Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Notes

With 120 games in the books, the Twins find themselves with the same winning percentage they had on Opening Day, sitting at 60-60. Unfortunately, they are considerably further away from first place than they were that day, as they sit 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose we should be happy that the Twins are even at .500, and that the gap between their current standing and a playoff spot is still in the single digits. The team's play since the All-Star break has been highly uninspiring, and it is a shame that they have been unable to take advantage of the recent poor play from both teams ahead of them in the division. Whatever happens, no one can say that the Twins were not given a pretty nice opportunity to get back into the race this year. They have sealed their own fate with the way they've hit over the past month. But, so it goes.

A few notes to round out the week.

* As was noted on Wednesday, one half of the Nick & Nick's duo will not be around much for the rest of this season, as Mr. Mosvick has moved out to Virginia, where he will begin taking classes for law school in a few weeks. As such, the responsibility for daily posting falls almost entirely on me. I'll do my best to keep up, but there may be an occasional off-day mixed in here and there (especially on weekends), whereas for the most part we have never gone a day during the season without a post up on this blog.

Anyway, hopefully you all don't get sick of me. I'm sure the other Nick will still pop up from time to time to drop his two cents from afar.

* I mentioned this briefly yesterday, but I'll take a bit of a deeper look at it today: the Twins traded Ramon Ortiz to the Rockies on Wednesday for minor-league infielder Matt Macri. As far as prospects go, Macri is nothing special, but dumping the rest of Ortiz's salary while getting anything of potential value in return for the sub par right-hander has got to be seen as a positive.

The Rockies drafted Macri in 2004, grabbing the Notre Dame shortstop in the fifth round of the draft. In his last year in college, Macri batted .367/.465/.667 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 61 games. He hit well in his first couple years of pro ball, but stalled a bit in 2006, where he hit .232/.293/.370 as a 24-year-old in Double-A. This season Macri started in Double-A once again and showed marked improvement, posting a .298/.349/.502 line with 11 homers and 23 doubles in 275 at-bats. He was promoted to Triple-A just a few days before being dealt to the Twins.

Macri is a utility infielder with experience at second base, third base and shortstop. On the surface, that seems to be just about the last thing the Twins need, as they already have three utility infielders on their major-league roster as it is. However, when you consider the sorry state of the Twins' farm system from an offensive standpoint, along with the fact that Macri could easily be a better hitter than anyone from the group of Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez and Tommy Watkins, he definitely has to be looked at as a solid addition. Especially when all it took to get him was Ortiz, who had no real value to this club.

* To fill Ortiz's spot on the 25-man roster, the Twins recalled Garrett Jones. As La Velle notes, Jones has hit just .228/.313/.351 since the end of July. The Twins also claimed Chris Basak, another banjo-hitting utility infielder, off waivers from the Yankees. Basak, 28, just recently made his major-league debut, and is a career .264/.332/.394 hitter in the minors.

All of this is a long way of saying that no help is in store for this offense, unless the players already in the lineup start to turn things around.

* Many players from the Twins' 1987 team are in town this weekend to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their World Series victory. I was only two years old when that team defeated the Cardinals in seven games, but I've seen plenty of highlight tapes and heard plenty of first-hand accounts from those who saw the games live, either in person or on TV. What a fun team that was. Having all the guys out at the Dome this weekend should bring back a lot of fond memories for those who were actually cognisant for that magical run; of course, it is a sad fact that No. 34 won't be around to regale with his former teammates.