Monday, June 25, 2012

Matt Capps Paper Doll, and Being Snippy About It

The Twins have placed RHP Matt Capps on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. He had a MRI on Monday, which indicated that there is no damage, just inflammation, and it sounds like he's going to have a cortisone shot this week.

Left-handed pitcher Tyler Robertson was recalled to take Capps' roster spot. Gardy said that he will use LHP Glen Perkins and RHP Jared Burton, as matchups dictate, as the closers. With lefty Brian Duensing now in the rotation, Robertson will be used as the LOOGY (lefty one out guy).

So, let's recap Capps' last week or so. He pitched on June 15th against the Brewers in a tie game and lost the game, though it was on an unearned run. The next day, he mentioned that his shoulder was sore, so the Twins shut him down for a week to let it heal. Then, about Friday or so, it sounded like he was getting kind of impatient with the resting thing. Actually, the way I read it, it seemed like he was getting kind of snippy. Then, he backed off and said he understood. Then, the Twins found a nice, low-pressure situation on Saturday. He looked horrible, but he said he was only rusty, and he was pretty encouraged with the outing. Then he woke up Sunday morning, and it hurt again. Finally, the Twins got serious and put him on the DL.

The whole idea of the DL -- its entire reason for existence -- is for the team to get a replacement man while the injured player heals. It's completely intended to protect the team so that all 25 men on the roster are truly available as needed. Sure, giving a banged up guy a day or two rest is pretty common, and totally expected. But if a team is committed to giving a guy a full week's rest, it may as well fill out the paperwork, make a phone call to the AAA club, and do it right. It takes pressure off the injured player to try to get out there before he's ready, and it takes pressure off his teammates who have to fill his void.

So, the Twins unwillingness to put Capps on the DL when he first experienced the inflammation is beyond me. And because they let him try to pitch on Saturday, the whole "retroactive to June 15th" thing is gone. So now the earliest he can come back is July 9.

What's going on here? Did Capps under-report the extent of his pain? Probably. Do the Twins over-value being gutty and playing through the pain? No doubt. Did the medical staff mess up? Well, ...

It's frustrating that not only are so many players getting hurt, but the Twins also don't seem to be able to handle the ones who do correctly.

Also, I really don't believe Gardy will stick with the "closer by committee" scheme for more than a game or two. He's too in love with the idea of having an assigned closer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Catching Up, Revere, Dozier, and Other Notes

Hi. It's been a while. Nothing like a busy-at-work-busy-at-home lifestyle to put a dent in one's blogging ambitions. But anyhoo...

I have a few thoughts.

My thoughts on Ben Revere
How much fun has Benny been to watch lately? The plays in the outfield, the improved hitting, the smiling, the adorableness, the little chicken wing thing he does in the batting box, the plays in the outfield ...

I was excited about him last year, but this year I'm even more so. This is his year, and he's blossomed into a full-fledged big leaguer. Sure, his throwing arm still isn't stellar, but his outstanding range pretty much makes that issue moot. Nobody's perfect.

The thing is, every time Benny shows off how capable he is at being big-league outfielder, the closer Twins fans are to trading Denard Span. Denard's value as centerfielder and lead-off man is at an all time high. And there are plenty of contending teams that could use his services to help them toward the playoffs.

This season is already lost for the Twins, and they have many needs to begin a rebuilding project. And as much as I would hate to see him go, Denard could fetch some much-needed pitching prospects. Benny gives the Twins the confidence to move forward with that plan.

My thoughts on Brian Dozier
After a nice hot spell, Brian has cooled off -- both offensively and defensively. Ok, he's a rookie, and other teams probably have started figuring him out. It happens.

The Twins seem content to just let him be and figure it out on his own. I'm ok with that.

But it does make me wonder: why am I ok with Dozier hanging around until he works out the kinks, but last year I had run out of patience with Nishioka quite quickly? I don't really have a good answer. Maybe it's because Dozier has been a little better (.247 ba/ .263 obp/ .340 slug) through 37 games than Nishi (.228/ .291/ .260), but he's not recovering from a devastating injury either. And Dozier's fielding percentage through 37 games (.956) is worse than Nishioka's for 66 games (.961) (I couldn't find defensive game splits, so I couldn't see how Nishi was doing at 37 games). So, really, Dozier isn't a super huge improvement.

But why was I so quick to ship out Nishioka, but I'm still rooting for Dozier? I guess perception is a lot of it -- Nishi just looked lost and confused but Dozier has continued to look confident even while struggling. Also, Dozier did show some flashes of brilliance while I don't really remember seeing that with Nishioka. It could be that my patience was worn so thin last year that my standards are lower this year.

I don't know. But I believe Dozier will work things out and get back to that awesome player I saw a few weeks ago. I hope it happens soon.

Injury and Transaction Updates
6/14 -- The Twins placed RHP JP Walters on the DL with shoulder inflammation. No further word on his recovery timetable.

Lester Oliveros was recalled to take Walters' roster spot.

6/16 -- Lester Oliveros was optioned to AAA Rochester and Liam Hendriks was recalled.

I hope Lester didn't pack a whole lot.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beer Call

Another perfect game, another beer tab for me. I would like to buy a beer for Giants pitcher Matt Cain for his perfect game on Wednesday night.

Unfortunately for me, the whole thing happened after I went to bed, so I didn't even get to participate in all the Twitter buzz during the game. Blasted west coast games.

But anyway, from all that I read, Cain pitched well (14 strikeouts) and had some great defense behind him. A whole team effort.

It used to be that perfect games were quite rare and special. However, the fact that they're not so rare lately doesn't mean they're not still special. They're special because they're very difficult feats of excellence and luck, and the fact that we've happened to see a cluster of them in a short time doesn't change that. The clustering is merely coincidence.

So, here's to you, Matt Cain. Thanks for reminding baseball fans everywhere just how awesome this game is.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Carl Pavano Paper Doll, Baseball and Bad Spelling Collide, Series Recap, and Other Notes

So, I didn't really get a chance to pay much attention to this series. I was kind of busy with the "having a life" thing -- watching my kid play baseball, improving my golf game (this is a hilarious statement if you've ever seen me golf), etc. But I was able to check in from time to time, so I'm not completely lost

Some notes:
  • Seems to me that the best starting pitching performance of the series (Liriano's) was the one that resulted in a loss. But it was good to seen Frankie pitching better.
  • I think Jared Burton wants us to love him.
The Twins have placed RHP Carl Pavano on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 2 with what they're calling a right anterior capsular strain. Wow, that's a mouthful; let's break it down.

Right means, well...your other left? Anterior means front. The capsule is a static group of ligaments in the shoulder that stabilize the joint. I guess strain means that it hurts.

Pavano's been bothered by this most of the season, and the Twins have decided to shut him down for a little while to let it heal, and have him start a throwing program sometime in the future.

I've tried to do some reading on the injury, but I can't really get a sense of how long he'll be out.

Nick Blackburn was activated off the DL (quad strain) to take Pavano's roster spot.

When Baseball and Bad Spelling Collide
I haven't done this little segment in a long time. In fact, it's been so long that I kind of forgot I used to do it. Until I saw this from Wednesday's game:
Oh, poor Jeff Manship. It's not like it's a hard name like Mastroianni or even Parmelee.

And according to Rhett Bollinger from


It seems like Mr. Mansihp ... er, Manship, has some getting even to do.

On Thursday, the Twins optioned pitcher Cole De Vries to AAA Rochester and recalled first baseman Chris Parmelee. Due to a favorable line up of off-days, the Twins don't need a 5-man rotation for a while, so this gives De Vries a chance to hone his skills at a more appropriate level.

And Parmelee has been smacking the ball around in AAA, so it's time to give him another chance in the bigs.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Ace of Diamond, Indians Series Recap, and Other Notes

Another series win! We all could get used this, right? There's nothing like winning to make everyone all confident and happy.

A couple of notes:
  • I think that my buddy Brian Dozier needs a day or two off to clear his head a little. It seems like he's scuffling a bit, especially with his glove. I think he'll be fine, though.
  • Did you see that sick Ben Revere catch on Saturday? That perfect somersault in the outfield with a catch in the middle of it? I was impressed that he held on to the ball and perfectly tucked in his head. He almost stuck the landing, too.
  • I really like watching Glen Perkins pitch. 
  • I'm also beginning to warm up to Matt Capps' pitching, too. We still need to work on that whole trust thing, but we're getting there.
It's really nice to see Scott Diamond succeeding. The Twins really need to have some stability in the rotation, and he's been a nice cornerstone.

The rotation has been weakest part of the Twins season. The offense usually does enough to win most games, and the bullpen has actually been a pleasant surprise. But, oy, the rotation...

When many baseball analysts and columnists talk about pitchers, they refer to them as a "number one starter," "number two starter," etc. on down the line to "number five starters." A number one starter is generally considered an "ace" (think Verlander, Sabathia, or Gonzalez), and a number five starter is generally considered to be just good enough to keep his job as a starter.

Some analysts use the stat WAR (wins above replacement) to make that determination. WAR is a long, convoluted formula, and there is even disagreement over which formula is more accurate (two respected statistical websites, and, each have their own definitions), but "replacement" level (a player with a WAR of 0) is generally considered a good AAA player who is ready to break into the big leagues. A positive WAR means a guy is helping his team win; a negative WAR means he's costing his team wins.

So I decided that I wanted to suffer a little and look up the WAR values for the Twins current rotation (I use's).

First, let's take a peek at the aforementioned Verlander (+3.2), Sabathia (+2.0), and Gonzalez (+2.4). This is what aces look like.

This is what the Twins look like:
  • Carl Pavano: -0.9
  • Francisco Liriano: -1.1
  • Scott Diamond: +0.7
  • PJ Walters: +0.5
  • Cole De Vries: -0.1
So, yeah, at slightly above replacement level, or a number five starter on any other team, Scott Diamond is currently the ace of the staff.

MLB's Rule 4 amateur draft is Monday evening. The Twins have the second overall pick; they haven't picked this high since they drafted Joe Mauer in 2001. They also have six of the top 100 picks. Needless to say, this is an important draft, and the Twins had better get it right.

I haven't really been following any of the draft prospect, so I have no insight or legitimate opinion on the matter. But I am interested to see how it goes.

A lot of the experts have been saying that this draft class isn't as spectacular as recent years; there are no Stephen Strasburgs or Bryce Harpers this year.

But there are two guys that the experts keep talking about: RHP Mark Appel from Stanford University and OF Byron Buxton from Appling County, HS (in Georgia).

All the rumors on Twitter indicate that the Astros will take Appel with the first pick, so he probably won't be available for the Twins.

I googled Buxton, and he seems pretty cool -- five tool guy: speed, throwing, fielding, hitting, and hitting with power. Plus, his nickname is Buck. So, I'm going to go ahead and hope the Twins pick him.

I know that the Twins already have an abundance of outfielders, and they really could use more pitching, but the key to a good draft is to choose the best available player, not necessarily the player the team needs most.

Besides, some decent pitchers will probably fall to the later picks.

No matter what, I hope the Twins don't mess it up. The problem is: we won't know how well it went for, like, four years or so.

Injury Watch and Updates
Carl Pavano left Friday's game early, clearly suffering some more discomfort in his shoulder. He has returned to Minneapolis and is scheduled to have another MRI on Monday. Things don't sound hopeful that he'll be able to avoid the DL.

Joe Mauer left Sunday's game a bit early because he slightly sprained his thumb. He insisted after the game that it's no big deal and he'll be fine.

Kyle Waldrop, who was put on the DL at the end of spring training, was activated as assigned to AAA Rochester.