Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Archive for February, 2008

Another Bad Day in Florida; 8-3 Loss to the Red Sox

Well, the Twins have played a couple of Spring Training games. And the offense has looked pretty impotent in both. Game 1, against the Reds, we only scored one run (on an error), while being unable to take advantage of a three-error inning by the Reds. In Game 2, against the Red Sox, the bats again failed to show up.

Through the first eight innings, the only run the Twins scored came on a Brian Buscher solo home run. (At least he continues to swing a good bat.) We finally broke through in the ninth, with a two out rally courtesy of Ruiz, Knott, and Christy. At best, that shows that the team has managed to build at least some kind of depth in the system, because these guys are most certainly not going to make the roster this season.

And for anyone interested in Gomez’s run at the starting CF job … he’s now 0-4 in the first two games, and has looked pretty overmatched while doing it. Pridie also went hitless, making Denard Span the only CF candidate who’s managed to come up with a hit thus far.

Perhaps most ominous was the fact that for the second game in a row, one of our top young pitchers got touched up, hard. This time around, it was Slowey who gave up a couple of home runs in the 4th inning, and was unable to finish two innings of work. The reports had said he was throwing harder and better than ever, and that the Twins’ hitters couldn’t touch his stuff; if we can’t hit a guy who gets destroyed by a real offense, we’ll be in trouble.

The bright side of this game? Boof finished 2 scoreless innings, while Humber rebounded from his rough outing against Concordia with a scoreless inning. The Twins combined for 10 strike outs in the game. Position-player-wise, the only bright spot was Buscher. However, the odds continue to be against him winning the 3B spot over Lamb. Typical.

The other bright side is that MLB.TV works on Linux now. So I don’t have to mess around with my old and underpowered Macs and Windows machines, and get to watch the games on the good computer. The season is looking good in that respect.

We play the Red Sox again, Saturday at noon. I could hope for a good birthday present (in the form of a victory), but I fear the odds are heavily stacked against it. The Twins are not ready to play baseball yet, and it shows. They’d better start swinging bats and getting people out (outscored 14-4 in the two games thus far), or else the bright hopes of spring will dry up a little faster than expected.

Go Twins. Tomorrow’s a new day.

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Infield Logjam

As many of you may know, we have lots of infielders in camp, none of whom (aside from Morneau) really stand out.  They way I see our starting infield should be as follows: 1B Morneau, 2B Harris, 3B Lamb, SS Everett.  We should keep Punto on the bench and depending on how they perform in the spring one of Buscher or Watkins.  I think Casilla should move to his natural position of SS and play everyday there in AAA.  He is clearly very raw and would not benefit at all from riding the bench and getting ragged on by Gardy.  So assuming we carry 12 pitchers, which we usually do, our roster looks like this: C: Mauer, Redmond; 1B: Morneau, 2b: Harris, Punto; 3B: Lamb, Buscher/Watkins; SS; Everett; OF:Kubel, Young, Cuddyer, Monroe, Pridie (or one of the other guys, too close to call).  Obviously we can see Punto’s value since he can play 3 positions.  Whereas Buscher can backup 3B or 1B.  Watkins can back up third, is trying to be emergency catcher which immensely adds to his value, and I’m sure in a pinch he can play some second.  For a guy who has been in the minors for a decade, I’m sure he won’t let a little position unfamiliarity stop him from playing in the majors. 

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Souhan on Punto

Jim Souhan wrote an article about Nick Punto in today’s star tribune.  Can you really call it a slump if it lasts an entire year?  I say no.  Also, Punto thinks he can be our leadoff hitter in April, well season starts in March buddy.  I know its good to have a versatile player like Punto on the team.  We used to have Denny Hocking, now we have Punto.  Hocking couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag, neither can Punto.  He wouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as the starters if it weren’t for Gardy’s love of “scrappiness”.  I have nothing against Punto personally, I’m sure he is a nice guy, and from what I read he is great in the clubhouse.  However, in baseball, and in life, you have to know your role.  His is “utility infielder”.  There are worse things you could be than pretty much the first guy off the bench for one of the most respected organizations in the majors. 

I also don’t like how he mentioned he wasn’t going to change his swing.  Guy comes off a year where he was lucky to hit .210 and he is going to change….nothing? really?  At least tell me you are going to try to change something.  I understand defense is very important, especially with a young pitching staff.  But how can Punto even be considered over Brendan Harris.  Harris played out of position all last year, so he will be much better at second than he was at short.  Also, he is leaps and bounds a better hitter than Punto.  So having above average (albeit overrated) defense and the worst bat of all time, against an average glove and an above average bat is a competition? Come on.

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Cuddyer on Delmon

Buster Olney talked to Michael Cuddyer, and got this out of him via email:

E-mailed the Twins’ Michael Cuddyer and asked him about his first impressions of Delmon Young, and about landing his own long-term extension. Young, Cuddyer wrote in response, “has impressed. We all know how much talent he has and how good he is going to be, but what has impressed me the most is the way he has been carrying himself. He is really excited to be here, excited to learn, excited to be a part of our organization and a part of the way we do things. He has been nothing but eager to soak up the knowledge of Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, and I am sure Harmon Killebrew once he arrives. So in response to what has jumped out at me is not what has transpired on the field but what he has brought with him off the field. I think the middle of our lineup could, and entire lineup in fact, could really surprise a lot of people. For some reason a lot of people have forgotten about the accolades this team won two years ago and two of those three, obviously excluding the Cy Young, are still here. Add Delmon in there, Brendan Harris as well and we can potentially be pretty impressive. All of course on paper!”
Obviously we’ve been high on Delmon the whole time he’s been a Twin, and none of this is especially new, given the reports that have been coming out of the organization.

But it’s promising to hear that Cuddyer agrees, and is just as excited about Delmon as we are. Additionally, he seems to be jumping on my “Twins offense will be the surprise of the year” bandwagon. (There’s still plenty of room, by the way.) I like it, Mike. Keep up the good work. Of course, he’s missing the biggest key to the successful offense: the emergence of Kubel.

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More Spring Training Notes

  • Apparently Jesse Crain threw to real hitters for the first time since May.  I don’t think it should count since those “hitters” were Nick Punto and Adam Everett.  Although kudos to the coaching staff for giving Crain a nice confidence boost.
  • Kevin Slowey looked good in his first pitching session. Word is he was throwing really hard.  Harder than anyone has seen him throw before.  However, since the Twins don’t use radar guns in camp nobody really knows how hard he was actuall throwing.
  • Gardy officially made the call for Delmon Young to start in left, keeping Cuddyer in right. This is a smart move.  Make a note, because you can count on one hand how many times I will say Gardy made a smart move.
  • The lineup for tuesdays first spring game is as follows:

Denard Span- CF, Matt Tolbert- 2b, Brian Buscher-1b, Garrett Jones- RF, Tommy Watkins-3b, John Knott-LF, Randy Ruiz-DH, Felix Molina-SS, Drew Butera-C.  Wow. Who in the world is John Knott?

 

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Tyner Signs with Indians; Gardy Attempts Humor

Apparently, the Indians have gone ahead and signed Tyner.  Gardy had an interesting reaction.

“They must’ve been one home run shy of their quota.” – Gardenhire, when asked about former Twin Jason Tyner signing with the Indians
This is the sound of me falling off my chair, laughing. It seems to me that teams usually like to get players from a division rival in order to glean information about the team that isn’t necessarily apparent from watching film.

The White Sox immediately got better at competing with the Twins when they got their grubby mitts on AJ. Maybe he made a bigger difference because 1) he was good, and 2) he was a catcher. But Tyner was one of Gardenhire’s boyfriends, and spent plenty of time on the bench with Gardy, presumably learning all the secrets with the ultimate plan of selling them on the AL Central black market. He surely knew it was his only chance to score another contract.

My only hope is that Gardy knows so little about what he’s doing that Tyner’s nefarious knowledge won’t help our rivals. It’s a good thing he’s so blase about the possibility though.

And no, I don’t think I’m overreacting. Thanks for asking.

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Delmon Young

There was another article in one of the twin cities papers today about Delmon Young’s “Checkered past”. Can anyone provide insight into what this consists of, besides the bat throwing incident?  I am convinced that he is just being lumped in with Dukes, and journalists aren’t willing to do the leg work to figure this out. But thats just me.

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Span the favorite?

Denard Span, the former first round draft pick and heir apparent to Torii, claims he has what it takes to be the starting center fielder.  He doesn’t.  Of the three candidates competing, Gomez, Pridie, and Span, Span is by far the worst.  None of the three are major league ready in my opinion.  So when you are significantly worse than your below average competition, you should just shut up.  I appreciate that he is going to give 110% and all the jazz, but was he not trying to make the big club in years past?  Could he not beat out Lew Ford and Jason Tyner for the 4th outfielder spot the past few year?  Did the likes of Darnell McDonald and Garrett Jones deserve late season call-ups more than Span? Yes they did.  Span has not once played at the Major League level.  The twins have recently had a severe lack of position player depth in the minors and Span couldn’t even compete with these scrubs for a late season roster spot.  When Hunter got hurt in 2005 and missed most of the second half, Span’s name wasn’t even whispered to be called up for a look.  I just don’t think he has what it takes, and he needs to be written off as a bust. 

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Crawford Slams Young

Joe C’s got a post today about Carl Crawford complaining about Delmon Young’s maturity level, lumping him in with Elijah Dukes. He was really harsh about it, but I don’t think he realized exactly what he was saying.

“They could do whatever they wanted to do and they did whatever they wanted to do. Being loud, talking too much, saying whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted to say it to. There weren’t no rules for those guys. Now they’re going to somewhere where they have rules, so I don’t know what’s going to happen then.”
No rules for two talented young players who clearly need guidance, in the game and in their lives? Now, it’s possible that I just like Delmon Young because he’s the newest (good) Twin, and I want him to succeed and become a big star who outshines Garza and Bartlett. But maybe there’s a reason Tampa Bay has never won 70 games.

A team needs rules. Some rules are stupid (no “bling bling” or windbreakers, despite the fact that the team distributes windbreakers and the goal of every season is to acquire some bling at the end), but having them helps to keep people in line. If Tampa Bay had no rules, then it’s no wonder the franchise has been in disarray throughout its history. And I don’t want to think about the implication of taking Crawford literally when he says “There weren’t no rules for those guys.” Is it possible that these two were the exception to the team rules? Because if that’s the case, it’s even worse than not having any rules at all.

The Twins are a better run organization than the (Devil) Rays. The sky is blue.

Delmon Young is probably going to clean up his act, and make Crawford look like an idiot.

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Spring Training Notes

A few thoughts on things I’ve read now that camp has opened.

  • Livan Hernandez was told not to wear “bling-blings” in the words of Gardy.  I did not know this but team rules state no excessive jewelry can be worn by players.  I have no problem with this, but it might also explain why we have lots of dorky white guys on the team.  Livan was also told he could not wear a windbreaker during practice.  I thought this was strange.  At least he isn’t like Wild Thing Rick Vaugh and not wearing a cap or sleeves.
  • The team seems to be plagued by visa problems.  First Liriano and his DUI related issue.  Now we have Reyes who just plain forgot to renew his passport, so he is stuck in Mexico until later this week.  Casilla also missed his visa renewal appointment due to a family emergency.  I guess that is ok, but he is one guy who really can’t afford to miss workouts. 
  • Carlos Gomez appears to be “head and shoulders” above the competition for the starting CF job.  This does not surprise me, as Span is just plain bad and should not be considered, but I think Pridie should be given a fair shake.  Either way it should be fun to watch, or read about.
  • Back to Livan, apparently he had some trouble keeping up with the other pitchers during wind sprints yesterday.  Granted it is the first day, he is fat, and Reyes wasn’t there to make him look good, but for a guy who was desperate to get a job he should have showed up to camp in a little better shape.  Maybe his presence is why people think Boof looks so slim.

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