Results tagged ‘ Brendan Harris ’
After a team-wide collapse during the final months of 2007, the Twins were a ballclub in desperate need of hitters. The thought was, at least at the time, that the Twins had a solid stable of starters and a deep bullpen, so Matt Garza (and Jason Bartlett) were deemed expendable and sent to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young (and Brendan Harris). Unfortunately, Young never quite fit in with the Twins organization and is now a Tiger.
In 2008, with the promise of power based on a solid TB rookie campaign, Delmon hit .290 with little power. In 2009, he hit about .290 with…little power. In 2010, he hit about .300 with 21 homers and 110+ RBI. So far this season, he’s missed much time on the DL and never really found his stroke.
Basically, there are two Delmon Young’s:
The first Delmon can put a team on his shoulders from the middle of the order. When he’s locked in, he’s almost Vlad Guerrero-like with his free-swinging ways. He (more than probably any other Twin) took the “sage” advice of Tony Oliva in this now-infamous TV spot…
The other Delmon, however…
…was an out machine when swinging at those early pitches, completely unable to draw walks or move runners along. In the field, he was a complete klutz. Though sometimes he’ll dive and catch a ball, it is usually because he misplayed it so thoroughly to begin with. He just doesn’t have any natural coordination in the field.
Sadly, that “second” Delmon Young was much more apparent as a Twin than the first. Looking back, I can’t blame the Twins for giving Young a try. At the time, we though we were getting two above average hitters for a pitcher (in Garza) that needed a change of scenery and a hitter (in Bartlett) who didn’t blossom until his Tampa stay.
However, it just didn’t work out.
Two down (gone to the Orioles) for now…
JJ Hardy: You know, I’m willing to bet that we can find a guy who can hit .268 with no power, no RBI’s, no speed, and who won’t even go through an error-prone stretch in the field. Didn’t see him as having an impact on our team whatsoever last season (maybe the injured wrist hampered him all season long).
Brendan Harris: Came from TB (with Delmon) with all this hype, but failed in almost all respects. Was an abomination at 2B, couldn’t beat out Punto for 3B, and wasn’t athletic enough to hold down SS. Had one good month or two hitting stretch in three years, otherwise was inconsistent at the very best.
We got a couple fireballers (Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson) from Baltimore, which sounds like a decent wager for these two mediocre players.
Maybe I’m just in a harsh mood tonight, but I don’t see the Twins missing either of these guys whatsoever.
Last year ended (at least the regular season) about as exciting as a Twins season has ever come to a close (see above).
This year obviously felt a little different. For most of today’s regular season finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, the 3-4-5 batters were: Drew Butera, Ben Revere, and Trevor Plouffe.
This occured due to the Twins trying to rest guys for the playoffs, but it was still a bit disconcerting to see the team lose so many games after clinching. I’m not too worried, though, for this reason:
Last year in the ALDS against the Yankees, the Twins Brendan Harris, Nick Punto, and Matt Tolbert in the starting lineup. No such thing will happen this year, as those guys are replaced (respectively) by Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson, and Danny Valencia.
We know that our first-round opponent this year will again be the Yankees, but I’ll have more on that matchup in a later post.
Final AL Central Standings:
|Chi White Sox||88||-74||6.0|
I think the Twins have a new “Mr. Clutch”. After years of struggling with experimental third basemen since Corey Koskie decided to move on to his native land, names like Cuddyer, Tiffee, Batista, Buscher, Lamb, and Harris come to mind, from out of nowhere this year comes Danny Valencia to provide the tandem of great defense and superb hitting, especially in the clutch, as he proved tonight with his walk-off hit against the Tigers.
The Twins have needed a guy like him for a long, long time.
Preview (77-56, 1st, 4.0 GA CWS): Justin Verlander (14-8, 3.58) vs. Scott Baker (12-9, 4.55).
This past weekend, the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves (both leaders of their respective divisions) played some hard-fought games that brought to mind another series between each club that you might remember:
On Friday night, Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson locked horns in an epic pitchers duel (I was at this one in person!). Frankie struck out seven batters in a row at one point (tying a club record), and the Twins did Hudson in with one productive inning in the seventh.
For Saturday’s game, another pitching lockup commenced, this time with Nick Blackburn taking the hard-luck loss to Derek Lowe.
In the finale, Kevin Slowey came back down to earth after a series of outstanding starts, and the Twins effectively lost after the second inning (down 5-0). Delmon Young did continue his hot hitting with a three-run bomb, though.
-It was nice to see the Twins organization recognize Bobby Cox before the opening game of the series (Cox has announced his retirement from managing effective at the end of this season). He truly is a class act who will be sorely missed by Atlanta and all MLB.
-Boy, is Delmon ever on a tear! Of course, he is also prone to those bone-dry stretches as well, so is it really necessary to re-hash the Garza/Bartlett for Young/Harris trade every time he goes on a streak?!
-We need to get healthy. We may be able to beat some NL clubs (like the incoming Rockies) with the likes of Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe in the lineup, but we need O-Dawg and JJ back to compete with the big boys offensively.
Preview (36-27, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): Aaron Cook (2-3, 4.76) vs. Carl Pavano (6-6, 3.92). Does Pavano ever get a no-decision? I’m kidding…that’s actually a positive thing, as it means he’s pitching deep into games.
Well, the Twins were able to right the ship this weekend in Oakland (taking two of three from the A’s) after a rough week in Seattle. Despite some shakiness of late and a rash of injuries/sickness, we’re still managing to win enough ballgames to not feel much heat from the Tigers.
I would like to touch on a subject that really got under my skin yesterday:
In the eighth inning of yesterday’s game, the Twins finally were rallying to try and make things interesting. Delmon Young whalloped a two-run dinger to get the Twins within one, then Jim Thome doubled to put the tying run in scoring position. Up to the plate came Brendan Harris, who proceeded to quickly strike out, taking a called third strike right down broadway and proceeding to berate the ump for the easiest call he made all night:
Right now, I don’t think I could be more sick of Harris. A little history:
After the 2007 season, the Twins traded for Harris (along with Young) in the swap that netted the Rays Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.
It was thought that Harris would be our everyday second baseman in 2008, but that experiment failed miserably, as Harris could not field the position. Thus, in 2008-2010, he has bounced around between third base and shortstop, never being able to land a starting gig for any prolonged period of time. Were he even just a decently consistent hitter, he could easily see more playing time over the likes of Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert, but (although his bat sometimes has a little pop in it) he is prone to streaks where he is about as automatic an out as is human possible.
This season, Harris’ average has hovered around .150, but it is his attitude that really bothers me. When Justin Morneau or Michael Cuddyer strike out looking (and know it), they might show some frustration, but only at themselves. Harris, on the other hand, is: A. So lost at the plate that he apparently doesn’t know what a strike is or isn’t anymore; and B. Ready, willing, and able to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of anyone else, preferably the umpires.
I usually don’t like singling players out like this, but in this case I’ve just had it with Harris’ antics.
Well, after a few games against Baltimore (two losses and one win) in which the lineup didn’t exactly produce a bevy of runs, the bats came through today, albeit in the most unlikely of places. Though Joe Mauer had a key hit towards the end of the game, it was the 8-2 slots in the order that did most (all!) of the damage…
Brendan Harris: 3-4, 2 R
Alexi Casilla: 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI
Denard Span: 3-4, 2 R, 3 RBI
Nick Punto: 2-3, 2 RBI
This is nice to see from this club, as the 2006 season proved what magic can happen when both the big boppers and scrappy “piranhas” alternate in picking each other up.
Of course, it helped today that Nick Blackburn stymied the O’s bats for seven innings (what should happen when one faces that dead-end squad). After missing his previous scheduled start due to a family emergency, it was nice to see Blackie turn in a great effort after struggling so in the month of April.
In other news, the reason for the week-long break from this blog was due to the fact that our family just completely the vast majority of a move from Fergus Falls, Minnesota (the town I had grown up in since Kindergarten) to Forest Lake, MN, a town about 30 miles or so north of the Metro area. The negative: Uprooting an entire family (I’m currently living with my parents and multiple siblings). The positive: Closer to Target Field!!
Preview (21-11, 1st, 3.5 GA DET): Freddy Garcia (1-2, 5.28) vs. Kevin Slowey (4-2, 4.93). Off day Monday (I bet Mauer is relaxing at his cabin already!) before the rival ChiSox make their first trip to our new home turf. Let’s home it is just as “accommodating” to them as the old place.
The last time reliever Jon Rauch was on the mound to start a ninth-inning save situation, he was closing out games for the worst team in the National League…
Now, he’ll (hopefully) be doing much of the same, only this time for a competitive squad in the junior circuit:
Today, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced that Rauch will be closing games for the Twins in 2010 (at least to start the year). This didn’t surprise me one bit, considering the big man’s experience in the final frame. If he suceeds, then great. If he fails, then perhaps Neshek will be ready.
No word yet on an entrance theme. Perhaps something from “Papa Roach”?!
In other late Spring Training news:
Brendan Harris hit .357 during the Florida exhibitions, Nick Punto finished in the low .200s. Guess who will be starting on Opening Day? If you know Gardy, the answer will be obvious.
Now that the Twins are cranking things up down in Fort Myers, here is a little preview of what to expect in terms of the build-up to Opening Day 2010:
Last Year: 87-76, 1st in American League Central Division (1 GA of Detroit Tigers), lost to New York Yankees in ALDS (3-0).
Manager: Once again, the Twins will have Ron Gardenhire at the helm. Since taking the reins from Tom Kelly back in 2002, Gardy has posted a 709-588 (.547) record with the Twins. Besides the lone 1969 Billy Martin tenure, that winning percentage constitutes the highest mark in franchise history, and trails only TK (1140-1244) in overall wins.
Venue: After nearly three decades of playing in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the Twins will now christen open-air Target Field as their new home. Dimensions: LF-339, LCF-377, CF-404, RCF-367, RF-328.
Projected Starting Lineup & Positions:
- Denard Span (R), CF (2009 stats: .311 BA, 97 R, 180 H, 23 SB, .807 OPS): Though primarily just a singles hitter who runs the bases well, Span is very adept at working counts, getting on base, and coming up big in the clutch. The best lead-off hitter wearing “TC” since Chuck Knoblauch jumped ship. Plays Torii Hunter-like defense in the outfield.
- Orlando Hudson (S), 2B (for LA Dodgers: .283 BA, 74 R, 35 2B, .774 OPS, All-Star, Gold Glove): One of the newcomers this year. Can’t say I’ve watched him play much, but the stats don’t seem to lie. He’s very comparable to the departed Orlando Cabrera, who did wonders for the top of the order down the stretch in ’09.
- Joe Mauer (L), C (.365 BA, 94 R, 96 RBI, 28 HR, 1.031 OPS, All-Star, Gold Glove, MVP, Silver Slugger): Perhaps the most talented player in baseball this side of Albert Pujols. The kind of guy who could hit .320 and call it a “down year”.
- Justin Morneau (L), 1B (.274 BA, 100 RBI, 30 HR, .878 OPS, All-Star): Take a look at those stats, and then consider he missed the final month of ’09 due to injury. His ability to hit for average and maintain a selective eye separates him from the hackers.
- Michael Cuddyer (R), RF (.276 BA, 93 R, 94 RBI, 32 HR, .862 OPS): The biggest hurdle for Cuddy is making it through an entire season. When hurt, he struggles with things like consistency and strike outs. When healthy, he puts up numbers like last season. Possesses a rifle arm.
- Jason Kubel (L), DH (.300 BA, 28 HR, 103 RBI, .907 OPS): Could be the cleanup hitter in many other teams’ lineups. Is just coming into his own (a bit late) after struggling through a serious knee injury as a rookie. Can also more than hold his own in the outfield, where he may find himself on more than a few occasions if Jim Thome heats up.
- Delmon Young (R), LF (.284 BA, 60 RBI, 12 HR, .733 OPS): Will be the first to sit if Kubel and Thome play their way into the lineup, but also has tremendous upside. Is clumsy in the field (but just good enough to make up for it) and prone to hitting nothing but singles for long stretches, but when locked in can be a deadly force.
- J.J. Hardy (R), SS (for Milwaukee Brewers: .229 BA, 53 R, 47 RBI, 11 HR, .659 OPS): The Twins are hoping for the ’07-’08 Hardy to re-emerge…the one who hit 25+ homers and posted a respectable average. The verdict is still out on his D, which is decent but not Punto-like.
- Nick Punto (S) (.228 BA, 56 R, 82 H, 16 SB, .621 OPS) or Brendan Harris (R), 3B (.261 BA, 44 R, 108 H, .672 OPS): A classic “offense vs. defense” choice here. Gardy loves Punto for the defense he brings to the infield, but Little Nicky is often an albatross at the bottom of the order. Harris is an average fielder, but can rattle one off the wall every so often.
- Jim Thome (DH/1B, L) (for White Sox & Dodgers: .249 BA, 23 HR, 77 RBI, .847 OPS): Hopefully the big bat the Twins have desperately needed off the pine. Could easily play his way into everyday lineup if balls start clearing the walls.
- Jose Morales (C, S) (.311 BA, 119 AB, .742 OPS): Showed enough poise as a youngster for the Twins to let veteran Mike Redmond leave.
- Alexi Casilla (2B, S) (.202, 228 AB, .538 OPS): At times provides a spark to the top of the order and plays flashy D, but is still far too prone to mental errors/goofs that Gardy can’t stand.
- Matt Tolbert (IF, S) (.232, 198 AB, .611 OPS): Plays the kind of scrappy ball and defense that the manager loves and his adept at handling the bat (if not racking up hits).
-Others battling for roster spots include Drew Butera (C), Wilson Ramos (C), Jacque Jones (OF), Luke Hughes (IF), Trevor Plouffe (IF), and Danny Valencia (IF).
- Scott Baker (RHP, 15-9, 4.36 ERA, 200 IP): Baker has shown spurts of ace-like outings, but needs to consistently pitch further into games to really match up against the league’s best.
- Nick Blackburn (RHP, 11-11, 4.03 ERA, 205.2 IP): Has a knack for coming up big in the clutch starts, but also needs to work on consistency. A typical sinkerball pitcher in that if the ball isn’t diving, it’s jumping (off bats, that is).
- Kevin Slowey (RHP, 10-3, 4.86 ERA, 90.2 IP): At times looks like the second coming of Brad Radke, but needs to stay healthy for an entire season to prove it. Has absolutely pin-point accuracy with an assortment of pitches to keep the hitters guessing.
- Carl Pavano (RHP, 5-4, 4.64 ERA, 73.2 IP): The only veteran in the starting rotation, but his overall effectiveness is questionable. Showed he could compete against the AL Central after being acquired during the latter months of the season, but needs to prove his worth against the “big boys” of the league.
- Francisco Liriano (LHP, 5-13, 5.80 ERA, 136.2 IP), Glen Perkins (LHP, 6-7, 5.89 ERA, 96.1 IP), Brian Duensing (LHP, 5-2, 3.64 ERA, 84 IP), Anthony Swarzak (RHP, 3-7, 6.25 ERA, 59 IP), or Jeff Manship (RHP, 1-1, 5.68 ERA, 31.2 IP): Liriano is obviously the wild card of this group, as he could become unquestioned ace of the staff or play himself right out of the majors. Perkins is not on the organization’s good side after squabbles over service time and just plain poor performance, while Duensing is the conservative pick after impressing in the heat of the pennant race last year. Swarzak and/or Manship would have to pitch their tails off to even warrant consideration.
- Joe Nathan (RHP, 2.10 ERA, 68.2 IP, 47 SV): Still a top-tier closer in all of baseball, but somehow needs to shake late- (and post-) season demons. Too many batters (7) tagged him with the long ball last year, so that is a good place to start.
- Matt Guerrier (RHP, 2.36 ERA, 76.1 IP): The primary setup man to Nathan. Is very solid, but fatigue always an issue due to over-use.
- Jose Mijares (LHP, 2.34 ERA, 61.2 IP): The lefty-lefty matchup guy who his almost unhittable when in decent shape and possessing a clear head. Has tendency to put balls in the dirt and sometimes inexplicably loses his control for short periods of time.
- Pat Neshek (RHP, DNP-Injured): After missing almost two whole seasons due to Tommy John surgery, the side-winding Minnesota native is back to confuse opponents once again. Could be a god-send to take some of the strain off Matty G.
- Jon Rauch (RHP, 1.72 ERA, 15.2 IP): One of the big (literally!) reasons the Twins made the playoffs last season. Is very flexible in terms of duration (1-3 innings).
- Jesse Crain (RHP, 4.70 ERA, 51.2 IP): An enigma: some fans love his electric stuff, while others cringe at his predictability, wobbly control, and inability to pitch out of jams after creating them.
- Clay Condrey (RHP, for Philadelphia: 3.00 ERA, 42 IP): A newcomer who is coming off two solid seasons in the National League. Adds valuable depth to a unit that would often carry a green rookie or past-his-prime vet in this spot.
Prediction: If the starting pitching holds up for the entire season and the bats produce even a trifling of what they should, this could be a very scary team. Must prove first and foremost that, as well as beating up on the Kansas City’s and Cleveland’s of the world, they now have the firepower to take on the likes of New York and Anaheim (teams that destroyed them in ’09). A division championship is a very achievable goal, with the sights set on further venturing into the playoff tournament.
At the end of last season, the Twins picked up Orlando Cabrera…
…to anchor the SS position and provide some pop at the top of the order.
Unfortunately, Cabrera is somewhat of a bid-hunter in the baseball business, and thus was all but assured a ticket elsewhere. So, just a few days ago, the Twins picked up another Orlando (this one carrying the moniker of Hudson)…
…to, once again, anchor an infield position (this time 2B) and hit in between Denard “Singles Machine” Span and Joe “Drive ‘Em In” Mauer.
I really like this move, as it continues to reduce the number of weak outs the Twins have in their lineup. A possible Opening-Day squad now looks like this:
1. Denard Span
2. Orlando Hudson
3. Joe Mauer
4. Justin Morneau
5. Michael Cuddyer
6. Jason Kubel
7. Delmon Young
8. J.J. Hardy
9. Nick Punto/Brendan Harris
Compared to past years, that lineup has the real potential to put some feet on home plate.
I have to give it to the Twins organization this season for opening up the wallet a bit. The combination of “new stadium funds” and “trying to woo Mauer into staying” seems to be working quite well together! Instead of just treading water and competing in our weak division, if our pitching gets back on track we could have a real contending squad.