Monday, March 30, 2009

Twins Notes (03.30.09)

After losing to Boston 9-4 on Saturday, the Twins have officially lost the previous three Mayor's Cups.  Francisco Liriano gave up home runs to David Ortiz, Rocco Baldelli and Jason Bay as the Red Sox pitchers shut down the Twins.  Matt Tolbert hit his third home run of the spring off of Javier Lopez but the effort fell short and once again the Twins vacate Florida runners up to the Red Sox.  Hopefully Baltimore will be moving into the Red Sox's old spring training facility soon. 

On Sunday, after a brief interlude of rain the Twins downed the Cardinals, 5-3Kevin Slowey continued his dominance, adding two strikeouts of Albert Pujols to his already impressive spring resume.  In 20 1/3 spring innings, Slowey has compiled an impressive 20-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.  Carlos Gomez drove in two on a double in the second inning.  Backup catcher candidate Drew Butera added another RBI double in the eighth inning.   
Kelly Thesier reports that the Twins sent Charles Nolte to the Yankees solidifying Rule 5 draft pick Jason Jones as a member of the organization.  Nolte, a 23-year-old right-handed reliever, spent 2008 at Beloit (A) where he threw 70 1/3 innings, posting a 2.05 ERA and a 75-to-35 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.  Drafted in 2007, Nolte is an extreme groundball machine, possessing a career minor league groundball percentage of 71%.  This will undoubtedly erode somewhat as Nolte ascends the developmental ladder and his control is a bit un-Twin-like (4.39 BB/9), however, he was an intriguing prospect within the Twins system that combined a high-strikeout rate (9.26 K/9) with groundballs.  The 26-year-old Jones, who has worked 10 innings this spring striking out five and walking three, is described as major league ready but will start the season at Rochester (AAA). 
La Velle E. Neal writes that Joe Mauer is being inundated by fans offering various solutions to his sacroiliac joint inflammation.  The upside is that Mauer is feeling the best he has felt the entire spring.  The downside is that he has been taking nerve tonic which has now created an extreme case of gigantism
Nick Nelson summerizes the American League and provides a player-to-watch for each team. 
Erin Kathleen at Plunking Gomez looks at the career of the great Tony Oliva.  How good was Tony O?  As a 25-year-old rookie in 1964, Oliva would lead the American League in batting (.323), runs scored (109), total hits (217), total bases (374) and doubles (43).  His offensive on-slaught was so feared, that the following year in 1965, Oliva's intentional walk totals shot up to 12, fourth among league leaders (Don Mincher's 15 and Harmon Killebrew's 12 also headlined that list which tells you how fearsome that lineup truly was).  What is also amazing about that season in which Oliva won the Rookie of the Year was his ability to smash right-handed pitching (.341/.380/.616) all over the prairie ground of Bloomington, but saw his bat silenced versus same-sided pitching (.269/.299/.377). 
For further analysis on the Twins outfield situation, be sure to check out Josh Johnson's thoughts on the matter.
Interesting.  Former Twin Torii Hunter has a sinus infection, gets thwacked in the nose by a ball that caroms off the outfield wall then in subsequent X-rays, doctors inform him that his infection is cleared.  His nose is apparently Arthur Fonzarelli's jukebox.
Finally, the stable of Twins writers at Baseball Digest will be taking a crack at preseason predictions this week.  First up, the MVP awards.  Fifty percent of the writers picked a Twin.  Go figure.