Archive for March, 2008
Opening Day. The excitement built by a long winter finally comes to a boil. Everyone wants their team to win, and to look good doing it. Every fan in America wants to be able to continue to hold out hope for at least another night, week, month.
The Twins faced the Angels, and beat them 3-2.
Livan started the game, and made Gardy look pretty good for giving him the Opening Day Nod. He went 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits. I didn’t expect this kind of an outing, but as pointed out on a comment on this very blog not too long ago, a few of his many Opening Day Starts have been similar to this one.
I remember saying “Hell, if he gives us 7 innings and 2 runs every time, we’ll be in good shape!” about one of our pitchers last year. That was Ramon Ortiz. So … while I’m pleased with Livan’s outing, I’m not getting too excited about it.
Carlos Gomez went 2-3, with 1 BB, 2 SB, 2 R. That’s an excellent line, and he also did his part to make Gardy look good for giving him the leadoff/CF spot out of Spring Training. He led off the game with a double down the left field line, and scored on Mauer’s base hit to center. He also had a bunt base hit to the right side of the infield, reminiscent of Rod Carew.
To reward Gomez’s good day at the plate, Gardy had him stay on the field after the game was over to shag fly balls. I understand that this may have been the plan since before the game, to give him some practice catching fly balls under the Baseball-Colored-Sky in the Dome, but given his day at the plate and the numerous fly balls he caught during the game, perhaps it could have waited. (Thanks to FunBobby for the report from the stadium; otherwise I wouldn’t have known about Gomez’s Sisyphusian punishment.)
While Gomez had a good day at the park in his Twins debut, Torii Hunter didn’t have quite as good a time of it wearing a scarlet A for the first time. He went 0-4 despite repeatedly getting resounding, heart-warming standing ovations from 49,000+ of his former fans. It was good to see that Twins Fans still hold Torii close to their hearts, and it really threw Joe Morgan for a loop. I guess he was expecting the Chuck Knoblauch Reception.
Oh yes. One last thing regarding Gardy’s management of the lineup. Against the right handed Jered Weaver, he opted to leave Kubel on the bench in favor of Monroe. Before the game, Gardy said he hadn’t decided which was going to start, and would have to “look at the numbers again.” It was probably too much to hope that he meant that he’d see that Kubel batted .280/.336/.474/.810 against RHP last year, compared to .194/.247/.308/.555 for Monroe. Needless to say, a .255 difference in OPS is simply huge. Joe Morgan defended the decision by talking about the LRLRL order, and that if multiple lefties were in a row, then a left handed reliever could come on late in the game and shut them down.
Well, let’s see. Monroe’s 0-3 through the first several innings against right handed pitching went a long way towards making Gardy look like a dope. Then, in the 8th inning, Kubel came in to pinch hit against a right handed reliever, and popped a bloop double down the left field line. So he did his job, which was to make Gardy look like even more of a dope.
I fail to see how getting .555 OPS production out of the DH spot is a valid way to protect yourself from having to pinch hit for a lefty against a lefty late in the game. Especially when you prove your willingness to pinch hit your DH platoon late in the game. Could Kubel have gotten a hit off Weaver during tonight’s game, and perhaps driven in a couple of runs? His .810 OPS says he has a considerably better chance of it than Monroe did. Maybe Gardy will “look at the numbers again.” Then again, maybe he won’t.
It’s always good to get a win, and to start the season off on the right foot. But we’re going to have to get better production from the offense with men in scoring position. And Gardy’s going to have to learn that when it comes to OPS, higher is better!
Well opening day is finally here. I never thought I’d say this, but God bless the Metrodome. We are supposed to get several inches of snow in Minnesota today, which is not cool. Anyway, today’s pitching matchup is Livan Hernandez (RHP) vs. Jared Weaver (RHP). The big question today is will Gardy be smart and start Kubel at DH against the right handed Weaver, or will he be dumb and start Monroe. My money is on Monroe, hopefully I’m wrong. Feel free to toss out predictions. I think Livan will give up a homer to Hunter, and maybe Vlad, too. However, since he was signed to be an innings eater, he will pitch 5 innings or more. Regardless of how many runs he gives up Gardy won’t yank him, especially this early in the season. This will cause us to get frustrated (read: drink lots of beers).
It sounds like Liriano will make one start at class A Ft. Myers, and then another 5 days later for Rochester, and the plan is to have him stretched out to 100 pitches by then and then call him up for the third time through the rotation. My guess is Blackburn will then be sent to Rochester, but hopefully Livan has an ERA north of 11 after two starts and Gardy has to get rid of him. This will not happen and we will continue to develop a problem drinking habit over the course of the season. How about some predictions.
AL East: Yankees, AL Central: Indians, AL West: LAA, Wild Card: Boston AL CY young: CC, AL MVP: A-Rod, AL ROY: Longoria, ALDS: Boston over LAA, ALDS: Yankees over Indians. ALCS: Yankees over Boston.
NL: Who cares, they all suck anyway.
That is all, Go Twins!15 comments
So Livan Hernandez is our opening day starter. Probably. When we first signed him, I thought, “Great, a back of the rotation starter who can chew up innings and only be slightly below average”. Now that we are at the end of spring training we have “Great, a god awful front of the rotation starter who everyone wants to chew up innings, but he will do so with around a 6 era”. If Livan is to be expected to pitch his customary 200 innings, we are going to have to concede a loss pretty much every time he pitches. Think about it, in order to keep “project Livan” on track, we are going to have to allow him to average 6 2/3 innings per start for 30 starts. So Gardy can’t go pulling him after 2 innings and 5 runs, or else why do we have him? I am pretty sure this topic is a dead horse, but I haven’t had the chance to rant about it. Didn’t the guy sport a nifty 5+ era in the NL? Imagine what he will post facing the Tigers and Indians over and over again. Not only does he have a high era, but he gives up lots of homers: Hafner, Martinez, Seizmore, Cabrera, Magglio, Sheffield, and so on. So when he pitches it will basically go: Livan 5 or 6 innings, giving up lots of runs then bring in brian bass or someone to finish the game. I guess it conserves our pitchers, but KNOWING you will be down big early every 5th game can’t help clubhouse morale. If we are already down a few runs after the top of the first, the offense might start trying to hard, and things will just unravel. I like the idea of using a 10 man double rotation or something. Tony LaRussa did it when he managed in the AL, and he only has a few rings, whatever. Think of it this way, Baker and Bonser could be traditional starts, ideally pitching 6 or 7 quality innings. Then for the other three starts, the “starter” innings are split up between Slowey, Blackburn, Humber, Liriano (for a few months, then he becomes a traditional starter), and Perkins. So starting around May or June we have 3 normal starters (Baker, Bonser, Liriano) and 4 “tag team starters (Slowey, Blackburn, Humber, Perkins). This will allow the 4 younger guys to basically have a season long competition for the rotation in 2009. Just a few thoughts.15 comments
Today was final cut down day for the position players. And it looks like the last men standing are Carlos Gomez and Matt Tolbert. Tolbert really came out of nowhere to earn the utility IF spot. Good for him. Nobody seemed to want it, so he stood up and took it. Buscher was the early spring favorite, but just could produce for all of camp as he seemed to fade down the stretch. Tommy Watkins tried to learn to catch, but having one hit all spring doesn’t make you a viable candidate, no matter how many positions you play. Although this theory is disproved by the fact that Nick Punto has a job.
LEN3 also is reporting that Liriano will be sent to AAA and Brian Bass will take the 12th pitching spot. I got no problem with that, but I’d like to see Liriano up in Minneapolis sooner rather than later. Maybe a month or two in the minors depending on how everyone else pitches.
7 days from today.
UPDATE: The Twins have extended Joe Nathan for three years, with a club option for 2012. The average annual salary is 11.25 mil, and there is a 2 million buyout. Not sure what the salary would be for the 4th year, or what the no-trade clause status is. We’ll get more info as it becomes available.12 comments
The Twins made a couple of moves today, both of which seem somewhat questionable. First, they sent Perkins down to AAA. I had expected Perkins to be given the chance to fight for the 5th spot in the rotation, with his fallback being to start the season in the bullpen as a lefty long-reliever. I haven’t heard any word yet on what the plan is for Perkins, or how long the expect him to remain at AAA. According to LEN3, the feeling in the organization is that he needs consistent work after taking most of last year off due to injury. We’ll see.
The other move made today was to trade Garrett Guzman to the Nationals. They selected him in the Rule 5 draft, and at the time I’d hoped that their glut of outfielders would make it impossible for Guzman to make the team, thus returning him to the Twins. That appears to have happened, and the Nationals wanted to send him down to the minors. When they offered him back to the Twins, however, we turned him down in favor of a lowly player to be named later.
Guzman was easily one of the best hitters in the minor league system last year, and giving up on him like this is surprising. It’s almost impossible that we’ll get equal value in return, in the form of this PTBNL. There are a few possibilities here:
- There are enough outfielders at the major league level for the foreseeable future that we don’t need Guzman
- He’s blocked at AAA by 2 of Span/Gomez/Pridie
- They want to clear out the OF at AAA for the possible advancement of Martin/Benson/Parmelee/Revere, possibly expecting one or more of them to do well this year
Well, while we were talking about how excited we were about Randy Ruiz, Gardenhire was crossing his name off the roster. Ruiz has been cut, along with Randy Keisler, Ricky Barrett, Tommy Watkins, and Garrett Jones.
I don’t think any of these moves are surprising. Jones just doesn’t seem that good to me; sure, when he connects he can send the ball a long way … but major leaguers need to actually connect more than once every couple weeks. Keisler is old and bad. Barrett is young and not ready (at best). Watkins — whom I like as a person, from everything I know about him — just isn’t a very good player. (Will he be Punto’s replacement in 2009 though?)
And Ruiz, while exciting, doesn’t have a position. A year ago, he would have stood out as a DH. But right now we don’t have a glaring need for one. If Monroe gets injured or Kubel wastes his opportunity (however much I hope that doesn’t happen), Ruiz could be a viable replacement DH. I think it’s good to have a guy like that in the system. Hopefully he absolutely crushes AAA pitching.
La Velle thinks the cutting of Keisler and Barrett increases the likelihood of Perkins being in the bullpen. I think the plan all along has been for Perkins to be in the pen this year, and staying stretched out a bit so he can make the occasional spot start. This most recent move doesn’t change that at all. However, given the injury problems the rotation is suddenly having, Perkins may not be able to start in the pen. It probably all comes down to the health of Baker, the recovery of Liriano, and the readiness of Slowey and Blackburn. If any of those four isn’t quite ready to go, I think Perkins is the replacement.
Last night the Twins played the Reds in what seemed like it was pretty damn close to a regular season game. The reds started some pretty legit major leaguers, and Homer Bailey was on the mound. The Twins lineup card looked like it probably will against lefties (hopefully just really tough ones, because Kubel didn’t start) during the regular season. I’m just recapping from the box score, but it looks like everything went well. We scored 4 runs off a good pitcher, we only drew 2 walks (Mauer and Morneau-no surprise there), Slowey looked (in the box score) good, pitching 5 innings with 3 hits, no runs, no walks, and 5k’s. If that doesn’t solidfy him a spot in the rotation , I don’t know what will. Rincon, Nathan, and Crain then completed the shutout. Twins pitchers walked one batter all day. Impressive. Mike Lamb made an error, not shocking I think he is still getting used to the idea of being an everyday third baseman. Harris and Gomez had steals. Giving Carlos NINE for the spring, that is awesome. He also had two hits including a double, raising his spring average to 267. I think he pretty much has the job locked up. Not much to harp on from this game. The lack of walks drawn by the lineup is disconcerting, but not that shocking.3 comments
Happy first tourney day everyone! I’ve been casually following this Randy Ruiz fellow the twins have at camp, and man, he can really mash the ball. I’m starting to root for him to get the final bench spot. This does bring up a few problems. Ruiz has no glove, he can maybe play first. Maybe. He provides good right handed power off the bench, which the twins need. Just to double check, our position players so far are: Mauer, Redmond, Morneau, Harris, Punto, Everett, Lamb, Kubel, Monroe, Cuddyer, Young, CF. Assuming we carry 12 pitchers, this leaves one spot on the bench. When kubel is DHing (hopefully more often than not) the bench consists of Monroe, Punto, Redmond. Does Monroe/Kubel count as our 5th outfielder as well as our DH or is Gardy planning on carrying an additional backup OF? I would say as of now Buscher has the leg up for the final spot because of his ability to play third (and quite well, too). Ruiz will be a nice option if someone gets hurt (I’m looking at your Monroe) to come up from AAA and be a masher off the bench. With Buscher and Monroe (or eventually Ruiz replacing one of them) that gives us nice power options on the bench. Something we haven’t had in a while, if ever. In the past few years our best power option off the bench was L-Rod. I have a good feeling about this lineup. However, I doubt Gardy will maximize its potential and they will do much worse than they should. I realize this post wasn’t Ruiz-centric, but I needed a title. And I’m out of witty slogans like “Tuesdays with Gardy”. “Thursdays with Ulger”? who would want to spend Thursday with him? Only Gardy.15 comments
Liriano has looked very Livan-esque in his handful of starts so far. I do not think this should be a huge concern. Everyone knew it would take time, and three spring starts isn’t enough to get him back into shape. Apparently his slider showed more bite yesterday, but his velocity was down. I am worried however, that the front office people claim Rochester is not an option. Why? Wouldn’t it be better if he was starting in triple A, working on his arm strength, than in the Majors working in long relief. Although, with the rotation it looks like the twins will trot out in two weeks (some combo of Livan, Baker, Bonser, Slowey, Blackburn and Humber) long relievers might get a fair amount of work in. Even more if Baker’s back problems/flu persist. Sidenote: Is everyone on the team deathly ill now? It seems as though the stomach flu or something is going arond. Isn’t it hard to get the flu and the common cold while in florida, isn’t that why old people move there? I’m not a doctor, but it seems strange. Although I guess with all the time these guys spend together in very close quarters, if one person is sick, everyone is sick.
Also, it seems as if very few people have mentioned how well Bonser has actually pitched so far this spring. His change-up has been impressive, and he plans to use it more this season. It seems like everyone just wants to talk about how much weight he has lost. We got it, he is skinny (relatively) and we all know why. He exercised and ate well, no secret there. Lets move on and talk about baseball not miracle diets.
Gardy actually made a statement that I 100% agree with. He said Casilla might be better off being the Twins SS of the future. At short his great range and arm are more useful than at second. As Gleemanpointed out today, Gardy could fall in love with Adam Everett if he exhibits the all glove, no bat style of play that Gardy seems to favor over all glove, all bat. This move will also help considering the lack of major league ready shortstops in the Twins system. I think we can erase 2007 from Casilla’s stat sheet because the way Gardy jerked him around seemed to really mess with him. Hopefully he has grown up since then and can roll with the punches a little better.12 comments
Sometimes Gardy manages to outdo himself. I really … I mean … I can’t say anything about it. Quote:
“Robin Williams would fit right now for us. He’d be my guy — multi-talented, lots of different characters. I think he could play anywhere,” Gardenhire said. “If it gets down to that and we all need to get a celebrity in there, it’s either going to be Garth Brooks or Robin Williams, I can’t decide which.”Robin Williams or Garth Brooks? Seriously? I think Gardy misunderstands the “Twins Way” to mean “unathletic, banjo-hitting, uncoordinated, and untalented.” Frankly, I think this quote says all there is to say about Gardenhire as a manager.
Also got this little tidbit from Phil Miller:
Anyway, I stood behind the batting cage for awhile, and heard Nick Punto and Tommy Watkins — each of them have only one hit this spring — joking about “not wanting to peak too early.” They’re obviously feeling a little pressure to get going, but they’re keeping their sense of humor.Yes. At least they have a sense of humor about not being able to hit the ball. Really, that’s the most important thing. Not, you know, starting to hit the ball. Fortunately for them, Gardy seems to share their misguided sense of humor. In today’s game, Everett is leading off (Gomez bats 9th), and Punto is the DH. If you can come up with two worse decisions for the lineup, I’d like to hear them.
If nothing else, Gardy seems to want to give us plenty of fuel. Inexplicable.