Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #43

A sweep looked like it was in the works for the first half to today's game against the Brewers, but a poor start from Ramon Ortiz and a poor relief performance from Dennys Reyes doomed the Twins. Still, 2-of-3 on the road against a first place team (even the first place team in the NL Central) isn't too shabby. Here are today's notes:

1.) Alright, in my world the clock has started to tick down on Ramon Ortiz's Twins career. Don't look for any quick or drastic moves by the Twins, however. Having spent $3.1 million to bring Ortiz in, and having watched him pitch well throughout Spring Training and in his first handful of starts this season, the Twins are likely to firmly believe that Ortiz is capable of contributing to this team's success. I was firmly on the Ortiz bandwagon after he had three solid starts to begin his Twins career -- one good start is a fluke, two is a coincidence, but three usually means a guy has found something and will avoid prolonged stretches of crappy pitching. Not so, apparently, with Ortiz. Today he gave up 5 runs in 4.1 innings of work, raising his season ERA to 5.36. The biggest problem was a homer to dead center by Geoff Jenkins that took the score from 5-2 to 5-5 in the blink of an eye. Early on, he actually looked alright -- not great, but alright. He was getting guys out (although he was having some Boof Bonser-esque efficiency problems and was throwing way too many pitches). I was actually preparing to write about how Ortiz had a respectable outing that would likely get the vultures off his back for a few starts, at least. That wasn't to be. So, what's the timeline on his replacement? I would say that if Ortiz has three more starts like this (i.e. generally bad starts where he can't get through five innings and gives up over a run an inning) in a row, he's gone. If, however, he mixes in some decent performances, I think the Twins will keep him around a good deal longer.

Now, a note to reconcile my statements from yesterday about the Twins decision to call up Scott Baker over Kevin Slowey. I had a litany of reasons that I think calling up Baker was the right move, and some of them indicated that my preference would be for Slowey to stay in AAA until September. All of that, however, is predicated on the notion that there is just one opening in the rotation -- the one created by the departure of Sidney Ponson. If Ramon Ortiz (or anyone else, for that matter) were to depart via release, injury, or trade the equation changes. At that point, with no "Scott Baker"-like candidate ready to step up and get a shot at a place in the rotation, I would fully support giving Kevin Slowey a chance. If Matt Garza were to start throwing really well, however, even if Slowey was still pitching better than him, I would probably advocate going with Garza. I'll elaborate more if it appears that Ortiz is in danger of being released.

2.) I may be going soft on bunts, but not so soft that I agreed with Gardy's decision to have Luis Castillo sacrifice Luis Rodriguez from 2nd to 3rd in the 6th with nobody out. Here's why: the runner is already in scoring position. There is no danger of a double play (barring something bizarre). You have no one out and three major league hitters ready to come to the plate. Between Castillo, Punto, and Cuddyer, you are very likely to get at least one base hit, which would probably score the run. Even if you don't, however, Castillo is a veteran hitter who likely could have tried to pull the ball to the right side. That would have moved the runner up without the sacrifice while at the same time keeping alive the possibility of getting a hit. Again, circumstances dictate everything -- if Michael Cuddyer or Justin Morneau (hitters who are capable of driving the ball to the outfield) had been up next, a bunt isn't a terrible call, because you'd be setting up a possible sac fly. In the situation that presented itself, however, the bunt was simply a bad play.

3.) Oh, Dennys Reyes. No one expected you to do what you did last year, but it's starting to get a little bit worrisome that your ERA is now above 6.00. Even the ever pessimistic Aaron Gleeman didn't go that far. I was willing to take an ERA in the mid 3.00's, but above 6.00 is just not very good. Of course, the Twins have locked up Reyes for this year and next, so don't expect him to go anywhere. It's not unreasonable to be asking whether the Twins should have tried out Mike Venafro earlier so that they could part ways with Reyes if things didn't work out. Now that Venafro is out of the organization, however, we can forget about that option.

4.) Was Claudio Vargas' pick-off move really good, or were the Twins just jumpy? Nick Punto got picked off, of course, but several other base runners seemed to be a bit hesitant taking their leads. I suspect this may have just been the result of Vargas picking off Punto, but it just seemed a bit odd.

5.) When it's the bottom of the 9th and you're down by a run, you have to swing the bat. Nick Punto, I'm looking right at ya.

6.) I changed this post to accurately reflect the horse race that really happened this weekend -- I misidentified it the first time through. This is NOT Twins related, but I wanted to mention it anyway. I'm a racing fan as well as a Twins fan, and watched both the approximately 2 minute long Preakness and the 3-4 hour long NASCAR All-Star festivities yesterday. The horse race was great -- one of the most exciting I've seen (although I rooting for Street Sense if only to keep the drama alive for the Belmont Stakes). The car race -- not so much. I'm glad someone other than a Hendrick driver won the event, but I just can't get that into an exhibition race. I never thought I'd be more interested in a horse race than a NEXTEL Cup race, but that's the situation I found myself in yesterday.



  • At Sun May 20, 03:46:00 PM , Blogger justin said...

    First off, why does Gardy put in Denny Reyes in that situation? I feel much much more comfortable with either putting in Perkins or even just staying with the rest of the bullpen. Denny Reyes sucks, at what point does the Twins force him to come into spring training in shape and force him to actually look like a big league player? Second, those might have been 3 of the worst at bats i have ever seen in the 9th inning, Cordero might have thrown 5 strikes to the entire 3 batters. They just gave up. This should have been a sweep of the Brewers, but Gardy became a Brewer fan i guess. This is the same type of game like last year's playoff game where Gardy didnt have a clue who to pitch in relief. Gardy makes me sick.

  • At Sun May 20, 03:54:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Thanks for the comment, Justin. I do feel compelled to say that Gardy decidedly does NOT make me sick -- I think he's a very good manager who is human and makes mistakes from time to time (and I mentioned what I felt was one in the main post today), but all-in-all, I'm glad he's the manager of the Twins. And, really, I wouldn't blame the loss today on Gardy. Reyes gave up one run and took the loss, but this loss belonged to Ramon Ortiz. If you want to, you can blame Terry Ryan for that -- but not Gardy.

  • At Sun May 20, 09:01:00 PM , Blogger justin said...

    Okay, agreed, but does Gardy really have to put Reyes in, in that situation. You knew the second Reyes stepped on the mound he was going to blow it.


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