Friday, August 08, 2008

The Friday Flotsam
* The Twins are now one-half game behind the White Sox in the American League Central, thanks to a steadfast Detroit Tiger bullpen who fended off Chicago 8-3. The Tigers have had a tough month of August. After trading Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for former closer Kyle Farnsworth at the trade deadline in efforts to solidify a bullpen riddled with injuries, the Tigers relievers have responded with a 5.21 era in 19 innings pitched in August. The Twins are landing in Kansas City ready for a three-game series against the Royals, finding themselves in one of the most beneficial situations since Matt Dillon signed on to do Wild Things. As the Twins prepare for a series against a team that has a losing record at home (27-32), the White Sox, meanwhile, have a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox. Now, maybe it is over-inflating the situation comparing it to a Campbell/Richards sandwich when the Red Sox have not performed well on the road (26-33) and are Manny-less, but since jettisoning Ramirez and acquiring Jason Bay, the Red Sox are 5-1. So the fact still remains the Twins are in a good position to ascend in the standings over this weekend.
* Like the Twins who are discovering offensive answers within their own system, the Royals finally took the initiative and promoted the 27-year-old shortstop Mike Aviles. Since his call up in May, Aviles has received 231 plate appearances and has hit 7 home runs and is batting .330/.355/.529. Baseball Prospectus 2008 described Aviles as a good-bat, no-glove shortstop. Considering the alternatives the Royals have deployed in recent memory, sacrificing a little glove love is understanding. After all, it took the Royals three entire seasons of medicrity of Angel Berroa before deciding to move on to Tony Pena Jr. "I can remember turning in good reports on him,” John Wathan, Royals Assistant to Player Development said. “I had him labeled as a major-league second baseman with the ability to fill in at shortstop. I was always impressed with his bat.”
Royals SS
plate appearances
batting average
on-base percentage
* The Royals will open the series with Kyle Davies, the right-hander the they acquired in trade with the Atlanta Braves for Octavio "Shhh!" Dotel in 2007. Davies has recorded victories in his last two starts in spite of going only 5 innings in each of those games. “You don’t want to give up runs, but you also want to make sure you go deep into games,” Davies said. “One of the reasons you are a starting pitcher is to go out there and go as long as you can. Four or five innings is not very good for the team.” A completely valid point, especially for someone opening up the a three-game series in which a bullpen can be fried quickly in the first game. The Twins need to strike quickly tonight in efforts to make Royals manager Trey Hillman dig into his bullpen early.

Chad Bradford

* The Tampa Bay Rays, in their first ever pennant race, grabbed Chad Bradford off of the waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. "A very interesting acquisition," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "No hitter says, 'Oh good, we have a sinkerballer coming in. It's a different weapon that we haven't had." The Rays will send the Orioles a player-to-be-named-later with the $3.5 million due to Bradford for 2009. Bradford, while posting a solid era, has been in a steady decline when gauging his peripheral statistics. His strikeout rate has dropped from 17% in 2006 to 10% in 2007 to 8% this season. Strange enough, his velocity has decreased but then gained speed this season. His fastball went from 79 mph in 2007 to 78 in 2007 to 80 this year. One of the best aspects about Bradford is that he was inducing groundballs nearly 70% of the time this year while pitching in high leverage situations - next to closer George Sherrill and Jim Johnson, Bradford has been the Orioles most reliable reliever in tough situations. Dave Cameron did an nice analysis of him at Fangraph. The Twins, who with the lower record than the AL East leading Rays had the ability to claim Bradford prior to Tampa, could have definitely used his arm out of the pen down the stretch run. It will be interesting to see the organizations explanation for not claiming Bradford - most likely due to his large contract.