Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Post-Game (Exhibition Game 6 & 7)

Twinks 0, Rays 0 (PPD)

  • They say the stats don't count even though the teams completed 4.5 innings. In the grand scheme of things this is spring training and none of the stats count, right? You can believe that the outings by Boof Bonser and Denard Span still mattered as they both made impressive performances. Nick Blackburn also managed to throw an inning of scoreless ball.
  • Prior to this game, the MLB Press Pass for the Twins indicated that the team had already grounded into 10 double-plays. This is leading the majors in that category so far.
  • Speaking of grounding into double-plays,'s Kelly Theiser answered a series of mailbag questions recently, one that dealt with the possibility of having Michael Cuddyer or Delmon Young in the number three bat slot in the lineup. The reader asked: "I the idea of having Delmon Young's potent bat after Justin Morneau in the lineup to stop any intentional walks. But I worry about Michael Cuddyer hitting into double plays and having unproductive at-bats in the three spot. Assuming that Joe Mauer bats second and Morneau hits cleanup, are the Twins better off with Cuddyer batting third and Young batting fifth or the other way around? -- Aaron W., Brooklyn Park, Minn." Thesier answered the question in a relatively straightforward manner, as I assume MLB reporters are instructed to do, while never really offering any in-depth analysis. What should have been made clear is that even though Michael Cuddyer has had a large amount of gidp's in 2007 (19), Delmon Young actually hit into more (23). In terms of having unproductive at-bats, Cuddyer clearly has the on-base percentage advantage .346 to Delmon's .319. Furthermore, Cuddyer has had 192 plate appearances batting 3rd where he is hitting .281/.396/.469 with 31 walks and 33 strikeouts. Delmon is still learning the nuances of major league pitching and will be a very successful hitter but for now Cuddyer should be the favorite for batting 3rd.

Twinks 7, Yankmes 5 (Box Score)

  • Kevin Slowey had yet another tough outing, finishing 2.0 innings with 3 earned runs, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts while giving up 5 hits. With just under 26 days until the season begins for the Twins, Slowey has dug himself into quite a hole. His normal pinpoint control has disappeared and the fastball with movement has not helped him avoid giving up the big hits as opponants are slugging .850 off of him in 3.2 innings. In Slowey's defense he has had to work against to very formidable lineups in the Red Sox and Yankees. He worked particularly well against Jason Giambi in the 1st inning. Slowey moved ahead of Giambi 0-2 and then changed his eyeline but buzzing a 91 mph fastball above the letters only to set up a called third strike as he painted the low-outside corner. As pitch f/x data showed last year, Slowey does not make bats miss. His source of dominance is his control, proven by his battle with Giambi.

  • Garrett Jones, the proud owner of the longest home run hit in Fenway Park last season (456 feet) off of Josh Beckett, connected off of another golden arm of last year, Joba Chamberlain. Jones, who has spent the past three seasons in Rochester, is clinging to a thread of hope for making the 2008 roster. His ability to play outfielder and displace Justin Morneau at first has kept him on the bubble, however, as his minor league record shows he is a freeswinger. In 3,268 plate appearances, Jones has struck out in 23.5% of them. His saving grace in his lowly .250/.304/.439 career numbers is his ability to generate power (he has a 40% xbh% on his career).

  • Speed kills. Alexi Casilla, finishing the day 1 for 2 with an rbi, should recieve consideration for batting lead-off. In his 13 plate appearances, the switch-hitting Casilla has drawn three walks and is batting .300/.462/.300 with 3 stolen bases. Prior to today's game, the Twins had 9 stole bases tied for second with Tampa Bay who had 10. Casilla's speed, coupled with Carlos Gomez and Jason Pridie who also have 2 stolen bases each, would make the Twins one of the fastest teams in the majors.

  • Delmon Young has been hitting the ball very well this spring, including his homer to center off of the Yankees' Ian Kennedy. His .500/.545/.800 spring line with 5 hits (including the aforementioned home run) has offered vindication for trading a potential frontline starter. Matt Garza, meanwhile, was touched up by the Detroit Tigers for 2 earned run in his 1.2 inning debut for the Rays. Garza gave up back-to-back hits to Carlos Guillen and Miguel Cabrera after walking Gary Sheffield in the first. He was unable to get out of the 2nd after Edgar Renteria led off with a single and then Curtis Granderson followed with an rbi double at which point Garza was yanked for another former Twin, Grant Balfour, who worked out of the jam.

  • Delmon's brother Dmitri, fresh off of his comeback season and new contract, has annoyed Nationals officials by reporting to camp weighing in at a whopping 298 pounds. He has been having issues controlling his diabetes. I wrote a month ago how Young's contract with Washington was one of the best free agent acquisitions in 2007 however after he signed for 2-years at $5 million AAV, he could easily swing to the worst contracts list of 2008.