Friday, March 13, 2009

The Friday Flotsam

Former Twin Craig Monroe blasted three home runs, single-handedly lifting the Pirates over the Twins 6-4.  Centerfielder Carlos Gomez hit his third home run of the spring, raising his spring slugging to .818, as first base prospect Brock Peterson went 2-for-3 with a double.  Gomez is showing much improvement this spring, his three home runs and five extra base hits lead the team, and there is hope for his plate discipline as well.  Peterson, meanwhile, spent the majority of 2008 in the Twins' AA affiliate with a wOBA of .346 (a decline from his 2007 campaign in AA of .386) and will likely start 2009 in AAA. 

Two of Monroe's three home runs came off of Twins starter and newly extended Scott Baker.  Kelly Thesier reports that Baker blamed the lack of control and bite on his breaking balls.  In 10 innings this spring Baker has surrendered six home runs.  Baker has been a fly ball-oriented pitcher that has been blessed with a lower than average Home Run-to-Fly Ball percentage in 2008.  As such, Baker might see a few more of those flyballs sneak over the fence in 2009 as his HR/FB% normalizes.  
Twins set-up man Jesse Crain has developed a "slurve" (slider-curve combination) and is ready to unleash it on unsuspecting opponents says Joe Christensen.  Last season, Crain was recovering from a torn labrum and rotator cuff (the same injury Boof Bonser has this season) that ended his 2007 prematurely.  His velocity rebounded back to his pre-surgery levels, leading to a career-high 7.18 K/9, however his control was off, resulting in a career-high 3.33 BB/9.  Still, not shabby for a guy returning for major shoulder repair.  Crain is targeted as the replacement for Pat Neshek's innings and a guy that continues his strikeout trend while issuing fewer walks would be worth his weight in gold. 
Speaking of relievers recovering from torn labrum surgery, it appears that former Nationals closer Chad Cordero is no longer an option.  Geoff Baker reports that the Seattle Mariners have enlisted his services through a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training.  Cordero is a minimal financial risk for the Mariners but ran the gamut of shoulder tendinitis, torn lat muscle and then ultimately his labrum in 2008.  A rather soft-tossing reliever to begin with, the chances that Cordero will be an impact pitcher in the Mariners bullpen with his injury history is miniscule. 
Charley Walters says that Twins GM Bill Smith rebuffed representatives of Barry Bonds who has been looking for employment.  Yeah, it's getting that bad for Bonds. 
The Rochester Red Wings are soon-to-be TV stars and Phil Miller has some early advice for those that plan to tune in: keep your eyes on team trainer Tony Leo.  The reasoning is that Leo is the only one strapped up with a cell phone in the dugout getting the early call if a player from the Twins succumbs to an injury. 

Twinkie Town's Adam Peterson put his computer to work and churned out a great breakdown on team baserunning.  According to Peterson's calculations, Minnesota was the most aggressive team on the basepaths and the second-best in "Non-SB baserunning" behind the World Champion Phillies.  By comparison, Bill James' findings state that the 2008 Twins were 4th overall at non-SB baserunning under their accounting systems (ranking the Phillies 8th overall). 
KFAN's Phil Mackey runs down the 15 Worst-Projected Hitters for 2009 -- on that list are Nick Punto, Carlso Gomez and Alexi Casilla.
This morning at 11:30 AM I will be guest of Mark Healey on Baseball Digest LIVE.  You can listen live by clicking here or catch a recording at your own leisure.  Be sure you go to Baseball Digest's Twins page for Josh Johnson's memorial of Kirby Puckett