With three off days in the last week, it’s been a bit of a slow week for the Twins. Alex Meyer learned to throw a nasty change up and Eduardo Escobar seems to have taken over the SS duties from Pedro Florimon. No one in the starting rotation is very good at throwing baseballs lately.
Happy birthday to our very own Jay Corn! As a birthday present to Jay, Paul skipped the show! Without him Eric is free to heap all of the praise in the world on Brian Dozier, and he does. You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.
Jay Corn revisits his prediction that Josmil Pinto will hit 25 home runs (which is not looking so bad right now), and we wonder what might happen to Pinto’s playing time when Josh Willingham and/or Oswaldo Arcia return from the DL and Chris Herrmann goes back to AAA. The jabbering continues with Logan Darnell, one of three AAA Left Handers in the Rochester starting rotation. Lots of beer talk this week, and Eric is a little over excited about his “bready beer” and then the gang goes Around the League.
Enjoy the show!
You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!
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The big news today, of course, is that the Twins have finally taken my advice and shut Joe Mauer down for the rest of the season. I honestly have no idea why this decision wasn’t made weeks ago. Had they done so, Joe could have been just taking his time and letting his brain heal in its own time, rather than with a daily “Mauer watch” in the media.
It’s obviously concerning that he’s still dealing with concussion symptoms and at some point we can have a discussion about whether he should continue to catch, but that can wait.
For now, just get better, Joe.
Tonight, the Twins take on the Tigers and Justin Verlander. Good luck with that, guys.
|Jackson, A, CF||Presley, CF|
|Hunter, To, RF||Herrmann, C, RF|
|Cabrera, M, 3B||Dozier, 2B|
|Fielder, 1B||Willingham, DH|
|Martinez, V, DH||Pinto, C|
|Dirks, LF||Parmelee, 1B|
|Infante, 2B||Thomas, C, LF|
|Avila, C||Escobar, E, 3B|
|Santiago, R, SS||Florimon, SS|
|_ Verlander, P||_Pelfrey, P|
Hey, get this: The Twins beat the Tigers and the almighty Justin Verlander!
OK, not really… since Verlander shut out the Twins for his six innings of work, but at the end of the day (almost literally, given how long the game took to play) the Twins won the game 4-3.
Mike Pelfrey only gave up 1 run. That’s pretty good. He might deserve BOD, but he earned $100,000 for hitting the 150 innings mark and that’s enough of a reward for his efforts, isn’t it?
Brian Dozier tied the game with a home run in the 9th and scored the winning run on Josmil Pinto’s RBI single in the 11th. So E and I voted unanimously for Doze.
This week Paul returns from the wilderness to banter with Eric and Cody about Andrew Albers who continues to impress and pitch well with his 86mph fastball, Brian Dozier and his silky smooth hair, the loss of Jamey Carroll, the return for Drew Butera and other happenings surrounding the Minnesota Twins.
If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes(ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us become warlocks and spread the word about our podcast.
The Twins welcome the Astros to Target Field for the first time as American League opponents. The Twins haven’t won a baseball game for almost a week, so don’t expect a lot tonight, but against the worst team in baseball, a little something would be nice.
Oh, sorry, I’m a little negative today.
Anywhoo, the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day in Minnesota, exactly the kind of day that makes Target Field a great place to take in a ball game.
Aaron Hicks will be replaced in centerfield by Clete Thomas, and I while that doesn’t seem great, it is an offensive upgrade.
|Villar, SS||Dozier, 2B|
|Elmore, 2B||Mauer, C|
|Castro, Ja, DH||Morneau, 1B|
|Wallace, 1B||Doumit, RF|
|Corporan, C||Arcia, LF|
|Krauss, RF||Plouffe, 3B|
|Dominguez, 3B||Colabello, DH|
|Barnes, B, CF||Thomas, C, CF|
|Grossman, LF||Florimon, SS|
|Cosart, P||Deduno, P|
Ok, so I missed MUCH of this game since I ran off to the bar to see my little brother’s band play… BUT they did have it on at the bar so I was able to see things here and there and check score every once in awhile – I just couldn’t hear rulings or WHY things were done certain ways.. so I was pretty lost – and then heard the bottom of the 13th on the way home from the bar.
Can I tell you that I wasn’t any less confused at all!?!?!? I had to go read the play-by-play!!! (It didn’t help) How on earth are we in the position that we’re grabbing starting pitchers (admittedly former NL guys) as pinch hitters when it’s ONLY the 13th?!?!! Yes, I know that is still a lot of extra innings but come on guys, it’s not like we never do that. I definitely missed some things and yeah, I feel like there was some poor roster management in there as part of it. I would very much appreciate any comments you guys can add to help explain wtf happened.
All THAT being said, it sure made for a DRAMATIC ending! I have a feeling that if we had LOST after all that, I would be pretty damn crabby this morning.. seriously.. losing to the Astros is nothing to sneeze at especially when it looks like things got very loosey-goosey down the stretch. But all that being said, I’ll take a win. And THANK YOU to Dozier for finally ending it! For that, he gets today’s BOD!
so.. a little afternoon baseball…
and this time we are facing one of my favorites.. RA Dickey!
I don’t begrudge this man one bit of the success he has achieved since he left our team and still wish we’d kept him around. I think he doesn’t really miss us all that much though. I’m just hoping we can figure out how to do more hitting today than we did yesterday – and THEN actually get RUNS once we have those base-runners!!
That’s not too much to ask is it? I mean, hitting is fun but RUNS are so much more exciting if you ask me. And I REALLY wouldn’t argue with breaking the losing streak.. Sorry RA, as much as I like you, I still would rather win the game.
|Dozier, 2B||Reyes, SS|
|Carroll, 3B||Bautista, RF|
|Mauer, C||Encarnacion, 1B|
|Morneau, 1B||Lind, DH|
|Arcia, LF||Rasmus, C, CF|
|Plouffe, DH||Davis, R, LF|
|Parmelee, RF||Izturis, M, 3B|
|Hicks, CF||Thole, C|
|Escobar, E, SS||Kawasaki, 2B|
|Pelfrey, P||Dickey, P|
Woohooo!!! The losing streak is OVER! And with a shutout no less!
I am pretty sure that Gardy should have some smiles on his team now! Let’s hope the boys remember how much fun this is and keep it up for a bit. Clearly they weren’t having much issue with the knuckleball (sorry Dickey) – especially Dozier & Parmelee. But additionally, Pelfrey did quite well for himself in his return from the DL. Let’s hope that he can keep it up as well!
Arcia left the game after getting a knuckleball to the hand – they do tend to move about in unexpected ways. Reportedly it’s just a bruise.
But to recognize some really nice performances today, we are awarding both Parmelee and Pelfrey our heartiest congratulations and some lovely Canadian beer to toast each others’ efforts to get the Twins back on track today! The boys in uniform aren’t the only ones that need to remember this is a game and we should be smiling more just because it’s baseball. But thanks for the reminder of why we like this sport!
The big prize goes to Brian Dozier with some SERIOUS offensive totals today including a BEAUTIFUL homerun! I really like how he’s settling into 2B and the top of the order.
Still no Justin Morneau in the line up today. Joe Mauer takes a turn at first base.
I’m hopeful that we’ll start seeing the Scott Diamond we all hoped we would see one of these starts and it would be nice if it came soon… today would be good.
Let’s see if our guys can salvage a series win over the M’s.
I’ve got some chores to take care of this afternoon, but I hope to be back to catch at least some of the game. – JC
|Saunders, M, CF||Escobar, E, 3B|
|Bay, LF||Mauer, 1B|
|Seager, 3B||Willingham, DH|
|Morales, K, DH||Doumit, C|
|Ibanez, RF||Parmelee, RF|
|Liddi, 1B||Herrmann, C, LF|
|Triunfel, 2B||Dozier, 2B|
|Sucre, C||Hicks, CF|
|Ryan, SS||Florimon, SS|
|_ Bonderman, P||_ Diamond, P|
Wow. It’s so much more fun to be on the side administering the beating than the one on the receiving end, isn’t it?
I admit my attention was elsewhere during most of this game, but it seemed like whenever I checked in someone was getting an extra-base hit for the Twins!
It does make for a bit of a challenge to decide who the BOD should be. Six Twins hitters had multiple hits. Three different guys doubled and four guys homered. There was even a triple thrown in there.
Then on the other hand, Scott Diamond and the bullpen throw a shutout!
It was all way too much to sort through so I just decided to go with Brian Dozier. Don’t ask me why, but 3 for 4, a double, a home run, a couple of runs scored and a pair of ribbies isn’t a bad day’s work.
We are about at what could be considered the half-way point of the Twins’ Spring Training, believe it or not. We’re hitting that point a little early this spring because of the way the World Baseball Classic has caused an elongation of the process. But regardless of how we got here, with all of the question marks the Twins had when pitchers and catchers reported to Ft. Myers, it’s as good a time as any to check in to see if any of those questions are any closer to being answered.
Will the Twins rotation be better?
Of course, the smart-ass answer to that is that it could hardly be worse than it was last season, so it almost has to be better. But based on early appearances, the “real” answer is also, “yes, it will be better.” Of course, it’s way too early to predict how much better.
With Scott Diamond as yet untested in games, all we’ve really been able to see are the newly acquired pitchers (Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia) and the young pitchers trying to translate minor league success in to Major League careers (Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson). To be fair, holdovers from last season such as Cole DeVries and Sam Deduno also have to be considered in the mix, but unless those guys show something that makes everyone believe they’ve significantly improved, the fact remains that if they’re part of the Twins rotation for a significant part of the season, it probably means the answer to this question is that the rotation has not improved enough to make a real difference in the Twins short-term fortunes.
The good news is that, on balance, the leading candidates for rotation spots have not looked too bad in their first few outings. Worley looks like what we expected him to be, a legitimate mid-rotation arm. Pelfrey isn’t yet hitting his normal pre-Tommy John surgery velocity, but he hasn’t had any sort of medical setback that we feared he might have given his accelerated rehab schedule. Corriea missed a little time to be with his wife for the birth of their new son and showed some rust in his first game back on Thursday, but he hasn’t been getting rocked the way you might have expected if you believed all the harpoons directed toward him by writers and fans since signing with the Twins. Finally, both Hendriks and Gibson have had ups and downs but have generally demonstrated why they’re considered legitimate rotation options to start the season with the Twins.
Scott Diamond is scheduled to get his first Spring Training start on March 18 so we may not know until the final week of camp whether he’ll be ready for the Opening Day roster. That said, if the Twins had to open the season with a rotation of Worley, Pelfrey, Correia, Hendriks and Gibson, I could live with that and feel somewhat confident that said rotation would lead to better results than we saw in 2012, despite the obvious shortcoming of being without a lefty until Diamond returns.
Who’s going to be the centerfielder?
The Twins entered Spring Training telling us that three players would compete for the CF job… their 4th outfielder from 2012, Darin Mastroianni, and two young outfield prospects trying to make the Opening Day roster for the first time, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson.
The competition going in seemed set up in a way that made job Hicks’ to lose. He’s definitely the player with the highest ceiling and it was just a matter of whether he would prove to the decision-makers that he’s ready for prime time, despite never playing an inning of AAA baseball. If he failed to impress, Mastroanni was likely to get the job, by default. Benson’s only real shot to win the job would be if Hicks and Mastroianni both failed miserably and/or don’t survive Spring Training healthy.
Thus far, it’s been all about Aaron Hicks. He already has three home runs after leading off both Wednesday’s game against Puerto Rico’s WBC team and Thursday’s game against the Phillies with home runs. The former wasn’t “official,” of course, since it came in an exhibition game, but the latter came against Cliff Lee.
UPDATE: Almost before I could get this article posted, Hicks hit ANOTHER home run in that Phillies game Thursday afternoon. At this rate, he’s going to screw up his chances to open the season as the Twins’ leadoff hitter by showing too much power. That said, two words of caution for Twins fans who might be tempted to read too much in to Spring Training power displays: “Luke Hughes”.
UPDATED UPDATE: Hicks has hit a THIRD home run in that Phillies game. Just… wow.
There’s still a lot of games to play before Opening Day and it wouldn’t be unheard of for a rookie to start hot and then begin tightening up at the end of the spring as the pressure of knowing he’s really playing for a spot in a Major League starting line up hits him. Still, you definitely have to say that Hicks has grabbed hold of this opportunity with both hands.
Who’s going to get the middle infield jobs?
It was generally assumed that three of the four infielders competing for middle infield spots would move north with the Twins, while one headed for Rochester. However, while Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon appear to be the early leaders in the race for starting positions at 2B and SS, respectively, it is now looking like both Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar could stick, as well. Carroll brings a veteran presence along with the versatility to play multiple positions. Escobar, though, has been impressing coaches with his glove and, it turns out, could serve as an “emergency” catcher. His bat, frankly, may not be much more of a threat than Drew Butera’s, but he would provide much greater utility around the field than Butera would. This decision could come down to the wire in late March, so stay tuned.
In the end, none of the questions have truly been answered yet, but we can definitely see the roster starting to take shape. The first round of roster cuts could be announced almost any time, now that the minor league camp has opened up and pitchers are starting to get stretched out to four innings or so. Still, with several players still participating in WBC games, there will continue to be plenty of opportunities for young players to impress someone.
For now, the two most important things Twins fans need to hope for are (1) that the potential rotation members continue to improve as Spring Training rolls on, and (2) that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau return from the WBC healthy.
The 25-man roster is not yet set in stone, but if we take a look at the 40-man roster we can get some kind of idea about where the Twins players closest to the Major Leagues come from.
Drafted out of High School (12, 5 pitchers, 7 position players)
Alex Burnett, 12th round 2005 (375 overall); B.J. Hermsen, 6th round 2008 (186); Tyler Robertson, 3rd round 2006 (96); Anthony Swarzak, 2nd round 2004 (61); Michael Tonkin, 30th round 2008 (906); Joe Mauer, 1st round 2001 (1); Brian Dozier, 8th round 2009 (252); Justin Morneau, 3rd round 1999 (89); Chris Parmelee, 1st round 2006 (20); Trevor Plouffe, 1st round 2004 (20); Joe Benson, 2nd round 2006 (64); Aaron Hicks, 1st round 2008 (14)
Unsurprisingly the Twins largest group of players on the 40-man roster come as high school draftees. There is a fairly good mix of position players and pitchers, though of the pitchers on the list none of them were drafted in the first round, compared to 4 first round position players*. This makes sense as the arms on this list are all bullpen guys, not a single player there with really dominant stuff.
*Byron Buxton, the Twins most recent 1st round draft pick was just 5 years old when the Twins drafted Justin Morneau in 1999. Morny has been with the team a long time, it will be interesting to see if the Twins look to move him later this year.
Free Agent (10, 7 pitchers, 3 position players)
Jared Burton, 2011; Kevin Correia, 2012; Cole De Vries, 2006 (undrafted out of University of Minnesota); Casey Fien, 2012; Mike Pelfrey, 2012; Caleb Thielbar, 2011; Tim Wood, 2012; Ryan Doumit, 2011; Jamey Carroll, 2011; Josh Willingham, 2011
Likely because the Twins spent so many high draft picks on position players, the Twins have struggled to develop their own pitching and have turned to the free agent market to balance their roster. As with the high school draftees, none of the arms on this list are particularly dominant, though Burton was a pleasant surprise in 2012.
Trade (6, 4 pitchers, 2 position players)
Scott Diamond, 2011 (Billy Bullock); Pedro Hernandez, 2012 (Francisco Liriano); Eduardo Escobar, 2012 (Liriano); Trevor May, 2012 (Ben Revere); Vance Worley, 2012 (Revere); Drew Butera, 2007 (Luis Castillo)
I listed Scott Diamond as a player acquired via trade, but he originally joined the Twins through the 2010 Rule 5 draft, but when he failed to make the roster out of Spring Training the Twins completed a trade with the Atlanta Braves in order to keep him with the organization. Of the other names here, only Butera sticks out, only because with his ties to the organization (his father Sal Butera was with the Twins for parts of 6 Minor League and 4 Major League seasons) I often forget that he was not originally drafted by the Twins.
Drafted out of College (4, 3 pitchers, 1 position player)
Again, because the Twins were not drafting and developing high school pitching they have used several early round picks on college pitchers in an effort to balance the system. Of the two 1st rounders here, only Gibson was the Twins 1st overall pick of the draft, Perkins was selected after Trevor Plouffe, with a compensation pick from the Mariners when they signed Eddie Guardado. In fact, in the 2004 draft the Twins had 3 first round picks and 2 more supplemental round picks, giving them 5 of the first 39 draft picks and 7 of the first 100. Of those seven picks, Plouffe, Perkins and Anthony Swarzak are all still with the Twins, 9 years later.
International Free Agent (4, 1 pitcher, 3 position players)
Pretty young group of players here, but lots of upside with Santana and Arcia cracking MLB’s list of Top 20 Twins prospects.
Waiver (3, 1 pitcher, 2 position players)
As you’d expect, no superstars in this trio, but two of these guys could be in the starting lineup on Opening Day.
Rule 5 Draft (1, 1 pitcher, 0 position players)
Ryan Pressly, 2012 (Red Sox)
It remains to be seen if Pressly will make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training, though the cards are certainly stacked against him. If the Twins are going to keep him long term, they’ll need to work out a trade with the Boston Red Sox to keep him in the organization if he is not on the big league roster.
So there you have it, 40 players and their origins within the Twins organization. With high school draft picks making up the lion’s share of the roster, the Twins amateur scouts seem to know what they’re doing. That bodes well for the future and Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Travis Harrison and Hudson Boyd, the Twins’ highest drafted high school players in the past two drafts.
-ERolfPleissAll player information obtained from Baseball-Reference. If I’ve listed any player origins incorrectly, please let me know.
What a great night for baseball fans in Eastern Iowa!
In celebration of the new affiliation agreement between the Twins and the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the organizations combined to put on a terrific event Thursday night.
Every winter, the Kernels put on a Hot Stove banquet with proceeds going to their own charitable foundation. The event combines dinner, a silent auction and induction of the new Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame members. Tonight’s event, however, also included a local stop by the Twins Caravan.
The combination brought out a record crowed for the Hot Stove event. The banquet sold out and standing room only tickets were sold at a discount to give even more Twins fans an opportunity to attend the Caravan.
Media members (including this humble blogger) were invited to come in starting at 4:30 to interview some of the participants. I had a chance to visit a bit with Twins pitching prospect, BJ Hermsen. He will be heading to the Twin Cities next week where he’ll receive his Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year award and then attend TwinsFest. Not long after, he’ll be on the road to Fort Myers for his first Major League Spring Training.
I asked whether Hermsen has any sense of where he’ll start the 2013 season (he doesn’t) and talked a bit about the offseason training work he’s been doing. He was asked by another person if he was going to be speaking during the Caravan portion of the program and he indicated he didn’t think so (he was wrong… emcee Dick Bremer had a number of questions for Hermsen during the program).
Ron Gardenhire and Terry Steinbach also were made available for interviews with the media, as was new Kernels manager Jake Mauer. Naturally, the local media had questions for Gardy that alluded to the new Cedar Rapids affiliation and he was appropriately complimentary in his responses.
Gardenhire did bring up the fact that his managerial debut was with Kenosha in the Midwest League in 1988 and that his team had their “butts beaten” by Cedar Rapids in the playoffs to end that season.
The Hall of Fame induction was sandwiched between dinner and the formal part of the Caravan program. The CR Hall inducted former players Trevor Hoffman and Casey Kotchman, along with longtime Kernels groundskeeper Jim Curran and Pat Harmon, one of the people credited with bringing minor league ball back to Cedar Rapids in the 1940s. But the highlight, for me, of the ceremony was the induction of former Cedar Rapids manager Alex Monchak.
I’m sure most of you have no idea who Monchak is, but this man epitomizes the career baseball man. He had a cup of coffee with the Phillies, but his career was interrupted by World War II. While he never returned to the Big Leagues as a player, that didn’t stop him from spending the rest of his life teaching others to play the game the right way.
He was inducted in to the CR HoF specifically for managing the 1958 Cedar Rapids Braves to the Three-I League championship, but after leaving our little town, he spent about a decade as a scout and almost 20 years as a coach on manager Chuck Tanner’s staffs with the White Sox, A’s, Pirates and Braves. In fact, he was a coach on the Pirates’ Championship team that also included pitcher Bert Blyleven.
Hoffman and Kotchman had other commitments that kept them from attending the event, but Monchak, who will be 96 years old in March, was in attendance to accept his award and address the crowd.
Dick Bremer did a professional job of emceeing the Caravan program. It’s no small task, I’m sure, to do that job in a way that comes across as fresh to every crowd, despite the fact that they’ve been essentially going through the process multiple times per day for about a week. Bremer did sports for the local CBS affiliate in Cedar Rapids before moving on to Minnesota, so he was able to blend in some anecdotes from his days here.
Everyone on the dais did a good job of fielding the questions Bremer has no-doubt asked them several times over the past week, as well as a number from the crowd. Obviously, Gardy got the lion’s share of the questions from fans and he handled them with his typical combination of optimism and humor.
Of course, there are causes for concern from Twins fans after the past two seasons, but this event was all about generating interest and enthusiasm among the fan bases of the Twins and Kernels, as well as celebrating the upcoming inaugural season of this relationship. Based on the attendance and enthusiastic support from the crowd, it was an overwhelming success at doing just that.
I’ll wrap up this post with a few pictures from the evening. – JC