March 17, 2006
You'll notice that some careful and misleading wording ("two of his final three full seasons") allows the writer to conveniently ignore Mientkiewicz's .246 batting average with the Twins in 2004. Also, there's really nothing fluffier than a piece that talks about all the wonderful things that can happen if a player bats .300 when that player has hit .238 and .240 over the past two years.
A scout charting the Royals for another team this spring suggests Mientkiewicz could have the greatest impact this season among all of [general manager Allard] Baird's veteran additions.
The reasoning goes like this: Mientkiewicz should get regular duty if he rediscovers the line-drive swing that enabled him to bat .300 or better in two of his final three full seasons in Minnesota.
If so, his defensive abilities, in addition to fielding his own position, will aid shortstop Angel Berroa and third baseman Mark Teahen -- and therefore the entire pitching staff.
For Twins fans, here's the most interesting quote from the article:
"I respect Terry Ryan more than any man in the world behind my old man," Mientkiewicz said. "He never lied to me. He always spoke the truth."
That seems to be a pretty common theme when it comes to ex-players talking about Terry Ryan.
As the article points out, if Van Mil were to make it to the big leagues he'd be the tallest pitcher of all time. In fact, only five pitchers who were 6-foot-10 or taller have ever won even a single game in the majors. Who are the five? I'll post the answer at the bottom of this entry.
Twins director of baseball operations Rob Antony refers to Van Mil as "a project."
The club plans to start him in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League this year, to let him gain a professional foundation. Three days into his first camp, he already has made a decent impression.
"You're thinking a 7-foot guy is going to be long and lanky, with a delivery that looks like a train wreck," said Rick Knapp, the Twins' minor league pitching coordinator. "That's certainly not the case with this fellow."
Van Mil's fastball has topped out at 91 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and a change-up.
The Twins need to refine his fielding skills, but Antony said the field staff "was shocked at how athletic he was."
While Twins fans seem to be optimistic about the turf helping Castillo offensively and defensively, an overlooked factor may be how it impacts his health. I don't expect him to steal a ton of bases, but Castillo does need to preserve his speed in order to remain an effective hitter. So while the playing surface may help a few more of his grounders turn into singles, it may also make things tough on his legs. Between Castillo, Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Rondell White, and Jason Kubel, there will be an awful lot of attention paid to legs this year.
I need to be more ready because I know I'm going to play on turf. Once I start playing on turf, it could be hard for me.
The difference between Mauer batting .300 and Mauer batting .310 would be no more than five hits over the course of the entire season. Souhan is basically saying, "If healthy, Mauer will hit .300 this year, and he might even get five more hits than that." Coming from a guy who struggles to include any sort of worthwhile, substantive analysis in his columns, such an exact prediction is amusing.
If healthy, Mauer will hit .300 this year, if not .310.
But hey, thanks to Souhan we did learn that Morneau "is remindful of Kent Hrbek on Slim-Fast" and Mauer has "sirloin-sized sideburns." I've decided that each of Souhan's columns should conclude with a reminder to enjoy the veal and tip your waitress, just so we can get the full effect.