July 7, 2007

What A Day

Well, yesterday the Twins won both games of the doubleheader, and as you can tell by the game recaps, both games were very interesting. With everything that happened, a lot of thoughts came to my mind, and I thought I should share them with everybody and then let you share your thoughts in the comments section.

Lets get started....

Pitching Ups and Downs
Well, the first game was definitely not a good pitching job by the Twins as they allowed 14 runs and 18 hits. Luckily for them though, the Twins offense was even better and still got them the win. Scott Baker has had many good outings this year, so for now I'm going to say this one just wasn't his day. Overall, he obviously didn't pitch very good, but there were times that he pitched pretty well including the quick first inning in which he picked up two strikeouts.

The second game was totally different pitching wise from the first game. The Twins got a great performance from Matt Garza as he pitched six shutout innings. Also in this game, the bullpen allowed no hits or runs while in the first game, the bullpen allowed seven runs on nine hits.

What Happened
The offense really showed up, and it was surprising that they were able to play so well in the second game after scoring twenty in the first one. Another thing that was somewhat shocking was the fact that they scored thirty-two runs in the two games, but in their previous five games had scored only thirteen runs and had been shutout twice.

Another weird thing that happened yesterday was that the Twins were forced to have their pitcher bat because Redmond left with an injury. I'm not quite sure of the exact date, but I believe they mentioned that a pitcher hasn't hit in the American League since some time in the late 1980's. Oh, and don't forget about Morneau's three homerun game, that was a little weird.

My Bullpen Thoughts
Even with the two wins, I do have some somewhat negative thoughts on the bullpen. In my opinion, there is no longer a need to have Ramon Ortiz be the mop-up guy or the guy to finish out blowouts. Normally, all he is going to do is give up some runs to make it worse, or possibly even make it more of a game. I think the Twins need to send him packing, and give someone like Slowey a chance to learn at the major league level in that role.

Also, I'm not quite sure how long Cali will be with the team, but I'm still not quite comfortable with the Twins using him in a tight situation. I know they haven't yet, but I just wanted to throw that out there. Finally, I know Rincon has had some good outings in the last week or two, but he has had just as many bad ones. I still feel as though the Twins should use him as trade bait.

One More Hitter
Well, even with all of the offense yesterday, I think the Twins still need one more hitter. In fact, I think yesterday's game showed that one more hitter might make this one of the better lineups in the league.

I really like a lot of the lineup that Gardenhire put out there for the first game. But, there were two key parts that need to be changed, and they are in red below.

Luis Castillo
Jason Bartlett
Joe Mauer
Michael Cuddyer
Justin Morneau
Torii Hunter
Jason Kubel
Jason Tyner
Nick Punto

As you see above, most of that lineup looks great. Bartlett is a pretty good number two hitter, and Mauer is back at the three-hole where he has hit best this season. In addition to this, Morneau is at the five spot where I feel he hits best, and whenever you have Hunter and Kubel in the six and seven spots, there is definitely a lot of potential.

However, I don't fell as though Tyner should ever be a designated hitter, and for that matter anything other than a utility player. And, as I've already mentioned before, I feel like third base is the team's biggest weakness.

The good news is that this lineup can be fixed very easily. First, when (if) Rondell comes back after the break, you can put him in the designated hitter spot, or you can put him in left and Kubel in the DH spot. Then, the hardest and biggest thing, make a trade for a third baseman.

This will take some time, but I think it is the one trade that absolutely needs to be done. If we can have a more prototypical third baseman that will get on base and drive in some runs, this lineup will improve a lot. Also, at third base there are no options if Punto fails (he already did), however at the designated hitter spot there are because anybody can simply be a hitter (Redmond, Jones etc.)

More Thoughts
I do have a few more thoughts, but I'll stop here and share them another time. Instead, I'd like to hear what you think about this and any of your other thoughts.