Results tagged ‘ Jose Mijares ’

A Typical Twins Signing

Ayala.jpgBesides signing Matt Guerrier to a one-year contract, the Twins also added reliever Luis Ayala, who spent portions of last season with the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets.  Ayala will get $1.3 million for one season.

I don’t know a whole lot about this Ayala (although that should be pretty self-explanatory considering he played for the Expos/Nats franchise most of his career), but I don’t like his 2008 stats: 2-10, 75 IP, 5.71 ERA.  However, I also noticed that Luis has had some very solid past seasons (’02-’05) with the Expos/Nats, posting sub-3.00 ERAs.

This is a typical Twins move in that Ayala is a guy who nobody is beating down the door for, so his price is pretty low.  If he pitches well, that would be great, but he’s also just as important to create some competition for the setup man role in Spring Training.  Ayala, Matt Guerrier, and Jose Mijares will now all be battling for the “exclusive rights” to work the eighth inning when the Twins have the lead, and competition for jobs is something the Twins have always liked to put a priority on (especially with their young players).

It’s not quite Brandon Lyon or Eric Gagne, but we’ll see how Ayala pans out.

Matty G.

MattGuerrier.jpgI know I’ve been a bit lax about updating this blog as of late (but isn’t that happens when trying to cover the Twins’ “plethora” of moves this offseason?), but I did want to mention that the Twins just recently avoided arbitration with relief pitcher Matt Guerrier.  Matty G. ended up signing a one-year contract worth $1.475 million.

As of right now, I think this is a good move for the Twins, although it remains to be seen if Guerrier can regain the early-season form he showed in 2008.  For the first half of the season, Matty was the ONLY Twins reliever (excluding Joe Nathan, of course) who was even partially effective.  He bailed us out of tough spot after tough spot.  Come August and September, though Guerrier hit a major wall and was, as much as I hate to say this, quite terrible.  Whether it was from him being overworked/overexposed earlier in the season or just a lack of confidence, Guerrier sadly became the guy you didn’t want to see trotting in from the bullpen.  By the very end of the season, Guerrier’s setup job was given to Jose Mijares, as Matty failed in try after try to produce quality outings.

So, I think that Guerrier can flourish out of the pen again, but only if the Twins do not wear him down to the bone again.  He has a windmill-like delivery that must make it difficult for batters to pick up the ball coming out of his hand, but he needs to be JUST the eighth-inning guy, and not EVERY night at that.

The Two Most Hated Words A Pitcher Can Hear

tommy_20john_small.jpgEarlier today on this blog, I reported that Twins relief pitcher Pat Neshek was flying back to the Twin Cities from his rehab in Florida to have an MRI performed.  The results of that MRI were not good.  The scan revealed a complete tear of Neshek’s ulnar collateral ligament, which can only be corrected by the dreaded Tommy John surgery, requiring the side-winding righty to miss the entire 2009 season (much like Francisco Liriano in 2007).

This devastating loss to the Twins’ pitching staff just further illustrates the Twins’ need to either develop another reliever (Jose Mijares looked promising in September) or venture into the trading or free agent markets to get one.

The Free Agent Shuffle

FreeAgents.jpgToday, three Minnesota Twins announced they were filing for free agency.  Here are the likely scenarios for those three guys:

Dennys Reyes- Unless he is dirt cheap (and if he’s filing that probably isn’t the case), the Twins will likely cut ties with the Big Sweat.  He is too wild and too erratic, while Jose Mijares and Craig Breslow are just as effective and cheaper options.

Eddie Guardado- Despite all the excitement when Everyday Eddie returned to the Twins, he stunk it up this second time around and is almost certain to not be brought back.  It actually wouldn’t surprise me if Eddie doesn’t receive any offers and retires before the 2009 season.

Nick Punto- Despite a bit higher of a price tag that Denny Hocking ever commanded, I can’t see Little Nicky leaving Ron Gardenhire’s side.  Punto can play too many defensive positions and is too good of a bunter/aggressive hitter for the Twins to part with him.  He has filled in admirably around the diamond and I would like to see him return.

RP: You Are The Weakest Link…Goodbye?

nathanreview.jpgAlthough the 2008 Minnesota Twins season was effectively ended on a Jim Thome home run in game number 163, the season realistically slipped away during the month of August, when the bullpen inexplicably failed to record any key outs (even Joe Nathan included, for a time) and lost game after game in the late innings.  Any major league manager will tell you that any competitive team needs to have at least a decent bullpen, and right now that is about the only weak link (albeit a major weakness) for the Twins to potential shore up over the offseason.  A quick look at how the major relievers fared in ’08:

Joe Nathan (67.7 IP, 39 SV, 1.33 ERA): Despite a shaky spell in mid-August, Nathan was by and large the most dominant closer outside of Anaheim’s Francisco Rodriguez for the majority of the season.  No reason to be concerned here.

Matt Guerrier (76.3, 5.19): After Pat Neshek went down with a season-ending injury, Guerrier stepped up as an ace setup man, bridging the gap to the dominant Joe Nathan.  Alas, Guerrier completely crumbled as the season progressed, getting to the point where he was pretty much “off limits” in crucial games down the stretch.  His mindset is probably what needs the most soothing heading into ’09, as he was really messed up at the end of this year.

Dennys Reyes (46.3, 2.33): Reyes turned in a decent season out of the pen (his numbers are tricky, as he rarely throws to enough batters per inning to factor into the earned runs), but needs to work on one crucial area: control.  When facing good hitters in pressure situations, Reyes would often throw terrible wild pitchers (ones Joe Mauer wouldn’t have a chance at stopping) and letting runners move up.  So, batters would then key on the strikes and blast them, as Reyes would practically have to throw the ball right down the middle to be confidant of getting it in the strike zone.

Jesse Crain (62.7, 3.59): Crain can throw harder than any of the Twins’ current middle relievers, but still completely wilts in pressure-packed situations (think of LaTroy Hawkins trying to close in 2001).  He far and away led the team in walk-off hits given up, due (like Reyes) to shoddy control, allowing batters to tee off on the pitches thrown down the pipe to prevent walks.  The one hope for Crain is that ’08 was his first season back from arm surgery, so perhaps he was still just getting himself back into playing condition (although I don’t think so).

Craig Breslow: (38.7, 1.63): All in all, Breslow (acquired in mid-season from the Cleveland Indians) was probably the most consistent reliever of the bunch.  He didn’t pitch many innings, but got the job done more often than not.

As if those less than thrilling reports weren’t bad enough, three more Twins relievers (Brian Bass, Juan Rincon, and Eddie Guardado) turned out to be complete busts, with no chance of returning in 2009 (Bass and Rincon are already gone).

There is, however, at least some hope on the horizon.  Pat Neshek, the side-winding righty that is so difficult to figure out, will be back in ’09, while young Jose Mijares impressed many people in crucial late-season 2008 action.  If those guys can come back strong, perhaps the Reyes’, Crain’s, and Guerrier’s of the world can better settle into their own specific roles.

Playoff Notes:

-Is there anyone alive out there right now who DOESN’T think the Boston Red Sox are going to advance to the World Series by beating the Rays tonight?!  Here is the starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (16-6, 3.21) vs. Matt Garza (11-9, 3.70).  The Sox are just following their typical playoff pattern…dominate the ALDS, come from way behind in the ALCS, then dominate the World Series.  Will it continue?  I think so.

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