Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It is time we talk of many things...

There are a number of things I want to discuss with this post, some of which came to me as a consequence of watching tonight's outstanding 8th straight win, and some of which were inspired by other thoughts. It's going to be a bit wide-ranging, but that's ok. Consider it a "State of the Team" speech, of sorts.

For starters, I'd like to point out that for the first time all year the Twins are over .500; anyone who thought they would go on a stretch of winning 10 of 11 in order to pull this off, especially following that horrifying road trip out west, would have been a candidate for commitment to a mental institution. Nevertheless, the pitching and hitting have gelled together and that's exactly what has happened. The encouraging thing is, this version of the Twins is more in line with what most fans expected at the beginning of the year; hopefully that means the wins will keep on coming. Now, if only Detroit or Chicago would cooperate and lose a couple of games...

I think some consideration has to be given to whether Terry Ryan made a major mistake at the start of the season. Of course, it's clear that the free agent debacle this year constitutes a mistake, but while I think it's legitimate to say "What were you thinking" with regard to Tony Batista and Ruben Sierra, who both seemed to be done before signing, the major addition of the off-season was Rondell White, and that's a different story. While it hasn't panned out, I don't think there was any reason to suspect that he would play so poorly. But really, that's not even what I'm talking about here. Instead, the decision to send Jason Bartlett down to start the season looks suspect. The Bartlett/Punto combination on the left side of the infield has provided spark and speed where it was badly needed. They have provided also a pretty major upgrade to 2/9 of the lineup. What I'm curious about is whether Bartlett would have played this well without the 2+ months that he spent in Rochester, or whether he needed that time to develop into a more confident, leadership oriented player. I'm inclined to believe he was ready to roll out of Spring Training, and this was a slip up on the part of Ryan. Nevertheless, I don't think the poor play from early this season can be pinned on this move; the starting pitching was so horrendous that a change in shortstop wouldn't have made a difference.

While we're on the subject, I can't ignore a further discussion of the Twins current roster, especially the previously mentioned Ruben Sierra. He is now 3-for-19 this season, and just looks outmatched when he goes up to hit. I am about ready to concede that he won't finish the season with the Twins. More on that momentarily.

First, yet another Shannon Stewart update needs to be given. Stewart is having a tough time in his comeback, and isn't yet ready to go out for a rehab assignment. The plan of sending him out on Friday, after the team returns home from this road trip, appears to be in jeopardy. But more interesting than all of this is what the Twins are now planning to do with him when he returns, according to the most recent Twins Notes from the Twins website. Instead of playing in LF and possibly aggravating the foot injury, the Twins want to use Stewart as a DH. That means Kubel will be starting in LF in his place, and it drives home even further that Rondell White no longer has a place on this team.

So, I have a new "optimal plan" for the Twins roster. First, I think the Twins should immediately cut White and bring up Jason Tyner. Martin Andrade wants Shawn Wooten, but I've posted my thoughts on why I think that's a bad idea. Some fans would like to call up Pat Neshek and go with 12 pitchers, but I think that's a mistake because carrying 12 pitchers handcuffs a team. Tyner is a player who I think could help the team, and who in fact could have a role with the team as a replacement next year for Lew Ford, who as an arbitration eligible player may be on his way out at the trade deadline or at the end of the season as a non-tender. Tyner is never going to be a Twins starter, so having him ride the pine at the big league level isn't as much of a concern as it would be with a guy like Matt Moses. So, I would like to see Tyner brought up.

Second, when Stewart is ready to come off of the Disabled List, I would part ways with Ruben Sierra. You lose a veteran presence off the bench, but as Martin stated in his recent Podcast, the Twins really don't need a veteran presence off the bench. Tyner and Stewart will be a more productive duo than White and Sierra, and these moves would help the team.

There's also been some talk (by Aaron Gleeman, for instance) of sending down Willie Eyre and bringing up Pat Neshek. This isn't that bad of an idea; Eyre has an ERA of just under 5.79, so he isn't exactly tearing it up, and Neshek is a player who I believe could contribute at the Major League level. Nevertheless, I would hold off on this to see what happens with the fifth starter. If Boof Bonser pitches well enough to retain the job, I make this move. Otherwise, I think it would be better for the Twins to send Bonser down and adjust accordingly, either by moving Kyle Lohse back into the rotation (if his performance indicates he could handle the job) or by calling up J.D. Durbin. If there was a spot open in the bullpen after this, I would call up Neshek to fill it. If there wasn't, I would go back to considering the Eyre-for-Neshek swap.

There were a few other things I was going to discuss, but they weren't nearly as interesting as the things above, and this post is pretty long, so I'm going to drop them for now. Congrats to the Twins, and lets go for number 9 tomorrow.


  • At Wed Jun 21, 10:48:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have witnessed tonight another
    deliberate KYLE LOHSE MELTDOWN!

  • At Wed Jun 21, 11:28:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Well, tonight's performance by Lohse was certainly disappointing, and I despise Scott Boras. Nevertheless, I think it would be counter-productive for Lohse to purposely fail, for two reasons.

    First, the Twins have shown that they are willing to send him to the minor leagues if necessary. When they called him up, he had been pitching well in AAA, and there was at least a chance that he had straightened things out.

    Second, what team would want him when he's pitching like this? Lohse has to be careful; he's pitching so poorly that he could find himself stuck in limbo. If the Twins can't find a trading partner for him, and Lohse is forced to try to find a team as a free agent, he is going to have to take a huge pay cut. For his own sake, it makes sense for him to do the best he can. Unfortunately, it just doesn't look like his best is very good.


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