Saturday, June 16, 2007

Field Day

As you might have guessed from the titular pun, Prince Fielder had a good part in bashing the Twins around last night in the Metrodome, where the Brewers took the first of the weekend series 11-3. Fielder, along with Geoff Jenkins and rookie sensation Ryan Braun, took their aggression out on Scott Baker and Ramon Ortiz, pummeling each pitcher with a total of 15 hits.

You might recall that Baker's best start and really his only good one this year came against the Brew Crew in May, when he went 8 1/3 innings for his only win of the year. Since then, he has given up 30 hits and 20 runs in just 18 2/3 innings. In other words, he's been positively ugly and clearly the situation did not improve last night.

Baker did strike out six Brewers and showed some good stuff at times, but he made the same mistakes in a different game, as he continues to have trouble pitching inside at all and rather shows a stubborn adherence to the outside corner. The results included the Jenkins grand slam in the third that put the Twins behind for good. Currently, Baker holds a 7.33 ERA and it's anyone's guess how much longer he stays in the rotation before he is replaced by Matt Garza.

Of course, there is another potential replacement -- at least in the mind of Ron Gardenhire -- who also got knocked around last night, which should continue to keep him out of the running. Ortiz was obviously terrible as a starter after a hot April, but he hasn't faired much better in relief. As a reliever, Ortiz so far has allowed 18 hits and eight runs in 13 innings, while striking out only five batters. It would be worse if we hadn't come to expect this sort of thing from Ortiz.

The only real positives to come out of the game were the solo home runs of Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. It's nice to see Morneau hit a low pitch out to the opposite field and increase his homer total to 19 (good for second in the league still), but it's even better to see Kubel display some power again, as his bat is slowly starting to show more signs of life. Otherwise, you can't say too many positive things about managing just five hits against Claudio Vargas and Brian Shouse.

Lucky for the Twins that they face Dave Bush tonight, who owns one of the league's worse ERAs at 5.70. Then again, there is a good chance Bush will go Jason Simontacchi on the Twins offense.

7 comments:

ubelmann said...

...but it's even better to see Kubel display some power again, as his bat is slowly starting to show more signs of life.

Over the last 20 games (since May 15th), Kubel has hit .206/.250/.426. (Not including last night.) On the one hand, the really low average has killed his OBP, which in turn makes that a low-value line. On the other hand, a .226 isolated power is pretty impressive.

It's kind of like how Morneau hit .239/.304/.437 for an entire year. The power was there, but he just wasn't getting the singles. The singles came eventually, as Morneau's minor league career suggested they would. Hopefully we don't have to wait an entire year for Kubel's singles to start dropping in. (Kubel has never been one to walk very often though, so that will always be a strike against him--it's tough for Kubel to have much value unless he's hitting for a halfway decent average.)

Bruce said...

I think its time for the Twins to put Baker into the bull pen to bring in games when they need a pitcher for two or three innnings - like what Matt Guerrer did/does - and let Ortiz go. Between Ortiz and Baker neither has been that good but Baker is still young and maybe can develop by being in the bull pen. This then opens a roster spot for Garza. At the same time Perkins should be sent to Rochester to stretch out so he can show what he is able to do as a starter.

Nick M. said...

Ubelmann -

I agree. If Kubel doesn't have a good average, his value isn't too high. As usual, I'm looking for some positives in a largely negative night and whenever Kubel flashes power, its exciting because we have been waiting patiently for him to show his stuff. I also hope it doesn't take a year, but it might take a while for Kubel to figure it out.

As for Baker/Ortiz, it would certainly be better to drop Ortiz and put Baker in the pen if they don't plan to trade or even if they do, so he can gave some of his value back. Garza should be put in the rotation, but I don't know about Perkins at this point. If anything, Guerrier deserves another shot if he wants it.

Baseball_Lipgloss said...

I worry about Garza. His current stats are okay but not the awe inspiring minor league numbers like last year’s breakthrough. However, maybe in baseball karma that is a good thing. All I really know is that we need someone to deliver on a semi-consistent basis.

Nick M. said...

I think at least some of Garza's numbers can be attributed to his attitude, which was mostly a result of the disappointment in getting sent down instead of being added to the rotation at the beginning of the year. In no way do I defend his attitude, but its at least understandable. He's also frustrated by the Twins trying to get him to throw more changeups. I'm sure at least some of the numbers are up simply because he wasn't throwing many before and he obviously isn't use to it. (i.e. more walks, more hits given up, etc) So, I'm not worried, but at the same time, it sometimes feels like he still needs time to work things out before he'll be successful in the big leagues.

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