August 19, 2008
Twins Notes: Slowey, Hicks, Revere, and Sweet Fancy Moses
YEAR DATE OPP IP R H SO BB
Johan Santana 2007 8/19 TEX 8.0 0 2 17 0
Johan Santana 2004 9/19 BAL 8.0 0 7 14 0
Bert Blyleven 1986 9/24 KAN 9.0 2 9 14 0
Johan Santana 2006 6/13 BOS 8.0 1 5 13 0
Jim Kaat 1968 8/16 BAL 9.0 2 9 12 0
Jim Kaat 1967 9/18 KAN 10.0 0 6 12 0
Camilo Pascual 1962 6/26 NYY 9.0 0 9 12 0
Dean Chance 1967 7/2 WAS 9.0 1 5 12 0
Mark Guthrie 1995 5/25 DET 6.0 2 4 12 0
Kevin Slowey 2008 8/19 OAK 7.0 2 5 12 0
Last night Slowey joined Johan Santana (three times), Jim Kaat (twice), Bert Blyleven, Dean Chance, Camilo Pascual, and Mark Guthrie as the only pitchers in Twins history to record at least 12 strikeouts without a walk. Fittingly only Blyleven lost his start, tossing a complete game in a 2-1 loss to the Royals on September 24, 1986. Slowey is now 14-9 with a 4.05 ERA and 132-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 career starts, including 10-8 with a 3.78 ERA and 91-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 starts this year.
If you like that, there's also a shot of Scott Baker working the hell out of pepper mill.
Earlier Saturday, the amiable host of a long-standing Twin Cities sports talk show received a call from a gentleman suggesting that Delmon Young was having a season for the Twins nearly as productive as Mauer's. He wanted to stick with the basics to make this comparison. As of this morning, those numbers are .321 average, 74 runs scored and 59 RBI for Mauer, and .294, 62 runs scored and 53 RBI for Young.
"There's not that much difference between them, and yet the media gets on Young and doesn't criticize Mauer,'' the radio caller said. He remained unimpressed when the disparity in on-base percentage was pointed out. Mauer leads the league at .414, compared with .339 for Young. The 75-point gap accounts for dozens of walks, many of which have moved runners forward into scoring position and contributed mightily to Justin Morneau's current total of 94 RBI.
If you adjust Hicks' rookie-ball performance to the AL's current offensive level, his hitting line jumps to .320/.405/.570, which is amazing for a teenager making his pro debut. Hicks' strong 30-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio is also very encouraging, because high-school draftees typically lack plate discipline and drawing walks isn't something that the Twins are known for stressing. Hopefully he can follow the Joe Mauer path by bringing a patient approach at the plate with him to the organization and maintaining it.
Along with hitting like a souped-up Tony Gwynn, Revere has stolen 44 bases at a 77-percent clip. He hasn't shown as much plate discipline as Hicks, but it's tough to blame someone for eschewing walks when they're hitting .380 and a 31-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio is outstanding for a 20-year-old anyway. Combined with what he did in rookie-ball during his pro debut last year, Revere has hit .360/.416/.484 with 44 total extra-base hits, 65 steals, and a 51-to-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 133 games.
Gomez has started running again recently, swiping four bases in his last 11 games, but his 25-for-35 (71 percent) mark in 117 games overall is disappointing. During the winter my suggestion was that the Twins should give Gomez some extra development time in the minors and avoid needlessly burning through a year of service time while he'd likely struggle. Given his .250/.286/.343 hitting line, 113-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and inconsistent work on the bases that would've been a good plan.
Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP)
Matt Guerrier 4.14 4.48
Al Reyes 4.33 4.07
Jesse Crain 4.41 4.45
Boof Bonser 4.49 4.53
Brian Bass 4.40
With a 4.33 xFIP this season Reyes would rank second to Matt Guerrier (4.14) among the team's right-handed relievers, and his 4.07 xFIP over the previous three years is better than Guerrier, Jesse Crain, and Boof Bonser (and would be better than Brian Bass, except he didn't pitch prior to 2008). Reyes is far from a world beater, but he's at least as good as any right-hander the Twins have trotted out of the bullpen since Pat Neshek went down and another capable arm in the late innings would help.
Of course, if general manager Bill Smith were actually interested in providing Ron Gardenhire another capable reliever he'd have claimed Chad Bradford off waivers, traded for LaTroy Hawkins, or called up Bobby Korecky. Korecky has six straight scoreless outings at Triple-A, saving five games during that stretch to give him a 2.99 ERA, 67-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .236 opponent's batting average in 69.1 innings. Bradford and Hawkins have combined for 11 shutout innings with their new teams.
UPDATE: Reyes signed a minor-league contract with the first-place Mets, who reportedly may give him a shot at closer. Meanwhile, the Twins finally cut Bass loose Wednesday about three months later than they probably should have, making room for Casilla's return while leaving Korecky at Rochester.
Guerrier is 0-2 with a ghastly 19.89 ERA over his last nine games, allowing 15 runs in 6.1 innings.
Yuniesky Betancourt is the toughest player in the AL for a pitcher to walk. Kenji Johjima is third-toughest. They both walked in the eighth inning against Twins' reliever Matt Guerrier.
Scary times in the midst of what has been a solid season for Mientkiewicz, who's hitting .285/.371/.388 in 280 plate appearances for the Pirates while seeing extensive action at third base for the first time in his career. Jodi Mientkiewicz has been released from the hospital and is reportedly doing well.
Jodi Mientkiewicz first went to the cardiologist last Friday, after dealing with shortness of breath and a dropping heart rate over the previous week. [Pirates manager John] Russell said that her heart rate had dropped to as low as 35 beats per minute. A normal resting heart rate is typically between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
The cardiologist discovered a viral infection in a critical location of Mientkiewicz's heart, to which the doctor said "you couldn't put a bullet or a needle in a worse spot to where the infection is," according to Russell. The infection kept the heart rate low and prevented the top of her heart from sending a signal to the bottom of it.
For the non-Seinfeld fanatics who don't get the reference, here's what Christensen is talking about:
Seattle reliever R.A. Dickey had his knuckleball dancing, but it looked like Elaine from "Seinfeld" when he matched a major league record for wild pitches in an inning with four in the fifth.
"Sweet Fancy Moses."
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.