Post-Game (Exhibition Game 8)
Twinks 8, O's 7 (Box Score)
- The Twins provided Livan with a 5 runs, .6 of a run improvement from his 2007 average run support from Arizona, yet Hernandez allowed 6 runs, almost a run higher than his runs allowed average last year. La Velle reports that Hernandez isn't worried, based on the fact that last spring he entered the 2007 sporting a 13.07 era in spring training. The rationale is that even though Hernandez had a terrible 10.5 innings in the spring, he still finished 11-11 with a 4.93 era. The problem with that logic is that there are far too many varitables that would suggest that Hernandez will repeat this performance. Several mitigating factors including age and nine hitters instead of eight in the American League suggest that there is the possibility that Hernandez will significantly regress. The transition from a ballclub that was ranked 5th best in the majors in overall defense by John Dewan to Minnesota who finished 18th best in 2007 and has lost a Gold Glove centerfielder could adversely effect Hernandez's 2008 numbers. The fact is, Hernandez is heavily reliant on his defense as 85% of batters faced put a ball in play (and 21% did so in line drive form). Livan, however, is particularly good at stranding runners. Last year, he finished among the top National League starters with a 75% left-on-base rate. If Hernandez is able to keep the ball in the park and replicate his left-on-base rate, he stands the opportunity of shaving runs scored down from his bloated 5.11 per 9 innings last year.
- In some way, you have to respect Carlos Gomez's swagger, no matter how misguided. Gomez recently told the Tom Powers that he will help this team because he would be batting "ahead of Morneau and the catcher and the other guy." Reading statements like this I envision Gomez to be a Dominican Ricky Bobby.
- Delmon Young finished the game 3 for 3 with 2 rbis and a run score. Following Wednesday's Yankees game where he launched a shot off the centerfield batting eye on a line has Twins fans anxious to see if he has honed his plate approach this offseason. Potential has been there for Delmon, discipline has been lacking. Patrick Ruesse penned a column indicating that Young is expected to carry a big load considering he is the replacement Torii. The relatively bland piece of reporting took an abrupt u-turn in the final two paragraphs however:
Young's home run was the game's first for the Twins. Garrett Jones followed with a two-run bomb off the Yankees' Joba Chamberlain. Buscher also had another line-drive hit. These are two lefthanded hitters the Twins would like on the bench -- but only one can make the club. Unless, Jason Kubel's first week of lifeless at-bats continues through March ... then what?
"Kubel proved he can hit the second half [of 2007]," Gardenhire said. "I've decided that with him what you see is what you're going to get. He's going to be that speed. And when he turns it up a notch, we don't notice. It's not that much of a notch." Between Gardenhire's comments and Ruesse's reporting, it sounds as if there is an undercurrent to add Garrett Jones and Brian Buscher to the roster at the expense of Jason Kubel. Kubel was undoubtedly the Twins best hitter in August and September (if not that then the most improved hitter). This spring he has only two hits in nine at-bats inciting some concern among the coaches that the second-half was the anomaly and not the beginning. I wrote in January reiterating BP's Joe Sheehan's sentiment that Kubel will have a breakout season in 2008 and that the only thing impeding him from doing so would be Gardenhire's line-up shuffles. Whether or not Gardy's quote is an indication that he is willing to sit Kubel for an extended period of time has yet to be seen.