Results tagged ‘ Carlos Gomez ’
If you missed the first three innings of tonight’s Twins-Brewers contest at Miller Park, you were pretty much out of luck action wise. The Twins put seven runs up on the board in those three frames, with Carlos Gomez getting a hit in each!
The bad news is that Liriano stunk once again, allowing three runs over five innings but walking guys all over the park, giving up deep flys, and then getting a lucky strikeout to end an inning. He was essentially in trouble all night, yet ended up getting the win.
However, the bullpen (Dickey-Guerrier-Nathan) was able to take care of the latter four innings in perfect fashion, something that cannot be underestimated by the Twins pen on the road against a decent team. I always love it when Nathan completely blows away the side in the ninth, and that is EXACTLY what happened tonight.
About the only thing that made the game less enjoyable was that my FSN North station was crap for the entire game. It would skip, jerk, and blank out at intervals just enough to be maddening. Did anyone else have this problem? I hope it doesn’t continue into tomorrow.
-You know, Joe Crede has got to be one of the most productive .230 hitters I have ever seen. I don’t know how a guy with a batting average that low that provides so much offense when in the lineup. He must never hit any singles, just extra-base knocks.
-I guess that before Luis Ayala was designated for assignment yesterday, he complained to Gardy about his role in the pen, as he thought he should (and was brought onto the team) to be the primary setup man. Basically, that tells me why he didn’t last very long here in Minny, what with our general preference for team-first kind of guys. Nobody gets a free ride around here. He made have had one decent season in the National League, but when transferring to a different organization you have to prove yourself all over again. The only thing he proved is that he could give up deep gopher balls with men on base.
-Also, as if this needs to be prefaced, Delmon Young made himself look silly out in left field tonight. He had one nice running catch, but later on he misplayed a carom so badly that he fell down on the completely opposite direction of the ball. Would have been quite funny if not for the fact that Young is getting a reputation for that sort of clumsiness.
Preview (36-36, 2nd, 4.0 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (6-2, 3.09) vs. Braden Looper (5-4, 5.21).
Yep, it was that kind of day today. Carlos Gomez just about knocked himself out with a bunt attempt (something I honestly think only Go-Go could accomplish), the Twins only collected two hits, and once again the overall record dropped below the .500 mark.
Plus, Glen Perkins gave up three runs in the first inning, and despite settling down after that, the Twins’ bats couldn’t touch Wandy Rodriguez.
I guess the Twins were just following the well-laden pattern of getting completely shut down on Sunday afternoons no matter what the venue or opposing starting pitcher (although the “lefty” and “on the road” combination might as well equal a loss every time). Perhaps this is just an errant thought from myself (imagine that!), but I would be willing to almost bet that, since Gardy took over in 2002 as manager, the Twins (day-of-the-week wise) have played their worst baseball on Sundays. There’s a challenge for all you stat nerds out there…figure out the Twins’ record per day since 2002. Heck, if “Plunking Gomez” can make Jesse Crain’s stats look good, anything can happen (!).
Oh well, at least something exciting happened today (and no, it’s not that I figured out how to do that cool word-linking thing).
Preview (35-36, 2nd, 4.0 GB DET): Francisco Liriano (2-8, 5.91) vs. Jeff Suppan (5-4, 4.48). Off on Monday, then jetting to Milwaukee for a Tuesday night game. Am excited to watch the Twins pitchers hit again!
Truth be told, I think that Ron Gardenhire is a good manager for the Minnesota Twins. For a team that is always developing young players because we don’t have enough money to spend on the big boys, Gardy also seems to have the right touch to bring the young guys along in the best possible manner. He may play favorites (Nick Punto, Jesse Crain) and once you get in his doghouse (Delmon Young) it’s tough to get back in the main living quarters, but all in all he seems like a good guy who works hard and demands the same of his team.
That being said, there are some days that I just want to hate on him…and today is one of those days. As is his custom, Gardy put out his “Getaway” lineup featuring a stretch of batters that included Brian Buscher, Young, Mike Redmond, Punto, Carlos Gomez, and Matt Tolbert. Joe Crede (hit by pitch the day before), Joe Mauer (general day off), and Denard Span (flu-like symptoms) were all out of the lineup. While I agree with the Span “benching”, why were BOTH Crede and Jo-Mo on the bench at the same time against arguably the best team in the American League right now?! The Red Sox trot out the likes of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Bay, Youkilis, and Lowell, while the Twins counter with that above quintet of guys who will make more outs than hits and inspire little confidence.
I guess it just really hit home to me after Mauer hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth off Papelbon, thinking “what would have happened if Mauer (and Crede) had been in the lineup all game long?”. Mauer would have probably gotten a couple of hits (he is so locked in right now), while Crede wouldn’t have let three balls by him in one inning (yes, they were tough plays, but Crede may have made them).
When playing the BoSox, one has to expect that many runs will need to be scored to win the contest, and Gardy just didn’t put out a viable lineup today to do that. Of course, he can probably justify every move, and perhaps be correct in the long run, but I still just want to pout for awhile anyway at a loss that could have been a whole lot different.
Preview (22-24, 3rd, 4.5 GB DET): Jon Lester (3-4, 5.91) vs. Nick Blackburn (3-2, 3.83). Blackie has been carrying the pitching staff as of late, and I look for that streak to continue.
One of the surprises of the 2009 Minnesota Twins’ season so far has been the reduced playing time of Carlos Gomez. Whereas last year Gomez seem to be the catalyst of the batting order more times than not, this year he starts about one in every four games or so. Conspiracy theorists like to point out that perhaps Delmon Young is “stealing” Go-Go’s playing time to maximize his trade potential come mid-season, but I think the fact of the matter is that Young can keep his batting average above .250, while Gomez cannot.
Right now, Gomez (while improving defensively…he is taking much better routes to balls and I haven’t seen him overrun a grounder yet) is completely lost at the plate. He takes swings that often embarrassing and his pretty much a goner if the pitcher ever gets two strikes on him.
I hope I am wrong in this parallel, but currently Carlos Gomez is falling into the pattern of another young, exciting player who never lived up to his potential:
During the late 1990s, with the Twins a perenniel cellar-dweller, I jumped on the bandwagon of the New York Mets, partly because I hated their chief rival the Atlanta Braves and partly because I just wanted to cheer for someone in the playoffs! Thus, during the 2000 playoffs, I remember watching young Timo Perez make a tremendous impact for the Mets. Timo only played about 20 games for the Mets that entire ’00 season, but he made a big enough impact with his torrid September play that he made the playoff roster. For that one month and during most of the postseason, Timo was the catalyst for the entire Mets’ lineup, whether it was getting on base, stealing them, or hitting line drives all over the field. Unfortunately, Perez is probably best remembered for his baserunner blunder that may have cost the Mets a game in the 2000 “Subway” World Series with the Yankees, but he was the kind of player that seemed to have a bright future in New York.
However, a telling sign was the two hits that Perez collected the ENTIRE World Series. Thus, it was obviously that pitchers were finally figuring out how to get him out, and it was time for him to make the most crucial adjustment that a batter ever makes (that first one after pitchers find a weakness). He never did. He played a few more seasons with the Mets (one decent), then became a journeyman, popping up in Chicago with the Pale Hose most recently, I believe. However, he was never able to regain that flash of talent he showed late in the 2000 season.
Like I said, I hope this isn’t true, but right now Gomez is following that same path. Gomez single-handedly won games for the Twins early last season, but by the end of said season he had been replaced by Denard Span as leadoff hitter and was striking out at an enormous rate. The pitchers finally figured him out, much like they did to Timo Perez, and he has yet (as far as I can see) to make the adjustment to start getting hits again.
The ray of hope I see for Gomez, though, is that he really hasn’t gotten enough playing time yet this season to show his current talent level. Whereas Timo Perez got many years to try and recapture that once-attained talent, Gomez has primarily been riding the pine in his second season as a Twin. It is a sticky situation, as the Twins like Cuddyer and Span in the lineup but also have high hopes (and Garza/Bartlett) invested in him. It will be interesting to see how the entire situation pans out.
I imagine that just seeing this picture brings up the gag reflex in most Chicago White Sox fans. Not because they hate Joe Crede, but for exactly the opposite reason…they let him get away. Until Crede landed with the Twins, I had no idea he was so revered by the ChiSox and their fans. It would probably be like Torii Hunter roaming the outfield at U.S. Cellular Field, to put things into perspective.
Until last night, Joe Crede had contributed some very nice plays at the hot corner (something not seen when Brian Buscher was at the same post last year) but not much offensively. Maybe he’s just a slow starter, or maybe he was pressing to try and impress his new club, but the hits just weren’t falling in for him. However, he bailed his new club out of a game last night that could have been an incredibly demoralizing loss.
Glen Perkins (8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER) turned in another gem of a performance, but the Twins could only muster two runs of their own (hits from Morneau and Redmond) in the required nine, sending the contest into extras.
In the bottom of the eleventh inning, Joe Crede came to the plate with Morneau on first and two outs. The game had not been going well for New Joe up to that point, as he had ground into a pitcher-home-first double play to squash a potentially huge rally in the sixth, then struck out in the home half of the ninth.
This time, though, Crede smacked a ball deep to straight-away CF that hit the base of the wall and allowed Morneau to touch three more bases for the “W”. Crede was mobbed by teammates as he ran in from second base, and his “initiation” into the Minnesota Twins family had begun.
-I noticed that only 15,000 fans attended Tuesday night’s game. To me, this seems really poor. I know it was a Tuesday night against a team that has zero drawing power, but c’mon…15,000?
-I also have to give Jesse Crain credit for pitching two nice innings (the 10th and 11th) in picking up the victory. I get on him quite a bit, so it was nice to finally see him contribute in a positive way.
-Finally, Carlos Gomez is completely lost at the plate right now. As much as this may be called a form of heresy here in Twins Territory, I would rather see Delmon Young in the lineup at this point. Gomez is up there flailing at pitches he has no business even flinching toward.
Preview (4-5, 4th, 1.0 GB DET & KCR): Scott Richmond (0-0, 6.75) vs. Scott Baker (0-0, 0.00). Baker is making his first start of the season after elbow tightness forced him to miss his scheduled Opening Day assignment. Baker was our most consistent pitcher down the stretch last season and has the stuff to be a bona fide staff ace, provided he can make it through 6+ innings on a regular basis.
Though I was a bit crushed that I had to work at night on the day of the Twins’ home opener against the Seattle Mariners, I taped the game and watched it later in the evening. Gee, that was worth it. First, this guy…
…”King” Felix Hernandez, completely shuts down our bats. Even in the sparse situations we scraped together that could have produced runs, Felix would always get out of the jam either via a strike out (usually Michael Cuddyer, who whiffed three times) or a double play (Justin Morneau). This was especially frustrating due to the fact that it wasted a pretty decent effort from our mound man..
Sure, Francisco Liriano gave up three dingers, but one came after a glaring error from Alexi Casilla. All told, he pitched very well and just didn’t get any offensive support.
So, I went to bed hoping that the next day’s matchup (which I would be watching on TV…or so I thought) would produce a much better result. The next morning, however, I was informed that my grandparents (who live in the Metro area suberbs…Fridley, to be exact) had received four free tickets from a Target store promotion and were wondering if my brother and I wanted to go with them?! Stupid question, as we headed out the door right away!
Game #2 of 162 proved to be much more exciting than the previous one…and perhaps the next 160! Of course, it didn’t start out so great, as our guy…
…Nick Blackburn found himself down 4-0 after just four innings. RBI hits from Denard Span and Cuddyer (he was basically either whiffing badly or driving in runs all game) brought the Twins to within one run for the middle innings, but Luis Ayala surrendered another Mariner run in the top of the ninth. Thus, new Seattle closer Brandon Morrow was summoned to the Dome mound with a 5-3. That’s when things started to get interesting:
Morrow got two quick outs in Joe Crede and Delmon Young, but Carlos Gomez put together a surprisingly good at-bat (he would have K’d on four pitches last season in that spot) and drew a walk. Jason Kubel was called on to pinch-hit for Jose Morales (who had struck out in all three previous at-bats), and Kubel used patience to his advantage to coax another base-on-balls.
Then, with the Jumbotron at the Dome flashing the “Walks Will Haunt” graphic, Morrow walked a third straight batter (Brian Buscher) and was pulled in favor of Miguel Batista. By this time the lineup had turned over again, so Span The Man stepped in and hit a high chopper that Adrian Beltre couldn’t will down into his glove fast enough, making the score 5-4.
This brought Alexi Casilla to the plate, and my flashback started…the last time I was at the Metrodome, Lexi singled to center field with the bases loaded against the Chicago White Sox to complete the late-season sweep. This time, Casilla again ripped the first pitch he saw into center, plating both the tying and winning runs…
Though this wasn’t the greatest run-differential the Twins have ever come back from, it still has to go down in team history as one of the great late-inning victories due to the fact that all the action transpired with two outs. When Buscher slide across the plate and was mobbed by his teammates, what was left of the 23,700 announced crowd was in a bedlam!
Man, I think I need to starting getting to more of these games…whenever I’m there, something crazy seems to happen.
Preview (1-1, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Carlos Silva (0-0, 0.00). Though Silva is gone from “Fatboy” to “Slim” over the off-season, he still lives and dies by the sinker. If “on” he can be maddening. If not, he WILL get pounded.
I will be very busy in the upcoming days leading up to the Minnesota Twins’ Opening Day on April 6th, so I just wanted to post a few season-preview thoughts before the regular season campaign kicks off.
The way I see it, there are three areas in which the Twins need to excel this season in order to win the division crown. In all honesty, these areas are pretty much the same for all other teams as well, but the Twins have their own unique challenges:
1. First, the starting pitching quintet of Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, and Glen Perkins needs to continue to keep the team in games. This is the most important cog in the machine, as if the quality starts keep pouring in the Twins will at the very least compete no matter how bad the bullpen or offense stinks. The old baseball adage that “good pitching beats good hitting” holds as true now as it always has. I mean, if say Johan Santana faced no one but Ichiro Suzuki all season long, the very best that Ichiro could do is get a hit four times in every ten at-bats. Thus, the starting rotation is the anchor of every staff, and the Twins’ staff is still a bit of a question mark:
Baker: Has ace-type repertoire but struggles to pitch into the later innings. Is usually up around 100 pitches by the fifth inning or so, putting a strain on the bullpen.
Cisco: Could dominate, could fall apart due to control issues.
Slowey: This is the guy I think is poised for a huge season. He is essentially the second coming of Brad Radke, only with a better assortment of pitches. Just needs to work on limiting damaging situations, as they tend to snow-ball on him pretty quick.
Blackie: As a play-to-contact, ground ball sort of pitcher, Blackburn walks the fine line between Carlos Silva and Jack Morris. On some days he can be the most frustrating guy in the world to drive the ball off of, while on other days he gets lit up.
Perkins: The great unknown. Was very up-and-down last season…showed flashes of both excellence and utter failure.
So, the extent to which that rotation comes together is the biggest factor in how the Twins will finish in the standings in 2009.
2. The bullpen, however, isn’t far behind. Whereas I am confident that the starting five can find a way to hold up their end of the bargain, I’m not nearly as sold on the bullpen, which looks to include:
Joe Nathan: The only sure-bet of the bunch. Will blow a few (who doesn’t…well, besides Brad Lidge last year), but let’s just say that a “down” year would be an ERA over 2.00.
Jesse Crain: Pretty much the root of all frustration in the world. Was overhyped even when he was good, but does have a glimmer of hope in that now is arm is finally “back” after having surgery a while back.
Matt Guerrier: Will have to prove that last year’s collapse WAS just a fluke (or due to fatigue), not because batters just figured him out.
Craig Breslow: The lefty-lefty specialist. Will likely do a good job, and is an upgrade over Dennis “Throw One WP And Leave The Game” Reyes.
Luis Ayala: Don’t know much about his guy, only that he came from the Nats (not a good sign) and struggled mightily last year. Has potential…but so did Mike Fetters.
The final bullpen spot, thought to be filled by Jose Mijares until he came to camp looking like Hideki Irabu, is now up for grabs between newcomer Brian Duensing, Philip Humber (obtained in the Santana trade), and R.A. Dickey, a knuckleballer.
All in all, that is not a very impressive bunch. Like I said, Nathan is solid, but getting to him will be the difficult part. Someone is going to have to step up and become the eighth inning man that guys like LaTroy Hawkins and Juan Rincon were in the past.
3. Finally, I would like to quickly comment on the Twins’ offense. Here is a sample lineup that the Twins could trot out on a semi-day basis:
Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Crede, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Nick Punto.
Essentially, it would likely be the best starting lineup the Twins have had in quite some time (plus Carlos Gomez off the bench). However, I am very wary of predicting a high offensive turnout from this bunch, as it so rarely happens up here in MN. It seems as if the Twins are much better at developing pitchers than hitters (perhaps due to the small-ball philosophy that reins hitters in instead of turning them loose?), so even a lineup that looks rock-solid can quickly turn gooey. Actually, I think the biggest positive this season, as opposed to ’06 or ’08, is that no old fogeys are being counted on to produce. The days of experimenting with guys like Tony Batista, Rondell White, Mike Lamb, and (cringe) even Bret Boone seem to be behind the Twins, with the lineup now given over completely to the young veterans and just youngsters period.
So there you have it…how the Twins perform in those three areas will go very far in determining their division standings come October. Hopefully before the season begins I will post an article about my divisional predictions for MLB (if it ever stops snowing here to allow the mail through!).
Well, the Minnesota Twins finally have the right-handed bat they have been so desperately looking for since Ron Coomer went from playing in the All-Star game to laughing like a goon during Twins TV broadcasts (!). Now, as long as his back can hold out, the Twins have to be the favorite to win the division.
Joe Crede came over to the Twins (The Great White Light) from the Chicago White Sox (The Dark Side) for one year and $2.5 million guaranteed. He could make up to $7 million in incentives revolving primarily around the number of at-bats he accumulates over the course of the season (which is exactly the kind of contract a guy with his injury status SHOULD sign).
A healthy Crede can be expected to hit in the .270-.280 range with 20-30 home runs. He is also excellent at the hot corner (something neither Brian Buscher nor Brendan Harris have on their resumes) with the glove.
Perhaps the biggest implication of this move, though, is that it gives manager Ron Gardenhire much better depth on the bench. In late-inning situational ball, Gardy can send up either Harris or Buscher (both decent batsmen) as well as the odd man out of the Gomez-Span-Cuddyer-Young conundrum. In recent seasons, the Twins have lost big series (think the ’03 and ’04 ALDS rounds against the Yankees) because of their lack of depth, but this move for Crede changes all that.
When Torii Hunter (arguably the most popular Twin since their rise to prominence in 2001) left for the Anaheim Angels via free agency after the 2007 season, a gap hole was left in center field at the Metrodome. After an intense Spring Training competition for the job between Carlos Gomez (acquired from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade), Denard Span (the heir apparent to Hunter’s job until he struggled in the minor leagues), and Jason Pridie (a cast-off from the Rays who had a great spring). Although Span seemed the more polished of the three come April, “Go-Go” Gomez was named the starter due to his almost unbelievable speed and the excitement he brought to the club and their fans on a daily basis.
For the first few months of the season, Go-Go was indeed the most exciting player on the team, whether it was streaking to catch balls out in the field or flying around the basepaths after driving the ball into the gap. As the season stretched on, however, pitchers began to learn how to pitch to the rookie Gomez, and the strikeouts and terrible at-bats began piling up. At one point, Ron Gardenhire considered benching the fiery youngster (after dropping him from 1st to 8th or 9th in the order), but Carlos likely saw his job saved when Michael Cuddyer went down with an injury, and Span (the guy who would have taken over in CF) came up to replace him instead.
Gomez did finish the season on a high note, and his stats are respectable for essentially a first-year player: 577 AB, 79 R, .258 BA, 33 SB. However, he also struck out a near Twins-record 142 times and also was prone to defensive lapses in CF from time to time. His blazing speed and cannon arm more often than not made up for his mistakes, but too many times would a ball roll right under his legs or he would juggle the ball at a crucial moment.
Of course, Gomez would still be penciled in as the starting CF in 2009 if not for the emergence of Span (who will be moved back to his natural position when Cuddyer returns next year). During the 2008 season, Span manned the leadoff spot in the order like no Twin has done since Shannon Stewart, working deep into counts, drawing walks, and spraying the ball all over the field. In 347 at-bats, Span hit .294 with 70 R, 50 BB, 102 H, and 18 SB. Whereas Gomez struggled in the pressure of the leadoff spot, Span thrived. Defensively, Span made some of the most athletic catches ever seen in the Metrodome, and also has a rifle arm.
So, with Cuddyer (and his shiny, long-term contract) coming back to man RF in 2009 (as he should), it should be an interesting battle for the centerfield spot. Whereas Span seems to be ready right now, Gomez is a remarkable young talent whose potential is the teflon roof. Knowing Gardy, each player will get their share of ABs in 2009, although a riskier move would be to deal one of them for a relief pitcher that the club so desperately needs (to be discussed later).
-Perhaps it is time I stop doubting the Rays, as their 13-4 crushing of the Red Sox tonight leaves them one game away from the World Series. I still think the series will need to go back to Tampa to be concluded, but now the Red Sox are up against the wall and will find it extremely difficult to beat the young Tampa club three times in a row.
Much like at the previous position I review, second base, the shortstop position was thought to be locked down early in the season by newcomer Adam Everett. However, Everett’s sub-par batting average (.213) and multitude of injuries once again made it necessary to turn to old stalwart Nick Punto to become the starting shortstop.
Now, there are many of you out there you probably think that Nick Punto is not a major-league caliber player (at least offensively). However, surprisingly enough, he added an element to the Twins’ lineup that proved crucial to them scoring runs all season: speed from the #9 hold in the lineup. With guys like Alexi Casilla, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and Punto batting consecutively in some fashion, their combined speed put a tremendous amount of pressure on opposing pitchers, as every batted ball needed to be played perfectly in order to record an out.
Of course, Punto WAS effective because his .284 batting average was a huge improvement from his 2007 campaign, when he flirted with the Mendoza line for a good portion of the season. He was on-base enough times to make himself valuable, also stealing 15 bases in the process. In years past, when the Twins were desperate to score runs, Punto would be a huge liability in the lineup, but with the better hitting the Twins could count on in 2008, Punto’s athletic play was useful.
But let’s not kid ourselves too much here…Punto is really in the lineup every day in large part because of his spectacular infield defense. Whether at shortstop or anywhere on the diamond, Punto is a human highlight reel, turning in remarkable play after remarkable play.
Looking ahead to 2009, Nick Punto (provided he continues to produce at least average offense) should be the starting shortstop for a large portion of the season (when he’s not filling in somewhere else!).
For a more long-term future of the shortstop position (and in case of a Punto injury, say, diving headfirst into first base), the Twins have developed another dynamic youngster in Matt Tolbert. First called up from the minors when Everett went on the DL, Tolbert was very impressive both in the field and at the plate. A wrist injury then sidelined him for nearly the rest of the season, but he ended up hitting .283 in 113 at-bats. He could easily eclipse 300 at-bats next season (as Punto is often needed elsewhere).