Once again, we’re pleased to have a guest post from Kirsten. She may not be blogging these days, but she’s plenty active over on Twitter… and we’re happy to have her use our blog to let you know what’s on her mind! – JC
Things have changed in the sports world. When I still blogged, I relied on reading the paper and scouring infrequent updates all over the Internet to find what I was looking for. Now, there is this awesome new media called Twitter. It keeps people from getting long winded, but allows me to click on a link if I really want to know more. Twitter gathers everything up in one place, and is the inspiration behind this post.
Lately, a few things have been floating around the Twitterverse that I’d like to address from the perspective of a person who has spent much of their life playing and later umpiring ball. In the spirit of Twitter, they’re all 140 words or less.
1.) Batting order: yes, it really matters. It can be a force of stability when the team is doing well, a way to shake things up when they aren’t, take pressure off players who are struggling, or reward their talents when they are on track. It’s important to consider the skills of the player when putting them in the order…speed, on base percentage, slugging, etc, but it’s also important to consider their mentality. Some may be able to hit the ball a million miles, but dislike the pressure of batting cleanup and some may relish the challenges. That being said, sometimes you have to suck it up, trust the coach is doing what’s best for the team, and maybe even find a new spot in the lineup that suits…and sometimes the coach needs to ball up and do so.
2.) Throwing: a player can improve their throwing arm (both strength and accuracy). Status quo with the workouts, drills, and practice usually causes a plateau, which can be really hard to overcome and improve upon. It can be done, just often takes different training, drills, and a lot of throwing time/patience…and someone who is willing to throw and work with you. A player can also get lucky and find mechanical ways to improve their efficiency, but then they have to work hard to re-train their muscle memory. Of course there are biological limitations on this, a man of Casilla’s build will not be able to throw as hard as say a Cuddyer (muscle mass, ratio of long/short twitch muscles, height, etc), but a player like Revere should certainly be able to improve his range and accuracy, especially as his body matures.
3.) Mauer playing 1B: I think he did a good job overall, but in the margins of my scorecard, I nitpicked and wrote down a lot of things I saw that he could improve upon. I don’t want to see him at 1B every day (love him behind the plate), but I think it could be a nice option to give Morneau a rest, give Mauer’s knees a rest, and still have a DH (possibly Morneau). He’s athletic enough to pull it off. I’m still confused as to why he’s Jesus at first and Judas behind the plate, but perhaps that’s a question that doesn’t have an answer.
Note: I predominantly catch, but did a lot of work a 1B in high school to help my knees out, so I can speak to the transition he’s making there.
4.) Kevin Slowey: I don’t really want to write much about pitching, but I think the Slowey thing could work out for the best. A. He could pitch really well in AAA and we could trade him for something we need (bullpen help), B. he could pitch really well and we call him up (like Blackburn last season, or was it the season before?), C. maybe he just needs to take some of the stress off his oft-surgically repaired body, get a consistent schedule back, and try again next spring. I think maybe a different work atmosphere might help too; it’s hard to play your best when criticism of the unconstructive kind is raining down.
Bits and Pieces
I wish TK could stay forever. I loved his more academic and big picture approach to the games, not just focused on the pitchers.
Apparently if you want the Baseball Gods to listen to you, write your demands on your back in Sharpie. It worked for Nick Blackburn and Drew Butera…maybe we should have something similar on the Twitter board at Target Field. Top ten hash tags that should be written on someone’s back. As a bonus experiment, we could see if it works for anyone but me.