Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mondayne Notes: 8/20/2012

Mondayne Notes - 8/20/2012

The Mondayne Notes will be posted either late Sunday night or on Monday.  They are best accompanied by this specific version of "Spinning in Daffodils" by Them Crooked Vultures.

The Games

Monday - Win over Detroit - 9-3
Samuel Deduno walked fewer than he struck out.  Ryan Doumit hit a late bomb to put it away.

Tuesday - Loss to Detroit - 8-4
The Twins scored 4 unearned runs in the 3rd inning, but Doug Fister pretty much shut them down the rest of the way.  If anything will keep the Tigers from success in the regular season and postseason, it will definitely be their infield defense. 

Wednesday - Loss to Detroit - 5-1
Cole DeVries was pretty inefficient and Max Scherzer basically dominated the Twins with 10 strikeouts. 

Thursday - Off Day

Friday - Loss to Seattle - 5-3
A late pair of solo home runs by Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham were not enough as Nick Blackburn gave up 3 runs in the first 2 innings and his season ERA jumped up to 7.39.

Saturday - Loss to Seattle - 3-2
In a wonderful demonstration of how overrated wins and losses are for pitchers, Casey Fein gets the loss by facing one batter and getting him out.  He inherited a based loaded, no outs situation.  He got a sacrifice fly to shallow center, but deep enough to score the run.  He also got the loss for that.  On the other side, Tom Wilhelmsen faced one batter and got the win.  He also got his batter out.

Sunday - Loss to Seattle - 5-1
The game was close until Jeff Gray came in and showed us all how to win.  Deduno had a "quality start" and also walked 6 more batters.  His walk rate is almost historically high and I am planning to investigate just how high sometime in the future.  Ben Revere did return to the lineup after missing the previous two games.   

Week in Review
Not a great week.  The Monday night game was fun, but the Twins' offense was not great the rest of the week.  They scored 9 runs on Monday and then 10 runs the rest of the week.  Unfortunately, they cannot win games without getting good or better offense.  Sam Deduno and Scott Diamond had good results in their 3 combined starts, but the rest of the starting pitching dug holes for the team in the early innings.  Deduno walked 11 guys in his 2 starts and had 4 double plays turned behind him.  There are about 5 reasons (high strand rate, low strikeout rate, high walk rate, low BABIP, lack of any sort of track record) I can think of that point toward some major regression from Deduno, but it is hard to argue with the results right now.  I am not a Nick Blackburn fan at all, but I am honestly starting to feel a bit sorry for him and I hope he has a couple lucky starts in a row because he isn't going to get good results based on his talent anymore.  Pedro Florimon made his Twins debut and made some nice plays on deep pop-ups behind short.   

The Transactions

8/13 - Trevor Plouffe activated, Nishioka send to AAA
The Plouffe is no longer on fire.  I still like him though, and think he can be a cheap third baseman for the next couple years.  Nishioka going back to AAA is probably the best thing for him.  Each MLB game he plays is just more and more embarrassing for him.  I honestly hope the Twins buy him out and let him go back to Japan.  That is likely the best situation for all sides.

8/15 - Brian Dozier to AAA, Pedro Florimon called up
This one surprised me.  Florimon is not a prospect, so there is nothing to get too excited about with him.  I am not super high on Dozier, but I am hopeful he can get some confidence back in AAA.  I refuse to believe that there isn't a psychological element of baseball, as that would make it completely unique to all other human activities.  He seems like the type that could have some good gap power and he isn't a terrible fielder.  Long term, a move to 2B might be best for him though.  He really doesn't have much AAA experience, so this time could be helpful.  He'll be back in September regardless.

8/16 - Luis Perdomo to AAA, Jeff Manship to AAA
Meh and Meh.  Perdomo had a 1.50 ERA in 6 innings, but only 3 strikeouts to 7 walks.  Sam Deduno would scoff at that ratio.  Manship is just a guy.  You can use him as a mop up guy when down by 10 runs.  Otherwise, he actually hurts the team.

8/17 - Activated Anthony Swarzak, Called up Matt Carson, Outrighted Rene Tosoni
Carson isn't a prospect, but can be on the bench if needed without hurting his development.  While many would have liked Parmelee to be called up, it would be wasteful, unless he was going to play every day.  His call-up in June/July pretty much proved that will not happen. 

Tosoni was awful in AA and AAA and with the surprising glut of outfield prospects that the Twins have now (Arcia, Hicks, Rosario and even Benson), they really just don't need a 26 year old corner-only outfielder who really didn't show that he could hit, run, get on base, or even field last year.  He seemed like a nice guy though.

Swarzak is a semi-useful pitcher as a long man out of the bullpen and spot starter.  If nothing else, having a guy like Swarzak should allow the Twins to eventually cut the number of pitchers on the 25 man roster down to a reasonable number (long term of course, this year doesn't really matter much). 

The Injuries

Scott Baker - out for season
It seems that he is throwing more often.  I am an advocate for signing him next year.  He would likely be the ace of the staff, unfortunately.  I mean that in the nicest way possible, as I do like Scott Baker.  But, a number 3 starter coming off of TJ surgery is not a very exciting ace.

Matt Capps - 15 day DL
It sounds like he might be out until September.  It is possible that he has pitched his last game for the Twins.  Which is sad because we never got to give him the standing ovation he deserved as he walked off of Target Field for the last time.  We might just have to settle for serenading him with cheers when he comes back next year with another team.

Carl Pavano - 60 day DL
Another guy who might not pitch for the Twins again, although he is likely to return late August.  I wonder if he will even get a Jason Marquis type deal for next year. 

Ben Revere - day to day
Revere sprained his ankle on first base during Wednesday's game.  He stayed in the game, but the play looked pretty nasty.  It must have been, as he missed the next couple games.  He was back today and should be fine going forward.

Denard Span - day to day
Span last played on August 12, meaning he has missed over a week now.  He can be put on the DL retroactively, but that doesn't really change the fact that this type of injury situation is all too common for the Twins.  While it really doesn't mean a whole lot in a lost season, it is the type of situation you want to have fixed by the time the team is successful again.  Having a two man bench of Drew Butera and Tsuyoshi Nishioka during an August pennant race is means for being disqualified from the playoffs out of principle.

P.J. Walters - 15 day DL
Currently pitching rehab starts in AAA.  I guess it would be good to see what he has in September, just to see if he can be a stopgap starter in 2013.

The Standings

Win Loss
Games Back
Last 10
Chicago Cubs
San Diego

Some are not going to like how I display the standings, but realistically, the best way to look at this season is from the bottom up.  The worse the Twins' record at the end of the year, the better it is for the future.  There isn't a bonus for finishing in 3rd place or getting to .500.  But, finishing in the bottom five means a better draft pick, and more importantly, more draft money.  Under the new system, you can get double punished for winning games you shouldn't or don't need to win.  I am working on a column about losing with dignity that I will have up in a couple weeks.  The team doesn't have to tank to lose, but there are ways improve your draft standing while still keeping the team interesting.  It might not matter much, as the Twins are the worst of these listed teams over the past 10 games. 

The Future

Jose Berrios struck out 11 batters in 5 innings on Friday night.  Berrios is only 18 years old and was quickly promoted to high Rookie ball in Elizabethton.  Berrios is fairly short for a pitcher (listed at 6' 1"), but does have good life on his fastball and is not the Twins' typical soft-tossing strike-thrower.  According to ESPN's scouting page, Berrios might be a bullpen arm long-term or his three pitch arsenal of fastball, curve and change could help him stay in the rotation.  Regardless, getting this guy with the first pick in the 1st supplemental round was a demonstration that the Twins are serious about drafting and developing some power arms with upside. 

The Big Picture

This past year, the Twins drafted quite a few relievers that throw hard, in the hopes that they can turn a few into starters.  Berrios is obviously one of them.  To me, this is a great strategy, as these pitchers are talented enough to profile as good bullpen arms regardless of whether they can develop new pitches in the minors.  Young relievers can be extremely valuable, as they save the club from spending too much on veteran relievers and give flexibility to the club to allocate their resources to other parts of the team.  A young, talented, team-controlled and hard-throwing bullpen sounds to me like a winning formula.  

Fantasy Tip of the Week

Use total bases in place of home runs.  Home runs are fun, but so are triples and doubles.  Plus, I find the higher the numbers, the more fun the category is.  Total bases still give a bonus for home runs, but adds other extra base hits to the party.

Have a great week everyone!

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