Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bronx Bombed

After a good series against the Texas Rangers over the weekend, the Twins dropped an egg last night against the Yankees, losing 12-4. Unfortunately, there aren't too many positives to pull out of the game, but there are plenty of observations to consider:

* Admittedly, it's hard these days to continue to defend Boof Bonser when he seems to give up runs and hits every time he's on the hill. And that would be reality, not merely perception, as he's given up runs in seven of his last eleven appearances. With his ERA now at a sky-high 6.59, things continue to look bad for Boof. The positive, as with most of his ugly appearances, is that he's at least showing some signs of potential, as he struck out three hitters in the 3 1/3 innings he pitched. Also, no one can deny some bad luck, which was clear on hits like Johnny Damon's soft pop fly RBI double.

* Nick Blackburn also ran into some bad luck, which has been somewhat the story of his season. Blackburn's 7-6 record is not necessarily indicative of his quality of pitching and last night offers at least some examples of that issue. Alexi Casilla's error that continued the rough second inning stands out, but the defense for the Twins in general wasn't particularly good last night. Of course, there is nothing the defense can do about certain things, like Alex Rodriguez's two-run homer.

* Losing twice to Sidney Ponson is something that has to hurt for Twins, as much as it hurts as a fan. The previous loss was certainly more embarrassing, as the Twins managed only six hits in a complete game victory for Ponson, but this time around wasn't much better because there was a lack of execution as evidenced by scoring only three runs off of Ponson despite putting 11 base-runners on in 5 2/3 innings.

* Denard Span continued his impressive hitting last night, going 3-for-4 with the Twins' only two extra-base hits, with a double and a triple. Span still only has 85 at-bats, but that .329/.424/.429 line is looking pretty good right now. I may have pegged him to disappoint in the second half, but Span is still showing a solid stick and should have a line Twins fans can be satisfied with by the end of the year.

* Alexi Casilla is the only other Twin to really have much of a night on offense. He went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. While his .320 average is looking good right now, it does still conceal a lack of power and patience. The lack of power is something Twins can easily look over, but Casilla is going to have to start improving his walk rate at the top of the order. His OBP is not embarrassing at all (.358), but being projected for only 32 walks is, as evidenced by a meager .038 Isolated Discipline.

* Tonight, the Twins put Kevin Slowey on the hill. Slowey's last start was terrible, when his ERA jumped from 3.78 to 4.26 after giving up six runs to the Tigers in only 3 2/3 innings. Though he wasn't much better in the start before, he had been excellent in four starts between June 13 and June 29. Hopefully, Slowey can get back on track tonight, as he has shown a good ability to bounce back from the few terrible starts he has had this year.

14 comments:

Twins Fix said...

If Bonser would only find his changeup...

Nick M. said...

I noticed watching him yesterday that, while he is throwing for decent to good velocity on the fastball, he seems to be throwing it most of the time and often up in the zone. I'm wondering if the numbers back up that observation. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

I can't give you confirmation on that, but that is what it seemed like to me... and two of his three strikeouts came on fastballs left up that were at least 18 inches from Mauer's mitt. It seems like, in a sense, the Yanks that he struck out couldn't really believe that he would throw it there.

Nick M. said...

Yeah that may be a good point. It just seems like, despite the fact that Bonser has had some bad luck, those same observations lead you to see that he is also hurting himself a lot. And, of course, its never a good sign if he isn't throwing his curve.

If you look at Fangraphs, that has certainly been true this year, as he is throwing his fastball at the highest percentage of his career (59.7%) and also has the highest line drive percentage of his career (20.5%). It would certainly seem Boof has some bad habits to break.

Twins Fix said...

Boof's only thrown 65 changeups all season. That's compared to 520 fastballs, 186 curves, and 183 sliders.

But, Insider Edge has his overall grade at a B-.

http://espn.inside-edge.com/PRC.aspx?enc=NGW86AH7qLwDQpMT/2Z2Wjiajc7rvHh7M97GlP8t8G8=

Nick M. said...

And what does that say about ESPN's InsideEdge? Its better than previous attempts at "special stats" stuff, but some of their grades can be baffling. There are several clearly great hitters (including A-Rod) and pitchers who are underrated by the system and then players like Bonser who are clearly overrated. He gets points for throwing it in the strike zone a lot of the time, but doesn't lose enough for that being part of the issue. (Where it is in the zone)

Twins Fix said...

Exactly, Nick. I don't use the actual grading system of Insider Edge, but I find their statistics invaluable when doing research.

James said...

Bonser's ERA is high because it seems like everytime he leaves a gam, its with a runner or two on.
Then the next guy comes in and that base runner scores

ubelmann said...

Sidney Ponson is not a bad pitcher.

Leslie said...

It's time for the Twins to grow up and go kick some ass on the road. They play like pansies away from the Dome. They need to go on the road and start kicking names and kicking butt. This group is more of a milk-and-cookies team. They are too nice. You think the late Kirby and Kent Hrbek would tolerate this nonsense and accept losing on the road? Hell no, but this group of Twins are. It's getting old.

Nick N. said...

They are too nice. You think the late Kirby and Kent Hrbek would tolerate this nonsense and accept losing on the road? Hell no, but this group of Twins are. It's getting old.

1987 Twins (starring Kirby and Hrby):
Home: 56-25
Road: 29-52

That team also won all four World Series games at home and lost all three on the road.

Nick M. said...

Ubelmann -

I concede that Ponson is not a bad pitcher, but I would still say that his outing was mediocre and not terribly impressive. The sinker is legit, sure, but we had enough baserunners on that we should have been able to do more against him.

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