Posted on: July 21, 2009 1:46 am
Edited on: July 21, 2009 11:04 am
A terrible call to end the game. Michael Cuddyer was clearly safe at home on a wild pitch. At times like this, baseball needs to open up review to more then just home run calls. This was the difference in the game, and with the AL central being as close as it is this year, could cost the Twins the post season. The picture above shows about the point where the tag was applied.
Why is MLB willing to use replay on home runs, but not a play like this? A common argument is that it would slow down the game, but would it really slow it down any more then watching a manager come puff his chest out at the ump? Even if the average game is 5 minutes longer, is that such a big deal if they are getting the calls right?
Posted on: July 13, 2009 7:21 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2009 11:55 pm
Minnesota Twins Mid-Season Report Cards
By: Christopher Torola
Catcher: Joe Mauer - Games - 64, BA. - .373, R - 49, HR - 15, RBI - 49, SB - 1
Not only has Joe Mauer been the the teams MVP, he should be on the short list for MLB's MVP award this year. After missing the first month of the season, he has put up amazing numbers. Most notably, his increased power. Given he has one of the best swings in baseball the jump in power does not seem to be taking away from his MLB leading batting average, which if he maintains, will be his 3rd batting title in just 4 years. Add his amazing hitting numbers with his Gold Glove caliber defense behind the plate and we have an overall grade of: A+.
1st Base: Justin Morneau - Games - 88, BA. - .311, R - 59, HR - 21, RBI - 70, SB - 0
Justin is the Twins' other candidate for both the team's and the American League MVP. He has managed to increase his power numbers while also increasing his batting average. Hitting behind Joe Mauer and Denard Span has really helped Justin's RBI numbers as well, as he is on pace for 130 RBIs, a number that should increase being that both Mauer and Span missed significant time in the first half. Maybe the most under-rated part of Justin's game is his steadily increasing defense. He has only one error at 1st this year and plays in almost every game. Although he was not voted to start at 1st in the All-Star game by the "fans", I tend to agree with the players that voted him number 1 at first base, and strongly beleivethat Justin is the AL's best first base men, not an easy task with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, and Kevin Youkilis in the field. Overall grade of : A+.
Closer: Joe Nathan - Innings Pitched - 34 1/3, Wins - 1, Loss - 1, ERA - 1.31, Saves - 23, Ks - 43
Joe Nathan has been one of the, if not the most reliable, closers in all of baseball since taking over the job for the Twins. This year is no exception. Before last year most followers of the Twins, myself included, thought that we would lose Nathan along with Johan Santana and Torii Hunter. When the Twins resigned Nathan to a multi-year deal, they may have made the biggest impact signing of the three. He continues to do an amazing job slamming the door shut in the final inning for the Twins. Overall grade: A+.
Starting Pitcher: Kevin Slowey - Innings Pitched - 90 2/3, Wins - 10, Loss - 3, ERA - 4.86, Walks - 15, Ks -75
Despite average numbers, Slowey has been able to accumulate an amazing win/loss record. He is 10 - 3 which is tied for 3rd best in the American League with Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver. In the mold of Twins pitchers Slowey has excellent control, averaging one walk every six innings. Although currently on the disabled list, he should be back shortly. His overall grade: A-.
Starting Pitcher: Nick Blackburn - Innings Pitched - 123 1/3, Wins - 8, Loss - 4, ERA - 3.06, Walks - 29, Ks -54
Although Blackburn's record is slightly behind Kevin Slowey, he have been the better pitcher up to this point. He has the teams best ERA, 6th best for starters in the American League. He has been able to go late into games, saving on the bullpen. 15 -17 wins is not out of the question is he continues to command his dominating sinker ball. Overall Grade: B+.
Outfielder: Denard Span - Games - 73, BA. - .292, R - 50, HR - 5, RBI - 31, SB - 16
Span has been the lead off hitter that the Twins have been missing for so many years. He has excellent plate discipline taking many pitches per at bat. In doing so he reaches base at a good clip, as seen by his .387 on base percentage. He also, has speed on the base paths and is leading the team in stolen bases. Pair is excellent stick work with his ability to play all outfield positions with great range and a strong arm, and Denard's overall grade: B+.
Left Fielder/DH: Jason Kubel - Games - 77, BA. - .311, R - 38, HR - 14, RBI - 45, SB - 0
Kubel has finally stepped up with his bat, proving that he can be the Twins everyday designated hitter. He will likely never be better then adequate in the field since early career knee surgery, his bat has kept him in the line up in most games. He will spell players at left field from time to time but is best served as a masher. He definitely has his splits vs. right and left-handed pitchers, hitting under .200 against leftys with no home runs. Against rightys, on the other hand, he is hitting .351 with 14 long balls, 16 doubles, and 1 triple. Overall grade: B.
Right Fielder: Michael Cuddyer - Games - 82, BA. - .273, R - 50, HR - 14, RBI - 47, SB - 4
The biggest step forward for Cuddyer this year may be that he is actually playing. Last year seemed to be a series of fluke injuries for the Twins right fielder. After a slow start, he has been on fire at the plate. He also expertly play's the Metrodome's baggy in right field. With his strong and accurate arm most opponents have learned not to even try take the extra base on him. Overall grade: B.
The current Twins bull pen: Wins - 5, Loss - 2
The bullpen currently consists of Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Bobby Keppel, Brian Duensing, and R.A. Dickey. Guerrier had been great as a set up man this year. Dickey was able to completely save the teams bullpen pitching in both long relief as well as high pressure close game situations. Mijares has been the Twins left handed specialist. Keppel has been great since coming to the Twins, while Duensing is still to fresh to call. The bullpen as a whole has seen its ups and downs, but the crew currently holding down the fort gets an overall grade of: B-.
3rd Base: Joe Crede - Games - 68, BA. - .234, R - 32, HR - 14, RBI - 40, SB - 0
Crede does not hit for average. He also misses a lot of games due to his back problems. I guess it is good that we knew that when he was signed. He does hit for power, and is top of the line at defending the hot corner. If i were grading him compared to what the Twins have had recently at 3rd, his grade would be much higher. As is, overall grade: C+.
The rest of the Rotation. Scott Baker - 7-7 5.24 era, Fransisco Liriano 4 - 9 5.47 era, and Glen Perkins 4 - 5 4.71 era.
None have wining records. Baker and Liriano were expected to be the 1-2 punch in the rotation. Both have started to pick their games up but will need to improve for the Twins to see the post season. Perkins has been about as good as should be expected for a #5 pitcher. Overall Grade: C.
Shortstop : Brendan Harris - Games - 76, BA - .275, R - 30, HR - 5, RBI - 26, SB - 0
Harris has had the ability to ride out a couple hot streaks this season, but has also had extended slumps. He is forced to hit in the 2 hole in the line up, but would be better suited as an 8 or 9 hitter. He has a strong arm at short, but is lacking in range. Overall grade : D+.
2nd Base: Nick Punto - Games - 63, BA - .201, R - 26, HR - 0, RBI - 16, SB - 8
While never know for his bat, Punto is barely holding a .200 batting average, which is pathetic for a major league baseball player. He has great defense, and can make many highlight reel stops, but I would argue that his batting short comings outweigh his defensive prowess. Overall grade: D.
Center Fielder: Carlos Gomez - Games - 77, BA - .235, R - 28, HR - 2, RBI - 18, SB - 7
The Twins would love to be able to go 1-2 with Denard Span and Carlos Gomez, but until Gomez learns some plate disipline, he will continue to be relegated to splitting time in the OF with Kubel and Young. A large number of Gomez's games have been as a defensive replacment, so although he has 77 games, he has only 187 at bats. Carlos Gomez has the raw talent, but until he learns how to be a major league hitter, he will continue to be below average. His defense on the other hand is amazing. His year to date grade is low, but should improve as he gets more at bats. Overall Grade: D.
Left Fielder: Delmon Young - Games - 56, BA - .266, R - 20, HR - 3, RBI - 25, SB - 2
Delmon has seemed lost at the plate since joining the Twins. His power has virtually disappeared. He has been swinging at the first pitch seemingly more often then not. He is still very young and has plenty of talent, but lacks the defensive skill of Carlos Gomez, which will continue to cause him to split at bats with Gomez against left handed pitching. He has not lived up to expectations since being traded for Matt Garza. With more time Young should improve, but I would be very surprised were it to happen this year. Overall Grade: D-.
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:11 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 8:07 pm
Are the Twins slowing the maturation of Carlos Gomez by not sending him to AAA?
At only 22 years old Carlos Gomez has already shown he is an elite major league center fielder, where so far this year he has a perfect fielding percentage. In his major league career he has more outfield assists then errors. He has also shown the ability to read the ball well off the bat and use his speed to track down hard to get to balls, making several highlight reel catches. He also has a cannon for an arm.
He is showing signs of having excellent base running skills, or at least the raw speed to bunt for base hits, take the extra base, and steal his way into scoring position. In a game against the Red Sox on Wednesday, he attempted to take home in the 7th inning and seeing that Boston catcher George Kottaras was blocking the plate ready to make the tag, Gomez lowered his shoulder and tried to run right through Kottaras. I am not sure how he held onto the ball, but it was great to see the young Twin playing such hard-nosed baseball. It reminded me a lot of former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. Carlos Gomez has also been compared to A's great Ricky Henderson.
The problem however, is that he has not been able to hit for average at the major league level. Although he has already hit for the cycle in his young career, a sure sign of his raw talent, he has a career batting average of only .250 and a career on base percentage of under .300. So far this year he is hitting just .225, and that leads to the bigger problem...
With the emergence of Denard Span, hitting .317 on the year, Jason Kubel, hitting .340 on the year, and Michael Cuddyer hitting .330 with 7 home runs in May; there just hasn't been much playing time for Gomez. And what he needs is just that, more playing time. He has only started 25 games this year, several of which where as a result of Delmon Young being on bereavement leave for 9 days. Currently Gomez is being used mostly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.
I believe that the future of the Twins outfield consists of Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, and Delmon Young. The Twins, in my opinion, would be better served sending Gomez down to thier AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings. That way he would get a chance to get a full slate of in game at bats, and continue to work on his excellent potential on the bases. He would then be able work on things like taking pitches and 2 strike hitting with out it costing the big club a win.
As a minor leaguer in the New York Mets system Gomez saw an improvement in batting average every year, at each level. In 2005 playing A ball he has a batting average of .275 and an on base percentage of .331. In 2006 playing AA ball those numbers jumped to a .281 AVG and a .350 OBP. When he played AAA for 36 games in 2007 he got his average up to .286 and his on base percentage to .363. It appears that with work and regular at bats Gomez has shown the ability to make improvements on hitting.
Hopefully the Twins will give their young outfielders all they will need to reach their full potential, because if these emerging stars continue to progress, the Minnesota outfield could be the envy of the bigs for years to come.
Posted on: May 21, 2009 5:38 pm
Edited on: May 21, 2009 5:39 pm
In which the Twins take out their frustrations on their hated rival.
It is good to see the Twins finally making some line-up changes. I have been saying for weeks, that they can not keep putting Brendan Harris and Matt Tolbert in the two hole. I have been hoping they would give Jose Morales more at bats. I thought they could start him in the two hole.
Well, Meatloaf has been know to say 2 out of 3 ain't bad. The Twins didn't put Morales in the two spot, but they did start him. And instead of starting Harris or Tolbert in the 2 hole, they dropped Tolbert down to the 8 spot, and moved everyone else up a spot. The result....
The Twins scored 20 runs in the first 7 innings.
Morales went 3 for 4 with two walks and 3 runs. Joe Mauer had 6 rbis. The Twins hit two 3 run homers and a Grand Slam (Mauer's 4th homer of the road trip). Even Tolbert had a big game. It also helped that Nick Blackburn pitched a great 7 innings of shut-out baseball. The final score was 20-1.
After the game Micheal Cuddyer, who hit a three run homer in the 7 run 2nd inning, stated "We needed that one, if there was ever a must win, it was that one." He further went on to say, "... we have been through this before. We've struggled in May for some reason, but going into the National League games we seem to pick up some momentum, and hopefully thats what we have been able to do today going into the series against Milwaukee."
It was a long and ugly road trip; however, the Twins finished it on a high note. Now they can look to add to their one game winning streak in the comfort of the Metrodome where they are 14-9 on the year.
Posted on: May 8, 2009 6:19 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2009 6:34 pm
The Minnesota Twins lost a close one to the Baltimore Orioles last night. Losing 4-5 to an 8th inning RBI single despite out-hitting the Orioles 14-9.
You may want to blame the recent slump on poor pitching; however, If you look closer you will also see a lack of timely hitting. Last night there were 9 men left on base with 15 chances to drive them in. This is after last year leading the majors by batting over .300 with runners in scoring position. You can also look at such flukes as a rain shortened game or at the Tuesday game in Detroit were the Twins gave up an incredibly high 3 errors for a team that has long prided itself on good defense.
There is no need to panic my fellow Twins fans. The Twins have been hitting the ball hard and getting men on base the last few games. This should translate to more run support for a pitching staff in need of some leads. If you look at those good signs, as well as Michael Cuddyer starting to hit the ball well, Joe Mauer being back, and it looking like this may be Jason Kubel's break out year... the AL Central is well within this teams grasp.