Tuesday, September 08, 2009

OtB Twins Notes: 09.08.09

Joe Christensen tells us that the Twins front office will not provide any insight to whether or not they will retain any of the impending free agents on the roster, including Orlando Cabrera.  Christensen says that some baseball insiders are suggesting that "the team should hurry up and re-sign him to a two-year contract extension."  The Twins obtain Cabrera at the deadline because he was playing Murderball with AL pitchers and arrived in Minnesota to hit .327/.333/.531 in his first eleven games but since then, the guy the Twins should "hurry up" to re-sign has hit .200/.244/.238 in the most recent 22 games.  Even if he splits the difference next year, there is no telling what his already degraded defense will look like in the spring. 

The Twins lauded Jesse Crain's development and work done at Rochester during his demotion in June to improve his approach.  Since his return to the big club, Crain as thrown in 18 games and has worked 21 innings while striking out 19 and walking eight.  At the time of his demotion I detailed several issues Crain had in his repertoire against left-handed hitters who had a 1.000 slugging percent against him.  Crain had futilely attempt to retire lefties with his curveball (22 percent) but hitters simply laid off.  They waited for his fastball and crushed it (.500 BA, 3 HRs).  My recommendation was that for him to succeed, he would need to work on his secondary offerings and perhaps reinstate his slider which he had used more often in the earlier portion of his career.  Since his return, Crain has redeployed the use of his slider to left-handed batters (22 pct) while throwing his fastball far less frequently and has held them to a .731 OPS since July 23rd.
Kelsie Smith highlighted Jason Kubel's sudden surge against same-sided pitching, noting that Kubel has hit .350 and slugged .525 when facing southpaws since the All Star break.  The Twins designated hitter said that "Against lefties, I feel like I concentrate more on seeing the ball better. I think that could help." Part of his success has been his new-found ability to drive the ball with authority to the opposite field, something that his fellow lefties in the lineup, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, had done for quite some time.   Prior to the break, Kubel had slugged just .250 in the first-half of the season going opposite field, but increased that to .857 since the All Star Game.  That goes back to Kubel "concentrating more" which has led to him staying on the ball instead of pulling out.  It is a remarkable adaptation in his game and if he is able to carry the corrections into 2010, Kubel's contract could go down as an absolute bargain for the Twins.
Kent Hrbek and beer?  They go together like, well, Kent Hrbek and beer.
Another former Twins farmhand/cup-o-coffee owner, Randy Ruiz, had been enjoying a nice little stint with the Toronto Blue Jay since his call-up in August.  However, after hitting .296/.398/.563 with 6 HRs in 83 PAs, Ruiz had his face tenderized with a Josh Towers fastball.  "When I was spitting blood, I thought I probably broke my nose," Ruiz said. "After a while, when I looked in the mirror, I thought, 'Ah, my face is swollen. I'm fine now.' Nothing growing up in New York City that I haven't experienced."  Towers' fastball averages 87.5-mph so I'm inclined to tell him to rub some aspirin on it and get back out there.
Joe Posnanski's insightful blog to Royals radio play-by-play man and former Golden Gopher Ryan Lafebvre's odd disdain or inability to accept advanced metrics in baseball seems to be a microcosm of how the Kansas City organization operates in general.   

Twins fans unable to make the trip to the Cleveland series missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness Indians outfielder, Shin-soo Choo, dancing with South Korea's musical sensation, Wonder Girls.  According to Korea Times prior to the game, Choo, several Indians players and the girls danced to their hit song "Nobody".  Judging from the attendance at the Prog that series, that is exactly how many fans saw that performance.  (In case you are curious, this is what the song sounds like.  "Half in English, half in squiggly".)