Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nightly Notes

With a week to go until the end of the regular season, the playoff races are tightening up and getting awfully interesting. Here are my thoughts on the current state of the Twins and the playoff races to be decided over the next seven days:

1.) Kevin Slowey has had an up-and-down rookie season, but today he showed why he's a top prospect in the organization. Slowey went seven strong innings, throwing 99 pitches (a very solid 75 for strikes) and allowing just 4 hits and a run while striking out 9 and, most importantly, not walking anyone. Slowey is in a great position to claim a spot in next season's rotation, and starts like this just solidify things. If I had to guess right now, I would say he'll be in the starting five when April 2008 rolls around.

2.) Congratulations to Garrett Jones for finally showing off a bit of power and knocking his first big league homerun out of the park. Unfortunately, Jones hasn't impressed for most of the season, striking out around 26% of the time (including twice today) -- which would put him amongst the league leaders in that category. The problem is that the rest of the players throughout the league who strike out at that rate also hit a ton of homeruns, which excuses the K's. Jones is going to need a lot more than 1 homerun in every 63 AB's if he has any hope of staying in the league with his K rate so high.

3.) I will have much more to say about this as we move into the off-season, but I sincerely hope that this was not Torii Hunter's last home game as a Twin. Ozzie Guillen is a blow-hard, but he's a blow-hard who occasionally speaks the truth. The other day, Guillen said that the Twins without Torii Hunter and Johan Santana next year would go from being piranhas to sardines -- and while I disagree about the impact of losing Santana (to recap, the benefits to be gained from trading him, such as a new 3B, LF, and possibly DH, would be greater than the loss from losing him due to the Twins organizational pitching strength), I absolutely agree with him that losing Hunter would be catastrophic to the organization at this point. More to come on this point.

4.) Jason Kubel continues to look as if he's turned a corner -- he hit .364 in August and has hit .309 in September, and while the homeruns haven't been as regular as I'd like, he is at least producing. I have very high hopes for him for 2008.

5.) The Yankees are just a game and a half behind the Red Sox -- time to panic? For a confirmed Yankee-hater such as myself, it might as well be.

6.) Even if I weren't living in Colorado, I'd be rooting for the Rockies to win the Wild Card. This is a young team that has developed more quickly than expected, and the fan base has been in purgatory since the 1995 playoffs. After winning 8 games in a row, the Rockies find themselves just 1 1/2 behind the Padres and one game behind the Phillies. It would still be a shock for the Rockies to make the playoffs this season, but I will be rooting for them all the way.

7.) The Brewers are falling apart, which is fine by me -- I actually like the Brew Crew, but as I've said before, I think the Cubs have the potential to be a great playoff story, and I want to see Sweet Lou back in the post-season. The Cubs couldn't have asked for a better schedule to finish the season -- 3 games in Florida and 3 in Cincinnati -- while the Brewers are at home but have to play the Cardinals for 3 games and then the Padres, who will be fighting for their playoff lives, for 4. My money is on the Cubs.

8.) Current first-round matchups, if the season ended today:

* Angels @ Red Sox
* Yankees @ Indians

* Cubs @ Diamondbacks
* Padres @ Mets

I think the Yankees would have a huge advantage by not having to face the Angels in the first round -- for some reason, they have a significant problem with the Halos. Things will undoubtedly change over the next week -- and hopefully the Yanks will get the Angels in the first round.



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