Monday, June 29, 2009

OtB Twins Notes (06.29.09)

Jim Souhan stresses the importance of Justin Morneau's long ball to the Twins' overall play, indicating that the Twins are 13-3 when the big Canadian homers.
In the booth, Dick 'n Bert noted during Friday's broadcast that Morneau had been working on not striding to keep his head (and along with it, his eye level) steady.  Hitting coach Joe Vavra offered some insight to this approach: "The last couple of days, he's gone with the no-stride approach just to corral the strike zone.  He worked a few walks, so I think he started feeling the zone and his timing a little bit, and today he went with a stride, and he was able to minimize it.''  Although he went 1-for-9 since Thursday in Milwaukee, he coaxed four walks.  Avid Twins fans may recall that Michael Cuddyer took a similar approach to refining his discipline at the end of April.  He was hitting just .224 when he decided to focus on reaching base through working the count.  Over the course of four games, Cuddyer went 2-for-9 but worked out seven walks. The next eleven games, Cuddyer hit .368/.442/.658 in 43 plate appearances. 
Bobby Keppel's four inning introduction to the Twins was acceptable.  He got 70 percent of balls in play to be beat into the ground while he struck out three and walked another three.  This was the expectation for the recently DFA'ed Luis Ayala at the beginning of the season when the Twins signed him this past offseason.   The Twins touted Ayala's groundball ability thanks to a sink action.  However, where Keppel's sink actually exists (as seen here), Ayala's pitchers were consistently up in the zone (seen here).  It has become evident that the Twins signed Ayala on reputation alone. 
The Twins will look to add a 12th pitcher now that inter-league play is over says La Velle E Neal.  Though a popular choice, Robert Delaney has not had the best introduction to AAA.  In 15.1 innings, Delaney has a 11-to-6 K-to-BB ratio while giving up three home runs and 11 earned runs.  The hard-throwing Juan Morillo has been a rollarcoaster, striking out 40 in 30 innings while allowing a .183 batting average against but walking 20 with a 3.30 ERA.  Meanwhile, Jesse Crain has struck out seven while walking three in his 3.2 innings of work since being demoted.  Unless the Twins have intentions of converting Anthony Swarzak to the bullpen, Crain is probably the logically choice to return to the major-league roster.
FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal reminds us that Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett is currently the top shortstop in OPS at .969 comparative to the league average of .706.  Brendan Harris, meanwhile, has produced a .790 OPS since taking over short.
Aaron Gleeman asks "What Happened to All The Bunt Hits?" from a year ago.
J.C. Romero is back in the news from grabbing 25-year-old Robert Eaton by the neck after Romero refused to sign an autograph and Eaton brought up Romero's recent steroid bust.  Commenting on this situation may be too much like a pot-calling-the-kettle-black coming from someone that blogs about baseball -and I certainly don't condone the actions of former Twin Romero - but for crissake, don't be a 25-year-old yahoo asking major-leaguers for autographs.  And if you do insist on requesting signatures, when he refuses to sign, ixnay on the eroid-stay
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval had a late night room change at 3 AM in Milwaukee after what he thought was a ghost in his room.  This is not an out of the ordinary charge at the Pfister Hotel.  This old, but luxurious, hotel in downtown Milwaukee is over 116-years-old and has been the guests of visiting ballclubs for years.  Numerous clubs have noted strange noises - Adrian Beltre, then a Dodger, slept with his bat in his bed the entire night.  A few Marlins bunked together out of fear of the paranormal.  Other guests claim they have seen the images of the hotel's first owner Charles Pfister overlooking the grand lobby.  Carlos Gomez had a run in with the hotel a year ago when his iPod kept mysteriously turning on from across the room.
Ken Lipshez examines the difference between winning and developing at double-A New Britain.  Not surprisingly, mid-market clubs like Minnesota have to place a greater emphasis on getting plate appearances and innings for their prospects while teams like the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) and Trenton Thunder (Yankees) have much older rosters and have won or been runners-up in the Eastern League North Division the past four years.