July 30, 2008

Not so fast, Adam Everett!

On Tuesday afternoon, the Twins gave Adam Everett 72 hours to decide whether to be designated for assignment or accept a longer stay at Triple-A Rochester, but now instead the Twins have called Everett back to the majors after the devastating news that Alexi Casilla may be done for the season with a torn thumb ligament.

Everett just finished up a 20 day rehab assignment on Monday and it appeared that this move was going to happen with the way the Twins' young middle infield had performed up to this point, especially Casilla. But now, with Casilla down and Punto still banged up, the Twins look to be in need of middle infield help and Everett will (hopefully) provide that. Everett was hitting .189/.235/.324 in 74 AB's and has been on the DL twice this season due to a lingering shoulder problem. He supposedly isn't 100%, which is why the Twins didn't see it as a possibility to drop anyone from the roster for him at this time. On his rehab stint, he played in 11 games and had 39 AB's for the GCL Twins, Ft. Myers Miracle, and Rochester Red Wings and hit .308 with a double. He has a good glove, but due to his shoulder his fielding has been sub par this season.

It's a crushing blow to the Twins as Casilla has been a catalyst both offensively and defensively and was a great player to have in the #2 spot of the lineup. He was hitting .313/.351/.424 with 39 RBI. He was having a down season in Triple-A, hitting .219 with a .600 OPS but after he arrived to Minnesota he was given the keys to 2nd base and drove away with them, never looking back. Casilla had great plate discipline and worked well into the count which made everyone excited to see Denard Span, Casilla, and Joe Mauer 1-2-3 as they all make the pitcher earn a strikeout.

He will be missed greatly, and all we can do is hope that the doctors don't think it's that severe and that he will be gone for just a couple weeks. But from the first reports, it doesn't sound good right now. This probably will mean that Brendan Harris will be starting most games at either shortstop or third base with Nick Punto starting most of the games at second base and Everett playing shortstop late in games as a defensive replacement.

Could Brian Roberts be a possibility? Probably not, but the Twins may quickly scan the middle infield market with the deadline on Thursday. But I still doubt the Twins make a move...

Last weekend, the Yankees released former Twins starter/reliever LaTroy Hawkins and on Monday, Joe Christensen reported that the Twins are interested in bringing him back to Minnesota.

Hawkins was having a terrible season for the Yankees, and really hasn't been the same since he left the Twins prior to the 2004 season. In his 9-year Twins tenor, he was first used as a starter and eased into being a reliever before becoming a dominating setup man his final two seasons. He was 15-3 and had a 1.99 ERA with a 138/30 K/BB ratio his last two seasons with the Twins before joining the Cubs in 2004. He since hasn't found that same kind of success but did play a big role in the Rockies play down the stretch last season and helped them in the playoffs as well. The Tigers supposedly are also interested in him, so we'll see if the Twins actually make a play for him. It would be interesting to see what he can do back with the Twins, but if we won't make room for Francisco Liriano who thinks that we'll make room for Hawkins?

The Twins will also need to make a move when Michael Cuddyer comes back to the Twins lineup, and on Monday he got one step closer to returning as the right-fielder was able to put on a glove, play catch, and take a few soft swings for the first time since he injured his hand last month. He still needs a few more pain-free days before the Twins get a better grasp to when he'll be back, but one thing is for sure when he returns he'll be 100 percent:
"This is something Cuddyer and I talked about," Manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We don't want him to come back at 65 percent. He'd like to be healthy the next time he comes back."
One thing is very sure, Denard Span has played too good both offensively and defensively to be removed from the starting lineup which makes Cuddyer a possible Platoon mate with Jason Kubel at DH. Or the Twins could just insert Cuddyer back into right field, and rotate Span throughout the outfield making each player the DH the day Span is spelling them.

We'll see what happens, it could certainly give the Twins a reason to trade Jason Kubel (or Cuddyer) during the off-season for some infield help. But that's not something worth speculating right now...

Former Twins outfielder/designated hitter, Jason Tyner was cut from the Indians AAA-Affiliate on Tuesday, and now has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. After he wasd designated for assignment, he declined to go to the Twins' AAA team and then later said:
"If I was going to sign a minor-league contract, I wanted to sign it with a team that has a chance to win a World Series."
That along with:
"I’d like to get a shot at them (the Twins). I know that.”
So I wonder if this is all in his plan of getting a shot at the Twins. Go from one team that seemingly has zero shot of contention and then go to our biggest rival to get his shot, at the Twins.

Former Twins farmhand, Alex Romero made an amazing catch for the Arizona Diamondbacks last night against the San Diego Padres which was a potential game saver. Check it out. Just think, he's no longer with the Twins because the team decided to keep a third-string catcher on the roster instead (Chris Heintz).

And on to possibily the biggest news of the night...

The Twins may be able to move into first place tonight if they're able to beat Gavin Floyd and the White Sox. Last night, the Twins came from a 4-0 deficit to beat the White Sox 6-5 and move within a half game of the division leaders. Who would have thought 5 months ago that the White Sox and Twins would be fighting for the division lead come late July, while the Indians are out of it and the Tigers are clawing their way up the ladder?

Glen Perkins had an iffy start which raises speculation that the Twins may choose to demote him to the bullpen after Thursday's trade deadline, making room for Francisco Liriano in the rotation. I previously made a bold prediction that Kevin Slowey would be the one ousted from the rotation, but after his complete game shutout on Monday, that appears very unlikely. Perkins and Nick Blackburn seem to be better suited (than the others) in the bullpen, so it's likely that one of them will be removed from the rotation sometime over the next week or so.

Carlos Gomez went 3-3 with a walk. It was just his second time in his last 18 games in which he's reached base safely at least twice. Justin Morneau gave the Twins a 3-run double in the 5th inning to put the Twins up 5-4. Joe Mauer later added a much-needed insurance run to put the Twins even further ahead.

But then Nick Swisher made it interesting in the 9th inning as he connected on a Joe Nathan fastball which landed over the baggy in right field to put the White Sox within 1. But Nathan settled down and induced a grounder from Carlos Quentin to get his 29th save of the season.

Tonight, Livan Hernandez will face Floyd, which already makes Twins fans sweat as it's basically one of their best against our worst. Should be an interesting matchup as the "crafty veteran" (or so he's been called) is in a big matchup and his experience (some in big games) is one of the reasons he's been kept in the rotation/on the team.

Game Ball vs. White Sox
Carlos Gomez - Center Field

3-3, 2 runs, RBI
Twins win, 6-5.

Quote of the day
"That's a typical Minnesota Twins baseball game -- 25 bloopers and a big blast," Guillen said. "That's the way they play. They have that nickname for a reason." - Ozzie Guillen after Tuesday's loss to the Twins.