July 25, 2005
Notes From the Weekend
Five games in four days against the same team, and plenty to talk about ...
IP H R ER BB SO HR PIT
7.0 5 2 2 1 5 0 84
He showed good velocity with his fastball and threw strikes, building on a very solid first outing earlier this month. If the rumors about the Twins shopping Kyle Lohse and/or Joe Mays have any truth to them whatsoever, Baker's start Saturday (and rough outings from Mays Friday and Lohse Sunday) had to have given Terry Ryan more confidence to pull the trigger.
IP H R ER BB SO HR PIT
1.2 7 4 4 0 0 0 26
Facing a doubleheader Saturday, the Twins really could have used a long relief outing from Mulholland after Mays was knocked out early. Instead, he gave up seven hits and four runs while recording five outs, and the team ended up using Jesse Crain and J.C. Romero for 19 pitches each to finish the blowout loss.
Mulholland supposedly has two qualities that are assets to a team. One is his literal ability to "pitch every day." I've discussed the silliness behind Mulholland's "rubber arm" numerous times in the past and it was on display this weekend, as he pitched both Thursday and Friday and got knocked around both times. His other alleged ability is eating innings as a mop-up man to save the bullpen, which he failed miserably at Friday.
Neither outing led to the Twins losing a game, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the Twins would be better off using his spot in the bullpen on someone who actually has a chance to get big-league hitters out, now or in the future. After going 5-9 with a 5.18 ERA in 123.1 innings for the Twins last season, Mulholland is 0-2 with a 5.49 ERA in 39.1 innings this year. In addition to the poor ERA, he has just nine strikeouts compared to 11 walks, and opponents are batting .293/.341/.497 against him.
If he can't pitch effectively two days in a row and he can't eat up innings after a starter leaves early, what use does he have to a team desperately clinging to a playoff spot? There is no doubt in my mind that the Twins would be better off with Baker as their long reliever down the stretch or with Travis Bowyer in a middle-relief role and Matt Guerrier sliding back into long relief.
Ron Gardenhire made several comments over the last few days about needing to "protect" Morneau and not wanting to "drive him nuts." That makes plenty of sense in theory, of course, but everyone in the organization was perfectly willing to speculate about demoting him to the minors to anyone who would listen for the past week. Seems counter-productive, at best.
What incentive do opposing pitchers have to throw Morneau strikes when Castro is lurking in the on-deck circle? And what good does it do to put a struggling young hitter in a position where he is unlikely to see a lot of hittable pitches? If you're curious, Morneau has hit .262 with a .328 slugging percentage in the seventh and eighth spots, compared to .245 with a .486 slugging percentage everywhere else.
G AVG OBP SLG BB XBH
Bret Boone 10 .195 .233 .195 1 0
Luis Rivas 48 .250 .293 .287 6 3
The Twins are aware that their second basemen are allowed to draw walks and get hits that aren't singles, right?
And yet Dick Bremer, Bert Blyleven, and all the print guys talk about Stewart as if he's been great this year. I just don't get it. Oh, and I realize this horse has been dead a while already and I have long since admitted total defeat, but:
2005 STATS AVG OBP SLG OPS SALARY
Shannon Stewart .287 .337 .411 .748 $6,000,000
Bobby Kielty .281 .376 .411 .787 $875,000
G AVG OBP SLG BB SO SB
Joe Mauer 77 .311 .385 .443 34 41 7
Toss in an arm that has gunned down 36.6% of attempted base stealers and the argument could be made that he has been the best catcher in baseball so far this season. And he turns 23 in about nine months.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Lost in the Numbers (by Aaron Gleeman)