Friday, March 03, 2006

Grapefruit League Kicks Off

Last night was a busy one. Between night class, going out to eat, and a new episode of NBC's "The Office," I was only able to catch bits and pieces of the Fox Sports Net telecast of the Twins' exhibition opener against the Red Sox. I liked what I saw though, as the Twins did pretty much everything well in a 6-3 victory.

Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect of the game was the three early home runs the Twins hit. Torii Hunter took a meatball from promising young starter Jon Papelbon deep in the second inning, and Joe Mauer and Lew Ford both hit solo shots off Rudy Seanez in the third. Obviously, you can't put too much stock into performances in a game like this, but any time you see Twins players hitting the ball hard in any situation, you have to feel at least a little relief.

In the last action they will be seeing with the Twins for a while, Johan Santana and Carlos Silva pitched two scoreless innings apiece, both striking out three batters. The Twins' staff, in total, struck out an impressive 14 batters total, with left-handers Darrell May and Jason Miller both striking out three apiece as well. The Twins' defense committed no errors in the game.

Though a meaningless exhibition, the game was encouraging. Less encouraging was Wednesday's exhibition against Concordia-St. Paul. This game clearly meant nothing, but it was a little distressing to see a Twins lineup that included Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel manage only two hits in six innings against a small Division II college's baseball team. The most disconcerting excerpt from Joe Christensen's article in the Strib:

Morneau's first at-bat came with two aboard in the first inning, and Jacob Schmidt, a freshman from Oakdale, looked as if he was in trouble.

But in a sight all-too familiar for Twins fans, Schmidt got Morneau to lunge at a changeup and ground into an inning-ending double play.


I don't want to overanalyize this, because, again, the game was totally meaningless and only intended to get the Twins' players some light action against live pitching. But in my mind, the most frustrating thing about watching the Twins' offense last year was not necessarily that they got out so much, but that their outs were so pitiful. Guys simply could not make solid contact with the ball. They would reach out and hit little dribblers and weak pop-ups to the infield. Morneau was a guy who was guilty of this particularly often. The fact that a freshman Division II college pitcher was able to get the best of him in this instance makes me furrow my brow a bit, but obviously I will withhold my judgment.

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On another note, today marks the one-year anniversary of this blog. I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has read and commented. It has been a lot of fun writing and becoming a part of the Twins blogosphere. There are a lot of really savvy baseball minds in this community and our interactions with all of you have really allowed us to enjoy and appreciate the game a lot more.

3 comments:

Rupp said...

Congrats on one year!

I'm going to pretend I didn't see that blurb about Morny's flailing.

Nick M. said...

Gotta mirror your comment. Its been a great year. Looking back at our first comments, I can see how much we have grown and how much we've learned about baseball. All I know is I love the opportunity to be able to write about baseball and my favorite team all the time. Its a great freedom, because there are so many great debates now and in the past. Someday I'd love to write about Ruth or Wagner or these other guys, but I just as well love bathing in the greatness of today. Watching Santana pitch is a wonderful thing, but writing this blog is satisfying on a level hard to describe. Looking forward to another year. Thanks to all our readers and hope you enjoy the season!

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