Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #71

Two losses in one night is hard to pull off, but that's exactly what the Twins suffered last night -- they lost the game, and they lost their MVP (hopefully for a very short period of time). Here are last night's notes:

1.) While I normally start these posts with a discussion of the starting pitcher, it's clear that the biggest news of last night was the injury to Justin Morneau and the fallout therefrom. There is still a possibility that Morneau could find himself on the Disabled List because of the events of last night, but it's looking more like he'll be able to recover in the next few days. Had he suffered a long-term injury, I would have written an individual column discussing the implications of the injury. Instead, I'm just going to talk in this note about what would probably happen in the event that Morneau has to go on the DL. First, the column linked to above suggests that Garrett Jones is the first choice to be called up, and that makes sense -- he's traditionally been a first baseman, he has some power, and the Twins need to figure out what to do with him. The regular first baseman in Rochester is Glenn Williams -- and he's not having a good enough season to justify adding him to the roster and calling him up to play everyday. However, there is at least one other viable option -- the Twins could slide Jeff Cirillo over to first on an everyday basis (and Cirillo would probably play quite a bit even if Jones was called up) and call up Matt Tolbert, who is playing very well for Rochester, to play third. I actually like this option more right now.

2.) Another thing to come out of the Morneau injury last night was the odd spectacle of Ron Gardenhire apologizing for losing the game for the Twins -- because he didn't get Pat Neshek warming up in time to take out Juan Rincon due to the chaos in the dugout when the extent of Morneau's injury was becoming clear. First, I agree with the school of thought that says Gardy screwed up here. It's his responsibility to manage the game on the field, and that includes making sure that the right guys are warmed up at the right time. Nevertheless, this is a perfectly understandable mistake -- it was apparently a pretty scary scene last night, with Morneau coughing up blood and having difficulty breathing. For obvious reasons, this disturbed Gardy greatly -- a few people on Joe C.'s Trib blog last night suggested that Gardy looked incredibly shaken up by the incident -- so this was a completely human reaction. In the process of worrying about Morneau's status, Gardy neglected to manage his pitching staff, and Juan Rincon gave up the game-losing homer. There's no guarantee that the Twins would have won if Pat Neshek had entered the game to start the eighth inning -- but it's indisputably true that they would have had a better chance. Bottom Line: Gardy screwed up, but for a perfectly good reason.

3.) Yet another topic of discussion from "the play" last night revolves around the performance of Scott Ullger as third base coach. A lot of things were going on -- Howard Sinker says that Justin Morneau was a bit slow on the uptake, that Ullger failed to alert Morneau to what was going on in left, and that generally this whole play was botched bigtime. I can't disagree -- it's the job of the third base coach to be alert to what's happening in the field, and it's the job of a baserunner to be paying attention to that coach. Neither seemed to be happening last night. I'm not going to complain about Scott Ullger's coaching abilities, because at this point most fans have already come to the conclusion that Ullger screws up from time to time. Thing is, I don't know of any attempt to quantify the performance of third base coaches -- and I have no idea whether Ullger is a bad one, or if he just seems like it because the only plays you really notice are the ones that turn out poorly. Until I see something more concrete, I'm not willing to throw him under the bus. As for last night, I'd chalk that up as one of those patented mistakes.

4.) Now to the starting pitcher. Boof Bonser went 6 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits. Typical Bonser performance? Hardly -- he was actually very, very efficient, throwing just 66 pitches (49 of them strikes!) to get through his 6 innings. He gave up a homer, but otherwise didn't have too many problems. This wasn't a great start -- but believe it or not, I was encouraged by it. If he can continue to pitch efficiently, he'll win more games than he loses -- and when he's not pitching in a National League ballpark, he'll go a lot more than 6 innings, to boot.

5.) Juan Rincon -- ouch. The guy just doesn't have it anymore. The Twins may have picked an unfortunate time to sign him to a two-year deal. If anyone is interested in Rincon (at this point, though, would anyone be?) I agree with those who are saying that it's time to move him.

6.) Jeff Cirillo -- solid 1-for-2 day. I'll be more than happy to eat my words if he comes storming back and puts together a solid, somewhat Rondell White-like second half.



  • At Sat Jun 23, 05:21:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    As if I wouldn't have something for the whole quantifying 3rd base coaches deal...

    There is an interesting study done by The Baseball Analysts (Part I, Part II) which attempts to find a way to quantify the contributions made by a third base coach.

    Interestingly enough Scotty Ullger finds himself among the worst 3rd base coaches in baseball based on the metric. However, the metric doesn't correlate year to year so it doesn't have predictive power which means it's not a solid metric.

    I've worked on my own, simpler, method of judging third base coaches and I've had better results but I haven't gotten around to organizing my results into a publishable form (It's not even blog ready).

    My metric suggests Ullger is inconsistent but generally bad. (I compare expected runs to actual runs and make a few other adjustments).

    It's not just that we remember the Ullger boners and not anything else, there's numbers to suggest he's not good and our own experiences suggest his craptitude.

  • At Sat Jun 23, 05:26:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Nice comment, Marty -- and, of course, I fully expected that you would have something quantitative to deal with this.

    Even if your method isn't yet publishable, it and the flawed Baseball Analysts metric both point to the conclusion that he's a bad first base coach, so while not conclusive that does tend to be something that would sway me a bit. Thanks as always for the info.


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