Notes From a Snowed Out Weekend
Anne "Bat-Girl" Ursu got some major mainstream media love from the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the weekend. Twins beat writer Jason Williams (not to be confused with the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal) wrote a very nice, lengthy piece about her hugely popular blog yesterday. If ever you needed proof that people enjoy a good Lego reenactment or Twins musical over some guy complaining about Luis Rivas, consider the fact that Bat-Girl.com "has received an average of 50,000 page hits per day this month," which dwarfs this blog's measly weekly totals.
Meanwhile, Neal (who has yet to write an article about Yours Truly despite constant butt-kissing on my behalf) penned a very good article about Justin Morneau's return from an early season beaning. Neal's piece discusses Morneau's injury history, the Twins' history of players being beaned, and what Morneau might expect now that he's back. It's a good read. Morneau, of course, returned to the Twins' lineup Friday with a homer and a double against the Tigers.
What someone actually said to me this weekend, after the Twins-Tigers game was snowed out Saturday: "I bet they wish they had a dome in Detroit."
I'm a little fed up with Ron Gardenhire turning to Terry Mulholland in close games. He brought Mulholland in with a one-run lead last week against Cleveland and the move nearly backfired. Then Mulholland came into a tie game against Detroit Friday and the move did backfire. Mulholland is not a good pitcher at this point, but he is at least relatively serviceable pitching long relief in low-leverage situations out of the bullpen. What I don't understand is why he is suddenly being used in such crucial spots.
Pretend for a moment that we lived in a world where Mulholland didn't have some sort of strange "free pass" for being really old and having a "rubber arm." Would any other pitcher who had a 5.18 ERA last season and hasn't had an ERA better than league average since 1999 be asked to pitch multiple innings in a tie or one-run game unless the team had run out of other options? Of course not. I just don't get it.
Here's a disturbing little tidbit: Mulholland has thrown more innings out of the bullpen this season than Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, J.C. Romero, and Jesse Crain. He has also allowed three times as many earned runs as those four guys ... combined. Something just isn't right about that. Oh, and the last three paragraphs you just read are exactly why Bat-Girl's blog has a thriving community of cheerful, exuberant Twins fans, while I just have a few thousand of you cynical bastards coming here every day.
Well, okay, there's also this: With lefty Mike Maroth starting for the Tigers Friday, Gardenhire had Jacque Jones in the lineup at designated hitter. Despite a good start against left-handed pitching this season (just like last season), Jones is a career .236/.288/.340 hitter against southpaws. Meanwhile, Matthew LeCroy was on the bench against Maroth, despite an even better start against left-handed pitching this season and a career line of .288/.353/.510 against southpaws.
Wait, it gets better. Jones got two at-bats against Maroth, who has been significantly better against left-handed batters than right-handed batters over the course of his career. Then, once Maroth was out of the game, Gardenhire brought LeCroy off the bench to pinch hit for Luis Rivas in the seventh inning ... versus a right-handed pitcher (against whom he is a career .252/.303/.411 hitter). If the manager had done things the completely opposite way, LeCroy would have gotten multiple at-bats against a left-handed pitcher and Jones could have been available off the bench to pinch hit against a right-handed pitcher.
Here are some stats that don't exactly shock me: The Twins lead all of baseball by having grounded into 22 double plays in 17 games. An MLB-leading six of those 22 double plays have come with the bases loaded, which is twice as many as any other team has. The Twins, who lead all of baseball with 24 at-bats in bases loaded situations, have an atrocious .167 batting average in those spots. And that doesn't even take into account the "extra" outs they've used up with their bases loaded double plays.
And finally, after a weekend during which two straight games were postponed because of snow, we have this: "Twins, Hennepin have stadium deal." This issue has been killing trees and wasting ink for years now despite the complete lack of any real progress, so I have pretty much taken an "I'll believe it when I see it" approach to discussing a new ballpark for the Twins. I'll be the first one in line for season tickets though, that is on the outside chance that something actually comes from this.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Jeff Weaver's 2005 Season, By Robert Louis Stevenson (by Aaron Gleeman)
- Rivals in Exile: Last Place (by Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken)
Today's Picks (21-12, +$960):
Houston (Oswalt) -140 over Pittsburgh (Perez)
Arizona (Vazquez) +160 over Los Angeles (Lowe)
Chicago (Garland) +125 over Oakland (Zito)