Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stick a fork in the Twins

They're done, I'm afraid.

After being swept by the Indians, the Twins are 8.5 GB with 29 games remaining. My guess is that they'd pretty much need to go undefeated to have a chance. Obviously that's not happening.

Maybe next year.

You can bet on it at the best online casino

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Johan Santana is pretty good

Johan Santana's line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 17 K

PLEASE Terry Ryan, resign him ASAP!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

One Step Forward, One Step Back

With the Indians and [especially] the Tigers struggling lately, the past couple of weeks would have been a perfect time for the Twins to make a big run towards the front of the division. Instead, they've just sort of been staying place, which is frustrating, especially losing 2 of 3 to the Royals.

Once again, Matt Garza had an outstanding performance, only to get no run support. That means that in 4 of the last 5 games the Twins have scored 1 run or less. On Thursday it was the always unbeatable Kyle Davies that shut them down.

And this lack of offensive punch certainly can't be blamed on the fact that Luis Castillo is no longer with the club. His replacement, Alexi Casilla, was the only Twins to have more than one hit.

Even so, the Twins right now are only 5 games behind Detroit, and 6 games behind Cleveland pending their game later Thursday. The pitching appears to be really coming together, as the starters have put together a lot of nice performances lately. Now they just need the hitters to start carrying their weight.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

1-run losses are the worst

Not a great way to start this hugely important series with the Tigers... going in, the Twins has to be thinking that winning 2 of 3 at home would be enough to get them within 5 games of the Tigers. Now, they just need to focus on salvaging 1 game of the series.

Thanks to the lack of timely hitting, the Twins have managed to score 2 runs in 2 games... still had their chances to win both.

You can't fault the pitching efforts of either Matt Garza or Johan Santana, who were superb. Garza gave up just 1 unearned run (and had a really nice array of offspeed stuff), and Santana gave up just a manageable 3 runs.

The offense certainly had chances. On Wednesday's game the Twins left 14 runners stranded, including 4 runners left at third base. It was the Twins best hitters that did most of the damage, as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were a combined 1/9 with 1 BB, and they left 11 runners on base. It's tough to win like that.

Following Wednesday's game the Twins stand 8 games behind the division-leading Tigers and 6 games behind the Wildcard-leading Indians. The series finale will feature Scott Baker for the Twins going against Jeremy Bonderman. There's still a long way to go in this season, but the Twins can ill afford a sweep.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Vote for Pat Neshek!

Just a reminder to go vote for Pat Neshek to make it onto the All-Star game!

With a 1.37 ERA, a fantastic K/BB ratio, and being very stingy about giving up hits, Neshek is the best middle reliever in the MLB!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This bullpen is fantastic

I don't really know that this needs to be said, but I love the Twins bullpen. Sure, sometimes they'll screw up and Juan Rincon will have a stretch like he had recently, but then they do something like they did tonight, and I'm right back in.

5 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 W

That's beautiful. And excellent managing of the bullpen as well. They used Reyes for one out, then went with the best guys. Neshek pitched 1.2 innings of good work (even though he did allow a sac fly), Joe Nathan was then brought in for 2 shutout innings, and then Juan Rincon pitched a scoreless inning. Great management of the pen, great pitching by the pen, and a nice win.

And a round of applause for Scott Baker. In my last post way back when, I wondered if it could be Baker's last chance. Well, he has come back and had 2 straight solid starts, including a really good win on Tuesday. 7+ innings, 4 H, 1 ER, 9 K. I'll take that.

Also, another brilliant managing move bringing in Jeff Cirillo in the 12th to pinch hit. This isn't even hindsight bias, as I thought it was an excellent move at the time. Cirillo is a very solid hitter against lefties, and it just made perfect sense to bring him in there. Sometimes managers don't do what seems to make perfect sense, but the Twins did here and it worked out, with Cirillo delivering the game-winning single.

Twins now stand at 39-36, 5.5 games back of the Indians and Tigers... but for some reason, I just have a really good feeling about these guys.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Comeback Wins are the Best

After getting shut down for 8 innings, the Twins came through in the 9th on Thursday, getting Johan Santana off the hook for another home loss.

Johan pitched very well, allowing 2 runs and striking out 9 in 7 innings, but the Twins just could not get to Tim Hudson or Rafael Soriano, who combined for shutout innings. But against old nemesis Bob Wickman in the 9th, the floodgates opened.

Castillo singled, and following a Mauer groundout, he scored on a triple by Michael Cuddyer. After a grounder by Morneau that was misplayed by the first baseman, there were runners on 1st and 3rd for Hunter. His AB wasn't pretty, but ultimately a weak grounder that eventually led to an error on 3B Yunel Escobar tied the game, and then the Twins won on a base hit to left by Mike Redmond.

So it doesn't matter how you do it... it doesn't matter that the Braves pitching staff dominated this game for 8 innings, all that matters is that the Twins have now won 4 straight and remain just 5.5 back of the Indians, and only 4 back of the Tigers.

On Friday Scott Baker gets the call against the Brewers, and you have to think this might be one of Baker's final chances. He has a great track record, but the Twins have a lot of other good pitching prospects and Baker is struggling once again. He's had a couple straight mediocre starts, and I'm not sure how much more the Twins will give him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kevin Slowey picks up first Major League Win

It wasn't quite an awe-inspiring performance, but it's good to see Kevin Slowey get his first Major League win in his second MLB start. Slowey only went 5 innings, giving up 10 hits, 5 runs, and 4 ER, but thanks to good work from the offense and from the bullpen it was good enough for the win.

The bullpen pitched 4 hitless and scoreless innings to preserve the lead, showing their strength. Look at the ERAs of the guys that pitched:

Matt Guerrier: 1.72 (in 36.2 IP)
Carmen Cali: 0.00 (in 4.2 IP)
Pat Neshek: 1.26 (in 28.2 IP)
Joe Nathan: 2.05 (in 26.1 IP)

If I was doing any online sports betting, I would say this is the best bullpen in the MLB once again.

Also, it becomes more and more clear (at least to me) that Pat Neshek is the best middle reliever in the MLB. In the 28.2 IP he has struck out 34 batters, walked only 10, and allowed only 12 hits. That puts his WHIP at 0.77, his OBA at .217, and SLG against at only .200. Those are unbelievable numbers.

Offensively, the Twins got their power from Michael Cuddyer (3/4, 1 HR, 3 RBI), and a couple of other unlikely sources, as both Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett hit their first homers of the year.

All in all, a nice day and a nice job to come from behind to salvage one game of the 3-game set, as we head into another round of interleague play. 3 games at home against a mediocre Washington Nationals team sounds like a recipe for success.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ortiz to the Pen

The Twins offense is starting to hit their stride (even with Joe Mauer still out of the lineup for a little while longer), so no complaints there. Likewise, Carlos Silva was very good, so nothing but praise for him on this Memorial Day Weekend.

But the best news, long-term, for the Twins was that Ramon Ortiz was moved to the bullpen. He was putting them in a hole everytime he started, and while his early season starts were very encouraging, something needed to happen, and that did when the Twins announced Ramon Ortiz would be moving to the pen.

Though I disagree with the statement on the Twins site that the Twins bullpen got stronger with the move, I think it's very good overall for the Twins. This will likely cause them to call up Kevin Slowey, one of the top prospects in the organization.

This will help them win now and later, as I think Slowey will be an immediate upgrade and gain valuable experience for the future. So all in all, a good weekend for the Twins, even with the heartbreaking loss on Saturday.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Goodbye Bat-Girl

As you have probably heard if you are a Twins blog reader (which you probably are if you're reading this site), Bat-Girl is ending her blog, and the time constraints of having a baby were, understandably, a bit overwhelming.

As a Twins blogger, it was and is sometimes hard to produce content that is different from the other blogs and will be able to provide value for readers... Bat-Girl, I don't think, ever had that problem. Her blog was always unique, which is what made it so great to read.

Good bye and good luck Bat-Girl... you'll be missed in the Twins blogging community.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I like when good pitchers start

After another Sabean Special today, one thing has become clear to me... when we have good pitchers start, that usually goes better than having bad pitchers start.

Groundbreaking, I know. But then again, we are still starting Carlos Silva and Ramon Ortiz for 40% of the games, so this message isn't quite getting through to somebody.

Obviously it's a lot more complicated than this, but since May 12 the Twins are 5-1 when either Johan Santana, Boof Bonser, or Scott Baker starts. Over that same time span they're 0-6 when the games are started by Ramon Ortiz, Carlos Silva, and the recently departed Sidney Ponson.

Already 6.5 games back, we can't really afford to trot out Ortiz and Silva much anymore, can we? I know this is kinda like a broken record, but these guys are just not good starters. That's not even an opinion, that's a fact. Why not give Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey a chance?

I know the Twins are very reluctant to use more service time than necessary, but I really think the change to bring the young starters up has to be made soon. Last year these types of moves propelled the Twins from a .500 team to the division title. Replacing 3/5 of your rotation (already done with 1 part of that in Baker) can have that same type of effect.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The end for Ramon Ortiz? (PLEASE)

The Ramon Ortiz Story was great for a few starts... however, the time has come to pull the plug. Most of us knew this would happen sooner or later, and it's become increasingly apparent that the real Ramon Ortiz is back.

He was good for 5 starts or so, but that was probably more of an abberation than anything. He wasn't striking guys out, and basically they were just hitting it where the Twins were. Over the past 4 starts that has begun to even out, and his ERA is showing it.

Here's his last 4 starts:

5/03 - 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
5/09 - 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 K, 3 BB
5/15 - 1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 K, 1 BB
5/20 - 4.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 K, 0 BB

Almost needless to say, the Twins have lost all 4 starts. It's time to end the Ramon Ortiz Experiment.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Win AND Sidney Ponson gets DFA!

With 4 straight losses coming into the game, it had been a long weekend for the Twins.

But on Sunday, good things happened on and off the field. On the field, the bats finally exploded. Hampered greatly ever since Mauer went to the DL, the Twins erupted for 16 runs and 4 HR, something sorely lacking for the offense this year.

Torii Hunter led the way, with 2 HR and a career high 7 RBI. He had lots of help, as the Twins eventually had 16 runs and 22 hits. Luis Castillo had 3 hits. Mike Redmond hit a HR. Mike Cuddyer had 3 hits (including a HR) and 4 RBI. Justin Morneau had 3 hits. Jason Kubel had 3 hits. And on and on.

Bottom line, it was a great hitting performance for the Twins, and something that they sorely needed.

Off the field, after another poor start for Sidney Ponson, the Twins finally have seen enough, as they designated him for assignment. Later this week the Twins will recall a pitcher to start on Saturday, leaving Glen Perkins in the pen. They didn't say who, but my guess would be Scott Baker, who has some experience, is pitching great in AAA, and I believe is already on the 40-man roster. That would make the most sense to me.

Either way, I'm at least happy to see the Twins recognized that Ponson just wasn't working out.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Finals Week

Sorry for the extreme lack of updates over the weekend... finals week is this week, which means I've been studying a ton. But one more week until it's officially summer for me!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An old-fashioned beatdown

The hitting was good, Sidney Ponson was very good (really), and that was a pretty good combination for the Twins en route to a 9-1 beatdown of the DRays.

Ponson turned in easily his best performance of the year in a start in which he probably had to do well to keep his spot in the rotation. He threw 7 innings, allowing only 5 hits and 2 BB while striking out 5, allowing 1 run. Sure, that only lowers the ERA to 6.67, but this had to be really encouraging. If he can make a few more starts like this, they can delay starting the clock for some of those young guys even longer.

On the hitting side, there were lots of positives. Joe Mauer continued his hot streak with 3 more hits to boost the average .378. Torii Hunter only had 1 hit, but it was yet another double, his 14th of the year. Jason Tyner had 3 hits. Luis Castillo had 3 hits in his return to the lineup. There were lots of hitting starts for the Twins.

On Wednesday, Boof will get the start for the Twins, hoping Tampa has the same effect for him that it did for Sidney. He'll take on Jae Seo, he of a 9.51 ERA this year.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

2 out of 3 ain't bad

Coming into the series, the Twins were really struggling, and that was with those games coming at home. So to go to Detroit and take 2 of 3 (and be in the 3rd game), well, gotta like that.

Torii Hunter continued his great hitting, showing no ill effects from the ball in the face via Zack Greinke. After hitting his 5th HR Sunday (to go along with the 13 doubles), he is now slugging over .650. That's really, really good.

Also a great series for Jason Kubel, who is playing everyday and starting to be more consistent in showing some of that great potential. He's batting .333 over the last 6 games with 3 doubles, and had a really big hit Friday. More ABs for Jason Kubel and less for Jason Tyner is something I can support.

But it wasn't all good... once again, Jesse Crain struggled, giving up the walkoff HR Sunday. Crain's ERA is now at 6.30, and he only has 5 strikeouts through 10 innings. It's early obviously, but does anyone have any confidence when he enters a game? I know that I just do not at this point.

Twins take on the Devil Rays Tuesday... could it be Sidney Ponson's last start? If he struggles again, I don't see how they can justify keeping him up.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Interview with a Tigers Blogger

With the Twins and Tigers series coming up this weekend, Ian from Bless You Boys and Sweaty Men Endeavors and I had a little cross-blog interview. I asked him questions about the Tigers, and he asked me questions about the Twins. We did this year, and due to popular demand (at least that's what we tell ourselves) have brought it back. I'll post Ian's responses here, and mine will be over at Bless You Boys.

(1) I think it's safe to say that Gary Sheffield has struggled thus far since coming to Detroit. What seems to be his problems? Can they compete for a division title if he is only average?

Ian: From what I've seen, I think Sheffield's just trying too hard. He came to a World Series team and got a big contract extension, and I think he's putting some pressure on himself. And it's only gotten worse as he continues to slump. He's swinging at bad pitches and seems to be pulling most every pitch. He just looks uncomfortable; even his stance looks different from what I remember.

And no, I don't think the Tigers can compete if Sheffield doesn't figure it out. They have a decent record right now, thanks to their pitching, but I don't think that can last throughout the season. Eventually, they need Sheffield to provide the run production expected of him. There's no other player on the roster (well, maybe Magglio Ordonez) who can put up those kinds of numbers by himself.

(2) To be blunt, Sean Casey has been pretty atrocious thus far. Do they have any other options to turn to if he keeps struggling like this?

Ian: Definitely. Marcus Thames has already been starting against left-handed pitchers, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think he could play that position every day, if necessary. Or Chris Shelton, who was the first baseman most of last season, could be called up from AAA Toledo. Either move would probably strengthen the lineup. However, the defense at first base would suffer, and that's not an unimportant consideration to Jim Leyland. Casey's already saved several throwing errors with his glove. But if neither option is to the Tigers' liking, they'll try hard to trade for another first baseman.

(3) Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman have both followed up successful seasons last year with great starts to this season. If you had one game to win, which guy would you rather have on the mound?

Ian: I'd choose Bonderman, and not just because of his experience. Before the season, I thought Tigers fans were laying it on a little thick, saying he could be a Cy Young Award candidate, but so far, he's pitched to that level. Two of his last three starts have been phenomenal, and he'd bring that talent and determination to a must-win game. For whatever reason, Bonderman can still struggle in the first inning, but if a team doesn't get to him then, something clicks and he locks in. He could absolutely go nine innings in a Game 7, and I don't think you can say the same thing about Verlander.

(4) I must admit, it usually gives me hope as a Twins fan to see Todd Jones coming out to pitch the 9th... but then he usually gets the job done (even with the measly K rates). What makes him so effective?

Ian: I think a lot of Detroit fans often ask the same question. But it seems like Jones succeeds largely through stubbornness and conviction. He knows what kind of pitcher he is, so he pitches to contact and lets his defense make the plays. If Jones tried to blow fastballs by everyone, he'd get hammered out there. But as long as he keeps his ball moving, so the batters can't square it up, he'll be effective. He'll allow at least one baserunner per save situation, but then induce a double-play grounder to close out the game. A few times a season, he'll have a meltdown and blow a three-run lead. Yet he comes right back the next day, just as all the good relievers do.

(5) Where do you see the Tigers finishing up this season? Who do you think are their main competitors in the Central?

Ian: It probably looks like a hometown pick, but I really do think the Tigers are the best team in the AL Central and will eventually finish on top. With Kenny Rogers' injury, they no longer have the best starting rotation in the division, but I'd still like their top four over anyone else's. What I'm most encouraged by - and what should worry the other teams in the Central - is that they've been competitive despite disappointing production from their lineup and inconsistent pitching from the bullpen. Sheffield should eventually start hitting, and if Casey doesn't, the Tigers will somehow upgrade the position. And the starting rotation will be bolstered either by Rogers' return, or a call-up from the minors, such as Virgil Vasquez or Andrew Miller. So ultimately, this team is in good shape.


Once again much thanks to Ian from Bless You Boys and Sweaty Men Endeavors. Ian does great work on the Tigers, Detroit in general, and really all of sports. So be sure to check him out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Officially a losing streak

After the Twins 4th straight loss, I think this is officially the first real losing streak of the year. This one hurts too, just because of who it has been against and where it's been played. 2 of the 4 losses have come against the Royals, and 3 of the 4 have come have the friendly Metrodome.

The early blame went to Sidney Ponson, who gave up 4 runs in 6 innings of work, though that actually lowered his ERA to 8.44. The Ponson Experiment has just got to stop. The Twins cannot afford to stop throwing him out there every 5 games.

Unfortunately, the Twins didn't really get any type of run support or any offensive effort except from Torii Hunter. Torii was 2/4, including a continuation of his barrage of doubles as he hit his 13th of the year. He also hit another HR, to give him 4 so far. Meanwhile the 3-4-5 hitters went 3/5 with 2 BB (from Mauer). That's not going to get it done.

The Twins will try to avoid the 2-game sweep by sending Boof Bonser to the mound. Bonser has disappointed so far this year, but hopefully the home start against KC will be just what the doctor ordered. He'll take on Zack Greinke.

Monday, April 23, 2007

4-2 ain't bad

It's never good to lose 2 of 3 to Kansas City, but overall, a 4-2 roadtrip isn't too shabby. After sweeping the Mariners, the Twins were hoping for more of the same in Kansas City, but it didn't quite work out.

Now a 4-game homestand begins, with 2 against the Indians and 2 against the Royals.

The Indians will send Jeremy Sowers to the mound to take on Carlos Silva. Silva has been a nice surprise so far this year, giving up only 0.50 HR/9 innings so far, which would be great if it could continue.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Paging Matt Garza

After another poor outing from Sidney Ponson, it's not hard to believe that his days as a Twins starter might be numbered. After the Twins bumped the lead to 4-2 in the 5th, things started going south, and by the end Sidney Ponson was only able to pitch 4.2 innings, giving up 6 runs. He only had 2 strikeouts and gave up 2 HR. To the Royals.

Everyone pitching after Ponson struggled as well, but it's still hard not to be disappointed at the effort. This bumps Ponson's ERA to 9.39, and that's with 2 of his starts coming against the Royals and Devil Rays.

Meanwhile in AAA, there are some options. Garza has been a little wild with his control, but he would certainly be in the mix. Kevin Slowey has pitched 11.2 scoreless innings so far this year. Scott Baker just threw 8 shutout innings on Friday night.

In the Majors, Glen Perkins is up with the team and is capable of starting. The options are there. If Ponson struggles like this again, will that be the end of the Ponson Experiment?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Twins deliver a shellacking

Ramon Ortiz is 3-0. Terry Ryan, you are a freaking genius. Seriously, is there anyone alive that would have thought Ramon Ortiz would be 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA after 3 starts? I'm just kind of shocked thinking about it. But in a good way.

Elsewhere, everything was working for the Twins. 10 XBH and 11 runs overall for the Twins, and I think they can live with that effort. The backbreaker was Torii Hunter's grand slam, the 7th of his career. In all honesty, I thought it looked like the pitch beforehand should possibly have been called strike 3, but it wasn't, and then Hunter made Weaver pay for the hanging breaking ball. He now leads the team with 12 RBI.

Right behind is Mike Cuddyer, who had 3 RBI himself. Joe Mauer hit 3 doubles, Jason Tyner had 3 hits, Jason Bartlett had 2 more hits... there were plenty of offensive stars. It was really a great all-around game. Great offense, great defense, solid pitching. Not much more you can ask for.

Wednesday night's game features Carlos Silva (with a 0.77 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (with a 0.00 ERA). If the Twins can put forth the same type of effort as they did on Tuesday, they could slow down Felix's short reign of terror through the AL.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I was out of town over the weekend, which is why I didn't write anything at all, but here are some of my thoughts from the weekend split with the Rays:

- I don't have the numbers to back me up right now, but doesn't it just seem like Joe Nathan is a lot less effective when he pitches in non-save situations? Not just this year, but last year as well. That was certainly the case in this series, as we know what happened yesterday, and he also got lucky to survive on Thursday.

- Throughout the 4-game series, the pitchers that had the best lines for the Twins were Sidney Ponson and Carlos Silva. The worst lines belonged to Johan Santana and Boof Bonser. Baseball is a funny game.

- I know why Gardy puts Redmond in the 3 spot, but it's still a really bad idea. Seriously, are Cuddyer-Morneau-Hunter going to really get messed up moving up one spot in the order for a day? I doubt it.

- Jason Bartlett uses a 3/3 day to get the averaged up to .214. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.

- Jason Kubel basically has to play everyday because of injuries to other guys, but that's a good thing. Now, even with an 0/4 day Saturday, he was back in the lineup Sunday and went 2/4 including a nice RBI double.

- You can't say enough about Matt Guerrier... the guy just gets the job done, no matter the situation. He's a great asset on this staff.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Is there anything better than a Walk-Off Homer?

If you ask me, no. Especially when its the Twins hitting it. That's what happened on Thursday, as Justin Morneau stepped up to start the 9th inning and jacked one the opposite way. He didn't even look like he hit it that solidly, he's just really good. Like really good.

But the big story of the night, of course, was the superb effort from Carlos Silva. 6.2 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 0.77. I never thought I would be typing that... Carlos Silva lowered his ERA to 0.77 on the year. He wasn't able to get the win because Juan Rincon wasn't able to hold the lead, but that doesn't make Silva's start any less encouraging.

I know it's very early, but you gotta love the starters so far. Ramon Ortiz has been excellent, Silva has a 0.77 ERA, and while Sidney Ponson didn't have great numbers, the stuff was there. So that's a lot more than I thought I would be saying about the rotation at this point.

Excellent pitching matchup Friday... Scott Kazmir vs. Johan Santana. Two of the best lefties in the game, which should make for a great matchup.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ramon Ortiz has been the Twins best starter

Through 2 games, Ramon Ortiz has been everything the Twins hoped he would be and more. If you had bet in an Online Sportsbook before the season that after 2 starts Ramon Ortiz would lead the Twins in IP, ERA, WHIP, and have 2 wins, well, you're braver than I am.

Ortiz pitched 8 innings, giving up only 3 hits and 1 run, against perhaps the best lineup in the MLB in the Yankees. That puts him at 2-0 on the year with a 1.80 ERA. The strikeout rate could definitely stand to be higher, but as long as he can keep throwing with the excellent control he has displayed so far and keep the ball in the ballpark, well, there's a chance this might not be an aberration.

But this all looked like it would result in a no-decision for Ortiz until the bats finally got going in the 8th. The 3-4-5-6 showed why they can be so dangerous, as they each drove in a run. With Luis Castillo on 2nd, Joe Mauer singled and took 2nd base. After a wild pitch, Michael Cuddyer singled him in. Then Justin Morneau doubled down the line, and Hunter ended with another double to push the lead to 5-1.

This was fortunately enough for the Twins to at least win 1 game in the series, putting them at 5-3. Now the Rays come to town for a 4-game set. Game 1 of the series features Casey Fossum against Carlos Silva. In his first start he gave up 1 run in 5 innings... I think the Twins wouldn't mind a repeat of that.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sidney Ponson Gets Shelled

Yes, shocking.

2/3 of the Trio of Horror pitched well in their debuts (Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Silva), but Sidney Ponson could not do the same, as the Yankees beat the Twins 8-2. Here was Ponson's line:

5.2 IP, 10 HR, 8 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

Yikes. Sadly, even if he had been excellent, it probably wouldn't have been enough to win, as the bats were mostly silent against Carl Pavano, as they could only muster 6 hits and 2 runs off of him in 7 innings.

Meanwhile, even with the 4-2 start and division lead, things aren't all good for the Twins. Injuries and ineffectiveness from many guys are putting a little bit of a damper on the quick start, but as Twinkie Town notes, it is pretty early.

Andy Pettitte vs. Boof Bonser in game 2 of the series... hopefully it's better than the first game.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ramon Ortiz got a Win

Honestly, I didn't think I'd be able to say that much this year. I realize I still probably won't, but it was a great to see a great effort from Ortiz in his first game for the Twins. If he can give the Twins 7 IP and 2 ER on any type of consistent basis, well, Terry Ryan is even more of a genius than I thought.

Hitting wise, it was a good team effort. Everyone got on base at least once, and multiple players had 2 RBI. After a 2/4 game, Mauer is hitting .455 (which means nothing at this point, but still fun to point out).

What a great series for the Twins to start the year. On the broadcast they said that the first time the Twins were 3 games over .500 last year was when they were 38-35. That's crazy.

On a final note, I wasn't able to mention The Sabean Special last occurred last night. Boof wasn't able to get the win, but he started the game, and Joe Nathan finished it with the save. Always good to get one of those early on!

The Sabean Special Count: 1

Monday, April 02, 2007

Twins Win Season Opener

W: Johan Santana (1-0)
L: Erik Bedard (0-1)
S: Joe Nathan (1)

Johan Santana wasn't great (which tends to happen in April), but he didn't really need to be, as the hitting more than made up for it with a solid day leading to the 7-4 opening day victory.

It was a familiar script for the Twins... Santana with a win, Mauer with a hit, Morneau with a HR, the bullpen was great, and Nathan finished it off with the save. That's basically the way they won the Division last year, so it's not a bad thing to pick that up right where they left off.

The thing I was most impressed with was the hitting of Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter, each of whom hit a HR.

Last year, the thing that propelled Morneau's game (in my mind) was that he was so much better hitting against lefties, and so much better taking pitches and going with them the opposite way. Well, on the first two ABs for him he went the opposite way and got hits against a solid lefty, including a HR in the 2nd inning. If he can continue to do those things there's no reason why he can't improve upon last year's numbers, in which case, well, look out American League.

Game 2 of the season features Boof Bonser going against Daniel Cabrera... hopefully we can get our first Sabean Special of the season.

Cytana in the 1st

3 batters, 3 outs, 1 strikeout.

Baseball is back!

Opening Day!

As I type this, the first pitch will be in about 16 hours! Baseball is finally back!

Johan Santana vs. Erik Bedard.

My prediction:
Twins - 6
Orioles - 2

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Twins Rotation Almost Set

With about a week left before the start of the season, things almost look to be set in the Twins rotation.

The top, of course, will be Johan Santana, the reigning Cy Young Award winner who is firmly established as the best pitcher in the world. After that, it gets a little fuzzy.

At this point, it looks like Boof Bonser will definitely be in the rotation, which is a good thing, because Boof was really solid at the end of last year. Joining him and Santana will likely be Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson. Both were free-agent pickups, both have uninspiring track records. To be perfectly honest, if either of them develop into a reliable 5th starter, I'll be pleased.

After that, it gets even more fuzzy. It looks like the final spot will be either Carlos Silva's or Matt Garza. Silva is the "veteran" that has been getting hammered on the mound, Garza is the guy that has been pitching better, has much more talent and upside, but is young. If you can't tell, I think Garza should get the spot.

Last year Garza was one of the best Minor League pitchers around, and showed flashes of that at the end of the season. Silva, on the other hand, got consistently shellacked en route to an ERA above 6.

In Spring Training, it's been more of the same. Silva has an ERA above 11 in 16.1 IP, Garza has an ERA of 1.50 in 12 IP. When you put it all together, Garza seems like the no-brainer choice to make the rotation. Hopefully that happens.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Not dead, just sleeping

I know my posts have been scarce here lately, but I can explain. First off, I've been really busy with my other blog.

Secondly, I've been really busy with school and work... lots of tests, and more tests coming up!

Third, I just find it hard to write about baseball when it's not going on... most of my focus right now is on college basketball... I can write when I have stuff to write about (like the playing of the Twins), but when it's Spring Training, or the offseason, I'm just too busy.

So no worries, I'll be back in full swing once the season gets going... just a little scarce for now!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

AL Central Preview: Chicago White Sox

The positional previews were a little boring, both to write and (I imagine) boring for the one or two people that might have skimmed them. So it's time to do something different before the start of the year, and that's to preview the other teams in the Central. Let's start with the Sox.

After a World Series title in 2005, 2006 was a disappointing year for the White Six even though they were in contention for the division and wild card throughout the year. With a taste of success a couple of years ago, the Sox will once again be one of the top contenders to get back to the top.

The middle of the lineup will once again be very potent. Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye all had tremendous seasons at the plate in 2006, and the Sox would be happy if they can just get similar production from the trio. Joe Crede and AJ Pierzynski were also solid behind those guys in the lineup, and they help make the Sox offense so good.

But it's not all good for the Sox offense. Scott Podsednik and Darin Erstad are "gritty" players, but unfortunately they're not very good at getting on base a lot, which is what you need at the top of the order, especially with the mashers behind them. They should just focus on getting on base, and that's not really their games.

Next is pitching. While this is what carried them to the World Series in '05, it was their downfall in 2007. Starters like Mark Buehrle, Jose Conteras, and Jon Garland were all workhorses in 2005, which gave them great depth and consistency from the staff. All 3 suffered a dropoff in 2006. Javier Vazquez was not overly impressive in his first season with Chicago. Freddy Garcia (now gone) struggled as well. So they are counting on Buehrle, Contreras, Garland, and Vazquez to get back into form, and new guy Gavin Floyd to finally reach his potential. That's a big gamble.

In the end, I think the Sox will be a very solid team once again, but the division might be a little too tough. With the Twins, Tigers, and Indians joining the Sox, it is the best division in baseball, and I'm just not sure the Sox have the pitching to get through it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Position Preview: First Base

With 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau still here, the Twins seem to be in pretty good shape at 1B.

But while the power of Morneau is evident with his 34 HR and 130 RBI, that's just a piece of what makes him such a dangerous hitter. Last year he finally learned how to go with the ball and take it to the opposite field, and the results were staggering. His average finished at .321, over 80 points higher than his average the year before. He also became a more patient hitter, which led to OBP to finish at .375.

But even just looking at the offense is forgetting that he has developed into a very solid defensive first basemen. His height allows him to reach balls that get away from people up high, and he has become very adept at the scoop.

So put it all together, and Morneau looks like he will be in for another great year, and he has finally become a complete offensive and defensive player, and become the player the Twins have hoped he can be.

If he gets hurt (knock on wood), the majority of the playing time would probably go to Jeff Cirillo or Mike Cuddyer. I'll be writing more about them as we get into their normal positions, but just so you're aware, those are the backup options.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Positional Preview: Catchers

If I start these previews now, hopefully I'll be able to finish in time for the start of the season! So I'll start my positional previews with the Catchers.

First, there's Joe Mauer, of course. The man with the new $33 million deal. The reigning MLB Batting Champion. The man that I felt should have been MVP last season. Is there anything that Joe Mauer can't do?

As a 23 year-old catcher, all Joe Mauer did was win the Batting Crown, finish 3rd in the AL in OBP and 7th in the AL in SLG. And the man has not even found his power stroke yet. Seriously, he has an incredible eye at the plate, he's a good doubles hitter (which should develop into more HR power), and oh yeah, he's a Gold Glove caliber defender behind the plate. He's the best catcher in the MLB and should have another great year as long as he stays healthy.

Behind him, Mike Redmond was one of the best backup catchers in the MLB last season. In 179 ABs, he batting an astounding .341. Against lefthanders, he put up an astounding line of 443 AVG/467 OBP/543 SLG/1010 OPS. That's awesome, especially when you're talking about backup catchers, which usually more like Henry Blanco. Also, from all accounts, Redmond is great in the clubhouse, which makes him a perfect backup catcher.

So with Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond, the Twins catching position seems to be in very good hands going into the 2007 season.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Twins Sign Joe Mauer - 4 years, $33 million

Great deal!

The good news: Joe Mauer will definitely be a Minnesota Twin for at least the next 4 seasons.

The better news: The 4th year of this deal would have been his first year of free agency, meaning that unless something happens to Mauer (knock on wood) this is a great deal from a monetary standpoint as well.

With only Mike Cuddyer left as far as arbitration-eligible players, it was good to get one of the young stars locked up for a little longer-term rather than something like the 1-year deal for Morneau.

So great job Terry Ryan, congrats to Joe Mauer for becoming very rich, and congrats to all of us Twins fans for the privilege of watching Joe Mauer playing in a Minnesota Twins uniform!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Twins Ballpark Article

Got an email this morning with a link to an article that I thought was really interesting with regards to the Twins ballpark, suggesting that the two sides may not be all that close to a deal yet... anyway, I found it interesting:

The New Twins Park: A Big Roadblock at Home Plate

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Joe Mauer TV Commercial

Minnesota and surrounding areas residents have probably seen this commercial, but I thought I'd post it because it's so awesome. It's the Joe Mauer commercial doing his beat Mean Joe Greene impersonation... but the moral of the story is that Joe Mauer is pretty much good at whatever he does.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How is Bert Blyleven still not in the Hall of Fame?

Just for giggles, I'm going to give you the stats of 2 pitchers... one is in the Hall of Fame and generally regarded by sportswriters as one of the best pitchers of all time. The other is not in the Hall of Fame.

Player A: 324-292 overall record (.524 winning %), 3.19 ERA (3.57 was the League ERA over the same time period), 112 ERA+, 1.25 WHIP, 5714 K in 5386 IP, 2.04 K/BB ratio, 3.07 postseason ERA

Player B: 287-50 overall record (.534 winning %), 3.31 ERA (3.90 was the League ERA over the same time period), 118 ERA+, 1.20 WHIP, 3701 K in 4970 IP, 2.80 K/BB ratio, 2.47 postseason ERA

As you probably guessed, Player B was Bert Blyleven, who is still not in the HOF. Player A is Nolan Ryan, certainly an excellent pitcher, but also one of the most overrated pitchers of all-time.

If you look closely, I'm not sure Ryan is a better pitcher than Blyleven. When Ryan was on, he was great (strikeout record, 9 no-hitters), but he also has thrown more BB than anyone else ever. Ryan has the lower raw ERA, but he did it in a time where ERAs were generally lower, which results in a better ERA+ (ERA in relation to the League with 100 as the average) for Blyleven.

In the end, Nolan Ryan was the better strikeout pitcher and gave up less HRs than Blyleven, while Blyleven had much better control while still maintaining good strikeout dominance (higher K/BB ratio than Ryan. Both were very dominant when they were on their game... Ryan had 61 career shutouts, Blyleven had 60.

But there should be no need for this discussion. Both guys belong in the Hall. So how is Bert Blyleven, one of the top 20 or 30 pitchers EVER not in the Hall of Fame yet? Your guess is as good as mine. Bottom line, Bert Belongs.