August 2009


Twins-Rangers: Rubber game

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Orlando Cabrera is getting a day off today, so Nick Punto is starting at short. “He’s played a lot of baseball,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of O-Cab. “So we’ll give him a blow.”

Gardy talked a little before the game about September call ups. It doesn’t sound like Danny Valencia is going to get the call. Gardenhire said Valencia is playing O.K. at Class AAA Rochester, but he’s not on the 40-man roster. The Twins would have to move someone they really don’t want to move off that list to make room for Valencia.

The other factor is that, as long as the Twins have a chance to win the division, they aren’t keen on throwing a rookie into the heat of the race, especially when Valencia isn’t tearing it up at Rochester. Brendan Harris will play third until Joe Crede returns.

Crede, by the way, is going to have a second epidural on Monday. It normally takes 2-3 days for the medication to work its way through. The Twins should know by the end of the week how much the shot helped.

Speaking of shots, Gardenhire just had a third cortisone shot in his shoulder. Add shots for his elbow and knee, and that’s five shots this year for the manager. Cortisone is his friend.

Have calls out on Brad Penny and Rich Harden developments and will update when possible. I did hear that Penny wants a contract for 2010, so it will be interesting if the Twins or whoever claims him off relief waivers is willing to do that. Penny could reject the move, but I can’t see him turning his back on at least $1.2 million the rest of the season.

The White Sox could emerge as a suitor for Penny after Jake Peavy left his minor league start last night with a tight elbow.   They are ahead of the Twins, as of now, in the waiver claim department. And I can’t see how Chicago will want to give Jose Contreras the ball again.

Lineups

Rangers (72-56)

1. Julio Borbon, DH
2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Josh Hamilton, RF
4. Marlon Byrd, CF
5. Ian Kinsler, 2B
6. Hank Blalock, 1B
7. Nelson Cruz, LF
8. Ivan Rodriguez, C
9. Elvis Andrus, SS

Pitching: Kevin Milwood, RHP

Twins (64-65)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, LF
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Brendan Harris, 3B
8. Mike Redmond, C
9. Nick Punto, SS

Pitching: Scott Baker, RHP

Twins-Rangers: Postgame

Friday, August 28th, 2009

 ROSTER MOVES

After the game, the Twins placed third baseman Joe Crede on the 15-day DL because his back is going to need a few more days of rest. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire added that Crede was going to have a second epidural. The first shot went into the top of the problem. The next one will go in the other side.

And Crede wasn’t moving all the great as we saw him leave out the players’ entrance to the clubhouse while we waited to be allowed in.

Catcher Jose Morales was called up to replace Crede. Morales was 3 for 4 on Thursday to raise his average to .329 at Class AAA Rochester.

The Twins also sent righthander Armando Gabino back to Rochester. This will clear space on the major league roster for the arrival of Ron Mahay, which is expected to be announced Saturday. No word on what 40-man move they will make.

TUESDAY’S STARTER

Gardenhire hinted strongly that righthander Jeff Manship will get his first-ever major league start on Tuesday against the White Sox.

That, of course, could change if the Twins, ahem, acquire another pitcher before then.

Monday will be an interesting day, with waivers expiring on Rich Harden and Brad Penny. I think the Twins have a way better chance at landing Penny. Carl Pavano, his former Florida teammate, apparently likes it here and would make it easy for Penny to fit in.

One scout at the game tonight did say that Penny is better suited for the National League.

ABOUT RAUCH

Twins General Manager Bill Smith pointed out that new Twin Jon Rauch led the majors in appearances over the last three years.

Rauch also is set to make $2.9 million next season, so he’ll be in the bullpen mix.

“It helps,” Smith said, “We’re pleased about that. We’re glad to have him the rest of this year and next year.”

That also tips their hand a little about what the expect from righthander Pat Neshek next year – nothing.

Neshek hasn’t pitched since May of 2008 because of elbow problems. Club officials have told me that the safe route is to not expect Neshek to be available until he proves he’s available. By not counting on him, there’s no pressure  on him to rush back.

PERK UPDATE

Lefthander Glen Perkins will throw an inning for the Gulf Coast League Twins on Saturday as he works his way back from shoulder problems. The Twins are going to be patient with Perkins too, to make sure there’s no more setbacks.

FINALLY…

When Joe Mauer threw out Elvis Andrus with a perfect throw in the eighth inning, I swear I heard Mauer yell. “Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!”

O.K. I made that up…..

Twins-Rangers: On the eve of bullpen upheaval

Friday, August 28th, 2009

New relievers Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay aren’t expected to join the team until Saturday, and indications are that the Twins will wait until then to move one of the young pitchers to make room for Mahay.

The Twins already made room for Rauch by outrighting Phil Humber to Class AAA Rochester.

No word on Joe Crede, but Brendan Harris is starting at third tonight. Details to come.

UPDATE: Joe Crede’s back is doing better. But he’s going to meet with docs during the game. If he needs a few more days, the Twins probably will DL him after the game and call someone else up.

Ron Mahay’s signing hasn’t been officially announced yet, so Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t comment on him. On Rauch, he said: “He’s bigger than me. He can have any role he wants.”

He was kidding, of course, Rauch likely will be in the seventh-inning mix

There’s a report out of Chicago that the Twins were the team to put in a claim on Rich Harden. No word if the teams are negotiating a deal or if the Cubs will just pull him off waivers. Being a Type A free agent, my guess is the Cubs would want two players for him to replace the compensation picks they’d lose.

And will Harden stay healthy? He’s never thrown more than 189.2 innings in a season. Since 2004, he’s failed to throw even 150. If the Twins really want him, it’s a risk.

Update:  Class AAA Rochester righthander Johan Pino is headed to Cleveland as the player to be named later for  Carl Pavano. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pino already is penciled in to start on Tuesday for Class AAA Columbus.

Cleveland selected Pino from a list of four players.

Too bad for the Twins. Pino was pitching well for Class AAA Rochester. Pino was 2-2 with a 2.82 ERA in eight starts for the Red Wings.

Lineups

Rangers (71-55)

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Nelson Cruz, RF
5. Pudge, DH
6. David Murphy, LF
7. Taylor Teagarden, C
8. Chris Davis, 1B
9. Elvis Andrus, SS

Pitching: Tommy Hunter,RHP

Twins (63-64)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Brendan Harris, 3B
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

Pitching: Brian Duensing, LHP

Twins add bullpen help with Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay

Friday, August 28th, 2009

The Twins have swung a deal with Arizona for righthander Jon Rauch in exchange for a player to be named later. And they have signed lefthander Ron Mahay, who was released by the Royals.

Rauch was 2-2, 4.14 with two saves in 54.1nnings with the D-Backs, allowing 17 walks with 35 strikeouts.  His 305 appearances since the beginning of the 2006 season are the most in Major League Baseball.

To make room for Rauch, the Twins outrighted righthander Philip Humber to Class AAA Rochester.

Rauch got off to a terrible start but has posted a 2.84 ERA since May 25.

He was scheduled to make $2 million this season, so it looks like the Twins will be on the hook for about $400,000, maybe less, the rest of the season. The D-Backs picked up a $2.9 million option for 2010, so it looks like Rauch will pitch in Target Field too.

We’ll have more on this later.

Mahay had a 4.79 ERA in 41.1 innings with the Royals before he was desginated for assignment this week. Those who has seen him pitch recently say his velocity is the same as it was a year ago but his stuff might not be as sharp.

Even so, Mahay, and Rauch, are upgrades over some of the inexperienced arms the Twins have relied on recently.

Twins-Orioles: Pregame

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

At the Dome watching Justin Morneau work on power hitting drills. He’s out on the field with hitting coach Joe Vavra, hitting a ball off a tee.

The key to the drill is to focus on the bottom half of the baseball. Hitting that part causes backspin. And backspin helps the ball carry farther. The Twins started using the drill about 7-8 years ago in the minor leagues. They began a power development program that Morneau and others went through. Doing this drill on a baseball field and not in a cage allows Morneau to see how the ball travels.

Morneau is driving balls all over the Dome. Few are clearing the fence or baggy, but that’s not the goal of the drill. At game speed, the balls will travel 400-plus feet.

After hitting was seems like 75-80 balls, Morneau is in the outfield picking up the balls he hit. How many former MVP’s do that?

I’m guessing you have seen the news regarding Johan Santana . Fortunately, it’s just a bone chip issue.

Buster Olney went off today about how health concerns about Santana forced the Red Sox and Yankees to back away from dealing for him during the 2007-2008 offseason. Santana does not have a physique like most so-called, `horses,’ and I know the Twins wondered if Santana would eventually break down. Santana left everything on the field. I talked to Santana two days after the end of the 2007 season as he cleaned out his locker. He bent over to pick something off the ground and groaned like a Rhino who had just been shot. He said his back, legs and arm were killing him.

It’s not surprising to hear that the beasts of the AL East felt that way. I also know that Boston was very reluctant to sign Santana to a deal like the one he got from the Mets. I also know that Boston would have been more interested in Santana if the Yankees hadn’t backed away. The whole trade landscape fell apart when the Yankees backed away during the winter meetings that year. The Mets became the only real option.

Will check back later with updates and lineups.

Update: Joe Crede had an MRI on his back today because it’s taking longer than normal for it to come around. He’s expected to consult with Twins docs during the game, so there should be an update after the game.

Francisco Liriano had an MRI on his elbow. According to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, the elbow looked great. So the next step is to schedule a day for Liriano to play catch and start building up to a bullpen session.

Boof Bonser has been cleared to face hitters down in Florida. So now it’s a matter of him building up enough arm strength to go out on a minor league rehab assignment.

Speaking of minor leaguers, here are the ones headed to the Arizona Fall League: Righthanders Mike McCardell, Alex Burnett and Steven Hirschfeld, lefthander Spencer Steedley, outfielder/first baseman Chris Parmelee, infielder Steven Singleton and outfiedler Rene Tosoni.

Zach Parise and some of his hockey alums from Shattuckland took early batting practice and shagged fly balls.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was bummed out to hear that Johan Santana is out for the year with bone chip problems. “If you can’t root for Johan Santana you can’t root for anyone,” Gardenhire said. Someone else pointed out to me that Santana might not be out of the woods after surgery. Removing the chips allows for more range of motion but that range of motion could lead to ligament problems. Next spring should be real interesting in Metsland – when is it ever not interesting over there.

Lineups

O’s (51-74)

1. Brian Roberts, 2B
2. Felix Pie, CF
3. Nolan Reimold, DH
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Luke Scott, LF
6. Matt Wieters, C
7. Melvin Mora, 3B
8. Michael Aubrey, 1B
9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Pitching: Brian Matusz, LHP

Twins (62-63)

1. Denard Span, LF
2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Brendan Harris. 3B
7. Delmon Young, DH
8. Carlos Gomez, CF
9. Alexi Casilla. 2B

Pitching: Armando Gabino, RHP