June 7, 2006
Hall is 26 years old, makes close to the minimum salary, can play anywhere defensively, and is hitting .264/.317/.582. Koskie is hitting .270/.353/.509 in 51 games while platooning at third base. It's laughable that anyone--from Ryan all the way down to Hartman--thinks that the Twins can get either of those guys for a pitcher who had an 8.92 ERA and is now making $4 million to pitch at Triple-A.
Why not ask for Prince Fielder? The sad part is that the same people trying to shoot the moon in a trade for Lohse now were the ones who didn't think it was a good idea to deal him when he actually had some value. If Ryan can get anything close to Hall or Koskie for Lohse, don't you think he would have jumped at the chance about a month ago?
Yes, not having Ruben Sierra has surely killed the offense. Any time you lose a 40-year-old who batted .229/.265/.371 in the previous season it's understandable that runs would be tough to come by. After all, it'd be crazy to wonder whether a team thinking that guys like Sierra had significant value in the first place might indirectly be responsible for poor offense. Crazy, I tell you.
One reason the Twins are having trouble scoring runs is that two of their better hitters, veterans Shannon Stewart and Ruben Sierra, are on the disabled list.
I have no real inside information beyond a few choice pieces of gossip, but I'd be shocked if Lohse pitches for the Twins again. He has a 1.50 ERA and has held opponents to a .176 batting average in four starts at Rochester, but a 12-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 innings at Triple-A isn't particularly impressive.
Back when Johan Santana was at Triple-A Cuellar is said to have taught him what is now arguably baseball's best changeup, which almost immediately led to Santana becoming an elite pitcher. Setting aside the fact that the Twins somehow let Cuellar leave the organization, why exactly isn't he a pitching coach somewhere? And when is he eligible for the Twins Hall of Fame?
"Bobby Cuellar," Liriano said. "He's the man."
Cuellar was the Rochester pitching coach. He was hired away from the Twins organization by Pittsburgh to serve as manager Jim Tracy's bullpen coach this season.
Liriano said Cuellar refined the young lefthander's delivery to throw more strikes, taught him a new changeup grip and worked with him to make the slider more reliable.
"I probably would not be in the big leagues, not yet, without the help from Bobby Cuellar," he said.
I complain about the lack of a critical eye that is applied to the Twins by the local media and some people take that to mean that I want a column ripping the team every day. The truth is that I'd gladly settle for situations like the one above, where a writer simply applies a bit of skepticism and objectivity to something a member of the organization says. As my praise of Reusse and ongoing support of LEN3 should attest to, I have a great deal of respect for beat writers who do their job well.
Gardenhire ordered a sacrifice bunt from Cuddyer in the eighth inning. He said it wasn't a reflection of Cuddyer's skid as much as the tight nature of the games the Twins play with the A's in Oakland's ballpark.
Cuddyer popped up the bunt for an out and the Twins wasted an eighth-inning scoring chance. Gardenhire said, "He can bunt; Michael's a good bunter."
Apparently, this was detected in batting practice, since he has four sacrifice bunts to go with 1,136 career at-bats.
What I don't respect is someone who thinks their job is collecting a bunch of cliche-filled quotes after each game and allowing the Twins to use the newspaper as a daily press release. As St. Paul Pioneer Press Twins beat writer Jason Williams once said in between passing along his weekly note about Juan Castro not hurting the team offensively: "You have no idea what I do. NO IDEA."
In the history of mankind, how many sentences have been written that are less accurate than "Nobody questions Juan Castro's glove, and his bat hasn't been bad, either"? A half-dozen? Ten, at the most? I can't fathom that someone who writes such a statement--in this case a person named Justice B. Hill--could possibly have watched the Twins play this season, but presumably that's a major part of his/her job with MLB.com.
Player to watch
Nobody questions Juan Castro's glove, and his bat hasn't been bad, either. But the Twins could use a bit more punch from Castro, whose usual slot in the bottom of the order can be a tablesetter for the hitters at the top of the order. Castro's success can go far in helping to jumpstart an anemic offense.
Ignoring the silliness about Castro's increasingly sloppy defense, he's hitting .238/.262/.315 for a .577 OPS that ranks fourth-worst in the entire AL behind only Juan Uribe (.561), Joey Gathright (.545), and Rondell White (.436). In other words, out of the 110 AL players with at least 150 plate appearances 106 of them have hit better than Castro, about whom a professional journalist just wrote "his bat hasn't been bad." Wonders never cease, although my reading the Twins' website does.
In doing my Rotoworld gig this morning, I noticed that a similar note popped up in several Chicago newspapers.
[White Sox general manager Ken] Williams, who has made a career out of flying under the radar, reportedly has inquired about the availability of Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, but the current asking price is way too high.
The good news is the Twins' front office has told Minnesota reporters that they are not against dealing within the division.
"Everybody is interested in Torii," [manager Ozzie] Guillen said. "But right now I don't think we're interested in him because, first of all, it sounds like he's going to cost a lot, and we don't know if we can sign him past this year. If we didn't have a center fielder for the future, then maybe Kenny would think about it. But right now we have a center fielder for the future.
"I don't think we're going to give up on Brian [Anderson]'s future. To get Hunter, it's going to cost you a lot of players. I don't think Kenny Williams will do that. Everybody needs a player like him, but it won't be easy for us to do that right now."
Mauer's big numbers have received a surprising lack of attention and I'm shamefully guilty of being part of that, but the nice thing is that if he keeps hitting like this for much longer there's no doubt that the media will eventually swarm. Between watching Santana and Liriano take the mound two times a week and reading about Mauer chasing the batting title, perhaps I can learn to let all of the Twins' problems sort of glide by.