July 22, 2008

Long overdue move, prediction

The Twins got absolutely shelled last night as the New York Yankees, who from the beginning just played all around better baseball than the Twins. They fielded well, they pitched well, and they were great at the plate all night. The Twins just played very sloppy baseball. I could get into the pitching performance, Casilla's inexperience and his costly play, or even the offenses inability to drive in more runs despite leaving 17 men on base, but I don't have the desire to write about such poor play. So instead, I will go on a rant about a move that should have been made a while ago.

Ron Gardenhire again penciled in Carlos Gomez at the top of the lineup, despite the 22-year-old outfielder just over .200 with an OPS around .500 since the beginning of June. All while Denard Span has hit .370 since his last promotion. Span also has an OBP hovering close to .500 and has drawn just 4 less walks than Gomez has had all season, the only difference is that Gomez has 397 AB's while Span has 85.

Gardenhire's excuse for leaving Gomez at the top of the lineup is valid, however like Jim Souhan I feel that Gomez probably would perform better in the #9 spot of the lineup as it'd take quite a bit of pressure off of him due to the fact that he can watch the pitcher for 8 batters before stepping into the batters box looking completely unprepared.

I also agree with Gardenhire that leading off gets way too much emphasis, however Gomez will probably get at least 5 extra at bats per week while leading off compared to hitting #9 and it's hard to see him having so much trouble at the plate and know that it's a guaranteed out nearly every time he's up to bat. Gardenhire needs to make this move, and he needs to make it now. Span is the prototypical leadoff hitter, he draws walks, takes long at bats, and gets on base at a high average. Gardenhire knows that Gomez's future is not at lead-off, and just playing him there because he doesn't want to hurt his feelings is inexcusable for a manager.

Gomez brings great excitement and a lot of passion to the game, which along with his blazing speed are his best qualities as a player (at this time). And those qualities will not be effected by moving him to #9 in the order. Gomez is an extremely confident player and he will not let the loss of a handful at bats effect his demeanor. With the majority of young players, you need to be concerned about that, but Gomez's confidence can be seen/heard from outside the ballpark.

I love how Gardenhire has handled this team this season. Sure he's made mistakes, but that's baseball. I honestly don't know of another manager who would do as good of a job with what Gardenhire has been given, especially this season. This team was not supposed to contend, at no point was this team supposed to be 11 games over .500. But Gardenhire has managed this team to contention and although you can point the finger at the Twins' success at both the Indians and Tigers disappointing seasons, nonetheless this team has succeeded everyones expectations. But Gardenhire needs to stop being so concerned about one player's feelings and realize that he is managing an entire team and he needs to do whatever is best for the team. And he knows that flipping Span and Gomez is what's best for the team, even if he won't admit it.

Game Ball
Denard Span - Right Field

Line: 3-4, double, triple, run
Twins lose, 12-4.

Although not related to the topic at hand, I do have a prediction. I predict that Francisco Liriano will replace Kevin Slowey in the Twins rotation within the next 10 days. Slowey then will either be demoted to the bullpen (with Bass being waived) or demoted to Rochester. Although I hate seeing starters in the bullpen, I think that sending him back to Rochester would be pointless as he's already made AAA hitters look like A-Ballers in the past. I just think that with Livan Hernandez gaining the support of both the management and front office and with it looking like they will likely not trade him, I just don't see any other pitcher deserving of any kind of demotion. And lets face it, the thought of Francisco Liriano throwing in the mid-upper 90's makes you grin. I think the Twins feel the same way and will find a way to get him up here within the next 10 days, they might just wait though to show that they won't be fazed by the threat of his agent filing a grievance against the team.