Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Long, Rambling, Return to Blogging Post

I've been gone for 11 days, and a lot has changed with the Twins in that time. I'm going to combine my thoughts on last nights game with thoughts on the Twins in general in this post.

1.) Let's start with last night's pitching performance from Boof. I was worried in the first inning -- forget about the run that he allowed (although that was bad enough); I was much more concerned with the fact that he was throwing a lot of pitches, and was picking at the corners with both his fastball and his curve. That's a recipe for disaster for Boof -- he'll get a fair share of strikeouts that way, but it usually takes more than 6 or 7 pitches to do it. Pitch efficiency is absolutely the key to success for Boof. That's why it was encouraging to see him start to really go straight after hitters in the second and third innings. When he struck J.J. Hardy out in the third, it was on a nasty biting curve that wasn't aimed at a corner -- he went right after him with the pitch rather than nibbling. Boof has a good enough curve ball to challenge hitters with it (same with his fastball), and that's what he did effectively yesterday. It payed off by helping him get to 11 K's -- a career high -- and also in making it through 7 innings with just 92 pitches thrown.

2.) Finally, finally Ron Gardenhire realized that it made no sense whatsoever to pretend that Nick Punto can't play anywhere other than 3B. This spring, Gardenhire essentially ruled out using Punto anywhere else, because he wanted Punto to be confident in his position as the team's starting 3B. That obviously changed, as Punto was used at SS yesterday to get Jeff Cirillo in the game. It made no sense to me to not utilize Punto's ability to move around the infield. In fact, if I had it my way, the Twins would not need to carry Luis Rodriguez on the team because Punto would be the backup 2B and SS. He'd still be in the lineup everyday, but on days when he wasn't at 3B Jeff Cirillo would be. His mobility is an asset, not a problem, and I'm glad that Gardy is finally recognizing that fact.

3.) Speaking of Punto, does he have reason to worry? Jeff Cirillo looked very good yesterday both at the plate and, to a lesser extent, in the field. Cirillo will probably get most of his playing time as the DH, but if a couple of other guys get hot, or if Mike Redmond and Joe Mauer both need to be in the lineup (and the way Redmond is hitting, that might happen regularly when Mauer returns), Cirillo's only shot to play will be at 3B. How long does Gardy stick with Punto in those situations? I don't have an answer, but I would guess Punto might get some more rest than he would like.

4.) There will probably be some complaints about the Twins decision to call up Scott Baker rather than Kevin Slowey for today's start, but it was absolutely the right decision by the Twins. Clearly, Slowey is having a better year than Baker is -- he's 4-2 with a 1.46 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP to go along with a 44-3 K-BB ratio in 49.1 innings, while Baker is 3-2 with a 3.16 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP and a 41-4 K-BB ratio in 42.2 innings. But while Baker's numbers might not be as good as Slowey's, there are several other reasons that he's the better option right now. For one thing, this is his last option year, which means that the Twins need to make a decision on what to do with him by the end of Spring Training 2008. With Baker pitching well in AAA, the Twins would undoubtedly like to see how he does at the big league level as part of that evaluation process. Additionally, if the Twins decide to make some moves at the trade deadline, it is at least possible that Baker could be involved in those discussions -- after all, the Twins will have Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano, Bonser, Glen Perkins, Matt Garza, and Kevin Slowey seriously competing for spots in the rotation next year (and Carlos Silva could conceivably be back as well), so where does Baker fit in? If he has a solid couple of months in the rotation, he could be a valuable piece to trade if the Twins decide to go in that direction.

Even if not, however, there are other reasons to pick Baker over Slowey. Baker has been in the big leagues before, so the nerves that proved to be Matt Garza's undoing last season when he was called up, and which very possibly could have affected Slowey, shouldn't be in play with Baker. Further, Baker seems to have figured out what he needs to do to pitch effectively -- and it's important that he gets a chance to try that out now while things are going well. Finally, Kevin Slowey is not currently on the 40-man roster. He could easily be added, but as soon as he is the clock starts ticking on option years and arbitration and free agency. If the Twins believe, as I do, that Slowey should ideally spend the entire minor league season in AAA, then why call him up now and start the clocks ticking? Slowey should be brought up in September, after the minor league season is done, and make his Major League debut then. Otherwise, the odds are the Twins would end up using an option on him this year. All-in-all, it's just a better plan to go with other options (like Baker) first, and see if you can get Slowey as much seasoning as possible.

5.) I don't think you've seen the last of Garrett Jones in a Twins uniform this season. Like Baker, Jones is in his last option year, and the Twins will need to make a decision on him by the end of Spring Training 2008 as well. Expect him to bounce back and forth a few times between Rochester and the Twins as he's evaluated. For the record, I don't expect him to stick with the team -- there just isn't a lot of need for another lefty with power potential who strikes out a lot (*cough* Jason Kubel *cough*). Nevertheless, sometimes things click for a player, and maybe that will happen for Jones this season. I just wouldn't count on it.

6.) So, it's been pointed out to me in the comments that my discussion of Mike Venafro is . . . well . . . obsolete since he's been sold to the Blue Jays. This is what happens when you don't pay attention for awhile . . . I'm leaving this note like it was, so anyone else who wants to make fun of me can do so.

The Twins decision to call up Julio DePaula surprised me at first, because I hadn't been thinking about him as a likely call up. However, upon closer inspection it made a lot of sense. For one thing, the most obvious call up candidate in the Red Wings bullpen, Mike Venafro, didn't really fit the bill. He's a lefty, and the Twins already have Reyes and Perkins in the 'pen. He also is pretty much a max 1 inning kind of guy. DePaula is a righty who can go a little deeper when needed (20 innings in 15 games for the Red Wings this season), and he just slots in better. My preference probably would have been to call up Jeremy Cummings, who had a great spring for the Twins and is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 31 innings (26-4 K-BB ratio) this season -- better numbers all around than DePaula -- but I at least understand why the Twins went with DePaula. If Julio struggles, however, I think Cummings is a very real possibility to get to the big leagues.

7.) If there were an injury to a middle infielder, Matt Tolbert would be the obvious call-up. The 16th round pick from the 2004 draft is putting together a very solid season for Rochester, and while it's somewhat unexpected to see him performing as well as he is right now, the Twins may give him a shot at some point to show what he can do at the big league level. I wouldn't expect it anytime soon, but it's a possibility -- especially if the Twins don't want to call Alexi Casilla back up right away.

8.) I told Marty in one of his podcasts that I thought Sidney Ponson would last 6 weeks as a Twin. He lasted . . . 6 weeks as a Twin. If only the rest of my predictions were this accurate.

9.) It was great to see the Brewers in the throwback uni's yesterday. I love seeing teams honor the past this way, and it's certainly better than teams going with bizarre new uniforms (has anyone else see those hideous neon-red numbers that the Red Sox wear once in awhile?). I really like the new Brewers uniforms, but there's something about seeing the uni's that a team was wearing when I was a kid that thrills me. So, for anyone interested in this question, I ask what uniforms you'd like to see teams wear again once in awhile, and/or which should be banished to the pages of history. I'll start you off by saying that I wish the Phillies would wear the old number from the Mike Schmidt days once in awhile, and that the white, red, and black uniforms that the White Sox used to wear should never, ever come out again.

10.) Umpires that take longer than a half second to indicate balls and strikes should be fired.



  • At Sat May 19, 02:50:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The fact that Mike Venafro was sold to the Blue Jays for a dollar made it really not likely that he would be called up by the Twins.

    Welcome back!


  • At Sat May 19, 03:44:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    See, this is what happens when you aren't paying attention. Thanks, Seth, for catching my rather horrendous mistake!

  • At Sat May 19, 03:46:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    I was going to congratulate you on the Ponson prediction. I see you congratulated yourself already.

  • At Sat May 19, 06:31:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    I have to seize the initiative in these things -- it's not often that I get predictions like that right.

  • At Sun May 20, 08:07:00 AM , Blogger Face said...

    I would love to see the Nationals wear some throwback Expos jerseys....RIP Montreal

  • At Sun May 20, 08:16:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    I have to admit, I too was always a fan of the Expos.


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