Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #79

So the streak continues, with the Twins having won nine games in a row and 11 of 12 overall. Heading into the final weekend of interleague play this season, the Twins find themselves just 1/2 game behind the White Sox and seven games over .500. Here are some notes:

1.) Don't expect the Brewers to simply lay down and die this weekend. With the Twins and Royals (both 9-1 in the last ten games), the Brewers (8-2) are one of the hottest teams in the game right now. Just looking straight up at the numbers, the pitching matchups favor the Brewers -- but that hasn't stopped the Twins during their run through Cy Young award winners. Tomorrow will see Nick Blackburn face off against Seth McClung in a battle of pitchers who have nearly identical performances this year. After that, it'll be Livan Hernandez facing Manny Parra, followed by Kevin Slowey against Ben Sheets. Both of those matchups statistically favor the Brewers -- but it doesn't seem like a great idea to bet against the Twins right now.

2.) I sometimes wonder whether it's a good idea to bat Mike Redmond third when he's in the lineup for Joe Mauer, but he always seems to perform well. Tonight, he went 2-for-5 and showed why my fears are unjustified. I don't think Redmond is a starting caliber catcher, but I love having him as the team's backup. He's a tremendously valuable asset to the organization. Is there any question that the Twins will pick up his 2009 option at the end of the year? I don't think so. At less than $1 million a year, he's a relative steal.

3.) Scott Baker picked up the win and a quality start after a shaky early performance that saw him give up 3 runs in the first 3 innings. As I've said often recently, I think the Twins starters need to figure out how to be more efficient generally, as Baker through 101 pitches through 6 innings. That's not terrible, but it would also be nice to see these guys be able to stretch a little bit more. This is a minor complaint, though, since the bullpen has been doing perfectly well since the starters stopped getting run off the mound in the third or fourth inning.

4.) The bullpen, by the way, was a bit of a Frankenstein monster today -- Gardy used five pitchers to get through three innings, and really it worked very well. Jesse Crain gave up the only hit allowed by the 'pen tonight, but outside of that hit he was lights out with a 2 K's for his 2 outs. Craig Breslow looked like he might struggle a bit, throwing some big sweeping breaking pitches that weren't even close to the zone but ultimately getting the one out he was asked to get. No harm, no foul. Matt Guerrier continued his solid run as the Twins primary set-up man. Joe Nathan was Joe Nathan. Hard to believe that we were all so frustrated with this 'pen a few weeks ago -- it once again is looking like a strength, as it should be.

5.) What else is there to say about Brian Buscher? He kept it up today, going 2-for-4 to bring his average to .386 on the year. He just seems so relaxed right now, which a young guy in his position probably shouldn't be! Really, this has been a note every day -- there's just not a lot left to say.

6.) O.J. Mayo to the Timberwolves -- I can't be disappointed by the pick, because I think he was the best player available. Still, I have this horrible feeling that the Wolves are going to do something silly like trade Mayo to Memphis for Kevin Love and who knows what. For all of you who want to rag on Bill Smith or Terry Ryan, I just ask you to cast your eye to the T-Wolves. In my mind, the Twins GM's have done a significantly better job in a much, much tougher position than Kevin McHale has done with the Wolves. Hopefully the Wolves will do something interesting with their two second round selections.

7.) Nice to see Matt Garza get a one-hitter today against the Marlins. Despite the fact that Garza (with a 3.76 ERA and a 6-4 record) has succeeded while Delmon Young has struggled, I still think the swap was a good one for both teams. The Twins dealt from a position of strength to (attempt to) fill a need, and in the long-term I think Delmon will fill that role admirably. I don't want the Twins to "win" this trade by seeing Garza flame out -- I want to see both team win by getting what they thought they were getting. Considering the age of the principles in the deal, I'm still confident that will ultimately happen.

8.) The Twins signed supplemental 1st round pick Shooter Hunt yesterday, putting them in an excellent position with their draft picks just a couple of weeks after the draft, and with 7-8 weeks left before the August 15 deadline to keep going after the players who have yet to sign. The Twins have now signed 10 of the 12 players they took in the first 10 rounds of the draft, with only Miami closer Carlos Gutierrez (who is likely to sign soon) and Iowa righty B.J. Hermsen (likely to go to college after being taken later than he had hoped) not under contract. Overall, the Twins have now signed 17 picks. That's pretty close to what they probably wanted to do -- but with a lot of time left, I could easily see them getting up to 20 players signed. I'm pleased with the team's haul this year, and anything added from here on out is icing on the cake. I'd love to see them find a way to sign Hermsen and another high schooler or two, but it's a long shot and ultimately the Twins didn't need to sign these guys to have a successful draft. We'll see how this plays out in the next few weeks. UPDATE: Reader Kris noted in the comments section that Hermsen's high school season could run all the way until July 25, and that the Twins have essentially told him that they'll get serious about negotiations when it's over. They probably have to wait anyway under MLB rules, but the upside to this is that, as Kris says, there is hope that the Twins will get him signed.

9.) Germany v. Spain in the Euro 2008 final. Guess I've committed myself to supporting the Germans, but having seen highlights of the Germany/Turkey match and watching the Spain/Russia match, I'm pretty confident the Spaniards will come out on top. Check out the final on Sunday (although it'll be up against the Twins and the Sprint Cup race, so I'm guessing it's going to go largely unnoticed in Minnesota . . .).



  • At Thu Jun 26, 09:41:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well hello Josh,
    I was just reading your organizational rankings for the Twins and sadly I did not recognize the acronyms for many of the minor league squads. Can you let me know what the progression through the Twin's minor league program looks like. By the way very impressive, you are either a pro scout in training or have way too much time on your hands.

    I don't blog so I don't have a blogger identity...so I'll just let you know this is Joe Kelley

  • At Thu Jun 26, 11:10:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Hey Joe! I'm definitely not likely to ever be a pro scout (sadly), so I guess I have too much time on my hands -- although it never feels like I have enough.

    As for progression through the organization, the hierarchy is as follows, going lowest to highest:

    1.) Gulf Coast League Twins (Low Rookie League)

    2.) Elizabethton Twins (High Rookie League)

    3.) Beloit Snappers (Low A Ball)

    4.) Ft. Myers Miracle (High A Ball)

    5.) New Britain Rock Cats (AA Ball)

    6.) Rochester Red Wings (AAA Ball)

    There are a couple of summer leagues that Latin players often start in (Dominican and Venezuelan versions), but I don't count them on the list because most players in the organization don't/can't play in them. Also, the Twins send players to the Arizona Fall League which runs after the regular season is over, but there are only a few players that participate in that each year.

    Hope this answers your question, and good to hear from you.

  • At Fri Jun 27, 06:41:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    West Delaware's baseball season could possibly last until July 25th. the Twins told BJ to play his season then they will talk. So don't give up on his signing yet.

    Kris Sutter

  • At Fri Jun 27, 08:47:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Kris -- Great info! Thanks for the update.


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