GameChat – Indians @ Twins #4, 7:10pm

So the final game against the Indians.. I would like to win the series, how about you?

It’s a phenomenally gorgeous day to play baseball outside and I hope Deduno has that EFFECTIVE part down to his “Wild” today.

Cleveland

@

Minnesota
Choo, RF   Revere, CF
Brantley, CF   Casilla, A, 2B
Santana, C, DH   Mauer, C
Canzler, LF   Morneau, 1B
Kotchman, 1B   Willingham, DH
Chisenhall, 3B   Doumit, LF
Phelps, C, 2B   Plouffe, 3B
Lillibridge, SS   Carson, RF
Marson, C   Florimon, SS
  Masterson, P     Deduno, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cleveland 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 3 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 0 2 3 1 x 7 10 0

You know, that was kind of the Twins performance we used to be much more accustomed to seeing. Good starting pitching, followed by a couple innings of shut down work by the bullpen. Some timely hitting, speed on the basepaths and excellent defense. Almost makes you a little misty-eyed to see it again, doesn’t it?

There was support for Alexi Casilla and his flashy leatherwork for Boyfriend of the Day honors. I’m a big Lexi fan and I acknowledge that time may be running out for him to get one more BOD award in his Twins career, but there were a couple of other performances that have to rate just a bit higher.

Sam Deduno went seven innings and gave up just three hits. Somehow, though, he gave up almost as many runs. His six strikeouts were pretty nice, but then there were those three walks. That’s pretty impressive.

But BOD honors tonight go to Pedro Florimon. He showed some pretty fancy glovework, himself, but he also added a double, a triple, a couple of runs scored and an RBI. I don’t know if this is the kind of performance we can expect from Pedro consistently, but wouldn’t it be nice if it was?

Pedro Florimon (Photo:Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

 

GameChat – Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics 9:05pm

The Twins made waves this afternoon when it was announced that Nick Blackburn and Tsuyoshi Nishioka had been outrighted from the 40 man roster.  They’ll still remain with the Minnesota organization and Blackburn will join Nishioka in Rochester.

Twins have just 1 win in their last 9 games, so it would be nice for them to do something positive tonight.  Hasn’t been a Boyfriend of the Day in almost a week!

 Minnesota Twins

@

Oakland Athletics 
 Revere, CF  Crisp, CF
 Mastroianni, RF  Gomes, J, DH
 Mauer, C  Reddick, RF
 Willingham, LF  Cespedes, LF
 Morneau, 1B  Carter, 1B
 Doumit, DH  Donaldson, 3B
 Plouffe, 3B  Norris, C
 Carroll, 2B  Rosales, SS
 Florimon, SS  Weeks, 2B
 _Duensing, P  _McCarthy, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 7 15 2
Oakland 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 1

It’s been a while, so I’m not 100% sure, but I think that’s what they call a WIN!

The Twins racked up 15 hits and we’ll let it pass that only one of them was an extra-base hit (a double by Willingham). The Hammer certainly earned baked goods of his choice, as did Joe Mauer, with both of them ripping 3 hits a piece. Brian Duensing also earns a few pastries with his six innings of excelling mound work (5 hits, 1 BB and 7 Ks!).

But tonight’s (or is it this morning’s?) BOD award goes to Pedro Florimon, who also came up with three hits of his own. He also walked once, putting him on base four times. He scored three of the Twins’ seven runs on the night. Just to prove he can do it all, he also turned in some pretty fancy leatherwork. That total package earns him the BOD.

Pedro Florimon (Photo:Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Minnesota Twins Debut: Who is Pedro Florimon?

Pedro Florimon, called up to replace the recently demoted Brian Dozier, has played 18 2/3 innings at shortstop in the Major Leagues, appearing in 4 games (two starts) in 2011 for the Baltimore Orioles.  In just 10 career plate appearances he has one hit (a double), one walk, and six strikeouts.

Florimon was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 out of La Romana, Dominican Republic as a 17 year-old international free agent.  He toiled in the low minors until 2010 until he had his first extended experience at AA Bowie in the Eastern League.  A year later, at the end of 2011 Florimon was hitting .267/.344/.396 (his best offensive year outside of 2006 when he split time between the Rookie League and Low-A) and the Orioles called him up and he made his Major League debut on September 10, going 0-3.  After just 5 more plate appearances the Orioles decided they had seen enough of Florimon to know he was not going to be part of their long term plans and waived him following the conclusion of the 2011 season (Manny Machado was moving quickly through their MiLB system and was ready to take Florimon’s place in AA in 2012).

Pedro Florimon, Twins Media Day (February 26, 2012 – Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins had little very few promising shortstops in the upper minors.  The AAA-affiliate Rochester Red Wings had 8 different players split time at shortstop, with Toby Gardenhire (Ron Gardenhire’s son) leading the way with 46 games at short.  The 2011 AA New Britain Rock Cats split their shortstop duties almost equally between the player Florimon just replaces, Brian Dozier, and Chris Cates.  Dozier hit the ball well enough to ultimately get a look from the Twins in 2012, but Cates played his way out of the Twins system, hitting just .205/258/.245 in his age 26 season, his second full season in AA.  With all of this in mind, the newly re-appointed Twins GM, Terry Ryan, plucked Pedro Florimon off of waivers in early December, just before his 25th birthday.

Florimon failed to impress in Spring Training (.148/.233/.185) and was assigned to AA when the Twins broke camp and headed north.   Florimon built on his successful 2011 MiLB campaign and hit .283/.347/.372 through the first month of the season.  When Brian Dozier (who was having a hot start of his own) was called up to join the Twins, Florimon was called upon to fill his spot in Rochester to get his first chance in Triple-A.  Despite being a switch hitter, Flormon still has sizable platoon splits against LHP and RHP.  He hit fairly well when he initially joined the Red Wings, but he’s fallen off slightly in the second half and is hitting just .232/.273/.293 after the All-Star break.  Despite being a pretty solid defender, Florimon is not a great base stealer, as he’s stolen just 6 bases in Rochester and been thrown out 7 times.

Both the New Britain Rock Cats and the Rochester Red Wings used Florimon exclusively as a shortstop, and I suspect he’ll be used to spell the aging Jamey Carroll.  When September rolls around and the Twins make their September call ups it will be interesting to see what happens to Florimon’s playing time, especially if the Twins bring back Brian Dozier after three weeks in the Minors.

-ERolfPleiss

Brian Dozier: Shortstop of the Future?

There was significant fanfare surrounding Brian Dozier following a successful Spring Training by the then 24 year old Twins shortstop.  Dozier hit .277/.333/.511 in 22 games at short stop during Spring Training to lead all shortstops, but without any Triple-A seasoning under his belt, the Twins sent him to Rochester to begin the 2012 campaign.  Dozier started out red hot for the Red Wings and raised a lot of eyebrows in the Twins’ front office.  After just 28 games Dozier was hitting .276/.339/.371 (about what he was hitting in 2009 and 2010, but his OPS was about 200 points below what he hit in 2011 between A+ and AA) and the Twins called him up the Minneapolis.

Brian Dozier

In the 55 games before the All-Star Game, Brian Dozier hit .242/.267/.332 with only 8 walks to go along with 41 strike outs.  Clearly, with only 28 games at AAA and 55 more with the Twins, Dozier would take a little time to adjust to the talent level of the best baseball players on the planet.  In just 28 games since the All-Star break Dozier’s bat has started to come around, his batting average has sagged (.228), but his OBP (.288) and SLG (.347) are both climbing towards acceptable levels for Major League shortstops, even with a BABIP of .244 (league average is around .300).  Along with increased on-base and power numbers, Dozier has matched his walk and home run totals from the 1st half, and cut down his strike out rate from 19.43% to 16.83%.

Yesterday afternoon, with the bases load in the 10th inning and 1 out, Dozier had an opportunity to either start a difficult double play, attempt to throw out the runner heading home, or take the safe out at first base.  Dozier chose to take the out at 1B, conceding what turned out to be the game winning run as the Rays went on to win the game 7-3, scoring three more times before the Twins could get out of the inning.  While it is hard to fault Dozier too much for his play yesterday, his defense has been up and down all season long.  He has 15 errors in 83 games, and his UZR is below zero, -2.8.  While fielding% certainly does not tell the whole story, Dozier sits at .963 while the average MLB shortstop is fielding 15 points better at .978, which is four errors better over the same number of attempts.  Coupled with his sub-par offensive numbers, Dozier’s defensive performance performance makes him easily expendable.

To the Twins’ credit, they keep running Dozier out there day after day, giving him the opportunity to prove he belongs, and luckily for him the Twins don’t really have a lot of other options to play in his place.  Alexi Casilla has played shortstop only as a last resort, Tsuyoshi Nishioka is a complete disaster, and while the 38 year-old Jamey Carroll could slide back into the shortstop role, he will not be factoring into the Twins’ future plans, so sticking with Dozier is the best of several below average options.  Hiding away at AAA Rochester is Pedro Florimon, a defense first shortstop who is hitting almost as well as Brian Dozier did before his call up, and the newly acquired Eduardo Escobar who the Twins likely view as a utility player, as he’s played 4 different positions for Rochester since joining the team just two weeks ago (and just a .557 OPS in 45 games for the Chicago White Sox).

If Brian Dozier does not make big improvements down the stretch, both offensively and defensively, he will not have a future with the Minnesota Twins.

-ERolfPleiss