Monday, March 03, 2008

Post-Game (Exhibition Game 5)

Twinks 8, Reds 6 - 10 innings (Box Score)

  • Carlos Gomez, now 2 for 8 this spring (.250), coaxed a lead-off walk from Jeremy Affeldt and stole third displaying his speed that even surprised the veteran lefty Affeldt. "I never came set in the first and still stole off me," Affeldt told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Second base candidate Alexi Casilla also added two stolen bases, his first off of Affeldt as well. As impressive as it is to swipe a base off of a left-hander underneath his nose, Affeldt does not have a pick-off recorded between 2004-2007 and in just 59 innings in 2007 he was ran on 7 times. Later, Casilla took 2nd again this time off of Scott Sauerbeck. All of the stolen bases were swindled from former Twin Javier Valentin, who threw out only 11% of potential base-stealers in 2007 down a significant amount from 47% in 2006.

  • Defensively and on the basepaths, Gomez has certainly given himself the edge between he, Jason Pridie (.333) and Denard Span (.285) which may compensate for his offensive inadequacies. Of course, approximately 10 at-bats is too small of a microcosm to project to 450+ plate appearances. Therefore spring training you have to analyze the other details of a batter. In a previous blog, Joe Christensen noted that Gomez's swing in one game appeared "cartoonishly" big. Yesterday, Joe Vavra confirmed to Christensen that the Twins are also monitoring this: "You're thinking, 'How many swings can he make like that without breaking down?' " Vavra said. "Because he puts a tremendous amount of torque on his back, and if you do that too many times, boy. You try not to be so violent in your approach but try to be aggressive."

  • In the past two games Twins second basemen have been victims of botched double-play balls. On Sunday, Nick Punto misplayed a Coco Crisp ball to allow Doug Mirabelli to advance to second. Monday, with one out and Norris Hopper on first, Casey Daigle induced a groundball out of Ken Griffey Jr however Brendan Harris had trouble making the transfer from his glove. Norris was able to advance to second leaving Harris's only play at first for Griffey Jr. Now with two outs the dangerous Adam Dunn came to the plate and knocked a base hit into center scoring Hopper from second with two outs. Admittedly, this is still spring but these kind of miscues will be detrimental to the team in the regular season.

  • 29-year-old Randy Ruiz is putting together a decent spring hitting .375/.444/.750 with a home run and 6 total bases in 8 at-bats. Ruiz, for those unfamiliar with the ballplayer, is a modern day version of Crash Davis. It is hard to label him as a quadruple-A player considering he has only had 79 at-bats above double-A. Originally drafted by the Mets in 1996 with the 1068th pick overall, Ruiz opted to attend Bellevue Community College in Washington instead of signing (possibly because Ruiz is from the Bronx). In 1999 he signed as a nondrafted free agent with the Cincinnati Reds and played four years in their organization. Even though he hit .291/.371/.465 with 41 extra base hits (36.6% xbh%) split between A and high-A, the right-handed batting Ruiz never was promoted above high-A with the Reds and was released following that season. He was signed by the Orioles who sent him initially to class A Delmarva Shorebirds and then eventually to the high-A Fredrick Keys. Ruiz finished his 25-year-old season hitting .296/.395/.505 with 37 extra base hits (40.6% xbh%) yet Baltimore too released him. This musical teams continued on for Ruiz who, between 2004 and the end of 2007, was signed by seven teams in those four year. In the face of such adversity, lesser ballplayers might have been prone to calling it a career. In 2007 alone he was in the Pirates, Giants and Phillies organizations and finished hitting .293/.359/.511 with 55 extra base hits (39.5% xbh%). While with the Phillies last year, Ruiz was given his first taste of triple-A. The unfortunate part of Ruiz's career remains in the part that I quickly rushed over. In 2005 while in his first stint in the Phillies organization, Ruiz tested positive TWICE for performance enhancing drugs and was suspended for 45 games. Throughout that season, Ruiz had absolutely crushed the ball. In just 89 games, Ruiz hit 27 home runs (an ungodly 7.0% hr%) and batted .349/.405/.669. Furthermore, Ruiz could be considered the right-handed batting equivalent of Jack Cust - minus the obscene on-base percentage. Randy Ruiz's minor league career compares to that of Cust (in both performance enhancing accusations and statistics). Cust, who had his breakout season with Oakland last year at 29-years-old, hit .286/.428/.518 with 200 home runs (4.2% hr%) in 3,786 at-bats. Ruiz in his 3,228 minor league at-bats has hit .300/.370/.522 with 150 home runs (4.1%). If he remains clean (as he insists he was in 2005) and continues to punish the ball this spring, Ruiz could be another power-hitting right-handed bat the Twins will need at some point this season.