Results tagged ‘ Matt Tolbert ’

A Lesson From The Band Room

During the four years I attended the University of Minnesota-Morris, I played in the Concert Band each semester.  During one of those years, the director said something I will never forget: he told the group that if each musician makes one glaring error in each song, the entire performance will probably be a wreck.  He didn’t tell us this to put us under added pressure, but just to emphasize the pure fact of the matter.

The same concept applies in baseball.  If each player makes one error each game, that team will never win a game.

Sound familiar?

Of course, Nishioka & Tolbert combined tonight to make enough errors to lose 3-4 games.  There’s really nothing more to say.

Preview (52-66, 4th, 6.0 GB CWS): Brian Duensing (8-10, 4.56) vs. Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08)

Well, This Is Just “Sick”…

9456_sick_woman_with_the_flu_walkin.pngIn my previous post, I made the point that part of the reason why the Twins are struggling is because their young pitchers haven’t panned out as planned.  That is without a doubt part of the reason, but the main thing right now is injuries…plain and simple.

We’ve never been a team with a lot (or even a little) depth, so more than one long-term injury and all of a sudden guys like Hughes, Tolbert, Tosoni, and Butera are expected to hit at a major-league level and win games.  Nope.

With Mauer, Young, Thome, Nathan, and Nishioka all struggling through various stages of convalescence, the talent level just isn’t what it needs to be.  As much as Gardy can opine about “finding a way to win”, the reality is that with the kind of lineups we have been putting up the last few weeks, we shouldn’t expect to win.

The good news: Injuries heal.

The bad news: It takes time…do we have enough of it?

Spark & Fire

Spark:

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Gardy said he likes the Tolbert-Casilla combination up the middle. If the Twins keeping winning, Cuddy can put away his small glove.

Fire:

New call-up (but old hand) Jim Hoey came into the game throwing these…

 

Very impressive, to say the least

Two wins in a row?!  Against these hapless O’s, it should be more as the week plays out.

Preview (): Carl Pavano (1-1, 3.60) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-1, 7.04).

What We Learned From The Road

APTOPIX_Twins_Yankees_Baseball_sff_210063_game.jpghttp://ecdn1.hark.com/swfs/player.swf?1297555656(Link) View more Jim Carrey Quotes and Sound Clips and Dumb & Dumber Quotes and Sound Clips

What we learned from the opening road trip of the 2011 season:

1.  At least early on, the Twins a bit overmatched on the road.  We are still very competitive (especially if our starting pitching cooperates), but lag in one key area: our “high flies” settle just before the warning track, while the home team jacks them out.  Until our power threats (Morneau, Young, Kubel) starting swinging the lumber, we are at a big disadvantage.  Thome is fine, though.

2. Our pitchers are going to give up home runs.  Period.  Not a one of them (besides maybe Liriano) is all that great at keeping the ball in the ballpark.  Thus, we better not walk ANYBODY to put extra bodies on the basepaths.  Target Field helps, but we still play 81 on enemy turf.

Oh yeah, and now Matty Tolbert will likely be the everyday 2B-man for awhile because of Nishioka’s broken fibula:

Minnesota Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1) grimaces as is injured while forcing out New York Yankees Nick Swisher (33) when Mark Teixeira grounded into a seventh-inning fielder's choice in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, April 7, 2011. Nioshoika was taken out of the game after the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Preview (2-4, 5th, 2.0 GB CWS/CLE/KCR): Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50) vs. Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.75).  Home Opener!!

Spring Training 2011: On The Fringe

With the Twins now in Fort Myers, FL, for Spring Training, they’ve been getting more media attention than usual due to issues like Morneau’s concussion comeback, Nathan’s Tommy John rehab, and the new Japanese SS whose name I’m too lazy to look up for spelling (probably should get on that).

However, there are three other areas I would like to comment on that perhaps slip our minds in the midst of the “bit stories”:

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1. Alexi Casilla has never been an everyday player for a full season.  Whenever he’s been given the opportunity to start, he’s droppped the ball (sometimes even in the literal sense).  Considering Gardy’s love of guys like Matt “The Next Punto?” Tobert or the newcomer Luke Hughes, Casilla still has a lot to prove and will not be handed the job by any means.

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2. Can “Valencia Mania” continue? A favorite example of mine of this case comes from 2000, when the Mets had an outfielder named Timo Perez (heck, he might be bouncing around somewhere yet) who, in August-September that year, looked like the next coming of Junior Griffey.  He then made a few World Series blunders, pitchers figured him out, and he’s been a fringe player since.  Pitchers now have a similar “book” on young Danny-Boy, so those fat pitches will be fewer and farther between.

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3. Besides a summer (June-July) that was out of control, Delmon Young was very average at the beginning and end of 2010.  What if that “Beast Mode” doesn’t occur again in ’11, or for nearly as long?  He’s always been a streaky hitter.

Keep an eye on these issues, as they could be every bit as important as “the big boys”.

Pavano & Punto

Item #1:

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Our veteran leader returns for two more seasons. Don’t expect the next coming of Johan Santana or anything, but Pavano can save a bullpen and give you quality starts when healthy.

Item #2:

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Nick Punto is a St. Louis Cardinal.  The end of an era, for sure.  I’ll always remember Punto for his hustle (especially those head-first dives into first base), even if it did lead to more jammed fingers and other body parts than probably necessary.  Could he hit a lick?  Besides 2006…no.  But he played spectacular defense and could fill in at any position as the heir to Dennis Hocking.  Who will be next in the chain?  I’m betting Matt Tolbert.

Options, Options

The other day, the Twins made a few “option” decisions on players:

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First, Jason Kubel was brought back for 2001.  Overall, he had a disappointing ’10 campaign after a breakout 2009, but the RBI’s really started coming in those final months, so there is hope he can bounce back.

 
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Also, Nick Punto was not offered an option, but could return at a lower salary. It would be strange to see Little Nicky go, as it would truly signal an end to that “pirahna” era, but I wouldn’t miss Gardy’s unwavering devotion to him one bit, even when we were desperate for some offense at times.  The presence of Matt Tolbert might make Nicky expendable.

A Different Feeling

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:

y-Minnesota 94 -68 . -
Chi White Sox 88 -74 6.0
Detroit 81 -81 13.0
Cleveland 69 -93 25.0
Kansas City 67 -95 27.0

I’m So Sick Of You, Brendan Harris

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:

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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.

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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.

Men In Blue Are A Little Black

Indians_Tigers_Baseball_sff_174463_game.jpgTo set the scene: Earlier in the day, with Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers just one out away from pitching a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base that broke everything up (the runner was clearly out, as indicated by the instant replay).  As of this time, Commissioner Bud Selig is refusing to overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfecto, despite an admission of guilt from Joyce.

Then, the Twins-Mariners game last night transpires as follows:

Kevin Slowey and Cliff Lee lock up in a magnificent pitching duel, with the score tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the tenth inning.  With runners on first and second and two outs, Ichiro Suzuki hits a slow roller up the middle that Matt Tolbert adeptly smothers and flips to JJ Hardy for what looks to be the final out of the inning.  However, despite the fact that replays show the ball beat the runner to the bag, the runner was called safe and, by that time, the lead baserunner had already wheeled around third and scored easily:

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Two blown calls that cost their respective players/teams potentially dearly.  In Galarraga’s case, he will likely never approach a perfect game if he pitches for 20 more seasons.  The Twins, on the other hand, know first-hand the importance of a single game (we’ve played in two consecutive 163-game seasons) on the standings.  I can see the kind of tough position this puts Bud Selig in, and thus can understand why he is hesitant to overturn the Tigers call (as wouldn’t that be valuing individual achievement over team victories?).

Let’s just hope that this sort of fiasco leads to the introduction of instant replay into MLB as early as next season (or even this postseason in full-fledged form).  Football purists (if such a group exists) argued against instant replay for the same reasons that baseball purists (a much larger group) argue against it today (undermines umps, slows down the game, etc.).  However, replay has now become an established part of the NFL, and the league is (at least in my opinion) much better off for it, as getting the call on the field correct is the ultimate goal.  It should be the same in baseball as well.

Preview (31-22, 1st, 3.0 GA DET): Carl Pavano (5-5, 3.99) vs. Felix Hernandez (2-4, 3.50)

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