June 6, 2005

Twins Notes

Some notes after an off day ...

  • Seth Greisinger, who logged 51 innings for the Twins last season, was recently called up by the Braves. I am such a big believer in Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone that I assume nearly every journeyman pitcher who works with him will turn into a useful player, but even I'm not willing to buy into Mazzone's magic working in this case.

    Greisinger was painful to watch last season. I realize that's easy to say about a guy who got knocked around to the tune of .319/.366/.563, but he simply didn't have anything in his repertoire that had any chance of getting big-league hitters out. With that said, Greisinger avoided disaster in his first start for the Braves, going five innings while giving up two runs on seven hits Sunday night.

  • John Bonnes recently had some kind words for the Minneapolis Star Tribune's baseball coverage, and I have to agree with him. I read the baseball coverage in every major newspaper in the country for my Rotoworld gig, and the Star Tribune's is well above average. I've enjoyed reading the new guy, Joe Christensen, and I obviously think highly of La Velle E. Neal (which is why he's the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com).

    I've said here a few times that I'm not the world's biggest fan of either Jim Souhan or Patrick Reusse, but they certainly each have their moments. And just generally speaking, the level of coverage the paper gives the Twins on an everyday basis is impressive. Not as impressive as the extraordinary level of coverage the team gets from its immense blogosphere, of course, but that's a tough standard.

  • Speaking of the Star Tribune, La Velle had an interesting note about a potential trade the other day:
    The Twins recently had preliminary discussions with Philadelphia concerning second baseman Placido Polanco, who is batting .295 and is scheduled to make $4.6 million this season. Those discussions never developed because the Phillies requested players such as reliever Jesse Crain and top pitching prospects Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano in return.

    Placido Polanco is a personal favorite of mine, and I even called him "the best available free agent second baseman this offseason" back in November. That may sound like some major hyperbole considering how well Jeff Kent has done so far in Los Angeles, but at the very least Polanco would be a perfect fit with the Twins. He plays great defense at nearly every position, hits for a high batting average, gets on base, and has very good speed.

    With all that said, there is no way I would ever give up a prospect like Jesse Crain, Francisco Liriano or Scott Baker in a package centering on Polanco. Crain has been a stud so far out of the bullpen, and Baker and Liriano represent what will hopefully be 40% of the Twins' rotation in a couple years. Polanco, while a very good player at a position the Twins have a need at, is very expensive and not likely to stick around past this season. Thankfully this is the sort of trade Terry Ryan tends not to make.

  • I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but the Twins currently rank 17th in baseball with an average of 26,425 fans per home game. A lot of people like to criticize Twins fans for not showing up in larger numbers, but the fact is that the team plays in a piece of junk, indoor ballpark and resides in a relatively small market. This is one of those issues I find myself arguing with someone about on a regular basis.

    The Twins are outdrawing teams with new (or at least relatively new) ballparks in Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Arizona, and Colorado. Plus, they are outdrawing teams in larger markets like Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, and Miami. Take the stupid roof off the ballpark and there is no doubt in my mind that the Twins would rank among the top dozen or so in attendance every year.

  • Don't get too excited about Glenn Williams, the guy the Twins called up to replace Terry Tiffee on the roster Sunday night. While Tiffee has struggled mightily this year and Williams was hitting over .300 at Triple-A, they are essentially the same player. Consider how Tiffee's numbers at Rochester over the last two seasons compare to Williams' numbers there this year:
                 AVG      OBP      SLG     IsoD     IsoP
    Tiffee .301 .344 .516 .043 .215
    Williams .302 .337 .453 .035 .141

    Tiffee has a little more power and doesn't strike out as much (which is an interesting combination), but they both struggle to draw walks at an acceptable rate and neither of them has great power. As I've always said with Tiffee, unless you think he's going to be able to keep hitting .300 in the majors, he's just not going to be useful as an everyday player. The same applies to Williams, who like Tiffee is a switch-hitter.

    Of course, the Twins aren't really asking Tiffee or Williams to be everyday players. So maybe Williams is better suited for a job off the bench, especially considering he has a little more defensive versatility. I still think Tiffee is pretty close a perfect backup corner infielder if the Twins would show a little more patience with him.

  • In the "I'll believe it when I see it" category, the Twins have apparently talked about playing Jacque Jones at first base if Justin Morneau is still out of the lineup during interleague play. Here's what Ron Gardenhire told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com:
    I'm not afraid to do that at all. If we don't have Morneau, and four outfielders all swinging good ... you try to find a way to get them all in.

    I'm not sure why exactly, but Jones doesn't strike me as the sort of player who would be a good defensive first baseman. Of course, neither do Torii Hunter, Shannon Stewart or Lew Ford. No one can be much worse than Matthew LeCroy has been this month, I suppose.

  • I haven't paid enough attention to college baseball this year to really comment intelligently on the Twins' draft plans today, so instead I will just leave you with Baseball America's projection:
    25. Twins: Brian Bogusevic, lhp/of, Tulane U.

    The Twins were zeroing in on Snyder the weekend before the draft, but then his stock took a late jump above their reach. Crowe, Volstad and Henry also are on Minnesota's wish list and expected to be long gone. Bogusevic, a two-way talent whom most teams prefer as a three-pitch lefty, is a nice value at No. 25, however. If he's not available, the Twins likely would opt for Roe.

    Personally, I would love to see them go after a college middle infielder who is close to being major-league ready, in the mold of guys like Khalil Greene, Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia, Russ Adams, and Omar Quintanilla. I'm just not sure the Twins would ever look for such a thing. (Troy Tulowitzki, Cliff Pennington, Tyler Greene, and Craig Burley's favorite, Jed Lowrie, would all fit the profile.)

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Freaky Pitching Leaderboards (by Studes)
    - Finding Flaws: NL East (by Ben Jacobs)
    - Hardball Questions: Mike Pelfrey (by Matthew Namee)

    Today's Picks (46-40, +$445):
    Oakland (Zito) -105 over Washington (Armas)
    Chicago (Contreras) -130 over Colorado (Kim)


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