Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Site Update

Hey all -- it's 9:30 and the Down on the Farm report isn't up, and is unlikely to be tonight. I've recovered from my little illness, I made it through my first final, and all is generally well -- I've just discovered that time is an issue. So, here's the new plan: I'm pushing each of the Down on the Farm Reports back a day this week, so the AAA version should be up tomorrow, the AA report on Wednesday, and so on. Next week, everything should be back to the regular schedule. It's possible that time will continue to run away on me, and if that happens there could be a few disruptions while I work through finals. As much as I love the Twins, school comes first.

Incidentally, I'm also planning on taking a vacation when finals are finished, so there's a good chance that the blog will be in "Vacation Mode" from about May 11-May 20 or somewhere in there. More details on that as it gets closer.

Until then, thanks for stopping by, and hopefully I'll have some new content for you tomorrow!


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #25

I'm battling both food poisoning and exam finals (first one out of the shoot -- Toxics & Hazardous Waste Law at 8:15 tomorrow morning), so I'm not going to post anything on the game day. I hope to post something regarding Alexi Casilla (and what seems to be his imminent trip to Rochester) tomorrow, and hopefully will also feel well enough to post the AAA Report sometime during hte day as well. I hope your weekend is going better than mine!

Finally, RIP Josh Hancock. Losing both David Halberstam and Hancock in the course of a week is a shock to a baseball fan's system. My thoughts are with his family and his teammates today.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #24

Well -- I wasn't quite expecting the Twins to go out and do that today against Justin Verlander and the Tigers -- that being putting up 11 runs (a veritable flood for a team that had been struggling a bit), but I'll certainly take it. Here are today's notes:

1.) While watching the first inning, I thought that Carlos Silva was going to have one of those horrible days where he elevates every pitch and gets absolutely hammered. And, really, is there any question that if this were last year, that's exactly what would have happened? Somehow, Silva has found a way to correct himself mid-course, thus avoiding those kinds of extended innings that cause so much damage. Six innings, 3 runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 4 K's -- that's pretty much exactly what a good Silva outing looks like. I'll take it.

2.) I suggested before the start of this series that there was no way the Twins were going to go into Detroit and sweep the Tigers. Now, they're a Johan Santana start away from doing just that. Baseball is such a weird sport -- I love it!

3.) It was great to see Justin Morneau settle into a groove today. When he's on, he just makes hitting look so easy, and he puts some great swings on the ball. This isn't the most insightful comment in the world, but I don't care -- I'm just glad that he's making it look somewhat effortless again.

4.) Ron Gardenhire rested Joe Mauer yesterday, knowing he was going to give Mauer either Friday or Saturday off. I suggested yesterday that giving Mauer Friday off instead of Saturday was a good move, because Mauer had had a couple of sub-par games in a row, and seemed to need the rest. There's no way to tell what would have happened if Gardy had gone the other way, but Mauer is now 4-for-6 (including yesterday's pinch hit) after not starting on Friday, so it's hard to say it wasn't the right move.

5.) Everybody in the starting lineup got at least one hit. Considering how much some of the non-stars have struggled early this season, that's a very welcome development.

6.) Alright, I can understand giving Alexi Casilla one day off in the opener of a tough series against a division rival on the road. But two days in a row? With Luis Rodriguez starting at 2B? Rodriguez had a pretty good day at the plate -- 1-for-2 with 2 walks -- but I still don't think this was the right move. Let Casilla start while he has the chance to do so, most importantly so he can get experience playing in important games. Consider this: with Luis Castillo a free agent after this season, it will be tempting to trade him at the deadline. If that happens, Casilla will have to learn to start in games that are meaningful down the stretch. As a result, I'm not really comfortable with justifying not starting him with a justification of keeping the pressure off of him.

7.) We all know that Michael Cuddyer has a great arm. But two outfield assists tonight? Man, he's ridiculous. I love it!

8.) Johan v. Maroth tomorrow for a chance to finish the 10-game gauntlet against AL Central teams at 5-5. I like those odds.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #23

The Twins are trying to give us all heart attacks, but picking up the win was the important thing. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Ramon Ortiz was, as usual, very competent. He gave up 5 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings, which is a little on the high side, but not bad, and most importantly gave up just 2 runs. Unfortunately, the offense for the Twins didn't really wake up until the 8th inning, so he gets a no decision. Nevertheless, it has to be encouraging that he went into a road game against a division rival and pitched like a number 2 starter -- it's official, I believe in him.

2.) Jesse Crain gave up a run and has a 6.00 ERA on the season, but he nevertheless was the beneficiary of the aforementioned 8th inning, and picked up his first win of the season. Juan Rincon made things a little interesting by allowing a couple of hits in his inning of work, but still didn't give up a run. And Joe Nathan had another 1-2-3 inning to pick up his 7th save of the season. He may have had some rough outings early, but he looks alright to me.

3.) Mike Redmond struggled in his early at-bats, but came through when it mattered. Joe Mauer delivered a big pinch hit 2-RBI double. Justin Morneau mashed one. It's nice to see a team effort on offense, even if it was a little late in coming.

4.) There was some rumbling in the blogosphere today that Joe Mauer should have started today's game and rested tomorrow. I'll just briefly say that I disagree -- he'd had a couple of games where he wasn't hitting that well, so why not rest him against a tough lefty like Robertson? This has nothing to do with the fact that he was available on the bench to deliver that clutch hit (I previously said it was a double; guess it just seemed too big to be "merely" a single) -- I'm just saying I think it made sense to give him the night "off."

5.) Luis Castillo could be back tomorrow, but I have to say that I don't see a reason to rush him back. Give Alexi Casilla those two starts, rest Castillo until Tuesday in Tampa, and go from there. Incidentally, Gardy supposedly didn't want to put pressure on Casilla by starting him in a tough inter-divisional road game. I say, why not? Show the kid what big league pressure is all about, and see how he takes it. I can't imagine anything so traumatic would have happened that he'd have lost confidence in his abilities. It's not like a guy making a start and getting destroyed -- there's only so much that can go wrong for a hitter.

6.) Sounds like Jeff Cirillo is going to be ready to come back on Tuesday as well. Let the debate begin: Josh Rabe or Glen Perkins to AAA? Personally (and I hate myself for saying this), I kind of like the flexibility in the bullpen that 12 guys gives Gardy. I say Rabe should be heading down. Of course, if the Twins make that move, they'll have to start either Jason Kubel or Jason Tyner in LF every day, and there would often be no good backup option in the outfield. That might be dangerous -- and that's probably why Perkins will be the guy getting optioned out when this series is over.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Minor League Transactions Update

The Twins have signed a couple of minor league catchers, according to Baseball America.

The first is Jason Anthony, who appears to be 22-year-old righty out of Van Nuys, California who played in 10 games for the GCL Dodgers last season (that's the extent of his professional experience, so far as I can tell). Anthony hit .286 with a homer in those 10 ball games, so if the small sample size can be trusted (and really, it can't), he might be decent at the plate. I wouldn't expect to see him in action until the short-season leagues get underway, when he could end up playing either in the GCL or with Elizabethton, depending on where the organization needs the depth.

The other catcher is David Hernandez, and I think I might have found some information about him on The Baseball Cube. The thing is, that site often gets biographical information wrong, and even more often it mixes up two players who have the same name. In this case, it has Hernandez catching in the Angels organization in 2004 after being drafted in the 19th round that summer, but then has him pitching in 2005 and 2006 in the Baltimore organization. Now, this is entirely possible -- minor leaguers often switch positions (Joe Nathan, after all, started off as a shortstop -- check out the 1995 batting stats), so it's certainly possible that this is the same Hernandez. I'm still somewhat doubtful. What we can probably be comfortable with is that the David Hernandez signed as a Catcher by the Twins is the one who hit .257 in 109 at-bats for the Arizona Angels (rookie league) in 2004. As with Anthony, don't expect to see him play until the short-season leagues start up in June.

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Nightly Notes: Game #22

Finally! It seems like it's been forever since the Twins last won a ballgame, but the monkey is off the teams back as they head into Detroit for a three game set against the Tigers. Unfortunately, the Twins would need to sweep the Tigers just to get to .500 against the AL Central for the year, and a sweep in Detroit is unlikely. Here are today's notes:

1.) Boof has done it again. Despite having some solid numbers (0 runs and just 3 hits allowed in 5 innings of work), his pitch count was a major issue today as he needed 108 pitches to get through those 5 innings. Part of that was his 8 strikeouts, which generally take a lot of pitches. However, his eight walks didn't help matters. If Bonser is going to become a legitimate threat as a Major League pitcher, he needs to get a grip on his control, and he needs to figure out how to polish off hitters more efficiently. Strikeouts are great, but not if it takes 8 or 9 pitches to get them. At least Bonser broke the string of consecutive games with a homerun allowed, which had become a bit embarrassing for him, I'm sure.

2.) Really, there's no way to complain about the bullpen work on display in this game. The Royals helped the Twins out a bit today with some really, really poor baserunning, but it's still nice when you can get 6 shutout innings from the 'pen with just 2 hits and 3 walks allowed.

3.) Torii Hunter doesn't appear to have been hurt too badly when he was hit in the mouth, needing a couple of stitches but nothing more severe. Clearly, though, you have to expect that he'll miss a couple of days as he recovers, and this leaves the Twins even more short-handed than they had been. If Luis Castillo isn't healthy enough to return this weekend against the Tigers, the Twins should seriously consider putting him on the DL retroactive to the last game he played in order to get another body on the team that Gardy could play around with late. Heck, call up Denard Span and use him as a pinch runner for a week until Castillo could be activated. The alternative, of course, would be to send Glen Perkins down, stick with 11 pitchers, and add someone to the team that way.

4.) Some of the final procedural steps to getting the Twins ballpark situation completed are being taken care of today. Like I said before, the problems that have caused some delays to this process moving forward aren't significant enough to scuttle the deal.

5.) The Tigers have shifted their rotation so that the Twins will face both Nate Robertson and Mike Maroth this weekend in Detroit. Considering how great the Twins have made opposing lefties look this year, you can only call this a smart move. Hopefully the bats will get hot anyway. May is going to be a very tough month for the Twins, so they need to turn things around in a hurry, or there are going to be some problems.

6.) I've seen a few mock drafts now that have Brady Quinn falling to the the Vikings in Saturday's draft. So, despite the fact that I rarely comment on this blog on things other than the Twins, I ask you, my gentle readers, this question in all seriousness: Should I be excited about the possibility of Quinn in purple, or should I be mortified? Right now, I'm on the fence . . .


Down on the Farm: Low A Report

Beloit Snappers (8-7)
T-3rd -- Midwest League Western Division

Snappers Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Jeff Manship - 4 starts [2 starts]
2.) Cole Devries - 2 starts, 2 RA [1 start]
3.) Adam Hawes - 3 starts [1 start]
4.) Alex Burnett - 3 starts [1 start]
5.) Jose Lugo - 3 starts [1 start]

Who's Hot: Jeff Manship continues to roll on through the Midwest League, picking up his first win and going 13.2 innings and giving up just 2 runs on 6 hits with 12 K's and just 2 walks in his two starts this week. Manship now has a 1.08 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP in 25 innings, and a very solid 28-2 K-BB ratio. At what point does the promotion watch start? My guess is mid-May . . . Cole Devries also had a solid week, going 5 innings and giving up 2 unearned runs on 4 hits and a walk with 6 K's. Devries has a 0.73 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 12.1 innings to go along with an 11-4 K-BB ratio. Finally, Alex Burnett went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with a walk and 5 K's. His season ERA sits at 4.50 and his WHIP at 1.29 in 14 innings to go along with a 14-4 K-BB ratio.

Who's Not: Adam Hawes had the worst start of the week for the Snappers, going 4.1 innings and giving up 3 runs on 6 hits with 3 walks and 4 K's. He still has solid season numbers, with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in 15.1 innings. Jose Lugo, meanwhile, went 4.2 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 4 walks and 3 K's. He's had the roughest time amongst the Snappers starters this season, with an ERA of 5.25 and a WHIP of 1.92 in 12 innings this year.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Adam Revelette - 7 RA [2 RA]
2.) Armando Gabino - 5 RA [2 RA]
3.) Robert Delaney - 5 RA [2 RA]
4.) Danny Vais - 5 RA [2 RA]
5.) Dan Leatherman - 5 RA [2 RA]
6.) Sean Land - 5 RA [2 RA]
7.) Danny Hernandez - 5 RA [2 RA]

Who's Hot: Armando Gabino went 2.2 innings and gave up just 2 hits while striking out 4 this week to lower his season ERA to 0.90 with a 1.00 WHIP and a 7-1 K-BB ratio. Danny Hernandez also had a decent week, going 2.1 innings and allowing just 1 run on 3 hits with 3 K's -- his season ERA is now sitting at 1.42 and his WHIP at 0.95 along with a 7-2 K-BB ratio.

Who's Not: Sean Land went 2.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. Land still has a solid 2.57 ERA on the season and a 1.57 WHIP in 7 innings of work. Adam Revelette went 0.2 innings in 2 appearances, and while he didn't allow any runs, he did give up 2 hits on 2 walks with 1 K. His season ERA sits at 3.00 and his WHIP is a horrendous 3.33 in 3 innings of work.

1.) Greg Yersich - C(9) [C(3)]
2.) Allan de San Miguel - C(7) [C(3)]

Who's Hot: Uhhhh -- empty set.

Who's Not: Greg Yersich went 0-for-9 this week and is hitting .103 on the season, while Allan de San Miguel went 2-for-10 (his first 2 hits of the season) to bring his batting average to a towering .100 (although he did hit his first HR of the season). Ugh.

1.) Garrett Olson - 3B(6), SS(4), DH(2), LF(2), 1B(3) [3B(2), SS(2), LF(2), 1B(1)]
2.) Johnny Woodard - 1B(13), DH(1) [1B(5), DH(1)]
3.) Danny Valencia - 3B(8), DH(5), 1B(1) [DH(3), 3B(2)]
4.) Brian Dinkelman - 2B(13) [2B(4)]
5.) Yancarlos Ortiz - SS(12) [SS(5)]
6.) Daniel Berg - DH(6), 3B(3), 1B(1) [DH(2), 3B(2)]
7.) William Luque - SS(5), 2B(3), 3B(2) [2B(2), 3B(1), SS(1)]
DL - Andrew Thompson
DL - Paul Kelly

Who's Hot: Johnny Woodard went 8-for-19 this week and stole a base. He's hitting .289 with a .794 OPS on the season, although his 12 K's in 38 AB's is a little high. Danny Valencia also continues to smack the ball, going 7-for-19 on the week including his 4th homerun of the year, and is now hitting .354 on the season with a 1.082 OPS with 10 RBI's and 3 stolen bases. Finally, Brian Dinkelman also had a solid week, going 5-for-16 to raise his season average to .289 with a .940 OPS.

Who's Not: William Luque went 1-for-10 this week and is hitting just .120 on the season. Danny Berg, meanwhile, had a reasonable 4-for-13 week but is still hitting just .167 for the year.

1.) Chris Parmelee - RF(10), LF(3), DH(1) [RF(5), LF(1)]
2.) Joe Benson - CF(13) [CF(4)]
3.) Danny Santiesteban - RF(4), LF(3), CF(2) [CF(2), RF(1)]
4.) Mark Robinson - LF(8), RF(2) [LF(4), RF(1)]

Who's Hot: Chris Parmelee continues to bring his average up, going 7-for-22 on the week, including hitting his 2nd HR of the season. His season average is still at a low .240 with a .789 OPS. The biggest problem for Parmelee is that he's struck out an amazing 23 times in just 50 at-bats -- which is just really, really bad.

Who's Not: Joe Benson went just 1-for-13 this week and is hitting just .146 on the season with a .424 OPS, and further, like Parmelee he has struck out a horrid 16 times in 48 at-bats. Mark Robinson also went 1-for-13 this week and is hitting just .125 with a .268 OPS with 10 K's in 32 at-bats. Strikeouts are an epidemic with this team!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #21

The losses are starting to get a little old, especially that they're coming against the weakest of the AL Central teams, and the Twins just don't seem to be generating any offense to speak of. Here are tonight's abbreviated notes:

1.) Ponson -- eh -- couldn't really ask for much more. I've been letting other starters get away with 6 innings and 4 runs, so fairness dictates that I not be too harsh on Ponson for this performance. Again, the Twins offense needs to pick it up. This was by no means a great outing for Ponson, but it also wasn't that bad, and it's very likely he pitched himself into another start.

2.) Torii Hunter is still ridiculous -- 23 hits this season, including 13 doubles, 4 homers, and 4 singles. What on earth is in the water at his house?

3.) Too bad to hear about Rondell White's injury setback. It looks like Jeff Cirillo is going to make it back to the lineup before Rondell, which considering the fact that Cirillo needed surgery is kind of amazing. Cirillo's bat will be quite welcome in the DH spot -- a position that the Twins seem determined not to use White in. And Luis Castillo -- well, who knows when he'll be back. Frankly, watching Alexi Casilla play isn't such a bad thing.

That's it for tonight folks -- time to correct some papers. Hopefully there will be some better news tomorrow after the finale with the Royals -- like, ya know, a win.


Down on the Farm: High A Report

Ft. Myers Miracle (9-9)
3rd Place -- Florida State League West

Miracle Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Kyle Waldrop - 4 starts [1 start]
2.) Oswaldo Sosa - 4 starts [2 starts]
3.) Ryan Mullins - 3 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
4.) Jay Rainville - 3 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
5.) Alexander Smit - 3 starts [1 start]

Who's Hot: Kyle Waldrop had the best start of the week, going 7 innings and giving up just 1 run on 5 hits with 6 K's. Waldrop has been very solid all season, posting a 2.11 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP in 21.1 innings to go along with a great 21-3 K-BB ratio. Jay Rainville also had a solid start, going 5.1 innings and giving up just an unearned run on 6 hits and a walk with 6 K's. His season starts are also quite solid, with a 1.17 ERA in 15.1 innings and a WHIP of 1.37 (and a not as spectacular 9-4 K-BB ratio). Finally, Ryan Mullins went 7 innings in his start, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 10, although he was the hard-luck loser in the game and is 0-2 on the season. His ERA sits at 3.26, but his 1.14 WHIP and 22-3 K-BB ratio in 19.1 innings are very solid.

Who's Not: Oswaldo Sosa made 2 starts this week, one of which was alright and one of which was quite bad. For the week, he went 7.2 innings and allowed 6 runs on 13 hits. His season ERA is at 6.60, and he has a 2.07 WHIP in 15 innings.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Zach Ward - 5 RA [2 RA]
2.) David Shinskie - 5 RA [2 RA]
3.) Eduardo Morlan - 5 RA [2 RA]
4.) Kyle Aselton - 5 RA [2 RA]
5.) Yohan Pino - 5 RA [1 RA]
6.) Angel Garcia - 5 RA [1 RA]
7.) Frank Mata - 5 RA [2 RA]
8.) Joshua Hill - 4 RA [1 RA]

Who's Hot: Frank Mata went 3.2 innings this week and allowed just 1 hit while picking up a K, giving him a season ERA of 1.29 in 7 innings of work. Zach Ward, meanwhile, went 5.1 innings and allowed just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 7. That gives him a 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings this season to go along with a 0.75 WHIP and a 10-3 K-BB ratio. Finally, in his one appearance this week, Yohan Pino went 1.2 innings with 2 K's to keep his ERA perfect at 0.00 to go along with a 0.71 WHIP and a 9-3 K-BB.

Who's Not: Angel Garcia picked up a loss and went 1.2 innings and gave up 2 runs on 2 hits with a walk and a strikeout in his lone appearance of the week. His season ERA sits at 2.57 in 7 innings, and he has a 1.00 WHIP and an 8-4 K-BB ratio. David Shinskie, meanwhile, went 3 innings and gave up 4 runs in 2 appearances on the week, to put his season ERA at 3.86 in 9.1 innings to go along with a WHIP of 1.50.

1.) Caleb Moore - C(7), DH(2) [C(2), DH(2)]
2.) Javier Sanchez - C(5), DH(2) [C(1), DH(1)]
3.) Jeff Christy - C(6), DH(1) [C(3)]

Who's Hot: Jeff Christy went 4-for-10 this week to raise his season batting average to .261, although he's still lacking an RBI and has made 2 errors in the field.

Who's Not: Caleb Moore really struggled this week, going just 2-for-15 to drop his season average to .214. Javi Sanchez, meanwhile, went 2-for-8 and is hitting .158 on the season. Like Christy, he's already made 2 errors on the season, but at least he has an RBI in the stat column.

1.) Steven Tolleson - SS(13), 2B(2), DH(2) [SS(6)]
2.) Juan Portes - 2B(15), RF(2) [2B(6)]
3.) Whitney Robbins - 1B(8), DH(5), 3B(2) [1B(3), DH(2)]
4.) Toby Gardenhire - 3B(11), SS(2) [3B(4)]
5.) Matthew Betsill - 1B(4), 3B(4), SS(2) [3B(2), 1B(1)]

Who's Hot: Whit Robbins went 6-for-24 this week to raise his batting average to a team-leading .327 to go along with 10 RBI's and an .884 OPS. On the downside, he has made 3 errors. Also having a decent week at the plate was Steven Tolleson, who went 6-for-24, dropping his average a little to .274 on the season. He too has made 3 errors on the season.

Who's Not: Toby Gardenhire had a pretty tough week, going 2-for-14, bringing his season batting average to .178 to go along with a .413 OPS and 3 errors. Juan Portes, meanwhile, went 4-for-22 to settle in at .219 for the season with a .541 OPS.

1.) Erik Lis - LF(10), 1B(5), DH(2) [LF(4), 1B(2)]
2.) Dwayne White - RF(11), LF(2), DH(2) [RF(3), LF(2), DH(1)]
3.) Eli Tintor - CF(11), RF(3) [RF(3), CF(1)]
4.) Edward Ovalle - CF(7), LF(6), RF(1), DH(1) [CF(6), LF(1)]

Who's Hot: Erik Lis continued his recovery from a slow start by going 7-for-21 while belting his 2nd homerun of the season and having a 4 RBI game. On the season, he's now hitting .293 with 2 homers and 13 RBI's and a .906 OPS and keeping his strikeout rate low at just 7. Edward Ovalle also had a solid week, going 6-for-20 to bring his season average to .250 with a .700 OPS, 9 RBI's, and a HR.

Who's Not: Only Eli Tintor comes close, with a 3-for-12 week, although he did hit his first homer of the year and picked up 4 RBI's in one game. Unfortunately, he's hitting just .163 on the season and has struck out 18 times in just 49 at-bats.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #20

Well folks, there's no denying that things are starting to get ugly. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Johan went 7 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits with 1 walk and 7 K's. That sounds like a winning line to me, and it's again unfortunate that the Twins couldn't buckle down and put some runs on the board. This was not vintage Santana, but it's not like he got rocked either.

2.) Matt Guerrier continues to throw the ball well, even though he allowed a run tonight. I have far more confidence in him this year than I ever have before, and that's nice to see. If tonight's game did nothing else, it at least gave the other 6 relievers in the bullpen a breather, and that could play a role over the next 5 days against the Royals and Tigers.

3.) You knew it had to happen eventually -- Torii Hunter has been having so much success at stretching singles into doubles, it was almost inevitable that he would take a ridiculous risk one of these games. Tonight, after hitting a solid single, he decided to push it for two and got absolutely nailed. I like the aggressiveness, Torii, but you've got to be a little smarter about it.

4.) It was very nice to see Jason Kubel have a solid game tonight. Hopefully that can carry over -- the Twins need someone other than the big 3 to start driving in runs, and Kubel could be that guy.

5.) Sounds like Rondell is just a couple of days away from returning. The Twins will either send Josh Rabe or Glen Perkins down when White is activated (unless Luis Castillo has to go on the DL, which seems unlikely). My guess is it will be Rabe, despite what Ron Gardenhire said recently about not being to certain about White's abilityt o move around.

6.) Very important series for the Twins starting tomorrow against the Royals. They badly need to get back on track. Of course, that means that Sidney Ponson is going to have to have a good start, and frankly I'm not so optimistic about that.


Down on the Farm: AA Report

New Britain Rock Cats (4-7)
T-4th -- Eastern League Northern Division

Rock Cats Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Brad Baker - 2 starts, 2 RA [1 start, 1 RA]
2.) Nick Blackburn - 3 starts [1 start]
3.) J.P. Martinez - 1 start, 3 RA [1 start, 1 RA]
4.) Jesse Floyd - 2 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
5.) Brian Duensing - 2 starts [1 start]
Inactive - Anthony Swarzak

Who's Hot: Brian Duensing had the best start of the week for the Rock Cats, going 5.2 innings and giving up 2 runs on 5 hits with a walk and 4 K's. On the season, Duensing has a very solid 2.16 ERA in 8.1 innings to go along with a 1.32 WHIP and a 7-2 K-BB ratio. Nick Blackburn also had a respectable start, going 5 innings and allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits. His season ERA is on the high side at 5.25, but his WHIP of 1.33 isn't bad. I don't know what to make of his remarkably low 2-1 K-BB ratio.

Who's Not: J.P. Martinez made a start in place of the suspended Anthony Swarzak, although I don't know whether the Twins are actually going to build up his arm strength and have him legitimately become a starter, or whether they'll just have "starts by committee" until Swarzak returns. Either way, Martinez's first official start wasn't pretty -- he went 2 innings and gave up 3 runs on 5 hits with a walk and a K. On the season, he has a 3.38 ERA in 8 innings of work to go along with a solid 1.25 WHIP and a 7-4 K-BB ratio. Jesse Floyd also struggled this week, giving up 6 runs (4 earned) off of 4 hits and 3 walks in 4.1 innings of work while striking out 3. Floyd hasn't shown much yet, with a season ERA of 6.75 in 13.1 innings of work.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Tim Lahey - 5 RA [2 RA]
2.) Jose Mijares - 5 RA [2 RA]
3.) Brian Forystek - 4 RA [2 RA]
4.) Jay Sawatski - 4 RA [2 RA]
5.) Danny Powers - 4 RA [2 RA]
6.) Tristan Crawford

Who's Hot: Well -- not too many guys. Jose Mijares did pitch 4 innings, allowing just 1 run on 1 hit and a walk while striking out 6 batters and picking up a save. On the season, he has a 1.35 ERA in 6.2 innings, a WHIP of 0.45, and a 5-2 K-BB ratio.

Who's Not: Everyone else. For starters, Tristan Crawford -- who was rocked in three appearances with the Red Wings -- has been demoted to AA and will be joining the New Britain bullpen. Since it was a demotion, I'm putting him in the "Not Hot" category. However, he could be joined here by just about every one of the Rock Cats relievers this week. Jay Sawatski probably had the worst week, giving up 4 runs in 3.1 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks. That puts his season ERA at 10.50 with a 2.17 WHIP on the season. Brian Forystek, meanwhile, gave up 3 runs in 5 innings on 6 hits and 2 walks, although he did strike out 6 batters. He has a 5.00 ERA on the season with a 1.67 WHIP. The rest is pretty much the same, so you get the idea. Incidentally, the worst ERA on the team right now belongs to Danny Powers, with a gaudy 14.29 ERA in 5.2 innings of work, and a 3.18 WHIP. Ouch!

1.) Korey Feiner - C(7) [C(3)]
2.) Kyle Geiger - C(5) [C(2)]

Who's Hot: Somebody forget to tell these guys that they're solid defensively but struggle at the plate. Feiner went 2-for-6 this week, including an 0-0 game in which he walked 4 times. Geiger went 3-for-6 this week. On the season, Feiner is hitting .474 with an OPS of 1.194, and Geiger is hitting .385 with an OPS of 1.005. Neither has made an error. Frankly, I don't know what's going on, but I like it!

Who's Not: Nada.

1.) Brian Buscher - 3B(6), DH(3), 1B(1) [3B(3), DH(2)]
2.) Brock Peterson - 1B(7), DH(2) [1B(4)]
3.) Trevor Plouffe - SS(9) [SS(4)]
4.) Felix Molina - 2B(7), DH(2) [2B(4), DH(1)]
5.) David Winfree - 3B(4), 1B(2), DH(2) [3B(2)]
6.) Luke Hughes - 2B(4), DH(2) [DH(2), 2B(1)]
7.) Gil Velazquez - SS(2), 3B(2), 1B(1) [3B(1), SS(1), 1B(1)]

Who's Hot: This list has to begin with Brian Buscher, who went 8-for-21 this week, including his first HR of the year, a 3 RBI game, and a couple of 2 RBI games. His batting average rose to .286 on the season, and his OPS is now at .857. David Winfree also had a good week early, going 3-for-7 to raise his average to .333 on the season. However, he hasn't played since Friday, so I assume he's nursing a minor injury of sorts (I say minor because to my knowledge he hasn't been placed on the DL).

Who's Not: Gil Velazquez continues to struggle, going 0-for-7 this week to drop his batting average to .154 on the season. Of greater concern to the Rock Cats, Brock Peterson went just 2-for-15 this week and is hitting .152 on the season with a .489 OPS. He left yesterday's ballgame after just 1 at-bat as well, so there's either an injury situation there or he got tossed from the game. Either way, the problems continue to mount for Peterson.

1.) Garrett Guzman - LF(10) [LF(4)]
2.) Brandon Roberts - CF(10) [CF(5)]
3.) Matt Allegra - RF(9) [RF(4)]
4.) Rashad Eldridge - RF(2), CF(1), LF(1) [LF(1), RF(1)]

Who's Hot: Unfortunately, no one had a great week.

Who's Not: Rashad Eldridge went 0-for-7 for the week and is hitting just .071 on the season. Garrett Guzman went 3-for-15, but at least is still hitting .310 on the season. Matt Allegra (3-for-17 on the week, .194 on the season) and Brandon Roberts (2-for-21 on the week, .186 on the season) also had rough weeks.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #19

Bert was right at the end of the ballgame (if you stayed up for it) -- this really wasn't a bad game, it just had a really bad ending. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Carlos Silva had a reasonably strong start tonight. It wasn't brilliant work, but really he made just one bad mistake and got rocked for a three-run bomb. Part of his undoing was actually his high strikeout total -- or, I should say, the high strikeout total was indicative of a problem. When Silva is on, he gets guys to put the ball in play relatively quickly. Picking up 6 K's indicated that things weren't going according to plan, and his pitch count got very high. As a result, he lasted just 5 innings and gave up the three runs. I'll take this from Silva -- it's better than I expected coming into this season -- but it would still be nice if he could go 6+. Incidentally, Silva shouldn't be blamed at all for this loss -- the Twins should be scoring more than 3 runs in a game.

2.) As ugly as things at the end of the ballgame, the early effort of the bullpen was great. Glen Perkins had a very nice 2.1 innings, Juan Rincon looked solid in 1.1 innings, and Pat Neshek was his usual dominant self. Even Jesse Crain, who was easily tonight's goat, had a solid first inning of work. We can't just ignore what happened in his second inning -- he flat out got rocked -- but, as I've said all year, I think this is an anomaly. Again, as always, if he does it again then it will be a problem. One time is just a blip.

3.) Alexi Casilla and Jason Bartlett both had strong games, but Nick Punto regressed a bit by going 0-for-5. At least he hit a couple of balls hard, although they were hit right to the center-fielder. With Luis Castillo still hurting, it looks like Alexi Casilla will have a regular starting job for at least another few days. The interesting question is what happens when Castillo returns to the lineup -- and you at least have to ask the question whether Nick Punto may be in trouble there. Third base is not a position that Casilla would normally be asked to play, but he's a good athlete with a strong arm, and there's no reason to think he couldn't play there.

4.) The Torii Hunter absurdity continues. Another double, and another homerun. The man simply refuses to hit singles. Not that I'm complaining . . .

5.) Joe Mauer is now hitting .400 on the season. As I write this, Vlad Guerrero is 0-0 with a couple of walks, so his batting average is also sitting at .400. It seems like Mauer can just be chalked up for a couple hits every night now. It's still very early, of course, but is it possible that he could actually be better this year than he was last year? How scary does THAT thought have to be to the rest of the league? By the way, some guy named A-Rod is also hitting .400 after a 4-5 night and two more homeruns, which puts him at 14. Now that's absurd. Best part about the A-Rod story, though -- it's not really making much difference. The Yankees pitching is so bad that the team is just 8-10. That is truly a feel good story for the rest of the league.


Down on the Farm: AAA Report

Rochester Red Wings (7-3)
T-1st Place -- International League North Division

Red Wings Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Matt Garza - 3 starts [1 start]
2.) Scott Baker - 2 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
3.) Kevin Slowey - 2 starts [1 start]
4.) Dave Gassner - 2 starts [1 start]
5.) Jeremy Cummings - 1 start, 3 RA [1 start]

Who's Hot: Scott Baker had the best week on the staff, amongst a number of solid performances. He went 8 innings on Friday, allowing just 3 hits and striking out 8 batters in picking up his first win of the season. So far, Baker has posted an ERA of 1.69 on the season in 16 innings to go along with a 0.88 WHIP and a 16-3 K-BB ratio. I'm not a big Baker guy, because of his past inability to put things together at the Major League level, but if he keeps pitching like this, he'll be right back in the discussion of which young gun gets a shot if one of the Twins veterans (or Boof) fizzles out. Amongst other solid performances, Kevin Slowey went 5.2 innings and allowed just 3 hits while striking out 9 in picking up a win on the 19th, in the first game of a doubleheader when the Red Wings finally started to play baseball again after four straight postponements. He has a dazzling 0.00 ERA and a 0.51 WHIP along with an 11-0 K-BB ratio so far this year. And finally, Jeremy Cummings has finally worked his way into the rotation after Glen Perkins was called up to add depth to the Twins bullpen. He went 4 innings (still building up arm-strength, I assume) and allowed just 3 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8 (!) in his first Red Wings start, dropping his season ERA to 0.82 and his WHIP to 0.91 and a K-BB ratio of 15-2. I really like what he's shown so far.

Who's Not: It wasn't a terrible performance, but Matt Garza's start on the 19th wasn't on par with what the rest of the rotation has been doing. He went 5 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits with 2 walks and 5 K's. On the season, he has a very good 2.77 ERA and a not-so-good 1.85 WHIP, along with a so-so 12-9 K-BB ratio.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Julio DePaula - 6 RA [3 RA]
2.) Mike Venafro - 6 RA [3 RA]
3.) Bobby Korecky - 6 RA [3 RA]
4.) Brian Bass - 3 RA [1 RA]
5.) Tristan Crawford - 3 RA [1 RA]
6.) Carmen Cali - 2 RA [1 RA]
7.) Jason Miller - 2 RA
DL - Ricky Barrett

Who's Hot: After a disastrous first game of the season, Mike Venafro has managed to get back on track, going 2.2 innings this week and allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks. That's a fairly high whip, but the fact that he hasn't allowed a run since that disastrous opener merits his inclusion on this list. His season ERA is still a lofty 6.75, but it's falling. His WHIP, sitting at 2.10, also needs some more work, and his 2-4 K-BB ratio isn't all that great either. But hey, as long as he keeps getting people out, those numbers will go down. Julio DePaula also had a solid week, going 4 innings and giving up just 1 walk while striking out 3 batters. He has a respectable 3.48 season ERA to go along with a very good 1.06 WHIP and a very suspect 3-6 K-BB ratio.

Who's Not: Just because it was so bad on the ERA, I'm putting Carmen Cali first. His one appearance this week was a ZERO inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk performance. Not good. His season ERA is a preposterous 27.00, but that's in a grand total of 0.1 inning of work. His WHIP? An ugly 6.00. Brian Bass, meanwhile, gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in 2 innings of work in his lone appearance of the week (to go along with 2 K's). He has a 9.00 ERA on the season to go along with a 1.75 WHIP. At least his K-BB ratio is 2-0.

1.) Matthew LeCroy - DH(9), C(1) [DH(4)]
2.) Jose Morales - C(7), DH(1) [C(3), DH(1)]
3.) Chris Heintz - C(3) [C(2)]

Who's Hot: It's not much, but Chris Heintz went 2-for-7 this week and is now hitting .231 on the season. Seriously, that's as hot as it gets behind the plate for the Red Wings right now.

Who's Not: Why not start with Matt LeCroy, who went just 2-for-15 this week and is hitting a woeful .162 in 37 at-bats so far this season. At least he's not getting much playing time behind the plate. Meanwhile, Jose Morales is also struggling, going 3-for-15 this week. His season batting average is a still respectable .276, with an OPS of .633.

1.) Matt Tolbert - 2B(8), SS(2) [2B(5)]
2.) Tommy Watkins - SS(10), 2B(2) [SS(5)]
3.) Matt Moses - 3B(11) [3B(5)]
4.) Glenn Williams - 1B(8) [1B(2)]

Who's Hot: Matt Tolbert hit 4-for-13 this week, including (somewhat unexpectedly) his first Red Wings homer. On the season, he's hitting a red-hot .370 with a rather outrageous 1.061 OPS, 3 RBI, and 7 runs scored. Unfortunately, he has made 4 errors in the field, detracting somewhat from his solid start offensively. Also having a good week was Tommy Watkins, who went 4-for-14 to bring his season batting average to .270 to go along with a .861 OPS. He also stole a couple bases in one game this week, bringing his season total to 3.

Who's Not: Matt Moses is still struggling mightily at the plate, going just 3-for-17 this week to bring his season average down to .167 with a .353 OPS. Even worse, he's up to 5 errors in the field. He has just 1 RBI to this point, and 12 K's in 42 at-bats. Needless to say, things aren't going quite as planned so far for Moses.

1.) Garrett Jones - RF(5), 1B(3), LF(3), DH(1) [1B(3), RF(2)]
2.) Denard Span - CF(11) [CF(5)]
3.) Doug Deeds - RF(7), DH(2) [RF(3), DH(1)]
4.) Trent Oeltjen - LF(7), CF(1) [LF(5)]

Who's Hot: Garrett Jones strung together a great week, going 7-for-19 with 2 homeruns. On the season, he's hitting .333 with a .936 OPS and 11 RBI's. Even better, he's keeping his strikeout numbers own, with just 7 in 45 at-bats. If he keeps hitting like this, he could find himself playing at the Major League level at some point this season (especially considering the poor performance of Josh Rabe on his recent callup). Denard Span also had a solid week, going 6-for-19, including a 3 RBI game last Friday. Span is still struggling on the season, hitting just .222 with 10 K's in 45 at-bats -- and he's not a guy who should be striking out a lot. Nonetheless, at least the batting average started to go north this week.

Who's Not: Doug Deeds went just 3-for-13 this week, and is hitting just .200 this year with 12 K's in just 30 at-bats. He also has yet to drive in a run.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #18

Another day, another performance by the Twins that made a not-great starting pitcher look like a Cy Young candidate. Ho hum. Not a lot to say about today's game -- here are today's notes:

1.) Hard to blame today's loss on Ramon Ortiz. He was pretty sharp for most of the day, with 2 of the 3 runs he allowed coming thanks to one bad pitch. He may not have picked up his 4th win today, but my confidence when watching him pitch just continues to grow. I'm fully prepared now to say that this was a great signing by the Twins (hopefully he can avoid making me look foolish for saying that!).

2.) Jason Bartlett needs to figure out what's wrong. He made another error today on a pretty routine grounder. I still think that he's the Twins shortstop of the immediate future, but he's doing his best to make that an untenable position to take. There's only so much you can blame on a groin injury.

3.) It probably wouldn't have made much of a difference in the end, but if I had been managing today's game for the Twins I probably would have pinch hit Jason Kubel for Mike Redmond in the 9th. And was it just me, or did the strike zone in the 9th seem like it was just absolutely huge?

4.) The tone for today's game was set in the first inning, when the Twins loaded the bases with 1 out and then proceeded to not get anybody in. I can't blame Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter too much, because they've been delivering all season (and because Torii tagged the ball pretty good in his at bat), but really, you need to score in that situation. Just one run there very well could have changed the game substantially.

5.) Sounds like Gardy is talking about bringing up a 3rd Catcher again. This leads me to believe that if Luis Castillo needs to go on the DL, Chris Heintz will be called up. Things could get a little wacky, though, if Rondell White recovers to the point that the Twins decide to activate him. Gardy doesn't sound like he wants to send down Josh Rabe right now, so Glen Perkins could be going back down. Really, it's kind of a mess with all the injuries and position issues. My best guess? Castillo goes on the DL tonight or tomorrow morning, White is activated at the same time, Rabe is sent down, and Heintz is called up. I have absolutely no information indicating that this is what's going to happen -- just idle speculation on my part.

6.) The Twins have 2 games against Cleveland and 2 games against Kansas City this week before heading to Detroit for the weekend. We'll see if they can get the bats going again tomorrow against the Tribe. Oh, and before you get too bummed about the Royals series, consider that the Twins went 4-2 on the just-completed road trip, which is very good. It could've been better, of course, but it really wasn't that bad.


Marty's Podcast

I almost forgot to put something up on this, but I will be back on Marty's podcast tonight at 6 pm CT. The show is live, and has a call-in number (it's on the website I've linked to above) if you'd like to participate. I'm not sure whether it'll be just Marty and me or whether there will be other guests as well.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #17

Another sloppy game, but this one turned out alright, with the Twins picking up the win and staying in first place for another day heading into tomorrow's rubber game. Here are today's notes:

1.) Boof, Boof, Boof. I don't know what to say, man! The curve -- well, it's very good. And it's quite clear that he has the ability to get guys out. But he's throwing far, far too many pitches (87 through 5.0 innings today), and is getting himself into some outright battles with hitters. On top of that, of course, is the rather disturbing fact that he gave up 5 runs (albeit only 3 earned) today, and has an ERA of 6.53 through four starts. Sidney Ponson is the more immediate problem, but if Boof doesn't settle down and figure some things out, he too could find himself in the untenable position of having to justify his job every time out -- and that's an awful lot of pressure. I still believe that he belongs in the rotation, but he's going to have to start pitching like he belongs there.

2.) Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan both struck out the side in their respective innings of work, with Neshek picking up the win and Nathan getting the save. This was the kind of outing that Nathan needed, even if he did get an awfully friendly call by the ump on his second K. Meanwhile, great job by Jesse Crain in briding the cap between Dennys Reyes and Joe Nathan tonight.

3.) Luis Castillo may be going on the DL when the Twins get back to Minnesota (we're sort of in a holding pattern with him like we were with Nick Punto last week). If he does, Alexi Casilla and Luis Rodriguez will get the playing time at 2B, but the more interesting question is who the Twins will bring up to replace him. The same options as with Punto are essentially on the table: (1) Chris Heintz, who can catch and play 3B, (2) Glenn Williams, who can play anywhere in the infield -- although shortstop would be a bit dubious, or (3) Tommy Watkins, who would primarily be used up the middle. Heintz seems the most likely option to me if Castillo does, indeed, need to go on the DL.

4.) Nick Punto went 2-for-4 today and is now up to hitting .200. Since he's returned to the lineup, he's played pretty well -- getting hits, stealing bases, running around aggressively, playing solid defense. Give him another week and I predict he'll be hitting around .275, and some of the talk about how Punto shouldn't be starting will start to die down a little bit.

5.) Joe Mauer is amazing. He's hitting .386 this season. But Joe, there was no reason to try to get to third on a ball that was popped up to the pitching mound. I mean, it was kind of a cutesy little play -- the third baseman was nowhere near the bag, and Joe probably figured he could catch the Royals sleeping. But Joe, the next time the urge to advance a base on a ball that goes further into the air than it does away from the plate, I urge you to reign it in.

6.) I was getting ready to make fun of Marty for always advocating that Mike Redmond should be in the lineup everyday because he's a good hitter, since Redmond started off pretty poorly at the plate. In the last couple of days, however, he's turned it around and, after a 3-for-4, 3 RBI day he's hitting .267. Go figure.

7.) Torii Hunter actually singled today, something that he's done with great infrequency this year. Of course, he balanced it out with his 11th double of the season (that would be 17 hits, broken down as 5 singles, 11 doubles, and 1 HR). Ridiculous. In less positive move, he was caught stealing late in the game, which ends the Twins ridiculous streak of successful stolen bases to start the season.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #16

Yuck. There was very little in tonight's game that was positive, but this kind of game is going to turn up from time to time, and teams (and fans) just have to slog through. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Well, Sir Sidney sure is trying to make things interesting. He managed to go just 4.1 innings tonight, allowing 6 runs on 10 hits with a walk. He actually didn't look terrible until the fifth inning, but things got very bad after that. Yesterday, I suggested that today was a make-or-break start for Ponson, because he was pitching against the Royals and because Glen Perkins was on the team ready to go. I still stand by that statement, but Perkins may not have done himself any favors with a weak performance in relief of Ponson. I think that if Perkins had been sharp tonight, the Twins would have let him go about 3 innings, and that he would have been slotted into the rotation to take Ponson's start the next time through. Now, I'm not so sure. Ponson has been horrible, and I would not keep him around any longer. He's demonstrated that, unlike Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Silva, there just isn't anything left in the tank. It's time to give someone else a shot. Again, the only saving grace for Ponson may be Perkins' struggles. Regardless, the Twins have some thinking to do.

2.) I'm not even going to mention the rest of the relief staff. Everyone was off tonight, and there weren't any performances really worth mentioning. Again, I believe that nights like this are going to happen, and wouldn't read anything more into it (unless it happens again soon).

3.) Rondell wasn't ready to come back tonight, so he's still on the DL. Torii Hunter returned to the lineup, and Luis Castillo took the day off to nurse his quad. It sounds like Rondell's setback trying to run tonight could scrap the Twins plans to activate him this series, so I wouldn't expect to see him activated until the Twins get home early next week.

4.) Nice to see Nick Punto get a couple of hits and just generally play well today. I still think he's going to be fine, but he's going to have to battle a bit to dig out the hole that he's in.

5.) That's about it for tonight. I couldn't find the energy to post much more on a game that was just draining to watch. Hopefully, Boof will turn around and turn in a solid performance tomorrow. The Twins should be able to take 2-of-3 from the Royals, even on the road, so we'll see what happens. I'm a little worried about Greinke pitching for the Royals tomorrow -- he's been pretty solid this year. We'll see what happens!


Bad News

UPDATE: The Star Tribune indicates that this suspension involved a "drug of abuse," rather than a performance enhancing drug. This is arguably a worse problem than a suspension related to the use of performance enhancers, because it indicates that Swarzak has some sort of actual drug problem. Hopefully, the positive test will be a wake up call, and he'll clean up during his time off. Back to the original post:

ESPN is reporting that New Britain Rock Cats starter Anthony Swarzak, who I have rated as the #15 SP in the Twins organization, has been suspended for 50 games for violation of the minor league baseball drug policy. Swarzak hasn't been very good this year, with an 11.12 ERA in two games -- nevertheless, he's a bright star in the Twins minor league system, and it's unfortunate that he chose to attempt to circumvent the league's drug policy.

I remember how embarrassed I was as a fan when Juan Rincon tested positive a couple of years ago. Even if he didn't do anything wrong (as he insists), it still was something that seemed incredibly out of character for the Minnesota Twins, an organization known for doing things the right way. Obviously, individuals make decisions for themselves, but it still besmirches the good name of the organization when something like this happens.

I don't particularly care whether there's a good explanation for Swarzak's positive test or not. I will forgive and forget once he serves his suspension and returns to the organization. I will cheer just as hard. Nevertheless, there is no mistaking that losing 50 days of the season, and now having this scarlet letter forever attached to his name, will affect Swarzak in the future. Hopefully, he'll be able to move forward when he comes back.

Finally, there's the practical question of how this will affect the Rock Cats rotation. There isn't an obvious answer on the Rock Cats roster, but two starters (Kyle Aselton and Zach Ward) are currently in the Ft. Myers Miracle bullpen because there are a lot of starters there. It seems possible that a guy like Kyle Waldrop or Oswaldo Sosa could be promoted from the Miracle to the Rock Cats in order to take Swarzak's place in the rotation, while either Aselton or Ward could slot in to the Miracle rotation. If I had to guess (and that's all it is), I would say Waldrop will get the promotion and Ward will move into the Miracle rotation. We should know more fairly soon.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Couple of New Links

One of the reasons that I check my site stats (other than sheer vanity, of course) is to try to see when people are kind enough to link to me. It's usually fairly obvious when it happens -- for example, Seth linked to me tonight (thanks, Seth!), and undoubtedly a flood of visitors will make their way to my site because of that link, which will show up very clearly in the site stats. It's nice to know when that happens to I can say thank you in some way.

It happened most recently on Tuesday, when I checked out my site stats to see that about 3 of every 4 visitors that morning had been referred by Twins Geek. When I checked out the site, I found that there were some nice comments about this site -- and ya know what? That's more than enough to earn a link. So, welcome to the roll Twins Geek!

Also, I was just e-mailed today by a the proprietor of what I believe to be a "newish" site called Fort Myers Miracle Ramblings, which looks to do a pretty nice job of summarizing Miracle games and covering the team generally. This site, too, can now be found on the right side of the page.

So, that's pretty much the way it's done here -- say something nice about me (or something cruel but clever), or ask nicely, and I'll add a link. Thanks again to anyone who has found the site interesting enough to link to; hopefully, I can keep putting out content that is worthy of generating links!

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Down on the Farm: Low A Report

Beloit Snappers (4-5)
6th Place -- Midwest League Western Division

Snappers Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Jeff Manship - 2 starts [1 start]
2.) Adam Hawes - 2 starts [2 starts]
3.) Alex Burnett - 2 starts [1 start]
4.) Jose Lugo - 2 starts [1 start]
5.) Cole Devries - 1 start, 2 RA [1 start, 1 RA]

Who's Hot: Jeff Manship had a brilliant second start for the Snappers last Saturday, going 5.2 innings and giving up just 1 unearned run on 5 hits while striking out 10. On the season, he has a 0.79 ERA, an identical 0.79 WHIP, and a remarkable 16-0 K-BB ratio. The Snappers were also finally able to work Cole Devries into the rotation, and he went 4.1 innings in his first start, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 3. That followed a relief appearance earlier in the week where he went 2 innings, allowing just an unearned run on a hit and a walk while picking up 2 K's. On the season, his ERA is sitting at a tidy 1.23, and he sports a very nice 0.95 WHIP to go along with it.

Who's Not: Jose Lugo gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in just 3 innings of work in his only start of the week. Largely as a result, he's now sporting a season ERA of 6.14, with a bloated 1.91 WHIP to go along with it. In 2 starts this season he's made it through just 7.1 innings of work. Alex Burnett also struggled this week, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits and a walk in 4 innings of work. His season ERA rests at 5.63 through 8 innings, but he does have a nice 9-3 K-BB ratio.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Adam Revelette - 5 RA [3 RA]
2.) Armando Gabino - 3 RA [2 RA]
3.) Dan Leatherman - 3 RA [2 RA]
4.) Sean Land - 3 RA [2 RA]
5.) Danny Vais - 3 RA [2 RA]
6.) Danny Hernandez - 3 RA [2 RA]
7.) Robert Delaney - 3 RA [2 RA]

Who's Hot: Dan Leatherman had an unusual week, allowing 3 unearned runs in 3 innings of work. Nonetheless, his season ERA remains at 0.00, so I'm leaving him in the "hot" category. Of course, I probably should have put him below -- his WHIP is 1.75, and he has a horrid 2-4 K-BB ratio. Robert Delaney undoubtedly had the best week amongst the relievers, going 5.2 shutout innings and allowing just 1 hit while striking out 9 batters. On the season, Delaney has a 0.00 ERA, a sick 0.15 WHIP, and an indisputably strong 9-0 K-BB ratio. Sean Land and Danny Hernandez also maintained their 0.00 ERA's over the course of the week, although Hernandez gave up a game winning hit in one of his appearances this week (the 'ole 0.0 inning, 1 hit performance). Finally, Armando Gabino went 5.2 shutout innings this week, allowing just 4 hits and picking up a win. His season ERA rests at 1.23, with a 1.09 WHIP.

Who's Not: Really, not anybody -- there have been some moderately bad performances, but nothing worthy of being stuck in this category.

1.) Greg Yersich - C(6) [C(4)]
2.) Allan de San Miguel - C(4) [C(3)]
DL - Jose Leger

Who's Hot: Sadly, neither.

Who's Not: Greg Yersich went 2-for-13 this week while making 2 errors behind the plate. He's hitting a whopping .150 on the season, with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI's. Allan de San Miguel has been even worse, going 0-for-8 this week, which leaves him 0-for-10 on the season. He has at least drawn a walk, so he does have an On-Base Percentage.

1.) Garrett Olson - 3B(4), 1B(2), SS(2), DH(2) [3B(4), 1B(1), SS(1), DH(1)]
2.) Brian Dinkelman - 2B(9) [2B(6)]
3.) Daniel Valencia - 3B(6), DH(2), 1B(1) [3B(3), DH(2), 1B(1)]
4.) Johnny Woodard - 1B(8) [1B(6)]
5.) Yancarlos Ortiz - SS(7) [SS(5)]
6.) Daniel Berg - DH(4), 1B(1), 3B(1) [DH(3), 1B(1), 3B(1)]
7.) William Luque - SS(4), 3B(1), 2B(1) [SS(3), 3B(1)]
DL - Andrew Thompson
DL - Paul Kelly

Who's Hot: Daniel Valencia went deep twice this week while going 7-for-19 at the plate. On the season, he's hitting .345 with 5 RBI's, 5 runs scored, 3 homers, and 3 stolen bases. If not for his 2 errors, I'd say he's having nearly a perfect start to the season. Garrett Olson, meanwhile, went 7-for-22 at the dish this week without having a single huge game. He's hitting .281 on the season with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI's.

Who's Not: This category has to lead off this week with Daniel Berg, who went 1-for-14 on the week while driving his season batting average down to a paltry .059. Also struggling this week: Johnny Woodard (2-for-14 on the week, .158 on the season); William Luque (2-for-12 on the week, .133 on the season); and Yancarlos Ortiz (3-for-13 on the week, .167 on the season). Somewhat stunningly right now, there are only three players on the entire Snappers team that have a batting average above .179 -- yowsers!

1.) Joe Benson - CF(9) [CF(6)]
2.) Chris Parmelee - RF(5), LF(2), DH(1) [RF(3), LF(2)]
3.) Danny Santiesteban - LF(3), RF(3) [LF(2), RF(2)]
4.) Mark Robinson - LF(4), RF(1) [LF(2), RF(1)]

Who's Hot: Amazingly, no one in this bunch qualifies.

Who's Not: While I could probably sneak each of the four in this category, I'll just mention the two worst offenders for the week. Danny Santiesteban managed to go just 1-for-14 on the week, and is hitting just .143 on the season. He does have 2 stolen bases, which is something I guess. Mark Robinson, meanwhile, went 1-for-12 on the week to drop his season batting average to .158. I will mention Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson to say that, amazingly, they've struck out a combined total of 27 times already this season: Parmelee 14 (in 28 at-bats), Benson 13 (in 35 at-bats). Ouch!

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Nightly Notes: Game #15

It wasn't particularly pretty at the end, but the Twins picked up their second sweep of the season tonight in Seattle. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the Snappers Down on the Farm Report will be up sometime later tonight. Back to the business at hand -- here are tonight's notes:

1.) Johan clearly didn't have his best stuff tonight, especially early on. Nonetheless, he went 7 innings and gave up just 2 runs. The remarkable thing is that it felt like he was struggling! I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again before the month is over, but Johan's worst month is usually April, so considering that he's 3-1 at this point with a reasonably strong ERA, we could very well be seeing a run for a 3rd Cy Young this year. He's not there yet -- if he pitched like this all year, he'd get plenty of wins but probably wouldn't have the ERA or strikeout numbers to do it -- but considering his normal April starts, he's very well positioned for a run.

2.) It was very nice to see Jesse Crain back in action today, and he had a very solid 8th inning -- it certainly doesn't look like there are going to be any lingering problems. Pat Neshek, of course, made things interesting in the ninth by giving up a 3-run homer on a ball that he let slip right over the plate, but as I've said before, that happens to everybody once in awhile. The Twins thankfully had enough runs that they could absorb that late Mariners burst, and hopefully it won't damage Neshek's psyche too much. Meanwhile, Joe Nathan had only to get one out for a save, and he did the job, although not before giving up a sun-aided double to Richie Sexson. Hey, whatever works.

3.) Twins fans got a chance to see a glimpse of the future tonight after Luis Castillo left the game with a strained right quad. He's listed as day-to-day at this point, but there's a better than even chance that he'll get tomorrow off, with Alexi more than likely making the start in KC. Today, he laid down a great bunt for a base hit, followed by an infield single perfectly placed between third and short that left the shortstop no chance but to try a crazy throw that didn't quite have enough zip on it. He managed the plays that came his way in the field, as well. I still think he should be playing every day, but he looks awfully close to ready to be doing that at the Major League level, rather than in AAA.

4.) Nick Punto made his return to the lineup today, going 1-for-4. I'm willing to give him another week to 10 days to find his stroke before I start to rag on him, but hitting .143 is obviously not going to cut it. We'll see whether he can turn things around.

5.) Sir Sidney gets the start tomorrow in Kansas City, and all I can say is this: he must have a good game tomorrow. That means at least 5+ innings with 3 or fewer runs. If he can't do that, we may very well see Glen Perkins get the start in that spot the next time through. If this were any team other than the Royals, I don't think I'd say this was a "must perform" start for Ponson -- but if you can't cut it against KC, you aren't going to cut it at all.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #14

Wow -- what an unusual ballgame! It looked early on like the Twins were going to cruise, but things got a little too interesting there at the end. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Finally, finally Carlos Silva gets a win. The funny thing is, by the numbers he had his worst outing of the year, allowing 3 runs in 6.1 innings of work. Gardy may have left him in a little too long tonight, but he was bailed out by the bullpen (more on that in a minute). And frankly, we know that Silva is going to give up runs, and we know that he's going to give up homers. The 3-run blast that he gave up tonight to Sexson was unfortunate, but it was by no means unexpected, and the Twins still had the lead when he left the game. In case you didn't notice, he also picked up a quality start for the second straight ballgame. In other words, he's pitching much better than most of us expected him to. The most significant part of this is that he's a little safer now -- one bad outing will no longer justify the "see, I told you so" brigade from coming out and calling for his head. Two or three in a row would be a different story, of course.

2.) The afterthought in the Twins bullpen coming into the season was Matt Guerrier. Despite two straight seasons of consistently good relief, there was no question that he was last in the pecking order. While it's hard to say that he's moved ahead of guys like Pat Neshek and Jesse Crain, what we can say is that he certainly now deserves to be considered their equal. Guerrier would like to become a starter again some day, but the way he's pitched in relief, I just don't think that's going to happen. On the season, he's pitched 9.1 innings without allowing a run or walking a batter. He's given up just 2 hits. He's worked out of tight jams. Seriously, this guy has come into his own as a very, very good relief pitcher.

3.) I realize that there's a school of thought suggesting that if you put guys in motion and try to make things happen, you often force the defense to make a mistake. That said, the decision of the Mariner third base coach to send the trailing runner home when Michael Cuddyer muffed the ball in right at the end of the ballgame was just absurdly stupid. The runner was dead at the plate, Nathan wasn't throwing the ball very well, the heart of the order was up -- just absolutely a horrible decision. Thanks!

4.) I sincerely hope that Felix Hernandez is not going to miss time due to his elbow tightness. He's a phenom, and baseball needs guys like him on the mound generating headlines. I was looking forward to seeing him face off against the Twins tonight, but it was clear from the outset that something wasn't right. Incidentally, I predicted last night that he would give up 3 runs -- I just thought it would be over 7 innings. Get well soon, Felix.

5.) I hate congratulating a member of the evil White Sox as much or more as I hate congratulating a Yankee, but a No Hitter is a special thing, so congrats to Mark Buehrle for tossing a gem tonight against the Rangers. If one of the White Sox starters had to pitch a no hitter, at least it was Buehrle -- he's the guy in that rotation I hate the least.

6.) It's at least possible that Nick Punto and Torii Hunter will be back in the lineup tomorrow, but I'm going to suggest that the Twins will play it safe and give both one more day off, with both returning to the lineup in Kansas City on Friday -- which is, incidentally, the day that we should see Rondell White make his return.

7.) I can't wait for Johan to get back on the mound tomorrow as the Twins go for a sweep of the Mariners! That would be huge, especially with a very winnable series against the Royals coming up. Starting on Friday, the Twins will play 10 straight against AL Central opponents, so it's going to be an intense week and a half. If they can keep playing good baseball, they could establish a nice early lead in the division heading out of the first month -- a welcome change from where they were at last year.


Down on the Farm: High A Report

Ft. Myers Miracle (5-6)
T-3rd -- Florida State League East Division

Miracle Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Kyle Waldrop - 3 starts [2 starts]
2.) Ryan Mullins - 2 starts, 1 RA [2 starts]
3.) Jay Rainville - 2 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
4.) Alexander Smit - 2 starts [1 start]
5.) Oswaldo Sosa - 2 starts [1 start]

Who's Hot: Jay Rainville picked up his first Miracle win going 6 shutout innings and giving up just 3 hits while striking out 3 batters. His season ERA is now just 1.80 through 10 innings, although his 3-3 K-BB ratio isn't exactly going to blow anyone away. His WHIP of 1.40 is also a little high. Kyle Waldrop, meanwhile, had a mixed week -- he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings during his first start, but picked up the win while going 5.1 shutout innings and allowing just 4 hits in his second start. His ERA for the season is a solid 2.51, and his WHIP of 0.98 is also very solid. Even more encouraging, he has a 15-3 K-BB ratio, which is very solid by any measure.

Who's Not: Oswaldo Sosa had the worst week, going just 3 innings and allowing 5 runs on 9 hits and a walk in his only start of the week. On the season, he has a 6.14 ERA and a very poor 2.18 WHIP. Alexander Smit has been even worse on the season, posting a 6.75 ERA on the season, although his start wasn't as bad this week as Sosa's (3 runs in 5 innings). Ryan Mullins, meanwhile, had one good and one poor start, which has averaged out to an adequate if unspectacular 4.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. On the positive side, he has a 12-3 K-BB ratio.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Yohan Pino - 4 RA [2 RA]
2.) Angel Garcia - 4 RA [2 RA]
3.) David Shinskie - 3 RA [1 RA]
4.) Eduardo Morlan - 3 RA [2 RA]
5.) Joshua Hill - 3 RA [2 RA]
6.) Zach Ward - 3 RA [2 RA]
7.) Kyle Aselton - 3 RA [1 RA]
8.) Frank Mata - 3 RA [2 RA]

Who's Hot: Eduardo Morlan has been very impressive in his relief role this season, this week picking up both a win and a save in 4.1 innings during his two appearances while striking out 2 and not allowing a hit. On the season, he's allowed just 1 hit and no walks in 6.1 innings -- his season ERA is 0.00 and his WHIP is 0.16. Yohan Pino also had a solid week, pitching 3 scoreless innings and allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. On the season, Pino also has a 0.00 ERA and a respectable 0.94 WHIP. Angel Garcia (4.2 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, 4 K's and a save) and David Shinskie (2.2 innings, 3 hits and a win) also both have 0.00 ERA's on the season.

Who's Not: Josh Hill's week was made for this segment -- he gave up 6 runs on 8 hits and a walk in just 3 innings of work. On the season, he has a 12.71 ERA and a 2.47 WHIP. Kyle Aselton also struggled this week, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk over 1.1 innings of work, putting his ERA for the season at 6.75 and his WHIP at 2.00. Zach Ward, meanwhile, after picking up a save with a perfect inning of work, had a rough outing his second time out when he gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in 2 innings of work.

1.) Caleb Moore - C(5) [C(3)]
2.) Javier Sanchez - C(4), DH(1) [C(2), DH(1)]
3.) Jeff Christy - C(3), DH(1) [C(2), DH(1)]

Who's Hot: The closest thing to "hot" among this group is Caleb Moore, who went 2-for-9 this week but who is still hitting .308 on the season while playing errorless baseball.

Who's Not: Well, that would be the other two. Jeff Christy actually was better this week than Moore, going 2-for-8, but he's hitting just .154 on the season and I just couldn't put him in the "hot" category. Javi Sanchez, meanwhile, was 1-for-6 this week and is hitting just .091 this season with 2 errors already.

1.) Steven Tolleson - SS(7), 2B(2), DH(2) [SS(7)]
2.) Juan Portes - 2B(9), RF(2) [2B(7)]
3.) Whitney Robbins - 1B(5), DH(3), 3B(2) [DH(3), 3B(2), 1B(1)]
4.) Toby Gardenhire - 3B(7), SS(2) [SS(5)]
5.) Matthew Betsill - 1B(3), 3B(2), SS(2) [1B(3)]

Who's Hot: Whit Robbins went 7-for-19 this week, including a 2-run, 4-RBI affair on Friday the 13th. He's hitting .303 with 9 RBI's on the young season, and the only real negative is that he's already made 3 errors with fairly limited time in the field. Juan Portes (6-26) and Steven Tolleson (7-28) were lukewarm.

Who's Not: After starting out the season on a hot streak, Toby Gardenhire started to struggle again this week, going 1-for-16. He's now hitting just .194 on the season, and has already made 3 errors. Matthew Betsill also struggled this week, going 0-for-9 to drop his batting average to .087; he, too, has already made 3 errors on this young season.

1.) Erik Lis - LF(6), 1B(3), DH(2) [LF(3), 1B(3), DH(1)]
2.) Dwayne White - RF(8), DH(1) [RF(6), DH(1)]
3.) Eli Tintor - CF(10) [CF(6)]
4.) Edward Ovalle - LF(5), CF(1), RF(1), DH(1) [LF(4), CF(1), RF(1)]

Who's Hot: Erik Lis went 9-for-23 this week, which included his first HR of the year and which largely reversed his rough start to this year -- he's now hitting .270 on the season with 7 RBI's. Dwayne White, meanwhile, went 11-for-30 this week, and like Lis this largely erased an early season mini-slump, as he's now hitting .289. Unfortunately, he has already made 2 errors. Edward Ovalle, meanwhile, went 6-for-21 on the week to raise his batting average to a rather paltry .214.

Who's Not: Eli Tintor had a rough week, going just 2-for-24 on the week to lower his season batting average to a rather putrid .135. Gotta pick it up, Eli!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #13

Nice to see the Twins let off some offensive steam and beat up on Jeff Weaver. Even better to see that they refused to make Weaver look like a Cy Young candidate, as they've done a bit too often with bad pitchers recently (see, i.e., Carl Pavano & Casey Fossum). Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Ramon Ortiz finally gave up a couple of homeruns today, but in a sign of how well he's pitched, they were both solo shots. I'd much rather see a run score on a solo homer than on a series of walks and base hits, because it uses up a lot fewer pitches and is not in any way indicative of how a guy is pitching overall. He was in control for most of the seven innings he pitched tonight, and very much deserves the 3-0 record that he currently sports. And how many of us honestly would have predicted that the first 3 win player on the team would be anyone other than Johan Santana? I wasn't completely opposed to the Ortiz signing, but I certainly didn't expect him to pitch this well. Terry Ryan and Rick Anderson are both looking like geniuses right now.

2.) Dennys Reyes and Pat Neshek managed to get through 2 innings of work without allowing a run, but if you want to panic a little bit (and I'm usually opposed to panicking), you need only look to the fact that both gave up some solid shots. Josh Rabe caught a solid line drive for an out that could have been trouble (remember Crawford's inside-the-parker a couple of days ago? I was having flashbacks). Ultimately, however, it didn't matter -- the guys did their job and went 2 scoreless, and that's the bottom line. On a side note, MLB.tv had the Mariners announcers on, and they made a great point after Neshek nearly got beheaded by Jose Guillen's drive back up the middle: Neshek's funky motion puts him in a horrid position to field the ball when he's done with his delivery, and he really is in a defenseless position on the mound when he finishes up. Let's hope this is never an issue (I'm not worried about anything other than him getting conked in the head -- his pitching certainly justifies the delivery).

3.) Hopefully Torii's injury is mild enough that he can play tomorrow. With King Felix on the mound for the Mariners, the Twins will need all the offensive ammunition in their arsenal, and Torii has certainly been very solid this season. He continues to shun singles, picking up yet another double and that fantastic Grand Slam tonight. And seriously, with a guy who's hitting this many balls hard, was it really a good idea for Weaver to walk Morneau to face Hunter? It just didn't seem like a great move when it was made, and Torii proved the point.

4.) Joe Mauer laid down yet another bunt today, probably driving Marty apoplectic. Once again, however, I can't really fault Mauer for the decision. For one thing, it moved both runners into scoring position for Cuddyer. Even more to the point, however, as even Marty acknowledges, Mauer does one of two things in at-bats with a runner on first: he either gets a hit, or he hits into a double play. How many times have we seen him roll his hands over and hit a grounder to second, perfectly setting up the DP? This does not, of course, mean that he should always bunt in that situation (heaven forbid he develops a complex about the issue). However, leading by just two runs (at the time), and with runners at 1st and 2nd rather than just at 1st, this move made sense to me. Besides, that was a very good bunt, and Johjima had to make a solid play to get him out. Mauer could have ended up with a base hit on that play without too much craziness happening. Maybe I'm softening up, but I just don't see this as a bad decision.

5.) Rondell White is eligible to come off of the Disabled List on Friday, and assuming he's ready to go I would expect Josh Rabe to get sent down. There really isn't a reason to keep Rabe over Alexi Casilla, both because White is an outfielder, AND because Rabe hasn't done much. I like the guy, and I think he could develop into a fine Major League hitter, but unfortunately he hasn't proved that on this trip through the Majors. I would be very, very surprised if he didn't get sent down when White is activated -- but I'd be just as surprised if he didn't find himself back at the big league level sometime this year.

6.) Did anyone else start cheering when Tyner turned on a pitch and nearly took it out of the park? He's convinced he's going to hit a homerun this year, because Joe Vavra has been working with him on turning on the ball and whacking it into right field. Based on the results over the last couple of days, with near homeruns both in the Dome and tonight, I'm starting to believe him that this is a real possibility. I'm pulling for ya, Jason Renyt Tyner!

7.) Carlos Silva can't possibly beat Felix Hernandez tomorrow, right? I mean, seriously . . . Of course, most of us would have thought it impossible that the Devil Rays would end Johan Santana's home winning streak a couple of games ago, as well. Felix is due for a let down, so I think he'll give up 3-4 runs tomorrow night in 7 innings of work. Will Carlos continue to perform effectively enough to get a win in those conditions? It'll be tough -- most of us are expecting a return to 2006 form at some point, at least for awhile. Still, there's no denying that Carlos should be 2-0 right now, and would be but for bad luck. Maybe he'll make win #1 really special by beating King Felix tomorrow night.

8.) Finally, a Magic Number note. The more observant amongst you may notice that the Magic Number counter on the right side of the blog (which started as a gag, but which I'm going to keep up all season just because I like it) went down by 2 tonight. At first blush, that might seem odd, since the first place Tigers won their game, and the counter is a "generic" counter taking into consideration the whole division rather than a one-on-one counter. However, because the Indians have played so few games and actually had only 3 losses going into play tonight, they are actually the team that is setting the Division magic number right now. The formula is simple: (163 - Twins wins - losses by the team with the fewest losses in the division). That means tonight's Twins win, coupled with the Indians loss to the Yankees, reduced the Magic Number by 2 despite Detroit's victory and continued grip on 1st place. Normally, the 1st place team (or 2nd place team, if the team whose Magic Number is being determined is in 1st) will set the "generic" Magic number, but this is one of the weird situations in which that's not the case.