Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #80

Wow -- that was an incredibly entertaining game, but with an unfortunate result. Still, 2-1 against the Tigers is a very good result (I refuse to be pessimistic about winning a series on the road against the Wild Card leader). Here are tonight's notes:

1.) Alright, fine! I give in! I have been a severe critic of Scott Baker for about two years. I admit that I absolutely never thought that he would put it all together to be an effective Major League pitcher. I am ready to admit defeat on that (very happily so, I might add). I don't know if Baker has turned a corner or not (for the record, it certainly looks like he has), but he's starting to pitch consistently well, and I'm ready to stop watching him with the expectation that he's going to fail. Basically, he's turned the corner that Carlos Silva turned earlier this year -- I no longer will watch his starts and expect him to struggle. In case you haven't looked at all of the relevant numbers for Baker, by the way, here's his ridiculous line: 8 innings (complete game), 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 K's, and a remarkably low 79 pitches. Tough, tough loss -- but in the long term, the much more significant thing for Baker is that he was awesome today, not that he took the loss.

2.) Apparently Lew Ford is 4-for-8 against Jeremy Bonderman in his career, and I saw a suggestion earlier today (I think it was over on one of the Strib blogs) complaining that Ford wasn't in the lineup, and that Tyner was. Look, 4-for-8 is great and all, but I view it as essentially meaningless. You need more data. Tyner is having a better year than Ford, and he's a lefty. Against a tough right-handed hitter, give me the guy with the higher batting average and hits from the opposite side of the plate. Tyner did fine tonight, by the way -- 1-for-3, although he did have a K -- so I think the results were about what you could expect against a pitcher as tough as Bonderman.

3.) The Twins have decided to keep the rotation intact up to the All-Star break, which means Boof Bonser will pitch tomorrow, Carlos Silva on Tuesday, Johan Santana on Wednesday, Kevin Slowey on Thursday, Scott Baker and Matt Garza in the doubleheader on Friday, Bonser again next Saturday, and Silva to finish up the unofficial first half in a week. I think this is a good decision -- I don't like messing with the rotation unless there is a very good reason to do so.

4.) One implication of the Twins keeping the rotation intact is that Johan Santana will be available out of the bullpen in the White Sox series, if needed. If I would Gardy, I would relish the thought of bringing Santana in to get through a tough inning, or to face a tough lefty. Could be fun to watch -- although there's always the possibility that Santana wouldn't be sharp coming out of the 'pen.

5.) The Twins are preparing for the return of Rondell White at the start of the second half of the season, but the interesting question is who he'll replace on the roster. One possibility is for the Twins to cut back down to 11 pitchers -- which I actually think is very likely. However, that would leave the team with 6 outfielders, which seems like a bit much. Now doesn't seem like the time to part ways with Lew Ford, either, however -- as much as I rag on him, he's actually picked up his play significantly since mid June, raising his batting average from .217 on June 15 to .259 today -- and he hit .326 in the month of June overall. Jason Tyner is hitting .286 on the season. Both are much faster and much better defensively than Rondell. I guess that means that 6 outfielders is the most likely scenario for the team coming out of the All-Star break, assuming there isn't another setback for White.

6.) Congrats to Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, and Johan Santana for being selected as All-Stars -- and to Pat Neshek for making it onto the final vote ballot. I'll be writing up my thoughts on the All-Star selections in the next couple of days, but for now I'll just say that each of these guys certainly belongs.

7.) Sometime tonight or tomorrow (probably tomorrow) I'll post my First Half award winners.



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