Results tagged ‘ Rays ’

Never Quite Fit

After a team-wide collapse during the final months of 2007, the Twins were a ballclub in desperate need of hitters.  The thought was, at least at the time, that the Twins had a solid stable of starters and a deep bullpen, so Matt Garza (and Jason Bartlett) were deemed expendable and sent to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young (and Brendan Harris).  Unfortunately, Young never quite fit in with the Twins organization and is now a Tiger.

In 2008, with the promise of power based on a solid TB rookie campaign, Delmon hit .290 with little power.  In 2009, he hit about .290 with…little power.  In 2010, he hit about .300 with 21 homers and 110+ RBI.  So far this season, he’s missed much time on the DL and never really found his stroke.

Basically, there are two Delmon Young’s:

The first Delmon can put a team on his shoulders from the middle of the order.  When he’s locked in, he’s almost Vlad Guerrero-like with his free-swinging ways.  He (more than probably any other Twin) took the “sage” advice of Tony Oliva in this now-infamous TV spot…

The other Delmon, however…

…was an out machine when swinging at those early pitches, completely unable to draw walks or move runners along.  In the field, he was a complete klutz.  Though sometimes he’ll dive and catch a ball, it is usually because he misplayed it so thoroughly to begin with.  He just doesn’t have any natural coordination in the field.

Sadly, that “second” Delmon Young was much more apparent as a Twin than the first.  Looking back, I can’t blame the Twins for giving Young a try.  At the time, we though we were getting two above average hitters for a pitcher (in Garza) that needed a change of scenery and a hitter (in Bartlett) who didn’t blossom until his Tampa stay.

However, it just didn’t work out.

My Favorite Twin

As the youngest of youngsters, my Twins hero (predictably) was Kirby Puckett:

Then in the mid-90s, Rick Aguilera (for whatever reason) was my favorite Twin:

Brad Radke then picked up the mantra:

Who passed o the torch to Joe Nathan:

However, with Nathan just now perhaps getting back on the horse after Tommy John, I needed a new “favorite player”…that one guy who either comes in from the pen or strides to the plate and make you inch forward in your seat with anticipation.

Right now, for me, that player is Danny Valencia…

Sure, he’s batting in the low .200s this year after an amazing rookie 2010 stretch run surge.  But I just see so much potential in him; maybe our first bona-fide hot corner man since Corey Koskie.  He hits for power, drives the ball to the gaps, has a flair for the dramatic, and plays a solid (if sometimes spectacular) 3b.  Plus, he has just enough ego to know he’s good, yet has a solid manager and good teammates to keep that Florida ego in check.

So, as of right now, Danny Valencia is my favorite Twin.  Time will tell if V will be around for the long haul (like Cuddyer), but considering his youth and considerable talents already, I’d say he’s well on his way.

Notes:

-A good start to the series with the Rays in beating David Price.  Duesing was dominating today and Valencia (heh heh), Cuddy, and Nishioka provided the offensive firepower.

Preview (37-46, 4th, 4.0 GB CWS): James Shields (8-5, 2.45) vs. Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15)

How I Know I’m A Blogger…

The other day, I realized that I’ve started to think like a blogger.  As soon as I heard the news that Carl Crawford…

ccrawford.jpg

…was nabbed by the Boston Red Sox, my first thought wasn’t even about the unfairness of the baseball economic system or even the rising of a new “Evil Empire” (the fact that it’s the Yankees, Red Sox, and everyone else right now).

No, my first thought went to Rays Renegade (a fellow MLBlog) and how disappointed he must have been to lose his star talent.  Hang in there, man, it happened to me with Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, too.  The Twins still thrived without those talents, and I’m sure the Rays can too (granted, making the playoffs is a thousand times more difficult in that division).

Quick ALDS Preview: Rays vs. Rangers

carl-crawford-ap2.jpgI’ll take the Rays in this one. Not only did they match the Yankees step for step this season, but guys like Carl Crawford (above) can beat you almost single handedly with gap power, speed, and just plain getting on base and wreaking havoc.

Unless Cliff Lee can work his magic again, I don’t think the Rangers can pull this one off (especially at the Trop).

Thanks Again, ‘Lexi!

Blue_Jays_Twins_Baseball_sff_197164_game.jpgIf the Twins were to start Alexi Casilla at second base (or SS for that matter) on a regular basis, he would hit .250 with no power, strike out often, and make enough bonehead plays (both in the field and on the basepaths) to send Gardy to an early grave.

However, put him in a late-season pressure-cooker situation, and the results speak for themselves:

 

For a team looking for a spark going forward into the playoffs, this could be it!

Notes:

-Still don’t know our first-round opponent.  Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker over New York, so (with both teams tied heading into the regular season’s final day) a TB win would automatically give us the Yanks.

Preview (94-67, 1st, 7 GA CWS): Marc Rzepczynski (3-4, 5.56) vs. Nick Blackburn (10-11, 5.55)

Git ‘Er Done


Twins_Indians_Baseball_sff_193371_game.jpgIt wasn’t pretty, but the Twins were able to “git ‘er done” this weekend against the Indians.  It took us over 18 innings to get the first run of the series, and we scored in only two innings the entire series, but still managed to take the series thanks to some great starting pitching

Now, the last series against the White Sox looms at the Cell starting Tuesday.  We can effectively put them away by winning the series, or they (a very streaky team to begin with) can gain momentum.

Notes:

-Unbelievable…we’re only two games behind the Yankees for best record in the American League, and thus locking up home field advantage for the playoffs.  With the amount of times the Yanks and Rays still play each other down the stretch, if the Twins keep putting up “W’s” we could sneak through as the #1 seed!

Preview (85-58, 1st, 6.0 GA CWS): Francisco Liriano (13-7, 3.24) vs. John Danks (13-10, 3.54).

Right Said, Fred (aka I Do My Little Turn…)

Twins_Rays_Baseball_sff_186372_game.jpg

So let’s see…what happened today:

Twins jump out to early lead on Rays…Twins bullpen completely implodes and allows a grand-slam to Jason Bartlett late to tie the game…Jason Kubel hits a towering pop-up that hits the catwalk high above Tropicana Field and allows the eventually winning run for Minnesota to score and at least salvage a split on enemy territory.

Perhaps this is what happens when you build a domed stadium in Florida:

TROPICANA-FIELD-INTERIOR.jpg And then name it after an orange juice maker:

tropicana%20old.jpg

Do I miss the Metrodome? Nahh…

Preview (61-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.18) vs. Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 1.50).

Two Model Franchises (And Managers)

Twins_Rays_Baseball_sff_186220_game.jpgTonight’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?!

Notes:

-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).

When Delmon Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy

Twins_Rays_Baseball_sff_185986_game.jpgOne 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.

Notes:

-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).

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).

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