Friday, June 29, 2012

No One Is Untouchable

GM Guy
According to Twitter sources from AM 1500, Twins GM Terry Ryan has stated that no player is untouchable when discussing the trade deadline.

Huh?
 
This statement leads me to believe that he is just as frustrated as every other Twins fan with the way they've performed, or not performed, this season and to say it is a way for him to blow off some steam. 

It's a very interesting comment to make, though, when it is widely thought that guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau would be Twins for a long time to come.

It's no secret that the likes of Denard Span and Francisco Liriano are on the trading block as their stock has risen over that past few weeks. 

But to say that no one is untouchable throws out the possibility that the current face of the franchise Joe Mauer could be gone by the end of next month.

What?

If that were the case, what would his real trade value be and who would take his huge contract despite the fact that he's been putting up non-superstar like numbers?

Underachiever Guy
These are questions that will be pondered by the media and will have to be answered by GM's around the league, but I would like to think that there are a few teams out there that would consider trading for the '09 AL MVP.

For now, what truly appears to be untouchable this season for the Minnesota Twins, are their chances of competing, much less winning the Central Division title.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trade Deadline Looming


With the trade deadline on the horizon, who knows what will happen.  Liriano has definitely beefed up his value as has Denard Span and Joe Mauer.  Although, I don't think that many teams would want to eat Joe's enormous contract, it's definitely something that Ryan should at least entertain, if he hasn't already. 

Frankie High Cheese
I believe that either Span or Liriano will be gone by the deadline and between the two, Span would be the most likely to be dealt.  The Twins need all the pitching they can get and dealing Liriano, especially since he's pitching well now, might not be the smartest move.  Span could be replaced with Revere who's been hitting very well (.316) and leads the team in stolen bases with 14.  Revere covers a little more ground in the outfield and is more of an explosive player than Span.

Span Man
Josh Willingham leads the team in home runs (15) and RBI's (49) and has been more than a solid off-season pick up.  I'm hoping that Terry Ryan thinks we have a shot at winning in the second half of this season (especially with our division being so weak) and that he will keep Willingham around for the remainder of the year and possibly next year as well.

Sweeping the series against the White Sox would help Minnesota to gain some ground but in order for them to have a shot at competing in the division, they need more consistency in their starting pitching.  It would be nice to see a trade made with Span to get an accomplished pitcher on the roster.

Matt Capps going on the 15 day DL is just more insult to injury for the pitching staff.  The bullpen has been very surprisingly solid this year and has kept the Twins in a lot of games when the starter has left in the 3rd inning.  Gardy said that there will be a "closer by committee" approach but Jared Burton has 2 saves in as many opportunities and looks to be the guy to fill the void for now.

Plouffy Dog

Trevor Plouffe has definitely made an impact since making his way into the Twins lineup.  With 15 home runs, he's sharing the team lead in that category with Willingham, but has done it with far fewer at bats.  Some are saying that he would be a good candidate for the home run derby at the All-Star game.  Although it would be fun to see another Twin try to jack homers against the elite home run hitters in the league, it seems that swinging for the fences in that contest tends to mess up our guys' swings.  So I, for one, hope that he doesn't go.

One thing to note as well: Jamie Moyer was released from Baltimore over the weekend.  I know the dude is old, but I don't think it would hurt to give him a shot on the rotation.  Just sayin'.

Old Guy




Gardy Just Wants .500

The Minnesota Twins (30-42, 7.5 GB) will take on the Chicago White Sox (38-35, 0.0 GB) tonight at 7:10 CT with Liam Hendricks (0-4, 7.39) on the hill versus Gavin Floyd (5-7, 5.20).

Hendricks has been struggling to say the least with a 9.92 ERA over his last four starts and it's amazing that he is even in a major league rotation.  Just goes to show you how much this Twins starting 5 is really rough this year.

The one thing the Twins have going for them is that Gavin Floyd has an 8 game losing streak against the Twins and he hasn't been pitching well as of late.

After coming off of a winning series against the Reds, Minnesota has some momentum and there's no better team to beat right now than the White Sox as the Twins can gain some ground in the division.

"We've got a long way to go here but (the White Sox are) in our division and leading our division, so it's a good start to win the first one," manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's official website. "Our goal is still just to get to .500 and we have a ways to go to get there."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Twins Notes

The Twins have been playing better as of late but still sit in last place in the Central (8.0 GB) and continue to own the worst record in the AL at 26-39.  Tonight at 6:05 CT they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates (34-31) with ace Scott Diamond (5-2, 2.13) taking on Kevin Correia (2-6, 4.43).

Joe Mauer may or may not be in the lineup tonight as he is suffering from a bruised right quadriceps.  He has been hitting well lately with a .406 BA over the last 9 games.  Joe is currently 2nd in overall voting for AL catchers with over 1.2 million votes and is trailing Texas catcher Mike Napoli who has over 2.2 million votes.

Trevor Plouffe has been homerless in two straight games after having hit one is four straight.  He is leading the team with 14 homers and has been probably the most exciting Twin to watch as of late.  Over the last 10 games Plouffe is hitting .371 with 10 homers.  It will be interesting to see how he does after pitchers start to figure him out.

Scott Diamond is no doubt the ace of this stumbling, bumbling pitching staff which isn't saying much but, unlike any other pitcher in the rotation, he's at least fun to watch pitch.  Diamond will be looking to bounce back after a loss to Philly where he went 6 innings and surrendered 4 ER.  For any other pitcher in the rotation that would be a good outing but Diamond is looking to go deep into the ballgame tonight to give the tired bullpen some rest.

 I still think that if the Twins are to make any move toward contention, they have to get an established ace pitcher which could involve trading the likes of Denard Span or Josh Willingham.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cain Perfect, Should've Been A Twin

Tonight's game versus the Phillies in the series finale will more than likely be rained out but I wanted to take this opportunity to just mention Matt Cain's perfect game last night and how the Twins passed him up in the 2002 draft.

Matt Cain celebrating his perfection
Cain was masterful last night throwing the first perfect game in Giants history and only the 14th no hitter for the  franchise.  He struck out a career high 14 batters and got some help in the field, particularly a leaping catch by LF Melky Cabrera and a diving grab by RF Gregor Blanco.  With the win, Cain improved his record to 8-2 this year with a 2.18 ERA and 96 K's.

Back in 2002 Matt Cain was drafted 25th overall by the San Francisco Giants.  It was the same draft that saw the Rays taking B.J. Upton (#2), the Royals went with Zack Greinke (#6), the Brewers took Prince Fielder (#7) and the Phillies nabbed Cole Hamels (#17).

The Twins held pick #20 that year and they chose OF Denard Span.  Now the argument can be made that Denard was a good pick.  He has produced at the major league level and is a very solid center fielder.  His career WAR (wins above replacement) is a respectable 14.0 and his career BA is a good .286.  Span has served as the Twins starting center fielder and lead off batter for the better part of the last 4 years so it's safe to say that he definitely wasn't a bust.

Now I know that hindsight is always 20/20 and MLB drafts are literally just a crap shoot.  But I don't think I'm too far off saying that the Twins should've at least entertained the idea of taking Cain.  2002 was a good year for Minnesota.  It was Gardy's first year as manager.  They finished 1st in the AL Central at 94-67 and made it to the ALCS but you'll remember they lost to the Angels 4 games to 1.

Their pitching was fairly solid that year with Rick Reed leading the staff with 15 wins.  Kyle Lohse and Eric Milton each had 13 wins, Radke had 9 and Johan Santana made the move from the bullpen to a starter and posted 8 wins.  Joe Mays suffered injuries that year, pitched in only 95 innings and posted a rough 4-8 record with a 5.38 ERA.  The Twins' team ERA that year was a not-so-good but okay 4.12.

Torii Hunter was the starting center fielder and had good numbers that year with a .289 BA, 29 HR and 94 RBI.  Jaque Jones also roamed the OF that year and posted a .300 BA, 27 HR and 85 RBI.  They were both young and fast and looked to be the anchors for the Twins outfield for years to come.

Even though the pitching staff, with the exception of Rick Reed, was very young at the time, and Milton, Radke and Mays pitched very well the year before, there were definitely question marks with a young Kyle Lohse and no established #5 starter.  And who knew at that time that Johan Santana would go on to have the career he had.  That being said, looking back it would appear as if the Twins needed pitching shored up more than the outfield, especially when they had guys like Michael Cuddyer and Bobby Kielty waiting in the wings.  Therefore, it would've have been far fetched to select a guy like RHP Matt Cain with the 20th pick that year.

Now that's not to say that Cain has had HOF numbers but he has done very solid going 77-75 with a very good 3.28 ERA and 1181 K's over 1412.1 innings and would definitely be the ace of our staff right now.  Denard Span is doing well this year as well, batting .293 with 16 doubles, but I think its safe to say that Cain is out performing him this year and with 8 wins, would be making a bigger impact on the team.

Now Span might have been the better player at the time, but Cain would've definitely filled some holes and, ultimately, would've been the better investment.  Also too, that's not to mention that 3 other pitchers were picked inbetween the Twins #20 and the Giants #25 but, at least for me, it's fun (and sometimes depressing) to look back at past drafts and see who could've been on the Twins. 

But the emphasis at draft time is always that you need to select the best player available at the time whether he fills any holes or not.  And that's what makes me worried with this year's draft when they selected yet another outfielder in Byron Buxton and passed on what they needed with RHP Mark Appel.

Good for Cain and good for the Giants, but I will have to say this though, it would've been pretty nifty to have seen Cain pitch his masterful perfect game last night in the Minnesota Twins pinstripes instead of a San Francisco uniform.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Unthinkable

Who would've thought that going into tonight's inter-league game between the Minnesota Twins (24-35, 8.5 GB) and the Philadelphia Phillies (29-33, 8.5 GB) that they would both hold the same position in their respective divisions - dead last!

They couldn't have been any different to start the season as far as expectations go with the Phillies expected to compete for the division title and the Twins just trying to compete.  But with All-Star's like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay all out of Philadelphia's lineup due to injury, those expectations are suddenly very hard to reach.

The Phillies have lost 8 out of their last 9 in their plummet to the bottom of the division.  Meanwhile, the Twins have experienced an offensive surge from guys like Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe and Denard Span.  That coupled with decent pitching from Scott Diamond, P.J. Walters and (lately) Francisco Liriano has led to the Twins winning 9 out of their last 12.

Nick Blackburn
As of today, however, both teams sit at 8.5 games out of 1st place and while the Phillies are just trying not to lose, the Twins seem to have some confidence and swagger, the likes of which they haven't experienced in a couple years.

Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) will make the start for the Twins and is trying to turn his brutal season around.  He pitched well against K.C. in his first outing back after shoulder soreness last Wednesday giving up only 2 runs in 5 innings.  He said that he just went out there and tried not to think too much.

He will be facing a sometimes inconsistent Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44) who has pitched well as of late but got clobbered by the Dodgers giving up 5 ER over 5.2 innings. 

I'm thinking it will be a high scoring affair for both teams but let's hope for the Twins sake that Blacky's not doing any thinking out there at all tonight.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Twins Win Series

Francisco Liriano
The Minnesota Twins (24-35) picked up their 4th series win in a row and have won 7 out of their last 10 but still sit in last place in the Central Division at 8.5 games behind the 1st place White Sox and are only 0.5 games behind 4th place Kansas City.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to left in the 1st to score Reed Johnson and put the Cubs up 1-0 right away against Francisco Liriano (1-7, 6.45) and the Twins.  But Liriano settled down after that pitching strong through 5 innings  He struggled in the 6th however, giving up 3 runs and wasn't able to finish the inning.  Liriano ended up going 5.2 inn, gave up 4 ER and had 6K's.

The Twins bullpen didn't fare so well this time, though, as Jared Burton gave up 2 R, 1 ER and Anthony Swarzak allowed 2 ER to put the Cubs up 8-0 going into the bottom of the 9th.

Minnesota scored 2 in the 9th but the lowly Cubs, who hold the worst record in the Majors, held on to win 8-2.

Liriano pitched well, but proved he doesn't have the stamina to go deep into ballgames.  It seems as though 5 or 6 innings is about it for him.  Despite losing 2 games in June, his ERA this month is at 3.86 which is very promising for the sometimes erratic lefty.

Joe Mauer struck out 3 times in the game and said that he's glad that Ryan Dempster is in the National League so he doesn't have to face him again. 

Dempster extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings and lowered his ERA to 2.31.  He's been really the only bright spot for the Cubs this year.

The Twins take on the Phillies at Target Field Tuesday night at 7:10 CT with Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) taking on Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Results

Here's a look at the 43 players the Twins took in the draft this year:


  1. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.
  2. Jose Berrios, RHP, Papa Juan XXII HS (Puerto Rico) (Cuddyer-Colorado)
  3. Luke Bard, RHP, Georgia Tech (Kubel-Arizona)
  4. Mason Melotakis, LHP, Northwestern St
  5. J.T. Chargois, RHP, Rice
  6. Adam Walker, RF, Jacksonville
  7. Zach Jones, RHP, San Jose St.
  8. Tyler Duffey, RHP, Rice
  9. Andre Martinez, LHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
  10. Jorge Fernandez, C, Colegio Hector Urdaneta, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico
  11. Christian Powell, RHP, College of Charleston
  12. LJ Mazzilli, 2B, Connecticut
  13. D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Arkansas
  14. Taylor Rogers, LHP, Kentucky
  15. Alexander Muren, RHP, CS Northridge
  16. Erich Knab, RHP, Carolina Forest HS, Conway, S.C.
  17. Jake Proctor, CF, Cincinnati
  18. Jarret Leverett, LHP, Georgia Southern
  19. Will Hurt, SS, Lexington (Ky.) Catholic HS
  20. Dalton Hicks, 1B, UCF
  21. William LaMarche, RHP, Chabot
  22. Jonathan Murphy, LF, Jacksonville
  23. Zach Larson, CF, Lakewood Ranch HS, Bradenton, Fla.
  24. Bo Altobelli, C, Texas Tech
  25. Joshua Graham, C, Roseburg (Ore.) Senior HS
  26. Travis Huber, RHP, Nebraska
  27. Jose Favela, C, Franklin HS, El Paso, Texas
  28. Joel Licon, 2B, Orange Coast College
  29. Justin Jones, LHS, California
  30. Jerad Grundy, LHP, Kentucky
  31. Carson Goldsmith, RHP, Northwestern St.
  32. Sean Hagan, LHP, St. John's
  33. Bryan Santy, C, U Washington
  34. Timothy Robinson, LF, Ocean View HS, Westminster, Calif.
  35. Andrew Ferreira, LHP, Harvard
  36. Kaleb Merck, RHP, TCU
  37. Brian Haar, OF, San Diego
  38. Jared Wilson, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
  39. Brandon Bayardi, OF, UNLV
  40. James Marvel, RHP, Campolindo HS, Moraga, Calif.
  41. Austin Rei, C, Campolindo HS, Moraga, Calif.
  42. Alex Liquori, OF, Whitewater HS, Brooks, Ga.
  43. Brad Schreiber, RHP, Purdue

Mansihp?

Justin Morneau was clutch again.  A bases loaded single to center scored two and put the Twins up 3-2.  They went on to win 4-2 over the Royals and claimed their 3rd series victory in a row.

Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) gave up a 2 run homer to Yuniesky (huh?) Betancourt to left field on a 2-2 count, but that was it.  Blacky said after that 1st inning he stopped thinking out there, trusted his stuff and just pitched.  Great advice for any pitcher --just do it, don't think about it.  He rolled from there completing 5 innings on 92 pitches.  Not great, but good for Blacky.

The Twins bullpen threw 4 shutout innings in relief, including Matt Capps coming on for the save, his 14th.  Capps appears to have his stuff working too as his fastball was hitting 95 on the gun and looked like it was actually rising.  I remember Nolan Ryan threw a four seam riser, but not too many other pitchers have been able to duplicate that nasty pitch.  I'm not comparing Capps to Nolan Ryan by any means but just saying that he looks like he's got his confidence back on the mound and his pitches are moving.

Joe Mauer was once again out of the lineup with a sprained thumb.  He has not swung a bat since that last game against the Indians.  The Twins have today off so I guess there's a chance he may be in the lineup on Friday when they take on the Chicago Cubs at Target Field.  I said "a chance".

Jeff Manship, or should I say Mansihp, made his comeback appearance last night but had to wear a jersey with his name misspelled on it!  He came on to pitch a scoreless 6th -- I say keep the name spelled that way.  Mansihp seems to pitch better than Manship.


Despite winning 3 series' in a row, the Twins still hold the worst record in the AL at 22-34 and remain 9.0 games out of 1st place.  They are still ahead of the Cubs (19-37) and the Padres (19-38), however, for worst record in the Majors. 

Got to look at the positives, right?

Tune in to FSN at 7:10 CT on Friday for their series opener against the lowly Cubs.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Twins Update

Tonight's Twins update is listed here on my other Twins blog at ProSportsBlogging.com.

Twins Are Rocking!

The bats came alive last night for the Twins and Cole DeVries notched his first Major League victory as the Minnesota Twins (21-33) defeated the Kansas City Royals (23-30) 10-7. 

Justin Morneau (10) and Josh Willingham (11) both hit 2-run bombs and Trevor Plouffe (7) added one of his own as the Twins were able to pile on runs to help their pitcher out.  Ben Revere and Jamey Carroll each added 3 hits in a 12 hit fiesta.

DeVries went 5 innings and gave up 4 ER on 6 hits to put his season ERA at 4.20.  He got into a little trouble in the 4th but just tried to keep in the zone and not get rattled.  ''The whole thing is a blur,'' he said, ''to be honest with you.''  He said he doesn't even remember the last couple batters that inning.  About the win - ''It feels awesome,'' said De Vries, a former undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota. ''It's something I've been waiting for my whole life.''

Joe Mauer showed up to the ballpark unable to play with a sore thumb and he is still listed day-to-day.

The Twins take on the Royals again tonight @ 7:10 CT with Francisco Liriano (1-5, 7.20) getting his second start back in the rotation.  The Twins will face Bruce Chen (4-5, 4.86) a 13 year vet who has knocked back and forth between a starter and reliever in his career.

The Twins are on a bit of a roll lately having won 6 out of their last 7.  A win tonight would be their third series win in a row and would move them to only 1.5 games behind K.C. for last place in the AL Central. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Twins Take Series

The Twins took their second series in a row after defeating the Cleveland Indians 6-3 today.  Scott Diamond picked up his team leading 4th win with a 7 inning performance, giving up 0 ER on 7 hits and 93 pitches bringing his ERA down to 1.86 on the year.  Glen Perkins pitched a scoreless 8th and Matt Capps finished the 9th for his 12th save. 

Trevor Plouffe went 3-4 with an RBI and Josh Willingham picked up 2 hits including an RBI double to left in the 7th.

The Twins were able to score in the early innings via "small ball" with bunt singles and aggressive base running.  A very encouraging thing to see being that they had a lot of success manufacturing runs back when they were a winning ball club a few years ago. 

Brian Dozier struggled today at shortstop committing 2 errors dropping his fielding % to .965.  Dozier could've been charged with another error on a play he mis-fielded but was ruled a hit instead. 

Joe Mauer went 1-3 with an RBI single in the 1st but suffered a mild strained thumb and had to leave the game in the 7th after he struck out.  He is listed as day-to-day.

Look for Nick Blackburn to be making a comeback to the rotation soon as Gardy may insert him in for Pavano's next start as he is dealing with a sore shoulder.

With the win, the Twins improve to 20-33, 10.5 games out of first and only 2.5 games behind the A's for the worst record in the AL.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 Draft


 Every year the MLB First Year Player Draft is important, however, this year will mark the first time since 2001 that the Minnesota Twins have a pick in the top 10.  You may remember that in '01 they chose hometown kid Joe Mauer at #1 instead of the highly touted RHP Mark Prior.  That draft worked in favor of the Twins as Mauer is still playing with a career BA of .322 and also was MVP of the league in 2009.  Mark Prior hasn't been so fortunate as he has struggled with injuries his entire career and has only been able to play 5 seasons.

This year the Twins are staring at the #2 pick overall and don't want to mess it up.  It will be a chance to get a key, franchise player again and also, with 5 overall picks of the first 72, they will be able to really replenish their depleted farm system.

The Houston Astros have the first overall pick and they are tight lipped thus far as to who they are really looking at.  They and the Twins are evaluating both, high school and college players but, no doubt, in the conversation of the top picks are Stanford pitcher Mark Appel and High School OF Byron Buxton.

I think if the Twins are smart, they will try for a pitcher that will be able to make an impact early.  There aren't any Steven Strasburg's out there this year but with such a question mark in the rotation this year and the future, it would be in their best interest to go with a Mark Appel if he's available.

Go to MLB.com to follow the 2012 Draft or tune in to MLB Network at 5p CT on Monday to see live draft coverage.  


Friday, June 1, 2012

No Ace In The Hole

The Minnesota Twins are going into Cleveland tonight to take on the second place Indians in the start of a three game series.  The veteran Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.46) will take the hill facing Derek Lowe (6-3, 3.25) at 6:05 CT. 


Carl Pavavo
The expectations for the Twins pitching staff going into this season weren't very high to begin with, but they were counting on Pavano to at least be the anchor and make an attempt to be the ace.  Thus far he has definitely not been that, floundering on many of his starts and looking washed up. 

His 2 wins have really been his best games.  The first came against the Yankees back on April 16th where he threw 7 innings, gave up 3 ER on 7 hits and had 6 K's with only 1 BB.  His second win came against the Mariners back on May 4th where he went 6 innings and gave up 2 ER with 2 K's and 0 BB.  Both wins were on the road and, in fact, his worst game of the year came at home against the Angels where he went only 4 innings and gave up 4 ER. 

Derek Lowe
Pavano's fastball has dropped to an average of 86-87 mph and his stuff lacks any bite to it.  I hate to be a downer but I don't see him making it out of the 5th inning tonight and with Derek Lowe going for the Tribe, the Twins offense will definitely be challenged and most likely held to 1 or 2 runs.  The one saving grace will be that the Indians are struggling with injuries to key players such as Travis Hafner (knee), Carlos Santana (concussion) and Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) and have dropped their last two.

I think it will be up to Pavano though and whether or not he can get a quality start and give the Twins a chance to win and with the young pitching staff having some success, old man Pavano is going to really have to step up his performances if he is to keep up.  Otherwise, he might be another one the Twins designate for assignment.