Results tagged ‘ Jon Rauch ’

It All Comes Out In The Wash (AKA The Truth About Capps)

On Saturday night, the Twins lost a game they should have won.  On Sunday afternoon, the Twins did roughly the same to the Brew Crew to take the crazy series.  Of course, it took Glen Perkins relieving Matt Capps in the ninth to lock down the final outs.

I am completely bamboozled as to why Capps has so much support from all sides.  The team loves him, Gardy seems to adore him, the media (by and large) give him a free pass, and even Dick and Bert were sticking up for him today.  My take on Capps is a bit different:  I’ll even go so far as to say that this guy…

…was a better closer overall than Capps.

Now, I don’t think that Capps is beyond usefulness.  He could be useful as a setup-type reliever, or a “seventh inning guy”.  However, he just doesn’t have either the physical stuff (like a prime Joe Nathan) or the presence to fake it (like Rauch).  I just wonder when we are going to figure this out for good.

Preview (36-46, 4th, 4.5 GB CWS): David Price (8-6, 3.43) vs. Brian Duensing (5-7, 4.69)

+3, -1

Some Twins signing news from this week:

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Glen Perkins gets a 1-year deal. This surprised me, as I thought he was on the outs with the Twins organization.  I guess being a lefty on a team that hoardes pitching has its benefits.

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Alexi Casilla is also back for another year, and being given his umpteenth chance to win a starting role.

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One more year of Matt Capps (that sound you hear is me getting down on my knees to pray that Joe Nathan comes back strong).  He’s not that bad…but not that good, either.

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Jon Rauch is now a Blue Jay.  Perhaps he will thrive again as more of a setup option, like his 2009 role.  He lucked into some gimme saves here last April, and held the job for far too long.  If only his repetoire and velocity were as intimidated as, well, him!

The Franchise


francisco-liriano-versus-tigers.jpg“It’s the franchise, boy, I’m shining now…”

In 2006, the Minnesota Twins were supposed to have the lethal 1-2 combination of savvy vet Johan Santana and unhittable rookie Francisco Liriano leading them deep into the playoffs.  That is, until Frankie’s arm popped one too many times, and old Tommy John reared his ugly head.

After losing all of 2007 and most of 2008, last year was a lost one for the Cisco Kid, as he struggled mightily with control, his delivery, and his velocity.  Good thing that is now in the past, as “The Franchise” is now living up to the billing.

His stat line tonight might not have been all that sparkly (6 IP, 3 ER), but he did strike out seven batters (including Manny Ramirez twice) and pretty much dominated until he ran out of gas a little early due to an extended opening inning.  He was hitting 97 mph on Chicago’s radar gun, had the biting slider, and even a nice assortment of changeups to really keep the batsmen shifting.

Amazingly enough, that wasn’t even the pitching performance of the game, as that “award” goes to Jesse Crain for striking out Paul Konerko and Manny Ramirez with likely the game on the line in the seventh inning.  While I may not take back ALL the things I’ve said about Crain on this blog, I will say that he has undergone perhaps the most remarkable in-season turnaround of any reliever I’ve ever seen.  He’s absolutely unhittable right now, and is mopping up all of Guerrier’s and Rauch’s messes.

I was very surprised by the lack of pizazz shown by the Chicago crowd tonight.  With Ramirez up and the bases loaded in the seventh, the fans never really even got on their feet or made any noise (except, of course, to boo Manny rigorously as he returned to the dugout).  Then, when Alex Rios misplayed a ball in center field that allowed three runs to score and effectively clinched a Twins victory, I thought the Chi-Sox fans were practicing a fire drill the way they were heading for the exits.

I would like to believe that, if the roles had been reversed, Twins fans at Target Field would have been on their feet in those crucial situations and not leaving until that 27th out.

Preview (86-58, 1st, 7.0 GA CWS, Magic #: 12): Brian Duensing (8-2, 2.02) vs. Gavin Floyd (10-12, 3.91)

Re-Capping Matt

x610.jpgThe Minnesota Twins have had new closer Matt Capps for about a month now, and so I think it’s time to evaluate his performance so far. Here are the raw stats:

13 G, 13 IP, 6 SV, 2.08 ERA

What I like about Capps is that he seems to have the raw “stuff” to get people out.  He has a live fastball, and a decent assortment of breaking pitches to keep opposing batters off-balance.

However, there is a troubling sign that makes the new closer a bit too much like the old one for my tastes…

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For all his velocity, Capps is a “pitch to contact” type of closer.  Those kind of guys make me nervous, especially in the playoffs when “contact” usually is the equivalent of “base hit”.  Now don’t get me wrong…I think that Capps is better suited for the role than Rauch, who didn’t have the live fastball or control of the nasty curve to ever dominate the final inning.  However, on a scale of “Guardado-Aguilera-Nathan”, I think Capps falls somewhere between Eddie & Aggie.

Thus, it is very interesting that the Twins just traded for Angels closer Brian Fuentes:

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The “official word” is that Fuentes will be used primarily as a setup man to Capps, but Gardy also made the interesting comment that Fuentes could be used in “certain save situations”.  I like that reasoning, as it shows me that Gardy understands that Capps isn’t Rivera or Papelbon and thus wants to consider all his options.

Perhaps the best thing that could come out of all of this is that it gives the Twins some bullpen depth, something that always seems to be lacking (on any club, really).  Guys like Crain and Guerrier can’t always shoulder the load, the biggest case in point being Matty G., as we may have already burned him out from years of overuse. 

More Bailouts Than Obama (aka Don’t Mess Around With Jim)

Tonight’s Twins-White Sox game featured more bailouts of Twins’ pitchers than the Obama Administration:

First, Scott Baker stunk it up once again, giving up a bevy of hard-hit balls, including a moonshot from Paul Konerko in the early innings:

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However, the Twins also got dingers of their own from Delmon Young and Orlando Hudson, as well as a big triple from Jason Kubel, to stay in the game.

With the Twins leading 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, Matt Capps was brought in for the save situation.  The first batter, Alexei Ramirez, homered to tie the game, but Capps was bailed out by a huge, bases-loaded double play to end the inning.

In the tenth, Jon Rauch took the mound and, with one out, gave up three straight singles to once again allow the White Sox to score a run, giving them a 6-5 lead.  Rauch, for the second time in as many games, couldn’t even finish off his inning and had to be replaced:

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At this point, though, is when Big Jim took matters onto his own, rather broad shoulders:

 


White_Sox_Twins_Baseball_sff_188630_gameBigJim.jpgIn the bottom of the tenth, Delmon Young sent a rocket right through the crotch (almost literally) of Matt Thorton.  Up stepped Jim Thome, and three things happened in rather short fashion:

1. The ball rocketed towards the right field pavilion;

2. The ball landed, giving Thome career homer #581, and the first walk-off jack at Target Field;

3. A shaving cream-filled towel quickly homed in on Thome’s face, courtesy of one Nick Punto.

 

Every win against the Sox is a good win at this point, but it’s so much sweeter when Thome does it to his former mates!  Next to Delmon Young choosing to punch AJ Pierzynski in the face instead of sliding into home plate, Thome’s blast is easily the highlight of the season-series with these two clubs so far.  Can we drop them even further back tomorrow?!

Preview (69-50, 1st, 4.0 GA CWS): Gavin Floyd (8-9, 3.70) vs. Francisco Liriano (11-7, 3.26).

Their Own Medicine

Athletics_Twins_Baseball_sff_188151_game.jpgThis weekend series against the Oakland A’s was billed with the young, very talented Oakland starting staff potentially shutting down the Twins’ bats.  Instead, we beat them at their own game:

-On Friday, Pavano got hit around quite a bit, but still managed to pitch into the seventh inning and get the win.

-Saturday saw Brian Duensing completely mow down the A’s to the tune of nine innings and three hits.

-Kevin Slowey then pitched seven no-hit innings against Oakland on Sunday, only to be removed from the game due to pitch count issues.

Now, the Pale Hose come to our house.  We can really put a dent in Guillen’s crew by just doing what we do best…winning the series.

Notes:

-I completely understand Gardy taking out Slowey after that seventh inning, as he has been struggling with elbow tendonitis of late.  However, it took even more (insert term loosely related to “guts” here) from Gardy to put in Rauch with a no-hitter on the line.  Didn’t you just know he would blow it…and he did?!  For the first time in my life, I was actually hoping to see Crain jog in from the ‘pen.

Preview (68-50, 1st, 3.0 GA CWS): John Danks (12-8, 3.19) vs. Scott Baker (10-9, 4.76)

Right Move…But Right Guy?

Just heard today that the Twins got closer Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals…

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From a purely personnel standpoint, GM Bill Smith got it right. I’m glad he realized that Jon Rauch is not a playoff-caliber closer, and that adding a reliever to allow Duensing a spot in the starting rotation might be just as good as a high-caliber, high-risk, rental-player trade.

The only thing I’m concerned about is that, from what I’ve heard, Capps isn’t all that steadier than Mr. Rauch.  I don’t know too much about him, though, so I would appreciate some comments from more informed minds on the matter.

For now, though, I’ll say I like this trade going forward.  Pavano, Liriano, Duensing isn’t too shabby at the front end of the rotation, Blackburn will likely be pitching in big games (and probably suceeding, knowing him) in September again, and anything from Baker/Slowey is a plus at this point.

Making ‘Em Sweat

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180650_game.jpgLast night, the Minnesota Twins look for all the world to be headed to another disappointing loss on the road.  Down 5-2 after five innings, Carl Pavano was getting beat by the long ball and the bats weren’t doing much of anything (besides grounding to Lyle Overbay, that is).

However, that is when the bats started to heat up:

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180610_game.jpg Not only did it take back-to-back jacks from Morneau and Kubel to jump back into the game, but big hits were also needed from Mauer (dinger), and doubles by Thome and Delmon Young (who finished the game 3-3) since the pen kept serving up the meatballs.

As much as everyone is worried about the Twins right now, I think that our hitting is what it is and we aren’t going to change anything.  If we continue to trot out a Span-O-Dawg-Mauer-Morneau-Cuddy-Kubes-Big D-Big Jim-JJ lineup, we’ll score runs:

 If it doesn’t, then we probably just don’t deserve to make the playoffs anyway, so why worry?  Thus, are biggest area of improvement will be pitching.  Cliff Lee would be huge, but enough so to mortage away guys like Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks?  At this point, I would have to say yes.  With that kind of potent lineup day in and day out, we may actually have a chance to take on the mighty Yanks in the playoffs this year (one always has to assume that the AL road to the World Series runs through the Big Apple), but not without a few pitchers to hold back their firepower.  Sending Lee, Liriano, and Pavano/Slowey/Baker/Blackie to the mound would give as at least a fair shake against their big bats, I think, though of course nothing is guaranteed.

Another key…more pictures like this:

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Notes:

-Too bad Delmon Young won’t win the Final Vote balloting, but Kevin Youkilis probably deserves it.  Just as long as Swish doesn’t make it…man I hate that guy!

Preview (45-38, 2nd, 0.5 GB DET): Kevin Slowey (8-5, 4.57) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (0-0, 0.00).  The Tigers needed some late-inning heroics to preserve their division lead last night, so let’s keep the pressure on.  I don’t want to be two games back heading into Comerica this weekend.

Don’t Be Distracted (or One Pressing Need)

Mariners_Lee_Debut_Baseball_750785194.jpgJust recently here in Minnesota, the guy pictured above (Cliff Lee, for those living under a brick of Target Field limestone) has been on the brains of all Twins fans (and for good reason, as he could be a great addition to our ballclub).

However, games like tonight only go to show that another need is just as pressing…a true closer.

 When Mr. Joe Nathan used to come into games (to the fans urging others to “Stand up and Shout!”), you got the feeling that everything would be okay, and most of the time (if not the ALDS against the Yanks…grrr) it was.

With Jon Rauch, though, the exact opposite is true.  He is basically just your average middle reliever who challenges hitters and lives by the law of averages (that which states that a pitcher should be able to pitch one inning without giving up a run).  However, come October or even a steamy September, and I can see Rauch losing too many key games for us.  Past demons aside, I would (if given the option…booo) send Nathan out to the mound every time against, say, the Yanks again over Rauch any day of the week.

Tonight was just another example.  Two great teams, the Twins and Rays, played a hard-fought game into the eighth inning (featuring more heroics from Delmon Young both at the plate and in the field), when the Twins finally edged out in front.  However, Rauch then blew the save that led to Matty Guerrier’s eventually loss.

So, with all the pandering over Cliff Lee, let’s not forget another pressing need…that “last guy” spot in the ninth.  Rauch isn’t preposterously bad, but also probably not good enough to make it through the playoffs, either.

Notes:

-Carl Crawford may just be the best player in baseball.  Blazing speed, incredible defense, and hits for power/average.  If I’m building a major league baseball team right now, he’s A-1 on my short list.

Preview (43-36, 1st, 1.0 GA DET): David Price (11-3, 2.44) vs. Scott Baker (6-7, 4.97).

U-Turn

uturn%20sign.jpgHeading into the top of the ninth inning of Saturday’s game against the the Phillies, it looked as if the Twins were headed for a sweep at the hands of the defending NL champs.  But then, less than 24 hours later, the Twins had taken two of three from the Phils and salvaged what looked to be a disaster.

Thome, Mauer, Butera, and Young provided the late-inning offense in the thrilling Saturday comeback (featuring a blown save by Jon Rauch that prolonged the game even further), while Carl Pavano out-pitched Roy Halladay (Yankee fans, I bet you never thought you’d read that sentence!) on Sunday.

Now, on to the city of Brats & Beer!

Preview (40-29, 1st, 1.5 GA DET): Scott Baker (6-5, 4.41) vs. Chris Narveson (5-4, 5.79).

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