Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Notebook Dump (04.02.09)

Game: Twins 1, Rays 2
Record: 17-13 (5th in Grapefruit)
The Quote: "You hope that you sign with an organization that tells the truth, and you hope that you perform well enough to put the ball in their court, and I feel like I've done that." - R.A. Dickey
UPDATE: The Twins placed Scott Baker on the 15-day DL due to shoulder tightness.  Francisco Liriano will now assume the Opening Day duties.   With Baker on the DL, the Twins are looking at using R.A. Dickey as the 5th starter to face Chicago next Friday.  Baker's injury might explain why he had such a rough spring - in 23 2/3 innings, he struck out 16 and walked three while allowing nine home runs leading to a 6.85 ERA.  It was obvious that Baker's command was good, however, he was very hittable.  Though I cannot provide any evidence that his velocity was down this spring, shoulder injuries are usually a cause of that.  As I outlined in March, Baker's stuff is quite good, so the hope is that this is nothing more than "tightness". 
A lead-off home run by Gabe Gross was the difference as the Rays topped the Twins 2-1.  Battling for a spot in the bullpen, R.A. Dickey tossed four innings of three-hit ball, striking out three and walking one.  Dickey was relieved by Philip Humber whose three innings of work was marred by the Gross home run.  Humber's spring had been far more tumultuous than of Dickey's.  In 14 innings, Humber has posted a 8/2 K/BB ratio with a 5.14 ERA. Dickey, meanwhile, has pitched 17 2/3 innings this spring with a 18/4 K/BB ratio with a 2.04 ERA.   Even with the performance discrepancies, Humber should get the nod over Dickey to open the season since transitioning Humber to AAA requires the Twins to expose him to waivers. 
After being informed that he was going to be the temporary backstop while Joe Mauer is on the mend, Jose Morales wept openly in from of manager Ron Gardenhire, reports Phil Miller.  The selection of Morales over a superior defensive catcher in Drew Butera was justified by GM Bill Smith because of Morales's experience above AA and his offensive capabilities that exceed that of Butera's.  For his part, Morales immediately reassured everyone of this decision by promptly going 0-for-3 and allowing FIVE stolen bases against the Rays.
Injuries abound for the Twins as Brian Buscher, Delmon Young, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede all were suffering from various ailments.  None are serious, most likely wear-and-tear from the extended spring training season this year. 
In one of the more enlightened articles provided in the Star Tribune's print edition, Joe Christensen looks at the Twins defense through John Dewan's The Fielding Bible, Volume II and provides a decent primer to those that are unfamiliar with Dewan's defensive rating system.  In addition to that, Christensen slices up some more Twins defensivey goodness in his Around the Majors blog, particularly how bad Delmon Young's defense actually was outside the commonly accepted fielding statistics (RZR, UZR, fielding pct, etc). 
USA Today ranks the Twins 9th overall and looks at their outfield surplus. 
Geoff Baker reports that the Seattle Mariners returned Jose Lugo to the Twins.  Lugo, whom the Mariners acquired from Kansas City after the Royals selected Lugo in the Rule 5 draft, threw 7 1/3 innings, recording one strikeout, walked three and surrendered two earned runs for them this spring.  In 69 innings at Ft Myers in 2008, Lugo struck out 76 and issued 36 walks with a 4.43 Runs Allowed Average.  One year ago the two franchises were able to work out a deal as the Twins accepted catcher Jair Fernandez as compensation for R.A. Dickey under similar circumstances.  Unlike Dickey, who had MLB experience, the 24-year-old hard throwing reliever had yet to pitch above high-A so his return to the organization was expected.  The Twins have assigned Lugo to New Britain. 
David Brown over at Yahoo! Sports features a quirky Q&A with Twins closer Joe Nathan discussing non-topics such as the Twins commercials, other people named Joe Nathan, the facial hair habits of closers and encounters with UFOs. 
The Baggy will no long adorn the Dodge Ram emblem as it had the past several years.  In the Dome's final year, Stanley Works, a manufacturer of security systems, tools and other products, will have the rights to the advertising on the blue tarp.  In addition to the premium space, Stanley Works will sponsor the two Web cams that have been in use since 2007 which allows viewers to witness the construction of Target Field. 
Seth Stohs gives his Top 15 Baseball Movies in the event Twins fans need a weekend of DVD-watching to remind them baseball season is indeed upon us here in Minnesota despite what the weather suggests. 

At Baseball Digest, we're providing our candidates for Breakout Player of the Year.  Though his playing time is contingent on Joe Crede, how about Brian Buscher for a Breakout candidate?  So far this spring, Buscher has hit .380/.467/.500.  With Crede hitting .167/.245/.292 through spring, there is still the outside possibility that Buscher winds up being that left-handed platoon partner afterall.