June 13, 2008

What is going on?

It seems as if everything is going wrong with the Twins these days. Just off of a 6-game losing streak, the Twins put together a great win on Wednesday. Then Thursday came around and the Twins were destroyed 12-2 as Livan Hernandez's self destruction continues out on the mound. The veteran allowed 7 runs on 12 hits in just 3 innings of work. I can't say I never saw this coming. Just yesterday, I said this:
The Twins will face Aaron Laffey tonight. Laffey is 3-3 with a 2.98 ERA this season through 8 starts. But the 23-year-old left-hander is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two stars against the Twins in his career. But with his success at home this season and the Twins inability to hit off of left-handers, I don't like the "Good Guys'" chances tonight. Especially with Livan ".344 OBA" Hernandez on the mound for the Twins. This game could be ugly (and yes I'm crossing my fingers, hoping that I get a big plate of crow to eat).
And obviously, 7 runs in a game constitutes as an "ugly" game. Hernandez is really starting to look like the 2008 version of Ramon Ortiz, which is something that I pointed out in late-April. Now, with one pitcher already gone (which I will get to later), it looks like the Twins may try unloading Hernandez sometime soon if he continues to have horrific outings like last nights. I don't know who the Twins would replace him with, but with both Brian Bass and Boof Bonser also struggling, it looks like the best option may be Francisco Liriano. However, the Twins will not rush Liriano which means if they decide to make a move in the next week or two, it could be Casey Daigle, Brian Duensing or Kevin Mulvey who would get the call instead.
The offense was putrid last night. Justin Morneau went 3-3 to raise his average up to .306 on the season, and Matt Macri hit his first home run of his Major League career, but other than that the offense was pretty non-existant. Joe Mauer and Brendan Harris were the only other players to get hits in the game. Mauer went 2-4 with his 15th double of the season. Harris added a single. The rest of the team (besides those four) combined to go 0-18 with one walk, 3 K's and 12 men left on base.

Both Alexi Casilla and Carlos Gomez were robbed of hits, one by Jamey Carroll the other by the first base umpire and so both of their double-digit hitting streaks came to an end. Mike Lamb did add a sac-fly later in the game, after he replaced Morneau at first base.

Game Ball
Justin Morneau - First Base

Box Score

This weekend, the Twins will travel to Miller Park to face the Brewers.
Friday: Kevin Slowey (2-6, 5.15) vs. Dave Bush (2-6, 5.85 )
Saturday: Glen Perkins (2-2, 4.58) vs. Jeff Suppan (4-4, 3.78)
Sunday: Scott Baker (2-1, 3.60) vs. Seth McClung (3-3, 4.07)
The organization announced the release of two pitchers yesterday. Juan Rincon was released after a year and a half of terrible relief pitching. This season, he had a 6.11 ERA and showed terrible control. The move has been expected for quite some time, and nobody including Rincon was surprised. Rincon did however try to buy his time on the team by telling the team that his neck was sore. However, the Twins didn't buy it, and even if he did have a sore neck, would it have really made a difference in their decision? I guess we should admire his desire to stay a Twin, but I'm just happy the Twins did not delay the inevitable and they cut him instead of placing him on the DL. Because if it didn't happen yesterday, it would have happened shortly after he was activated from the DL.

Rincon now has a 72-hour window to accept an offer to be outrighted straight to Triple-A Rochester. He's expected to decline and if/when he does, will become a free agent. If Rincon accepts, it sounds like he will join the Red Wings rotation instead of bullpen to hopefully help him get more work which should help him find his command again.
Brian Buscher has taken his place on the roster. Buscher was hitting .319 with 12 doubles, 8 home runs and 30 RBI for the Red Wings in 53 games. Buscher will provide a steady bat off of the bench for the Twins. And with Mike Lamb struggling at the plate, Buscher may see his fair share of playing time at third base.

The Twins also released left-handed pitcher Errol Simonitsch. Once considered a top pitching prospect, Simontisch had a shoulder injury in '07 which caused him to miss all but 10 games and he just could not get back on track this season. He made 6 starts with New Britain this year and went 1-4 with a 9.96 ERA. For a soon-to-be 26-year-old who has yet to make it past AA, this move should not come as a surprise to anyone. Last week, I said:
It looks like Simonitsch's days may be numbers in New Britain's rotation as Jeff Manship will likely replace him within the next few weeks.
So far, it looks like I'm half right. But we'll have to wait until next week to see if I was completely right. Frank Mata took his room on the roster. Mata had thrown 14 great innings of relief in Ft. Myers and has some experience in the Eastern League, which makes this a fairly reasonable move. Mata threw one inning of relief last night and got a strikeout. As far as replacing Simonitsch in the rotation, I think that Jason Miller will probably get a start before Manship is promoted. The Miracle are now off for the FSL All-Star Game which is on Saturday. The Twins are expected to make a wave of promotions sometime soon after this weekend.

There were quite a few roster moves from Rochester on Thursday. First, the bad news. Jose Morales sprained his left ankle, and was placed on the DL. It's the same ankle that he severely sprained last summer which caused him to miss nearly the entire last month of the season. Jeff Christy has been promoted from New Britain to assume the backup role now that the Wings only have one healthy catcher. Denard Span has been activated from the DL, as has Alejandro Machado. Unfortunately, it sounds like Span still is having pain while he swings a bat, which means that he likely won't be able to have an impact in a game for a little while still.

And important news! I have received word that the Red Wings have called up Trevor Plouffe from New Britain. He should be in uniform with the Red Wings tonight. This is the first movement of a "highly touted" prospect (besides Ben Revere) this season. Hopefully he can provide an offensive spark for the Red Wings.

Also, the Twins have agreed on a contract with first-round pick, Aaron Hicks. The deal is expected to be announced on Friday and it sounds like his signing bonus will be around $1.7 million. It sounds as if the Twins will send Hicks to the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League which is usually for 2nd year players and college players. Yesterday, I noted that the Twins had signed 6 players from last weeks draft. Now, I've gotten confirmation that they have signed a few more (besides Hicks):
Danny Ortiz (4th round)
Dan Osterbrock (7th round)
David Coulon (15th round)
Javier Brown (37th round)
I've also heard that David Martin (17th round) will sign as soon as LSU's season is over. And the Twins are close to signing Kolten Wong (16th round), but Wong is still mulling over a scholarship to Hawaii.