April 29, 2008

Revere promoted to Beloit

Yesterday morning it was announced that the Minnesota Twins promoted top 2007 draft pick, Ben Revere to Single-A Beloit, after spending all of April in Extended Spring Training. Revere, a speedy outfielder, took the roster spot of injured third baseman Deibinson Romero who's likely to be out for 3-4 weeks after having surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus.

Revere debuted at # 7 in my "Top 55 Twins Prospects" rankings. Here's what I had to say about him:
Ben Revere was taken by the Twins in the first round of the 2007 draft. Many people were skeptical of the pick, as many thought there were definitely better players available and that the Twins shouldn't be adding more speedy outfielders with low power potential. However, Ben shut a lot of those critics up(at least for the time being) and now many think (at least, so far) that it may have been a great pick for the Twins. Of course, it's really too soon to tell. In 191 AB's, Ben hit .325/.388/.461 with zero home runs. That's right, a .461 slugging percentage without a home run. The reason for this is that Ben possesses amazing speed which allowed him to hit 16 extra-base hits, 10 of which were triples. He also stole 21 bases in 50 games and displayed solid plate discipline as well. He projects as a potentially great left-handed lead-off hitter with great defense. Right now, again it's probably too soon to compare him, but I'd say he's a potential Jacoby Ellsbury clone. Ben should be in Beloit this season, and will likely spend the entire season there, sink or swim.
He obviously did not start in Beloit, but my optimism regarding his potential remains. He likely will never hit more than a couple home runs per season, however his speed and aggression on the base paths will make him an exciting prospect to watch.

After starting the season in EST, Revere has now arrived in Beloit.

He debuted for the Snappers last night, and had a rough first game. He went went 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts at the plate, while committing an error on defense while playing left field. It will be interesting to see who the Snappers play in center field each night as Joe Benson has played there for much of the last year.

Revere was not the only player promoted however, Bradley Tippett and Santos Arias also joined him in Beloit out of EST. Arias is a 21-year-old starting pitcher from the Dominican Republic. He had an impressive 2007 season for the GCL Twins in which he went 3-4 in 11 games (10 started) with a 2.96 ERA. He also fanned 46 batters in just over 54 innings.

Tippett, 20, is a 2006 non-drafted free agent out of Australia. I ranked him as the 52nd top Twins prospect for 2008, here's what I had to say:
Brad Tippett is a non-drafted free agent who signed on January 4th, 2006 out of Australia. He has been a reliever through both levels of rookie league, and has faired well in both. He allowed only 4 walks through 38 innings while striking out 51 in '07. He had a sub 1.00 ERA as well and allowed only 1 home run on 20 total hits. He will most likely be a reliever through his career, however he's been known to pitch 2 or 3 innings at a time while holding other teams to minimal damage. He's only 20 years old, so the Twins will not rush him at all through the minors. He'll likely be in Beloit this season, but could move up fairly quickly if he continues to dominate his opponents.
He obviously had a very impressive '07 season, but the Twins decided to keep him in EST to start the '08 season. A lanky right-hander, Tippett pitched as a reliever last season, although sometimes pitching 3-4-sometimes 5 innings in a game. He'll likely stay in the bullpen in Beloit, but he may be an option to start down the line.

To make room for Tippett and Arias, the Snappers placed Michael McCardell on the 7-day DL with bone chips in his elbow. They Snappers also announced that they have released right-handed reliever Dominique Rodgers. Rodgers, 23, was a 36th round draft pick last season out of Kent State. I haven't been able to find a reasoning for his release.

It's great to see these guys get promoted, but it's definitely unfortunate that they had to come at the expense of injuries and being released.

Hitter of the Day
Darnell McDonald - Red Wings - Right Field
McDonald tried to carry the load for the Red Wings, offensively, but it wasn't enough. Despite going 2-5 with 3 runs scored, a double, and a grand slam, the Red Wings still fell 8-6 to the Pawtucket Red Sox. McDonald now has 10 RBI's in 14 games for the Red Wings.

Pitcher of the Day
Tyler Robertson - Miracle - Starting Pitcher
Note: Robertson had a good start for the Miracle last night, unfortunately the runs came late which resulted in Robertson picking up a no-decision, his fourth of the season. Robertson went 6 strong innings, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits. He walked 3 but struck out 6. Robertson now sits at 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA and a 27/12 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings pitched. In '07, he gave up just one home run about every 34 innings, and this year he still has not allowed an opposing batter to hit a ball over the fence.

Touch 'Em All!
  • Red Wings: McDonald (2)
  • Rock Cats: None (Off-Day)
  • Miracle: None
  • Snappers: None

Minor League Box Scores

April 28, 2008

Livan Hernandez, this seasons version of Ramon Ortiz?

The Twins were clobbered yesterday, 10-0 against the futile Texas Rangers. Just one day after recording 12 runs on 16 hits on Saturday, the Twins failed to score anyone on 7 hits on Sunday.

Livan Hernandez started the game with a 3-0 record and a very respectable 3.55 ERA. And in just 2 2/3 innings, Hernandez now sits at 3-1 with a 5.05 ERA. The 33-year-old Cuban now has an 8.55 ERA over his last three starts while going 0-1, after he began the season with a 2.57 ERA in his first three starts, winning all of them.

This is starting to sound like déjà vu for many that remember the Twins signing of Ramon Ortiz last season. Ortiz was 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA after his first 5 starts. He then went onto lose 3 straight decisions and had a 10.97 ERA over the course of his next 5 starts.

For a while, Hernandez looked to be a great signing and looked to have regained his old form after his down 2007 in which he had a 4.93 ERA and a .500 record for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I know I'm probably going overboard with this, as it's really his first horrific outing, but you can't deny that Ortiz and Hernandez are comparable at this point.

I hope Hernandez gets back on track, and since his track record is much better than Ortiz's, I'm still a little optimistic that he will. I don't know anyone who's expecting him to put up Cy Young numbers, but giving up 6 runs to an inferior team like the Rangers is definitely alarming.

Saturday's Game Ball
Mike Lamb - Third Base

3-4, 1 Run, 1 2B, 2 RBI

Sunday's Game Ball
Brendan Harris

2-2, walk

Down on the Farm

I'm pretty tired, so I'm going to have to cut it short. For Minor League updates for both Saturday and Sunday including the players of the day, head over to Seth Speaks.

April 26, 2008

Organization Swept On Friday

Justin Morneau looked very MVP-like last night against the Texas Rangers, going 3-4 with a grand slam. He finished the game with 5 RBI, the most since last year against the White Sox when he drove in 6 in the 2nd game of a day-night double header. Morneau now has 6 home runs and 21 RBI's on the season. His season's average also took a big jump, hitting .254 before the game and ending at .280. Hopefully he can continue his hot hand and continue to rake tomorrow in game two.

Joe Mauer also had a solid game, going 2-3 with 2 walks. His double in the 5th inning hit off the top of the left field wall, missing by just 5-10 feet of being his first home run of the season. Michael Cuddyer went 1-5 with a single. His timing is a bit off, which was evident with his multiple infield pop-ups.

Carlos Gomez lead off the game with a bunt single, he stole second base and later came in to score on Morneau's RBI single. The next time up he reached on another bunt single, this time coming home to score on Morneau's grand slam. The third time up he bunted it to the pitcher, and Kevin Millwood made a great play to get him out at first. That wasn't the bad part though, after hitting the bag at first base, Gomez came up lame, holding his left calf. He has been diagnosed with a left-calf strain and is considered day-to-day. I'd be fairly surprised if he plays tomorrow, but hopefully it doesn't keep him out of the lineup for long, but the team needs to be careful with him as his legs (speed) is the biggest tool he has. Craig Monroe replaced him in center field, and immediately tried diving for a ball that fell just under his glove.

Four of Morneau's five RBI came off of his first grand slam of the season.

The Twins went with a different lineup than many (including myself) expected. Instead of inserting Cuddyer right back into the middle of the M&M Boys, Gardenhire kept Mauer and Morneau hitting 3rd and 4th while putting Cuddyer 5th, Jason Kubel 6th and dropping Delmon Young to 7th. Young hit well against the A's, going 5-12 with a double, but he's been dreadful at the plate with RISP. This (hopefully) won't last, but it's definitely getting frustrating watching him whale at absolutely everything while not being able to hit more than a long double.

Nick Blackburn started for the Twins, and it was not a pretty one. After the Twins gave him a 5-0 lead to begin the game, Blackburn allowed 5 Rangers to cross the plate in the third inning. It could have been more, but after Jason Botts doubles to right field, Cuddyer comes up throwing to home (it was cut off by Punto) and they got Hank Blalock out at home plate, then Mauer threw to third to get Botts trying to advance another base. Great play, and Cuddyer was credited with two outfield assists on the same play. The Rangers (Frank Catalanotto) were also called out at home in the 6th inning as well.

Blackburn settled down after the third, and didn't allow another runner to score. His sinker was being left up and the Rangers drilled him for 5 runs on 11 hits in 6 innings of work. The bullpen was solid until the 11th inning when Juan Rincon allows a double to Blalock and then walks Botts. Then with two-outs and a runner at second, he gave up a game winning single over Delmon Young's head in left center.

The win stopped a 7-game winning streak for the Rangers and it prolonged a losing streak for the Twins which is now at three games.

Tomorrow the Twins will send Scott Baker to the mound, only he doesn't know who he'll be pitching against. Bert Blylevin and Dick Bremer were speculating about Sidney Ponson possibly starting for the Rangers. If this proves to be true, hopefully the Twins can do to Ponson what he allowed teams to do to him last year as a member of the Twins.

Game Ball
Justin Morneau - First Base

3-4, grand slam, 5 RBI

Down on the Farm

Hitter of the Day
Toby Gardenhire - Miracle - 2nd Base

Note: Gardenhire went 3-4 with two doubles last night for the Miracle. Unfortunately his teammates could not drive him in a single time and the team lost 3-2. Gardenhire is now hitting .314 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI's in 35 AB's.

Pitcher of the Day
Jeff Manship - Miracle - Starting Pitcher

Manship turned in his best performance of the season last night. The 23-year-old right-hander went 7 innings and gave up just one run on 3 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 6 to bring his season total to 23. He now sports a 3.38 ERA through 5 starts for the Miracle.

Touch 'Em All!
  • Rochester Red Wings: None
  • New Britain Rock Cats: Luke Hughes (7)
  • Ft. Myers Miracle: None
  • Beloit Snappers: No Game (postponed)
Minor League Box Scores:

April 25, 2008

Korecky Recalled

Update 4:10 PM: Francisco Liriano is the one being optioned to Rochester. Thanks to La Velle E. Neal III for covering the story.

The Twins have recalled Bobby Korecky from Triple-A Rochester this morning. There's no word yet who will be going to Rochester in return, but many believe it will be Francisco Liriano, after his blowout loss yesterday to the Oakland Athletics.

The Twins can skip the 5th starter for a while with plenty of off-days in the near future. This will allow Kevin Slowey to (hopefully) finish up his rehab assignment and let Francisco Liriano stay on a regular schedule.

A photo from Korecky's younger days as a Michigan Wolverine

Korecky, 28, has been the closer for almost a year and a half. In that time, he's made 48 saves, including 35 in 2007. This season, he's been "lights out" allowing just 1 run in 13 1/3 innings while making 5 saves. He also has 12 strikeouts compared to just 4 walks.

The Twins' bullpen has been solid since their blowup in Detroit, but adding Korecky can only strengthen it and with the 5th starter not necessarily needed for a while, having a strong bullpen will definitely benefit the team.

Great news for Bobby Korecky!

Bombs Away for F-Bomb

Francisco Liriano was shelled yesterday, giving up 6 runs in just 2/3 innings pitched. He had horrible command of his pitches, throwing just 15 of his 35 pitches for strikes. After a small improvement between his first two starts, Liriano's third start was a disaster and the A's made him look like he was an A-ball pitcher.

This may have been Liriano's final start with the Twins for a while, but there has not been an official announcement of what they plan on doing with him next. I believe the Twins should either demote him to the bullpen, but that's unlikely as the Twins would then have 13 pitchers once Kevin Slowey returns. Otherwise they need to send him to the minors. I know the team is concerned whether or not he'll do his cardiovascular work, but the team needs to hire a full-time trainer who follows him around. Regardless of what it is, Liriano should not be in the majors right now, at least not in the rotation.

Brian Bass didn't fair well either, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 3 1/3 innings. Jesse Crain followed with two innings of his own, allowing a solo home run. Dennys Reyes and Juan Rincon came in and gave two shutout innings, but the damaged had already been done. The Twins pitching staff gave up 11 runs, the most they had given up all season (they also gave up 11 to Detroit last week).

Carlos Gomez was benched yesterday, and today came out and in his first at bat went deep for the first time in his Twins career. It was his 3rd home run of his Major League career and it was his 6th RBI of the season. Gomez finished the game with 2 hits in his 4 at bats. His second hit was a bunt single.

Delmon Young also had a 2-4 game, both singles. Brian Buscher drove in the second run for the Twins with an RBI single in the 5th inning which scored Mike Redmond. Both Buscher and Redmond had one hit apiece.

Denard Span hit a single in the 8th inning, he was demoted after the game.

Tonight, the Twins begin a 3-game series against the Texas Rangers. Scott Baker is set to start for the Twins while Scott Feldman will start for the Rangers.

Game Ball
Carlos Gomez - Center Field

2-4, Home Run

Cuddyer to Return

After yesterday's game, the Twins sent Denard Span back to Rochester as Michael Cuddyer is ready to come off of the disabled list. Span played well with the Twins, and will more than likely be back at some point this season. Span went 8-31 with no extra-base hits. He also had 3 stolen bases without being caught stealing once.

Cuddyer will likely be in the lineup tonight against the Rangers, and smart money would presume that he'll be hitting 3rd behind Joe Mauer and behind Justin Morneau. Like I said yesterday, Carlos Gomez will likely benefit with Cuddyer returning and I hope Mauer can get going again as well.

Down on the Farm
Hitter of the Day
Randy Ruiz - Red Wings - First Base
Randy Ruiz and the Red Wings hopefully "woke up" offensively as the team has been in a funk all season long. The Wings collected 14 hits, Ruiz had two of them. Ruiz went 2-3 with an RBI double and a two-run home run. All in all, he drove in 4 of the Wings 8 runs.

Pitcher of the Day
Brian Duensing - Red Wings - Starting Pitcher
Note: Duensing had a great start for the Red Wings, and the Red Wings gave him enough offense for him to pick up his 2nd win of the season. Duensing went 7 innings and gave up just 3 hits including a solo home run while striking out 5. Duensing now sits at 2-3 with a 2.40 ERA. Nick Nelson had a great post about "Duensing's Dilemma."

Touch 'Em All!
  • Rochester Red Wings: Randy Ruiz (1)
  • New Britain Rock Cats: David Winfree (3)
  • Ft. Myers Miracle: None
  • Beloit Snappers: None (Off-Day)
Minor League Box Scores:

April 24, 2008


The Twins sat Carlos Gomez last night, it was the first game in which Gomez was not in center field. And if I'm not mistaken, prior to yesterday's game, he has played every inning of every game this season in center field. That's a lot of playing time, but the Twins know Gomez needs it.
"He needs at-bats more than anything else...The more at-bats the guy gets as a young kid, he's going to get better," said manager Ron Gardenhire.
In the midst of a 1-18 streak in which he's struck out 7 times, many people are starting to wonder what the Twins will do with him. Will they move him down in the order? Will they start sitting him more? Will they send him down to the minors? My advice is to do nothing, yet.

Michael Cuddyer is scheduled to come back on Friday as the Twins start a 3 game series against the Texas Rangers. Cuddyer's been out since April 4th with a dislocated/lacerated finger. With Cuddyer not in the lineup, the Twins moved Joe Mauer (who was previously hitting behind Gomez) to the third spot in the lineup, meaning that Gomez lost the protection that he did have. Although it's a small sample size, here are Gomez's splits with Mauer behind him opposed to him having a different player behind him:
With Mauer behind him: 8-16 (.500)
Without Mauer behind him: 12-71 (.169)
Like I said, it's a very small sample size, although it does make sense. With a guy like Matt Tolbert hitting behind him, it leaves Gomez more vulnerable to better pitching without the threat of a better hitter behind him.

I'm not endorsing that I believe Gomez will flourish with Mauer behind him and hit the way he was earlier in the season, but I do think that he'd be hitting much better if Mauer were still behind him. Jason Kubel last year took off with Joe Mauer hitting behind him, I think that Gomez is not any different and will be better off when Cuddyer returns from the DL.

The one other thing that the Twins might consider is keeping Mauer in the three hole, and moving Jason Kubel to the #2 spot to see if he can also take off like he did in the second half last year. I doubt that the team will consider doing that at this time, however it is something that they might think about down the road. But for now, Kubel's hitting just fine behind Delmon Young.

But really, I think that we should just sit tight and wait with Gomez for a while. If he's still struggling in late May, then I believe we will have to look into something else.

Twins Shutout by Athletics

Not in the best mood to write about the Twins this morning. The team lost 3-0 against the A's and made Chad Gaudin look like Dan Haren.

Boof Bonser had a good outing, but the team just couldn't muster up any runs and as a result he's now 1-4 with a 4.34 ERA.

Jason Kubel was the only hitter to collect more than one hit. All in all, a horrible game by the Twins hitters.

Today, Francisco Liriano will take the mound against Greg Smith. The first pitch is scheduled for around 2:35 pm (CT).

Game Ball
Boof Bonser - Starting Pitcher

6 innings pitched, 3 hits, 2 runs, 4 walk, 2 strikeouts, loss

Down on the Farm

Hitter of the Day
Luke Hughes - Rock Cats - Third Base

Note: Hughes continued his hot hitting with a 4-5 game against the Phillies. The Phillies sent out top prospect Carlos Carrasco to face the Rock Cats, and they made him pay. In Carrasco's previous 3 starts, he allowed a combine 4 runs through 18 innings. Yesterday, the Rock Cats hit him up for 6 runs in just 5 innings. Hughes played a big part of that, going 2-3 against him with 2 home runs and 3 RBI. He finished the game with 5 runs batted in.

Pitcher of the Day
Alex Burnett - Miracle - Starting Pitcher

Note: Burnett picked up his first win of the season for the Miracle as they beat the Yankees, 8-1 on a beautiful night in Tampa. Burnett went 5 2/3 innings and gave up 1 run on 2 hits while walking 4. Burnett, 20, is now 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA in his first season in the Florida State League.

Touch 'Em All!
  • Red Wings - Jon Knott (1)
  • Rock Cats - Luke Hughes 2 (5,6)
  • Miracle - None
  • Snappers - Joe Benson (2)

Minor League Box Scores

April 23, 2008

Craig Monroe comes up big

The Twins and A's played a good game last night, and to the A's dismay, the Twins took advantage of Joe Blanton's bad start.

Hernandez was neither great nor horrible. He gave up 4 runs in 6 innings of work, but didn't have any troubles until the 5th inning when the A's played small ball to bring themselves to within one of the Twins. The next inning, Hernandez gave up a home run to Emil Brown.

Again, the bullpen helped preserve (well in this case, get the win). Juan Rincon and Pat Neshek pitched two hitless innings in relief before handing the ball to closer Joe Nathan for his 7th save of the season. Rincon was credited with the win, his second of the season.

The Twins offense looked solid last night, often hitting the ball hard against A's starter Joe Blanton. Craig Monroe lead the way with a 3-4 performance in which he drove in 3 runs; one of which came off of his 1st home run of the season. Monroe raised his season average from .231-.300. Mike Lamb also had a good day at the plate, also going 3-4 with an RBI of his own. Lamb raised his average .41 points and is now hitting .186 on the season. Delmon Young also had a multi-hit game, going 2-4 with his third double of the season. Jason Kubel drove in the other Twins run.

Carlos Gomez continued to struggle, going 0-5 at the plate, with 4 strikeouts. He now has a 12/1 K/BB ratio with 24 strikeouts and just two walks. He also committed his first error of the season on a bobble in center field.

Tonight, the second game of the three game series will be held with Boof Bonser getting the start for the Twins against Chad Gaudin of the A's.

Game Ball
Craig Monroe - Designated Hitter

3-4, 2 runs scored, 1 home run, 1 double, 3 RBI

Down on the Farm
Hitter of the Day
Juan Portes - Miracle - Left Field
Juan Portes came up huge for the Miracle last night. Down 9-8 in the bottom of the 9th, and with a runner on first base, Portes hit a 2-run walk off home run. Portes went 2-4 with 3 RBI in the game. He was outhit by Danny Santiesteban, however I'm giving Portes the "award" for his heroics in the 9th inning. Santiesteban went 3-4 with with 4 RBI including a 2-run home run of his own.

Pitcher of the Day
Jason Miller - Rock Cats - Relief Pitcher
Miller came on in relief for starter Jay Rainville after Rainville gave up 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Reading Phillies. Miller pitched 3 1/3 innings and gave up 1 run on 2 hits. He also walked 2 and struck out 4 in his outing as well. Miller now has a 4.97 ERA for the Rock Cats.
Touch em All!
  • Rochester Red Wings: None (off-day)
  • New Britain Rock Cats: Luke Hughes (3)
  • Ft. Myers Miracle: Danny Santiesteban (2), Juan Portes (1)
  • Beloit Snappers: None
Minor League Box Scores

April 22, 2008

Off-Day Ramblings

Just a few tidbits:

Perhaps there's a reason as to why the Twins promoted Francisco Liriano earlier than they were advised to by Red Wings manager Stan Cliburn.

According to the article, the Twins could not trust him to work out. He reported to camp 20 pounds heavier than they expected, and he was often winded before they began doing drills. The Twins will need to get this situation under control soon. They intend to keep him up for the time being, but it should not be because they can't trust him, it should be because he's earned it. As much of a fan of Liriano's I am, I have to admit that I was a bit discouraged after reading that article.

Former Twins shortstop, Juan Castro was DFA by the Reds.

Last Friday, the Rays locked up third base prospect Evan Longoria to a 6-year deal worth $17 million. There's also 3 more option years that could bring the total deal to 9-years and around $44 million. There's been a mixed review of support for a deal like this, but I figured I should give my opinion as well.

I love the deal! I stress the word "prospect" however at 6-years and $17 million (around $2.83 million) he is still being payed probably below what he'd get as a free agent although he had only played 6 games (although I'm aware he's nowhere near free agency). True, they could be basically paying him for little to nothing for a few years, however I think it's a solid move for a few reasons:
  • It gives him confidence that he's THE guy for what will seem like forever at third base. He doesn't have to worry about over doing it trying to prove himself.
  • He'd likely be getting somewhere around this much in 6 years regardless, with arbitration coming in a couple years (legitimate chance of being a "Super-2").
  • They have the option of taking away 3 years of his free agency.
  • If he becomes anywhere he's projected to be, the Rays will look like genius' for making this deal.
I see nothing wrong with it. It's a bold move and I think that many teams will follow (Red Sox and Jacoby Ellsbury comes to mind). The Rays have more than enough money to do a deal like this and their owner seems willing to lock up their key players long term to field a competitive team in the not-too-distant future. Longoria is going to be a cornerstone in that franchise, and although the jury is still out there as he's a prospect, if they don't make this deal and have to go to arbitration with him in 2 years and someday pay him near $10-12 million in his final years of arbitration, then the Rays come out as major winners in this deal.

Longoria probably could have waited a year or two before doing this, and likely would have gotten at least $10 million more (look at the Rockies with Tulowitzki). I think both sides took risks with this move, and I love it!

Speaking of contract extensions, Jason Kubel is now looking to be locked up long term. He's currently under the Twins control until after the 2010 season, but he's looking for a deal that will give him more than one season in the Twins new ballpark. The Twins, on the other hand, want him to earn the deal... and staying healthy is not enough.

As much as I'd like to see the Twins sign him to an extension, I have to agree with their reluctance to wait. Last year was his first full season back in the majors (he split '06 in Rochester), and he put up mediocre numbers while playing about 2/3 of the games in left field. Now this season, he's focusing primarily on hitting instead of staying healthy which had been his primary focus the previous two seasons. Now, his knee is as good as it ever is going to be, and it's time to see what he's made of.

It's unfortunate that he had to endure the knee injury in '05. His minor league numbers made him look as if he'd be a star in the making. Hopefully this season he can really shine and progress enough to encourage the team of giving him a long-term deal. He's off to an OK start, hitting .266/294/.438 and is second on the team with 3 home runs and 12 RBI's. But his plate discipline is discouraging with a 16/3 K/BB ratio. What has been very encouraging for Kubel this season however is that he's absolutely tattooed the ball this season. Many have been caught, but he's definitely given a few a good ride.

And finally, make sure to check out the Twins newest Ad for 2008. They definitely didn't disappoint.

Down on the Farm

Hitter of the Day
Rene Tosoni - Miracle - Right Fielder

Note: It's hard to pick just one of the Miracle hitters tonight, because again there were others also deserving. Tosoni went 4-5 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI. After playing just 2 games in Beloit last season, the Organization made the decision of moving him up to Ft. Myers. And with that challenge, he's continued to deliver. Tosoni is now hitting .373 through 51 at bats. It's going to be interesting to see what the Twins do with him later this season, if a few spots open up in New Britain, I can see Tosoni getting an early ticket North. Johnny Woodard was the other guy I considered.

Pitcher of the Day
Mike Tarsi - Snappers - Starting Pitcher
Tarsi pitched an 8-inning complete game, giving up just 2 unearned runs but was still hit with a loss as the Snappers fell 2-1. Tarsi allowed just 6 hits while striking out 3 hitters. He also gave up just 1 walk to bring his K/BB ratio to 12/5. Before the game, Tarsi was 0-3 with a 16.68 ERA, now he sits at 0-4 with a 9.78 ERA.

Touch em All!
  • Rochester Red Wings: None
  • New Britain Rock Cats: Erik Lis (2), Luke Hughes (3)
  • Ft. Myers Miracle: Johnny Woodard (4)
  • Beloit Snappers: Deibinson Romero (1)

Minor League Box Scores

April 21, 2008

Twins win like they did on Saturday

The Twins beat the Indians on Saturday with great pitching and defense, and that carried over to Sunday. Scott Baker threw 7 innings of one-run ball before being removed with a 1-1 tie after throwing 100 pitches. Baker had great command of all of his pitches, which was evident with his one walk and eight strikeouts.

The Bullpen was strong again, allowing no runs, 1 hit, and 2 walks in 3 innings of work. Dennys Reyes, Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier gave the Twins one inning of work each. Guerrier was the winning pitcher, it was his first of the season and just his 3rd of his career. This was Guerrier's 172nd game of his career.

The offense couldn't generate a lot of runs, but the 2-4 hitters were strong again. Brendan Harris got the Twins on the board in the third inning with his first home run of the season. Harris finished the day 3-5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Jason Kubel hit in the third spot in place of Joe Mauer and went 2-4 with a walk. He absolutely smashed the ball all day.

Justin Morneau played hero (offensively) for the second game in a row. On Saturday, his first inning home run was all the scoring the team needed (although Carlos Gomez added another in the third) and yesterday, Morneau's RBI single in the 10th inning won the game for the Twins.

Nick Punto had a good game at the plate as well, going 2-4. He is now hitting .300 on the season. Brian Buscher got the start at third base and went 1-4 with a hard-hit double to left-center field. He almost reached base later with an infield hit with great spin, however Indian's third baseman Casey Blake made a great play to get him out at first. Mike Redmond also got his first hit of the season while starting at catcher in place of Joe Mauer.

Carlos Gomez made a sensational diving catch in the 9th inning to help keep the game tied. The play earned Gomez Sunday's (Early Evening Edition) of the top Web Gem of the day. The Twins also turned a double play, their 6th of the series.

The Twins have the day off today, but they begin a three-game series in Oakland on Tuesday. Livan Hernandez will take the mound in the first game against Joe Blanton of the A's.

Game Ball
Scott Baker - Starting Pitcher
Line: 7 innings pitched, 5 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, win

Down on the Farm
Hitter of the Day
Danny Valencia - Miracle - Third Base
Note: Valencia drove in enough runs to beat the Flying Tigers (almost) by himself. Valencia drove in 3 runs, 2 off of his 3rd home run of the season in the 7th inning. Valencia finished the game going 2-4 with 2 runs scored, a home run, three RBI's and a walk. I will mention that both Brian Dinkelman and Darnell McDonald were other guys I strongly considered (both reached base 5 times apiece).

Pitcher of the Day
Michael McCardell - Snappers - Starting Pitcher
Note: The Snappers had a solid performance by McCardell on a beautiful day in Beloit yesterday. McCardell allowed 1 run on 5 hits while walking 3 batters in 5 innings of work. He also struck out 5 batters, but despite giving up the one run, he picked up a no decision.

Minor League Box Scores

April 20, 2008

Twins Return the "Favor"

Just one day after being shut out by the Cleveland Indians, the Twins returned the favor and shutout the tribe in a 4-0 win. The win snapped an 8-game losing streak that the Twins had against the Indians which dated back to August 5th of last year.

The Twins rode a great start from Nick Blackburn late into the 8th inning before he left the game after throwing 102 pitches. He made the Indians ground into 14 ground outs, and the Twins infield turned in 4 double plays. Blackburn did throw just one strike, but had great command throughout the game. He hit Jamey Carroll, who was the second batter he faced, but besides that he showed pin point control.

I believe Justin Morneau's quote sums up the game/Blackburn perfectly:
"(Blackburn) was fun to watch today," Morneau said. "The way Nick was going, we needed that a little. His velocity was up and he threw strikes. Any time they got guys up there in scoring position it seemed like he beared down and got even tougher. We turned some key double plays. It was good to see. It was awesome to get him a win."
Dennys Reyes needed just two pitches to get Grady Sizemore out in the 8th to end the inning. Joe Nathan then came on and threw a perfect 9th inning to secure the win and to pick up another save. Nathan has been lights up so far this season. In seven games, he's allowed just 6 hits and has walked none while throwing 5 strikeouts. He's also recorded 6 saves in 6 opportunities.

Justin Morneau got the Twins on the board early with a two-run home run in the first inning. It was Morneau's 5th home run and 14th and 15th RBI of the season. Morneau finished the game going 2-4. Carlos Gomez drove in the other runner with a flaring single into left field in the second inning.Craig Monroe also had two hits, one of which was a double, his third of the season. Nick Punto and Delmon Young were the only Twins to not record a hit in the game, but Punto did walk.

Although they didn't record hits, both Punto and Young played great defense. Punto showed a great arm while being apart of all four of the double plays turned. Young made multiple catches in the outfield in which he had to cover a lot of ground, and he too showed off his arm while throwing out Asdrubal Cabrera at home plate in the 3rd inning.

Despite pitching great prior to yesterday's game, Blackburn was winless through his first 3 starts. He lost one game, which came off of his (now second) best performance of the season in which he threw 7 innings of one run ball to the Angels. Blackburn now sits at 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA and a 14/3 strikeout-walk ratio. The Twins may be forced to make a difficult decision when Kevin Slowey returns from the disabled list, all I know is if Blackburn continues to pitch the way he has, he should not be in any danger of losing his spot in the rotation. At least until Francisco Liriano regains better control, which I don't see happening for quite a while.

The Twins play another day game today. Paul Byrd will try to continue to build on his great resume of pitching in the Metrodome. In 9 career starts, he's 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA and two complete games while pitching in Minnesota. Against the Twins in his career, he's 10-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 16 starts. Scott Baker will take the mound for the Twins and will try keep the ball inside the park. Baker's allowed 6 home runs in the last 12 innings, all of which have been solo shots.

Game Ball
Nick Blackburn - Starting Pitcher
Line: 7 2/3 innings pitched, 8 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, win

Down on the Farm
Hitter of the Day
Luke Hughes - Rock Cats - Second Base
Note: Hughes had another strong game at the plate. The 23-year-old out of Australia went 3-5 with a solo home run and came across home plate twice. It was his second three-hit game in a row, and his fourth multi-hit game in a row. Hughes is now 10 for his last 17. He's currently hitting .365 while playing primarily third base and hitting in the #3 spot.

Pitcher of the Day
Yohan Pino - Rock Cats - Starting Pitcher
Note: Pino got his second start of the season yesterday and continued to pitch well. The 24-year-old right-hander threw 5 innings of one-run ball. He struck out 5 and walked one while picking up a no-decision.

Minor League Box Scores

April 19, 2008

Adam Everrett D.L. Bound, Buscher Promoted

Update 2:25 PM: Buscher has gotten the call. Joe C. also notes that Michael Cuddyer will be flying down to Florida to work with the Twins' GCL affiliate tomorrow.

Joe Christensen reports that shortstop Adam Everett has been placed on the Disabled List, prior to this afternoon's game against the Cleveland Indians. The Twins plan on promoting a player from Triple-A Rochester, but an exact name has not been given. However, it's likely assumed that Brian Buscher will be the one getting the call.

Everett was signed to be the Twins everyday shortstop this season, knowing he has "holes" in his bat, the team loathed about his stellar defense. Thus far, he's committed 3 errors in his first 9 games. His errors were not from a result of a poor glove, but a poor throwing arm. Everett is going to be missing time with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, which gives the Twins an answer to why he's been throwing rainbows this season.

Everett's bat has been just as dreadful, he was hitting .185/.214/.222 in 27 at bats with just one extra base hit. He's also walked once while striking out 5 times. It's not known as to how much the tendinitis in his shoulder affected his hitting, but it more than likely played at least some role in his poor hitting. However, regardless of if he had tendinitis or not, he likely would not have been hitting much better as he's a career .247/.298/.222 hitter.

Buscher seems to be the logical choice.

Brian Buscher has been the Red Wings best hitter this season. He's currently hitting .345/.397/.586 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI in 58 at bats. Primarily a third baseman and first baseman, Buscher played a few innings in Spring Training at second base, however it's unlikely he'll see any action there in the majors without it being out of dire need. This will allow the Twins to use Nick Punto in the middle infield and also give Justin Morneau a proper backup as the Twins would prefer not using Mike Lamb at first base. And with Michael Cuddyer (Morneau's backup at first base) still on the D.L. with a finger injury, promoting Buscher seems like the most logical of choices.

Another interesting choice would be Matt Macri. Macri was acquired by the Twins last season in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for Ramon Ortiz. He can play anywhere in the infield, and he has good numbers at the plate in the minors. I'd be surprised if they chose Macri over Buscher, but I've been more surprised before.

I think that Alexi Casilla would be a poor choice to call up, however if he's promoted, I hope the Twins give him a fair amount of at bats. He's played horribly this season in Rochester, but I think he still has some upside and if they chose to call him up, I hope they play him more than Punto. With that said, I'd like to see Matt Tolbert get the majority of the starts at shortstop while Everett is injured, but we all know that Nick Punto will split the starts with him.

The other option is to take Michael Cuddyer off the D.L. (tomorrow, when he's eligible) and possibly demote Denard Span to Rochester, in place of Buscher. But all indications are that Cuddyer is not ready to come off the D.L. The team also has to make a decision on Brian Bass who's nursing a strained lower back. A decision on him is likely to come at some point today as well, but all indications are that his back is feeling much better than in previous days. And since there has not been a formal announcement regarding him as well, I think that the news must be encouraging. At least, for now.

With Everett now injured, that gives the Twins 3 players on the Disabled List and possibly 4 if Bass is forced to miss any more time.

Twins shutout by Lee, Indians

The Twins were completely outplayed by the Indians last night, pitcher Cliff Lee in particular. The crafty left-hander threw 8 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and a walk while fanning 8 batters. Lee had a horrid 2007 campaign in which he went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 16 starts. His struggles even earned him a ticket down to Triple-A, and this season he is now 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. Lee was relieved by Rafael Perez who gave up an infield single to Punto, but that was it. The Twins were shutout 4-0 on just 3 hits.

The Twins were just brutal on offense. The Twins could only scavenge 3 hits, all singles against Perez and Lee. Matt Tolbert, Joe Mauer and Nick Punto were the only players to get hits, while Delmon Young was the only batter to draw a walk. Young's walk resulted in an at bat in which he did not take his bat off of his shoulders, that won't happen very often.

Jason Kubel, Tolbert, Brendan Harris and Carlos Gomez all struck out twice, while Mauer and Craig Monroe fanned just once. Monroe hit a couple balls hard, but just not hard enough. The Twins don't seem to be having very good luck with former Tigers outfielders (Rondell White comes to mind), but it's a little too early to completely start writing him off.

Francisco Liriano had a great first inning as he got both Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez to strike out to both start and end the inning. It was immediately evident that he still has control problems, and that was definitely what hurt the Twins, pitching wise. Liriano allowed 3 runs on 4 hits, but walked 5 batters in his 5 innings of work. He threw 88 pitches, and only 53% (47) of them crossed the plate as a strike. In 9 2/3 innings with the Twins, Liriano has now allowed 10 walks and has truck out 7 batters while sporting a 6.52 ERA. The reasoning for his bad control is the fact that he is not allowing his arm to catch up with his body well enough, so his balls remain up (out of the zone) and towards the left side of the plate. His velocity was in the 93 mph range for his fastball, his changeup sat around 84 mph, and his slider was up around 87.

This outing was much better than his last outing, however not by much. The Twins likely will want Liriano to remain up here, at least for the foreseeable future, but when Slowey comes back it will be interesting to see what the club decides to do. I understand that the Twins want Liriano to continue to work with Rick Anderson, however Liriano seems to be more of a liability right now than a contributor.

The Twins got another strong effort by their bullpen for the 3rd staight game. Now since the 2-game blunder in Detroit, the bullpen has pitched 12 innings, allowing just 1 run (a 0.75 ERA) on 7 hits while striking out 12. Both Juan Rincon and Jesse Crain threw 2 innings apiece and both struck out two batters. Rincon gave up a home run to Casey Blake which was the only hit allowed by the two. Jesse Crain had his first four outs on 9 hits before finishing off the last two hitters on 10 pitches. The team must be encouraged with the bullpen's recent performance after the bullpen allowed 10 runs (9 earned) in 3 1/3 innings against a revamped Tigers lineup.

Today, the Twins play the Indians in an afternoon matinée at the Metrodome. Rookie Nick Blackburn looks to improve from his last outing while Jake Westbrook is trying to remain great.

Game Ball
Jesse Crain - Relief Pitcher
Line: 2 innings pitched, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 19 pitches

April 18, 2008

Tolbert continues to shine, but Twins still lose

The Twins couldn't complete the two-game sweep over the Rays last night, as the Rays took advantage of poor pitching to beat the Twins 7-3.

Boof Bonser only lasted 4 innings and before leaving the game, he left the game, he left Brian Bass a gift. That gift was the bases loaded with no outs, but Bass let 2 of the runners in before leaving the game with the bases loaded. However, Bass' exit was not a result of poor pitching, it was due to what we later find out as a lower back strain. He was examined after the game, and is listed as day-to-day. Matt Guerrier and Pat Neshek had much better outings this time around, as the two combined for 4 strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Guerrier did allow to let an inherited runner to score on a ground out, but that was the extent of the damage that the two allowed.

Three Twins hitters had multi-hit games; Carlos Gomez, Matt Tolbert and Justin Morneau all had two hits apiece. Tolbert had a great game while filling in for Adam Everett at shortstop. He played solid defense while staying aggressive on offense. He came up big in the fourth inning, with two outs, he hit a single to right which scored Denard Span from third base. He also stretched a single into a double in the 5th inning and was later driven in. He's been a pleasant surprise thus far this season, and I hope that he continues to get the majority of the starts at shortstop while Everett is out. Joe Mauer and Delmon Young also had hits and both went 1-4 with an RBI.

Tonight, the Twins and Indians will have a battle of the southpaws. Francisco Liriano will make the start for the Twins, while Cliff Lee makes the start for the Indians. Should be a good game with two pitchers trying to make their way back into the majors. Lee has looked great so far this season, but hopefully the Twins bats can get him early.

Game Ball
Matt Tolbert - Shortstop
Line: 2-4, 1 run, double, 1 RBI
  • And as I write this (3:20 am), the Rockies and Padres just finished their game (6:16 minutes after the start of the game), with the Rockies winning 2-1 in 22 innings. Wow. Out of the near 26,000 that payed attendance, I'd like to know how many stayed the entire game.

April 17, 2008

Pair of pitchers shine for the Twins farm teams

Last night, the Twins beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-5. It wasn't a great game by Livan Hernandez, as he gave up 5 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits in just 6 innings. He gave up 3 solo home runs in the game, he fell behind pitchers often, and reached over 103 pitches before being pulled. It's by far his worse start as a Twin, but when I watched the game, I didn't think he was pitching that bad. The Rays just made him pay when he left the ball out over the middle of the plate.

The Twins bullpen finally came through as Dennys Reyes, Juan Rincon, and Joe Nathan combined for 3 scoreless innings of relief. It's definitely a sigh of relief after the last two games were lost at the expense of our bullpen. Carlos Gomez broke out of his 1-18 skid with a 2-hit game. He also swiped two bases to bring his season total up to 9. Jason Kubel and Brendan Harris both went 2-4 with an RBI. Delmon Young and Justin Morneau both had one hit apiece and each scored as well.

Tonight, the Twins will send out Boof Bonser to face Jason Hammel of the Rays. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10.

Game Ball
Joe Mauer - Catcher
Line: 3-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI

I'm going to do a similar post like I did yesterday. And that's taking a look at a player (or in this case, two) minor league players who are shining right now.

Yesterday, two of the Twins top pitching prospects took the mound. Anthony Swarzak started for the New Britain Rock Cats, while Deolis Guerra started for the Ft. Myers Miracle. Both pitchers, needless to say, pitched lights out.

Swarzak went 6 very strong innings and struck out 10 batters while only surrendering 3 hits. Listening to the game, the announcers praised his ability to work the corners with great control and not be afraid to attack the hitters. Swarzak issued zero walks in the game, en route to his second win of the season for the Rock Cats. He also lowered his ERA on the season to 0.56 and now has 18 strikeouts in 16 innings this season.

I have been very high on Swarzak since he's been in the organization, in fact, I ranked him the third top prospect in the Twins Organization. And before the Johan Santana trade, I considered him the top prospect in the entire organization. Here's what I had to say about Swarzak before the season:
Anthony Swarzak was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft. His 2007 season definitely got off to a horrendous start. After pitching quite possibly the worse ball of his life, he found out in April that he had tested positive for a "drug of abuse", which isn't a steroid, and was at that point suspended for 50 games. Upon his arrival back in New Britain, he made several starts with the Ft. Myers Miracle and from that point on he was "lights out." Swarzak went 5-4 with a 3.23 ERA in '07. He also collected 76 strikeouts in his 86+ innings of work. He went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA and 69 strikeouts after he returned. With the surplus of arms that will likely be in Rochester, he may be forced to start in New Britain to start the season.
Like I mentioned, it was likely that he'd have to start in New Britain again this season, due to a surplus of pitchers in Rochester. However, as I said yesterday with Chris Parmelee, the Twins seem to have changed their philosophy on their prospects a little bit, and have in many cases held back prospects in the same league that they played in the previous season, which looks to be working out quite well for a few prospects.

The same goes for Deolis Guerra. Guerra came over the Twins in the Johan Santana trade during the off-season, and was one of the key pieces to the package. At just 19-years old (in fact, today's his birthday), Guerra is pitching in the Florida State League for the second season already, and looks to have a legitimate shot of reaching Double-A before he turns 20-years-old.

Guerra instantly became the Twins top prospect when the trade became final, and ranked "2nd" on my Top prospect list, however Carlos Gomez is "technically" not a prospect (which I knew when making the list) so "technically" the top prospect (according to my rankings). Here's what I had to say about Guerra:
Deolis Guerra was also recently acquired in the Johan Santana trade. He was the second main piece to the package the Twins received. At just 18 years old, he held his own in the very tough FSL with the St. Lucie Mets. In 89.2 innings, he had a 4.01 ERA and 66 strikeouts. He already has 23 career starts in the FSL, but he'll probably start there in 2008 as well. That's not necessarily a bad thing for him either. At 19, he'll still be one of the youngest players in the league, and I also think that it'd be good to have him in a strong rotation that is likely to include Tyler Robertson, Cole Devries and Alex Burnett among others.
Like I mentioned, he held his own as an 18-year-old in the FSL last season, and is on a tare already this season. Guerra is now 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings. He has walked 7 batters already, but he'll gain better control as he progresses. He's going to make it interesting for the Twins if the Rock Cats need another arm or two this season. The Twins would probably like to keep him in Ft. Myers all season, but if he continues to shut out opponents like he did last night, in which he went 5 innings of 1-run ball, then Guerra may force the Twins to promote him.

It's great seeing two of the Twins top pitching prospects having so much success early on this off-season. Hopefully they can keep it up and continue to progress through the system.

April 16, 2008

Chris Parmelee's Heating Up

Last night, the Twins couldn't edge out the Tigers and as a result got swept in the two game series. Now, the Twins will come back to Minnesota to face the Tampa Bay Rays. Livan Hernandez will face off against James Shields in game one.

Game Ball
Joe Mauer - Catcher
Line: 2-4, 1 run, double, 2 RBI

But tonight, I'm going to switch my attention to something else. And that something is the rising status of Chris Parmelee. Parmelee ranked in as the 15th top Twins prospect in my "Top Prospect List" a couple months ago. Here's what I said at the time:
Chris Parmelee was taken in the first round of the 2006 draft. He had mixed results in 2007. Although his power and RBI numbers were high, he struck out 137 times which as a result lowered his OPS. He possesses a lot of power, but unless he can cut down on his strikeouts, his average and OBP will likely remain low. 2008 will be a very tough test for Chris in the very hard FSL, but I think that he'll handle himself well and I hope he can continue to progress and move back up the prospect rankings.
Obviously, you will notice that I was completely wrong on my "prediction" of him being in Ft. Myers to begin this season. The Twins in fact decided to hold both Parmelee and fellow 2006 draftee (2nd rounder) Joe Benson back in Beloit to begin this season. It's something that the Twins have not done a lot of in the past, holding back prospects after a full-year in a league; at least not with high draft picks.

Parmelee was drafted by the Twins in the first round of the 2006 draft, the 20th overall pick. He attended Chino Hills High School in Chino, California. He hit .407 with 11 home runs, 34 walks, 24 stolen bases with 26 RBI's in his senior year. When drafted, many thought his bat was good enough to carry him quickly through the organization, and after a good start in the GCL, the Twins had to be happy. However, one of his strengths - his discipline - quickly became his "Achilles Heal."

Joe Benson ranked slightly higher on my prospect list, he came in at #12, 3 spots ahead of Parmelee, and the reason for this is that I liked the way Benson made adjustments at the plate last season and the athleticism that he possesses. He's a real 5-tool prospect, but like many of the same caliber, he's very raw in each area. Parmelee figures to be the better hitter, but Benson plays a harder position - center field opposed to right field or first base - and he has solid defense. Benson's a former catcher, but he has incredible speed that will make him be a legitimate option in center field in the major leagues.

Baseball America ranked Parmelee as the 16th top prospect in the organization. He had a mediocre 2007 season.

Level        G     AB      AVG      OBP       SLG     OPS      HR     RBI
A-         128    447     .239     .313      .414    .727      15      70

Obviously, he looks to be a power-hitter only, but even so, a .727 OPS for a power hitter is very low. The reason for his low OPS was his .313 OBP and that was resulted by a horrible 137/46 K/BB ratio. If he can improve his plate discipline, thus improve his OBP, his OPS will skyrocket. So what's my reasoning for writing about him? Take a look at his stats through the first 13 games in Beloit this season:

Level        G     AB      AVG      OBP       SLG     OPS      HR     RBI
A-          11     37     .351     .432      .838   1.270       4      14

His K/BB ratio so far is 10/6. Now, I don't want people to think that I'm getting "all worked up" over just 37 at bats, as I know it's very early in the season, but he's certainly hitting very well so far. Ben Revere is currently in Extended Spring Training and is waiting to play for Elizabethton later this season, but is it out of the question to say that in mid-May, if Parmelee is still hitting like this, could he be promoted with Revere taking his spot? The Snappers could move Benson to right field to make room for Revere.

I'm a big advocate for the Twins to promote their better prospects faster than others. I'm not talking about how the Mets handle their players, in which a player is very likely to make at least one jump during the season, but with Parmelee already having a full season of work (and then some) in the Midwest League, the earlier he gets to learn the pitching-tough Florida State League, the better. Especially since the Twins may end up holding him in Ft. Myers next season as well.

It's at the very least nice to see him produce, after many (including me) started losing faith in him too early, and it's at least something to think about.

Something else I thought I'd pass along is that former Twins farmhand (now with the Texas Rangers), Caleb Moore has undergone Tommy John Surgery. Moore used to be a catcher, but switched to pitcher last season. Best of luck to him in his recovery.

April 15, 2008

Have the Twins awoken the beast?

The Twins gave up 11 runs between 3 pitchers in 3 innings of the game last night. Nick Blackburn left the game in the 6th inning after giving up 3 runs. Matt Guerrier came in and gave up another, which was charged to Blackburn. Nick's final line was 5 2/3 innings pitched, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits with no walks and no strikeouts.

Guerrier and Neshek threw the final 2 1/3 innings in the game, allowing a combined 7 runs to score, one of which was unearned thanks to an error by Adam Everett. The two just could not seem to catch a break, and the Tigers hitter's just feasted on their pitching and were unstoppable.

Here's Matt Guerrier's line from last night:

IP      H      R      ER      BB      K      HR
1.1     5      5       4       0      0       1

Guerrier left the game in the 8th inning with no outs and runners on first and second. Pat Neshek then came in the game and the Tigers just continued to drive the ball against him. After getting Edgar Renteria to ground into a fielders choice for the first out of that inning. The next batter, Ivan Rodriguez, hit a 2-run triple to the wall in center field. After that, Jacque Jones hit a sacrifice-fly to left field for the second out. Clete Thomas (who?... exactly) then came on and hit a triple before being driven in by Placido Polanco for the 6th run of the inning.

Here's Pat Neshek's line from last night:

IP      H      R      ER      BB      K      HR
1       3      2       2       0      1       0

This obviously was not a good game by the Twins bullpen, and it's really disappointing because the Twins were leading 5-0 before the 6th inning.

There were some positives in this game, but they all came at the plate.

Delmon Young had a fantastic game, going 3-5 with 3 runs scored, 2 runs driven in with a double and a stolen base. Jason Kubel and Brendan Harris followed him in the lineup and both wen 2-4 with 2 RBI's apiece. Justin Morneau drove in his 10th and 11th RBI's in the game with a two-run single in the 7th inning. Mike Lamb also drove in a run, his 6th of the season.

Denard Span batted second, giving the Twins 3 left-handed hitters in a row against Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman, and went 2-4 with a walk and a run scored. Span did have a "blooper" in the outfield however. In the 7th inning, Ivan Rodriguez drove the ball to deep right field, Span jumped up and grabbed the ball, but as he came down with it, his arm hit the wall and the ball popped out over the fence. If Span never touched that ball, it would have stayed in the park, but nobody can blame him for trying to make the great grab. Unfortunately for Span and the Twins, the ball could not stay in the park.

Adam Everett also went 2-4 at the plate, but he committed his 3rd error in his 9th game this season. Wasn't he brought in here for his "stellar" defense? I'm thinking that if he keeps this up, he might find himself without a job in the near future.

The Twins face Nate Robertson of the Tigers tonight. Scott Baker is set to start for the Twins. Hopefully Baker can "tame the beast" that looks to have awaken last night. Craig Monroe is supposed to be in the lineup for the Twins.

Game Ball
Delmon Young - Left Field
Line: 3-5, 3 runs, double, 3 RBI, stolen base

April 14, 2008

Was promoting Liriano a mistake?

First and foremost I would like to apologize for the hiatus over the last few days. Anyways, the Twins went 2-1 in my absence, but the highlight of the weekend was Francisco Liriano's start against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

Liriano was promoted to make the start yesterday after the Twins placed Kevin Slowey on the disabled list with a bicep strain. Liriano made two starts in the minors and had a 6.75 ERA over 9.1 innings. He struck out 11 but walked 5. Liriano's biggest problem thus far in his comeback has been his command. He has had a very hard time locating the strike zone and as a result has not been able to last long into games. His pitch count has been in the 80's, however he's hit that mark around the 4th or 5th inning because he hasn't been able to throw strikes consistently enough.

Yesterday, gave up 4 runs and walked 5 in the 4 2/3 innings he pitched. Liriano faced 25 batters and threw 90 pitches, however he threw only 51 across the plate for a strike. One very encouraging sight I saw was that Liriano was throwing a pretty good circle change-up that looked like he was taking points from former teammate Johan Santana.

Liriano probably would have benefited from another couple starts in the minors, however I think that he needs one more start in the majors before the team should consider sending him back to AAA. The reason I feel that way is because of the weather he's dealt with since Ft. Myers. He's pitched in pretty cold weather and I think that at least one start in the Metrodome should be in order if we really want to get a better look at how he's looking. Regardless, I won't blame the weather for his incredibly bad command, but I think that it could be affected at least a little.

Something that is interesting that I had not been aware of before his promotion was that the Twins likely moved his arbitration time up a season as he was not gaining any service time in Rochester. The Twins could have waited until after the 2009 season until they had to go to arbitration with him, and now it looks as if the Liriano will be getting a considerable payday after this season.

I think that the Twins should have waited to call him up, especially if they did not have to wait that long to call him up to delay arbitration. Regardless of if they could have delayed arbitration, I think that they should have waited. They have a few options in the minors including Glen Perkins, who has not pitched well himself, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey. Mulvey is the only pitcher not on the 40-man roster, however (unless I'm mistaken) the Twins have 2 spots open, so adding him would not be a problem. I will say though that regardless of the results from yesterday's game, I was very encouraged to see him back on the mound and pitching for the Twins. His command needs to get better, and I believe it will, but I hope that if he doesn't improve in his next start that the Twins send him back to Rochester to continue to work on his command.

Game Balls
Livan Hernandez - Starting Pitcher
Line: 7 innings pitched, 7 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 K's, win

Boof Bonser - Starting Pitcher
Line: 6 innings pitched, 3 hits, o runs, 2 walks, 4 K's, win

Justin Morneau - First Base
Line: 1-4, RBI single

The Twins are set to take on the Tigers in a two game set in Detroit. Nick Blackburn will take on Jeremy Bonderman in the first game, and Scott Baker will take on Nate Robertson will start game two. The 6-6 Twins will try and and break .500 against the 2-10 Tigers. Surprisingly, a few Twins batters have pretty good numbers against the Tigers, so we'll see if the offense that the team is able to provide will come out in this series. Hopefully the Tigers high-potent offense won't come out in this series though. Because if/when they do turn it around, the entire division (probably even league) will be effected by it.


  • Looking for updates on the Twins Minor League games? Head over to Seth Speaks for game recaps.
  • The Twins reacquired Tim Lahey after he was DFA'd by the Philadelphia Phillies. Lahey was the first pick in last December's Rule V Draft and after being juggled between a few organizations, he finally lands back with the Twins.
  • The Twins completed the Craig Monroe trade with the Cubs, and the PTBNL was Doug Deeds. Deeds has been with the organization since he was taken in the 9th round of the 2002 draft. The former Ohio State Buckeye hit .291/.375/.462 with 51 Home Runs, 119 doubles and 20 triples in 1821 at bats. He had a down 2007 in which he hit .243/.306/.404 in 86 games for Rochester. He had a great season in 2005 with the Rock Cats, but for some reason was forced to repeat AA in '06. He's not a bad player, but he did not have much of a future in this organization. Hopefully he'll get his opportunity with the Cubs.

April 10, 2008

Where does Tolbert fit in long term?

The Twins opened the season with Adam Everett starting at shortstop, but as we expected when we signed him, his bat is definitely a cause for concern in our lineup. The team felt that with the upgrades (offensively) at second base, third base and left field, they'd be able to handle one player that failed to produce. Unfortunately, the rest of the offense is not producing which makes it hard to keep Everett in the lineup on a consistent basis.

Matt Tolbert surprisingly made the roster out of spring training and has had his fair share of at bats so far this season. He's currently hitting .500 (7-14) with a 1.134 OPS. Now, I'm not going to get all excited for the way he's hit through just a little over a dozen at bats, but I have to say that I've been greatly impressed with him so far and it's not only on offense. Defensively, he's made some very good plays with his strong arm and has even made a couple nice grabs up the middle. Unfortunately, his Zone Rating ranks in the lower half of the league and his bat just does not seem strong enough to warrant his below average zone rating at shortstop. It's surprising because as a base runner, Tolbert is pretty fast and has been used as a pinch runner a few times this season, but defensively it's a little bit different. So in short, his defense doesn't seem to be good enough to keep him at shortstop for a long period of time.

However, at second base, his zone rating would likely be above average and his bat could make him a respectable player at that position. As for an optimistic player comparison, I think he could be a poor man's version of Dustin Pedroia or Ryan Theriot offensively. Both are light-hitting infielders and both have exceptional speed. I doubt that Tolbert ever makes the kind of impact as a player like Pedroia has, but if Tolbert could get a full-season worth of at bats, I think his numbers could be fairly similar to his, but likely with half of the home runs. I'm not advocating that he'll ever be this good, but if I look at Tolbert's ability and what he could bring to the table based on his numbers in the minors (especially in '07 before his slump in the second half), I think that he could some day be a solid second baseman for some team in the majors.

Unfortunately for Tolbert, Brendan Harris figures to be the starting second baseman at least for the foreseeable future. He has not played well enough yet to fully deserve that praise, but his offense does figure to be much better than anyone else's in the system at second base. His defense is also skeptical, which was apparent in last nights game when he committed his 2nd and 3rd errors in the first 9 games, but his offense is good enough to keep him in the lineup on a consistent basis. Unless Harris' 2007 numbers are just a mirage as to what will happen in the future, I don't think that Tolbert will crack the lineup at second base other than just taking over for Harris on days he needs off.

Tolbert has played a little third base, including last night, and although he looks comfortable there on defense, his light bat likely would not make him an appealing option long-term at that position.

Tolbert likely fits in as a bench utility player, like Nick Punto does right now, however I think that Tolbert will have a much better career than Punto will have. Tolbert certainly has raised many eyebrows early this season, but his incredibly strong play won't last (meaning I don't see him hitting anywhere near .500 for any length of time this season), but when he comes back to reality, it will be interesting to see where he lands.

Twins crush the Sox

The Twins came to hit last night as the bats collected 13 hits and 7 walks to help propel them to a 12-5 victory.

Jason Kubel broke the game open with a 6th inning grandslam which put the Twins up 11-3. Kubel finished the game going 2-4 with 6 RBI's. Brendan Harris went 3-4 with 3 runs scored, however he committed two errors to bring his season total to 3. Mike Lamb also committed an error, but he too had a strong day at the plate for the second straight game going 2-4 with two RBI's before leaving the game in the top of the 9th after fouling a ball off of his right shin. Nick Punto replaced him in the field.

Joe Mauer also had a strong day at the plate, going 2-5 with 2 runs scored. Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Justin Morneau and Craig Monroe all had one hit apiece. Monroe and Young had one batted in apiece while Gomez drove in two with a two-run double with the bases loaded. He also made a diving catch that will definitely be seen later on Baseball Tonights "Web Gems" Adam Everett was the only starter who failed to get a hit as he went 0-5 at the plate.

Scott Baker had a very good game, except for the fact that he left the ball up a few times and the White Sox made him pay with three solo home runs. It was Baker's second win of the season and he also struck out 7 batters to bring his season total to 9 K's. Brian Bass came on to pitch the final four innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) to pick up his first career save. He had a streak of 7 straight ground ball outs and shut down 9 consecutive batters.

The Twins will face the White Sox tonight. Livan Hernandez will take the hill against Jose Contreras. The forecast looks like there will be rain and it sounds like there is a good chance that the game will be postponed. But anything can change in Chicago, especially the weather.

Game Ball
Jason Kubel - Right Field

Line: 2-4, 1 HR, 6 RBI

Down on the Farm

Rochester Red Wings Norfolk Tides, 7-2.

Brian Duensing gave up 6 runs in his 6 innings of work, however just one of them were earned. There were 4 errors in his 6 innings; he committed one of them, Chris Basak committed two and Tommy Watkins committed another. Carmen Cali went the next two innings and gave up one run while striking out 4.

Brian Buscher scored the runs on a two-run home run in the 7th inning. It was his 2nd home run of the season. Garrett Jones went 1-3 with a double and a walk. Randy Ruiz and Jason Pridie were the other Red Wings to pick up hits.

Today: The Red Wings face the Tides at 12:15 PM (Eastern Time). RHP Philip Humber (0-1, 6.75) will start for Rochester and RHP Jon Leicester (0-0, 2.70) will start for Norfolk.

New Britain Rock Cats beat the New Hamshire River Cats, 4-3.

Ryan Mullins had another great start for the Rock Cats, going 6 strong innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned) while striking out 5 batters. The earned run came on a home run in the 2nd inning. The unearned run was due to an error by Steven Tolleson which should have ended the inning on a double play ball, instead the inning continued and the River Cats later scored. Yohan Pino threw two more scoreless innings in relief and also struck out 2. Ben Julianel gave up a run in the 9th inning while still picking up his first save of the season.

Dustin Martin had a great game. He went 3-4 on offense with an RBI double. He also threw a runner out at home plate in the same inning that Tolleson gave up an error while Mullins was pitching. Brock Peterson went 1-3 with his first home run of the season. Brandon Roberts went 1-1 with an RBI single. The other run was on a pickoff attempt which resulted in an error by the River Cats pitcher, A.J. Wideman.

Next: The Rock Cats have a day off today before they begin a streak of 17 games in 17 nights.

Ft. Myers Miracle Clearwater Threshers, 9-3.

Jeff Manship lasted 5 innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) while striking out 4. Jose Lugo came in for two innings and struck out 1 while walking 1. Aaron Craig walked two batters without getting an out before Anthony Slama came out to pitch out of that jam and the pitch the final two innings without giving up a hit or a run while striking out 3.

Chris Woodard and Juan Portes both had 3 hits and 2 RBI's apiece. Danny Santiesteban finally contributed by going 2-5 with 2 more RBI's. Brian Dinkelman also went 2-5. Danny Valencia reached base 3 out of 5 times, including two walks while scoring twice. Whit Robbins reached base a total of 4 times including 3 walks and he too scored twice. Rene Tosoni went 1-4 while scoring twice as well.

Tonight: RHP Deolis Guerra (0-0, 1.80) looks to help the Miracle's complete the sweep while the Threshers will send out RHP Carlos Monasterios (1-0, 2.84) to stop the Miracle.

Game 1: Beloit Snappers Peoria Chiefs, 1-0.

The Snappers sent Steven Hirschfield for the first game of the double header and he went 5 scoreless innings, allowing just 3 hits. 7'1'' Loek Van Mil came on to strike out 3 over the course of the next two innings to get his 1st save of the season.

Garrett Olson provide the only run of the game, going deep for the second time this season. Chris Parmelee was the only other Snapper's hitter to get an extra-base hit. DJ Romero and Joe Benson were the only Snapper's hitters to not get a hit or a walk.

Game 2: Beloit Snappers Peoria Chiefs, 1-4.

David Bromberg got the start in the second game and did not have nearly as good of a game as Hirschfield did earlier in the evening. Bromberg went 3 1/3 innings and gave up 4 runs on four hits. Spencer Steedley came on to pitch the final 2 2/3 innings and struck out 7 of the 10 batters he faced.

The Snappers collected just 4 hits in the game. DJ Romero had two of them including his 2nd double of the season. Ben Petsch and Steven Singleton were the other players to pick up hits. Petsch drove in Romero from third base. Joe Benson drew the only walk for the Snappers.

April 9, 2008

A few one-run games

A few off-day tidbits:
Ron Gardenhire did not rule Francisco Liriano out of taking over for Kevin Slowey in the rotation, should Slowey miss his scheduled start on Sunday. Slowey is still sidelined with a strained right bicep.
Seth Stohs has posted a Q&A with a new Twins Blogger. Check it out!
Make sure to check out Josh Taylor's "Down on the Farm" Reports.
John Bonnes shows us some "On-base Surprises" the first week of the season.
Want a closer look at Michael Cuddyer's dislocated/lacerated index finger? Check out Aaron Gleeman's post "The Cuddyer Domino's".

Down on the Farm

Rochester Red Wings lost to the Norfolk Tides, 6-5.

In what could have been a decision make of whether Francisco Liriano starts for the Twins on Sunday or not, Liriano did not do anything last night to suggest that he'd be the right choice to fill in for the injured Kevin Slowey. Liriano left after just 4 innings in which he allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. He struck out three and probably the most encouraging thing for Liriano is that he pitched almost 90 pitches in the game. However, you can't really blame Liriano for the poor start. The temperature in Norfolk was in the mid-50's and it was just a gloomy day. He probably would have pitched at least a little better had the weather been warmer. Another factor was that Alexi Casilla committed two errors while Liriano was pitching, which made Liriano's pitch count jump so high and it made him run out of gas in the fourth inning as he allowed all 3 runs.

Casey Daigle and Ricky Barrett both gave up runs in their appearances of work following Liriano. Julio DePaula, Mariano Gomez, and Heath Totten finished the remaining 1 2/3 innings with scoreless relief.

Jon Knott and Matt Macri both had 3 hits in the game and 2 RBI. Knott also scored twice. Garrett Jones was the only other impact bat in the game for the Wings. Playing right field, Jones hit his second home run and drove in his 5th RBI of the season. The rest of the lineup combined to go 3-27.

Tonight: LHP Brian Duensing (0-1, 3.18) will take the mound against fellow southpaw Garrett Olson (0-0, 2.25)

New Britain Rock Cats beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 3-2.

Oswaldo Sosa had a great start for the Rock Cats, going 5 scoreless innings allowing just two hits while striking out 5. However, Jay Sawatski later gave up two runs in the 8th inning which wiped out Sosa's win. Instead, Zach Ward picked up the win pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. Ward, despite having a solid season only won 5 times in '07, losing 17. He must be thrilled to have a better offense behind him right now, however the Rock Cats aren't anything to brag about.

David Winfree, Dustin Martin and Drew Butera drove in the runs for the Rock Cats. Matt Moses played in left field and went 2-4 with two runs scored. Brock Peterson scored the other run. Brandon Roberts went 2-4 from the leadoff spot.

Tonight: 6'6'' LHP Ryan Mullins (0-0, 0.00) will face a fellow left-hander as 5'11" A.J. Wideman (0-0, 0.00) takes the mound for the Fisher Cats.

Ft. Myers Miracle beat the Clearwater Threshers, 2-1.

Cole Devries had a good start (his first of the season) yesterday, lasting 6 innings and giving up just 1 run. Danny Vais came in and pitched a scoreless 8th inning before Rob Delaney pitched two innings to pick up his 2nd save of the season.

Danny Valencia continues to hit well, going 2-3 with a walk. Daniel Berg hit a solo home run in the 7th inning for his first RBI of the season. Toby Gardenhire also went 2-3. Allan de san Miguel drove in the other run with an RBI double.

Tonight: RHP Jeff Manship (0-0, 5.40) will face off against RHP Carlos Monasterios (1-0, 2.84) of the Threshers.

Beloit Snappers vs. Peoria Chiefs

Game was postponed due to rain. It will be made up today as part of a double-header. RHP Steven Hirschfield (0-0, 0.00) will take game one for the Snappers against RHP Ryan Acosta (0-0, 0.00). And in game two, RHP David Bromberg (0-1, 9.64) will pitch for the Snappers and the Chiefs will counter with RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (1-0, 0.00).