As reported in the Star Tribune,
Kevin Mulvey has been recalled from Rochester to pitch out of the
bullpen. Mulvey came over as part of the Santana trade, and this will
be his first call-up with the Twins since coming over from the Mets. The Twins were trying to get
by with only 11 pitchers, but a series of shortened starts at the Dome
(and the injury to Kevin Slowey, which sounds like it might be getting better)
have made that impossible. Mulvey has posted a 3.93 ERA, 1.402 WHIP,
2.13 K/BB, 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in seventeen starts for the Red Wings
this season. Meh, these numbers aren’t great, but apparently he’s
going to be used for mop-up duty and should handle that role
competently. If anything, he will provide some much-needed depth in the bullpen.
Back-up catcher Jose Morales has been optioned
back to AAA to make room for the extra pitcher. Morales was mostly
called up because Gardy likes to have an extra catcher on days Redmond
is starting and Mauer is the DH, so he wasn’t really getting much
playing time. Obviously, Morales has been having a better season at
the plate than Redmond, but Red has
incriminating pictures of Gardy more experience handling the
pitching staff and I doubt the Twins are willing to eat what little is left of his contract. Besides, the lack of production from some of the
regulars in the lineup is much more troublesome than that from a guy who only plays once a week. The Twins also could probably have optioned
Brian Buscher instead, since he also rarely sees any playing time, but
he offers more versatility in the field than Morales and often fills in
at third when Joe Crede needs a break.
The Twins have been linked
to a number of different players in trade rumors, most notably Freddy
Sanchez, relief pitchers Matt Capps and John Grabow from the Pirates,
and have apparently contacted Toronto about the availability of some of
their relievers. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the works
though, and I’m guessing that Bill Smith felt those organizations were
asking too much in return (or the Twins just don’t have the prospects
Pittsburgh and Toronto are looking for). Obviously, all that can
change with one phone call, so we’ll just have to wait and see what
happens. I don’t really like to get into what moves the organization
should make, who they should be targeting in a trade and all that
because, honestly, I’m not all that good at it. I don’t pay enough
attention to the rest of the league to know who might be a big impact
player that could help the team down the stretch. As critical as I can
be of Bill Smith and the front office sometimes, I really do like to
think that they act in the best interests of the team, and there is at
least some sound reasoning behind some of the moves they’ve made, even
if they didn’t exactly pan out. And I’m really not a fan of
rent-a-player deals, like the ones for Sabathia and Teixeira
last year. Such trades seldom ever help the team make a deep run in
the playoffs, and more often than not, the player ends up signing
elsewhere during the off-season, leaving the organization scrambling to
fill the same holes they had before. Only now the farm system is a bit
thinner on top of it, which is not at all a good thing for an
organization that relies as heavily on its farm system as the Twins.
- Justin Morneau was miffed about the canned Canadian anthem
Morneau was reportedly annoyed that the American national anthem got
the celebrity treatment at the All-Star Game, while fans were treated
to a pre-recorded version of “O, Canada”. Here’s what he told Joe Christensen:
“I wasn’t very impressed with that to tell you the truth. You figure they could find somebody to come and sing the song.
They have a hockey team here, the Canadian teams play here.
“It’s something that didn’t really go over too well. I think if it
happened the other way around, if they were playing in Toronto and they
did that, it would have been a lot bigger deal. But nothing you can do
he wasn’t too worked up about the whole thing, but Morny really does
have a point. It would be different if MLB were like football, in
which all of the teams are American-based and there is no need to
represent more than one country, but it isn’t. It’s more like the NHL,
which has both American and Canadian-based teams. Prior to the start
of every hockey game, someone always sings both national anthems
whether the game is being played in the U. S. or Canada. Besides, Toronto sent two representatives to the All-Star Game, one of which
was the starting pitcher! Obviously, there are fewer Canadian baseball
teams than hockey teams, and there are fewer Canadian-born baseball
players than hockey players, but the canned treatment of the Canadian
anthem was a bit disrespectful to our neighbors to the north. It’s not
really that big of a deal, but if MLB is going to take the time to
honor its Canadian representatives, then at least they should do it right.
My hard drive is now fixed and seems to be working just fine. I’m really glad this happened now and not during the semester, since it would be very, very difficult to get any work done without my laptop. I’m also really glad I decided to back up all of my important files, otherwise I would have lost everything and would basically be screwed. In the meantime, a lot of important stuff happened while I was gone:
The Twins win the series!
I mean the weekend series against the Cardinals. You know, I too find the fact that St. Louis is so unapologetically a baseball town to be quite endearing. I do like football, and I am a Vikings fan, but even I have never understood why the Vikes are so beloved in this town. Unlike the Twins, the Vikings have never won anything important and, if anything, actually have a reputation for choking in big games. They haven’t brought us anything more than shame and embarrassment, and yet people love them more than any other sports franchise in this state. Go figure.
Sadly, the Pioneer Press laid off 11 people, including Twins’ beat reporter Phil Miller. The Press’ Twins’ coverage was pretty minimal at best, now I guess it’ll be non-existent. Which is just one more reason why I have always preferred the Star Tribune.
Justin Morneau homered in three straight games, one of which was this lovely shot that landed in the fountain at Kauffman Stadium. He came out of yesterday’s game against the Royals with a groin injury, but it doesn’t sound too serious and he should be back in the lineup tomorrow night against the Tigers. As of right now, there is no need for a “F*ck! There goes our season!” post.
The Twins actually got pretty banged up during the series finale in Kansas City. Mike Redmond had to come out after he got hit in the arm with a foul tip, and apparently he has a bruised forearm and might be out of commission for a bit. Nick Punto also had to leave the game with back stiffness, after Jose Guillen tried to take him out on a questionable play. Um, Guillen does realize that taking out Punto actually kind of helps the Twins, right?
The Sean Henn experiment is over, let the Brian Duensing experiment begin.
The Wolves sort of did the NBA equivalent of taking a bunch of wide receivers in the draft. Actually, I think that the Wolfies did the right thing, for once. It makes sense for a team as devoid of talent as the Wolves to take the best available talent in the draft, since it will take more than one draft to fill all of the holes on the roster. The Wolves will probably have to address most of their needs through trade, and now they actually have the assets to do so. Of course, if the Wolves are still only winning 25 games five years from now, I will be writing an entirely different post.
Michael Jackson, well, it’s no secret that he had a lot of problems. But if there is a more perfect pop album than Thriller, I have yet to hear it. And it spawned the greatest music video of all time.
Oh, yeah, I guess Minnesota finally has a new senator. Meh. I guess now is as good a time as any to post this video:
I am inclined to agree with Mike Pagliarulo (and Jen) on that one. Yes, I am also a football fan. And as regular readers of this blog are well aware, I absolutely loooooove hockey. But baseball is definitely the greatest game there is. Because unlike those other sports, there is no clock to kill any potential rally. In baseball, there’s always hope for a comeback. Which is precisely what the Twins did last night. Down two runs in the bottom of the ninth, with two out and nobody on, the Twins battled back and scored three runs off of
Brendan Morrow (oops, Miguel Batista. That’s the kind of sloppy journalism you are bound to produce when you are very sleepy or heavily intoxicated or both) for their first victory of the season.
This was hardly the best game the Twins have ever played. Nick Blackburn was shaky in his five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while walking three and only striking out one. There were a couple of misplays in the outfield by Delmon Young and Denard Span that certainly didn’t help, either. The offense struggled to do much against Erik Bedard for most of the night. It looked as though the Twins were about to drop their second straight game against the Mariners. But the Twins managed to score three runs off of him in the fifth, to pull themselves within one. Well, until Luis Ayala gave up another run in the top of the ninth, anyway. The game looked like it was over when Seattle closer Brendan Morrow got two quick outs in the bottom of the ninth. The free-swinging Carlos Gomez was coming to the plate, and fans were already starting head for the exits. But he drew a walk (!) after one of the best ABs he’s ever had, and that seemed to really rattle Morrow, who struggled to find the plate after that. Seattle’s self-proclaimed closer then proceeded to walk the bases full, and was pulled in favor of Batista. Denard Span drove in a run on an infield hit (Span, who had an awful spring, was 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI singles). Alexi Casilla then smacked a two-run single to center field and that was the ballgame. Casilla, by the way, is getting really good at this whole walk-off-win thing.
Mike Redmond is still questionable after injuring his groin while running out a double in the series opener. This was right after he got hit in the neck with a broken bat. It just wouldn’t be a ballgame if Redmond didn’t get hit in the head with something. He was kept out of last night’s game as sort of a precautionary
measure and will be re-evaluated today. Apparently the injury isn’t that serious and Redmond has declared himself ‘ready to catch’ if necessary, but we shall see. Groin injuries can be one of those lingering things that affects a guy the entire season.
Apparently I’m not the only one who likes the throwback jerseys, either (and judging by that last pic, somebody else does, too). Although, I’m starting to wonder if it’s really such a good idea to emulate a team that lost 102 games.
I do like what I’ve seen from Joe Crede so far. Not so much at the plate (though he did hit a double in the big three-run fifth inning), but he has tremendous range at third. This isn’t something I’m used to seeing, as the last decent third baseman the Twins had was Corey Koskie. So forgive me for getting a little excited at the prospect that the infield defense might not suck this year.
The Twins really should win tonight’s game, though. Kevin Slowey (aka the new Brad Radke) is on the mound against Carlos Silva. Silva has apparently lost a lot of weight and did put together a decent ST campaign, but he’s still prone to having a total meltdown out on the mound if things aren’t going his way.
- No, no, you had it right the first time
I think I know what I’m going to call the
Pale Hose White Sux White Sox from now on:
- Pirates victimize the projected Opening Day starter
The Pirates hit three home runs off of Baker yesterday, two of which came from former Twin Craig Monroe. The Twins traded for Monroe prior to the 2008 season, and he was a bust. He batted .212/.274/.405 before being released just after the All-Star break. This is one of those deals that didn’t make a whole lot of sense when Smith pulled the trigger, as it appeared that Monroe was pretty much washed up at the time. The reasoning behind the deal was pretty sound: the Twins needed a right-handed power bat and the Cubs weren’t asking much in return. However, Monroe clearly was not the bat they were looking for. Other than his monster season in 2006, he had never hit more than 25 home runs in a year, and the most he had ever hit was 22. But I digress, this post is supposed to be about Scott Baker!
This game highlighted one of the 27 year old righty’s major weaknesses: the tendency to give up the gopher ball. Baker gave up 20 home runs in his 28 starts last season, and is projected to give up anywhere from 19-22 again this year. A lot of this has to do with the fact that his fastball isn’t very fast, usually topping out at around 91 mph. It (and all of his other pitches for that matter), is very effective if he can locate it, which is something he obviously struggled with yesterday. Still, Baker has a solid K/BB ratio of 3.36 and doesn’t put a lot of runners on base, so the damage is usually limited to solo homers (as all of the Pirates’ homers were yesterday).
- Joe Mauer may or may not be ready for Opening Day
According to the Star Tribune, Mauer is currently in Baltimore getting a second opinion on his back problem. This was apparently a mutual decision between the player and the organization, who are taking no chances with their All-Star catcher. We should know more about the injury and if Mauer will be ready for Opening Day once the results of the exam come back. However, even if Mauer isn’t ready at the start of the season, the Twins aren’t completely sunk. They do have some other good options behind the plate:
- Mike Redmond: Red Dog has always been a solid backup catcher, and could probably handle all of the catching duties himself if he were asked. But he’s 37 years old, and though he would probably post better numbers than he did last year with more playing time, it’s unlikely his body could withstand the grind of catching six nights a week.
- Jose Morales: Having Morales and Redmond share the catching duties is probably the best option. Morales showed a lot of promise when he was first called up in 2007, but suffered torn ligaments in his ankle when he was rounding the bases in his first major league game. This injury ended up sidelining him for most of the season last year, but he had more surgery and is now apparently pain free.
- Drew Butera: The son of former major-league catcher Sal Butera, the 24-year old prospect has been having a pretty good spring, though he’s only started five games so far. He isn’t one of the top-ranked prospects in the organization, though, and has yet to advance past AA ball. He would probably only get called up if Mauer is out and the Twins needed a third catcher.
- Wilson Ramos: Ramos is the catcher-of-the-future should the Twins decide they cannot afford to keep Joe Mauer. I’ve written about Ramos before, and he’s been pretty impressive during camp. Not only has he been hitting very well, he has also demonstrated an ability to handle the big-league pitching staff. Naturally this has led some people to speculate that Ramos might get the call if Mauer will indeed miss some of the season. However, Ramos is only 21 years old has yet to advance higher than Advanced A ball, so he’s probably not quite ready to make his big-league debut just yet. Very few prospects can make the jump from the low minors to the major leagues successfully, and even fewer can do so while playing the most difficult position on the field. It would be best to allow Ramos to develop further, and to let Morales or Butera split time with Redmond at backtstop.
- Pudge Rodriguez: Do. Not. Want. Yes, Pudge has been tearing the cover off the ball in the WBC, but he’s been declining both offensively and defensively over the past few years (of course, his decline might have something to do with his alleged use of PEDs). He’s a year older than Redmond, and clearly his best days are behind him. Pudge batted .276/.319/.374 with 7 home runs and an OPS+ of 87 between Detroit and the Yankees last year. While adjusting to a new team after being traded might have affected his numbers some (he was clearly better in Detroit than New York), the effects were likely minimal because he wasn’t much better the year before that. In comparison, Redmond hit .287/.321/.333 with an OPS+ of 80 in the 38 starts he made behind the plate last season. The Twins would be better off saving their money and letting Redmond and one of their prospects handle the catching duties.
- Wild fall to Avalanche 2-1
Ugh, just when I thought they couldn’t possibly play any worse, the Wild go and lay an egg against Colorado at Pepsi Center. The Wild were pretty bad against the Sharks on Tuesday, but at least they showed some life in the third period. They would score three goals in that period and tie the game, only to fall in OT when San Jose D Christian Erhoff picked off an errant pass by Antti Miettinen and scored the winning goal.
The Mild (yes, that’s what I’m calling them from now on) never showed up against the Avs last night, and this was a game they absolutely had to win. The Avs are the worst team in the Western Conference, and it appears that Minnesota took their opponent lightly. They got off to a quick 1-0 lead, but never mounted much of a threat since then. Poor Niklas Backstrom was under siege all night long, but he managed to turn aside 40 shots, while his counterpart Peter Budaj faced a mere 16 shots on goal the entire game.
How bad was the Wild’s offense last night? About as bad as poor Patrik Stefan:
I never thought I’d say this (Okay, I’ve been saying this for awhile, but humor me), but it looks like our guys are just playing out the season now. This team can’t even win two games in a row (though they obviously have no problem putting together a losing streak), how in the world are they going to make a successful run for a playoff spot?
- Speaking of playing out the season…
The Wolves dominated the Grizzlies 104-79 at Target Center on Wednesday night, snapping an eight-game losing streak. I was starting to get kind of excited about the season and hoped our guys could finish at .500 for a change. Then I looked at the standings and realized the Wolfies haven’t even won 20 games this year. Oh well, at least we have that high draft pick to look forward to. And the Wolves aren’t even the worst team in the league, so there’s that. And Al Jefferson’s rehab is apparently going really well so far, so he should be back next season. Maybe then they won’t post a losing record for once!
Oh yeah, and Glen Taylor has no intention of letting Kevin McHale come anywhere near the front office again, so I guess there’s some hope for our Wolfies.
This is the final installment in this series, since I’ve already covered the starting rotation, the infield, the outfield, and the bullpen. The Twins are very lucky in that they have a lot of depth at catcher. Most baseball teams struggle to find one decent backstop and the Twins have three: an All-Star in Joe Mauer, a very good backup in Mike Redmond, and a top prospect in Wilson Ramos. Here is a look at all three:
- Joe Mauer: Mauer obviously handles most of the catching duties for the Twins. I have already written about Mauer and how remarkable he is here. Last season he won his second batting title, and if he’s healthy will probably be contending for a third. And I do think he’ll be healthy this year even though he had minor kidney surgery during the offseason. His doctors recently cleared him to resume running and lifting, so he might not be in game shape just yet but should be ready by Opening Day.
According to this article on the Twins’ homepage, owner Jim Pohlad is willing to pony up the cash to sign Mauer to a contract extension. While this is good news in a way, I’m not sure about Pohlad’s reasoning behind this decision. Apparently he is willing to give Mauer a legacy contract, meaning he would shell out big bucks for a guy simply because he’s a fan favorite and a Minnesota native. It’s no secret that I adore Joe, but he’s going to command a deal somewhere in the ten-year, $150 million range. That is a large chunk of payroll to devote to one player simply because the fans like him. I would like to see the Twins keep Joe, but only if they don’t think his health will be an issue. Mauer is athletic enough to move to third if he has to, but a third baseman who hits .328/.413/.451 with a mere 7 home runs certainly isn’t worth $150 million.
- Mike Redmond: Red Dog is the other half of the Twins’ amazing backstop duo. He pretty much only sees any playing time when Gardy decides to give Mauer the day off, and that makes his offensive production even more incredible. Redmond batted .287/.321/.333 in 129 plate appearances last year, and is a career .292/.348/.365 hitter. He’s no slouch defensively either, and did a great job helping to handle the young pitching staff last year. Red Dog is in the final year of his contract with the Twins, and whether or not he’ll re-sign with the team is unclear at this point. Since he will be 38 this year he might decide to retire once the season is over. Considering that he always gets clunked in the head with either a bat or a foul ball whenever he starts, I wouldn’t blame him one bit.
- Wilson Ramos: Wilson Ramos is the heir apparent to the backstop throne should the Twins decide that Joe Mauer is expendable. Ramos is currently a top prospect for the Twins’ FSL affiliate, the Ft. Myers Miracle, and is slated to start the season in AA New Britain. He batted .288/.346/.434 with 13 homers for the Miracle last season, which is very respectable when you consider that the entire Florida State League only hit .256/.329/.376. More recently, he played a crucial role in Venezuela’s Caribbean Series championship, where he batted .385 and drew four walks, reaching base four times during the clinching game against Mexico last Friday. Baseball America currently has Ramos as the third-ranked prospect in the Twins’ farm system, and it will be very interesting to see how he develops in the next few seasons. No doubt the front office will be keeping a very close eye on him to determine if they can get by without Mauer after all (and save themselves several hundreds of millions in guaranteed money over the next ten years).
So that’s the entire projected roster for the 2009 season. It looks exactly like the 2008 roster, only without the dead weight known as Mike Lamb and Adam Everett. I think the Twins will win at least 85 games this year since Cuddyer should be healthy and most of the young talent should show improvement offensively. Whether or not this will be good enough to win the division remains to be seen.
PS: I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but I don’t care. I don’t celebrate holidays invented by marketers to get you to buy things. It does, however, give me an excuse to post a Lemonheads video:
Oh, what the heck. Here’s Pete Townsend and Eddie Vedder singing “Heart to Hang Onto”, too. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!