Friday, May 21, 2010

New Page!

Please check out my new website!
It can be found at

I will ocassionally be posting posts over here to allow for feedback but the most update to date info can be found at the new site.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friday News and Notes

This post can also be found on my new site:
Friday’s game could not have started out any better for the Twins. The Twins offense was being patient making A.J Burnett throw pitches that they could drive. The offense was getting RISP (Runners in Scoring Position). Scott Baker was throwing a gem through three innings.


After a HR and some hard hit balls, the Twins found themselves down by one. The next inning, the Hometown kid, Joe Mauer tied the game with clutch a two out HR. Next inning, Gardner singles with Teixeira driving him in next at bat with a single. The bright spot of the bottom of the inning was a beautiful throw by Delmon to nail Teixeira at the plate.


The seventh inning was the most important inning of the game. In the top of the seventh, the M&M boys got it going with two RBIs. The bottom of the inning couldn’t have gone worse for the Twins with a single and then a double. The Twins then walk Teixeira to load the bases for Alex Rodriguez. Gardy decides to bring in Matty Guerrier (who was 4-6 with two HRs A-Rod) to face Rodriguez. Rodriguez gets a ball that hung and drove to left-center to give the Yankees a 7-4 lead. The Twins could not recover after this. This was a huge key to the game. Gardy went against numbers (claiming he never knew them). By putting in the gopher-baller Matty Guerrier, Gardy could have ultimately cost the Twins the game and possibly the series.

Interview: Jeff Manship

This post can also be found on my new website:

When did you first play baseball?
Jeff: I first started playing T-ball when I was five in a local Little League.
Dez: Did you play any other sports growing up?
Jeff: I played basketball up until high school. After completing my 8th grade season, I realized it was not in my best interest to pursue a career in basketball. Living in the warmer weather in south Texas allowed me the opportunity to play baseball year round so once basketball ended I played with several traveling teams in the fall and winter months.

Dez: What do you do when you're not playing baseball?
Jeff: I enjoy fishing, hunting, and playing video games.

Dez: Who was your favorite player to watch when you were growing up?
Jeff: What team did you grow up watching and cheering for?
Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player growing up. Since Griffey played for the Mariners, they were my favorite team to watch. During my first spring training with the Twins I got to pitch in a big league game against the Reds in Sarasota. The first hitter of the inning and first big league hitter that I ever faced was Griffey. It was one of the greatest moments getting to face my childhood hero.

Dez: How popular is baseball at Notre Dame?
Jeff: Although we always had a successful baseball team, we still had trouble gaining the same popularity as the football and basketball teams, but that was no surprise really. Kinda hard to compete with such a storied program like the football team. The cold weather really wasn't too favorable for the fans. The first month of our season was played down south, usually in tournaments in Texas and Florida.

Dez: What is the best part of your baseball career?
Jeff: I'd have to say all the friends I've made. The Twins have an organization filled with great guys and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them. Everybody has gotten along well on every
team that I've played for and that always makes things more fun.

Dez: What is the hardest of your career in baseball?
Jeff: The travel and being away from family for so long is probably the toughest aspect in professional baseball.

Dez: What is your greatest achievement so far?
Jeff: Receiving the call-up to the big leagues and earning my first victory against the Royals were my greatest achievements so far.

Dez: Is there a favorite player that you like to have play behind you?
Jeff: Probably Denard Span. He is a very gifted outfielder and has the ability to run down balls and make plays that many can't.

Dez: What is the hardest part about being a pitcher?
Jeff: I would say pitching effectively even when you know you don't have your best stuff that day. It happens to every pitcher, but you have to find a way to still get the job done. I feel like those are the days that really show what a pitcher has internally. You really have to fight and work so much harder to achieve favorable results.

Dez: If you were not a pitcher what position would you play?
Jeff: I'm not really sure about that. Maybe a DH. I used to play the middle infield and started pitching when I was 10. Once I began pitching, that's all I wanted to do. I would get more frustrated with myself for making an error in the infield than I would if I gave up a homerun. Maybe it was due to the fact that I felt like I was letting the pitcher down if I didn't make all the plays. When I was a senior in high school I played third base and made about five errors in three games. If I managed to catch the ball I'd throw a sinker to first base that usually bounced a foot in front of the first baseman. The coach and I decided it was probably not in either of our best interests for me to stay at third so I moved to DH when I wasn't pitching. I always enjoyed hitting and found some success in that role.

Dez: How was it coming up to the big leagues in August?
Jeff: It was a dream come true. I felt great knowing that I had accomplished a goal that I had set for myself at such a young age.

Dez: Did you learn anything while up in the Majors and if so how would this differ from what you could have learned down in Rochester?
Jeff: I was made aware of how necessary it is to throw more strikes. Hitters are much more patient and will make you work much harder. They don't make mistakes by swinging at bad pitches and helping you out. Also, hitters aren't afraid to hit with two strikes. I still had to make a very solid pitch to retire a hitter even when I was ahead in the count.

Dez: When did you start preparing for the 2010 season?
Jeff: I started working out right after the World Series ended. My workouts started out light and gradually built up over time.

Dez: What are your goals for the 2010 season? Is there an area you would like to improve in?
Jeff: I would definitely like to either make the team right out of spring training or get called up soon after. In addition, I'd like to establish myself as a reliable starter and stay with the team and out of the minors. An area I'd like to improve in would be to get ahead in counts more often and retire hitters with fewer pitches. I felt that I wasted too many pitches last season which prevented me from going deep into games.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday New and Notes

If you decided to take a break from baseball, Saturday was not the day to do it.

The day started with breaking news (which broke on The Twin-Keys Show. We had Seth Stohs and Jack Steal on when the news broke.)that Jose Mijares would be going down to the DL. The Twins recall Alex Burnett who was optioned down to Rochester on Wednesday(Burnett has yet to throw a pitch at Rochester this season).

The next event of the day was the Twins game. Nick Blackburn, starter, struggled early going only five innings and giving up five earned. The bright spot of the day was the homer by Orlando Hudson. Jon Rauch came in to close the game out. Despite giving up a leadoff single, Rauch gets the save and retains his title as Saves leader in the MLB with six saves.
How often do you see a game go seven hours? Well that was the case yesterday afternoon/ last night. We saw two positional players come into pitch and Kyle Lohse play left field. This game is an instant classic. It took 652 pitches for the Mets to win in 20 innings by a score of 2-1. The last game to go this long was on April 17, 2008 (interesting?) where Rockies came out ontop of the Padres 2-1.

In a much shorter game, the Rockies' Ubaldo Jiménez threw the first no-hitter in Rockies history. Jiménez threw out of the stretch and was still throwing strong in the 9th inning with his fastball being clocked at 95. Jiménez becomes the first player to throw a no-hitter with a first name starting with U. It is also the first no-hitter in Major League history to have a balk in it.

Feel free to email me at

Friday, April 16, 2010

Under the Lights

The Twins will play their first game under the lights tonight when they play Kansas City.
Here are the lineups for tonight.

David DeJesus - RF
Scott Podsednik - LF
Billy Butler - 1B
Jose Guillen - DH
Rick Ankiel - CF
Alberto Callaspo - 3B
Jason Kendall - C
Yuniesky Betancourt - SS
Chris Getz - 2B

Starting Pitcher: RHP Zack Greinke

Span - CF
Hudson - 2B
Mauer - C
Morneau - 1B
Kubel - DH
Cuddyer - RF
Young - LF
Hardy - SS
Harris - 3B

Starting Pitcher: RHP Scott Baker

Keys to the game

Key 1: Patience
When one wise Chinese Proverb says " Patience is a virtue", they must have been referring to Zack Greinke. If the Twins are going to tonight, they need to take pitches, extending not only the inning but also the pitch count. The AL Cy Young winner had a rough last outing giving up four earn through six and two-thirds innings.

Key 2: The Little Things
The need to capitalize on the weak throwing arm of Jason Kendall. This will help move runner into scoring position. The Twins will need men to get runners on and advance them. Small ball could help win this game if that bats don't get going right away.

Make sure to check out my podcast tomorrow morning at 10 Central. We will have Seth Stohs of , Jack Steal of , Thrylos98 of and Jim Mandelaro who is a beat writer for the Rochester Redwings.

Feel free to email me at

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Twin-Keys Behind the Name / April 11-Game 3

In mid-Febuary, while I was thinking for a name for my blog, Twin-Keys came to mind. I felt the name was clever because it not only involved the nickname for the Twins, Twinkies , but also allowed me to do the Keys for the Twins to win, thus Twin-Keys. This post will mainly be about the Keys to a sweep versus the Chicago White Sox.

Span, CF
Hudson, O, 2B
Mauer, C
Morneau, 1B
Cuddyer, RF
Young, D, LF
Hardy, SS
Harris, B, DH
Punto, 3B
Blackburn, RHP

Pierre, LF
Beckham, 2B
Quentin, RF
Konerko, 1B
Kotsay, DH
Rios, CF
Pierzynski, C
A. Ramirez, SS
Teahen, 3B
Buehrle, LHP

Key 1- Bulpen

It is no surprise that the bullpen is the key to this game. In order for the Twins to win, the Twins need to get into the bullpen. After two extra-innings, the White Sox bullpen is exhausted.

Key 2- Starting Pitching

If the Twins want to win, Nick Blackburn needs to get the team off to a good start. Blackburn is his last outing went 6 2/3 innings while allowing only three runs. Blackburn needs to throw first-pitch strikes. When doing this opponennts bat .280 against, and it get significantly lower with a 0-2 count, .220.

Key 3- Situational Hitting

In low scoring games, every run matters. That is what the Twins have been faced with these past two games. The "bunt to get the runner over" or "hitting to the right side" could be the difference maker in this game. Pay close attention to both teams and how they advance runner

On a side note, the Twins have the best record in baseball. Let's hope they continue this today as the Tigers are not far behind.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Podcast Tonight

We will have a special podcast tonight at 7PM. We will have on Twins Pitching Prospects BJ Hermsen and Bruce Pugh. We will also have guest bloggers Kirsten Brown and Nick Nelson on.

Be sure to tune in!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Joe in another Joe out.

Today has been a very busy day for the Twins and Joes alike.

Early this morning, Joe Nathan played catch in an undisclosed location. He felt soreness in his arm. The decision was made that Nathan will have season ending Tommy-John Surgery. Twins remain in talks with the Padres for closer Heath Bell.

Around 5 PM Central time, Joe Christensen reported that Joe Mauer had signed an 8/184 deal that includes a full no-trade clause. The press conference will be tomorrow at 6PM on Fox Sports North.

Two questions remain with the signing of this deal:

A) Should the Twins trade Wilson Ramos?

Of course not! Ramos adds depth to the backstop. He will both help the team and prolong Joe Mauer's career.

B) What grade do the Twins get this off season?

A!!! In my opinion this may be the best Twins off season ever. Mauer, Span, Blackburn , Thome , Hudson , Hardy and Condrey the team added to an already powerful team. Look for the Twins to win the division and contend in the playoffs.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Want to hear some Twins talk on a Saturday morning?
Tune in to my podcast at 10AM. Feel free to call in with a question or get into the chat room and discuss.

I will have on Patrick Matteson of , Shawn Berg of, John Meyer of and Andrew Kneeland from

Joe Bronk will co host with me again. Check out his new site at

Call-in Number: 1(646) 727-1345

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

Yippee! The Twins finally spent money this off-season! Super! We got some players most baseball lovers have actually heard of! J.J. Hardy! Jim Thome! Orlando Hudson! It's great to be a Twins fan. There is one thing we forgot though... the outfield. The Twins have 3 outfielders on their active roster. These three are Denard Span,Delmon Young, and Micheal Cuddyer. We also have Jason Kubel, however he is listed as a DH.

That makes me scared, very scared. Micheal Cuddyer has missed many games over the last few seasons with a bevy of injuries. This places Jason Kubel in right field. That is a massive liability. What if Denard Span gets injured? That is as, if not more, scary, as we do not have another player who can play center field. This places Nick Punto or whoever else we can round up in center, which leaves Brendan Harris or Matt Tolbert at the starting third baseman, full time. I'm not saying Punto should be the starting third baseman, but I really don't have the greatest faith in any of the three on their own.

This leads us to finding another outfielder. We are currently projected to have 13 or 12 pitchers, pending Joe Nathan (which looks bleak.) Either way, that's borderline for too many early in the season. We need another outfielder on the roster. But our options are limited. We picked up Jacque Jones, who will be thirty-five this year, and plays right field and can probably play left when called upon. We also have the biggest thing in the farm system waiting to come up in centerfielder Ben Revere who will be 21. As a wild card we also have Rene Tosoni, a right fielder, who will be 23, who just might have a shot.

Any of the three could be brought up if Cuddyer or Young go down. But what if Denard gets injured? Jacque Jones will not be able to play, as Young, Cuddyer, and Kubel will not play center, and neither can Jones. Tosoni can play center, but I don't know if anyone wants to put it in his hands. This leaves Ben Revere, who has the skills to do it, but at 21, I'm not positive he is ready.

Any way you look at it, it's not a great situation. If worse comes to worse, we could go into the free agent pool, as 28 year old RF/LF Wili Mo Pena and 36 year old all around OF Darin Erstad are left without a team, but neither would fill the void left by Denard Span. But who knows? I sure don't.

The Twins get Denarded

As reported on Twin-Keys, the Twins have signed Denard Span to a five year deal worth 16.5 million dollars. This is great but let's get the Mauer deal done.

Hear is being broken on

Podcast 3/13/10

Want to hear some Twins talk before the first televised game of the year? Listen to my radio show from 10AM-11AM this morning. Guests will include Jeffery Schwenn of, TJ DeSantis, who produces The Show with Seth Stohs , Fanatic Jack of and Andrew Kneeland of . My co-host, Joe Bronk, has a new site that can be found at Feel free to chime in on the chat or call in.Can't listen today at 10? You can always download the podcast.

Call-in Number: 1(646) 727-1345


I was also on Fanatic Jack's podcast last night. If you are interested you can check it out here:

The first Twins game that is televised is today. Tune at 12 Noon on FSNorth.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Third Base: The Lost Art

Well, third base, what can I say? There is a lot to say about this "position." I hope we can all remember days when there were these mythical beings still existed. Troy Glaus, Adrian Beltre, Chipper Jones, even Corey Koskie could be included in that mix. But unfortunately, the days of the strong armed, power-hitting, slow, and questionable in the field third basemen are over. I mean just look at the Twins. No third basemen on their projected active roster. Not one. You might say "But we have plenty of third basemen!" What I say to that is, who are you talking about?

Nick Punto? He has no position, and if you want to put him somewhere, you'd say he was a second baseman at his true position. Matt Tolbert? Nope, sorry, shortstop. Micheal Cuddyer? Uh, no, far from it. Yes, he may have started at it for us, but he has also been our starting right fielder,as well as playing left fielde, second baseman, and first baseman. Brendan Harris is probably the closest thing we have to a third baseman; however he is also a second baseman and shortstop.

Now of those four players, none of them is a true third baseman, nor does any play like one. In that group, we have three middle infielders/ utility men and an outfielder/first baseman. Which will play third for us? All of them. Which will play a different position between times they play third? All of them.

But you can't blame them; it's just the way the game has become. Even the top third baseman in the game right now is a shortstop convert. The Twins tried to get a hold of one of the last real third basemen last year with Joe Crede, but that didn't fizzle out. The fact is the third basemen of old are dead and gone. If the Twins wanted to go after a new third baseman, their options would include an aging Adrian Beltre,an aged Aaron Boone, who is past his prime, which was never that great in the first place. They could attempt to snag Troy Glaus, who is very questionable, recovering from an injury.

And with the talk of Joe Mauer possibly leaving the catcher position, people have been speculating either him or Justin Morneau playing third, I'd have to say that it may work, but I have serious doubts about it. It may solve the problems, or it may make it much, much worse. The best bet is to just live with what we've got, because wash-ups almost always never cut it and switching too many positions around is never good. The best thing we have is to ride the trend until we find something in the Twins’ vast farm system that can resolve this.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Q&A with Anderson Hidalgo

Here is a Q&A I had with Twins infield prospect Anderson Hidalgo.

When was the first time you played baseball?

Anderson Hidalgo
I first played baseball when I was 4 years old.

Growing up, did you play any other sport?

I played basketball and soccer.

What do you do when you're not playing baseball?

I run to gym.

When do you start preparing for the season?

Thursday ( March 11)
I'm still here in Venezuela

What are your goals for the season? Where would you like to play, and is there an area you would like to make improvement in?

I like to play in double A. That's my goal and to reach the big leagues

What is the best part of your career in baseball?

Since I have signed

Who was your favorite player to watch when you were growing up? What team did you grow up watching and cheering for?

Derek Jeter
Minnesota Twins

What is the hardest of your career in baseball?

When the team is losing and when we go through slumps

What is your greatest achievement so far?

Climbing through the minor leagues

What is the hardest part of being a thirdbaseman?

We must be agile

If you weren't a third basemen, where would you play?



Is there a pitch you like to hit?

Fastball and sliders

Is there a player, past or present, which you would compare yourself to?

Ronny Beliar
Nick Punto
Manny Ramirez

Why do compare with them?

They play with class and style

Monday, March 8, 2010

Potential Closer

It took just two batters, around twenty pitches, to unravel Twins closer Joe Nathan. Yes, the 35 year-old's elbow is finally starting to show it age. After coming off a phenomenal 2009, in which he saved a club record of forty-seven games, Nathan had surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow. The question now remains. Who should be the closer if Nathan's injury lingers? There are four in this running, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain , Pat Neshek , Matt Guerrier. I will explain in the following paragraphs why none of these fits the criteria for a good closer and who on the team does.

The most logical of the choice would be Jon Rauch. Rauch, 6'`11'' (tallest player in the history of the major leagues), is the only one on this list who has had closing experience. Rauch saved a total of twenty-two games while blowing six games. 78% saves % isn't bad, but it isn't good either.

Now let's look at Jesse Crain. The main reason Crain is this mix is because he drafted him. Crain has had his struggles, which he has battle through. Crain is one of those guys that had and still has a lot of potential but hasn't panned out as of yet. He is a great guy for short relief or even setup, but not closer material.

The most intriguing of this is Pat Neshek. This side-armed hurler has been the one of the most consistent guys you will find. He would fit perfectly into the closing roll. The problem with this, Neshek has been plagued with injuries. Neshek will likely start the year down in either Ft. Myers A or extended spring training, due to the weather factor. By the time Pat is ready, Nathan would most likely be ready to give it another try.

Our last option being considered is Matt Guerrier. Just like Crain, Matt is perfect for a short relief or setup roll. Matt IS the most consistent guy you can find. He sports a good ERA and feels very comfortable using his curveball. Matt doesn't like to over-power people with his stuff, which is his downfall. In a closer, you would like to see someone with power.

I think the player best fit for the closer roll is Francisco Liriano, who is currently in the rotation. When Liriano first came up, he thrived, posting a 12-3 record and a 2.13 ERA. Since, his career has been injury plagued and disappointing. Liriano has proven that he is better fit for the bullpen. Take a look at this stat- in his first fifteen pitches, Liriano's opponents bat .203 . That is a tremendous number! The rotation has depth, the bullpen needs a closer, all Minnesota needs is a championship.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Premier Podcast

Our premier show. Jack Steal from and Seth Stohs from . We have a new to radio blogger named Ben on as well. Joe Bronk will co-host with me. Dan Wade of will kick off the show! Be sure to get involved in the chat room or call in.

Call in Number: 1(646) 727-1345


We all know that the Mauer contract will get done; it's only a question of when. In this post I will speculate on some reasons why the contract is not yet signed.

The reason that most bloggers believe is deferred money. This is money paid after his career is over. For example, if the Mauer made twenty-two million per year, they might defer five million of that till after the contract is done. The Twins have been opposed to the idea. Normally players want their money up front, but not Mauer. Mauer has good people around him, who have showed Mauer how to get the best out of this deal. Mauer saves millions of dollars in income taxes, if he takes deferred money.

Another possible reason is because of the year when he is able to opt out of his contract. I hardly doubt that this is the case because why would Mauer want to leave his home, if he signs a long- term contract.

The most likely reason in my mind is that the Twins are having trouble getting insurance on Mauer's contract. With Catcher being the position that takes the most wear and tear and Mauer’s contract being the most lucrative in Twins history, it would make sense that there would be trouble finding an insurer.

If this is the biggest concern, I think that the Twins will sign Mauer. Mauer is the face of the franchise and it would hurt not only the Twins organization but also baseball if he goes to a team like Boston. The main reason Mauer would leave would to be to win a championship… the Mayor’s Cup.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Race for the 5th Ace

Now that Pitchers and Catchers have reported there is really only one question on the minds of many, who will be the fifth starter. With the first spring training game just one week away, the favorite appears to be Francisco Liriano.

Frankie has had a good offseason in Winter Ball and the hope is that he can return to the form which he had in 2006. Sadly, the fact of the matter is that this will NOT happen. To give Liriano a grade on how he has done in the Dominican League would be like giving a college student a grade on a high school assignment. The fact of the matter is, Liriano would struggle more with the Pittsburg Pirates lineup than the lineups he has been facing in the Dominican league. Liriano has been anything but clutch in his tenure with the Twins. Duensing has shown to be nothing but a clutch performer in his tenure with the Twins on the other hand. He pitched three gems in September which ultimately helped lead the Twins to the pennant.

Both Liriano and Duensing were available when the Twins were in need of wins but who answered the call? Duensing has been the better pitcher as of late and should be rewarded as such. It should be his job to lose. Yet Bill Smith and Gardy are going to give Liriano one (hopefully) more chance to perform. As Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Think about this quote for a second and ask yourself, does this quote apply to the way Gardy is running the pitching situation?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Future of the Outfield

Future of the Twins Outfield by Joe Bronk

Terry Ryan and now Bill Smith have grown accustomed to drafting and acquiring high upside outfielders in the past. This strategy has allowed the Twins to build their teams around players such as Kirby Puckett and Torii Hunter. Minnesota already has youth going into their third full year in Minnesota (Denard Span, 26 and Delmon Young, 24). The strategy as of late has created a surplus in the pipe line and will create a future debate of who will be manning the outfield in the newly built Target Field.

2010 Twins Outfield

Denard Span, Opening Day Age 26:
Denard Span played 145 games and was among some of the most consistent leadoff hitters in the game with a .311/.392/.415. The Twins traded Carlos Gomez raw physical tools and projection for Span’s consistency and ability to work the count and get on base for Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau at the top of the order. UZR indicates that Span is an average defensive outfielder and below average in center field however, I think this is one of those instances where you have to take what you see on the field versus the stat sheet. Span is a very good player ready to enter his prime this year or the next and should be in Minnesota for years to come.

Michael Cuddyer, Opening Day Age 31:
Michael Cuddyer had his best year in 2009 since his 2006 campaign where is seemed that he was going to establish himself as an elite run producers in the American League. Injuries and inconsistency left Twins fans frustrated however; Cuddyer seemed to find his bat in 2009 and had a career power year. Michael had to move to first base after the injury to Justin Morneau in the final month of the season, but racked up some of his best stat lines since 2006 after setting career highs in hits (162), home runs (32) and slugging percentage (.520). The Twins rewarded him after the season by picking up his option through 2011. So we now know that Cuddyer who will be 31 on opening day will be in a Twins uniform for the next two seasons. After that it will be a coin toss. It all depends on how the farm system develops. His defense is suspect, 2009 being the worst of his career with a -16.9 UZR rating. In my opinion he is a solid an important player to this team and will be a key component for the 2010 and 2011 seasons if Minnesota plans to go deep into the postseason.

Delmon Young Opening Day Age 24:
After being brought in to pretty much replace Torii Hunter, Delmon Young took a step back in 2009 again. His rookie year in 2007 with Tampa Bay set high hopes. However Young played 44 less games then he did in 2008. Young walked a disastrous 12 times last season but had September and October to remember. After September 1st Young hit .340 which helped drive the Twins into the playoffs. Although it was a major disappointment overall Delmon is still only 24 years old and after rumored that he has dropped over 25 pounds and there is reason to believe he is in place for a breakout year. Little fun fact, Delmon Young’s numbers are much better outside on grass (.309/.332/.451) versus indoors on turf (.264/.288/.405) in 2009. In the long term I think Delmon Young will be a piece of the Twins team. I expect the Twins to move him back to his natural position in right field in a couple years where he was actually pretty solid in the 2006 and 2007 seasons in Tampa Bay (UZR=7.3)

First Wave of Future Talent

Rene Tosoni, Opening Day Age 23, AAA Rochester:
Tosoni had a career year in the minors in 2009. He was invited to the Arizona Fall League, Easter League All Star, and was selected to the Futures Game where his game winning hit gave him the games Most Valuable Player award. He spent the entire year in AA New Britain where he hit .271/.360/.454. In 425 at bats Tosoni had a very impressive 15 home runs and 71 RBI. Basically this is what I think. Although Tosoni had a good year and is very likable with a career OPS of .827, their really isn’t much upside to what he has displayed now. He will be 23 this season and has yet to see a pitch in AAA. Delmon Young is 24 and has been in the majors for 3 and half years now. The Twins are loaded with left handed bats and Tosoni is a left handed hitter. He has played some center field but is predominately a right fielder. At best if he does well this year I can see him being called up as a 4th outfielder. For this to happen he will have to be put on the 40 man roster and someone like Luke Hughes or Alexi Casilla will have to be taken off which would be difficult. If I were the front office, I would consider using Tosoni as a trade chip along with some other young talent to bring in another bullpen arm or maybe a starter to strengthen a 2010 Twins playoff push.

Ben Revere, Opening Day Age 21, AA New Britain:
We all heard the negatives when Ben Revere was drafted in 2007. A 5 foot 9, 170 pound centerfielder taken in the first round when other scouts labeled him as a 3rd or 4th round talent. A draft that has already delivered major leaguers such as David Price, Matt Wieters, Ross Detwiler, Matt LaPorta, Madison Bumgarner, Jason Heyward, and Rick Porcello (who went one pick before Revere). So far it has benefited well for Minnesota considering they gave Revere a signing bonus of $750,000. Revere has done nothing but hit and rack up hardware everywhere he has gone. Revere has been an All Star in the Gulf Coast League, Midwest League, and the Florida State League. An MVP in Beloit where he hit .379, stole 44 bases and had 10 triples. Revere’s numbers fell off when he went to Fort Myers hitting .311/.372/.369. Although he had a negative ISO, which is very Nick Punto like, he still held his own getting on base in a very pitcher heavy league. I have no issue with Revere’s talent. I definitely think he can be a contributor on a major league team. But, maybe not this one unless the Twins get clever. In my opinion Revere is a little more then a year away from the majors. He will be 23 in 2011 but he will be blocked by Denard Span. Revere may have some better tools then Span (hitting is debatable, and speed) but Span is a more complete player. I have heard some rumors that Revere played some second base in high school and was pretty good one at that. If the Twins considered exploring this idea and taking a BJ Upton approach which is try him at 2nd base or shortstop for a while and if it doesn’t work then send him back to the outfield, it could work out for Ben and Minnesota in the long run. If not again he might have to be a trade chip to bring in a high profile pitcher. Maybe he could be used to spark a deal to rent Brandon Webb from Arizona to make a run at the World Series and take some pressure off guys like Scott Baker.

Wave 2: Little Far Off and Much Work To Do

Chris Parmelee, Opening Day Age 22 AA New Britain:
Chris Parmelee was selected 20th overall in the 2006 draft. Like fellow ’06 high school bats Bill Rowell and Chris Marero, Parmelee has developed very slowly. When looking back he was picked ahead of guys like Ian Kennedy, Hank Conger, Daniel Bard, 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, Chris Perez and Joba Chamerblin. A lot of comparisons have been drawn to slugger Adam Dunn, however Dunn was a career .304 hitter in the minors and had a .950 OPS. Parmelee has a career OPS under .800. In reality Parmelee is more like Jack Cust. He took some steps forward having his best full season with 16 home runs and 73 RBI in a pitcher friendly Florida State League. There is still optimism to think that Parmelee’s bat can take big strides in AA ball but we will have to wait and see. Parmelee was drafted as an outfielder but is about as bad as it gets defensively. Which means even if his bat does come around it will be blocked by Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. This is a make or break year for Parmelee. I think Chris will show more power this year now that he is finally out of the Midwest and Florida State Leagues, so 20 plus home runs are definitely a probability, however he has show more plate discipline and raise his average to be considered an upper echelon prospect again. Most likely Parmelee will spend all of 2010 in New Britain at the age of 22 and the Twins will evaluate his future in the off-season.

Joe Benson, Opening Day Age 22, A+ Fort Myers or AA New Britain:
Joe Benson has been looked at very highly for his projection over the years. 2008 Baseball America saw Benson as the number 2 prospect in the system behind Nick Blackburn. Benson has been plagued by injuries over the years, most recent a broken hand suffered after punching a wall. He only played 80 games for the Miracle in 2009 which leaves reason to believe that there is a chance he will repeat the level and get a promotion sometime in June or July. I could be wrong but the Twins have been known for giving prospects the proper amount of playing time at each level before giving them a new test. Benson’s stat line in 2009 was the best it has ever been (.285/.414/.403). Benson showed great plate discipline as well as speed on the base paths (14/21 in steals). Like Revere and Parmelee, I believe that the Florida State League played a part in the lack of slugging power shown in 2009. In a perfect world Benson would actually start the year in AA and do very well by working the count, getting on base and showing solid power. Benson can play all 3 outfield positions which gives him an advantage over the other three players listed above. I expect Benson to remain with the Twins for the future. At best he will be an everyday left or right fielder with solid all around tools resembling J.D. Drew.

Wave 3: High Ceiling Guys

Aaron Hicks, Opening Day Age 20, A Beloit or A+ Fort Myers:
The 14th overall selection in 2008, Hicks has been the top prospect in the system for the past 2 years, and will probably be labeled as that until he is major league ready sometime in 2012. Aaron has already been labeled as the best prospect the Twins have ever had since Joe Mauer which is a huge burden to put on a kid at his age. Hicks we all know is a prototypical 5 tool talent with high upside. At the age of 19, Hicks already showed great plate discipline in 2009 with a 40/55 BB/K ratio. After dominating the GCL his rookie year, Hicks showed some normal struggles in Beloit which leaves reason to believe he will at least start out there in 2010. Hicks’ projections have been very high with names such as Darryl Strawberry, Carlos Beltran, BJ Upton, and Grady Sizemore being labeled as comparables. Out of all the names I have dropped in this article, Hicks is the only one that will not be blocked anywhere he goes. Hicks will be a guy who can bat anywhere in the order. If he leads off, he will get on base, hit for average, steal bases, show power and score runs. If he bats third he will do all those things plus drive in runs and so on. He can play all three outfield positions with gold glove capability. The possibilities with this guy are endless which will make him very exciting to watch in the future. I will feel very comfortable if Michael Cuddyer hands over his number 5 jersey to Aaron Hicks in 2012.

Angel Morales, Opening Day Age 20, A+ Fort Myers:
Morales, a 3rd round pick in the same draft that may end up being one of the better Twins drafts in the past decade (Ben Revere). After raking up the Appalachian League in 2008 (.301/.413/.613) the Twins had very high hopes for the 19 year old in his first season of pro ball. Unfortunately, Morales got off to a dreadful start, hitting well below .200 and striking out a ton. Morales ended the season on a tear and finished with rather respectful stats and hit 13 home runs and stole 19 bags. Morales low contact rate makes me hope that he does not end up turning into Delmon Young or Jeff Francour, but he is so young that it is too far away to actually think of the negative of him. Morales will spend all of 2010 in high A Fort Myers where he will face his greatest challenge yet which are huge parks and great pitching. Twins fans are drooling at the chance that Angel Morales and Aaron Hicks both hit their ceilings and play together at every level and then form one of the most exciting outfield tandems the American League has seen in years.

After 2011….
So after the 2011 season a few things are going to be known. Former first round picks such as Chris Parmelee, Ben Revere, and Aaron Hicks are going to be ready for the major leagues. Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano will both be celebrating their 19th birthdays! Michael Cuddyer who will be 33, will be a free agent and most likely not brought back. Delmon Young will enter his 3rd year of arbitration and Denard Span will enter his second. There are going to be a lot of questions between now and then, but this is a good problem to have and an exciting one to watch develop.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To Sign or Not to Sign

After a first round exit, most Twins fans felt this would be like any other year. Like normal, extremely quiet but maybe pick up an old washed-up player as we had before in Rondell White or Tony Bastista. Well not this year Twins fans! Just two days after the World Series ended the Twins made a move to shore up their infield by trading outfielder Carlos Gomez to Milwaukee for shortstop J.J. Hardy. Hardy, who was an All Star in 2007 and had All Star-like numbers in 2008, struggled in 2009 and was sent down to Triple-A Nashville. The Twins hopes and expectations are that Hardy can return to the All Star form he had in years past. Later on the off season, the Twins signed both Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson to one-year deals. What could better cap off an already outstanding off season better than signing the hometown hero Joe Mauer to a legacy contract? Wrong! I believe that the Twins should not sign Mauer to a long term deal.

The Rangers are probably the best example of why NOT to sign a star player to a large contract. In 2000, the Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to ten year deal worth two-hundred and fifty two million dollars, which at the time was the most lucrative contract in baseball history. Just like Rodriguez, Mauer is a big-time player who is the face of the franchise. I'm not saying that Mauer will leave Minnesota if he does sign long term but I am saying that this could backfire.

We all know that catcher is the position which takes the most wear and tear. So why would you sign a player to a long term contract, even if he is the best in all of baseball?

As in the real world, people (owners in this case) like to protect their investments. Whether it be changing the fuel in your car or putting anti-virus software on your computer, people do their best to see they get their money’s worth. The same is true in baseball. Instead of throwing two-hundred million dollars at a potential risk the Twins need to protect their investment. Therefore, I believe the Twins should not sign Mauer long term if they do not intend on keeping Wilson Ramos in the Twins system.

Think of it this way, when Mauer catches Ramos can DH, and when Ramos catches Mauer can DH. This can prolong both careers and protect the investment we would put in both Mauer and Ramos. By starting Ramos, the Twins lose nothing defensively or offensively to Mauer. This is like killing two birds with one stone, which is the most efficient method.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The search for Third- A belated Nick Punto Day Post

Going into Spring Training, one of the key stories to watch for the Minnesota Twins is the situation at third. The Twins have taken a look at many third basemen throughout the offseason, most notably Joe Crede and Kevin Kouzmanoff.

As Spring Training approaches, Gardy seems to have become accustomed to the idea of a platoon between Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla at third. This season, the Twins move into their new ballpark and with a new ballpark the revenue generated has increased. The Twins payroll has skyrocket from 65 million last year to an astonishing 95 million this year. The expectations of a World Series appearance has grown tremendously.Looking back at the last five years, 4 of 5 World Series winners (exception is the 2009 Phillies with Pedro Feliz) have had power-hitting third basemen. The current platoon hit a combined 3 home runs in 2009. In order to improve the shortcomings of the hot corner, I believe that Gardy should look at giving Cuddyer some time at third this spring training.

Now let's look at the potential lineup if this were to happen.

CF Span
2B Hudson
C Mauer
1B Morneau
LF Kubel
3B Cuddyer
DH Thome
RF Young
SS Hardy

This move would allow the Twins to add some power in the lineup in Thome and move Young back to his true position in RF.
Cuddyer with his stellar arm and above-par range would make for the third basemen we have been looking for since the departure of Koskie in 2004.
As I said, this is just Spring Training and if Cuddyer does not produce as he should be producing we can go with the option of the platoon but I feel that this move could open up a new future for the Twins.

Feel Free to comment away!