Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Notes

With all the days I’ve spent churning out Position Analysis pieces for the entire Twins’ roster recently, I haven’t really had much opportunity to write about the happenings of spring training. Today I’ll get caught up with a few notes about spring performances and some thoughts about last night’s televised game.

* Nick Blackburn started against the Reds last night. He had a solid outing, but more importantly made it through four innings without experiencing any apparent issues relating to his knee. His pitches looked sharp and he commanded the strike zone well. There doesn't seem to be any reason for concern regarding Blackburn's status at the start of the season.

* With the exception of Scott Baker, the Twins’ rotation has looked great this spring, which is encouraging. Kevin Slowey had an outstanding performance on Tuesday, allowing just one run on two hits over five innings while striking out five, and he did it against a Marlins starting lineup that featured some solid regulars in Cameron Maybin, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida. Slowey now holds a 1.88 ERA and 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 1/3 innings. As for Baker, I’m not too concerned since he’s maintained a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio and isn’t known for great spring performances anyway, but eight homers allowed in 17 innings is pretty staggering.

* To those who are getting excited about Delmon Young’s strong numbers this spring (.314/.340/.549 with three homers and seven RBI), don’t forget that he batted .361 with a homer and seven RBI last spring before sputtering out of the gates in the regular season.

* Speaking of Young, his success should give us an interesting peek into how much weight Ron Gardenhire puts into spring training performances. During the offseason, Gardenhire said flat-out that Young was shaping up to the be the odd-man out on Opening Day, but with Denard Span struggling to the tune of a .140 average over 57 at-bats, I wonder if Gardenhire’s plans will shift.

* I don't put much stock into Carlos Gomez's increased walk rate this spring (most pitchers are still working on finding the zone so the "take everything" approach is bound to yield results), but I am a little intrigued by the power he's shown. Gomez is tied for the team lead in home runs with three and leads all Twins in slugging at .615. I'd love to see Gomez reach double digits in homers while swiping 40 or 50 bases this year.

* After all the flak I took for daring to suggest that Joe Crede was not the obvious, substantial upgrade over a Brendan Harris/Brian Buscher platoon that many seem to believe he is, I find it amusing that Crede is batting .184 here late in spring training while both Harris and Buscher are hitting well over .300 with equal power. I’m not saying it means much… but it is amusing.

13 comments:

Dwade said...

Lots I agree with here, but I disagree with your take on Gomez. While I haven't gotten to see him, this isn't an isolated increase in his walk rate.

He was close to a 2:1 K:BB ratio in winter ball as well. Neither taken by itself is all that noteworthy, but perhaps he's made an adjustment to his swing.

Beth said...

I'm not too concerned by Baker's home runs. In two consecutive games last April, he gave up three home runs in each game. It's the number of other hits that are a bit concerning.

Anonymous said...

I was at Tuesday's game vs. the Marlins in Jupiter and you are right, Slowey pitched really well. He made the Marlins look sick. He also ripped a single and a double, and drove in three runs. They were both solid hits. Span had to follow after both of Slowey's hits and he looked awful. He struck out and popped a weak fly out to right field.

Nick N. said...

Span played well in the game I saw in Ft. Myers, and he generally displayed a good approach last night despite going 0-for-2. He's at the point where his sample size really isn't all that tiny anymore (57 at-bats is more than 10 percent of a season), but I still don't find myself worrying about him.

lookatthosetwins said...

I wouldn't be too concerned about Baker either. Liriano, Slowey, and he all have very good k/w ratios, so I wouldn't be concerned about any of them. Perkins now has 7 ks and 5 walks I believe. It's still early, but I'd be more concerned about him than anyone.

An intersting thing to note about Gomez' 5 walks, is that Delmon is yet to take one. So considering they have been facing similar pitchers, I'd have to say I'm at least a little optimistic that Gomez can start taking some walks, and am not too optimistic at all about Delmon taking a big stride forward.

Nick N. said...

An intersting thing to note about Gomez' 5 walks, is that Delmon is yet to take one. So considering they have been facing similar pitchers, I'd have to say I'm at least a little optimistic that Gomez can start taking some walks, and am not too optimistic at all about Delmon taking a big stride forward.

My guess is that this result has more to do with the approaches those two are taking this spring than any meaningful change in skill.

thrillho said...

"Look everyone, I was right!! Even though we all know spring stats don't matter, I'm still right!!!" - Nick N.

Good job little buddy.

Nick N. said...

I went out of my way to say the numbers didn't mean much and I'm certainly not claiming spring performances prove anyone right or wrong, but I think I have the right to be amused. You don't think I'd be getting it right back if Buscher and Crede's situations were reversed?

Anonymous said...

Why are you intrigued that Gomez is tied for the team lead in HR and at the same time discounting the HR total of the other HR leader?

Anonymous said...

Nice Crede comment...don't pat yourself too hard on the back.

halfchest said...

Crede gives us two things even if he doesn't hit much better than Buscher/Harris platoon. He allows us to have one of those guys on the bench as pinch hitters rather than a guy like Tolbert. He provides upgraded defense from the platoon. Some people are getting a little too pissy with you, I thought I was on Gleemans site for a moment when I read the comments. I like Aaron but his writing comes off as arrogant at times yours doesn't which is why I find it funny that people are jumping all over you.

Also, with Gomez's power. If he can show the ability to hit em out more he'll get more respect and hopefully that will lead to more walks.

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