Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Beam of Light in Another Cloudy Day

This team just continues to find ways to disappoint. I have already lost almost all hope that they can make a run here late in the season, but I was at least hoping for positive signs as the year winds down. Francisco Liriano seemed to deliver one in his last outing against the Royals, but all that progress was erased last night when he coughed up seven runs on seven hits in just two innings of work. Liriano drew a tough assignment on the road against a tough Rangers lineup, but this is an unacceptable effort from a guy who possesses the amount of talent and ability that Liriano does.

Joe Mauer was at his finest in last night's game, going 3-for-5 and coming a triple short of the cycle while raising his batting average to .380, but it was all for naught as the pitching staff coughed up a bunch of runs yet again and the Twins lost yet again. Following the game, the Twins shelved Liriano and recalled Philip Humber, who possessed a 5.18 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in Rochester. On top of all that, Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney -- two Triple-A relievers that I spent a good chunk of yesterday's post praising and identifying as viable bullpen reinforcements -- combined to cough up 11 runs while recording just five outs in Rochester yesterday, turning a 5-4 eighth-inning lead into a 15-5 deficit.

Things are unraveling at a catastrophic pace for the major-league club, but at least the organization delivered some good news on this nightmarish day, as they were able to reach an agreement with first-round pick Kyle Gibson just before last night's 11:00 PM CDT deadline. The contract is worth $1.8 million, which -- if reports of the two sides' demands are to be believed -- means that the draftee ultimately compromised more than the team did. Gibson seems like a really good kid and he's a heck of a pitcher, so let's put this nasty little process behind us and start hoping that he can help augment this organization's beleaguered pitching corps as soon as possible.

Here is what I said about Gibson the day after they drafted him:

Yesterday I predicted that Tanner Scheppers would slide to the Twins due to signability concerns and, in an uncharacteristic move, the Twins would snatch him up. Well, Scheppers did fall to the 22nd pick (in fact, he dropped all the way to 44), but the Twins instead went another -- almost equally uncharacteristic -- route, signing college right-hander Gibson. Like Scheppers, Gibson was considered a Top 10 type talent, but his stock fell for mostly different reasons. Gibson's mid-90s velocity dropped into the 80s late this season, and it was recently revealed that this was due to an arm injury. That's the bad news. The good news is that the injury was to his forearm, not his elbow or shoulder, and the damage was a bone fracture rather than anything involving a muscle or tendon. This breeds optimism that Gibson should be able to recover well from the injury.

And if he can make a full recovery, the Twins have gotten themselves a player. Gibson is a tall and lanky guy at 6'6", 210 lbs, and he brings decent velocity that the Twins' system is currently lacking to some degree. Ranked as the fourth-best draft prospect by Baseball America, Gibson brings a fastball, a hard slider and a developing changeup.

There have been indications that the Twins were high on Gibson and I considered predicting him as their first-round target, but truthfully I didn't expect him to fall this far. He has the potential to be similar to Matt Garza in his ability to command two/three strong pitches and move fast through the system. His injury carries some concern, but I trust that the Twins have done their homework. I like this pick a lot.

5 comments:

Tricia said...

Nick, I think you should abandon you nascent rap career & see if the Twins would give you a shot at the starting rotation. I fail to see how the results could be any worse than they've been lately.

Maybe you could be a September call-up. :-)

Nick N. said...

Thanks for your vote of support! I haven't pitched in a competitive baseball game since my freshman year of high school and I think my fastball probably tops out around 60 or 70 mph, but if I could develop a knuckler I could certainly see the Twins giving me a shot.

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