Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Archive for January, 2008

Reusse Doesn’t Watch Baseball

I usually try not to read Reusse, because he’s such an idiot, but his latest article contains a wonderful nugget that’s just too good to pass up:

The Yankees chose to hoard Hughes, a righthanded control pitcher who can throw hard enough to break a pane of glass, rather than put themselves back in position to overtake the Red Sox in the East Division and the American League.
Oh yes. That’s how I’d choose to describe Hughes and his 95 MPH fastball. If Hughes can “break a pane of glass,” what can Santana’s fastball do? Rustle a leaf?

I understand that Reusse hates sports, especially when they occur in Minnesota, but he should at least watch. It takes about 10 seconds of watching Hughes pitch to realize that he’s best described as a power pitcher, with a particularly overpowering fastball.

Reusse should just stop. This is too much.

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Gardy Willing to Play the Youngsters

Gardenhire has long disliked young players, preferring low quality veterans over promising youngsters. Is it possible that he’s changing is mind as the team gets even younger than usual?

“There are some veterans out there coming off injuries and so forth that we could take a look at, but we’ve tried that route,” Gardenhire said. “I would rather take my shot with some of these young guys than some of the guys coming off injuries.

“We really haven’t seen people out there that are better than our young guys. We’ve got a young lineup and some young pitchers and there is no sense that they can’t go together. We have to give some of those young guys a chance, and they can help us.”

Those sound like the words of someone who realizes we have a young team, and has learned from the mistakes of the recent past (namely, ROrtiz and Ponson). It certainly doesn’t sound like Gardy. I still expect him to jerk the pitchers around, inexplicably skip starts, and completely mismanage the rotation, but it might be more difficult for him this year. He no longer has an ace, so he can’t say “it all depends on what Johan wants,” and he no longer has a pathetic veteran who loses all his confidence if any of his starts are skipped.

If Wild Bill doesn’t sign any crappy veterans to waste space in the rotation, I’ll be satisfied.

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Nathan Warms to the Twins

After spending the last year criticizing the organization and seeming to want out, Joe Nathan appears to be changing his tune.

“I know what I said, and that’s if the team is looking like it’s moving in one direction and not the direction that I’m looking to go, then it would be a less interesting place to stay,” Nathan said. “But even though we’ve lost a very key guy, I still feel like they’ve made some pretty good moves in this organization.

“Showing they are willing to sign guys like Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau long term definitely helps. I still have a good feeling about this team.”

He’s getting older, and clearly wants to be a winner before he retires. But now that the other malcontents have been silenced — by leaving through free agency, being traded, and signing a long term deal — Nathan doesn’t have the ammunition or player support to keep on complaining. All he wants now is a big contract. He claims to know what his market value is (after seeing other closers sign huge contracts this offseason), and wants to be paid like an elite closer. Fortunately, he is no longer sure that that can only happen if he leaves.
“I hope the two paths cross and we can come up with something that works for both of us,” Nathan said. “I hope I can continue to play in the city that I always said is a great city to play in with great fans, a great organization, a great staff and the players have always been great.”
I’d like to keep Nathan, obviously, because he anchors the bullpen and shortens the game. I’m a little bit concerned that he’s not as dominant as he once was, after seeing him struggle for an extended period last season, and he’s getting older. (He’s now one of two players on the roster over 30.) At the same time, I don’t see the Twins as being able to afford paying their closer $15M per season.

We’ll see what happens, but I personally think it’s unlikely that the Twins will trade Nathan this offseason. It’s getting late, and I doubt they’ll trade him during spring training.

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From the Mouth of Morneau

While many of us have been assuming that Gomez will be competing for a CF spot in spring training, or that the Twins should sign Kenny Lofton for a year, Justin Morneau disagrees:

“We now have our center fielder and leadoff hitter that we needed, and added some good young arms at the same time,” Justin Morneau wrote in an e-mail about the Santana trade.
He seems satisfied with the trade, and has a high opinion of the young Gomez. I think that’s much more important than the accuracy of his scouting report (how much can Morneau really know about Gomez?). It wasn’t too long ago that I was worried about Morneau’s commitment to this team, and that he was just waiting to sign a big deal elsewhere. Clearly, that isn’t the case any more. And his contract seems to have removed any semblance of a mercenary mentality.

We’ll see how that translates on the field. We’ll also see how the CF/lead-off race shakes out.

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So Long Santana

Well, it finally happened. Wild Bill pulled the trigger on Johan. I will say I’m slightly disappointed with this deal. However, there is some upside. We got 4 of the Mets top ten prospects. Carlos Gomez has great upside and should compete for the starting CF job with Pridie, Span, and probably Punto and Cuddyer. Phil Humber won’t become any better than a back of the rotation starter, but those can be a valuable commodity in a pennant race, or as trade bait to another team in a pennant race. Desperate teams tend to overpay for stable pitching, even if it is just a 4th starter. This is especially true in late July. If you check out Gleeman’spost today you can see all the statistical analysis for each of the players we picked up. After reading about each of them it seems that most of them were rushed through the mets system. I think the Twins approach to minor leaguers, and their good coaching staffs at every level will help these players realize their full potential. That is why I think all of them should spend all of 2008, if not longer, at some minor league level. Some claim that Gomez is going to be in center on opening day 2008, I think he has shown he is over-matched right now in the majors. The Twins would be better off signing Corey Patterson or someone for one year. I don’t think Span or Pridie are ready either.

Remember, when the team traded Knoblauch 10 years ago we got a handful of scrubs according to most people. We failed to get the Yankees top prospect at the time, Ricky Ledee. This made many fans angry, but it turned out ok. Guzman and Milton were all-stars, we turned Milton into Silva, who was a solid innings eater for a few years. I think this trade can’t be properly judged for a few more years.

Looking forward to next season I think it will be difficult for the Twins to be worse than they were last year. Young can very easily replace what Hunter did last year. And a chimp could replace what Torii would have done this year, everyone knows he only plays well in contract years. If Liriano is 75% of what he was in 06, not a totally far fetched thought, he replaces Santana’s production. With the emergence of Scott Baker as a legit major league starter, and if the rumors about Boof losing a ton of weight we should have at worst a major league average rotation. Even with Johan for 2008 I don’t think we would have caught either the Tigers or the Indians in the central. Much like the Timberwolves and KG. If they kept him they would be a little better, but still nowhere near the playoffs. So as long as Punto stays on the bench for 2008 and Cuddyer doesn’t play center, we have reason to be optimistic.

Update: I have read this morning that Johan told the twins to trade him by Tuesday (Jan 29) or he would invoke his no trade clause and he would walk after the season.  Wild Bill asked the Yankees for Ian Kennedy, Melky, and another top low level prospect, and was denied.  The Red Sox refused to move Ellsbury or Lester.  So the package we took was the best we could get before Johan’s deadline.  Everyone has been saying we should have pulled the trigger a month ago, but had Smith done that everyone would have said “he should have waited a month for a better package”.  I like the gamble Smith took.  It was not unreasonable to think the Yankees would do something crazy to get Johan, he gambled and lost. I respect that.  I’m not sure what TR would have done but I wouldn’t have respected that.

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Tuesday

One of the posters on LEN3’s blog suggested that instead of trading Johan away we should trade for Eric Bedard.  He claimed that since the going rate was only an Adam Jones (not Pacman) type player. Great. Where are we going to get one of those first off. And secondly, if we had any elite hitting prospects, why would we want to surrender them to get a pitcher we won’t be able to afford in two years?  Yes, we would have a fearsome rotation headed by Santana and Bedard, but it is a very, very shortsighted idea that would hurt the team for years to come.  Some people are just plain dumb.

In other news it sounds like the twins have asked all parties involved in the Santana talks to make their final offer. These teams, of course, are the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets.  There is a link on mlbtraderumors.com saying the Dodgers are creeping in. There isn’t really a source, so I don’t believe it.

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Thesier Out-Brains Her Readership

If you thought Kelly Thesier was bad, I have news for you. Her readers are worse. From today’s mailbag:

With no center fielder ready, traded for or signed, why aren’t the Twins talking about moving Nick Punto there? He seems to have the natural ability to catch the ball and he’s got more experience in the big leagues than a guy like Denard Span or Jason Pridie. – Andy S., Cincinnati, Ohio

Punto has the ability to play the outfield, including center field, but the Twins have more experienced options to use there if necessary. Craig Monroe has played a total of 77 career games in center field, Delmon Young is an option and manager Ron Gardenhire has even mentioned Michael Cuddyer as a possibility for seeing time there. The team also is willing to give Span and Pridie a chance to earn the starting spot. Punto will spend the spring competing for the second base spot and if Brendan Harris earns the job, as expected, then Punto will be back to filling in the utility infield role.

Fortunately for all involved, Kelly’s response warms the heart. I was worried there for a moment. A bigger question is: Who is Andy S, from Cincinnati? Why does he think Punto would be a good option in CF? Why does he want Punto to get his 600 ABs? And can we trade him to the Reds?

The disheartening part of the response is that none of the options are particularly good ones. Of the players with MLB experience, Monroe is probably the best option … and he’s not a good one. (Though he’s been insisting that he’ll be trying to win the starting spot in CF this spring.) Other than Monroe, we’ve got Pridie. Great. I don’t expect big things out of him. However, he’ll be a lot better than Punto.

None of this probably needed to be said … but people like Andy S from Cincinnati keep doing things like this that might encourage Gardy’s addiction.

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Monday Musings

We all know that Nick Punto is not a good player, and have really no idea why he is allowed to particpate in a major league baseball game.  Gardy seems to be in love with him because “he can catch the ball”.  At most, that is 50% of the game.  Punto is a terrible hitter, that includes bunting, getting on base, moving runners over, etc.  Since he lacks the ability to get on base, he is not an effective baserunner.  How many times have we had a runner (or runners) on base and Punto failed to not only get himself on base, but also failed to move any of the runners up a base? The answer seems to be a lot.  He is basically a free out.  I will concede that he probably isn’t as bad as his nearly .200 batting average was last year, but he is closer to that than to the .290 he hit in 2006.  I have yet to hear a reason, other than “he catches the ball pretty good”, for playing Punto on a regular basis.  On Gardy’s appearance on KFAN the other day, one of the reasons he gave was that Punto was annoying on the bench, so gardy didn’t want to have to deal with that.  That is a terrible reason, and probably a joke.  Although looking at Punto its pretty obvious that one would get very annoyed very fast after spending very little time with him.  So if anyone has a legitimate reason for Nick Punto get regular ABs I would like to hear them.  The following have already been covered and cannot be used again:

1) He “catches the ball pretty good”. This is not a good enough reason because Punto is so bad at the plate that his above average defense does not make up for it.  Some players prevent enough runs playing defense that if they are below average at hitting, its ok. Punto is not one of them.

2)I have heard no other real reasons for Punto getting ABs.  When there is only one decent reason for a guy to get ABs you know you are in trouble. Unless its A-Rod and that one reason is “there are almost no flaws in his all around game”

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Just Saying Stuff

“I think Gardy may have just been saying stuff,” Cuddyer said with a laugh during the press conference. “But I’m up for any challenge if that comes my way. I’ve never shied away from playing any position. If that does come about, I’ll go out and play my best.”

Gardy may have “just been saying stuff” when he brought up the possibility of Cuddyer in CF? How often does this happen? And if this is common, do the players listen to it? After all, Gardy’s in charge. When he talks, the players are supposed to listen.

So when he’s “just saying stuff” like “Let’s play Punto every day, we don’t need to score to win,” it happens. Punto plays, we lose, and people laugh about Gardy’s antics.

Frankly, his decisions and statements are laughable. And unforgivable. At least Cuddyer doesn’t take him too seriously.

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Gardy on KFAN (1/24/2007)

Yesterday afternoon Gardy appeared on KFAN answering numerous twins related questions.  Most of it was things we have discussed before, such as Gardy trying to find a place for Punto (because he “knows how to catch the ball”), and Cuddyer in center because “its easy to track down balls from center”.  He also said that Kubel’s knees were fine. Gardy said he had “no problem putting an offensive lineup on the field”. What does that mean, did he have a problem doing it last year? According to the results he did.  Anytime you have Punto in the lineup it can’t be considered an offensive lineup, well it can depending on your interpretation of offensive.  An outfield of (L to R) Kubel, Cuddyer, and Young is not acceptable.  Kubel needs to spend most of his time at the DH position because his knees are worse than Jake Taylor’s in Major League, and Jason is only 25.

I’m also not sure how i feel about Gardy insisting he wanted to keep Santana. I understand that as a manager you would love to write Johan’s name in ink at the top of the rotation, but should he really be breaking ranks on this issue. All top brass in the organization should keep with the same story.  Everyone wants to keep Santana, but when the manager says something like “I really want to have Johan as my opening day starter” he could lead fans to believe that he is working to undermine management in their efforts to get the best possible package for the best pitcher in the game.  Since I don’t believe anything Ronnie says, I don’t have a problem with it. However, this could confuse some people, and this situation is already confusing enough as it is.

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