March 2008

Seattle Sends Twins A Catcher for R.A. Dickey

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

 The Seattle Mariners worked out a deal to keep knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whom they selected from the Twins in the Rule 5 draft in December.

The Twins will receive 21-year old catcher Jair Fernandez, who batted .260 with 2 homers and 13 RBI for Class A Wisconsin of the Midwest League.

The Twins signed Dickey as a free agent during the offseason but left him off the 40-man roster, making him available to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.  He went 1-0 with 2.25 ERA in seven spring games with the Mariners.

Dickey cleared waivers before the Mariners worked out a deal with the Twins, allowing Seattle to send him to the minors. The Twins’ pitching staff is set, with righthander Brian Bass claiming the final spot in the bullpen after solid spring.

Twins, Pirates Gotta Get Away

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The Twins didn’t leave Fort Myers until 10 a.m. Eastern to head to Bradenton. They will arrive, dress, get their hacks in then dash off to the airport for a flight back to the Twin Cities.

Twins: Gomez, Mauer, Cuddy, Morneau, Young, Monroe (DH), Lamb, Harris, Everett. Pitching: Slowey, followed by Guerrier, Rincon and Nathan.

Pirates:  McLouth, Wilson, Bay, LaRoche, Doumit, Nady, Bautista, Morgan, Rivas. Pitching: Matt Morris.

So long, Fort Myers! Hope my truck starts when I get home…..

Liriano Optioned to Fort Myers, Rotation Set

Friday, March 28th, 2008

The Twins are very pleased with Francisco Liriano’s progress over his past two outings but feel he still needs a couple more starts. So they optioned him to Class A Fort Myers on Friday, which allows righthander Nick Blackburn to make the Opening Day rotation.

Liriano, who has struck out 12 batters over his last nine innings, will start for Fort Myers on Thursday. It actually helps him some because his wife, who is pregnant, will have labor induced on Friday.

Liriano then will join Class AAA Rochester for a start. Liriano should be able to sharpen his pitches over these outings and have the stamina to throw 100 in a game. He’s then expected to join the Twins on their road trip to Chicago, Kansas City and Detroit.

The Twins rotation against the Angels is as follows

 Monday, Mar. 31: Livan Hernandez vs. Jared Weaver

Tuesday, Apr. 1: Boof Bonser vs Jon Garland

Wednesday, Apr. 2: Nick Blackburn vs Joe Saunders

Thursday, Apr. 3: Kevin Slowey vs Ervin Santana

and Scott Baker will pitch the first game of the series with Kansas City on Apr. 4 if all goes well Sunday.

Gomez Makes The Starting Lineup

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Carlos Gomez is in he lineup today, presumably fully recovered from the cramp in his left hamstring. The Twins wouldn’t play him if they believed he had something more serious.

Extra players today:Righthanders David Bromberg, Zach Ward  and David Shinskie, lefthander Jose Lugo, outfielders Matt Moses and David Winfree, infielder Luke Hughes and some guy I’ve never heard of, Toby Gardenhire.

Gardy is a on a back field  running a double play drill after Brendan Harris missed one yesterday.

The forecast is for a high of 86 degrees down here. I’m not ready to come back, boss.

Pirates: 1. Nyger Morgan, LF. 2. Luis Rivas, SS. 3. Nate McLouth, CF. 4. Ryan Doumit, DH. 5. Jose Bautista, 3B. 6. Ronny Paulino, C. 7. Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B. 8. Chris Gomez, 2B. 9. Jonel Pacheco, RF. Pitching: Phil Dumatrait.

Twins: 1. Go-Go, CF.2. Mauer, C. 3. Cuddy, RF. 4. Morneau, 1B. 5. D.Y., LF. 6. Monroe, DH. 7. Lamb, 3B. 8. Harris, 2B. 9. Everett, SS. Pitching: Liriano, then Bass, then Reyes.  

A Glimpse Of The Future

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

It was camp day on Wednesday back at the minor league complex – that’s when the Twins minor league teams play each other. Reporters were present because Scott Baker pitched for Rochester against New Britain.

After each of Baker’s innings, I walked a short distance to another field to watch Fort Myers vs. Beloit because a handful of prospects – Danny Valencia, Deibinson Romero and Ben Revere – were in the game.

I walked past minor league pitching coordinator Rick Knapp, who said, “Wilson Ramos just hit a line drive to center that almost knocked over Ben Revere.”

I walked past Ramos about a week ago. He’s listed as 6-0 and 206, and is just a big, wide-bodied young man. He’s also on my list as one of the top ten Twins prospects.

Ramos grounded out in the at-bat I watched. I had to head back to the main stadium to catch the Twins-Rays game after Baker was done (I still missed Livo’s free kick to first base) and I apparently missed one of the home runs of all time.

Ramos, batting later that game against Daniel Latham, hit a homer to center field that cleared the batter’s eye, cleared Plantation Road and landed on what I think is the property of South Fort Myers High School.

“It was estimated at about 450 feet,” Jim Rantz, the Twins’ director of minor leagues, said this morning. “It’s one of the longest we’ve ever seen back here.

“He’s 20 years old….that’s impressive.”

Ramos has the arm to shut down a running game and the Twins expect him to hit for a decent average and power (of course).

“When the ball comes off his bat, it makes a sound that’s different from everyone else’s,” said Jose Marzan, the Twins’ Latin American Coordinator.

Ramos should open the season at Class A Fort Myers.

Other minor league notes:

I guess Latham had a bad day. Valencia followed with a long home run after Ramos’ cannon shot.

Watched Romero a little bit. I never saw him hit but watched him in the field. He looks very athletic and looks like someone who can develop some power as he moves through the Twins system (photo found on Valencia and Romero are the best third base prospects in the system. Didn’t know much about Romero until he had that 10-RBI game for E-Town last year but he’s someone I’ll keep an eye on this season. He’ll start the season at Beloit (he played two games there late last season), which will be his first full-season league.

I saw Ben Revere fly out. He ran it out, which was the only chance I got to see the speed. He’s still young and will have to eliminate some movement in his approach (dipping the bat, dipping his head) as he progresses through the system.

Rantz said Revere has had an excellent spring, but will start the season at short-season E-Town. With Joe Benson and Christopher Parmelee (who said hello to me last week like he knew me) opening at Beloit, E-Town is where Revere can get plenty of at-bats. Plus he’s still 19.

Other news:

Ran into Korey Feiner in the elevator at Hammond Stadium yesterday.

Me: “What are you doing over here?”

Feiner: “I’m been released.”

 With Drew Butera entering the organization and Eli Whiteside making a good impression, Feiner, who’s from Madison, Wisc.,  was in a numbers crunch. He said he saw the move coming and appreciated that the Twins cut him loose now to give him a chance to hook on elsewhere.

Infielder Alejandro Machado, the former Rule 5 pickup who missed all of last season because of shoulder surgery, will have another surgery on the shoulder and will miss 6-8 weeks. “They will loosen up some of the things they tightened up,” Rantz said.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget to get your vote in for Picks to Click, 2008.