Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Quick Takes

The last 2 days have been a little hectic. It's the end of the school year and I have to move out of my dorm this morning. Throw a couple of finals on top and the Twins have been my one chance to relax. Throughout this I have done my best to still reserve time to write for this site as Ryan and I both believe it is important to have something new almost every day of the week. Needless to say, tonight's entry will be just a few brief thoughts on last night's game. Our first guest columnist is coming later this week.

I love baseball and the more of it I can get, the better. However, it was still refreshing to have a brisk game last night thanks to the excellent pitching performance of Carlos Silva. He is quickly developing into the ace of this staff! What's more, he continues to build on each start. Last night's performance was particularly needed for a Twins team in the middle of a 3 game losing streak. Where would the Twins be without Carlos Silva? He is 5-0 and has given the team innings that is has sorely needed. The rest of the starters have been inconsistent yet are showing signs of coming out of the woods.

Silva is not likely to keep this pace the entire year but I could see him putting together a really nice season. Perhaps 15-17 wins, much like 2001 version of Joe Mays. The Twins gave him a chance and he has more than repaid them for it. What he has given the the rest of the staff is time to work through their problems so that when he inevitably falters, they can pick up the pace. What the Twins need to be careful of is not overworking Silva since he has never thrown that many innings in a season before. As long as he stays around a hundred pitches or so a game, he should be all right.

Why does Gardy hate Lew Ford? He is among the league leaders in hitting yet he batted lower than both Cristian Guzman and Jose Offerman last night. Of course Ford had another great game and is producing wherever he hits, but the team is not using him where he can contribute the most. Jose Offerman should not even be in the lineup. He is a veteran presence on the bench for pitch hitting- that's it. His bat speed isn't good enough to be in the everyday lineup, let alone bat 5th on a playoff contender! He has been terrible of late and although he deserves a spot on the team (because he is capable of coming up with the big hit), those at bats could be spent elsewhere. Michael Cuddyer or Mike Ryan each would have been better options.

The Twins have not taken advantage of the opportunity to see what they have in Cuddyer. He hit a homerun on Sunday and yet doesn't get the chance to build on it. He isn't a second baseman but surely he can DH! Why are we wasting ABs on Offerman when that is not his role? Ford could have hit second in this game and Cuddyer fifth. If nothing else Ford should have been hitting fifth in the order. Maybe the Twins are afraid of bunching all their terrible hitters at the bottom of the order but as it is they seem to be wasting a lot of Shannon's at-bats.

I don't even want to talk about the poor play of the middle infielders anymore. They have pushed the outer limits of futility but the other options are still not that much better. I will say I was happy to see Rivas's double and he keeps teasing that he is ready to come out of his slump. Guzman still has no excuse for last night's baserunning gaffe. I saw the replay on ESPN and it was a TERRIBLE brain freeze.

The team finally hit the ball a little bit last night, which was good to see. Jacque Jones homered to the opposite field, which is a great sign of things to come. This team is fun to listen to when things are working. Joel Piniero used to be good but the Mariners overworked him and he is having trouble recovering.

Signs are good that Grant Balfour and Matt LeCroy could be back early next week. This means it will soon be decision time for the Twins. Of course the Twins will demote Rob Bowen and hopefully start LeCroy at catcher when he returns although I see them more likely easing him at DH to at first. When Balfour returns the team should ship out Seth Greisinger. He has done a good job giving the team some innings but that's about it (note the 8.10 ERA). Muholland is more valuable in his role and Joe Roa can be stretched out if they really need an extra starter. Roa has been head and shoulders above Greisinger so there is no reason why the Twins would demote him. When Helling and Mauer returns there could be some more difficult decisions coming. I will speculate about them when their time approaches.

That is the best I can do tonight, thank you everyone for your patience. Now that school is over I get to go back to Northfield and watch games on Friday nights. I'm crossing my fingers that when I return to school in the fall Victory will be on. Until then I will have ample opportunity to work on this website and voice the opinion of this fan.


The Island of Lost Chances

I'm sure many of you reading this post are bleary-eyed today for the very same reason that I am, last night's epic 16 inning 4-3 loss to the now "surging" Seattle Mariners. Even though I am in college, where staying up until 2 a.m. is a pretty normal, I'm still going to keep today's post short for the sake of my sanity. Simply put, even though the Twins came out on the short end of the stick it was still a very entertaining game. Entertaining, yet EXTREMELY frustrating! This is a game that the Twins should have won about five times over, but what a game! Great defensive plays, plays at the plate, and a plethora of ejections. Let's list all the missed/blown chances for the Twins in extra innings:

9th- This was possibly the most frustrating moment of the entire game. The M's sent Eddie G. out to face his old teammates and he did not disappoint; his old teammates that is. Eddie was true to form: a couple of singles, and then, with two outs, he allowed a key run-scoring hit to tie or lose the game. Last night, that hit came from the most unlikely of sources: our very own Torii Hunter! Listening to the game, I could just picture the swing Torii would put on the 3-2 pitch from Eddie. It would be a little back-door slider (or splitter in Eddie's case) and Hunter would pull his head out and miss by about a foot. Somehow, miraculously, Torii instead lined a double to right field. Guzy scored easily from second, but Koskie was thrown out at the plate on a TERRIBLE call by the home plate ump. Like the vast majority of you I couldn't actually see this call, but I'm willing to take Gordo and Gladden's word for it. Koskie, who is usually pretty mild-tempered, thought the call was so bad that he was tossed from the game for arguing. So was Wayne Hattaway, which would have been a very entertaining sight to see. Damn the ump and damn Victory!

10th- Lew Ford, who is still the official player of this blog, connects with a one out double. With two outs, Cuddyer comes through with a single to left. Unfortunately, the throw from Raul Ibanez is a good one and Ford is... "OUT at the plate! Ohhhhhh, my," to quote John Gordon.

11th- The entire inning was just one big disaster from the get-go. It starts promising enough, with a leadoff Stewart walk, but he is erased on the subsequent Guzman bunt. Boys and girls that is one of baseball's cardinal sins: you have to get the sacrifice bunt down! What happened next is something that no mere box score can explain. With Mientkiewicz at the plate, Guzman takes off for second. Mientkiewicz lines a single to right, but for some reason Guzman thought that Ichiro caught the ball! He touches second but then turns and GOES BACK TO FIRST!! Instead of a single, all Dougie gets is a lousy fielders choice! I know the hit-and-run play wasn't on, but Guzy, what were you thinking!?!? You see, that is why we have such novelties as "third base coaches": to help prevent these kinds of debacles. Instead of first and second with one out the Twins now have a man on first with two outs. Naturally, Dougie Baseball is picked off trying to steal a couple pitches later.

14th- Guzy started the inning off by reaching on an error. Mientkiewicz was bunting, but for some reason towards the left side of the infield (much to the dismay of Dan Gladden). The bunt was a shallow pop-up, and Spiezio nearly made a diving catch charging in from third. Guzman had to wait and see if the bunt would be caught, so the catcher forced him out at second. Another botched sacrifice! Punto walked and after a Ryan groundout, Jones was grazed by a pitch to load the bases for our man Lew! But Lew couldn't deliver (hey, nobody's perfect) so the game remained tied.

As somewhat of a pessimist, I was predicting the Twins' doom the moment Seth Greisinger entered the game. He actually did a nice job for two innings, but the veteran line-up of Seattle was just too much for him in the 16th. Too bad the Mariners had to win on yet another cheap call by the umpire! I can't wait to see the highlights tomorrow, just so I can see how bad those two calls (the ones in the 9th and 16th) really were.

I've got 9 a.m. class tomorrow so I'd better get at least a little sleep. Today's entry should at least help those of you who chickened out and didn't stay up until the end of the game. John and I also feel it is important that we consistently post at least six days a week until we are better established. Coming up later this week we have (hopefully) our first guest writer! Stay tuned for that, and good night everyone!