Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #10

Back to .500! It's been something of a topsy-turvy season, but the Twins find themselves just a game behind the Royals for the division lead (how strange does that sound?). Here are some notes:

1.) I really am at a loss for what to say about Livan Hernandez. For the third straight start, he kept his WHIP in check (7 hits and a walk in 7 innings), and the result was another victory (which will usually be the case when you keep guys off the bases). We're moving beyond Ramon Ortiz territory here and into "maybe Livan isn't as washed up as we thought he was" territory. Frankly, I didn't expect three starts like this all year out of Livan. It's hard to admit, but I'm starting to think I was wrong. Of course, two of Hernandez's starts this season have come against the Royals, so perhaps I should avoid getting excited until Hernandez faces a team like the Yankees or Red Sox.

2.) What on earth has gotten into Matt Tolbert? First, he outlasts a bunch of guys in spring training to win a very unexpected roster spot, and then he dominates big league pitching to the tune of 10 hits in 18 AB's and an on-base percentage in the .600 region? Good lord, man! At this point, is it wrong to suggest a sort of uber-rotation over the course of four days, with Tolbert starting at 2B, SS, and 3B in consecutive days and getting the fourth day off? That would give the regular starters and Tolbert each a chance to play 3 out of every 4 days. It's a bit unconventional, but he has to get in the lineup somehow, doesn't he? And as bad as Adam Everett has been so far, it seems unlikely the Twins are going to just dump him so early in the season. The most interesting thing about Tolbert's rise, though, has been the virtual disappearance of Nick Punto. The joke coming into the season was that Gardy was in love with Punto and would put him in the lineup far too often. I'd say that particular man-crush has been shattered, since Punto has a sum total of three at-bats so far this season. Not that I'm complaining!

3.) Congrats to Denard Span on his first career RBI and first career outfield assist, and to Carlos Gomez on his first career triple (and by the way, how does a dude with wheels like Gomez's not hit a triple until the 67th game of his career?). I love young players -- firsts are a lot of fun!

4.) Francisco Liriano is on his way back to the big leagues, and will make his first big league start since late 2006 on Sunday. I've stated before that I thought Liriano might as well get called up if he was physically ready, and I stand by that (and will continue to stand by that even if he struggles in his first few starts back -- which, frankly, is likely). One interesting note on the decision to call him up now -- through today, Liriano will have spent 15 days on "optional assignment" to the minor leagues. To use up an option year, a player has to spend at least 20 days on optional assignment. Translation: if Liriano spends the rest of the season on the Major League roster (something that I think is likely, but by no means certain), then he'll still have two option years left. Not that I expect him to have to use those option years, but it's still an interesting development.

5.) Congrats to the Wild on pulling off a win in Game 2 against the Avalanche. Since I live in Colorado, there are some significant bragging rights for me against some of my friends and colleagues if the Wild can win this series -- I'd be rooting for them anyway, but this makes things even more interesting. I have to say, as a casual hockey fan I have really enjoyed these first two games; two overtimes, plenty of drama, what more could you ask for out of playoff hockey?

6.) Most of you have probably already seen that the Twins sent Doug Deeds to the Cubs to complete the Craig Monroe deal. While I never like to see high-level minor leaguers go, I can't say that I'm all that heartbroken by Deeds' departure -- he had some power, and a career minor league average of .291, but he also struck out a ton and struggled as a half-time player in Rochester last year. It's certainly possible that he could someday make his way to the big leagues, but I don't think it's likely. If anything, his departure clears some space in AAA for more promising players (although not in a real sense right now -- he's spent the first 8 days of the minor league season on the 7-Day DL). I wish Deeds luck in his new home.

7.) UPDATE: Tim Lahey is officially back in the fold, and is reporting to extended spring training. My original post on Lahey follows: Incidentally, it sounded yesterday like Tim Lahey, lost in the Rule 5 Draft, was probably on his way back to the Twins after he cleared waivers with the Phillies. I didn't see confirmation of that, but it seemed like something close to a done deal (the Twins aren't just going to let him go to the Phillies for nothing, but it's possible they swung some sort of a deal, which has been en vogue of late). Hopefully we'll get some sort of definite confirmation in the next day or so -- maybe by his appearance in a Rochester box score, if nothing else. Just as a reminder, the Twins have already made trades with Seattle and Washington for R.A. Dickey and Garrett Guzman, respectively, settling the account for those Rule 5 picks (the Mariners gave up catcher Jair Fernandez, while the Nationals gave up someone or something not yet named -- that I've seen at least).



  • At Sat Apr 12, 03:06:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    Just wanted to brag about getting on the Tolbert wagon really early.

  • At Sat Apr 12, 03:27:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    For now at least, you look good for hopping on the bandwagon early on.

    If I remember right, I thought he deserved a callup last year -- but I wouldn't say I was "on the Tolbert wagon." I certainly didn't expect him to play as well as he has. We should enjoy it while lasts!

  • At Sat Apr 12, 11:17:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    Oh, I am in expecation of Tolbert regressing towards the mean, of course. But, if you remember I actually invited a psychologist onto my podcast to discuss whether Tolbert could possibly not be "mentally ready" for the majors after a lifetime of playing baseball.


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