Notebook Dump (07.24.08)
Game: Twinks 1, Yankees 5
Record: 55-46, 2nd place, 2.5 games back
Streak: 4 losses
The quote: “Funny things happen when we come to New York. I guess what we get to look forward to is a new stadium. Maybe we’ll do better at the new stadium. Not very much fun here today.” - Ron Gardenhire.
The Inning: Certainly Alexi Casilla has been one of the better additions to the ballclub since his recall earlier in the season, igniting an offense who would not have a baserunner for Joe Mauer had Casilla not been placed behind Carlos Gomez who has a phobia of being on-base recently. However his lackadaisical play in the field is detracting from the team and gave the Yankees, who are averaging 4.7 runs per game, an extra outs will come back to bite you in the ass.
Casilla learned this the hard way in the bottom of the 5th inning. Both Robinson Cano (the second-half hero) and Melky Cabrera singled up the middle out of Glen Perkins with one-out. Perkins threw an 88 mph fastball under the strike zone to Yankees catcher Jose Molina who bounced to Brendan Harris at third. Harris pivoted to Casilla, hoping to start what should have been an inning-ending double play, only Casilla ate the ball. "There are scoreboards everywhere in this game," Gardenhire said, "It's inexcusable. He knows that. He feels terrible. You think about that before. You look around. It's a routine double play. It's as routine as you can get it."
This brought up Jason Christian, the Yankees outfielder who had played in nine games at the major league level to this point in his career. In 1,982 minor league plate appearances, Christian was batting .287/.349/.423 - a very respectable line. Perkins went to bust the righty inside, the first pitch was too far in and was called a ball. The second one was too fat, barely inside at 88 mph. Christian turned on it and pulled it down the left field line. Cano scampered home from third and Molina, the baserunner that shouldn't be, chugged all the way from first to score as well. The two runs in the 5th were more than enough for Mike Mussina who was dissecting the Twins line-up and received crucial doubleplays from Nick Punto and Denard Span.
* Kevin Slowey has been an object of bewilderment to me this season. Five outings ago, Slowey worked over the Padres line-up to the tune of six innings, seven strike outs and just four hits (Game Score 71). For an encore he subdued Milwaukee for a complete game, striking out eight (Game Score 89) however since then Slowey has seemed to go in the opposite direction in his last three starts. Over that period in games against Cleveland, Detroit and most recently the Yankees, Slowey failed to get past the sixth inning, walked six and struck out ten. Opponents hit .306/.368/.548 in that duration (.243/.269/.441 every other game), averaging a Game Score of 36 per start. Slowey has been slowed by a fingernail infection and had a bicep injury in spring training. There is no word on how this is effecting his performance but I would monitor how his next scheduled start goes before suggesting that there may be something to the injuries.
* Rotowire's Dave Regan wrote up a list of the top fifteen could be ready pitching prospects looking for a September call-up. Number nine on the list is Minnesota's Kevin Mulvey. Regan writes: "Included in the Johan Santana deal, Mulvey has been pretty good (not dominant) for the Twins in Triple-A this season. A 3.97 ERA and 7.4 K/9 won't wow anyone, but Mulvey is a polished college pitcher with 19 Triple-A starts under his belt now, so he's going to get a look at some point. Francisco Liriano is next up to get the call to Minnesota, but Livan Hernandez is always a good candidate to give up another rotation spot." Mulvey has not garnered that much attention this season, mostly because of his pedestrian 3-8 record, but his strikeout rate at 18.7% (17.8% on his career) is a fairly impressive total and as some one who throws strikes Mulvey might be able to benefit from some upgraded defense as the Red Wings have one of the worst fielding percentages and defensive effciency ratio. Look for Kevin Mulvey to be a candidate if anyone else has injuries following Liriano's recall.
* Jeff Pearlman recently followed up with Lamb when the Twins were in Boston, noting that Lamb's career soured from his days in 2000 when he was one of the Rangers' rising stars, and penned a piece that made Lamb come off as beaten. At thirty-two and currently hitting .229/.264/.304 with just the one home run coming in Detroit on May 23rd, we could very well be witnessing the swan-song of Mike Lamb. True, the Twins are still due $3 million to him for 2009 but the team has found that Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris make a very serviceable platoon at third while they also have Matt Macri available in Rochester and Matt Tolbert sizing up a return from the disabled list. Lamb certainly could become the guy squeezed out. But it looks like it won't be requesting a trade: "I'm not going to make any demands, I'm not going to request anything. It's up to them." Lamb told the Pioneer Press, "I don't know what they have in mind for me, or for the future. I'm just trying to be ready to play, one way or the other."
* If the Twins are looking for some pop to help out the line-up against left-handed pitching, the team may have to look mo further than in Rochester for the short-term solution. Randy Ruiz, the 30-year-old minor league free agent, has been tearing the cover off the ball in the International League as of late. After a slow start to the season, Ruiz is now hitting .309/.357/.504 with 14 home runs thanks to a 24-game hitting streak. In 107 at-bats against the southpaws, Ruiz is hitting .327/.397/.514. According to MinorLeagueSplits.com's Major League Equivalency Calculator, a program that converts what the numbers from one league would project to in another (i.e. how Eastern League performance would equate to Pacific Coast League, etc), it finds that Ruiz's International League line against lefties would equate to a .281/.343/.429 batting line against Major League pitching. This, of course, is substantially better then that of Craig Monroe, who in 77 at-bats against lefties this season is hitting .185/.221/.221. It would also be better than the rest of the right-handed batters in the line-up as well who are hitting .260/.304/.363. Ruiz would be limited to DH as his mobility is this just slightly better than brutal.
* If you unfamilar with Inside Edge Scouting Services, I'd recommend that you take a look. Great visual charts.