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4/19/09

looking between the lines: four series down

The Twins finished the four first series of the young season, sweeping the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the Metrodome in a three game series. After 14 games they are 1 game out of first place in the AL Central division, trailing the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, while they are leading the last place Cleveland Indians by 2.5 games. Here are my observations about the team at this time point:

  • A three game home series facing the assortment of AAA and bullpen arms of the Angels was a shot in the arm for the bats. Jason Kubel had 2 great days back to back, being the third player ever to hit for the cycle and completing it with a game winning grand slam. I am sure that in the long term, this will be a career highlight for Kubel; however for the short term, even more important might be the fact that the next day Garderhire started him against a LHP at DH and he delivered

  • Kevin Slowey might be back. He pitched 7 innings in the middle game of the series having only very few bad pitches, one of which was hit for a home run by Torii Hunter. Glen Perkins has been very surprising this season. The Perkins of 2009 so far is different than the Perkins of 2008: He apparently worked on his change up and slider this off-season and unlike last year, he has complimentary pitches to his fastball. His slider still needs work, but his change up is very effective. And when he is down on the count he does not throw fastballs in the middle of the plate like he did in 2008. This allows him to get through innings with fewer pitches and pitch deeper into the games

  • This series brought the first transaction of the young season, the acquisition of Jose Morillo off waivers and the DFAing of Phillip Humber. After the first appearance of Morillo in the ninth inning yesterday, where he pitched a scoreless inning allowing one hit and striking out one, while his fastball was between 96 and 98 mph, it might be safe to assume that the Twins will not miss Mr Humber much this season

  • Every position player got into the hit parade the last 2 days. I will post some thoughts about the catching situation tomorrow during the first off day of the season, but Jose Morales had a very good series, Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez not only hit the ball but worked counts out for walks and Brendan Harris so far is putting Ted Williams-like numbers in limited duty, which seems to be deservingly increasing

  • How sustainable is this? There are some good signs: The Twins are two games ahead of their 2008 pace so far (there were 6-8 after 14 games in 2008) without the complete rotation gelling, without all relievers bringing out top notch performances, with Joe Crede, Mike Cuddyer and Alexi Casilla lagging at the plate and with Joe Mauer in Florida. I think that the Twins are in good shape. If they finish the month of April within 1-2 games from the division lead, they will be a force to be reckoned with, since the bench and the pen is better than last season and the rotation seems to be better just by the fact that Perkins is pitching like a different pitcher. Time will tell, but so far so good


Position Player MVP of the series with the Angels:

Jason Kubel
14 AB, 8 H, 5 R, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR (hit for the cycle)



Best Pitcher of the series with the Angels:

Glen Perkins
8 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 4 K

8 comments:

Marv said...

Want to be careful not to get too excited about the Twins roughing up a group of 'not ready for prime time' pitchers, but maybe this is what they needed. Bottom line, after a terrible series with Toronto they came back and won games they should win. Good news.
You said Morillo might do better away from the mountain air. Would you say more about that?
Blake said that Morillo was throwing inside. That sounds like excellent news.
Should be interesting.

thrylos98 said...

About mountain air and Morillo:

When the air is thin and warm, pitches tend to flatten and, especially the breaking balls, lack movement. My suggestion was because he had ok control before he joined the PCL, part of his problem might have been ballpark-related.

As far as the rotation goes, I will go to this in further extend later, but the Twins are co-leading the majors so far with 9 games in which the starter pitched 6 or more innings. Not a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

thrylos,

I'm also interested to see what Gardy is going to do with the lineup once Mauer is back. Will he have Mauer, Morneau and Kubel as the 3, 4 and 5 hitter?

Or, will Gardy put Mauer in at the #2 spot, leaving Morneau and Kubel in their current slots?

If Kubel continues to hit around .300, I don't see how Gardenhire can afford not to keep him high in the batting order.

-Blake

thrylos98 said...

Blake,

That would be an interesting thing to see. I suspect that Gardy can live with 2 lefties in a row, but not with 3, so I suspect that at least in the beginning, or until Mauer hits up, he will bat Mauer -2, Morneau -3, a righty -4, Kubel -5. Or will drop everyone down and bat Mauer -3 and Kubel -6. The sixth spot is not that low in the order and Gary Gaetti practically made a living out of it back then.

Anonymous said...

thrylos,

What do you think about having Mauer, Morneau and Kubel in a row?

I tend to think it shouldn't be a problem, because Mauer and Morneau hit left handed pitching pretty well.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is: Is there a solid baseball reason not to bat three lefties in a row, or, is it just conventional wisdom?

Thanks again.

-Blake

thrylos98 said...

The only solid baseball reason is that they would be (esp. Morneau and Kubel back to back) susceptible to good LOOGIES out of the pen. They can probably handle most of the starting lefties, but some nasty LOOGIES like Marte, for example would be trouble. Of course one can PH for Kubel in that situation, but I'd rather see the other manager burn his LOOGY with M&M and get him out when a righty is on before he faces Kubel. Just tactically tires the other guys' pen more...

Anonymous said...

Thrylos,

Ah, I see now. Yeah, putting a hitter such as Joe Crede between Morneau and Kubel would pay off in late innings in a close game.


-Blake

thrylos98 said...

BINGO :)