Results tagged ‘ Jose Mijares ’
My thoughts on a few Twins moves the last month or so…
Kevin Slowey traded to Colorado: You know, I was always a big Kevin Slowey supporter. I thought he had the stuff to be the next “Brad Radke”, and I think that concept still exists. However, it will likely never be realized because of his inability to stay healthy for any prolonged period of time. Slowey is one of those pitchers who needs to be 100% healthy to succeed, as he relies on such pinpoint control and sharp breaking pitches. Any “hitch in his giddyup” will cause him not only to fail, but fail miserably. Thus, despite having high hopes for him, I can’t say I’m all that sorry to see him go.
Matt Capps back as closer: I didn’t like Capps from the beginning, and I haven’t changed that opinion. I honestly do not know what the organization sees in this guy. Does he have the potential to be a decent middle-reliever? I think so. But CLOSER, where the pressure is magnified with every pitch? Nah-uh. He has proven time and time again (when healthy or hurting) that he can’t rise to that occasion like Mr. Nathan could. I know we are a wreck bullpen-wise, but to pin a key spot on this guy is tenuous at best.
Jim Hoey released: This guy was an absolute joke. I don’t understand how you can expect to have a major-league career when you can’t locate a fastball to save your life! Yes, he can throw the ever-loving @#$% out of the ball, but it doesn’t matter a bit…it’ll either be wide of the strike zone or right down the middle (with one option being as unpleasant as the other). Nothing lost here.
Jose Mijares released: Jose had one dominant year with the Twins…and hasn’t come close to that form since. Personality-wise, he never arrives to training camp on time (always visa issues) and, when he does show up, he’s grossly overweight. So, it isn’t until June when he’s even physically ready to pitch effectively. When on the mound, Mijares is wild to the point of frustration. Everyone can see he has “the stuff” to get lefty batters out at an alarming rate, but he just can’t do it consistently. Again, I know our ‘pen is a train-wreck right now, but this guy was beginning to become more trouble than he was worth.
This year, after taking 3 of 4 in ChiTown, the Twins enter the break in 4th place, 6.5 games behind Detroit. Are we contenders? Are we pretenders? Well, the first homestand (KC, DET, CLE) after the break will go a long way towards answering that question. If we come out flat, we’ll likely never be able to make up the necessary ground. However, a good homestand would beg the question of whether or not the Twins should make a deal at the deadline.
Our biggest need right now is a solid arm out of the pen. The starters are what the are, and the offense can only get better (heck, if we can win with Tosoni, Hughes, Rivera, etc. we can win with anyone!), but the ‘pen is where the help is sorely needed. Barring further setbacks, Joe Nathan should quickly supplant Matt Capps as closer, with Capps sharing setup duties with Perkins. Beyond that, however, the pen is barren. Phil Dumatrait has been good for a rookie, but who knows, really. Alex Burnett and Jose Mijares cannot be consistently counted on to get the job done.
Thus, here is how I see the trading deadline scenario playing out in my head: The Twins package Delmon Young (the most expendable outfielder) and perhaps a Kevin Slowey for a decent bullpen arm. Then, as we always seem to do, we either call up another ready rook, or pick a guy (remember how we got Pavano in ’09?!) from the scrap heap in September.
If I didn’t think the Twins had at least a decent chance of winning the division this year, I would say “trade a few more guys and replenish the minors”. However, considering that Detroit ALWAYS chokes in the second half, the Indians are fading, and we OWN the White Sox, a division crown (though not easy by any means) is no doubt within reach.
Preview (41-48, 4th, 1.5 GB CWS): Bruce Chen (5-2, 3.26) vs. Francisco Liriano (5-7, 5.06).
Tonight, Francisco Liriano went 5.2 innings and only gave up one run. Without observing the game and just going by that stat line, you’d think that maybe he walked a few too many guys or just ran out of gas. This was not the case whatsoever. In fact, Frankie (if not spectacular) was remarkable in his ability to get out of jams.
In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded with Sox and no one out, Cisco got Rios to hit into a force play at the plate, then struck out both Konerko and Quentin on nasty sliders to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Sox again loaded the bases, this time with one out, only to see Liriano get Pierre to line out and then cede to Guerrier, who popped out Ramirez.
All told, it was a miraculous performance from Liriano in terms of pitching out of jams.
Then the seventh inning dawned, the Tighty-Whities put a man on base (Mauer) to pitch to Kubel, and that pretty much ended things:
-With Valencia playing so well at third, there seems to be no rush to hurry along Nick Punto back from injury. When Little Nicky does return, I would hope that Gardy would use him as a sub, not wrenching the starting job from a still-hitting Danny Boy.
-Will anyone really miss Mijares? He’s basically what I call a 50-50 guy. He might get the lefty out, but he also has just a great a chance at walking him or uncorking a wild pitch. Is he worth it as a LOGEY?
Preview (65-50, 1st, 1.0 GA CWS): Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.51) vs. Carl Pavano (14-7, 3.28). As Bert Blyleven said on the telecast tonight, Oakland is playing some decent ball right now, and can throw some quality arms at us this weekend. But is it any match for the stache? I think not.
Tonight’s marathon Twins-Rays game featured two of the most solid franchises in the American League duking it out deep into extra innings.
For “starters”, David Price (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 K) and Scott Baker (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K) matched each other hurl for hurl, with only an early Jason Repko double (driving in Danny Valencia) lighting up the scoreboard whatsoever.
Unsettlingly, though, Matt Capps came in for the save situation and promptly blew it, allowing the tying run to score on a Dan Johnson single.
From that point on, it was a battle of the bullpens, with the Twins holding the slight edge and thus the 2-1 victory:
Tampa: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER (all from Lance Cormier)
Minnesota: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER (Crain, Mijares, Guerrier)
In a game featuring such quality managers as Joe Maddon and Ron Gardenhire, what can you expect?!
-It was nice to see Guerrier redeem himself after last night. This is a guy who doesn’t have the most talent in the world, but relies instead on location and pitch movement. Really strong performance tonight.
-Capps had better buy Baker a nice dinner sometime this week.
-Delmon Young finally got the big hit against his former club! Hopefully that will break him out of his little mini-funk.
Preview (60-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (10-5, 4.44) vs. Wade Davis (9-9, 4.21).
One of the startling (but in a good way) characteristics of the 2009 Minnesota Twins has been their ability to overcome injury adversity and play on despite extended DL trips for three starters (Orlando Hudson, Nick Punto, and Justin Morneau) and a beat-up Joe Mauer. Guys like Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, Alexi Casilla, Drew Butera, and Danny Valencia have found their niches over the past few months.
However, if the first two games dropped in Tropicana tell us anything (besides the fact that the Rays are fast and shouldn’t be walked, respectively), it is that Delmon Young is the key to everything right now (at least with Morneau still on the sidelines). So far against Rays pitching, Delmon is 1-9. Without him spraying the ball everywhere, the Twins just don’t have enough lineup depth to keep mounting rallies when needed.
Thus, against good teams that we can’t just clobber, we all too often send a bullpen full of late-inning collapsers (Guerrier, Crain, Mijares) into the game at the most pressure-filled situations. Unless the splits/matchups go exactly our way, bad things are almost bound to happen.
I’m not saying that the pen is altogether rotten, but put it this way…right now I have as much confidence in Jesse Crain as in anyone else that comes out of those swinging doors, and anybody who has read my blog in the past knows how difficult it is for me to even CONSIDER that statement.
-Another good start for Duensing (just one mistake that happened to be hammered by Sean Rodriguez), but still too many walks, which only serve to raise the pitch count and tack on runs that shouldn’t ever materialize.
-Woke up this morning, heard Brett Favre had texted his retirement to the Vikings, and thought “Well, the Twins had better be the bread-winners this sports season”. Of course, that would mean I actually BELIEVE #4…
Preview (59-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (9-9, 5.00) vs. David Price (14-5, 2.90).
Wow…my first post since the All-Star break. I guess the trips up north (with no Internet access) are severely affecting this blog (yet also severely improving my summer, so it all evens out!).
Remember all those unanswered questions at the break? Unfortunately, many are still lingering. However, the Twins have been able to take care of business against the downtrodden of the AL East (Baltimore) and Central (Kansas City) to jump right back into the AL Central race.
Today, powered by home runs from Delmon Young…excuse me, the Unstoppable Delmon Young (!)…and Jason Repko in the first two innings, the Twins finished off a sweep of the KC Royals. Duensing pitched another decent game out of the starting rotation, and (besides Jose Mijares) the pen did a nice job of closing the door on a 6-4 victory.
During the series, the Twins outscored the Royals 36-7. Of course, guys like Butera, Repko, and Valencia won’t have three/four-hit games against the good teams in the league, but series like this serve as a good confidence-builder going forward.
-No imminent trade rumors coming out of TwinCo. Haren (Anaheim) and Lee (Texas) have already been dealt, and Oswalt is likely much too expensive. Thus, any improvement will likely come from middle-of-the-road talent this weekend, or some waiver-wire guys in September (like Pavano last year).
Preview (56-46, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): TBA vs. Scott Baker (8-9, 5.00). After an off-day Thursday, the Twins have a “quickie” three-game home series against Seattle before embarking on another road trip (this time much more potentially menacing).
Well Twins fans, has it really come to this…the dreaded CBC (Closer By Committee). My thoughts on the candidates:
The safe choice. Matt Guerrier is a solid setup man, and would likely do a tidy job in the ninth as well. The problem: He’s oh so valuable as that solid setup guy. I’d only go to Matty if another candidate fails.
Well, it’s clear from the picture that Jon Rauch would have the role if intimidation was the only factor. He’s got a live fastball, but can’t always control it. He’s the guy I would throw out there to begin with if Neshek isn’t ready. Has previous closing experience in Washington, for what it’s worth.
When we last saw Jose Mijares, the Yankees were walking off. I would be really scared trusting this guy to the ninth inning in pretty much any situation. He’s too much of a head-case and easily melts down (the worst character trait of a potential closer).
The picture says it all for Jesse Crain.
Of course, if Pat Neshek successfully shows he has come back from Tommy John surgery, this whole debate will be moot. I mean, would you want that coming at you? Every time he’s been healthy he’s dominated batters, so barring arm issues he should be the guy.
Well, it’s official…Joe Nathan is now lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Wow.
You know, as good as Nathan has been since coming over to the Twins in 2004, he has always been somewhat under-appreciated by many Twins fans, I think. Part of that can be due to two heart-crushing blown saves against the Yankees in the ’04 and ’09 ALDS. But when you really think about, Nathan has been the best closer Minnesota has ever seen. Consider this lineage:
In the 1960s, before the term “closer” was even used, Al Worthington…
…and Ron Perranoski…
…”saved” games (often pitching multiple innings) for some pretty good teams. They were two great pitchers, but you can’t really consider them “closers” in the traditional sense.
The next time the Twins were good enough to need a closer (mid-1980s), the great Ron Davis experiment failed miserably…
Thus, the emergence of Jeff “The Terminator” Reardon…
…seemed like heaven on earth, even though his stats (31 saves, 4.48 ERA) would be considered poor by today’s standards.
Next in line was Rick Aguilera:
Aggie was really good for a short period of time (1990-1992) and pretty good for the rest of the 1990s, but during both those periods he was always susceptible to giving up baserunners and needing to pitch out of jams. He would usually do it succesfully, but not without a few heart-stopping moments nearly every night.
During the late 1990s, a closer wasn’t really needed when the Twins would only win 70 games a year, so Mike Trombley…
…usually did the deed.
In 2001, the year the Twins jumped back into contention, LaTroy Hawkins…
…wowed fans with his live fastball, but his late-season meltdown was partially to blame for the Twins missing the playoffs.
Thus, the switching of Eddie Guardado…
…from “Everday” to “closer” was like another Davis-Reardon transition. Eddie was deceptive, but like Aggie he had a propencity for making things interesting since he didn’t have electric stuff.
Then, Joe Nathan rode into town and dominated like no other before him:
He had the blow-’em-away fastball, coupled with an array of breaking pitches that kept batsmen confused inning after inning. Despite a few high-profile blowouts (but nothing worse than, say, Brad Lidge has gone through in recent years), he had joined the company of Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon as the best closers in the majors.
Now that he is gone for the season (and likely more, if not his career, at least with the Twins), the Twins have a complex choice for that crucial ninth inning. Pat Neshek would be my choice, but management is taking it slow after his own major arm surgery two years ago. Jon Rauch used to close games for the Nats, but his control is spotty. Guerrier would probably do okay, but his setup role is so valuable as not to be lost. Mijares/Crain would a disaster, Ron Davis-esque. Hopefully the Twins can find someone to fill that final frame.
For the time being, I will continue to call this blog “The Closer” until the fate of Nathan is more determined. He was always a favorite of mine (thus the blog title), and I am hoping (one day in the future) to hear this booming through the speakers at Target Field…
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.
In the previous post, I made the point that the Twins have nobody to blame but themselves for the ALDS sweep at the hands of the Yankees. But is this really true?
This is kind of a touchy issue, at least for me, as it implies that the Twins (or any small-market “David” vs. a big-market “Goliath”) really never have much of a chance to compete against the “big boys” of the league.
Any competant baseball fan knows that the economic system of the game is messed up due to the fact that no salary cap is in place. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels (in the American League) have such a huge advantage over the Twins and Royals of the world that its a wonder any other team ever represents the league in the World Series (I guess that is the crapshoot of a playoff structure that features a 3-of-5 first round). Sure, Bud Selig’s supposedly brilliant luxury tax system (where, much like Robin Hood, the league robs from the rich to give to the poor) helps a little bit, but in reality all it ends up doing is narrowing the free agent pool each year (as the middle-market teams are able to lock up a few key players to long-term deals). It most definetly, however, does not prevent teams like the Yankees from nabbing the best free agents year after year (case in point: C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett brought in before the start of this season). The Twins could never have dreamed of signing guys like that.
Of course, baseball will likely never changed (at least not with Selig at the helm), as the success of the Yanks, Sawx, and Halos fuels the revenue machine, especially in the World Series. Though it might provide some sanctity back into the game, nobody wants to see the Twins and Athletics, to use two examples, duking it out in the ALCS. If the MLB execs had it their way, it would be New York and Boston every single year.
The whole situation kind of reminds me of the infamous “You can’t handle the truth” speech from the movie A Few Good Men:
“My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”
While more parity would be great for baseball, it will never happen because admittedly it would weaken the short-term (until new rivalries are formed, at least) revenue stream of the league.
Thus, can the Twins even be expected to compete with the Yankees in any series? They have Sabathia and Burnett, we have Baker and Blackburn. They have the best middle of an order (Teixera, A-Rod, Matsui) since Ruth, Gehrig, and Lazzeri batted consecutively, while we have one stud (Mauer) and two others (Kubel, Cuddyer) that are by and large overmatched by quality pitching. They have guys like Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano at the BOTTOM of the order, while we have Carlos Gomez, Nick Punto, and Jose Morales because they are all we can afford. They can throw arms like Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes at us, while he have Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares. No comparison.
So, those are the two theories as to why our beloved Twins were brutalized by the hated Yanks. Which one is more valid? I think it is a mixture of both. The Twins would need to play a perfect series to even give themselves a chance to beat the Yankees, and instead we choked in every big opportunity.