Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Top to Bottom

Carlos Gomez got his first full major-league season off to a pretty decent start this year. Through the first two months, he was batting .282/.315/.411, and along the way he'd stolen 17 bases and hit for the cycle on one occasion. He had been an igniter at the top of the Twins lineup, gaining a great deal of fanfare and seemingly earning his way into Ron Gardenhire's favor.

Things have been rough for Gomez since the end of May. Entering last night's game, he had hit .207/.244/.271 since June 1, striking out more than six times for every walk and getting thrown out stealing as often as he successfully swiped a bag during that span. Gomez's horrendous on-base percentage had become a liability at the top of the lineup, and with Denard Span returning to the Twins as an on-base machine, Twins fans became more and more irritated with Gardenhire's refusal to make a lineup adjustment.

Gardenhire steadfastly stood by his lead-off hitter for quite a while, claiming he didn't want to damage the excitable 22-year-old's confidence, but last night the manager finally relented and slid Gomez down to the ninth spot in the batting order while penciling in Span as the lead-off hitter.

The results weren't exactly game-breaking. The Twins lost 8-2, continuing their ineptitude at Yankee Stadium. Yet, Span reached base in three of his four plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with a walk. He took pitches and worked ahead in the count in three of his four trips to the dish. Simply put, he looked like a much better fit in the lead-off spot than Gomez. Of course, that much was obvious when you simply compared the two players' on-base percentages.

Swapping Span's and Gomez's spots in the lineup isn't going to make an earth-shattering difference in the team's offensive production. But, it is a very logical move and one that I'm glad to see Gardenhire finally make. Gomez can feel a little less pressure batting at the bottom of the lineup, while Span can put his on-base skills to use by batting directly in front of the team's best hitters.

10 comments:

Twins Fix said...

This move is one of the best Minnesota could have made. Like I said in my post, I don't really care about the outcome tonight. The important thing is this flip.

I don't get Gardy. He says he doesn't want to mess with the guy, but Gomez is constantly chewing his nails in center field and requires Newman to wave a white hanky to get his attention.

Josh's Thoughts said...

I really want to see Gomez start to steal some bases again (although he needs to start getting on base again since you can't steal 1st base), and even drop a few bunts down. Sure he is not the greatest bunter, but it seems like this whole slump started after the Twins started making him take hacks instead of laying down bunts. Perhaps hitting him at the bottom of the order will allow them to encourage this...

And thanks for the link!

Dan said...

Next order of business: Get Frankie into the rotation...

IP:7.0
Hits:2
Runs:0
BB:2
K:10

Game Recap

Nick N. said...

Liriano clearly appears to be ready, and at this point it just seems wasteful to be using his services in the minors. The question is: who do they replace? There is no one who has really earned a demotion. I've been riding the "Livan to the bullpen, Bass to purgatory" wagon for some time now, but I don't see that happening too terribly soon.

TT said...

Who would have thought when we started the season that the Twins would have trouble finding room for young players. Remember how the "cupboard was bare"?

Liriano will get a chance when someone pitches themselves out of the rotation. Probably not before.

The bigger question is what happens when Cuddyer gets back. With Kubel, Span and Gomez there isn't room for all four in the everyday lineup. Someone is going to have to sit or go to AAA.

I think the decision to put Span in the leadoff spot is one step toward sending Gomez down. I think that is part of the reason Gardy has been so reluctant to make the move. Its not a coincidence that he made the move once it became apparent Cuddyer isn't going to be ready very soon.

Nick N. said...

Who would have thought when we started the season that the Twins would have trouble finding room for young players. Remember how the "cupboard was bare"?

I think the "cupboard is bare" sentiment stemmed from a lack of top-tier prospects in the Twins' system. That remains the case -- the team's top prospect is a 20-year-old outfielder in Low A ball with no power or patience.

Most people recognized that the team had a handful of young starting pitchers who were ready to go at the major-league level, but I think everyone has to be pleasantly surprised that all four of the Baker-Slowey-Blackburn-Perkins group have developed into above-average starters this year. Certainly I never would have imagined that they'd find themselves in this situation. It's a good thing, I guess -- you can never have too much pitching -- but it's unfortunate that Liriano's talents are being wasted in the minor leagues.

I think the decision to put Span in the leadoff spot is one step toward sending Gomez down. I think that is part of the reason Gardy has been so reluctant to make the move. Its not a coincidence that he made the move once it became apparent Cuddyer isn't going to be ready very soon.

That could be true, and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

TT said...

I think the "cupboard is bare" sentiment stemmed from a lack of top-tier prospects in the Twins' system. That

The Twins didn't have a regular in their lineup older than 27 beofre Punto came back. Mostly the sentiment was based on press clippings and lack of immediate statistical success rather than on a player's development and real potential.

Span and Casilla certainly look like they were "top tier" talent and its likely Gomez is as well.

Are any of them future HOF? Probably not. But then most teams don't have any of those in their system.

I think everyone has to be pleasantly surprised that all four of the Baker-Slowey-Blackburn-Perkins group have developed into above-average starters this year.

Well yes, but the only one who is really any kind of surprise individually is Blackburn. The rest have always had legitimate top tier potential.

That all four are doing well is a surprise. But then its important to remember, Bonser didn't do very well. So we are really talking about 4 out of 5. Had it been 3 out of 5, they might have had to call up Liriano before he was ready.

Jules said...

I'm a fan in Boston, I like everyone else is trying to wrap my head around the best minor league SP in the entire country is sitting in AAA.
Having said that and not trying to tack onto what anyone else with an IQ over 80 has said "bring him back now, I mean now"

Here is my Q
Do you guys have a media, sports reporters, protesters, do you have a functioning twins organization?
I have not heard of an online petition, a real petition, hell even 1 local reporter asking and calling every day to the front office asking "is today the day you bring up liriano and keep your job?"

Because if I was living there, I would call them every day and stand outside the dome "reporting live from the metronome, I asked 10 different ways and times today when will they bring up their ace, again. I will not leave until they do so."

That is called reporting and that is called someone making something happen. Do you guys have or do anything like that there in MN?

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