 2003, when he was MVP caliber). Result? Advantage: OLD SCHOOL

Center Field
Uh...same player. Advantage: NONE

Right Field

Matt Lawton v. Michael Cuddyer, huh? Lawton had one good year after leaving the Twins, hitting .277 with 20 homers. But it seems quite possible he was on steroids at the time (after all, he had to start this season with a 10-game suspension for that offense). Lawton doesn't seem to have a present or future in baseball. If the Twins had kept him, they would have been paying a premium for moderate to good production, and there was no reason to do that. Advantage: NEW TWINS

So that's the deal. Two ties, two wins for the old-school Twins, and five wins for the New Twins. I don't think there's any question that Terry Ryan has, for the most part, made the right decisions with these players as their time has come up to enter free agency or face arbitration. The team Torii Hunter seems to pine for no longer exists, and if it did most of us would be pulling our hair out of our heads in frustration because we wouldn't be winning any baseball games, and we'd paying a lot of money for the privilege of watching a losing team. Hunter's reminiscences are harkening back to a great era in Twins baseball, but it should be no mystery why he is the only position player left from the relaunch Twins - better players came along, and Terry Ryan made the necessary moves to get them in the ballgame.

I'm going to save the second question, regarding turnover throughout the league, for another day. Also still to come: a discussion about Hunter's future in Minnesota.

Down on the Farm: Rookie League Report

The Twins have two short-season Rookie ball teams, the Elizabethton Twins (high Rookie) and the Gulf Coast League Twins (low Rookie). Links to the team websites will be on the right side of the blog shortly.

Elizabethton Twins

Starting Pitchers
1.) Alex Burnett - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 6 inn / 6-0 K-BB
2.) Jose Lugo - 0-1 / 5.40 ERA / 5 inn / 7-1 K-BB
3.) Armando Gabino - no record
4.) Sean Land - no record
5.) Walter Patton - no record

There's some guess work going on here, because the E-Twins have played only 2 games so far. Nevertheless, with 7 pitchers having pitched in relief, a process of elimination gave me these names. Brian Kirwin, who I am listing as a reliever, also hasn't pitched yet and may actually be in the rotation in place of one of these guys.

Alex Burnett was the Twins 12th round selection in the 2005 draft. Land was drafted just this year, in the 9th round. Patton was the 13th round pick in 2004. I have no information on Lugo or Gabino, but assume that they were Latin players who were not subject to the draft and signed with the Twins as free agents.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Danny Hernandez - 0-0 / 4.50 ERA / 2 inn / 5-1 K-BB
2.) Jose Castillo - 0-0 / 9.00 ERA / 2 inn / 2-2 K-BB
3.) Matthew Williams - 0-0 / 13.50 ERA / 2 inn / 1-3 K-BB
4.) Aaron Craig - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 2 inn / 2-1 K-BB
5.) Matthew Fox - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 1.2 inn / 2-1 K-BB
6.) Brandon McConnell - 1-0 / 0.00 ERA / 1 inn / 3-1 K-BB
7.) Patrick Bryant - 0-0 / 162.00 ERA / .1 inn / 1-1 K-BB
8.) Brian Kirwin - no record

That 162.00 ERA is not a misprint...Bryant had a horrid, horrid first 1/3 of an inning. Not much else to say about this bunch as far as how they've pitched thus far.

Matthew Fox is the big name pick from this bunch, having been selected in the first round in 2004. Joining him from that draft are Patrick Bryant (6th round), Aaron Craig (28th round), and possibly Matthew Williams (7th round). A Williams who was listed as a pitcher was drafted there by the Twins, but with a different first name. It is very common for the name a player is drafted under to be different from the name they become known by, so I'd say there is a good chance that this is him. McConnell was drafted in the 8th round in 2003, and Kirwin in the 11th round in 2005. Hernandez and Castillo are mysteries, but are probably undrafted Latin players.

1.) Gregory Yersich - 2 games / .375 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
2.) Daniel Berg - 2 games / .000 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
3.) Jeffrey Christy - 1 game / .500 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

Yersich has caught both games thus far for the E-Twins, while Berg has been the DH. Christy is a new addition to the Twins, having been drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 Draft. Yersich was selected in the 7th round of the 2005 draft, and Berg was acquired in the 30th round of the 2004 draft.

1B - Henry Sanchez - 2 games / .222 BA / 1 HR / 1 RBI
2B - Michael Lysaught - 1 game / .000 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
SS - Yancarlos Ortiz - 1 game / .167 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
3B - William Luque - 1 game / .250 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
IF - Brian Dinkelman - 2 games / .375 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
IF - Garrett Olson - 2 games / .333 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
IF - Steven Singleton - 2 games / .333 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
IF - Joshua Dean - 1 game / .500 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

The positions at which I have assigned these players is likely to change. Sanchez has started both games at 1B, but the other infield positions have been split thus far. I considered the opening day starters as the actual starters at those positions for this first update. Joshua Dean started out with the GCL Twins, but was promoted after just two days.

Unfortunately, I could only find half of these players in the Twins draft records. Lysaught, Ortiz, Luque, and Dean all seem to have been acquired outside of the draft process. Sanchez is the big name in this bunch, being a 2005 first round selection. Dinkelman (8th round), Olson (4th round), and Singleton (11th round) were all drafted in the 2006 draft.

1.) Josh Land - 2 games / .400 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
2.) Danny Santiesteban - 2 games / .100 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
3.) Richard Sojo - 1 game / .000 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
4.) J.W. Wilson - 1 game / .000 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
5.) Wesley Connor - 1 game / .250 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI

So far, only Santiesteban seems secure in a position, having started both games in CF. Sojo started the first game in LF, with Land getting the nod in the second. Wilson was the RF in game one, and Connor started in game 2. Connor, like Dean, started the season with the GCL Twins and was reassigned to Elizabethton after just 2 games.

Wilson was acquired in the 2005 draft in the 6th round. Land and Santiesteban were drafted back to back in the 2004 draft, as the 38th and 39th round picks respectively. I'm not sure how the Twins acquired the rights to Sojo or Connor.

GCL Twins

Starting Pitchers

1.) Omar Alcala - 1-0 / 9.00 ERA / 3 inn / 3-2 K-BB
2.) Ludovicus Van Mil - 0-0 / 1.93 ERA / 4.2 inn / 1-4 K-BB
3.) Curtis Leaitt - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 4 inn / 5-0 K-BB
4.) Nathan Crawford - no record
5.) Kyle Edlich - no record

Again, much guess work is involved with the 4th and 5th starters. There are 17 pitchers on the GCL Twins roster; I'm guessing that more than 5 players will get the opportunity to start games for the team. In case you have never heard of him, Van Mil is a 7'1" monster from Europe who is a major project for the Twins. It looks like he had a fairly successful first start, but he needs to work on that K-BB ratio.

The only one of these five for whom I can find any draft information is Leavitt, acquired in the 2005 draft as the 22nd round selection. Van Mil, as a European, was not subject to the draft. I'm not sure about the others.

Relief Pitchers

1.) Robert Delaney - 0-0 / 4.50 ERA / 4 inn / 2-0 K-BB
2.) Carlos Garcia - 1-0 / 0.00 ERA / 3.2 inn / 2-0 K-BB
3.) Joan Ortiz - 1-0 / 3.86 ERA / 2.1 inn / 0-1 K-BB
4.) Bradley Tippett - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 2 inn / 2-0 K-BB
5.) Bruno Sanchez - 0-1 / 20.25 ERA / 1.1 inn / 0-1 K-BB
6.) Jakub Toufar - 0-0 / 0.00 ERA / 1 inn / 1-0 K-BB
7.) Luis Carrerras - 0-0 / 18.00 ERA / 1 inn / 0-0 K-BB
8.) Jeffrey Schoenbachler - no record
9.) Jose Acosta - no record
10.) Michael Allen - no record
11.) David Bromberg - no record
12.) Tyler Robertson - no record

Not much yet to say on this bunch, except to give you some information on how they were acquired. I could only find five of them in the Twins draft annals: Robertson was the 3rd round selection in 2006, and Ortiz was the 41st round selection. Allen (13th round) and Bromberg (32nd round) were acquired in 2005. Schoenbachler was the 5th round selection in 2004.

1.) Wilson Ramos - 2 games / .333 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI
2.) Gilbert Buenrostro - 1 game / .333 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
3.) Mighuel Barrientos - 1 game / .250 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI
4.) Rodolfo Palacios - 2 games / .143 BA / 0 HR / 3 RBI

Ramos, Barrientos, and Palacios have all startd on game behind the plate, and Palacios also got a start as the DH in one game. Ramos also got a start at 1B. Buenrostro was selected in the 20th round in the 2006 draft. The others have murkier origins, but are presumably Latin players not subject to the draft.

1B - Juan Delgado - 2 games / .286 BA / 0 HR / 2 RBI
2B - Thomas Cowgill - 2 games / .143 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
SS - Starling De Los Santos - 3 games / .083 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
3B - Deibinson Romero - 1 game / .200 BA / 1 HR / 2 RBI
IF - Eric Santiago - 2 games / .333 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
IF - Matthew Lawman - 2 games / .000 BA / 0 HR / 1 RBI

Joshua Dean had started both games at 1B before being sent to Elizabethton. Ramos started the other, and if he continues to get many starts there I will reclassify him as an infielder. Cowgill started 2 of the 3 games at 2B, and De Los Santos got 2 starts at SS and one at 2B. Third base has been split between Romero, Santiago, and Delgado thus far.

Cowgill (40th round) and Santiago (21st round) were both selected in the 2006 draft. I am uncertain of where the other players come from.

1.) Joe Benson - 3 games / .417 BA / 0 HR / 3 RBI
2.) Kevin Harrington - 2 games / .143 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
3.) Mark Dolenc - 2 games / .111 BA / 0 HR / 0 RBI
4.) Chris Parmalee - no games played

With the addition of 2006 first round pick Chris Parmalee to the roster, the GCL Twins kicked Wesley Connor up to Elizabethton. Benson seems to be the CF, and Dolenc the RF, so I assume Parmalee will primarily be used either in LF or as the DH. The next week will show if that is true.

As for the others, Benson was this years 2nd round selection, Harrington was selected in the 12th round, and Dolenc was selected in the 15th round. The entire outfield was just drafted, which is kind of an interesting situation that should be followed as this season progresses.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Road Trip Roundup

Wow. That's pretty much all that can be said for the whole darned road trip, right down to that spectacular Clemens/Liriano matchup to finish it off. How great is 5-1? How fantastic were the starts in virtually every game (with the one exception of Saturday in Pittsburgh)? And what about the timely hitting of the Twins new everyday hero, Justin Morneau? I don't intend this blog to be a re-hash of the events that we all watched unfold before our eyes, but I had to say something about this trip.

There's more to discuss about all of this than just what we saw on the field, however. For starters, how about checking up on how the team is doing in terms of the "par" system, which I introduced in this post a while ago. Remember that to finish with a par on the road in a three game series, it's necessary only to win 1 game. The Twins came into this road trip at even par on the season, and proceeded to blow away the system over the last six games. For the first time all season, the Twins jumped above par, in effect getting an "eagle" in the Pittsburgh series and a "birdie" in the Houston series. The team is now 3 over par (or under par if you want to be true to the golf analogy...but I favor the idea of having OVER par as a good thing in this context). Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see where the other AL Central teams are both in terms of .500 and "par." Here's what I found:

Detroit / 23 over .500 / +11 par
Chicago / 22 over .500 / +9 par
Minnesota / 1 over .500 / +3 par
Cleveland / 7 under .500 / -4 par
Kansas City / 27 under .500 / -13 par

Now, if you ignore the Twins, you'll notice that there is very approximately a 2-1 ratio from the absolute value of games away from .500 and the par number (23-11/22-9/7-4/27-13). For the Twins, however, the relationship is 1-3, which is completely inconsistent with what it "seems" the par system should yield. The question, then, is what this signifies. The simple answer would seem to be that it means the Twins have played significantly more road series as opposed to home series, and in fact, that's the case; the Twins have played twelve 3-game road series as opposed to just seven 3-game home series. This should mean that the Twins have a good opportunity to improve their record significantly.

Incidentally, the White Sox have exactly the opposite situation going on; they've played significantly more of their 3-game home series than have the Twins. Therefore, the Twins have a pretty good opportunity to gain some ground on them. Unfortunately, the Tigers have 9 road series to 6 home series, so they have a bit more legitimate of a record going on. The Twins may be better off concentrating on that Wild Card after all.

A couple of other quick notes:

* Shannon Stewart will be starting a six-game rehab assignment on Saturday

* The Twins signed first-round pick Chris Parmalee and assigned him to the GCL Twins

Hopefully the next couple of series can be as fantastic as the last 4 series have been, and that the White Sox and Tigers start losing a few games.

Trade Deadline Prep: Part 2

This post is going to be focused on the Arbitration eligible Twins and what should be done with them over the next several months, both in the context of the trade deadline and after the season when non-tender time rolls around.

Juan Rincon
Rincon is an interesting case. He makes such little money now ($700,000) and provides such tremendous utility for the Twins that there is no question in my mind the Twins should keep him. Nevertheless, he will be due a fairly significant raise after this season, and the Twins should probably consider trying to sign him to a multi-year deal. Rincon will probably sign a one- or two-year deal with the Twins for about $1.5 million after the season is over. I certainly don't expect him to disappear come the trade deadline.

Kyle Lohse
Ah, Kyle Lohse. What hasn't been said about you? For the last year and a half, I have argued for Lohse to disappear. He was and is a mediocre pitcher who had tremendous potential but never lived up to it, and yet his salary kept blossoming through arbitration. Lohse is making $3.95 million this year, and for what exactly? Not a lot needs to be rehashed about him here. The Twins will do their darndest to trade Lohse before the deadline, and will probably be able to work out a trade where they get a very, very low prospect back in return. If there are no takers, however, Lohse will probably be non-tendered in December, bringing the long statewide nightmare to an end.

Joe Mauer
There is absolutely no question that the Twins will keep Mauer around, but they would be smart to get him under contract and short-circuit arbitration. I actually agree with Sid Hartman on this, and that makes me a little queasy, but it's the right thing to do. mauer is too valuable and too good to leave to arbitration. Signing him to a 4 or 5 year escalating contract makes sense, and the Twins should do it as soon as the season is over.

Justin Morneau
A closer, tougher call needs to be made on Morneau. Not on whether to keep him around; he's developing at a significant pace right now and the Twins need his power in the lineup. The question is whether to try to sign him to a multi-year deal or leave him to arbitration. He's having a good year, but there's not as much danger in having him reach arbitration as there would be with Mauer. I would recommend that the Twins try to get him signed to a one-year deal when the season is over, and take him to arbitration if they must. If he finishes out this year playing well, and continues to play well next year, then I would change my approach and try to sign him to a multi-year deal.

Michael Cuddyer
If Cuddyer hadn't developed into a legitimate starting player this year, he would have been gone at the deadline. Instead, the Twins need to keep him around and should essentially adopt the same approach with him as I advocate for Morneau, using one-year deals until they are sure of what he's going to give them.

Lew Ford
The story isn't as happy for Ford. While he's a fun player and a fan favorite, the Twins don't want to be on the hook to pay Ford inflated prices like they have had to do with Lohse. I said a few days ago that the Twins should bring up Jason Tyner to take over the Lew Ford role on the team, and I still advocate for that. Ford might be worth something on the market, and I think the Twins should trade him away before the deadline in order to avoid a tough decision at the end of the season. Worst case scenario would be having to cut him, and get nothing for him, as happened with David Ortiz.

Nick Punto
Punto is a valuable player to have around, and shouldn't be too much trouble come arbitration time. There's no reason for the Twins to try to move him, and he becomes more valuable to the team if he sticks at 3B. While that would give him a boost in pay, I'd rather pay a starter a slightly inflated salary than a backup like Ford.

Look for the Twins to try to trade away Lohse for sure. My opinion is that they should also make a move to try to trade Ford. The other five arbitration eligibles should be kept right where they are as the Twins attempt to re-establish a winning team. All five of them will be necessary to that effort, at least in the short term.

Next Post
Look for another Deadline/Contract themed post soon discussing the many players who will be free agents (or who have options for 2007) at the end of the year.

Down on the Farm: Low A Report

The website for the Snappers is now located on the right side of the blog.

Starting Pitchers
1.) Kyle Waldrop - 6-2 / 3.09 ERA / 87.1 inn / 51-13 K-BB
2.) Oswaldo Sosa - 5-5 / 2.75 ERA / 72 inn / 58-25 K-BB
3.) Ryan Mullins - 1-2 / 4.27 ERA / 71.2 inn / 61-22 K-BB
4.) Eduardo Morlan - 3-3 / 2.57 ERA / 63 inn / 73-27 K-BB
5.) Adam Hawes - 1-2 / 5.22 ERA / 39.2 inn / 35-18 K-BB

With the Midwest League All-Star Game this week, the Snappers played only 4 games. As a result, Hawes did not get a chance to start and didn't pitch. It was a pretty good week for the rest of the Snappers starters, although only Morlan picked up a win. Everybody that pitched decreased in ERA except for Sosa, whose ERA just nudged up by .02 points. Sosa and Morlan both got invites to the All-Star Game, and both pitched for 1/3 of an inning, both also getting a strikeout. Morlan also managed to pitch a complete game on the 16th, allowing 7 hits and 2 ER over the course of 9 innings. Congrats, Eddie!

Relief Pitchers
1.) Jose Cordero - 0-1 / 20.25 ERA / 1.1 inn / 0-1 K-BB
2.) Yohan Pino - 5-1 / 1.59 ERA / 39.2 inn / 51-10 K-BB
3.) Frank Mata - 3-2 / 2.49 ERA / 21.2 inn / 10-5 K-BB
4.) David Shinskie - 4-5 / 2.93 ERA / 43 inn / 31-11 K-BB
5.) Danny Vais - 1-2 / 2.60 ERA / 34.2 inn / 32-9 K-BB
6.) Alexander Smit - 2-1 / 4.75 ERA / 30.1 / 35-18 K-BB
7.) John Cline - no record

John Cline is the new addition to this crew, having been assigned to the club from Extended Spring Training to fill the roster spot vacated by Jose Lugo, who was sent down to Elizabethton. Smit, Cordero and Mata did not pitch this week. Pino continued to dominate, and got a chance to join the two starters at the All-Star Game where he pitched 2/3 of an inning, allowing 1 hit and getting a strikeout. David Shinskie got tabbed with a loss but lowered his ERA slightly, while Danny Vais pitched an inning and also lowered his ERA a bit.

1.) Caleb Moore - 56 games / .285 BA / 2 HR / 22 RBI
2.) Allan de San Miguel - 35 games / .194 BA / 0 HR / 14 RBI

Both Moore and de San Miguel started 2 games behind the plate, and Moore got an additional start as the DH. Moore continued to hit well, increasing his batting average by 6 points. Moore got an invite to the All-Star Game, but went 0-for-2.

1.) Erik Lis - 60 games / .315 BA / 8 HR / 37 RBI
2.) Steven Tolleson - 47 games / .287 BA / 2 HR / 16 RBI
3.) Paul Kelly - 66 games / .272 BA / 3 HR / 36 RBI
4.) Juan Portes - 14 games / .228 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI
5.) Andrew Thompson - 52 games / .266 BA / 3 HR / 11 RBI
6.) Toby Gardenhire - 37 games / .193 BA / 0 HR / 7 RBI
7.) Jose Leger - no statistics

Duh duh duh...Jose Leger surfaces again. I found out from a press release on the Beloit website that Leger actually has been chilling in Extended Spring Training recently, which is why he hadn't been accumulating any stats for Ft. Myers. This guy has bounced around like crazy this year. Toby Gardenhire had a pretty bad week, dropping his batting average back below the Mendoza Line. Erik Lis also saw his drop by 14 points. Andrew Thompson hit a homerun and upped his batting average by 13 points. Portes and Tolleson didn't play. Kelly, Lis, and Thompson all got into the All-Star Game, but none of them got a hit.

With Henry Sanchez being sent down, Lis now is solidly in charge as the teams starting 1B. Thompson usually gets to start at 2B, although he also got a start at SS this week. Kelly started three out of the four games at SS. Third base is up for grabs right now, since Danny Berg got a couple of starts there this week (and he is now down with Elizabethton), and Toby Gardenhire and Paul Kelly got the other starts. Gardy Jr. isn't going to become a regular starter anytime soon, and Kelly is the regular at SS. Expect Leger and possibly Tolleson to get some playing time there.

1.) Tarrance Patterson - 51 games / .271 BA / 0 HR / 8 RBI
2.) Dwayne White - 42 games / .221 BA / 1 HR / 9 RBI
3.) Eli Tintor - 53 games / .265 BA / 3 HR / 24 RBI
4.) Edward Ovalle - 65 games / .261 BA / 6 HR / 29 RBI
5.) Mark Robinson - no statistics

Mark Robinson joins the Beloit squad from Extended Spring Training, while Josh Land was sent packing to Elizabethton. Tarrance Patterson had a decent week, bumping his batting average up by 7 points and going 1-for-4 in the All-Star Game. White raised his batting average by 16 points, but Tintor and Ovalle both saw theirs drop slightly.

Generally speaking, LF belongs to Patterson, CF to Ovalle, and RF to Tintor. White gets some playing time at DH and backing those three up, and I don't know where Robinson is going to figure into the equation. By next week, we should have a better idea of how Robinson is going to be utilized by the Snappers.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Most Annoying In-Stadium Events

After Brad Radke gave up his first homerun yesterday, to Chris Burke, Twins fans everywhere were forced to endure the horror of the "Killer B" sound effect that plays whenever Burke, Berkman, or Biggio hit a homerun in Houston. Unfortunately, we had to suffer through it again a couple of innings later when Berkman hit his dinger.

This got me to thinking; what in-stadium effects or events are the most annoying? It didn't take me long to come up with my list of the Five Most Annoying In-Stadium Events. One thing you should know...I didn't limit myself to things currently being done, as you will see with the number one most annoying item on my list. Without further ado, here they are, in order:

1.) Magglio Ordonez entrace - Chicago White Sox version (EXTINCT)

Back in the day, when Magglio was with the pale hose, the stadium people would play a bizarre chant every time he came to the plate. It would go something like "oh-eee-oh, MAAAAGGG-LIO." You can't get the full effect reading it as you could hearing it. It was dorky, it was annoying, and it was really just plain stupid. Consider that in a full season of baseball at U.S Cellular field, fans would have had to hear this chant somewhere in the neighborhood of 325 times, and you will begin to understand the horrific implications. This, to me, tops the charts.

2.) "Killer B" Homerun theme - Houston Astros

I used to think it was kind of cool that the Astros seemed to have an inexhaustable supply of players whose last name started with "B." That was until somebody decided it would be fun to start playing that annoying racket whenever one of them hit a homerun. Now, I almost wish that the letter "B" did not exist in the English language. The droning sound is made worse by the fact that, as a fan of another team, you are hearing the very sound of failure. But, seriously, does this loud buzzing benefit anybody? This is so bad that I nearly chose to place it first on the list, but at least this happens fewer times in the season than the Magglio chant did.

3.) Thundersticks - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

While these are annoying anywhere, they were particularly so when the Angels won the World Series in 2003. The constant clomping actually detracted from my enjoyment of the game, and I WAS WATCHING ON TV! I can't imagine actually being there. If you want to have a loud stadium, do it the old fashioned way like the Twins and build a dome that amplifies sound.

4.) Tomohawk Chop - Atlanta Braves

This little beauty manages to be both annoying AND offensive. I remember watching the 1991 World Series and realizing that, at some point, I just wanted the Twins to win so that the Chop would stop. Of course, the Twins could do nothing against the tide of all those madly-chopping fans, and lost every game they played in Atlanta. At least the deafening noise of the madly-homer-hanky-waving Twins fans flustered the Braves as much as the Chop flustered the Twins. Thankfully, this season it appears that there will be no Chop to contend with during playoff games, since the Braves ungodly streak of playoff appearances seems to be coming to an end. Incidentally, it's been a few years since a really good Chop was seen; Braves fans got spoiled and stopped feeling the need to do this in the first round of the playoffs.

5.) God Bless America - New York Yankees

Ok, I get that 9/11 was catastrophic in New York. I think God Bless America is a sweet little song. But, seriously, do we need to draw out the seventh inning stretch during every game of any significance to have an Irish Tenor sing it? To my knowledge, the Yankees are still doing this regularly during the regular season, although I'm pretty sure they save the whole dog-and-pony show for special events and playoff games. Please, George...STOP THE INSANITY.

Honorable Mentions
- The Rally Monkey
- Wrigley Field 7th Inning Stretch
- Sausage/Pierogie Races
- Shooting T-shirts into the Stands

That's my list. I'd be very interested to hear what other people think about this topic. And remember, this is all in good fun. I'd rather go to 1,000 White Sox games from the Magglio Era than be stuck watching the Stanley Cup finals.

All-Star Game Thoughts #2 - Catchers

This Post is going to be devoted to consideration of who WILL and who SHOULD play in the All-Star game as a Catcher.

American League
First, a look at who the fans have favored with their votes to this point in the process, information courtesy of MLB.com:

1.) Jason Varitek (BOS) - 831,154
2.) Ivan Rodriguez (DET) - 803,964
3.) Jorge Posada (NYY) - 608,670
4.) A.J. Pierzynski (CHW) - 493,385
5.) Joe Mauer (MIN) - 464,161

At this point, it sure doesn't look like anybody besides Varitek and Rodriguez are in this race. I am hoping that the surging Tigers will find a way to get Rodriguez into that game as a starter, because between him and Varitek there is no question who SHOULD be the starter. In fact, Varitek, who is hitting just above .250, doesn't belong anywhere near the game. Nevertheless, I'm predicting that the starter will be Jason Varitek.

But who SHOULD be the starter? I may be biased, but I don't care. Joe Mauer has an On-Base Percentage of .446, second in the entire American League, and much, much better than just about any other Catcher in the league. In fact, Jorge Posada is the second best catcher in this category, and his OBP is nearly 30 points lower. Mauer also has the best batting average in the league, has played very well defensively, and calls a good game. So the answer to this one is quite simple: the starter for the AL in the 2006 All-Star Game should be Joe Mauer.

The fans actually did a reasonably good job of voting in the AL, except for the bizarre situation with Varitek on the top of the list. The other 4 catchers in the top 5 have all been very good, and deserve consideration. Varitek should be off of the list in favor of Cleveland's Victor Martinez, who has had an excellent season.

If I were selecting reserves, I would take Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, but a good case can be made for either Pierzynski or Martinez. Ultimately, I make the call to go with Posada because, like Mauer, he's been very good at getting on base this season. Rodriguez has been very solid and is playing for the best, most surprising team in the American League.

If Rodriguez pulls off the come from behind victory over Varitek, then I think he will be joined by Mauer and probably Posada. If Varitek wins, then one of the I-Rod, Mauer, and Posada trio will have to be left home. Mauer is a shoe-in, but it's a tough call on Rodriguez and Posada. I would go with Rodriguez because of his higher number of fan votes and as a nod to the part he has played in helping the Tigers become competitive again.

National League
I started out with the current fan vote totals for the American League, and that's what I'm going to do on this side as well:

1.) Paul Lo Duca (NYM) - 960,111
2.) Mike Piazza (SDP) - 680,773
3.) Yadier Molina (STL) - 559,305
4.) Brad Ausmus (HOU) - 535,338
5.) Michael Barrett (CHC) - 403,985

There's clearly no race left here. Paul Lo Duca will be the starting catcher for the National League, and it's hard to argue with the choice. He's been very good this year, and is playing for one of the best teams in the National League, so this makes a good deal of sense. For that reason, I'm going to say that the fans got this one right, and Lo Duca also SHOULD be the NL starter.

The fans are dead wrong in having Piazza and Molina anywhere near the top 5. Unlike many years, there are a multitude of solid catching performances in the National League this year, and many other catchers more deserving of being in the top 5 than these two. In fact, Brian McCann, who was just replaced in the top 5 by Barrett, Johnny Estrada, and Ronny Paulino are all doing very well this season, and any two of those three would be much more deserving than Piazza or Molina, especially the weak-hitting Molina.

So who do I think should join Lo Duca in Pittsburgh? It's a tough call. I'm going to eliminate Paulino because he's young, hasn't played a whole lot of games, and plays for a very, very bad team that is going to be well represented by Jason Bay. Even if they are the host club, they don't deserve more than 1 All-Star this year. McCann doesn't have as many at-bats as most of the rest of these guys, but he's been stellar this season. In fact, he's been so much better than just about anybody else in the National League this year that I have to include him on the team. That leaves one spot open to give to either Ausmus, Barrett, or Estrada. While this could go just about any way, I personally think that Estrada is playing for a very bad team that will be represented by Brandon Webb, and that Barrett loses a tiebreaker against Ausmus because of his ridiculous punch-out of A.J. Pierzynski earlier this season.

Result: Brian McCann and Brad Ausmus should be joining Lo Duca in Pittsburgh.