Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

First Game of 2009: Twins Take an Early Lead in the Mayor’s Cup!

Last night, the Twins played their first game of 2009. In the Opening Day of Spring Training, Perkins got the start and went two solid, scoreless innings.

We played the Red Sox, in the opening game of the 2009 Mayor’s Cup, which goes to either the Twins or the Red Sox in the battle for Fort Myers superiority. We lost 3 games to 2 in 2008, which is pretty much totally unacceptable. But this time around, we ended up taking an early 1-0 lead as we won the game 5-2.

The early returns from the offseason eye surgeries? Morneau went 1-2 with a walk and a double … and an embarrassing strike out where he watched a fastball middle in for strike three. Cuddyer walked, grounded out while flailing at a pitch out of the zone, and grounded out easily to short. I wouldn’t call these great early results (or nearly a large enough sample size to even bother talking about it), but I’d take a combined .500 OBP from Morneau and Cuddyer.

We scored three runs in the second inning, scraping together singles and sacrifice flies, and hitting well with runners in scoring position. It’s the Twins way, after all.

Since it was just a spring training game, players were getting subbed out early, and managing the game is based on getting as many players into the game as possible. So there’s definitely nothing to question about anything Gardy did (though it was somewhat jarring to see Perkins leave after just two innings). But, like the Twins surely do, I have a few reactions about how some of the players looked.

Nathan (who pitched the 4th and gave up Boston’s first run) did not look good. He didn’t have a handle on his breaking balls and couldn’t hit the corners with the fastball; he got hit pretty hard. He’s clearly not ready for the season — but he also shouldn’t be pitching the 4th inning very often. I’m not worried about Nathan.

Ayala looked decent, not great. A fly ball, a popup, a groundout, and a line drive. His ball wasn’t fast, but it had a bit of movement. He could be a reasonably good addition to the bullpen if he pitches like that — the only baserunner he allowed was a (hard) low line drive off Pedroia that Morneau wasn’t quite able to handle. (In direct contrast to his fantastic pick on a line drive earlier in the game.)

Jason Jones has nice movement on the curve, but his fastball is too straight and he leaves it too high up. Especially since it’s not fast. He also seemed to get a little rattled as things went south for him. The biggest part of his game, at this point, is probably mental. Not really the kind of guy we can afford in the majors this year, but he seems valuable if the Yankees will take a very low level piece of crap to let us keep him AAA to see what the Cliburns can do.

David Winfree sucks in the outfield (completely botched a play and lost the ball, allowing a run to score when it shouldn’t have, and instilled zero confidence while catching the game-ending fly ball), and looked completely lost at the plate while striking out pathetically. His swing is really long and he has no strike zone recognition. This guy is not a prospect.

Danny Valencia is big. I expected him to be much smaller, but he looks really well built. And the ball just explodes off his bat. He looks like he could be good. Which is really promising, because we’ll need him in the next year or two.

I couldn’t tell much about Trevor Plouffe. He looks sure handed at short, but I couldn’t see his range. His swing looks a little long, he could stand to shorten it up. Time will tell if he’ll be able to replace Punto’s glove and bat at SS. [Insert short video of me coughing.]

Some of you may say that spring training games don’t matter. And, since they don’t actually count for anything, you’re partially right. But this one did count for something — it was Game One of the Mayor’s Cup, which is huge — and it was the first game of the year. For those of us who have been dying for the last four months without baseball, it was a beautiful day.

Go Twins.

4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. FunBobby February 26th, 2009 7:33 am

    What do we win if we take this “Mayor’s Cup”?

  2. sirsean February 26th, 2009 8:59 am

    A trophy. And pride. And, I believe, a parade in Fort Myers.

    It’s hugely important.

  3. Erica February 26th, 2009 1:00 pm

    Not really Twins related, but last night’s game reinforced my opinion that NESN is the a super-obnoxious outlet for watching baseball. I’m looking forward to Dick and Bert (I don’t care what you say, I think they do a nice job!).

    Lots of weak ground balls last night for our hitters. I was hoping someone would show some power.

  4. sirsean February 26th, 2009 1:12 pm

    The NESN broadcast is pretty irritating.

    I’m not that worried about the lack of good contact last night. The hitters don’t have their swings down yet. No big deal.

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