Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Down on the Farm: High A Report

Ft. Myers Miracle (22-30)
6th Place -- Florida State League West Division

Miracle Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Oswaldo Sosa - 11 starts [1 start]
2.) Jay Rainville - 10 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
3.) Joshua Hill - 1 start, 13 RA [1 start]
4.) Zach Ward - 4 starts, 8 RA [DNP]
5.) Yohan Pino - 3 starts, 9 RA [DNP]

Who's Hot: All three of the guys who made starts this week did well. Jay Rainville went 6 innings and allowed just 1 unearned run on 5 hits while striking out 7. His season ERA fell to 2.94, with a 1.27 WHIP and a 40-11 K-BB ratio in 49 innings. Oswaldo Sosa went 5.2 innings and allowed 3 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks with 5 K's. His season ERA now sits at 2.54, with a 1.29 WHIP and a 49-19 K-BB ratio in 56.2 innings. Finally, Joshua Hill made his first start of the season yesterday, and went 5 innings, allowing just 1 unearned run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6. His season ERA is 3.55, with a 1.50 WHIP and a 27-12 K-BB ratio in 25.1 innings. Congratulations are also in order for the recently promoted Ryan Mullins, who took his 1.98 ERA and 1.13 WHIP to New Britain.

Who's Not: Empty set for the week.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Eduardo Morlan - 17 RA [1 RA]
2.) Angel Garcia - 15 RA [1 RA]
3.) Kyle Aselton - 14 RA [1 RA]
4.) David Shinskie - 14 RA [1 RA]
5.) Alexander Smit - 6 starts, 2 RA [1 RA]
6.) Armando Gabino - 3 RA [1 RA]

Who's Hot: Lots of good performances this week to choose from, starting with Armando Gabino, who went 2 innings and struck out 3 in his third performance as a member of the Miracle. He still has yet to allow a run, and has a 0.20 WHIP in 5 innings, along with a 3-0 K-BB ratio. Eduardo Morlan had nearly as good of a performance, going 2 innings with 2 K's to lower his season ERA to 2.60 and his WHIP to 0.76 with a 39-3 K-BB ratio in 27.2 innings. Then, there are Kyle Asleton (1 inning, 1 walk, 1 K) and Alexander Smit (1.1 innings, 1 hit, 2 K's) who weren't exactly slouches this week, either.

Who's Not: David Shinskie had the worst performance out of the bullpen this week, going 2 innings and giving up 2 runs on 2 hits with 1 walk to raise his ERA to 3.24 and his WHIP to 1.16. And in a normal week, this wouldn't even bear mentioning, but Angel Garcia's 2 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 3 K performance is actually on the "Not Hot" list because of the great performances by his teammates.

1.) Caleb Moore - C(23), DH(5) [C(2)]
2.) Jeff Christy - C(21), DH(3) [C(1)]
3.) Javier Sanchez - DH(10), C(9) [DNP]

Who's Hot: Caleb Moore went 3-for-7 to raise his average to .215 with a .536 OPS.

Who's Not: Jeff Christy went 0-for-3 in his one start behind the plate, and is now hitting .175/.533. I'll also throw Javi Sanchez on this list for not playing -- but considering that he's hitting .172 this season, maybe that should qualify him for the "hot" list . . .

1.) Steven Tolleson - SS(21), 2B(18), DH(7) [DH(3)]
2.) Juan Portes - 2B(25), 3B(20), RF(3) [3B(3)]
3.) Whitney Robbins - 1B(31), DH(9), 3B(6) [1B(1)]
4.) Toby Gardenhire - 3B(19), 2B(9), SS(5), DH(1) [2B(3)]
5.) Matthew Betsill - 1B(12), 3B(7), SS(6), DH(2) [1B(2)]
6.) Luis Ugueto - SS(20) [SS(3)]

Who's Hot: Luis Ugueto went 5-for-13 on the week to raise his batting average to .268 with a .678 OPS. On the downside, he continued making errors this week, and now has 6 in 21 games (20 in the field). Steven Tolleson also had a good week as the DH for all three games, going 4-for-14 to raise his average to .253 with a .667 OPS.

Who's Not: It's rough when you only get a couple of at-bats, but Whit Robbins 0-for-2 was the worst average of the week, so he's on this list. He's joined by Juan Portes (2-for-13; .245 on the season) and Matthew Betsill (2-for-9; .163 on the season).

1.) Edward Ovalle - CF(32), LF(10), RF(4), DH(1) [CF(3)]
2.) Dwayne White - RF(22), LF(15), DH(8) [LF(3)]
3.) Erik Lis - LF(30), 1B(9), DH(6) [DNP]
4.) Eli Tintor - RF(23), CF(21) [RF(3)]

Who's Hot: Dwayne White went 5-for-12 this week with a homer and a 4 RBI game to bring his batting average to .250 with a .606 OPS. Edward Ovalle also had a solid week at the plate, going 3-for-11 with 2 homeruns to bring his average up a bit, to .194, with a .615 OPS.

Who's Not: Eli Tintor went 2-for-12 and is hitting just .192. Erik Lis didn't play. Both make the "not hot" list.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Site Update

Since it was just a few days ago that I posted the High A and Low A report, I'm delaying them by a day each so as to get a little more to talk about in them. The High A report will be posted tomorrow, and the Low A report will be posted on Friday. Otherwise, I'd have three days to talk about in each of them, and I'd rather have at least another day. Look for it tomorrow!


Nightly Notes: Game #52

The Twins got away with one this afternoon when the White Sox utterly collapsed. Couldn't have happened to a better opponent, as the Twins now move into third place in the AL Central. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) How could I not start with the epicly (is that a word? It is now . . .) bad game by Scott Baker. In case you hadn't yet seen his line, he gave up 6 runs on 10 hits and a walk in 3 innings with 3 K's. That means that he's now gone 8.1 innings allowing 2 runs on May 19 to going 5.1 innings while allowing 3 runs on May 25, to this complete clunker. If he's lucky enough to get another start in 6 days (because of the off-day tomorrow), is he going to continue the trend and fail to make it out of the first? This is what's so frustrating with Baker -- he shows flashes of brilliance before utterly losing his ability to pitch at the big league level. So, there are two important questions to address with Baker: (1) will he get another start with the Twins, and (2) if so, will he be able to regain his form from his first game (or even from his second game?).

So, first, I think Baker will get another start. The options are a bit limited for the Twins right now as far as a backup plan to Baker. As I see it, the Twins could either give the start to Baker, OR move Ramon Ortiz back into the rotation for that start, OR they could call up Matt Garza. Now, before Garza expressed frustration about the Twins wanting him to throw off-speed pitches (something which may or may not have been a punk move, depending on who you believe -- and I confess that I haven't read the article in question so I don't have an opinion on that), I would have said that he deserved a shot. However, I suspect that the Twins are going to make darned sure that Garza is with the program before they bring him up to the big leagues. Ramon Ortiz had a nice relief appearance yesterday, but by no means is he rehabilitated to the point of being ready to rejoin the rotation just yet. So . . . to me at least, that leads to the conclusion that Baker will get the start. A more interesting question to me is whether the Twins will send Glen Perkins on a rehab assignment to Rochester when he's healthy to get him back into starter-mode. I think there's a good chance that that's exactly what will end up happening.

As for Baker, will he regain his form from his first start? I must sadly conclude that I don't think he will. I've been down on Baker since last year. I'd like him to prove me wrong, but I just don't think Baker is going to put it together and pitch consistently at the Major League level. I would be shocked (pleasantly) if he finds a way to stay in the rotation for the next month, let alone for the rest of the year.

2.) How about that bullpen! We know that Pat Neshek is great, and he had a perfect inning. Matt Guerrier has been great all year, and he went 2.1 hitless innings, allowing just one walk while striking out 2. Joe Nathan might seem like he's struggled a bit at times this year, but he finished off the White Sox without too much difficulty in the ninth to get the win. But most impressive to me? Jason Miller -- the afterthought callup who's making good on his chance to pitch in the bigs. Miller put the breaks on the White Sox offense by going 1.2 innings and allowing just 1 walk while striking out a batter. I don't know how much longer he'll keep it up, but it's been great fun to see him make good on his callup.

3.) Joe Mauer won't be back on Friday, and might need another week. Rest up, Joe. Don't rush to come back too early.

4.) Torii Hunter was the man again tonight, but the biggest hit of the game came with two outs in the 6th inning off of Jon Garland -- and it came from Chris Heintz, of all people. Heintz drove in the game tying run to take Baker off of the hook, and the amazing bullpen kept things tied until the bottom of the 9th. Heintz is now hitting only .211, but that's what makes baseball great -- a guy like Heintz can come in and play hero for a night.

5.) Nick Punto played at 2B tonight, which to me says that his transition from "exclusively starting 3B" to "starting 3B used as a backup infielder" is complete. This is how Punto should have been used all season, and I'm glad that Gardy is fully utilizing Punto. He may not be having a good season, but I'll take him over Luis Rodriguez any day.

6.) The next time I post a Nightly Notes column, Kevin Slowey will have made his Major League debut. We all knew it was coming, but the Twins made it official today by moving Jesse Crain to the 60-Day DL, purchasing Slowey's contract from Rochester, and optioning Julio DePaula (no surprise there) back to the Red Wings. I'm as excited for this debut as I have been for any I can ever remember, even more excited than I was for Garza's debut last year. When Garza was called up, Twins fans were looking for a savior, and I feared that he would disappoint. He did. There is not the same sense of pressure on Slowey right now, and he'll be debuting on the road, which should help. I think Slowey is going to pitch very well in Oakland Friday night, and I can't wait to see it!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #51

Another series, another win -- that marks four in a row, as the Twins are guaranteed to be no worse than .500 after tomorrow's series-ending game with the Sox. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Boof Bonser looked like he was on his way to another low efficiency night after the first inning, but he had a quick second and generally things went smoothly for him after that as he made it through 6.2 innings, allowing just 7 hits and 3 walks while giving up 2 runs (1 earned) and striking out 6. The Twins actually let him stretch out a bit by throwing 109 pitches, but Jason Bartlett's error extended what should have been the end of the inning. As much as it has seemed at times like Bonser has struggled this year, he still has a very good 3.61 ERA and has started to become a consistent presence in the rotation.

2.) Nice performances out of the bullpen from Pat Neshek (all of one pitch long), Carmen Cali, and . . . Ramon Ortiz!?! Of course we all knew that he was going to the bullpen, but I didn't expect him down there so soon. Still, he had a nice inning, which is a positive development. The best thing about this situation is his tremendously positive attitude. He's the kind of guy you just want to see succeed -- and I hope that he can put something together out of the 'pen for the Twins. It wouldn't be a bad thing for the team, either, of course -- not only would they get a strong middle and long relief man, but they'd also maybe see Ortiz turn into trade bait for a desperate team come July.

3.) Castillo: 3-for-5. Cuddyer: 3-for-4. Morneau: a monstrous 3-for-4, including his 16th HR of the year. Today it was Torii's day to not contribute with the bat, but the Twins are finding plenty of guys to swing right now, which is very, very nice to see.

4.) Jason Kubel's homerun was great to see, because he hasn't been driving the ball particularly well this season. Even better, though: it was off of a lefty, and it honestly looked like he didn't hit it completely square and still took it deep. He almost added another one in the 8th. Ford over Kubel? I don't think so . . .

5.) I haven't heard anything about Mike Redmond's condition after getting plunked in the elbow tonight, but I would assume that he'll be fine. I'm sure Heintz will start tomorrow afternoon, but Redmond should be good to go on Friday. If not, things would get really interesting -- Jose Morales is playing well down in AAA, but he's not on the 40-man roster, and the Twins are running out of easy moves to make to add people to the roster, so someone would have to be taken off. More on that in note #6.

6.) I'm putting this in a separate note because I don't think it's going to have anything to do with the catching situation, so it didn't belong in the above. However, with Alejandro Machado already on the 60-day DL, and Jesse Crain about a day away from heading there to make room for Kevin Slowey, the Twins could find themselves in the position of needing to add someone else to the roster without having any paper transactions (15 to 60-day DL, for instance) left to make. Who gets the bump from the roster in that situation? One possibility that actually would just be a paper transaction would be to transfer Rondell White to the 60-day DL. Looking at my calendar, it's been about 60 days since the season started, so he'd be eligible to come off whenever he was ready. This would really just serve to delay a decision, though, because Rondell should be coming back at some time this season. Why delay the inevitable, then?

My first choice (and this is not going to happen, so don't think I'm actually suggesting that this is a possibility) would be for the Twins to part ways with Lew Ford. I'm not sure what he's adding to the team at this point. Since that's not a viable option, however, my next suggestion is more realistic. The decision would be a tough one, and undoubtedly the Twins would very likely lose the player that they were removing from the roster. One option, however, might be to remove Josh Rabe (again). He was removed after last season and exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, but was not claimed. That makes it at least possible that he'd make it through again. If the answer wasn't Rabe, things get even tougher: do you go with Dutch lefty Alexander Smit, who's pitching in High A and using up his first option year while struggling? How about Errol Simonitsch, another lefty who is pitching for New Britain in his second option year and also struggling a bit? (Actually, he hasn't pitched at all this year -- not sure what I was looking at when I made the comment). Both of those guys would probably be yanked on a waiver claim, especially considering that they don't have to stay at the Major League level if this happens. I don't know what the Twins will do if this comes up -- but I know what I'd do.

7.) Sometime in the next few days I'm going to look at the first All-Star vote results, and say whether or not I think the fans have it right so far. My guess is no, but I haven't looked that closely yet.


Down on the Farm: AA Report

New Britain Rock Cats (24-20)
T-2nd -- Eastern League Northern Division

Rock Cats Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Brad Baker - 7 starts, 3 RA [2 starts]
2.) Jesse Floyd - 8 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
3.) Tristan Crawford - 6 starts, 1 RA [1 start]
4.) Kyle Waldrop - 3 starts [2 starts]
5.) Ryan Mullins
Suspended - Anthony Swarzak

Who's Hot: Jesse Floyd went 7 innings and gave up just 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 5. That gives him a season ERA of 4.24 with a 1.41 WHIP and a 31-19 K-BB ratio in 46.2 innings. Nobody else deserves to be on this list for what they did at the AA level, but I'll put Ryan Mullins here for earning a promotion (just today!) from Ft. Myers, and Brian Duensing for pitching well enough to earn a promotion to AAA to replace Kevin Slowey in the Red Wings rotation.

Who's Not: Brad Baker was horrible this week, making two starts and giving up 10 runs (9 earned) on 14 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 batters in 9 innings. That was so bad that it changed the outlook on his season entirely -- he entered the week with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, and he enters it with a 4.11 ERA and a still respectable 1.22 WHIP. Kyle Waldrop also had a rough week this time around, giving up 7 runs on 12 hits and 6 walks with 5 K's in 11.1 innings of work over two starts, giving him a 3.93 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in 18.1 innings of work. Finally, it didn't affect his ERA much, but Tristan Crawford gave up 6 runs (just 1 earned) in 5 innings of work in his lone start of the week. His ERA sits at 5.02 in 28.2 innings with the Rock Cats this season.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Tim Lahey - 17 RA [3 RA]
2.) Jay Sawatski - 17 RA [3 RA]
3.) Danny Powers - 14 RA [2 RA]
4.) Brian Forystek - 9 RA, 2 starts [1 RA]
5.) Frank Mata - 4 RA [2 RA]

Who's Hot: Tim Lahey was smokin' this week, going 4.1 innings and not allowing a run or a hit while walking 3 and striking out 4 over the course of three games. He lowered his ERA to 3.95 on the season, but his WHIP is still at a too-high 1.57 in 27.1 innings. Danny Powers also had a solid week, going 5 innings and giving up 1 run on 5 hits with 1 walk and 2 K's. He needs some more good weeks, though, as his season ERA still sits at 6.14 and his WHIP is at 2.05 in 22 innings of work. Finally, a shout out to Jose Mijares, who earned a promotion this week to Rochester.

Who's Not: Nobody was absolutely awful this week, but Brian Forystek's one appearance saw him give up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in 3 innings of work to bump his season ERA up to 3.72 with a 1.34 WHIP and a 29-14 K-BB ratio over 29 innings. Frank Mata also had a down week, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in 3.2 innings to settle his ERA in at 6.00 with a 2.00 WHIP in 6 innings of work.

1.) Korey Feiner - C(25) [C(3)]
2.) Kyle Geiger - C(21), DH(3) [C(4), DH(2)]

Who's Hot: Kyle Geiger remained hot this week, going 6-for-21. That actually lowered his batting average to .329 on the season with 2 HR's and 12 RBI's to go along with a .920 OPS in 76 AB's. Pretty good for a guy who had a career .238 average coming into this season!

Who's Not: Korey Feiner went 1-for-12 on the week to lower his batting average to .233. Still no errors behind the plate, though, so that's a plus.

1.) Brian Buscher - 3B(28), DH(11), 1B(1) [3B(3), DH(2)]
2.) Trevor Plouffe - SS(37), DH(2) [SS(6)]
3.) Felix Molina - 2B(32), SS(2), DH(2) [2B(6), SS(1)]
4.) Brock Peterson - 1B(30), DH(6) [1B(6)]
5.) David Winfree - 3B(14), DH(13), 1B(5) [3B(4), DH(2), 1B(1)]
6.) Luke Hughes - 2B(13), DH(5), LF(4), 3B(1), 1B(1) [2B(2), LF(2), 1B(1)]

Who's Hot: There was a trio of solid performances this week for the Rock Cat infielders, led by Brian Buscher. Buscher went 10-for-22 on the week with a HR (he now has 3 on the season) to bring his batting average to .289 with an .817 OPS in 159 AB's. That's good for the second-best average and third-best OPS on the team this year. Felix Molina also had a good week, going 10-for-29 to raise his average to .289 as well, with a .786 OPS and 4 HR's in 142 AB's. Finally, Trevor Plouffe (yes, that Trevor Plouffe) went 9-for-31 to raise his average to .258 in 163 AB's -- but he now has 10 errors on the season.

Who's Not: Regulars Brock Peterson (7-for-27) and David Winfree (7-for-29) were ok this week, leaving the only downright bad performance in the hands of one Luke Hughes, a backup middle infielder (and occasional left fielder), who went 2-for-15 on the week but is nonetheless still hitting .275 on the season.

1.) Garrett Guzman - LF(34), DH(2) [LF(2), DH(1)]
2.) Brandon Roberts - CF(31), DH(1) [CF(3)]
3.) Matthew Allegra - RF(35) [RF(5)]
4.) Rashad Eldridge - CF(13), RF(9), LF(5) [CF(4), RF(2), LF(1)]

Who's Hot: Garrett Guzman went 9-for-22 this week and now has a .278 average and .716 OPS with 3 HR's and 22 RBI's in 151 AB's. Perhaps most impressive is his very low strikeout total, which sits at 14. Rashad Eldridge (10-for-27) and Brandon Roberts (3-for-9) also both had good weeks -- and both needed them, as Eldridge is still hitting just .255, and Roberts (who lost his starting CF job to Eldridge) is hitting just .212. Meanwhile, Matt Allegra went 6-for-21 and is hitting .269 with 6 HR's and 23 RBI's -- but also has 41 K's in 134 AB's.

Who's Not: Zero. Zilch. Nada.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Down on the Farm: AAA Report

Rochester Red Wings (24-21)
3rd Place -- International League North Division

Red Wings Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Matt Garza - 10 starts [2 starts]
2.) Kevin Slowey - 9 starts [1 start]
3.) Dave Gassner - 8 starts [1 start]
4.) Brian Bass - 1 start, 13 RA [1 start, 1 RA]
5.) Nick Blackburn - 2 starts [1 start]

Who's Hot: Kevin Slowey continued to roll this week, going 8 innings and allowing just 7 hits while striking out 7 while picking up his 6th win of the season. It's almost certainly going to be his last AAA start for awhile, as the Twins have announced that "someone" will be called up to replace Ramon Ortiz in the rotation, and all signs point to Slowey being that "someone." Matt Garza also had a great week, despite getting saddled with 2 losses. He pitched 14 innings and allowed just 1 earned run (along with a couple of unearned runs) on just 7 hits and 6 walks while striking out 11 hitters. He's dropped his season ERA to 3.21 and his WHIP to 1.32 -- both solid numbers. While Slowey and Scott Baker have clearly had better AAA seasons than Garza, he's definitely getting things on track. Finally, as bad as Dave Gassner's season has been (5.75 ERA), he badly needed a start like he had on Saturday -- his line: 9 innings pitched (yes, an honest to goodness complete game!), 4 hits, 1 walk, 4 K's. Keep it up, Dave!

Who's Not: Brian Bass got a start and made one relief appearance, and was awful -- 8 runs on 10 hits and 3 walks in 5.1 innings of work. For the season, he now has a 7.11 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP in 25.1 innings. The problem is, the Twins can't really afford to get rid of him, because they've had so many guys called up. For now, anyway, Bass will stay on the roster, although I suspect that his first start of the year will be his last, and he'll probably be relegated to mop-up or other emergency duty from here on. Nick Blackburn, meanwhile, wasn't bad -- 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings -- but he doesn't come anywhere close to three guys listed above, so he winds up on the "not hot" list.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Bobby Korecky - 19 RA [3 RA]
2.) Jeremy Cummings - 5 RA, 5 starts [1 RA]
3.) Ricky Barrrett - 9 RA [3 RA]
4.) J.P. Martinez - 1 RA
5.) Jose Mijares - None

Who's Hot: That's right, the Red Wings have just 5 relief pitchers on the team at the moment. That number should rise in the next few days, after Kevin Slowey is called up and someone (probably Julio DePaula) is sent back down. For the moment, though, being so short-staffed hasn't been a big problem for the Red Wings, considering the solid starting pitching that they've been getting from 3/5 of the rotation. Each of the three relievers who pitched this week had pretty good performances: Bobby Korecky went 5.2 innings and gave up just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6; Ricky Barrett went 4 innings and finally allowed his first 2 runs of the year on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 -- but his season ERA is still at just 1.35 and his WHIP is at 0.75; and Jeremy Cummings made it into just one game, but went 2 innings and allowed just a hit while striking out 3.

Who's Not: Well, nobody who pitched deserved to be in this category, but I'll throw J.P. Martinez in this list -- his first outing for the team was so bad (2 innings, 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks) that they didn't trust him to get into a game this week! Actually, I'm sure his not pitching was more a function of too few innings to spread amongst relievers, but still -- that was a bad debut!

1.) Jose Morales - C(29), DH(9) [C(4)]
2.) Matthew LeCroy - DH(26), C(9), 1B(2) [C(3), DH(1)]

Who's Hot: Jose Morales is playing out of his mind right now, as he went 8-for-15 this week to bring his season average to .350 with an .843 OPS. He's also only struck out 15 times in 137 AB's, scored 20 runs, and driven in 11 runs.

Who's Not: Matthew LeCroy actually raised his batting average this week by going 2-for-9, all the way to the thundering heights of .198. I've said enough mean things about LeCroy since the Twins brought him back into the system before the season started, so I'm just going to cut it off here this time.

1.) Matt Moses - 3B(39), DH(1) [3B(6)]
2.) Tommy Watkins - SS(18), LF(10), 3B(4), 2B(3), DH(1) [SS(1), LF(1)]
3.) Matt Tolbert - 2B(28), SS(5)
4.) Alexi Casilla - 2B(15), SS(13) [2B(6)]
5.) Glenn Williams - 1B(27) [1B(6)]
6.) Gil Velazquez - SS(8), 1B(1) [SS(5)]
DL - Ken Harvey

Who's Hot: Slim pickins' amongst this crew for inclusion on this list this week. I settled on Alexi Casilla, who's 6-for-24 hitting was accompanied by 4 steals. He shifted back to second base exclusively this week while Matt Tolbert is out. He's now up to 104 AB's in Rochester, and is hitting just .260 -- so the Twins will undoubtedly be looking for him to bump that average back up as they weigh his ability to become the team's starting 2B next year.

Who's Not: Doing the math -- that leaves everyone else. I'll spare you the details for most of these guys, and highlight the worst offenders: Tommy Watkins, in limited action, went 1-for-9 but is hitting .260; Gil Velazquez went 3-for-18 and is hitting .185; and Glenn Williams went 4-for-23 to lower his average to .260.

1.) Denard Span - CF(42), RF(2) [CF(5)]
2.) Garrett Jones - 1B(17), RF(15), LF(9), DH(1) [LF(5), RF(1)]
3.) Trent Oeltjen - LF(20), RF(10), CF(3) [RF(4), CF(1)]
4.) Doug Deeds - RF(19), DH(6), LF(3), 1B(1) [DH(2), RF(1)]
5.) Josh Rabe - DH(3), LF(2) [DH(3)] (Rehab Assignment)

Who's Hot: Trent Oeltjen went 5-for-14 this week to raise his average to .301 with a .756 OPS in 93 AB's. He's also stolen 7 bases and made just 1 error. Garrett Jones went 6-for-26 and is hitting .289 on the season -- but he's this list particularly because of the 2 homeruns he hit during the week. He leads the team (by 11!) with 30 RBI's, and while he's struck out 33 times, he's done so in 152 AB's -- once every 4.6 AB's, which isn't great, but also isn't horrid.

Who's Not: For the King of Not-Hotness, there's no other place to go on this team than Denard Span, who went just 1-for-18 during the week to drop his batting average to .218. He also lost his place as the team's leadoff hitter, being moved in the middle of this week down to the last spot in the order. He's struck out 36 times in 174 AB's -- and while I excused a high strikeout ratio in Garrett Jones, it's a little different when you're dealing with a guy who's supposed to set the table. Span's 11 steals are nice, but Casilla has one more steal in 70 fewer AB's. In other words, Span has some work to do if he's to regain his place as the heir-apparent to Torii Hunter. For good measure, I'll also mention that Doug Deeds' woeful season continued, as he went just 1-for-9 and is hitting .193 on the season.

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Nightly Notes: Game #50

Back to .500, with a win over the vile White Sox nonetheless! Great way to start the series -- here are tonight's notes:

1.) Johan Santana was once again not quite Cy Santana, but he still had a pretty solid day -- 8 innings, 4 earned runs on 7 hits, 1 walk and 7 K's. He got a little help from Torii Hunter in the 8th to keep another earned run off the board. Even though he wasn't brilliant today, he was able to keep the Twins in the game, and got some help from a fired up bunch of guys. He gets his 6th win, and the Twins get win #25 -- nice to see.

2.) Justin Morneau looked all too human today, going 0-5 and taking some awfully bad swings. He was picked up by the Twins hitting MVP of the season, one Torii Hunter, who put up another 3 hit day to raise his average to .317. More importantly, though, was the return to form of Nick Punto (3-for-4 to get his average up to .242), Jason Tyner (3-for-4 to get up to .276), and Jason Kubel (2-for-5 with 2 doubles to bump up to .243). The biggest star of the day, though: Mike Redmond, who went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI's and a huge double. No wonder the Twins want to keep Chris Heintz around when Joe Mauer comes off the DL -- Redmond is going to be DH'ing a whole lot, I suspect.

3.) Jason Miller had another solid performance, with a little help from Jason Kubel in left field. It would be a great story if Miller pitched well enough to force the Twins to consider keeping him up for the rest of the year -- but after just two games, it's a little premature to be talking about that.

4.) The Pierzynski thing -- it sure looks like he was trying to step to the inside of the bag. I don't think A.J. would try to actually hurt Morneau; I think, instead, that he wanted to annoy him and mess with the Twins. Based on Gardy's reactions, he certainly did annoy them -- but that seems to have fired the Twins up, rather than distracting them. Being an annoying pest is a two-edged sword, because you either distract a team to the point where they start focusing on you rather than on the game, or you motivate them to beat you to a pulp. Right now, I'd say the Twins are more motivated than distracted. Anyone still wonder why A.J. gets booed? Last thing on this: huge hat tip to the umpires for letting Gardy scream and rant without getting the hook. He was absolutely protecting his player, and the umpires understood that and let him vent. Great job, guys.

5.) Ramon Ortiz is going to the bullpen, and I wrote about it earlier today. For my thoughts on that topic, scroll down or click here.

You'll notice I got the Low A report up (finally!), right beneath this post. I'm working on the AAA report now, and will have it up by tonight. That means I'll officially be back on track with those posts, and will start to fix other things on the blog that have gone into a bit of disrepair -- such as the poll question which is now completely obsolete (and has been for weeks), and the updating on the Organizational Rankings that I've also gotten way behind on. Hopefully within a week, the entire blog will be completely up to date.

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Down on the Farm: Low A Report

Beloit Snappers (30-16)
1st Place -- Midwest League Western Division

Snappers Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Jeff Manship - 10 starts
2.) Cole DeVries - 8 starts, 2 RA
3.) Adam Hawes - 9 starts
4.) Alex Burnett - 9 starts
5.) Brian Kirwan - 1 start
DL - Jose Lugo - 7 starts

Who's Hot: Jeff Manship has put together a great season for the Snappers, going 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in 60.1 innings of work. His 61-7 K-BB ratio is equal proof that Manship is already beyond the Low A level, and it should only be a matter of time before he earns his first promotion, up to Ft. Myers. Unfortunately, he left his start last night with an injury, but it sounds very minor and at worst should only land him on the 7-day DL. Cole DeVries is also having a great first season in the Twins organization, as he's put up a 1.53 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with a 34-14 K-BB ratio in 47 innings. He too could potentially earn a mid-season callup -- although finding room for everybody at Ft. Myers would be a bit of an issue if both Manship and DeVries were to be promoted, so I suspect DeVries will finish off his season in Beloit. Finally, Brian Kirwan was just added to the team from Extended Spring Training, and had a very nice first start, going 5 scoreless innings and allowing just 1 hit.

Who's Not: No one really belongs on this list. Adam Hawes (3.23/1.25) and Alex Burnett (3.25/1.12) have both pitched well. The only guy I can find who fits the bill is Jose Lugo, who has posted a 4.68 ERA/1.74 WHIP in 32.2 innings -- but of course, he's on the DL right now, so it's kind of a cheat to put him on this list.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Robert Delaney - 19 RA
2.) Dan Leatherman - 18 RA
3.) Danny Vais - 11 RA, 2 starts
4.) Jesus Carnevales - 9 RA
5.) Aaron Craig - 5 RA
6.) Matthew Fox - 1 RA
DL - Danny Hernandez
DL - Sean Land

Who's Hot: This bullpen has gone through a massive overhaul since the last time I wrote, with Armando Gabino being promoted, Adam Revelette being released from the organization, and Sean Land and Danny Hernandez being placed on the DL. To replace them, Jesus Carnevales, Aaron Craig, and Matthew Fox have all been either activated from the DL or called up from Extended Spring Training to fill places on the roster. The result has been continued strong pitching from the bullpen, led by closer Robert Delaney, who has put up 16 saves and a 0.67 ERA with a 0.63 WHIP along with a 31-4 K-BB ratio in 27 innings. Jesus Carnevales (2.93/1.17) and Matthew Fox (0.00/1.00 -- but in just 1 inning of work) also deserve particular mention. Really, though, the bulk of the guys in the bullpen are in the mid-3.00's.

Who's Not: Nobody has been outright bad, but Danny Vais has been the worst of the bunch that's still with the team, posting a 4.13 and a 1.24 WHIP in 28.1 innings of work. On the positive side, he still has a 20-3 K-BB ratio -- which, coupled with that pretty low WHIP indicates that he really hasn't pitched that badly. Still, someone had to end up on this list, and an ERA above 4.00 is at least a partial justification for having it be him.

1.) Gregory Yersich - C(24)
2.) Allan de San Miguel - C(23)

Who's Hot: Sadly, neither of them.

Who's Not: Less bad -- de San Miguel's .206/.615 with 2 homers and 13 RBI's (although, he does have 21 K's in 68 AB's. Really bad -- Yersich's .189/.474 with just 6 RBI's and 21 K's in 74 AB's, as well as 4 errors. Yowsers.

1.) Brian Dinkelman - 2B(33), LF(13), DH(2)
2.) Daniel Valencia - 3B(29), DH(13), 1B(1)
3.) Johnny Woodard - 1B(33), DH(8)
4.) Garrett Olson - 3B(16), LF(11), SS(5), DH(3), 1B(3), RF(1)
5.) Yancarlos Ortiz - SS(32)
6.) Daniel Berg - DH(14), 1B(12), 3B(3)
7.) Steven Singleton - SS(14), 2B(6), DH(2)
8.) William Luque - 2B(10), SS(6), DH(2), 3B(2)
DL - Andrew Thompson
DL - Paul Kelly

Who's Hot: Danny Valencia has been very solid at 3B for the Snappers this season, hitting .310 with an .877 OPS, 7 HR's and 25 RBI's. He has struck out 33 times, but that's in 158 AB's -- a far cry from the horrid K-BB ratio's put up by the Catchers on the team. Brian Dinkelman has also had a solid season, hitting .282/.839 with 4 homers of his own to go with 12 RBI's and 7 SB's. Perhaps most interesting, he's been getting a lot of playing time recently in left field - a position that I didn't know the Twins were interested in having him play. Steven Singleton, who joined the team at the start of May, has become pretty much the regular shortstop for the Snappers, and has hit .280/.639 since being called up. On the downside, he's made 7 errors in just 22 games. Finally, Johnny Woodard is hitting .277/.833 with 4 homers and 16 RBI's (and a less flashy 8 errors) so far this year as the Snapper's primary 1B.

Who's Not: William Luque, a backup middle infielder with the team, is doing nothing to suggest that he deserves more playing time -- he's hitting just .143/.348 in 56 at-bats. Yancarlos Ortiz, who had been the starting shortstop before Steven Singleton was added to the roster, is also struggling along with a .159/.414. Finally, Daniel Berg has hit just .170/.479 in his playing time -- problematic since he's already at 100 AB's, indicating that he's playing a fair amount.

1.) Chris Parmelee - RF(34), LF(4), DH(3)
2.) Joe Benson - CF(38), DH(1)
3.) Danny Santiesteban - LF(14), RF(10), CF(9)

Who's Hot: None of them, but Chris Parmelee is the closest, with a .230 average and a slightly better .718 OPS. He's hit 4 homers and driven in 16 runs. He's also struck out 43 times in 139 AB's -- and that's not going to win you any awards.

Who's Not: Danny Santiesteban is hitting just .216/.704 with 4 errors and 35 K's in 111 AB's (he does have 6 homers). Joe Benson is hitting .206/.617 with 34 K's in 136 AB's and 3 errors. Mark Robinson was playing so badly (.132 batting average in 38 AB's) that he was released from the organization. Time to pick it up, boys.

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Slowey to the Rescue?

The Star Tribune is reporting that, while nothing official has been announced, "all indications" are that Kevin Slowey's contract will be purchased soon, and he'll be slotted into the rotation to replace Ramon Ortiz. Ortiz will then slide on into the bullpen as the teams new long-man. Here's my take on the situation.

First off, I'm a little surprised by the timing. I honestly thought that with Ortiz's strong start, Twins management would take a little more time with this. However, it really has been apparent that the Twins field staff was getting more and more disappointed with Ortiz's performance, and was itching for a change to be made. Considering that Ortiz hasn't had one of those strong starts for the entire month of May, however, I certainly understand the decision.

This move is also likely to make the Twins a stronger team overall. Ortiz's position in the rotation has been a black hole for the entire month of May, but he usually has at least a few solid innings when he comes in to pitch. If the Twins can use him for 2-3 innings instead of 5-6 when he's in the game, there's at least a better chance that he'll avoid the big inning. Further, the bullpen right now contains three guys -- Julio DePaula, Carmen Cali, and Jason Miller -- who probably don't belong at the big league level just yet. There's room to move Ortiz there without displacing someone who the Twins can't afford to move out.

The problem is that Ortiz doesn't have a lot of experience in the bullpen. In 220 Major League games, he's started 200. His 20 career relief appearances all game in 2004 with the Angels, when he also made 14 starts. He had a reasonably solid season that year, posting a 4.43 ERA in 128 innings -- and the Twins would probably take that kind of performance from him in the long relief role.

If the Twins made the move, I would guess that Julio DePaula would be the first guy down out of the bullpen, with Carmen Cali being sent down when Joe Mauer was activated to cut the bullpen down to 11 pitchers. The bigger problem is going to be what happens when both Glen Perkins and Dennys Reyes come back from their injuries. One of them will be able to replace Jason Miller -- but the other will not have a place in the 'pen unless the Twins expanded again to 12, which they don't particularly want to do. The week or two that Ortiz spends in the bullpen before the second lefty comes off the DL (Perkins or Reyes, whoever is last) would probably be an audition to keep his job.

Now, what about Slowey? It's beyond dispute that he's having a great AAA season. It's also beyond dispute that he moved through the organization last year almost as meteorically as did Matt Garza. Slowey impressed everyone this spring with his ability to get batters out. Nevertheless, if you've read much of this blog you probably have noticed that I'm not a fan of the idea of bringing Slowey to the big leagues this season. The situation that the Twins find themselves in, however, requires a re-analysis of this position.

In an ideal world, the Twins would have seen either Sidney Ponson or Ramon Ortiz pitch well enough to hold down a spot in the rotation all season. That would have opened up a place for Scott Baker or Glen Perkins in the rotation, while uber-prospects Matt Garza and Slowey could have marinated in AAA for a year before bursting onto the scene next season. That would have given them a chance to work on their pitching skills at the level right below the big leagues (and neither Garza nor Slowey had much experience at all at AAA). That, in turn, would have meant that they had a little less to learn at the Major League level, so their arbitration clocks weren't running while they were learning things that could have been learned in AAA. This, to me, is just smart asset-management.

But of course, this is not an ideal world. The Twins have so far seen Carlos Silva pitch reasonably well to hold down his spot in the rotation, but both Ponson and Ortiz have flamed out. Scott Baker has pitched very well in AAA and deservedly has been given a chance to hold down one of those spots. Glen Perkins might have had a chance to get the other spot, but of course he's hurt. That changes the calculus. The Twins really have no choice at this point but to make a move -- and if you're going to make a move, you might as well make the one that gives you the best chance to win. Kevin Slowey has demonstrated with the Red Wings that he's the best minor league pitcher in the system, at least right now. It's time, then, to pull the trigger -- and I'll support any such decision to do that.

Here's what I hope doesn't happen: when Matt Garza was called up last season, Twins Nation viewed him as a savior. He fizzled. He just wasn't ready to pitch effectively at a fourth level in the Twins system in one year. He had some problems with spotting his pitches, and couldn't seem to get anybody out with anything other than his fastball. He was NOT yet ready to be a savior. I hope that Twins fans don't make the same mistake with Slowey -- it's exceedingly rare for a young pitcher to just step in and be great. Francisco Liriano did it. Jered Weaver did it last year with the Angels. It certainly can happen -- but it should not be expected from the fan base.

I think that Kevin Slowey will succeed at the big league level. He has a different skill set than Matt Garza, a skill set that should translate effectively to the Major Leagues. I strongly suspect that once he's in the rotation, he won't give that spot up. I do not expect him to be the next coming of Johan Santana -- or even of Brad Radke -- this season. An ERA of around 4.00 is probably the most likely scenario, and I'll take that. I just don't expect him to be a savior.

UPDATE: Joe Christensen says that Ramon Ortiz has been informed he's moving to the bullpen, and the Twins will be calling "someone" up to start Friday's game. That "someone," says Joe (and I completely agree) is going to be Kevin Slowey. That means that Jesse Crain will soon be transferred to the 60-Day DL to make room for Slowey on the 40-man roster.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #49

A third straight series win as the Twins head into an important series against Chicago -- one in which the Twins will hopefully be able to continue their current strong play. A series win, remember, would at least get the Twins back to .500. Here are today's notes:

1.) Carlos Silva hasn't by any means had a great year, but he also hasn't been all that bad, and today he demonstrated what he's still capable of by going 7.1 innings and allowing just 2 runs (one on a somewhat annoying 8th inning homerun) on 6 hits. This was a much-needed performance for the Twins, who have already had to replace Sidney Ponson in the rotation, and are likely on the verge of replacing Ramon Ortiz as well. I don't know if Silva will self-destruct later in the season, but for now the Twins are able to avoid compounding the starter problem. Way to go, Carlos!

2.) If not for the heroics for our Mighty Canadian MVP, Carlos wouldn't have hada win to celebrate tonight. Morneau's batting average keeps ticking closer to .300 (it's at .291 now), and he has 15 homers. That, by the way, puts Morneau on pace to hit 49.59 homers this year -- or 50 if you round up to the nearest whole number. Heck, I'd settle (haha) for 40!

3.) Jason Kubel: 0-f0r-3, average down to .237. Jeff Cirillo: 0-for-3, average down to .208. Good lord.

4.) Let me just point out that Nick Punto was the only Twin other than Justin Morneau to get a hit in today's ballgame. I really have no idea what, if anything, that means.

That's it for today's game. I'm hoping that later tonight I can actually catch up on the DOTF posts by finally getting a Low A Report up. Hope you all are having a great Memorial Day weekend!


Down on the Farm: High A Report

Ft. Myers Miracle (20-29)
6th Place -- Florida State League West Division

Miracle Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Oswaldo Sosa - 10 starts
2.) Ryan Mullins - 9 starts, 1 RA
3.) Jay Rainville - 9 starts, 1 RA
4.) Alexander Smit - 6 starts, 1 RA
5.) Zach Ward - 4 starts, 8 RA

Who's Hot: Ryan Mullins is having a great year, although his 3-3 record wouldn't show it. He's put up a 1.98 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with a 56-12 K-BB ratio in 54.2 innings of work to establish himself as the best of the Miracle starters this season. It can't be said that this is completely unexpected -- Mullins had an ERA of 2.18 with Elizabethton in 2005 and of 3.86 with Beloit in 2006, so he's been a solid starter in his short professional career. With numbers like this, a mid-season promotion (following in the footsteps of Kyle Waldrop, already promoted to New Britain) is a distinct possibility. Mullins is hardly alone on this list; Oswaldo Sosa (2.65/1.25), Jay Rainville (3.35/1.33), and even Zach Ward (2.72/1.06), who started his season in the bullpen, have all been very good this year. Unfortunately, they aren't getting much run support (Ward is 2-6!).

Who's Not: Alexander Smit, who was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November, isn't having a very good season. He missed a little bit of time recently, but has since come back (making his lone appearance out of the 'pen). When he has pitched, though, he's been hit pretty hard, with a 5.59 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 29 innings of work. Smit will have to make significant progress in the last 2/3 of the year in order to have any chance of advancing higher in the organization next season -- and if he doesn't, the Twins will have just 2 more option years to get him ready for the MLB, or he'll be gone.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Eduardo Morlan - 16 RA
2.) Angel Garcia - 14 RA
3.) Kyle Aselton - 13 RA
4.) David Shinskie - 13 RA
5.) Joshua Hill - 13 RA
6.) Yohan Pino - 9 RA, 3 starts
7.) Armando Gabino - 2 RA

Who's Hot: Yohan Pino is putting up a great season for the Miracle, posting a 1.57 ERA/0.84 WHIP and 29-7 K-BB ratio in 28.2 innings. Frank Mata was having a better season and earned a promotion before Pino, but it's only a matter of time before Pino finds his way up to New Britain. David Shinskie (2.74/1.13) and Eduardo Morlan (2.81/0.82) are also putting together nice seasons in the 'pen. Finally, I have to mention Armando Gabino, who earned a promotion from Beloit after putting up a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings, has been great in his first 2 games (3 innings) for the Miracle, with just 1 hit allowed and 2 K's.

Who's Not: No one in the 'pen is having a terrible season, but Kyle Aselton (who was used exclusively as a starter in 2006) is having a down year. So far this season, he's posted a 4.64 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in 21.1 innings of work, and he'll need to turn that around if he wants a promotion to start next season. Angel Garcia (4.57/1.48) and Joshua Hill (4.43/1.67) have also struggled this season.

1.) Caleb Moore - C(21), DH(5)
2.) Jeff Christy -C(20), DH(3)
3.) Javier Sanchez - DH(10), C(9)

Who's Hot: None of them.

Who's Not: Caleb Moore is hitting .198/.503; Jeff Christy is hitting .182/.536; Javi Sanchez is hitting .172/.531. Which would you go with if you had to pick one? Me, I'd take Moore -- at least he's only made one error, while Christy has made 5 and Sanchez has made 2 in limited action on the field.

1.) Whit Robbins - 1B(30), DH(9), 3B(6)
2.) Steven Tolleson - SS(21), 2B(18), DH(4)
3.) Juan Portes - 2B(25), 3B(17), RF(3)
4.) Toby Gardenhire - 3B(19), 2B(6), SS(5), DH(1)
5.) Matthew Betsill - 1B(10), 3B(7), SS(6), DH(2)
6.) Luis Ugueto - SS(17)

Who's Hot: Pretty much no one. Juan Portes (.251/.616) and Steven Tolleson (.250/.665) are the closest, but Portes has made 6 errors and Tolleson has made an astounding 12 (yeesh!). Luis Ugueto, recently re-activated from the restricted list, has been playing pretty much every day at short, and his hitting .246/.616 -- sad that that's in the top 3 of the infielders on the Miracle.

Who's Not: Matthew Betsill is hitting an absolutely woeful .157/.385 with just 3 RBI's on the season; he's also struck out 26 times in 89 AB's and made 7 errors in the field. Considering that he hit .280 last season in Beloit (albeit in somewhat limited action), his total inability to hit this season has to be considered something of a surprise. Toby Gardenhire, meanwhile, recently had a 3-hit game to push his batting average back above the Mendoza line (all the way to the stratospheric heights of .206!). Finally, Whit Robbins has been a disappointment with a .235/.637 and no homers. Considering that last season was his first in professional baseball, he gets a bit of a pass -- but he's got to turn it in as the year progresses.

1.) Erik Lis - LF(30), 1B(9), DH(6)
2.) Edward Ovalle - CF(29), LF(10), RF(4), DH(1)
3.) Dwayne White - RF(22), LF(12), DH(8)
4.) Eli Tintor - CF(21), RF(20)

Who's Hot: Erik Lis has been the best hitter on the Miracle roster this season -- but is still having no better than a so-so season, posting .272/.742 numbers with 3 homers and 27 K's in 169 AB's. That's the end of the "hot" list.

Who's Not: Edward Ovalle (.188/.572), Eli Tintor (.194/.552), and Dwayne White (.237/.559) have all struggled this season, although at least Ovalle has shown some power, hitting 4 homers and driving in 23 RBI's. Tintor has perhaps the most remarkable stat -- he's struck out 44 times in 139 AB's -- or just over once in every 3 at-bats. Yipes!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game # 48

Obviously, I didn't get anything up last night in the form of a Nightly Notes post. Too many fun activities (an office party and a trip to the theater to see Pirates 3). But, I did get a chance to watch tonight's game. Here are my thoughts:

1.) Is Ramon Ortiz done? I certainly don't think so, just yet, but the vultures are starting to circle. I suggested that he had a couple more bad starts to go before he was exiled, and this constitutes one of them. I regretfully have to say that I now think it's only a matter of time before he goes the way of Sidney Ponson. Why regretfully, you ask? Well, because I've been a big Ortiz advocate since he was signed, asking for patience and suggesting that signing him wasn't a terrible move. I still believe that, by the way: he came comparatively cheap, he gave the team a chance to get a solid innings-eater, and he allowed the youngsters time to develop down in AAA. Today's start was just good enough for five innings that the Twins will be able to justify sticking with him for another few starts -- it was the 6th inning that really got him. It's certainly possible that Ortiz will take advantage of any additional starts to return to his early-season form; I'm just not that optimistic that that will happen. My timetable: I expect Kevin Slowey to be in the rotation by June 20.

2.) Jason Miller had about as nice of a debut as he could have asked for, striking out his first batter and getting the next two guys out on popups to the infield. He's got a good, big curve that comes in nice and slow and which the hitters didn't seem to want to do too much with, and his fastball looked just fast enough with enough control to make it a dangerous pitch as well. For awhile there, it looked like Bert was going to get his wish for Miller to pick up a win in his first game, but the Twins rally couldn't get the winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Still and all, a very nice performance by Miller.

3.) The unofficial battle between Miller, Cali, and DePaula over who will get sent down when Dennys Reyes comes off of the disabled list was easily won by Miller (I'm guessing that the Twins wouldn't mind going with three left-handed pitchers -- you go with who's pitching the best, so I don't think they'll artificially insist on capping the bullpen at 2 lefties if they have other, better options). Carmen Cali gave up a double to Matt Stairs, the first batter he faced, and also walked a batter, but he picked up a strikeout and made it through the inning without allowing a run of his own. I call this a succesful performance, because he didn't let too much damage happen while he was in there. Julio DePaula, meanwhile, may be on the way to pitching himself off of the Major League squad -- after getting drubbed in Texas, he walked too guys (one of whom came around to score) without getting an out, and just never looked like he was throwing anywhere near the plate. He just doesn't look ready yet, and I don't think it'll be long before he goes back down. In fact, with Joe Mauer soon to come off of the DL, and the Twins interested in keeping Chris Heintz around as a third catcher, AND with DePaula pitching so poorly, it seems quite possible to me that DePaula could be the next guy sent down, as soon as Mauer gives the go ahead.

4.) Welcome back, Jason Bartlett! I, for one, missed you! It was nice to see him get a solid single in his first at-bat -- and his range looked solid, as he moved well to his left to knock down a well-hit ball that looked to be heading into Torii's front yard. He didn't ultimately get the out, but it was still a nice play, and bodes well for his return to the regular lineup, hopefully as soon as tomorrow. Unfortunately, he couldn't extend the game in the bottom of the 13th -- but it was still nice to see him again.

5.) Michael Cuddyer had a huge night, and it's no coincidence that when he started to hit again after a bit of a slump early in the month, the Twins have started to win some ballgames. It's just not possible to win ballgames if Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter have to do everything. In the last 10 days, Hunter and Morneau have kept hitting, but they've been joined by Michael Cuddyer, Luis Castillo, and Mike Redmond -- and that has resulted in the Twins winning games and playing better baseball overall.

6.) Lew Ford. 0-for-6. Batting average of .189. Jason Kubel. 0-for-6. Batting average of .243. Of the two, I'd go with Kubel every time. Rondell -- please, please, please get better soon. (And if that isn't a sign of desperation, I don't know what is . . . )

7.) A win would have been nice, but the 5-run comeback was huge for the Twins even though the end result was a disappointment -- it proved to these guys that they still have what it takes to make a big comeback, and once again should demonstrate to fans that it ain't over 'til it's over. And don't blame Matt Guerrier too much -- he's been so good this year, that one run allowed on a night when he clearly didn't have his best stuff isn't a deadly sin.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Site Update & Podcast Appearance

I'm done compiling the stats for the High A Report, but haven't yet had a chance to put up the post. It will be coming at some point soon -- but probably not until late tomorrow night. I will also be posting a nightly notes column tomorrow, but that too probably won't be until after midnight Saturday morning. The Low A Report will be up over the weekend, and the Down on the Farm reports will be back to regular next week.

Also, earlier tonight I recorded a podcast with Jeff Straub at the Minnesota Twins Fan Network, which should be up later tonight or sometime tomorrow. Thanks to Jeff for having me on. We talk extensively about the injury situation, and I talked a bit about how things are going in the minor leagues right now. Amongst all of this was a lot of general Twins talk, and for the first time I admitted that maybe, just maybe, I'm falling off of the Nick Punto bandwagon . . .

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Another One Bites the Dust . . .

It wasn't exactly unexpected, but Dennys Reyes went on the DL today, retroactive to May 21 (which means he'll be eligible to come off on June 5). To replace him in the bullpen, the Twins purchased the contract of lefty Jason Miller. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Twins transferred Alejandro Machado from the 15-Day DL to the 60-Day DL. If another player needs to be added to the roster anytime soon, Jesse Crain could also be transferred to the 60-Day DL. Before I go on to talk about Miller, let me just run through the list of players who are now with the Twins who started the season with Red Wings:

1 - Scott Baker
2 - Carmen Cali
3 - Julio DePaula
4 - Jason Miller
5 - Glen Perkins (DL)
6 - Josh Rabe (DL)

Chris Heintz is the honorary 7th member of that list, because while he broke camp with the Twins, he was in most respects a AAA guy who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to start the season with the Twins. That's really a remarkable list, because it speaks to just how desperate the Twins have been at times. Of course, this is unlikely to be the end of the call-ups for the season -- and if Jason Bartlett has to go on the DL, there could be another one very soon.

Now, back to Miller. Who is Jason Miller? Well, for starters he's a 24-year-old lefty who is now in his eighth season in the Twins organization. He was drafted out of Sarasota High School in 4th round of the 2000 draft, and has been making his way through the organization ever since. In fact, Miller has never taken a step backwards in the organization: he was with Elizabethton in 2000 and 2001 (except for 2 games in the GCL to start his career in 2000); moved up to Quad Cities in 2002 and the first part of 2003; earned a promotion to Ft. Myers during the 2003 season and stayed there for the first part of 2004; went to New Britain to finish that season and had a great start to 2005 there; and finally moved up in the second half of 2005 to Rochester where he's been ever since.

Miller has, for the most part, been a very solid Minor League ballplayer, putting up identical 3.81 ERA's in his 2 previous years with Rochester (although through many more innings in 2006). This season, he's posted a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 innings over 10 games. Somewhat troubling, however, is his weak 10-9 K-BB. This is somewhat uncharacteristic for Miller, who has a career K-BB split of 507-199; clearly, he's been more than a 1:1 K-BB guy over the course of his career. Hopefully he can get guys out at the big league level despite this troubling development.

I'm excited for Miller's debut, which should come sometime over the weekend. As a minor-league veteran, he has finally made his way onto the 40-man roster and now can concentrate on trying to move forward into the next phase of his career. My expectations for Miller are not high -- but that should make them easy to exceed, and hopefully he will do so. Good luck, Jason!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #46

Hey all -- here's an abbreviated version of the Nightly Notes. Since I was at work, I didn't get a chance to follow the game much at all, but here are the things that I'm noting from the box score and the various notes columns that I peruse. Also, remember that there will be no Down on the Farm post tonight -- but I will resume the Down on the Farm posts tomorrow, one day behind schedule. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Boof obviously had efficiency problems again, and that's worrisome. With the bullpen in such a dilapidated state, the Twins need as much help as they can get from their starters. On the plus side, at least he was able to make it through his five innings of work in such a way that the Twins were able to keep the lead. A win is a win is a win, so congrats to Boof for avoiding the dangerous "Big Inning."

2.) The Twins just took 2 series in a row, on the road. They're still below .500, and are unbelievably banged up, but this is encouraging. Even better? They're doing it without Joe Mauer and with a pretty banged up bullpen. As Mauer, et al. return, the team should just continue to improve. Also, one way or another the Twins will get better starting pitching out of Ramon Ortiz's spot in the rotation than they have been getting -- either he'll improve enough to stay in the rotation, or the Twins will turn the spot over to Garza or Slowey, who can't be worse than Ortiz has been over his last few starts.

3.) Call it a hunch, but I think Jason Bartlett and Dennys Reyes are both headed to the DL. I have no evidence for this, but it seems likely to me. Reyes is a gimme -- the Twins have been talking for two days now about him likely headed to the DL after the team returns to Minnesota -- but there hasn't been a lot of discussion about Bartlett joining him. If Bartlett goes down, expect Alexi Casilla to return to the team.

4.) Matt Guerrier = bullpen savior.

5.) Someone asked in the comments to a previous post where the love was for Luis Castillo's new errorless record. I just didn't feel that I had much to say about the topic, and so hadn't commented on it -- but it is a remarkable feat and he deserves kudos for his consistently strong defensive play. If he stays healthy all season, a Golden Glove is certainly a possibility -- and people will remember the fact that he set a record when voting time comes around, so that will probably help quite a bit.

6.) Luis Rodriguez is hitting .194 and yet is playing virtually every day right now at 3B. That's not an acceptable situation. Heck, bring Glenn Williams back up and give him a shot while Bartlett is hurt.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More on Carmen Cali

If you are a transaction buff like I am, knowing the status of players in the organization is a top priority. Part of that includes knowing somewhat obscure things like the number of options a player has left and all the other good stuff. So, if you're interested in knowing the background of Carmen Cali's Major League career, this post should clear up some of the fuzz.

Cali was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 10th round of the 2000 draft. He made his way through the system, sometimes posting solid numbers and sometimes having off-years, like most prospects. He started off 2004 with AA Tennessee, and rode a 2.91 ERA in 46.1 innings to AAA Memphis. On September 3, 2004, the Cardinals purchased Cali's contract, adding him to the 40-man roster for the first time in his career. At the end of Spring Training 2005, Cali was optioned to Memphis, making 2005 his first option year. He didn't stay there long, as he was recalled on April 12 following an injury to Bill Pulsipher. A week later, Matt Morris was activated from the DL, and Cali was optioned back to Memphis. Again, his stay was short -- on April 27 he was recalled again when Jason Isringhausen went on the DL. On May 5, he was sent back to Memphis. He was called up a third time on June 24, and this time stayed with the team until July 9 (noticing a pattern yet?). That would be Cali's last major league call-up until the Twins made the move yesterday.

Cali's 2006 season was spent entirely in Memphis, after he was optioned there by the Cardinals on March 22. The Cardinals ended up releasing Cali on November 21 of last year, and the Twins signed him in time for this season.

The upshot of all of this? Cali has one option year remaining, and the Twins are very likely to use it up this season now that he's been added to the 40-man roster. Cali is very unlikely to stay with the team for the rest of the season, and if he's sent back down it will consume option #3. That would mean that the Twins would have another player in the organization (along with Scott Baker and Garrett Jones, for instance) who they would have to make a decision on next spring. More than likely, that means that this will be Cali's only season in the Twins organization -- at least, unless he just blows everybody away like Dennys Reyes did last year.


Down on the Farm: AA Report

New Britain Rock Cats (21-17)
T-2nd Place -- Eastern League Northern Division

Rock Cats Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Brian Duensing - 8 starts
2.) Jesse Floyd - 7 starts, 1 RA
3.) Brad Baker - 5 starts, 3 RA
4.) Tristan Crawford - 5 starts, 1 RA
5.) Kyle Waldrop - 1 start
Suspended - Anthony Swarzak

Who's Hot: Brian Duensing is having a very nice season for the Rock Cats, with a 4-1 record and a 2.47 ERA/1.08 WHIP in 43.2 innings. He's also struck out 30 while walking just 7, which is also quite solid. With the suspension of Anthony Swarzak and the promotion of Nick Blackburn, he's now unquestionably the ace of the Rock Cats staff -- and if the Twins were to call up Matt Garza or Kevin Slowey, Duensing would probably be a candidate for a promotion. Brad Baker is also putting together a solid season, with a 2.92 ERA/1.05 WHIP and 20-9 K-BB ratio in 37 innings of work. Finally, Kyle Waldrop was just promoted from Ft. Myers, and went 7 strong innings in his first Rock Cats start, taking a tough luck loss despite allowing just 2 runs (1 earned) and allowing just 5 hits.

Who's Not: Tristan Crawford was demoted from Rochester after a poor start there, and in 23.2 innings with the Rock Cats he hasn't been much better, posting a 5.70 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. He does have a somewhat odd 4-2 record despite his poor pitching. Jesse Floyd has also struggled a bit, posting a 4.54 ERA/1.54 WHIP in 39.2 innings.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Tim Lahey - 14 RA
2.) Jay Sawatski - 14 RA
3.) Jose Mijares - 14 RA
4.) Danny Powers - 12 RA
5.) Brian Forystek - 8 RA, starts
6.) Frank Mata - 2 RA

Who's Hot: Well, first, a shout out to J.P. Martinez, who was promoted to the Red Wings after starting out with a 1.37 ERA in 19.2 innings for the Rock Cats. Amongst the players still with the team, Jose Mijares (who is probably going to be promoted to Rochester on Wednesday or Thursday) has a 3.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 19.2 innings of work (and a 21-6 K-BB ratio). Brian Forystek has also been solid, with a 3.46 ERA/1.35 WHIP in 26 innings, along with a 28-12 K-BB ratio. Also nice: he's been very solid when asked to make spot starts this year, and could probably be slotted into the rotation without too much difficulty. Frank Mata, meanwhile, is another recent call-up, and in 2.1 innings he's allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk while picking up 2 saves. Not a bad start!

Who's Not: Danny Powers has a 7.41 ERA/2.29 WHIP in 17 innings of work, which isn't going to earn him any promotions. Jay Sawatski (4.95 ERA in 20 innings) and Tim Lahey (4.70 ERA in 23 innings) have also struggled a bit this year.

1.) Korey Feiner - C(22)
2.) Kyle Geiger - C(17), DH(1)

Who's Hot: Kyle Geiger has a team-leading .345 batting average and .901 OPS in 55 at-bats this season, but still finds himself playing second-fiddle on the team behind the plate. That's not entirely fair -- Geiger and Feiner essentially play every other day, so they pretty much get equal playing time.
Meanwhile, Korey Feiner has a reasonably strong .262 batting average and .719 OPS this season in 61 at-bats -- and I just can't bring myself to put that in the "Not" category.

Who's Not: Nobody.

1.) Brian Buscher - 3B(25), DH(9), 1B(1)
2.) Trevor Plouffe - SS(31), DH(2)
3.) Brock Peterson - 1B(24), DH(6)
4.) Felix Molina - 2B(26), DH(2), SS(1)
5.) David Winfree - DH(11), 3B(10), 1B(4)
6.) Luke Hughes - 2B(11), DH(5), LF(2), 3B(1)

Who's Hot: Luke Hughes leads the infielders in batting average, with a .308/.840 in 65 AB's to go along with a couple of steals and 10 RBI's. David Winfree has also hit well, with a .284/.783 and 2 HR's in 95 AB's, although his 27 K's are a little on the high side. Felix Molina, meanwhile, is hitting .274/.703 in 113 AB's -- but he has made a rather high 7 errors, tied for the team lead with Trevor Plouffe.

Who's Not: None of the infielders are having truly bad seasons, but the aforementioned Trevor Plouffe does have a low-ish .250/.707 and has made 7 errors on the season in 132 AB's. Brock Peterson (.264/.776) and Brian Buscher (.263/.751) have been more mediocre than truly bad this season.

1.) Garrett Guzman - LF(30), DH(1)
2.) Brandon Roberts - CF(28), DH(1)
3.) Matt Allegra - RF(30)
4.) Rashad Eldridge - CF(9), RF(7), LF(4)

Who's Hot: Matt Allegra is the closest thing to hot in the outfield, with a .265/.757 and a team-leading 4 homers to his name. He has struck out 37 times in 113 AB's, which isn't so great, though.

Who's Not: That would be the rest of the crew. Garrett Guzman is the best of the rest (.256/.667 and 3 HR's), but Brandon Roberts (.204/.485) and Rashad Eldridge (.211/.629) have been pretty awful. That's particularly disappointing with Roberts, who for a while last year looked like he might be a very solid prospect for the Twins. Now, he looks like a guy who's going to be fighting just to keep his job.

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Nightly Notes: Game #45

For one night at least, the Twins seemed like the Twins of late last year, with everything pretty much going according to plan. It was frankly nice to see after a couple of poor performances in a row. Before I get to the notes, a quick site update -- I'll be posting the AA Down on the Farm Report later tonight. Tomorrow, I will post a Nightly Notes column on the game, but I have a party to attend tomorrow night and so will not have a chance to work on a Down on the Farm report. That means that I'll be posting the High A Down on the Farm report on Thursday. The Low A Report (and I haven't done one of those in about a month!) may go up Friday, but I also may not have a chance to do it until Saturday. Either way, I will get one done. Regular schedule on these should return next week. Now, to tonight's notes:

1.) Johan Santana looked like Cy Young Santana tonight, and we as fans can only hope that he's going through his annual late May transformation from a very good Major League pitcher to The Best Pitcher in Baseball (all caps required). Tonight, he went 7 innings and gave up just 1 run (on a well-hit ball by Sammy) on 4 hits while striking out 13 batters. As I said yesterday -- Johan Santana can be "The Stopper" for a team, Carlos Silva cannot. Tonight was proof.

2.) Justin Morneau had yet another 2 homer game, and Torii Hunter decided to knock one out of the park as well. This probably shouldn't surprise anyone -- Hunter has been money all season, and Morneau is starting to look awfully comfortable at the plate. These guys are doing their best to keep the Twins afloat in the AL Central race.

3.) Ron Gardenhire had been giving Lew Ford playing time because he said that he'd been swinging a good bat -- but he's hitting just .185 and hasn't looked that good to me. I was happy to see Jason Kubel back in the lineup today, even if he did just go 1-for-4.

4.) Jeff Cirillo is a better hitter than his .209 average indicates. It would just be nice if he could demonstrate that.

5.) Dennys Reyes is probably headed to the DL on Thursday when the Twins get back to Minnesota. While the Twins have indicated that Jason Miller is probably the next guy who well get a call-up, I'm going to continue to advocate for Ricky Barrett, who is already on the 40-man roster and has been lights out so far this year for Rochester, albeit in limited action.

6.) The Red Wings website is reporting that the Wings will get a pitcher from New Britain before Thursday's game. It seems quite likely that the new pitcher will be lefty Jose Mijares, a member of the Twins 40-man roster. The way Twins relievers are dropping like flies, I wouldn't be too surprised to see Mijares make his Major League debut sometime this season.

7.) Joe Mauer is getting closer to healthy. My guess is that he'll come off the disabled list on Monday or Tuesday of next week, but that's just a guess.


Twins Call Up Cali

News came down today that the Twins have placed Glen Perkins on the 15-day DL with his muscle problem, and have replaced him by purchasing the contract of LHP Carmen Cali. The Twins 40-man roster was sitting at 39 after the release of Sidney Ponson, so Cali's addition brings the team back to having a full roster. If further additions to the roster are needed, both Jesse Crain and Alejandro Machado could be moved to the 60-day DL.

I'm a little surprised by the decision to call up Cali instead of Ricky Barrett, but the fact that Barrett has only pitched in 6 games since coming off of the disabled list and has no Major League experience probably were involved. Cali has been solid this season, posting a 2-0 record and a 2.70 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 16.2 innings. Of some note, however, is the fact that he has just 5 K's and 6 BB's this year, which is not only a bad ratio, it's simply not very strong in absolute number terms either.
Cali last pitched in the big leagues in 2005, when he made it into 6 games for the Cardinals. He pitched in 10 games for St. Louis in 2004. His career MLB numbers are not good -- 9.45 ERA, 2.63 WHIP, 13-12 K-BB. Hopefully, he'll be able to turn this around this time through, and maybe make things interesting for Julio DePaula when Glen Perkins comes back.

Finally, who would have guessed during Spring Training that Carmen Cali would end up playing for the Twins while Mike Venafro and Randy Choate, two veteran lefties, never did? Life can be funny that way. Good luck to Carmen, and hopefully the Twins can stem the tide of player injuries soon. One last note -- I haven't seen any news about it happening yet, but the Red Wings were carrying just 11 pitchers when Cali was called up, so they're short at least one guy in the bullpen. I would guess that another AA pitcher is about to get a promotion -- and that guy might be a member of the Twins 40-man roster, lefty Jose Mijares, who has a 3.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 19.2 innings this season for the Rock Cats.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Down on the Farm: AAA Report

Due to the lengthy absence and the difficulty that would be associated with me trying to stick to the new format this week, I'm modifying the Down on the Farm reports slightly for this week. I'll be focusing more on who's doing well this season rather than just over the past few weeks, and will only be marking where a player has played over the course of the season, rather than splitting it into both "this week" and "this season" segments. The format will return to normal next week.

Rochester Red Wings (22-18)
2nd Place -- International League North Division

Red Wings Season Stats

Starting Pitchers

1.) Kevin Slowey - 8 starts
2.) Matt Garza - 8 starts
3.) Dave Gassner - 7 starts
4.) Jeremy Cummings - 5 starts, 4 RA
5.) Nick Blackburn - 1 start

Who's Hot: Kevin Slowey remains a dominant pitcher this season, with a 5-2 record and remarkable stats: 1.76 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 50-5 K-BB ratio all in 56.1 innings. he's put himself in the lead position for a call-up to the big leagues if the Twins find themselves in need of a starter, with the only real question being whether the Twins think he can still benefit from the time in the minors rather than a quick call-up. Jeremy Cummings has also been solid this season, posting a 2.90 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 31 innings. He should be used mostly as a starter for the foreseeable future.

Who's Not: Dave Gassner may be close to being done in the Twins system. He was removed from the 40-man roster last November after suffering through an injury plagues 2006 season, and this year has been a nightmare for Gassner, with a 7.39 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 31.2 innings of work. If the Twins had more candidates to take over a starting role at the AAA level, he'd probably already be gone. As it is, if he doesn't turn things around quickly, he won't last past the end of June. It's harsh to put Nick Blackburn in this category after just one start, but his 4.91 ERA justifies it (even if his 1.23 WHIP does indicate a bit of bad luck on the runs allowed side of the ledger). At least he made it through 7.1 innings in his AAA debut, which is solid. And, while it's not really BAD, Matt Garza's 4.07 ERA and 1.45 WHIP get him in this category because so much more was expected of him. To this point, he hasn't turned it on, and he's been passed by Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, and Kevin Slowey in the pecking order since the start of Spring Training. That's definitely moving in the wrong direction -- although I and most Twins fans are still very high on him, for good reason.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Bobby Korecky - 16 RA
2.) Brian Bass - 12 RA
3.) Carmen Cali - 11 RA
4.) Jason Miller - 3 starts, 6 RA
5.) Ricky Barrett - 6 RA
6.) J.P. Martinez - 1 RA

Who's Hot: Ricky Barrett started the season on the disabled list, but has returned with a vengeance, posting a 0.00 ERA in 6 games (9.1 innings) with a 0.43 WHIP and 8-1 K-BB ratio. With the Twins bullpen injury woes right now, his name has to come up as a possibility for a promotion. Jason Miller is another name that might get some consideration if the Twins need to call someone up, having posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 24 innings this season. On the downside, his 9-8 K-BB ratio isn't very inspiring, and could indicate that he might have trouble getting out big league hitters. Carmen Cali has also been reasonably solid, with a 3.46 ERA/1.31 WHIP in 13 innings.

Who's Not: There are any number of candidates for this position. The low-hanging fruit here is J.P. Martinez, a recent call-up who through one game has an 18.00 ERA and 3.50 WHIP in 2 innings of work. But Brian Bass has to be the most obvious candidate for inclusion in this category amongst pitchers who actually have some time at the AAA level this year, having posted a 5.40 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 20 innings of work. Incidentally, the recently departed Mike Venafro never really recovered from his rough start, as he had a 5.40 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 11.2 innings when he was sent packing. Amongst those still on the team, Bobby Korecky also belongs on this list. Although he has 8 saves, he also has a 4.76 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 17 innings of work.

1.) Jose Morales - C(25), DH(9)
2.) Matthew LeCroy - DH(25), C(6), 1B(2)

Who's Hot: Jose Morales has figured out how to hit, apparently, with a .328 batting average and .808 OPS in 122 AB's. He's also popped a homer out of the park, driven in 10 and scored 17, and limited himself to an acceptable 14 K's while making just one error behind the plate this season. If something were to happen to Chris Heintz, he'd almost certainly be the next option for the Twins (especially considering that the alternative would be *gulp* Matthew LeCroy.

Who's Not: Speaking of LeCroy, he belongs firmly on this list. He's knocked a couple balls out of the park and has 12 RBI's on the season, but he's hitting just .197/.546. With numbers like that, I wouldn't expect him to be seeing a big league bench anytime soon. LeCroy is a nice guy, but these numbers are making it look an awful lot like he is simply no longer a Major League caliber ballplayer, as has been suspected for some time.

1.) Tommy Watkins - SS(17), LF(9), 3B(4), 2B(3), DH(1)
2.) Matt Moses - 3B(33), DH(1)
3.) Matt Tolbert - 2B(28), SS(5)
4.) Alexi Casilla - SS(13), 2B(9)
5.) Glenn Williams - 1B(21)
6.) Gil Velazquez - SS(3), 1B(1)
DL - Ken Harvey

Who's Hot: Matt Tolbert continues to hit at a torrid pace, putting up a .356 average and .972 OPS in 101 AB's. On the downside, he's made 6 errors and is still behind Alexi Casilla on the depth chart. Glenn Williams is also putting together a solid season, with .300/.862 numbers and a couple of jacks in 70 AB's. He's probably also happy to be playing just one position this year -- last year he was bounced around a lot and actually played a fair number of games at 2B. Finally, it's a mixed bag this year with Alexi Casilla, but I'm going to throw him on the good side because he's shown a lot of speed (8 steals in 23 games) and a reasonable bat (.263/.685). On the downside, he's struck out 20 times in just 80 AB's, so he's got to fix that problem.

Who's Not: How about Gil Velazquez, who is hitting just .222 (to be fair, that's in just 9 AB's -- he was recently promoted). Matt Moses is the worst of the regular crew, but his batting average of .250 and OPS of .617, while not that good, also aren't terrible. For a third baseman, though, he does need to generate more power -- although a two homer game early this month showed that maybe he's moving in that direction. Moses has also struck out 32 times in 128 AB's and made 6 errors in the field; all-in-all not a great year so far for one of the Twins one-time big name prospects.

1.) Denard Span - CF(37), RF(2)
2.) Garrett Jones - 1B(17), RF(14), LF(4), DH(1)
3.) Trent Oeltjen - LF(20), RF(6), CF(2)
4.) Doug Deeds - RF(18), DH(4), LF(3), 1B(1)

Who's Hot: Garrett Jones (who, you'll notice, just barely avoided moving into the "infielders" category -- 18 outfield games v. 17 infield games) played well enough so far this year to earn himself a short promotion to the Twins before being sent back down. He's hitting .302/.853 with 5 HR's and 25 RBI's, while striking out 26 times in 126 AB's. He should get another chance to play in the big leagues soon. Trent Oeltjen is also quietly putting together a good season for the Red Wings, with a .291/.734 in 79 AB's as a sometimes starter, to go along with 5 SB's.

Who's Not: With all of the hype, the Twins have to be sorely disappointed in the play of Torii Hunter's heir apparent, Denard Span, who is hitting just .237/.606 in 156 AB's and who has a ridiculous 34 K's. For a contact/average hitter, that's way, way, way too high. Span has shown his speed with 10 SB's, but the average simply has to come up before the Twins can even think of replacing Torii Hunter with him. Doug Deeds has also been disappointing, hitting just .203/.581 in 74 AB's -- although he has hit a couple of HR's. Most startling though may be his paltry 3 RBI's and his 28 K's (remember, that's in just 74 AB's).

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