So here I am, at the time the game normally starts … and there’s no game on. I hate off days. I’ve decided that I’m going to start an ongoing feature called Useless Offday Thoughts, which … well, which is exactly what it sounds like. You’ve already been treated to one, regarding managers and their uniforms. Here’s number two.
This is the last day before Joe Mauer’s triumphant return to the team. There will certainly be some mistakes made in his use, like batting him third and keeping Casilla at #2 and pushing Kubel out of his natural #4 spot, but at the moment all that nonsense is overridden by the fact that he’s returning to the lineup and all is right with the world.
But perhaps the biggest difference will be his work behind the plate — especially given that Morales has done a great job in the batter’s box. I believe the two-headed Redmond/Morales monster has combined to throw out one base stealer, while opposing teams run at will against us. I know Neyer says it doesn’t matter, but shutting that down will probably help.
What will help more is that Mauer calls a great game. Everyone says Morales has made big strides in his game-calling abilities, but Mauer is one of (if not the) best. And Baker especially has shown an uncharacteristic inability to make adjustments during the game — I have a feeling Mauer puts an end to that. We have a team ERA of 5.26 thus far, for an ERA+ of just 84. If that continues, it’d be by far the worst mark in the Gardenhire Era, and I don’t think this is a bad pitching staff. (We may have more talent in the rotation from top to bottom than we’ve had this decade.) If that ERA has dropped significantly a month from now, there will be two culprits:
- Mauer is great
- Most of the pitchers aren’t actually as bad as they’ve been throwing, and they’re bound to regress (in the good way)
[Juan] Morillo, 25, has thrown a pregame bullpen session under pitching coach Rick Anderson’s watchful eye almost every day.I’ve been harping on the Twins to get Morillo into more games, especially in blowout situations since he can’t be trusted yet, so we can evaluate how he looks. Unsurprisingly, Rick Anderson is doing what he can to evaluate Morillo while he teaches him, maybe, how to be a better pitcher.
“We are working on my consistency,” Morillo said. “I worked on that [before coming to the Twins] but I can see [Anderson] is good at what he does.”
I don’t know if it will work (how often does Anderson actually work any magic on a bad pitcher?), but given Morillo’s statement it’s possible that Anderson is trying something nobody’s tried before. And if whatever previous pitching coaches had tried didn’t work, I’m glad something different is happening.
Hopefully Morillo manages to harness his tremendous arm, because I’d much rather have a reliable and accurate Juan Morillo than a Luis Ayala.
My final useless thought for today* is about Andruw Jones. Over the winter, the Dodgers released him and restructured his contract, basically paying him to go away. Any team in baseball could have had him for 2009 at league minimum.
* At least the final one for this post. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more useless thoughts before I fall asleep tonight. You won’t be subjected to them though.
I never seriously considered the possibility of Jones in a Twins uniform for two reasons.
- We had enough outfielders
- Jones had really sucked in 2008, and wasn’t much of a player in 2007 either
I don’t know who would have had to go down to make room for Andruw Jones, and obviously hindsight is 20/20 … and it’s just a small sample size. But he’s really hitting. Look at these numbers:
Carlos Gomez: .195/.250/.293 0 HR, 1 RBI, 46 OPS+ Delmon Young: .241/.276/.315 1 HR, 9 RBI, 59 OPS+ Michael Cuddyer: .224/.318/.316 1 HR, 7 RBI, 72 OPS+ Andruw Jones: .345/.513/.724 3 HR, 5 RBI, 220 OPS+
Tell me Jones’ numbers wouldn’t look pretty great between Morneau and Kubel. And given that he spent 10 years as arguably the best defensive CF in the game, I’d say his defense in the corner outfield would be pretty good. No doubt better than Delmon Young’s.
Obviously we can’t go back and time and make this happen. And if we could, he wouldn’t have hit like this for the Twins — people hit like that for the Rangers, not for the Twins.* But it’s fun.
* I’ve talked in the past about how we gave up more to get Delmon Young than the Rangers gave up to get Josh Hamilton or the White Sox gave up to get Carlos Quentin. While it seems like we should be disappointed in our take, my guess is that if we’d got Hamilton or Quentin they wouldn’t be hitting for us, and Delmon would be clobbering the ball for either the Rangers or White Sox. That’s how our hitting coaches work.
Just something to think about when Bill Smith isn’t making crazy moves. You know, in case he does something crazy again after getting wiped out by the first two big moves he made.7 comments