Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lefty Out of the Pen

Today's Star Tribune ran a big spring training page. Within, Ron Gardenhire was quoted as saying that, in regards to having a lefty in the pen, "I could go with no lefties if I have to. We'll go with the best pitchers." This reflects an in La Velle's article today, in which he said, "Lefties are a luxury... If you have one that can get lefties out, that's great. If you don't have one that's better than a righthander who can go and blow people away, you take the best one."

Of course, Gardy may end up bringing two of our candidates (Gabe White, Dennys Reyes, Darrell May), as the Twins have made questionable decisions out of spring training before (Corky anyone?). However, it's good to hear that Gardy may realize, as much as we do, that the Twins don't really need a lefty off the bench when Nathan, Rincon, and Crain are all very effective against lefties themselves. Of the southpaw candidates, White remains the only decent candidate, as he has had some good seasons as a relief pitcher. However, as La Velle mentions, White has had major injury issues lately and may not have very much life left in his arm. Reyes has never been very good and May had one good season that he is unlikely to reproduce again. Unfortunately, he's the kind of lefty finesse pitcher that feasts on the Twins (see Kenny Rogers, Mike Maroth, and Cliff Lee), so the organization might love the guy anyways.

In other notes:

* It looks like Francisco Liriano will participate in the WBC and the Twins aren't too happy with it. Gardy says, "If he's pitching somewhere else and one of the other pitchers here is dominating, what do you do?" I think that regardless, Liriano will probably start in Triple-A, as he likely needs a little more seasoning before he hits the bigs. Stories like this have been popping all over the league, as a lot of organizations are askings its stars and young guns to stay out of the Classic. You have to really wonder at this point how successful it will be. But I'll still watch, if for nothing more than to see a Venezuelan starting pitching go up against a Dominican lineup that should include Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero. Wow. Now that's a murderer's row. Who bats clean-up? I'd go with Guerrero 2nd, Pujols 3rd, Ortiz 4th, and Ramirez 5th.

* I'd like to note that I'm sick of young pitchers warranting comparisons to other superstars. Kerry Wood to Roger Clemens. Josh Beckett ditto. Francisco Liriano to Johan Santana. It does no good to label young guys like this when it really makes no sense. Wood was injured too much and never had that much in common other than birthplace and a 20-strike out game. Different out pitch (curve) and he doesn't throw with his legs like Clemens. That's why he's always injured. Beckett has those same issues and he may have similar stuff in some regards, but neither of these guy came out of college ready to come up and win 24 games for a team. And the local press comparing Liriano to Santana isn't smart either. That is similar to the "M & M" boys last year, which put unnecessary pressure on our young hitters. Liriano's stuff places more emphasis on the fastball now and it's his slider, not a change-up, that is his out pitch. He needs the same seasoning as Johan did early on, but he'll be a different pitcher, though hopefully spectacular nonetheless. The point is not that some comparisons are bad, but that the stigma is bad and that sportswriters see some similars and get way too excited.

* Lastly, it appears that Joe Mauer loves to bowl now. Not as exciting as John Sickel's Crystal Ball on Minor League Ball, but it may be a good omen.



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see you're back to posting again.

Nick M. said...

Me posting or daily posts? If I've been slacking, I apologize, but its really for lack of news, for one, and the craziness of my school schedule. But yes, we are back to trying to do daily posts again now the spring training has started.

Anonymous said...

I meant you being back to posting, Nick M. Glad you're back in the game.

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