Players to Watch – 7/11 Results

Ok, so its been more than a week, but last time I tried posting this I got called away for an important phone call. Therefore…let’s take a look first of all at the players to watch from 11 days ago.

Garrett Jones, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: So let’s see what Garrett has done since the 11th. Well, he had a 10 game hitting streak, has already hit 6 home runs since the 11th, and 8 total in just 70 at bats. He’s currently hitting at .286. Way to let him go Twins.

Justin Huber, OF/1B, Rochester Red Wings (Twins): He has two home runs since the 11th. He is 6 for 23, with 6 RBIs. He was also in his league’s HR Derby. So far he is batting .281, with 13 home runs, and 51 RBI.

Twins sign 2B Mark Grudzielanek

If only they had had him when they still had Pierzynski and Mientkiewicz…

But seriously, I like this signing. Grudzielanek has been in the majors since 1995 and has played for the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and most recently, the Kansas City Royals, for whom he hit .299 last season. His career batting average is .290. He was an All Star in 1996 with the Expos, and won a Gold Glove in 2006 with the Royals.

He has little power (only 90 career home runs) but that’s not really an issue considering that what we really need is a solid, every day second baseman, which doesn’t demand a lot of power, and considering we have Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer and Crede who are all home run threats, Mark should fit well.

It was only a minor league deal, and since he hasn’t played at all this year, he’s gonna need a little time. But Bill Smith said he’s in shape. Something tells me if Casilla doesn’t improve before Mark is ready, we’re gonna have a new second baseman soon.

Starting the Second Half

Twins kick off the second half of the season tonight in Arlington. It’s Glen Perkins vs. Vincente Padilla. And here what would be a great starting line-up.

Denard Span – CF
Brendan Harris – SS
Joe Mauer – C
Justin Morneau – 1B
Jason Kubel – DH
Michael Cuddyer – RF
Joe Crede – 3B
Delmon Young – LF
Alexi Casilla – 2B

Let’s all cheer for Glen and the rest of the guys and pummel those Rangers.

Swapping Tolbert for Casilla and getting another hurler

Item: The Twins call up Alexi Casilla (2B) and send down Matt Tolbert (U)

Good move and finally the Twins start to shake things up. Of course this may present a problem, which is that since Punto looks like the odd man out here, he will now be taking playing time from Casilla, Brendan Harris, and Joe Crede. This is unless Punto remains the utility player that he actually is. Hopefully Casilla can be ready this time.

Item: They also want to call up another pitcher after the All Star Break.

This is also a good move. The article mentions three pitchers: Jesse Crain, Rob Delaney, and Juan Morillo, plus a possible trade. However, a new pitcher also would probably indicate that Slowey is not ready to return yet. If Slowey is healthy, then it could be a good idea to just slide Anthony Swarzak into the bullpen, or Francisco Liriano for that matter. But here’s a look at some candidates for the Twins pen that would come from somewhere other than the current 25 man roster or disabled list.

From AAA:

Jesse Crain: In 14.1 IP he has a win, a save, and an ERA of 3.14.
    -He hasn’t spent enough time at AAA yet. Right now the Twins need new blood, new hunger. Before Crain gets another chance, other options need to be exhausted.

Rob Delaney: Started the season in AA, and since called up to Rochester has three saves, he has an ERA of 4.03 and AAA opponents are batting .213 against him.
    – Rob has only thrown 22 1/3 innings at Rochester, even with a great BAA, he could still use some more time, and his ERA is a little high.

Juan Morillo:  In 38 innings in AAA he has 49 strikeouts, 3 saves, 3 wins, 3 losses,  and an opposing batting average of .193. He pitched with the Twins earlier this year (3 games, 2 IP), and had an ERA of 22.50, pretty bad.
    -Morillo only pitched 2 innings with the Twins earlier, at the time our bullpen was in complete disarray, so there wasn’t a lot of patience then. Right now though would be a good time to give him another chance.

Armando Gabino: In 52 2/3 IP for Gabino, he has an ERA of 3.25, a BAA of .228, 33 punch outs, and a WHIP of 1.08
    -Not bad, but because there are others with stats a little better I would think they would get the call first. I wouldn’t rule Gabino out though.

From outside the organization:

Michael Wuertz, Oakland Athletics:  Wuertz was born in Minnesota and though he has had a rough June, the A’s aren’t going anywhere, they have had good fortune with All Star Andrew Bailey in the closer’s role and Wuertz may be expendable. He’s making $1.1 million a year, but in a trade that could be worked out. Wuertz has an ERA of 2.95, with 5 wins, a loss and 2 saves in 3 chances. Opponents are batting .203 against him.

Hector Navarro, Veracruz Red Eagle (Mexican League): Hey I can dream can’t I? Navarro has been lights out so far. He’s 29 years old and in 38 1/2 IPs, he has an ERA of 2.11, 24 saves, 37 Ks, and a BAA of .185. Last year in 50.1 IPs, he had 16 saves and a batting average against .221. Why not?

There are some other guys, but I think that the need could be easily filled in the organization, but I would really like to see Navarro in a Twins uniform.

Say it ain’t so Joe (Maddon)

This takes the cake. Joe Maddon should be banned from ever managing an All Star team again.

Dustin Pedroia is missing the All Star Game to be with his wife, who is seven months pregnant. (So first of all kudos to Dustin, good choice). But Joe Maddon decides to take not another second baseman, but his own first baseman, Carlos Pena. Pena is the 4th 1st Baseman on the roster. Pena is currently batting .229 with 111 strikeouts in 309 ABs. Those are not all star numbers.

The choice could have been Ian Kinsler, who fas 20 home runs. But we should remember that Ben Zobrist can play, and probably will play there in St. Louis. But even so, Maddon should have picked Miguel Cabrera or Russell Branyan before Pena. What a shame. 

Players to Watch – 7/11/2009

Today, “Jesse for GM!” is kicking off a weekly player to watch article. These will include a MLB and Minor League player. Enjoy…

Garrett Jones, OF/1B, Pittsburgh Pirates

In his first 34 at bats for the Pirates this year, Jones is hitting .294 with 3 home runs and 4 runs batted in. He also has 2 doubles, a triple and 2 steals. His slugging percentage is currently .676.

I was a Garrett Jones fan when he was in the Twins organization. He was one of those guys that was not given a chance to stick with the big league club. I hope he does well with Pittsburgh. If you have a fantasy team, give him a shot.

Minor Leagues

Justin Huber, OF/1B, Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins, AAA)
Stats bio

Justin is currently hitting .283 at AAA Rochester with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .333 with 2 of those round trippers, 4 doubles and 6 RBI. He is third on the team in hitting behind Steven Tolleson and Alexi Casilla.

Huber was the Futures Game MVP back in 2005, and he was once regarded as a top prospect in the Royals farm system. But injury struck and he hasn’t stuck in the big leagues. He’s never had more than 78 at bats in a season, but last year for the Padres, he batted .246 with 2 home runs in 61 at bats, one of which came off Randy Johnson. And believe me was this one tagged!

With a little extra power, and with Carlos Gomez batting a paltry .222 with an on-base percentage of .281. I think a call needs to be made, we need more RBIs on this team, and although Gomez is a great fielder, Span would not be that big of a drop off in center, and Huber would be much more effective off the bench, and don’t rule out a Kubel, Span, Cuddyer outfield either, with Huber at DH. And even though Huber has only 3 steals at AAA, Gomez only has 7 in the bigs, and while Huber has only 2 triples, Gomez has only 3 with the Twins. That’s not a lot for a guy who is insanely fast. Come on Twins, give him a shot, we can only have so many players hitting under .230. (Oh yeah, that would be 6 of those).

Last hurrah for the All Star Rosters

Ok, so Shane Victorino in no way deserved to get voted in ahead of Guzman, Reynolds or Kemp.

And here’s the dumber thing. Instead of letting one of these guys take Beltran’s spot, they are giving it to Jayson Werth, who is batting .267- not good enough to be an All Star, once again look at Kemp, pick him.

And as far as Nelson Cruz getting to replace Hunter, that’s not horrible, but Adam Lind is much better.

Lind: .309-19-59
Cruz: .262-20-50

And Lind doesn’t have the line-up Cruz does.

Reports Cards for Maddon and Manuel, and fans too.

The official rosters are out, and its time for the managers and fans to be graded.
Each league has a 33 man roster. So each selection will be 2 points, 2 if I totally agree, 1 if I somewhat do, and 0 if I think it is a bad selection. As far as the fans go, two if I agree that person should be starting, 1 if they should be on the team but not starting, and 0 if they shouldn’t be on the team.

DISCLAIMER: Remember a few things before you make your case in disagreement against me. An all star is not just home runs, and not just offense, defense and baserunning are also considered, and clutch hitting. Pitching, wins are not as important as they seem. A pitcher can get bad and great run support, ERA, Ks and WHIP all matter more. Also there needs to be a player from each team, and some people are better than others, so yes, some people are having all-star type years, but they won’t make it.

 P.S. You can see my selected rosters a little farther down this page.

American League
1) Joe Mauer (Twins) 2
2) Mark Teixeira (Yankees) 1
3) Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox) 0
4) Evan Longoria (Rays) 2
5) Derek Jeter (Yankees) 1
6) Jason Bay (Red Sox) 2
7) Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) 2
8) Josh Hamilton (Rangers) 0

Fans grade: 10/16 = 62% = D Minus

9) Zach Grienke (Royals) 2
10) Roy Halladay (Blue Jays) 2
11) Edwin Jackson (Tigers) 2
12) Mark Buehrle  (White Sox) 2 – yes, he wasn’t on my team –  but I’ll give Maddon this one
13) Felix Hernandez (Mariners) 2
14) Justin Verlander (Tigers) 2
15) Joe Nathan (Twins) 2
16) Mariano Rivera (Yankees) 2
17) Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox) 0
18) Brian Fuentes (Angels) 2
19) Andrew Bailey (Athletics) 0
20) Tim Wakefield (Red Sox) 2
21) John Beckett (Red Sox) 2
22) Aaron Hill (Blue Jays) 2
23) Victor Martinez (Indians) 2
24) Jason Bartlett (Rays) 2
25) Justin Morneau (Twins) 2
26) Kevin Youkillis (Red Sox) 2
27)  Carl Crawford (Rays) 2
28) Michael Young (rangers) 0
29)  Ben Zobrist (Rays) 2
30) Torii Hunter (Angels) 2
31) Curtis Granderson (Tigers) 0
32) Adam Jones (Orioles) 2
33) Fans choose this one: I’m voting Inge

Maddon’s grade: 39/48 = 82% =  B Minus

National League

1) Yadier Molina (Cardinals) 0
2) Albert Pujols (Cardinals) 2
3) Chase Utley (Phillies) 2
4) David Wright (Mets) 2
5) Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) 2
6) Ryan Braun (Brewers) 2
7) Carlos Beltran (Mets) 2 – I didn’t pick him for my team due to injury, he deserved it though.
8) Raul Ibanez (Phillies) 2

Grade: 14/16 = 87% = B

9) Tim Lincecum (Giants) 2
10) Dan Haren (Diamondbacks) 2
11) Ted Lilly  (Cubs) 0
12) Jason Marquis (Rockies) 1
13) Heath Bell (Padres) 2
14) Jonathon Broxton (Dodgers) 2
15) Ryan Franklin (Cardinals) 2
16) Francisco Rodriguez (Mets) 0
17) Matt Cain (Giants) 2
18) Johan Santana (Mets) 1
19) Francisco Cordero (Reds) 0
20) Josh Johnson (Marlins) 2
21) Chad Billingsley (Dodgers) 2
22) Brian McCann (Braves) 2
23)  Prince Fielder (Brewers) 2
24) Freddy Sanchez (Pirates) 2
25) Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) 2
26) Ryan Howard (Phillies) 2
27)  Brad Hawpe (Diamondbacks) 2
28) Miguel Tejada (Astros) 2
29) Orlando Hudson (Dodgers) 0
30) Justin Upton (Diamondbacks) 2
31) Hunter Pence (Astros) 1
32) Adrian Gonzalez (Padres) 2
33) FAN CHOICE I’ll vote Guzman, but I’d vote for Reynolds or Kemp too

Grade: 37/48 = 77% = C

Twins bullpen

The Twins have shaken up their bullpen these past two weeks.

Gone: Luis Ayala, Sean Henn, and Jesse Crain

Called up: Brian Duensing, Bobby Keppel and TBA.

 So yeah, I was right about Crain, and just today I was telling my dad that we needed to lose Henn, and I was actually pretty happy with Ayala recently, but so be it. They should have given Duensing more of a chance earlier.

Meanwhile R.A. Dickey and Matt Guerrier are doing great, as is Nathan as usual, Keppel has been lights out so far and Mijares has been pretty solid. We’ll see how Duensing does as a lefty specialist.

Next moves the Twins should make

1) Replace Tolbert with Trevor Plouffe

2) Trade Punto

3) Try Plouffe at 2B and Harris at SS.

4) Trade for the following: a starting SS and/or 2Bman (but only after all three of Plouffe, Luke Hughes, and Harris fail.

If you’re calling me crazy for calling for calling Plouffe up, well he has nothing left to prove at AAA, his time is running out, let’s give him a shot. He only has to bat like .225 to hit better than Buscher, Punto, and Tolbert, and if he hit .250 he’d be outhitting Delmon and Redmond

5) Get Redmond to be a coach and give Morales the back up catcher role. I really like Redmond, but he’s not really doing a whole lot of good. 

My National League All Star Team!

Again, first nine are starters

1) Brian McCann (Braves)
2) Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
3) Chase Utley (Phillies)
4) David Wright (Mets)
5) Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
6) Ryan Braun (Brewers)
7) Brad Hawpe (Rockies)
8) Raul Ibanez (Phillies)
9) Tim Lincecum (Giants)
10) Dan Haren (Diamondbacks)
11) Carlos Marmol  (Cubs)
12) Huston Street (Rockies)
13) Heath Bell (Padres)
14) Jonathon Broxton (Dodgers)
15) Chris Carpenter (Cardinals)
16) Yovani Gallardo (Brewers)
17) Matt Cain (Giants)
18) Javier Vasquez (Braves)
19) Johnny Cueto (Reds)
20) Josh Johnson (Marlins)
21) Chad Billingsley (Dodgers)
22) Bengie Molina (Giants)
23)  Prince Fielder (Brewers)
24) Freddy Sanchez (Pirates)
25) Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals)
26) Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks)
27)  Carlos Lee (Astros)
28) Miguel Tejada (Astros)
29) Cristian Guzman (Nationals)
30) Justin Upton (Diamondbacks)
31) Matt Kemp (Dodgers)
32) Adrian Gonzalez (Padres)
33) Ryan Howard (Phillies)

Comment: If Carlos Beltran were healthy, he would be on the team replacing Carlos Lee and he would be starting in place of Ibanez.