May 24, 2006

Twins Notes

  • The subject of yesterday's entry, Pat Neshek, tossed 2.1 scoreless innings last night to pick up his ninth save of the season. Neshek now has a 1.98 ERA and 56-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32.1 innings at Triple-A.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune had the following note about Kyle Lohse yesterday:

    The Twins don't seem to be in any hurry to trade Kyle Lohse, who was demoted to Class AAA Rochester last week. But among the teams interested are the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays.

    I've heard several times from multiple sources who I trust that the Twins could have traded Lohse for what I would consider to be good value during the offseason, so there's some reason to hope that he's retained at least a fraction of that value despite his horrendous numbers this year.

    With that said, the Mets acquired Orlando Hernandez from the Diamondbacks yesterday, seemingly taking them out of the Lohse market, and given the Blue Jays' pitching depth in the high minors I'd be shocked if they wasted time on Lohse. I believe Lohse will be traded at some point in June, but I'll be surprised if it's for any real value.

  • I'm hopeful that Denard Span can eventually take over for Torii Hunter in center field, but within the same article that included the above note on Lohse Christensen presented another option:

    Torii Hunter flew home to Texas following the Twins' game in Milwaukee on Sunday, allowing him to watch his two sons play a Little League game for the first time in two years.

    It was quite a treat. Torii Jr. pitched a no-hitter in a four- inning game, and Monshadrik hit a homer, a double and had three RBI.

    I'll say this for the Hunter family: They've got some unique names.

  • Speaking of Christensen, he's now written two feature-length articles about Tony Batista within the span of three months. The first one romanticized Batista's religious beliefs, while the latest version focused on his odd batting stance. I criticized Christensen's first article for various reasons, but to his credit he makes a major effort to remain objective this time around.

    My favorite part:

    "Everybody doesn't like the way I hit," said Batista, a .251 career hitter in the majors with a meager on-base percentage of .298. "But everybody likes the results."

    The idea that "everybody likes the results" is absurd, of course. A more accurate quote might be: "Most people hate the results, but somehow I fooled Terry Ryan." I appreciate Christensen noting Batista's "meager on-base percentage" while pointing out that "the results have been disappointing," but rather than talk about his religion or the method behind his poor play, how about an article or two that are actually about his poor play?

  • With Batista hitting .241/.305/.404 while playing increasingly horrible defense and the season rapidly slipping away from the Twins, I've started to get frequent e-mails asking about Matt Moses. I wrote about Moses as part of my minor-league notes entry earlier this month and Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune discussed him a bit this week:

    The issue with Moses, the Twins' first-round draft choice in 2003, remains fielding, not his hitting. Riccardo Ingram, Moses' manager at Class AA New Britain, said: "He's getting better, but he's by no means Gold Glove caliber. Being in the right position to catch the ball, the footwork involved ... that's more of a problem for him than throwing."

    Moses has cooled down since a hot start and his .289/.331/.467 hitting line on the year doesn't look particularly impressive. However, the Eastern League has skewed so heavily towards pitching this season that the entire league is hitting a measly .241/.311/.361. For some context, Nick Punto is a career .243/.309/.325 hitter.

    If you take Moses' numbers at Double-A and adjust them for the current offensive environment in the American League, they come out looking like .315/.395/.520. That's damn good for a 21-year-old in the high minors and certainly a step in the right direction after Moses entered the season with a career line of .271/.337/.415 in 169 pro games.

    If he continues to hit like this Moses has a chance to be relatively valuable at designated hitter or a corner-outfield spot, which means a lack of defensively development won't kill him. With that said, if Moses can hit like this and turn himself into even a marginal defensive third baseman he has a chance to be a star.

  • I've grown tired of many things Ron Gardenhire does on a regular basis, but perhaps none more so than his embarrassing tendency to make a fool of himself while being thrown out of games. It accomplishes nothing and makes Gardenhire look pathetic, and the idea that it "fires up the team" is beyond laughable at this point. If someone in a management position in just about any other field behaved like that as often as Gardenhire does they'd no longer have a job.
  • Showing that he's stuck somewhere in the 1970s, the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Gordon Wittenmeyer discussed the Twins' leadoff options yesterday without once mentioning on-base percentage and suggested that Jason Kubel would be miscast in the role because he "struck out 23 times in 120 at-bats for Class AAA Rochester, putting him on a 100-strikeout pace for the season."

    I've heard it argued that strikeouts are worse than other outs for a middle-of-the-order hitter because it keeps them from driving runners in from third base with sacrifice flies or ground outs. Even if you buy into that--and studies have suggested that it isn't necessarily the case--the job of a leadoff man is primarily to get on base, so I fail to see how striking out in that situation is any worse than grounding out or popping out.

    What matters is not making an out, period. Perhaps in another couple decades the good people in charge of covering the Twins in the mainstream media can get past "batting average and RBIs good, strikeouts and errors bad."

  • I'm heading to the Metrodome tomorrow night for the Francisco Liriano-Felix Hernandez matchup, which has a chance to be the sort of thing you brag about seeing 20 years down the line. I've been avoiding going to games this year because I'm frustrated with the team and hate watching baseball in the Metrodome, but Liriano and King Felix are more than enough to change my mind for at least one night.

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