Sunday, September 26, 2010

OtB Twins Notes

According to the PiPress’s John Shipley, Carl Pavano reviewed video footage of his outing on Saturday – trying to make sense of the five-run, fifth inning outburst he allowed to the Tigers which included a trifecta of home runs. “I look at some of the sequences I used against different guys, and maybe I was a little strong. Physically I felt great. I feel strong. I felt good coming out of the pen.” The Twins starter told reporters. Clearly, after allowing home runs on 0-2 and 1-2 counts to Alex Aviles and Don Kelly (both on fastballs), Pavano may want to reconsider throw either his slider (6.2 runs above average) or changeup (10.4 runs above average) which have been very effective for the veteran.

In the top of the fifth on Saturday, Jason Repko was drilled by an Eddie Bonine 0-2 88-mile per hour fastball that caught the right fielder in the top hand while holding the bat. According to’s Kelly Theiser, the x-rays came back negative for any structural damage. Repko was lifted for Ben Revere. (Revere would finish the night 0-for-3, failing to drive J.J. Hardy home from scoring position twice.) Repko, having cooled off considerably himself since his hot start following his call-up, has hit just .169/.272/.169 since August 11th and has not had an extra base hit in those 81 plate appearances. No matter, Repko has provided an upgrade defensively over Jason Kubel in the outfield. While   Kubel has save -2 runs in 609 innings in right, Repko has been +2 in is 218 defensive innings according to John Dewan’s Plus/Minus accounting system.

Speaking of defense, it is plays like this one by Orlando Hudson, making a diving catch on a seemingly uncatchable ball, that reaffirms why the Twins second baseman is currently the Plus/Minus leader among second baseman (+23).

While his defensive has been spectacular and steady, Hudson has had his offensive numbers plummet dramatically over the second-half of the season, particularly in the month of September. After coming into the month with an above-average .358 on-base percentage, that number has dropped to .337 after failing to reach base in seven plate appearances on Saturday. Opponents have attacked Hudson consistently in September, throwing him pitches in the zone regularly in September (52%). Unlike last month where the switch-hitting Hudson produced a .358 BABIP, the balls that the second baseman is putting into play just aren’t finding turf this month (.233 BABIP). Equally responsible for the decline in OBP is Hudson’s inability to draw walks. Much like Span earlier in the season, Hudson’s has had a sudden disappearance in free passes – a byproduct of opponents attacking the strike zone more this month (52% zone rate). His .187 OBP for the month of September is only better than the Angels Alberto Callaspo and Peter Bourjos.

Denard Span fouled a ball off of his right foot on Saturday and was excused from Sunday’s game. This minor incident comes on the heels of his MRI on his right shoulder, necessitated by soreness in the area dating back to a June series in Oakland. The Twins center fielder told ESPN1500’s Phil Mackey that he was experiencing discomfort during his swing on his follow-through and extension. After a rebound month of May, Span’s totals dropped considerably, particularly after the West Coast roadtrip in which the injury occurred – hitting .275/.333/.362 since then in 407 plate appearances.

According to Inside Edge, Danny Valencia’s .398 average against left-handed pitchers is currently fourth best in baseball. Likewise, his .211 well-hit average on pitches up in the zone is third-best in baseball.

Even with a back injury, one that may be worse than initial thought, Jim Thome’s .784 slugging percentage against fastballs is the best in baseball. This is a significant improvement over his .457 slugging from a year ago.

FoxSport’s Jon Morosi wrote two columns on topics that may influence the Twins’ postseason. The first being the Morneau discussion, indicating that GM Bill Smith isn’t nearly as dismissive of a return from the first baseman as the field manager is. The second outlines the concerns surrounding Francisco Liriano has the team’s number one starter in the ALDS. Certainly Liriano has been dominant at times yet he has also flashed moments of being overwhelmed.  Still, while Morosi considered it a “question mark”, his counterpart, Tim Kurkjian, proclaimed it a “fitting choice for a pitcher who has had a terrific season.”

Pat Neshek gives us an inside look at the Twins rookie hazing. My personal favorite is the spot-on Ace & Gary tandem of Jeff Manship and Drew Butera.

At the Hardball Times, Chris Jaffe took to the task of assigning all major league teams a Simpson character. The Twins got labeled Waylon Smithers. Not sure how I feel about this but his explanation was on the mark.