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  • The Two Week Warning

    You may not have realized it by looking out your window at the new snow Monday morning, but the Minnesota Twins’ Opening Day is less than two weeks away. That means it’s probably time to start taking a more serious look at how the team is rounding in to shape in Fort Myers.
    This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.

    Although Spring Training has officially been in gear for about a month, it’s usually pretty pointless to pay a lot of attention to individual performances during the first couple of weeks of Grapefruit League games. Veteran hitters are just shaking the rust off and working on specific things, such as hitting to this or that specific field or hitting particular pitches. Established pitchers use each early outings as an opportunity to refine deliveries or work on specific pitches. Results are of secondary concern.

    But as the team gets down to it’s final dozen games or so, the hitters start wanting more plate appearances and the pitchers start using all their pitches as they focus more on getting outs. We should also see with some level of certainty how the starting pitching spots are firming up as the Twins adjust their rotation so their pitchers line up they way they want to open the season. Their final 10 Spring Training games will start this Thursday against the Yankees.

    It’s a good thing, too, that we can conveniently discount performances up to this point, because a lot of those performances have been less than awe-inspring thus far. If you were inclined to predict the season’s outcome based on the first few weeks of Spring Training results, it would be pretty difficult to find cause to believe the 2013 Twins will be much better than last season’s version.

    It’s encouraging to see Justin Morneau looking like his former MVP-level self and Aaron Hicks looking like a legitimate Major League centerfielder in the making. But, every fan knows that the pitching rotation must improve significantly if the Twins are to have a chance to show improved results this summer. There hasn’t been too much to get excited about in that area yet.

    With Scott Diamond will start the season on the Disabled List, there are two rotation spots up for grabs among several of the Twins’ young arms. Kyle Gibson was expected to contend for a spot, but he’s already been sent across the parking lot to minor league camp, so he’ll be starting his season in Rochester. Liam Hendriks is another contender, but he’s struggled in most of his appearances. Hitters have averaged .295 against him and have hit him up four home runs in his 15 innings of work. His WHIP is a lackluster 1.40.

    But here’s the kicker - Hendriks arguably has had a better spring, statistically speaking, than any of the three “locks” for Twins rotation spots: Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. Those three haven’t been as prone to giving up gopher balls as Hendriks, but through the past weekend, hitters are batting better than .300 against each of them and Worley’s 1.83 WHIP is the best of the trio.

    On the other hand, if you want to look for encouraging signs for the Twins among their starting pitching corps, you can take a look in the direction of Cole DeVries. DeVries has only thrown 10 innings in his three starts, but he’s not giving up many hits (.121 batting average against), has not given up any home runs, has a tidy little 0.70 WHIP and, if you’re in to small sample size ERAs, he’s sporting a 0.90 in that category, too. Of course, “small sample size” caveats apply to all stat lines at this point.

    Another rotation candidate that’s been at least moderately impressive is a guy who has only thrown only one inning for the Twins this spring, Samuel Deduno. While he hasn’t been in camp for the past couple of weeks, Deduno has been getting work in the rotation for the Dominican Republic’s entry in the World Baseball Classic, where he’s had some success. In fact, he was the starting (and winning) pitcher for the Dominicans in their victory over Team USA last week.

    Because Deduno is not on the Twins’ 40-man roster at this point, the team would have to make a roster move to keep him when they move north to start the season. Since they hope to have Diamond available by mid-April, it’s quite possible they’ll only need their initial fifth starter for one game before Diamond is activated. That being the case, Hendriks should still be considered the leading candidate for that spot.

    So here’s what the rotation seems to be setting up to look like, to my eyes:

    Opening Day starter: Vance Worley (started Sunday, will likely start again Friday and have his last Spring Training Start Wednesday, March 27… five days before Opening Day)

    #2 starter: Kevin Correia (starting today, leaving remaining starts March 23 and 28)

    #3 starter: Mike Pelfrey

    #4 starter Cole DeVries

    #5 starter: Liam Hendriks (may only be needed for one start, March 7, before Diamond is activated in mid-April)

    That’s all pure speculation on my part, of course. The point is merely that, with two weeks remaining before the scheduled Opening Day, now is when these pitchers need to start showing me something more than they have already… something to make me believe they’ll make up a better rotation than the disaster we saw on the mound last season.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: The Two Week Warning started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. LimestoneBaggy's Avatar
      LimestoneBaggy -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
      If you aren't being sarcastic, I could not disagree with you more.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Gives away Mauers prime? the idea sucks? Mauer sucks. Oh whoopty doo he hits a lot of singles! Go ask Seattle how much all Ichiro singles helped them over the last decade. Go ask Boston how many titles Wade Boggs thousands of singles brought to bean town. Go ask Padres fans about all the titles Tony Gwynn's seemingly countless singles brought to southern california. That's right it didn't happen because you can't have the best offensive player on your team be a singles hitter and hope to win. Mauer is not good enough or man enough to lead a team to a championship! Just a big boring sissy automaton, that's all Mauer is. The Tim Duncan of baseball without the winning. Is he going to lead the Twins to a championship hitting singles up the middle? NO. Just face it he's not even close to Kirby Puckett and the Twins bet on the wrong horse when they gave him that big contract.
      I can't believe I am going to give this subject any time. Shame on me. Please just look at these stats.

      2012: Rangers (2nd in OBP, 6th in HR)
      2011: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 3rd in HR)
      2010: Yankees (1st in OBP, 3rd in HR)
      2009: Yankees (1st in OBP, 1st in HR)
      2008: Rangers (2nd in OBP, 6th in HR)
      2007: Yankees (1st in OBP, 4th in HR)
      2006: Yankees (1st in OBP, 5th in HR)
      2005: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 6th in HR)
      2004: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 5th in HR)
      2003: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 2nd in HR)
      2002: Yankees (1st in OBP, 2nd in HR)
      2001: Mariners (1st in OBP, 18th in HR)

      Those are the top run scoring teams year by year. As you can see, OBP is a more important stat than Homeruns. Have a nice day.
    1. bear333's Avatar
      bear333 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I'm not sure what you mean by finally taking notice?
      They signed him as a FA 15 months ago, then brought him back this year when all 29 other teams passed on him, so they must have seen SOMETHING in him to begin with.
      You know what I mean. The sounds they have been making have all been :He has control issues." They have given the impression that he had little or no chance to make the rotation. Now they are finally making different sounds. I know Ryan always saw his potential and that is why he gave him a shot. They are just now, finally, expressing optimism instead of criticisms and that makes me happy. Also, De Vries has been working his but off and is very hungry. It would be a travesty, in my opinion, if he is not given an opening day slot, even if it is in the bullpen. Long relief?
    1. bear333's Avatar
      bear333 -
      [QUOTE=bear333;91914]You know what I mean. The sounds they have been making have all been :He has control issues." They have given the impression that he had little or no chance to make the rotation. Now they are finally making different sounds. I know Ryan always saw his potential and that is why he gave him a shot. They are just now, finally, expressing optimism instead of criticisms and that makes me happy. Also, De Vries has been working his but off and is very hungry. It would be a travesty, in my opinion, if he is not given an opening day slot, even if it is in the bullpen. Long relief?
    1. bear333's Avatar
      bear333 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SRP View Post
      I can't believe I am going to give this subject any time. Shame on me. Please just look at these stats.

      2012: Rangers (2nd in OBP, 6th in HR)
      2011: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 3rd in HR)
      2010: Yankees (1st in OBP, 3rd in HR)
      2009: Yankees (1st in OBP, 1st in HR)
      2008: Rangers (2nd in OBP, 6th in HR)
      2007: Yankees (1st in OBP, 4th in HR)
      2006: Yankees (1st in OBP, 5th in HR)
      2005: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 6th in HR)
      2004: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 5th in HR)
      2003: Red Sox (1st in OBP, 2nd in HR)
      2002: Yankees (1st in OBP, 2nd in HR)
      2001: Mariners (1st in OBP, 18th in HR)

      Those are the top run scoring teams year by year. As you can see, OBP is a more important stat than Homeruns. Have a nice day.
      That does say it all. Thanks for the post. Mauer can't get on base and then hit himself home. That is why we have Willingham and Morneau on the payroll.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by bear333 View Post
      That does say it all. Thanks for the post. Mauer can't get on base and then hit himself home. That is why we have Willingham and Morneau on the payroll.

      Not only that, but Mauer's numbers with RISP are fantastic as well. People say, well, they're only a little bit above what he normally hits overall, and that statement is all well and good (if not completely true when looking past BA), but the fact remains it's still better than anyone else on the team hits with RISP, whether it's much above what he normally hits or not.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by SRP View Post
      Those are the top run scoring teams year by year. As you can see, OBP is a more important stat than Homeruns. Have a nice day.

      Thank you SRP.
      That was excellent.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by bear333 View Post
      You know what I mean. The sounds they have been making have all been :He has control issues." They have given the impression that he had little or no chance to make the rotation. Now they are finally making different sounds. I know Ryan always saw his potential and that is why he gave him a shot. They are just now, finally, expressing optimism instead of criticisms and that makes me happy. Also, De Vries has been working his but off and is very hungry. It would be a travesty, in my opinion, if he is not given an opening day slot, even if it is in the bullpen. Long relief?
      I know the Twins get the rap of "pitch to contact", and often deservedly so, but Deduno DOES have control issues. I dont feel like them stating the obvious is some kind of undeserved criticism.
      The Twins are not the only team that a)thinks having control problems is a serious issue, and b)thinks that Deduno has control problems, as evidenced by nobody else wanting him.
      I am not saying that those issues cannot be fixed, but I will say that the small sample size of the WBC is not necessarily evidence that it HAS been fixed.
      And finally, IMO, I think the reason he now is in the mix for a 4th or 5th spot in the rotation has much more to do with Diamond, Gibson, and Hendricks, than it does to his WBC performances.
      While it certainly hasnt hurt has chances, and probably has helped a little bit, I just dont think MLB managers, coaches, and GM's put nearly as much stock into this small of a sample size as some people in here are.
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