May 11, 2003
Now, that's a good weekend
Geez, where do I start?
Very late Thursday night/early Friday morning (like around 12:30 am), I suddenly got bombarded with emails. They were flying into my mailbox left and right and I was also getting "instant messaged" by just about everyone on my "buddy list." The basic topic of all of them was: "Holy s---! You got mentioned in a Jayson Stark article on ESPN.com!"
And sure enough, I did...
A.J. Burnett's visit to his local Tommy John surgeon is a painful situation for the Marlins in more ways than one.
It's undeniable that Burnett's pitch counts were higher than any young starter in the big leagues. As Will Carroll, of Baseball Prospectus, and Aaron Gleeman, of Aaron's Baseball Blog, have meticulously documented, Burnett threw 110 pitches or more in nearly two-thirds of his starts last year (63 percent) and 120 or more in over a third of them (37 percent)."
Holy s--- indeed!
There are so many wonderful things contained in that little quote. First of all, I got my name on ESPN.com! ESPN.com has a "site search" function that allows someone to search out all content on the website about a particular person or phrase. For example, if you type in "Barry Bonds" you get a list of articles that Bonds' name appears in. And now, if you type in "Aaron Gleeman," you get a list of all the article(s) that my name appears in. Seriously, how cool is that?!
If you want to see what the results of the "Aaron Gleeman" search on ESPN.com look like, click on the following link:
Beyond having my name in lights, so to speak, I now know that Jayson Stark is a visitor to this blog. Not only is he a visitor, he is a visitor willing to admit it. And you know what they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery...
So, I've been mentioned on ESPN.com and Jayson Stark reads my stuff. In addition to that, the mention serves as a semi-plug for this blog. Why only "semi"?
Well, while Jayson did (graciously) mention my name and the name of the website, he didn't give the actual address of the website (www.baseballblog.blogspot.com) and he didn't provide an actual "link" to the site, so that people could click on it and be directed here. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. Anytime Jayson Stark or anyone else wants to mention me and this site I will be incredibly excited and tremendously greatful. That said, an actual link probably would have meant thousands and thousands of new visitors for this blog, which would have been nice too.
As it is, people that read Stark's column and were interested in coming here had to go to Yahoo or Google and search for "Aaron Gleeman" or "Aaron's Baseball Blog," which is frankly more work than most people surfing the web want to go through to find a new website.
So, I went to bed Thursday night a happy blogger. My head was nice and bloated as a result of my new found fame and I just felt really good to have been noticed by someone like Jayson Stark.
On Friday afternoon my dad and I moved all my crap out of the dorm and back into my house. It took us two trips and a stop for lunch at a Chinese buffet, but we eventually got everything out of the little 10x12 cell I've been calling my "room" for the past 2 years. Unfortunately, I think I used up all of my "moving" and "packing" motivation just getting the stuff from the dorm to my house, because, as I type this, pretty much everything I own is sitting on the floor of my room. This is a development that my dog seems to enjoy a whole lot more than my mom.
Friday evening, the Twins played the Red Sox, at the Metrodome. I had been thinking about going to the game, because it featured just about the best possible pitching matchup I could ever ask for: Johan vs. Pedro.
But, after hours and hours of moving, I was really tired and exhausted, plus my dad didn't really seem into going to the game, even when I mentioned it to him before we started the move. Turns out, I would have loved it if I had gone.
Johan Santana, who was making his first start of the year in place of an injured Rick Reed, was obviously on some sort of a short pitch-count, but he pitched 5 scoreless innings against one of the best lineups in baseball and then turned it over to the magnificent bullpen-trio of LaTroy, J.C. and Eddie, who combined to pitch 4 scoreless innings of their own.
And the Twins offense wasn't too bad either. They pretty much knocked around Pedro Martinez, which is especially impressive considering how he utterly dominated them just a week or so ago in Boston. Rookie and recent call-up Todd Sears started at DH and hit his first career homer, a 3-run shot off Pedro in the 2nd inning. He went 2-4 on the night and drove in 4 runs, as the Twins won 5-0.
The immergence of Sears further complicates the Twins' DH/1B/RF situation, which is definitely something that didn't seem possible, with seemingly dozens of qualified hitters already fighting for playing time. Denny Hocking came off the DL this weekend and the Twins decided to send Michael Cuddyer, not Sears, down to Triple-A to make room for their utility infielder.
Hocking is a useful player and has been in the Minnesota organization for a very long time, but I think his presence on the team is making things more difficult than they need to be. The Twins also have Chris Gomez as a capable backup infielder, so why do they need to keep Hocking and Gomez, when it means sending down a good, young hitter like Cuddyer? Heck, if you feel the need to send someone down to make room for Hocking, send Luis "Oh-For-Three-Vas" down. He's hitting .215, making bad plays on defense and throwing up in the dugout.
It appears as though Sears has won a spot on the roster for the time being, which is actually a good thing in my opinion. He gives the Twins a good left-handed bat, whether as a starter or off the bench, and that is something they have been lacking. With Doug Mientkiewicz slumping and Sears playing well, I wouldn't be opposed to Sears taking quite a few of Doug's at bats at first base either. The one thing I am worried about with Sears is that he is going to start costing Bobby Kielty playing time.
If Ron Gardenhire continues to stick with Mientkiewicz at 1B (and he has said he will), that means Sears has to play DH if he's in the lineup. And, if Sears is at DH, that leaves only right field for Dustan Mohr and Kielty to fight over. Mohr got off to a horrible start this year, but has really started to hit well of late. He's an excellent backup outfielder in my opinion. Of course, in my opinion, Bobby Kielty is a player that deserves to play everyday, so you can see where there might be some problems in right field.
Mohr has been hitting the ball extremely well lately and Gardenhire has been saying the same sort of stuff about him that he was saying about Kielty a couple weeks ago. Stuff like "I am going to have to find ways to get him into the lineup" and that sort of thing. Sending Cuddyer down to Triple-A eases a little bit of stress from the RF-situation, but Sears is complicating the DH-situation, which is where Kielty has been getting the bulk of his playing time lately.
In their year and some change with the Twins, both Kielty and Mohr have accumulated approximately a "full-season's" worth of playing time.
Mohr has 550 career plate appearances and Kielty has 577.
Here are their stats:
Player PA AVG OBP SLG HR 2B 3B BB SO
Kielty 577 .283 .381 .470 19 28 3 75 112
Mohr 550 .268 .319 .427 16 29 2 38 125
Like I said, I think Dustan Mohr is a nice player to have and would make an excellent backup outfielder or even a decent starting outfielder on a poor team. However, he's not the hitter Bobby Kielty is, and I am just hoping that Ron Gardenhire doesn't fall back into the trap of not playing Kielty everyday.
Further complicating Kielty's situation is that he was injured in Saturday's game when he pulled a muscle in his rib-cage and left the ballgame early. From what I've heard, he is "day-to-day" and should be back soon, but when there is such a dog fight for playing time going on, you can't afford to miss time with injuries when your manager already has it in his mind that you might not be suited for an everyday role. We'll see what happens, I guess.
I am worried that Kielty is going to lose his starting job after only a couple of weeks, a job that took him over a year to "earn." But maybe that's just the pessimist in me...
So, with visions of Santana and Sears dancing in my head, in my own bed and with my dog sleeping at my feet, I went to bed Friday night and then woke up Saturday morning (the college-student definition of "morning," meaning "11:30 am"), had some breakfast (lunch) and flipped on DirecTV (did I mention how happy am I to be home?). After a few clicks of the remote, I was listening to Vin Scully and watching Javier Vazquez against Darren Dreifort. In other words, I was in heaven.
I would listen to Vin Scully talk about pretty much anything in the world. His voice just hits something inside of me, like it does in many other people, and he puts me into a sort of "zone" for watching baseball - where everything is peaceful and relaxing, and the game is incredibly enjoyable. Since getting DirecTV and MLB Extra Innings a couple of years ago, I have gotten into some definite patterns for watching certain teams.
First and foremost, I never miss a Twins game when it's on. Beyond that, I generally catch a lot of the Yankees, A's, Mariners, Red Sox and Giants, in part because they are good teams and in part because I like their announcers. Then there are the Dodgers, whom I have no real attachment to and whom I don't find particularly exciting or interesting to watch. However, whenever I get a chance, I make sure to watch Dodgers games, simply because Vin Scully makes any team interesting and every game exciting.
After watching the Dodgers/Expos game, I found out that this blog was mentioned in another place!
This mention came in the "New York Sun" newspaper, which, I must admit, I had not heard of prior to this weekend. According to NYSun.com, the New York Sun is a new daily newspaper in New York and is a "fast-growing metropolitan daily," with "an average daily paid circulation of 26,263." Here's what the New York Sun had to say about me and this website:
"For anyone who’s interested in reading some good baseball writing, I’d like to recommend a couple of smaller Web sites. The first, Aaron’s Baseball Blog (baseballblog.blogspot.com), is run by Aaron Gleeman, a Twins fan at the University of Minnesota who spends far, far too much time doing things like analyzing the roster of the 1976 Oakland A’s and relating their pitcher-usage patterns to today’s game. He keeps up on everything that goes on around the majors and shows how well one man can do at covering the entire game day in and day out."
Well, golly, I think I'm blushing!
With my head rapidly swelling and an already great weekend in progress, I got a very special bonus: Jeff Torborg got fired.
In case you are new to this blog or haven't really been paying attention, I am not a real big Jeff Torborg fan.
While the "damage" has already been done in the case of A.J. Burnett, I am glad that Torborg is out of a job, if for no other reason than he does not deserve to be called a "Major League Manager" any longer (if he ever did).
I am pretty much burned out in regard to discussing the whole Burnett/Marlins/Torborg situation, so I am sorry that I don't have anything more interesting to add to Torborg's firing. I am happy he is out of a job and he certainly deserves what he got, and a lot more. I just hope some network doesn't hire him to announce games, because I don't think I could handle that.
After hearing the Torborg news, I went to bed Saturday night, with a smile going from ear-to-ear.
Then I woke up Sunday morning (again, the "noon" morning) and went to a nice Mother's Day lunch at my grandparents' house. It was a lot of fun. We had a little lunch, made a few jokes, watched the Spurs/Lakers playoff game, played some cards and basically just had a good time. After that, I went home and watched my Twinkies square off against the Red Sox in the final game of their series - on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. It is always interesting to me to hear other teams' announcers broadcast Twins games, because I have a certain perspective of the Twins and their players and it is interesting to hear what other people think of them. Plus, the announcers I usually listen to, Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven, are generally "homers" and, while I don't mind that, it can be enjoyable to listen to a more "objective" broadcast sometimes.
Say what you want about Joe Morgan (and believe me, I do), but he still does a nice job on TV, and Jon Miller is one of my favorite announcers. Plus, it was a hell of a game!
The Twins jumped on Derek Lowe early and often and jumped out to an 8-0 lead after only 4 innings, at which point Lowe was yanked. After 5 innings they were up 9-1. Then the Boston bats started to come alive. They scored a run in the 6th, 3 in the seventh, a run in the 8th and then 2 in the 9th - at which point I found myself watching a 9-8 game that was suddenly anything but an easy win for the Twins.
Down 9-8 with 2 outs in the 9th inning, the Red Sox had 2 runners on base and Bill Mueller at the plate. Mueller fell behind 0-2, but managed to work the count full against Eddie Guardado and, on the 8th pitch of the at bat, hit a routine ground ball to Cristian Guzman at shortstop. Of course, Guzman occasionally has problems with even the most routine throws and, sure enough, his toss over to Mientkiewicz sailed up the line and Doug had to do a full out, on his stomach, belly-flop stretch for the final out of the game.
Not exactly the way I envisioned the game ending as I was watching the Twins score their 8th straight run to begin the game, but a win is a win and I'll definitely take it. The Twins are now done playing the Red Sox, done playing the Yankees and done playing the Blue Jays, which is all very good news. Of course, they are all done playing the Devil Rays too.
Here is what their record for the year looks like against those four teams from the AL East:
vs New York - 0-6
vs Boston - 4-2
vs Toronto - 3-3
vs Tampa Bay - 6-0
TOTAL - 13-11 (.542)
If you would have told me I could have a 13-11 record against those four teams this year, I would definitely have taken it. It would have been nice if they weren't oh-for-New York, but a .542 winning percentage is great and, assuming they can win at least a game or two against Baltimore, the Twins will have a better record against the AL East than they did last season (and the divisision in much improved this year, in my opinion).
The next stretch of games for Minnesota is extremely important. They have 4 games against Kansas City, followed by 3 against the White Sox - all at home. If they can play well in those 7 games, they should be in first place at the end of the homestand. Of course, that is when it starts to get ugly. Following the 7-game homestand against Chicago and KC, the Twins play their next 15 games against Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco, with 9 of the 15 games on the road. Those 3 teams combined to win 291 games last year and are 71-39 (.645) thus far this season.
If the Twins can somehow manage to have a .500 record for the next 22 games, I think they will run away with the division, just like they did last year. But a .500 record against the White Sox, the Royals and 3 of the best teams in baseball is a whole lot easier said than done.
1 move back home
1 Mother's Day lunch with my family
2 mentions in a major media outlet
2 wins by the Twins against the Red Sox
1 fired Torborg
Not bad, huh?
Kansas City (Affeldt) +140 over Minnesota (Mays)
Total to date: + $1,450
W/L record: 78-72 (3-3 yesterday for +15, with one rainout)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****