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Tag:T Unit
Posted on: June 1, 2009 7:08 pm
 

A Look Ahead

Slow Starts and Road Woes, Followed by HOT Summers:

Business as usual for the Twins

The Minnesota Twins have an off day today before a mini-home stand versus the Cleveland Indians. The Twins currently have a major league best 19 wins at home, and should be able to take at least 2 out of 3 from the Tribe.

After the noon game on Thursday it is straight to the road, where the Twins are tied for the least amount of wins with the lowly Washington Nationals (13-6 overall). In spite of that, I think this may be an optimal time for this 10 game road trip, taking the Twins from Seattle, to Oakland, to the North side of Chicago for the start of inter-league play. 

None of the teams on the trip are playing extremely well as of late. The Mariners are 5 and 5 in their last 10, but have been beating up on the bad teams within their division. The Athletics are already 10 games out of 1st in their division, and have only won 1 of their last 5 series. The Cubs are under .500 for their last 10 games as well, and the Twins have MLB's best inter-league record since 2002. Last year they were an amazing 14-4.

If the Twins are able to pick up some wins on this road trip, they would likely stay hot through inter-league play (they host the Pirates and Astros before going to Milwaukee and St. Louis). Then they play 3 games at Kansas City, who have already cooled down drastically from their hot start. After that they start July with a 9 game home stand. Assuming our beloved Twins play like history shows they can in most of these games, they could easily have a few game lead in the A.L. Central division going into the All-Star break. 

 

Category: MLB
Tags: T Unit, Twins
 
Posted on: May 31, 2009 3:22 am
Edited on: May 31, 2009 8:36 am
 

Twins @ Rays: The Price is Right

The Tampa Bay Rays, a team that admittedly bases its team philosophy on the Twins, has taken the first 2 of a 3 game series. The Rays have been concentrating on pitching and seem to have a full stable of studs in their minor league system. The latest to be called up is David Price.

Although it was not his debut, he pitched great down the stretch in the play-offs last year, it was defiantly David Price's coming out party. The 2007 number 1 overall pick out of Vanderbilt got his first career regular season win earlier today. He pitched 5 and 2/3 innings, gave up 5 hits, 1 earned run, and walked 2. He seemed to have trouble in the first 2 innings and his pitch count reached just shy of 50, but he struck out 2 in each inning, keeping any of the Twins from scoring. Then in the 3rd Denard Span hit a bunt single, followed by a Joe Mauer ground rule double. Price was able to get Justin Morneau to hit a sacrifice before striking out Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede, allowing just the one earned run.

Francisco Liriano then had a nightmare inning that included a lead-off home run, 2 walks, 2 wild pitches, and 3 infield singles . He also gave up 2 singles to center. The end result was 4 runs.

David Price would never look back. He struck out 5 more batters in the next 2 and 2/3 innings, totaling 11 k's, before being relieved by Grant Balfour.The Twins would score 1 more in the 9th, but came up short in the end.

Along with the likes of Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, and Felix Hernandez; David Price will be whiffing batters for years to come. Keep your eyes on him when he takes the mound, as he has a real chance to be a special player.

 

 



Category: MLB
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:11 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 8:07 pm
 

Where should Go-Go go?

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 28, 2009 6:49 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2009 6:53 pm
 

Twins and Red Sox Split 4 game series

The Twins managed to split the series with the Red Sox in the final match up between the two at the Metrodome. At the end of the current home stand, the Twins are now 4 games back of Detroit, the same team they swept just a few series ago. 

In the four games vs. the Red Sox, both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, have both cooled down a bit. Hitting a combined 7 - 26 with 2 home runs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During Wednesday's game, the Red Sox tied a record with 7 wild pitches, by three different pitchers.

In the series finale, the Twins were unable to build off Joe Crede's early home run. In an odd game, Jason Varitek hit two home runs and then was ejected for arguing a called ball 4 when catching; however, that wasn't until after Twins' catcher Mike Redmond was tossed for arguing a play at the plate on a sacrifice fly. Replays show that Redmond was correct. Ron Gardenhire hurried out and was quickly ejected when responding to Redmond's ejection.

The Twins now go to Tampa Bay to play the struggling Rays, losers of 5 straight, in a three game series before returning home to for a 3 game series vs Cleveland.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 26, 2009 5:39 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2009 12:52 pm
 

Slama watch 2009

Who is ready for some Slama?

I know I am. Anthony Slama is still playing AA ball for the Twins minor league team The New Britain Rock Cats.

On the season so far he is pitching 3-0, 2.59 era, 9 saves, and 38 strike outs in 24 and a 3rd innings. And that is after a terrible game on 5/23 when he gave up 3 runs in his 1 inning. 

In 2008 he was 4-1 with 25 saves and a 1.01 era and 110 strike outs in 71 innings pitched and was named MLB.com's Class A Adv. Relief Pitcher of the Year. 

I think we all know that Slama is the heir apparent to Joe Nathan and I can't think of a better way to learn the job then setting up for him in the 8th. Not to mention, the Twins need him. They have been looking for a solid 8th inning guy since Pat Neshek went down. So far this year the Twins relievers are carrying a combined earned run average over 4.00.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2009 6:04 pm
 

Black hole at the 2 spot

In a year where Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel have been tearing the cover, they seem to be coming up short in the RBI category. That could have a lot to do with the awful play of Twins #2 hitters. Manager Ron Gardenhire has mostly slotted Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris,  and Alexi Casilla between Span and Mauer. In 161 at bats the 3 have combined for a paltry .192 average, 17 runs, 14 walks, and 36 strike outs. That is more whiffs then walks or hits.

 

So what needs to be done? Here are a few ideas I have. Play Kubel in left field against righties and Delmon Young against lefties. Kubel is hitting .365 against righties and .179 against righties. Last year Young hit .300 against lefties. That would leave the DH spot open and allow rookie switch hitting catcher Jose Morales to play some games at DH and bat 2nd. Morales is batting .333 in 20 games this year. I hate to say it, but the days of Michael Redmond as a backup catcher for the Twins should be over. It has often been said that he would be a great addition to the coaching staff at some point. I say the sooner the better. His legs are too old, and his throws are 2nd is starting to be abused by opposing base-runners.

 

Another possibilty is batting Delmon Young in the 2 spot. He has not been hitting for power since he became a Twin, but has a respectable
 on base percentage. Much better then we have seen in the two hole this year.


And finally, bring back Alexi Casilla. Casilla has seemed to be a permanent resident in the Gardenhire doghouse and was sent to the minors on May 6th. Two things have happened since then. Firstly, Casilla is hitting in the minors, he has a batting average of .312 and an on-base percentage of .380. The second, Joe Mauer is back with the team. You can expect the #2 hitter to see better pitches hitting in front of Mauer.

 

I doubt Morales will stay with the big club for long, and it is too early to give up on Young's power swing, so it seems like it may be time to give Casilla a 2nd chance. He may not deserve it in Gardenhire's eyes, but the Twins sure seem to need it.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 16, 2009 10:23 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2009 11:06 pm
 

Twins @ Yankees - Deja Vu' all over again

 

Deja Vu' all over againIn the first 3 games the Twins have enjoyed late inning leads; however, they have been unable to hold back the Pinstripers. Friday it was Melky with a 2-RBI single off an overused Joe Nathan. Saturday it was A-Rod's first round-tripper in New Yankee Stadium, for an extra inning win. And finally, in spite of a brilliant defensive play at the plate by Joe Mauer, the Yankees had their third straight walk off win, this one courtesy of a Johnny Damon solo home run in the 10th.  

At least the series finale was a different sort a tough loss for the Twins. Glen Perkins pitched atrociously, allowing 6 runs without getting out of the first inning. R.A Dickey came in to stop the bleeding, and pitched 4 1/3 with out allowing a run. The Twins pecked away at the Yankee lead getting the game within 2, until Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer, his 2nd dinger of the game, in the bottom of the 7th. That would be the difference in the game, as the Twins managed to score 2 more, but lost 7-6, in non-walk-off fashion for a change.

On the bright side, The New M&M boys are littering the bleachers with long balls, unfortunately for the Twins, they all seem to be solo shots.

The Twins always seem to have a tough time going to the Bronx, in recent years they have lost 88% of the games they have played there. That being said, they had a legitimate shot at winning in all of the games of this series. The fact that they didn't win in any of them is maddening. 

For those of you who read my blogs this may start sounding like a broken record (or skipping C.D.), but the Twins are only losing games because they are not hitting with runners in scoring position ( 1 - 25 the 1st 3 games of the series) and the bull pen has been unable to close out tight games (bullpen ERA of 9.45 the 1st 3 games of the series). Until one, if not both of those traits change, the Twins will have a hard time staying near the top of the division.

Next up the Twins head Chicago, where in the past we have faired almost as poorly as in New York.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com