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stringer bell

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  1. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from curt1965 for a blog entry, Report from the Fort III   
    Day 3 in Fort Myers yielded similar weather and the start of a pattern before heading to the ball fields. The morning ritual would be "bathroom, blog, breakfast".
     
    The minor league activity yesterday was well covered by Thrylos and Ashbury John. I will add only a couple things: when Perkins pitched, standing behind the screen with us common folk, were Strib writers Lavelle E Neale and Patrick Reusse. I shook Patrick's hand and chatted with him for a moment. The scribes left when Perk did.
     
    We arrived early enough to watch some major league BP. Hicks, Robinson and Torii were one group. We watched five or six turns and Hicks hit rightly for all but one turn versus Phil Roof, a rightly. The other group we watched was Mauer, Suzuki, and Plouffe. Tom Kelly was at the minor league games, in uniform with his fungo bat, but not sitting in the dugout. He looks pretty good, but isn't moving real fast.
     
    That's all for today. More tomorrow.
  2. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from ashbury for a blog entry, Report from the Fort II   
    Day two of my Fort Myers experience featured baseball. After a bit more room jangling, we got to Century Link hereafter known as Hammond or Twins Spring Training camp at 10 AM. We checked the minor league fields and watched pitcher's drills. The Rays were to be the opposition for the Twins farmhands on this warm spring day.
     
    Well before first pitch, we made the acquaintance of TD's own Ashbury John, who is in Fort Myers, living it up while his significant other slaves over a hot computer (I jest). John is a nice guy, much younger than me, who has somehow managed to escape the bonds of employment (voluntarily). We had a nice conversation on several light topics--life, death, family, marriage, WAR, Aaron Hicks--and agreed on many things,but not Shane Robinson. Ash and I tried to smoke out TD's Halsey Hall, using Trevor Plouffe references as bait, but either Halsey wasn't there or he was too smart for our ploy.
     
    With my precision timing intact, I left the minor league games just when they started just in time to miss the first inning of the tussle with the O's. I didn't miss Ervin giving up three straight hits and two runs in the second inning. Santana yielded another run the next inning, but looked better in the fourth. Ash joined us with the score 3-1 and together we witnessed some squandered opportunities resulting in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Baltimores.
     
    If I have more to say about the Twins, I will put it in the game thread. I want to close with an endorsement--a Fort Myers trip for a frozen Twins fan is a good thing. More tomorrow.
  3. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from NoCryingInBaseball for a blog entry, What Spring Training Means   
    I will be at spring training for the fourth straight year. I have watched three straight non-contending teams gear up for a disappointing regular season. I have seen impressive individual performances that didn't stand up to regular season pressures. I have seen guys showing obvious potential take a step from prospect to established player and others not be able to establish themselves. I have seen comments that seem to espouse an open competition for almost every spot on the roster and also have seen arguments that spring training means either very little or nothing at all.
     
    I think spring training means different things to different players. Established players are there to get in shape for the grind of a 162 game season and perhaps work on a new skill or weakness. Some guys are just trying to make a good impression, so that if a vacancy occurs or there is a chance for a role player with a specific skill, they have the confidence of the field staff. Finally, some are competing for roster spots or places in the rotation. Here's my take on each member of the 40-man roster:
     
    Established veterans: All of these guys have a place guaranteed on the Opening Day roster and are all but certain in their role going into the season. Spring Training is a time for them to get ready for the season ahead, with no stress about making the club or getting opportunities to contribute. Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Kurt Suzuki, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia, and Torii Hunter. That is almost half of the spots on the Opening Day Roster.
     
    Young players looking to establish themselves: Players that may have been with the team for most of 2014, but haven't performed well enough long enough to be sure things. Caleb Thielbar, Kyle Gibson, Kennys Vargas, Danny Santana.
     
    Players looking to expand or enlarge their role: Guys penciled in for utility roles or perhaps a pitcher looking for a bigger role in games. Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nuñez, Jordan Schafer, Tim Stauffer and perhaps Josmil Pinto.
     
    Role players making a case: LOOGy and 3rd catchers hoping that their particular skill will get them a recall at some point. Aaron Thompson, Logan Darnell, and Chris Herrmann.
     
    Competitors for bullpen, rotation and center field: These guys could win a spot on the team going north or be sent out to the minors. It largely depends on how they, and the guys they are competing with, perform during spring training. JR Graham, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, Lester Oliveros, Michael Tonkin, Aaron Hicks, and perhaps Eddie Rosario.
     
    No chance to make the roster, plenty of chance to impress: AJ Achter, Stephen Pryor, Jason Wheeler, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, and perhaps Eddie Rosario.
  4. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from Sconnie for a blog entry, More Power!   
    I have followed the Twins since they moved to Minnesota from DC. In the early days, the Twins excelled in hitting home runs. They had plenty of power at many positions led by perennial home run king Harmon Killebrew, who led the league in homers six times. However, since Mr. Nixon said "I am not a crook" (and Harmon declined), the Twins have had a severe power shortage. In the forty-plus years since 1973, the Twins have outhomered their opponents in only three seasons and by narrow margins.
     
    The 2014 Twins scored a lot of runs, but would have been an elite offensive club if they had hit more long balls. What is exciting is the promise that in the future they will have the players to turn around games with one swing. Oswaldo Arcia hit 20 homers in just 400 plate appearances last season. If his homer rate stays unchanged, he would hit 30 in a full season with 600+ PAs. Kennys Vargas hit nine homers in an extended trial late in the season. Again, with full-time plate appearances, that total should be in the mid-twenties for a full season. Add top prospect Miguel Sano, who homered 35 times in less than 500 PAs in his last minor league season (in pitcher-friendly and homer-averse leagues), and the Twins have a prospective middle of the order cluster that could easily hit 90 or more homers. Sano, Arcia and Vargas are all young and would figure to increase their power numbers.
     
    I haven't mentioned yet the Twins leader in home runs the last two years--Brian Dozier. He brings significantly above average power to a position that the Twins traditionally have filled with slap hitters (his last two seasons both set records for home runs by a Twins second baseman). Beyond that, current Twins backup catcher Josmil Pinto would also profile to hit a lot of homers with full-time plate appearances.
     
    Whenever Sano arrives, the Twins would figure to have above-average home run production. I expect that the Twins will close the gap in long balls next year and perhaps out-homer their oppontents for the first time in more than a decade. An increase in power might cover regression in other areas.
  5. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from Willihammer for a blog entry, More Power!   
    I have followed the Twins since they moved to Minnesota from DC. In the early days, the Twins excelled in hitting home runs. They had plenty of power at many positions led by perennial home run king Harmon Killebrew, who led the league in homers six times. However, since Mr. Nixon said "I am not a crook" (and Harmon declined), the Twins have had a severe power shortage. In the forty-plus years since 1973, the Twins have outhomered their opponents in only three seasons and by narrow margins.
     
    The 2014 Twins scored a lot of runs, but would have been an elite offensive club if they had hit more long balls. What is exciting is the promise that in the future they will have the players to turn around games with one swing. Oswaldo Arcia hit 20 homers in just 400 plate appearances last season. If his homer rate stays unchanged, he would hit 30 in a full season with 600+ PAs. Kennys Vargas hit nine homers in an extended trial late in the season. Again, with full-time plate appearances, that total should be in the mid-twenties for a full season. Add top prospect Miguel Sano, who homered 35 times in less than 500 PAs in his last minor league season (in pitcher-friendly and homer-averse leagues), and the Twins have a prospective middle of the order cluster that could easily hit 90 or more homers. Sano, Arcia and Vargas are all young and would figure to increase their power numbers.
     
    I haven't mentioned yet the Twins leader in home runs the last two years--Brian Dozier. He brings significantly above average power to a position that the Twins traditionally have filled with slap hitters (his last two seasons both set records for home runs by a Twins second baseman). Beyond that, current Twins backup catcher Josmil Pinto would also profile to hit a lot of homers with full-time plate appearances.
     
    Whenever Sano arrives, the Twins would figure to have above-average home run production. I expect that the Twins will close the gap in long balls next year and perhaps out-homer their oppontents for the first time in more than a decade. An increase in power might cover regression in other areas.
  6. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from NoCryingInBaseball for a blog entry, More Power!   
    I have followed the Twins since they moved to Minnesota from DC. In the early days, the Twins excelled in hitting home runs. They had plenty of power at many positions led by perennial home run king Harmon Killebrew, who led the league in homers six times. However, since Mr. Nixon said "I am not a crook" (and Harmon declined), the Twins have had a severe power shortage. In the forty-plus years since 1973, the Twins have outhomered their opponents in only three seasons and by narrow margins.
     
    The 2014 Twins scored a lot of runs, but would have been an elite offensive club if they had hit more long balls. What is exciting is the promise that in the future they will have the players to turn around games with one swing. Oswaldo Arcia hit 20 homers in just 400 plate appearances last season. If his homer rate stays unchanged, he would hit 30 in a full season with 600+ PAs. Kennys Vargas hit nine homers in an extended trial late in the season. Again, with full-time plate appearances, that total should be in the mid-twenties for a full season. Add top prospect Miguel Sano, who homered 35 times in less than 500 PAs in his last minor league season (in pitcher-friendly and homer-averse leagues), and the Twins have a prospective middle of the order cluster that could easily hit 90 or more homers. Sano, Arcia and Vargas are all young and would figure to increase their power numbers.
     
    I haven't mentioned yet the Twins leader in home runs the last two years--Brian Dozier. He brings significantly above average power to a position that the Twins traditionally have filled with slap hitters (his last two seasons both set records for home runs by a Twins second baseman). Beyond that, current Twins backup catcher Josmil Pinto would also profile to hit a lot of homers with full-time plate appearances.
     
    Whenever Sano arrives, the Twins would figure to have above-average home run production. I expect that the Twins will close the gap in long balls next year and perhaps out-homer their oppontents for the first time in more than a decade. An increase in power might cover regression in other areas.
  7. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from Jessicaoa for a blog entry, Postseason Summary--Joe Mauer   
    Joe Mauer is a former MVP and a three-time batting champion. As a catcher, he has won five Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. These are Hall of Fame credentials for a 31-year-old. Last year, Mauer was shut down after suffering a concussion. The symptoms were present until well into the offseason. Mauer and his advisors decided it was time to give up catching. With the exit of Justin Morneau, a move to first base was an easy call.
     
    I was among those that thought that Mauer would be able to play more games and provide more power as long as he abandoned catching. For the 2014 season, I was wrong. Mauer had a career-low .277 batting average and managed only 518 plate appearances. Mauer's OPS and OPS+ approached career lows, as well, and he managed only 4 homers, about one homer per 130 plate appearances. In addition, Joe continued a disturbing trend of increasing strikeouts. He fanned 96 times, about 18.5% of the time, compared to maxing out at less than 12 percent his first eight years in the league. His strikeout percentage has increased dramatically each of his last three seasons.
     
    Mauer suffered injuries, missing games with back spasms and an elbow injury and getting disabled with an oblique injury that reportedly bothered him for most of the rest of the season. It has also been reported that Mauer was rusty coming in to the spring because he didn't have his normal workout regimen due to the concussion. Combined with the adjustment of switching fulltime to first base, Mauer had an uncomfortable first half of the season. At the All-Star break, he was hitting .271 with a .695 OPS. Joe picked up the pace after the All-Star break. His OBP after the break was .397 and his OPS after the break was .805.
     
    Mauer had pretty dramatic platoon splits. Against left handers, he managed only four extra base hits and had an OPS of .654 (.776 against right handers).
     
    No one can dispute that Mauer's numbers were far below career norms. The question is whether he is going hard in decline mode or whether he can recapture his Hall of Fame worthy form from his first ten years in the majors. No one really knows and no one knows the extent of the injuries, including the concussion he suffered in 2013. My speculation is that Mauer has long been a premier player using his somewhat unique approach. I think that he now needs to adjust that approach. He needs to be more aggressive early in the count and find pitches to drive. He also needs to be stronger, so that some of his 360 foot fly balls turn into 380 foot home runs.
     
    Defensively, Mauer looked uncomfortable at first at the beginning of the year. By playing 100 games at first, he got more comfortable and became a pretty good defensive first baseman. All of that matters little if he can't come back and again be a top hitter.
  8. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from Willihammer for a blog entry, Intangibles   
    The signing of Torii Hunter has brought off-the-field issues back to the fore for the Twins. Part of the reason for signing Hunter has been for clubhouse leadership, mentoring of young players, and also bring back fans to the park. Hunter's pros and cons in these areas have been analyzed more than the break on Phil Hughes' spike curve.
     
    I weighed in on several threads saying that it wasn't possible to measure if there would be any effect and I doubted there would be much effect anyway. This commentary does bring up questions about the Twins' clubhouse and whether a lack of leadership has been at the root of the Twins' struggles for the last four years.
     
    I am of the opinion that talent and winning are much more a component than whether Torii Hunter or Kirby Puckett are a positive clubhouse influence. I think that some of the guys who have been looked at as clubhouse leaders are more likely just the gregarious guys who give good quotes to the media.
     
    The Twins have had a succession of nice guys who are accessible such as Dozier, Cuddyer, Hunter and Puckett. I don't know if all of them were truly leaders or just media darlings. Guys like Joe Mauer have never been vocal, but they might be leaders just as well. To me, it is still much more about talent than it is about attitude.
  9. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from adjacent for a blog entry, Embarrassing   
    The Twins have just been swept by the Angels. They were competitive for three games, but got beat up on Sunday. The fact is that, despite a fairly good offense in the five games, the Twins had no chance because the Angels are superior in all facets of the game. At least some of the young guys are playing and a few are thriving. Kennys Vargas is hitting and slugging and Danny Santana is established as a good hitter who has played center field more than his natural position of shortstop.
     
    In the last four years, much has been made of the Twins' continuing futility and much of this stems from non-competitive Septembers. It sure looks like the same thing is happening again. Of course, this year, as mentioned above, they are playing some guys who will be around when the roster is turned over. What is particularly disappointing is that there apparently is no one ready to help the pitching staff. We've seen Phil Hughes go out almost every time and give the team a chance to win, Kyle Gibson has faded a bit, but has been satisfactory. Beyond that? Well, Ricky Nolasco has one good start since returning from the DL, Trevor May has improved, but previously was historically bad, the team has gotten nothing out of Tommy Milone. The bullpen is in tatters. All the guys who have been with the team all year seem to be worn out. The late-season reinforcements have been underwhelming and these are the guys that will be getting the first chance if some veteran arms are let go!
     
    Maybe this gives guys like Jake Reed and Burdi a quick path to the majors. Maybe it is time for management to change. I have been embarrassed by my favorite team in the last four years and I just don't think it has to be this bad.
  10. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from Sconnie for a blog entry, Position Players for 2015--Get used to what you're seeing   
    The Twins will probably lose 90 games this year. That doesn't mean that they will be making wholesale changes of their roster, at least not from the position player standpoint. After watching half of the Angel series, I'm convinced that all of the 13 position players that will head north out of Fort Myers are playing for the Twins right now. Most of the players are givens. A couple of guys will have competition and two of the jewels of the system will probably get their chance sometime in 2015, but what you are seeing is pretty close to what you will get in the spring of 2015.
     
    Here's my thirteen players: Regulars--Mauer, Dozier, Escobar, Plouffe, Santana, Hicks, Schafer, Arcia, Vargas, and Suzuki. Bench--Parmelee, Nunez, and Pinto. You notice I listed ten regulars. I am visualizing Santana as a tenth starter, around the infield and outfield. Hicks and Schafer share with Santana in left and center.
     
    This is a young lineup (basically) with both power and speed. This is essentially the same lineup that is leading the league in scoring since August 1. If Hicks tanks again, there are alternatives. I have started a thread and stated in other threads that I like both Nuñez and Parmelee as bench players. I also expect that Pinto will gain more time behind the plate next year and that by the end of the season, he may be sharing time or better with Suzuki.
     
    With exciting guys like Sano and Buxton perhaps just a phone call away by midseason, one has to be optimistic about the position players. The pitching staff? well, changes have to be made.
  11. Like
    stringer bell reacted to SD Buhr for a blog entry, Kernels Second Half Turnaround Almost Complete   
    Tuesday night's Cedar Rapids Kernels come-from-behind win over the Quad Cities River Bandits was bittersweet.
     
    On the one hand, they tallied three runs in the home half of the eighth inning and put away the Bandits for their eighth straight win. They swept three games in Beloit last week, three more from Peoria in Cedar Rapids over the weekend, and now the first two games of their series with the Bandits. The team also played to near-capacity home crowds on Friday and Saturday night.
     
    On the other hand, Kohl Stewart, the Twins' first round draft pick in 2013 and a key member of the Kernels' rotation all season long, left the game during the second inning with an as-yet-undetermined ailment. Regardless of the ultimate cause, it's a pretty safe bet Stewart has thrown his last pitch for this Cedar Rapids club in 2014.
     
    Stewart was one of the few bright spots for the Kernels during a challenging first half of the season. He notched a 2.44 ERA over the course of a dozen starts prior to the Midwest League's All-Star break in mid June.
     
    The Kernels finished sixth among the MWL Western Division's eight teams in the first half race with a 31-39 record, 14 games behind the first half West champion Kane County Cougars and 7.6 games behind second-place Burlington.
     
    The Midwest League breaks their schedule in to two halves, with the top two teams in each division, in each half of the season, qualifying for the postseason.
     
    The Kernels have certainly taken advantage of the split season arrangement by turning their season around 180 degrees in the second half.
     
    With 13 games to play following Tuesday night's win, the Kernels sit one game behind Kane County in the MWL West's second-half standings.
     
    Since the Cougars clinched their playoff spot in the first half, however, it doesn't matter how the Kernels fare with them. What matters is that they finish among the top two teams in their Division who have not already qualified in the first half.
     
    Going in to Wednesday's series finale with Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids holds a six game lead over third place Wisconsin and a nine game lead over fourth place Peoria. That means their "magic number" for qualifying for the playoffs sits at 5.
     
    How did this happen? How did a team go from a 31-39 first-half record to a 36-21 record, so far, in the second half? Certainly, not many fans gave the Kernels much chance of making the playoffs two months ago.
     
    Their manager, Jake Mauer, and coaches Tommy Watkins and Ivan Arteaga, gave their thoughts on the subject on Sunday, which was three Kernels wins (and three Peoria losses) ago.
     
    "Pitching is probably number 1," said Mauer. "We’ve shaved a whole run off our (team) ERA. Obviously we’re a little different at the back end of the bullpen than we were early on."
     
    It hasn't all been improved pitching, however. Mauer also was quick to mention some newcomers to the offense that have contributed.
     
    "Some of the additions, obviously Logan Wade and (Alex) Swim have been huge. Max Murphy’s been a good addition," added the manager.
    http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/P8170025-2-600x443.jpg
    Max Murphy

    The Kernels have lost some very good players, as well, of course. Several pitchers and position players have earned promotions to high-A Fort Myers, which is what led to the new players arriving in Cedar Rapids.
    Players coming and going is just part of minor league life.
     
    Mauer pointed out another pretty major difference between his club's first and second half fortunes.
    "We’re keeping guys healthy, like (Mitch) Garver and (Engelb) Vielma and guys like that," observed Mauer. "I think that really is the reason why we’re where we’re at.
    http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/P8170011-2-600x450.jpg
    Engelb Vielma (1)

    "We went through a tough stretch there early. It seemed like somebody was going down every week. We’re still missing three of our top arms in our organization who are still down with surgery. Obviously, it gave a good opportunity to get up here to (Mat) Batts and (Chih-Wei) Hu and (Stephen) Gonsalves and (Lewis) Thorpe. They’ve really been holding down the majority of the big innings for us."
     
    Watkins, the Kernels hitting coach, echoes many of Mauer's thoughts.
     
    "I think we’ve stayed healthy, for the most part. It seemed like every other day we were losing somebody in the first half. But for the most part, outside of some minor bumps and bruises, we’ve been pretty healthy the second half."
    Watkins also sensed a change in the consistency of the team's performance.
     
    "In the beginning, we didn’t click on both sides. One day we would hit, we didn’t pitch. One day we would pitch, we didn’t hit," Watkins added. "Now it seems like we’re getting timely hitting, pitching. The defense is making some plays.
     
    "All the pitchers are doing well but we’ve got a few guys at the back end of that bullpen that have been pretty lights-out for us. We give those guys some leads and they’ve been pretty good lately."
     
    Watkins has seen a change in the clubhouse, as well as on the field.
     
    "I just think the overall confidence right now, the guys are a lot better. The guys are loose, they’re having fun with each other. We came in here the other day, they were doing Kangaroo Court with each other. They’re just having fun right now. They’re winning baseball games, so it’s been a lot of fun."
     
    There's little doubt that the biggest change in the Kernels' fortunes in the second half has come on the pitcher's mound. That being the case, it stands to reason that Arteaga, the Kernels pitching coach, would have a great deal of insight in to how those fortunes changed for the better in the season's second half.
     
    He summed up the reasons for the improvement in the club's pitching in two words, "Experience and chemistry."
     
    "They go hand in hand," he explained. "Early, we went through some growing pains, pitching wise."
     
    Arteaga noted that the team lost three highly rated young pitchers in the first half that the organization had been counting on to play big roles for the Kernels. Felix Jorge struggled and was sent back to extended spring training and, ultimately, to Elizabethton. Randy Rosario and Yorman Landa got hurt, ending their seasons.
     
    Pitchers that remained in Cedar Rapids also went through some rough patches early.
     
    "(Aaron) Slegers had a rough go for about a month," added the coach. "He was working on some stuff. (Ryan) Eades was learning a lot of things about the league and about himself. Our relievers went through some growing pains. We had Hudson Boyd - early, he was very good. He had a rough go for about three or four outings.
    http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/P8170002-2-600x450.jpg
    Ryan Eades

    "So everybody’s learning. Like I said when I first got here, it is a process. They get to learn the league. They get to learn the hitters. They get to learn themselves. Work on a different pitch, work on the delivery. Work on some stuff.
     
    "It’s growing pains. Kids like Eades, you know, second round pick, he learned a lot this year. And you get a guy like Stewart - first round pick. He learned a lot this year. In the first half, you have a lot of learning to do. A lot of growing pains.
     
    "And we didn’t do that bad. Not what we wanted to, but we weren’t that bad."
     
    In the second half, though, the pitching went from, "not bad," to very, very good.
     
    "Then we got the new boys. We got Thorpe, we got Hu, we had Gonsalves, Batts, Burdi, Reed, Gallant. They brought a different mindset and obviously we’ve been doing very well."
     
    Arteaga also agrees with Watkins' observation that the success is reflected off the field as much as on.
     
    "I think that the learning, gaining some experience and at the same time, we’re winning. You see a different atmosphere in there ( the clubhouse). It’s a different environment. It’s chemistry. They like each other. They talk to each other. When you get that, which is chemistry, it shows on the field.
     
    "They come here every day with effort, with a purpose they have in mind. They know, they can feel the possibility of being in the playoffs - how great that’s going to be for the players to experience that. Some of them in their first year of full season. I hope that they actually embrace the possibility."
     
    If the players are excited about postseason possibilities, they aren't alone. Arteaga is right there with them.
    "Personally, I’m very excited by it because I went through a lot of things this year with these guys. To try to teach the pitchers the fundamentals of baseball, the fundamentals of pitching, pitch sequence, just the growing pains. And just the things you see, to me, it’s very rewarding.
    http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/P8150251-2-600x449.jpg
    Stephen Gonsalves

    "I guarantee you that there’s not a better feeling than seeing these guys playing every day and understanding the moment. And going out and playing the way they played Peoria and the way they played on the road (in Beloit)."
     
    Of course, winning championships is great. But is winning really important for minor league affiliates?
    It's important, of course, to the local fans who want to see a winner. But some fans of the Major League affiliate see minor league games as little more than exhibition games, attaching little, if any, value to won-loss record.
     
    Arteaga clearly feels winning is important, but not necessarily the most important thing.
     
    "We (the Twins organization) have a philosophy. Basically, we want to develop winners. And the only way you can develop winners is by teaching the process, by teaching the fundamentals of baseball.
     
    "Now, we are very careful with the amount of innings, the activities that we do. Teaching the game the right way, the Twins way.
     
    "But one thing that we don’t do, is to go the extra mile to try to win. We want these guys to win, but I won’t pitch my guys two days in a row. I won’t pitch my guy 125 pitches because I want to win one game. We won’t do that. We have a program. That program works. It’s good. We stick to it. It is our job as coaches to teach these guys how to win. To motivate these guys every day."
     
    Make no mistake, though, talking about a playoff run brings a smile to the coach's face.
     
    "When you go to the postseason, there’s a difference," Arteaga concluded. "That’s what we want these guys to experience. When it’s only you. There’s nobody else playing, just you playing. (Others) going home. They’re going on American Airlines somewhere. You’re not. You’re still playing. That’s the beauty of postseason. You’re sending somebody else home and you’re playing. So that’s good."
  12. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Speed, Defense and Perpetual Hope   
    Dick Bremer broached the subject of outfield defense in tonight's broadcast. He spoke of the Twins' wishes to have more athletic, speedier defenders in the outfield, particularly the corners. As with most things Bremer says, I am sure he is clear that the Twins want the topic out there or he wouldn't bring it up. In my mind, this brings up the acquisition of Jordan Schafer, who is 27 and has shown superior speed (and base stealing skill), while being deficient in most other areas. The Twins are getting a good look at Schafer (33 PAs so far this month) and he has utilized his base stealing skill.
     
    Actually, Schafer has been rather impressive in an extremely small sample size. He is 9 for 28, six for six stealing bases, and has made no glaring misplays in the field. Once thought to be a top prospect, maybe just maybe, could Schafer become more than a pinch runner? There's always a chance. The Twins are due to strike gold on a player given up on by other organizations. They have had their share of times where a player develops/evolves into a good player after the Twins have given him away for little or nothing. It is time for some payback.
     
    In light of the merry-go-round that has happened in center field the last two years, it would be heartening for Schafer to be part of the solution to the problem. More likely, however, the best the Twins can hope for with a career .223 hitter (1280 PAs) is someone who hits enough to be a fourth outfielder. Having a fourth OF, who could player center along with the corners and who could be decent defensively and provide value as a pinch runner would be pretty good for claiming a guy off the scrap heap.
     
    Another fast guy is Danny Santana. He has been given over 250 plate appearances since being recalled in May, mostly because the Twins didn't have anyone else available to call up from their 40-man roster. Santana has spent most of his time in center, and although he had hardly played there, he has been an adequate defender and has hit surprisingly well. Could Danny Santana be the solution to the center field problem? Two months ago, I would have said "no way, no how", a month ago, "barely a chance" and now I'm thinking "if no one else is ready, why not?" Santana is still regarded as a shortstop by the Twins organization, but if 1) Eduardo Escobar continues to be an above-average shortstop and 2) no one steps forward in center, then Santana should start 2015 as the Twins regular center fielder.
     
    What about the prospects? The Twins have three guys who have been or still are regarded as top prospects for center field in the upper minors--Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario, and #1 prospect Byron Buxton--and if any of those guys seizes center field it will be good for the organization. Each has their question marks--Hicks has failed twice to hold on to center for the Twins, Rosario has flirted with becoming a second baseman, been suspended for street drugs, and is currently hitting <.250 at AA, and Buxton has had an injury riddled season and only played one game above Class A. There is a lot of talent there, but also a lot of question marks and no guarantees.
     
    The prudent thing to do IMHO is to open center field up for a wide-open competition in the spring. Unless he tanks dramatically in the last six weeks, Santana will be starting somewhere. It probably would increase his value even more if Santana would be an option in left field as well as center. Hicks and Rosario have gotten reps in the corners as well as center and if one of them step forward, perhaps they could be playing a corner OF spot. Left field could be a consolation prize for one of the guys trying to become the Twins' regular center fielder. Finally, if the hype is to be believed, when Buxton arrives, he will take over center field for as long as he is a Twin.
     
    Having an outfield with two fast guys being out there between Buxton, Rosario, Hicks, Santana and Schafer would probably go a long way towards improving a leaky outfield. It also could provide excitement on the base paths and give the Twins balance between power and speed. If Santana claims shortstop, there is one less contestant in the competition, but regardless, it would be nice to see range out of at least two of the three outfield positions.
  13. Like
    stringer bell got a reaction from curt1965 for a blog entry, Roster Issues   
    Over the past few years the Twins have made several roster moves which I would charitably call "puzzling". The addition of Matt Guerrier when the club needed multiple outfielders, the carrying of alternately three catchers or thirteen pitchers, the recall of Polanco from Single A, the recalls of Kris Johnson and Logan Darnell to start games when acknowledged better prospects are in Triple A are just some examples.
     
    I suggest that many of these decisions are based on a flawed 40-man roster. Some candidates worthy of promotion are not on the expanded roster, too many minor leaguers on the 40-man are not worthy of being in the majors, and too many marginal players on the active roster are frozen there because they can't be optioned to the minors. Several players who may have been optioned at one point can't be because they would have to be DFAed, and if they cleared they would have the option to declare free agency.
     
    Anthony Swarzak, Samuel Deduno, Chris Parmelee and Eduardo Escobar are all out of options. Escobar has cemented his status as a major leaguer and Parmelee may have, but it would have been in the Twins' best interests to demote either or both of the pitchers at some point this season. That is why next year, I am hoping one or both of pitchers is traded, non-tendered or released so that a player with flexibility (for example Yohan Pino) could take their place.
     
    The Twins were so thin in outfield depth that they were forced to use several infielders in the outfield this year. They have lost centerfield depth because the 40-man was filled and they attempted to designate players (Alex Presley, Darrin Mastroianni, Kenny Wilson) off either the active roster or 40-man.
     
    I respect Terry Ryan's ability to judge talent and I expect the next twelve months will be better in respect to roster issues than the past year has been. However, it cripples a team to have so little roster flexibility and the Twins need to do better.
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