June 10, 2004

Welcome Back Johan

Yesterday was another long day at the hospital and today will be one too. Yesterday was so long that I was there for lunch and dinner, saw multiple nursing shift changes, and missed the entire Twins game. When I finally got home though, I had this waiting for me:

 IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR     PIT

7.0 6 1 1 0 10 1 113

It's nice to have you back, Johan. If you don't mind me asking, where the hell have you been? The season started in April, just in case you were wondering. It's now June. Anyway, what's done is done. I won't bring up those first dozen starts if you keep doing that for the next few months. Although, I will say that it would have been nice of you to pitch your first great game of the season when I could have actually watched it ...

I was sitting in my grandpa's hospital room and my uncle came in and reported to me that the Twins were winning 5-1 in the 7th inning. "Santana gave up a solo homer," he said.

To which I of course asked, "Who hit it?"

He looked at me, paused for a moment, and replied, "Is it possible that it was Gerald Williams?"

I have to say, it was the first time I've ever been asked that question. I told him no, because as far as I knew, Gerald Williams' major league career was no more.

Turns out, Gerald Williams, who turns 38 in August and hasn't been a productive player since 1999 or 2000 (depending on how charitable you want to be with the word "productive"), played his first game of the season last night and did, in fact, take my main man Johan deep. If that weren't the only run he gave up in seven innings, that's the sort of thing that Johan might get a little grief about.

Each day, when I get to the hospital, my grandpa asks, "How's Mauer doing?"

For the first few days he asked that, my answer wasn't all that good. I am looking forward to him asking today though, because Joe went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles to snap out of a 1-for-14 slump since coming back from knee surgery. He's now got his batting average up to .286 and he's also sporting a gorgeous .375 on-base percentage and equally beautiful .525 slugging percentage.

As I was finally leaving the hospital a middle-aged woman stopped me in the hallway and, noticing my ever-present Twins hat, asked, "Are the Twins winning?"

"They were up 5-1 in the seventh ... I'm not sure if they won."

"That's good, but more importantly, is Santana still in?"

For some reason that little exchange made me feel good on the ride home.

On a sadder note, I see that a stint on the disabled list and some nice play by Michael Cuddyer couldn't keep Luis Rivas away from second base. Rivas is like a cockroach. You can hurt him, you can put him on the DL, you can give him at-bats so he can continue to show how awful he is offensively and you can keep hitting ground balls to him so he can turn them into singles, but he just won't go away.

Cuddyer finds himself on the bench, yet again. At least they let Justin Morneau actually play, albeit in Rochester, New York. Cuddyer was perhaps the most productive hitter the Twins had in May, which is both damning with faint praise and completely true. He hit .241/.327/.470 with four homers, five doubles and 13 RBIs in 83 at-bats. And before Rivas came back, Cuddyer was hitting .333 with a .458 slugging percentage in June.

Of course, just when he started to hit, the Twins stick him right back on the bench, so he can not play for days at a time and atrophy. They'll probably give him another "chance" in the outfield or at second base or something later in the year, and then they'll complain when he doesn't immediately hit .320 with power, and bench him after a week.

I think the thing to keep in mind as the Twins jerk various good players like Cuddyer and Morneau around time after time, is that Luis Rivas now has 1,529 at-bats at the major league level, despite multiple trips to the disabled list and a career hitting line of .260/.308/.374. 1,529 at-bats. Think about that the next time you wonder why they can't find a place for Cuddyer to play or why Justin Morneau was rewarded with a total of 24 at-bats for his continued bashing of minor-league pitching.

Today's picks:

Colorado (Jennings) +200 over New York (Contreras)

San Diego (Valdes) +235 over Boston (Schilling)

Arizona (Fossum) +140 over Baltimore (Cabrera)

Florida (Pavano) -120 over Cleveland (Davis)

Minnesota (Lohse) -110 over New York (Ginter)

Chicago (Schoeneweis) -105 over Philadelphia (Myers)

Total to date: -$1,960

W/L record: 86-115 (2-4 yesterday for -225. Yeah, I stink. So what?!)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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