Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #82

One sign of a good team is its ability to bounce back from a defeat quickly with strong performances. After yesterday's disappointing end to the 10 game winning streak (disappointing not so much because it was a loss, but because the offense that had been so potent over the previous fortnight suddenly disappeared), the Twins began that bounce back with a solid 5-0 win over the Brewers today to win the series. Now, attention shifts to tonight's Cubs/White Sox fracas, as Minnesota looks to move back to just 1/2 game down. Here are some notes:

1.) Sorry to hear about the Michael Cuddyer injury, but on the plus side this will be yet another opportunity for Denard Span to demonstrate that he can provide some value to the Twins. Span really has been having a very solid season for the Red Wings, and I'm pleased for him that he's going to get another two weeks to show off his skills. I would think that Span has a great shot to fill the roster spot currently filled by Craig Monroe when the 2009 season rolls around. I don't know if he's ideally suited for that role because he doesn't provide the power that Monroe provides, but certainly this year has seemed to demonstrate that Span is only in AAA because there's no where else to stash him at the moment. Be interesting to see what happens during this callup.

2.) I don't really have anything to say about Kevin Slowey's start other than "yippee!". The Twins needed a pick me up after yesterday's typically mediocre Livan Hernandez start, and Slowey's performance today demonstrates why I'm so excited about this team -- I really think that the young Twins starters are up to the task of keeping this team competitive. They're going to have bad days here and there, but overall they're going to be better than veterans like Livan. If I had my way, Livan would be gone and the Twins would either give Francisco Liriano a big league spot again (although he's not been great in AAA recently), or give a shot to guys like Brian Duensing, Kevin Mulvey, Phil Humber or even Boof Bonser. I'd rather fail with a young guy than with a (relatively) expensive veteran.

3.) Incidentally, my above point goes somewhat against a position that I've often advocated, wherein I've viewed it as beneficial to keep players in the minor leagues to save service time rather than have them mature in the big leagues. I guess my aversion to signing a guy like Hernandez is high enough to overcome my desire to save service time. This does have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, though. Last year, for instance, I was strongly in favor of starting Matt Garza in the minor leagues because I thought he could still get some value out of an initial trip to Rochester. With what the Twins have right now, I'd rather take a shot on a youngster. I really don't have an easy to articulate, paint-by-the-numbers formula to apply in these circumstances -- I just know that I sort of wish the Twins hadn't felt the need to sign Livan.

4.) Mike Lamb is a stunningly bad 2-for-32 in June, including his hit today.

5.) Delmon Young has quietly raised his batting average to .281 on the season, and pulled a ball with power today. I'm going to make a prediction now that the second half of his season will be markedly better than the first half, especially in terms of power production. I'll say he ends up with 12-15 homers when all is said and done -- not great, certainly, but far better than what he's given us so far. Since you'll all forget I made this prediction, I can brag about it if I'm right and quietly bury it if I'm wrong . . .

6.) About that "Non-No Hitter No Hitter" between the Dodgers and Angels last night -- I'm inclined to agree with those who think the rule applied by Major League Baseball to declare that this wasn't an "official" no hitter is pretty darned stupid. First off, why do we have a rulebook definition of a no hitter? Do we really need one? Wouldn't it just be simpler to look at the scoreboard and glance over to the "hits" column and, if the game is over and counts as official, declare that a no hitter occurred? I realize that I'm going to be a lawyer, so I should absolutely love this lawyerly, absurdly irrational definition. However, while there's a time and a place to get into technical rules-based arguments over "what is" and "what is not," the determination of a no hitter is not one of those times.

7.) This is only marginally related, but I think represents a similar level of absurdity. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but there is a United States law dealing with the disposal of hazardous waste that defines "solid waste" to include solids, liquids, and contained gases. The definition of no hitter employed by MLB strikes me as equally absurd.

8.) The upcoming series with the Tigers is extremely important for the Twins -- if they were to get swept, they'd be just 1/2 game ahead of Detroit in the standings. There's no reason to tempt fate like that, so let's hope instead that the Twins can win the series and put at least an additional game between them and the Tigers.



  • At Sun Jun 29, 05:48:00 PM , Anonymous Marty Andrade said...

    So really, the said US law suggests all matter is solid at the Macro level (most US laws don't apply to the quantum world) if it's hazardous.

    What about anti-matter? That's hazardous stuff, but it's not matter. What does the US law say about that?

    And yeah, a complete game no-hitter is a complete game no-hitter even if you're the away team and end up losing the thing.

    Let some jerk sabermetrician write a column about how some no-hitters are more equal than others later, after the fact.

    And, I mostly agreed with your points actually dealing with the Twins. This season is getting fun.

    It's getting to the point where I'm debating bringing back the podcast.

  • At Sun Jun 29, 07:18:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If you get a chance look at the interview with Slowey on the Twins site.

    Maybe it's nifty editing, BUT Slowey's comments on Livan are my understanding of the reason Livan was brought here in the 1st place.

    The 4 other current starters, other than Baker have squat experience. I personally will give up some $$$ and some losses, IF these young pups can learn by watching a pro do his job, often effectively with minimal remaining skills.

    Injuries, may take care of things, yet Liriano seems to be improving yet he also is needing to learn to pitch rather than throw.

    Just my 2 cents (which isn't worth much due to inflation).


  • At Sun Jun 29, 09:22:00 PM , Anonymous Andrew Kneeland said...

    Great stuff. Duensing had another poor start recently. His ERA is huge, and I would not be tempted to put him my major league rotation. Humber or Mulvey, or even Bonser, maybe. But not Duensing.

  • At Sun Jun 29, 09:55:00 PM , Blogger neckrolls said...

    I will most definitely remember your prediction about Delmon Young. Mostly because I agree with it. His OPS by month:

    April: .604
    May: .697
    June: .836

    Seem to be heading in the right direction...

  • At Mon Jun 30, 06:02:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm going to disagree about the 8 inning no hitter, just to be stubborn. Would you consider it a no-hitter if the game was called after the end of the fifth inning (with the result official) and the winning pitcher had given up no hits? The losing pitcher? I both those cases it's an offical game but it cheapens the idea of a no-hitter. I'm not saying the rule is perfect or even makes logical sense when you first look at it but it does draw the line where it needs to be drawn; a no-hitter should be nine innings, not five, six, seven or eight.

  • At Mon Jun 30, 08:01:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Anon -- being stubborn is what makes the world goes 'round, and arguing over things is a good way to get all the salient points into the open so that people can decide what they think. Now, let me respond to your point.

    The situations you mentioned were exactly the ones I had in mind when I wrote the post. Luck plays a role in sport, as evidenced by yesterday's rain-shortened victory by Kurt Busch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in New Hampshire (and I'm not responding to any "NASCAR's not a sport" arguments, because that's not the point of this post). Weather plays a role. If baseball considers five innings enough to make a game official, then that's good enough for me. My rule is quite simple -- if a game ends and counts in the standings, and if the opposing side has a "0" in the hits category, then they've been no-hit.

    To me, there's nothing particularly sacred about 9 innings. Baseball apparently doesn't think so, either, since if the game goes into extras you still have to keep putting up zeroes in the hits column to keep a no hitter. That, by the way, is the right call -- it would be absurd to say that a pitcher who allowed no hits for 10 innings but gave one up in the 11th should be gifted a no hitter because he lasted for nine innings without giving up a hit. Again, the rule I would apply has to do only with whether a game ends and counts as an official game.

    Does this "cheapen" no hitters? I don't personally think so. Yes, you might occasionally get a pitcher who gets off easily with a rain shortened no-no. But you can just call that a "five inning no hitter" to differentiate it from the others if you feel you must. This is such a rare occurrence, though, that I don't think it's worth worrying about all that much. The vast majority of no hitters will be of the usual variety.

    Lost in the shuffle in this issue, of course, is the fact that this would have been a multi-pitcher no-no anyway. If the concept of a no hitter is such a pure one, then surely MLB rules should specify that there's only a no-no when the STARTING PITCHER goes 9+ innings. They don't, of course. Once you open the door to tag-team no-no's, I personally think you've already taken it from the realm of some great individual accomplishment to just an acknowledgment of reality -- that one team in a game failed to get any hits.

    The bottom line is that no hitters are somewhat freakish -- they're rare, and that makes them fun. We just don't need to worry about protecting the "purity" of the no-no by utilizing silly definitional rules.


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