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  • Three-Bagger: Pelfrey's Progress, Plouffe's Paradox & Rebounds

    * Last week I wrote that Mike Pelfrey's struggles had a reached a point where he should be removed from the rotation until he demonstrated legitimate signs of progress. In his next start, which came Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, that progress was plenty evident. Go figure.

    Sure enough, Pelfrey delivered his best start of the season, by far, with six innings of one-run ball. His fastball flashed a couple ticks higher on the gun than we ever saw in April, and the added velocity (along with noticeably improved command) paid clear dividends.

    For the first time this year, hitters seemed to struggle at times to catch up to his heater, increasing the effectiveness of his off-speed offerings. After striking out only seven hitters in his first five starts for an MLB-worst 6.5 percent K-rate, Pelfrey notched seven strikeouts Sunday, with a few coming at crucial moments. He induced a season-high 13 swings and misses.

    Whether it's the warmer weather, or the kinks being worked out after a month's work, or some combination, Pelfrey looked like a different guy on Sunday. And it was an opportune time, because on the same day, three hurlers with eyes on his job Samuel Deduno, Alex Meyer and Cole De Vries were all pitching for minor-league affiliates.

    * Trevor Plouffe displayed again in Sunday's game why he might be the team's most intriguing yet frustrating player.

    His two-run homer in the second gave the Twins an early lead that stuck. The dinger was Plouffe's fourth this season, placing him second on the team behind Josh Willingham.


    But in the field there was yet another lapse. In the fourth inning Asdrubal Cabrera attempted to steal third base and Joe Mauer's throw had him beat handily. Plouffe went down to apply the tag but, rather than holding his glove down, he made a quick swipe maneuver. Cabrera took advantage, stopping short with one hand and reaching around Plouffe with his other arm to touch the base safely.

    It's these kinds of little things that drive Ron Gardenhire crazy. Plouffe has shown again and again that he's capable of making all the plays at third, but his flashiness and inattention to detail will do him no favors with a manager who lives and breathes fundamentals.

    We've already seen Plouffe benched multiple times this season for offenses of a similar nature. Gardy's patience appears to be running thin. But at the same time the Twins can't afford to take the slugger's potent bat out of the lineup. The manager will just have to find it within himself to live with the miscues, because sliding Plouffe to the outfield no longer looks like a feasible option.

    * With Sunday's win, the Twins were able to fend off the brooms in Cleveland, marking the third straight series in which they fell behind 0-2 and rebounded to avoid a sweep. To date, the Twins have only come away winless in one series an early-April set in Kansas City. By this point last year, they'd already been swept four times.

    Granted, winning one game per series is hardly ideal if it becomes an ongoing trend, but the Twins are showing some resilience, and in the process they're avoiding extended losing streaks.
    This article was originally published in blog: Three-Bagger: Pelfrey's Progress, Plouffe's Paradox & Rebounds started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Willingham's defense makes Plouffe look like a gold glover. If there are concerns voiced about Plouffe's defense, there should be about Willingham's as well. Plouffe is not the worst fielding player in this team.

      And if Gardenhire has issues with Plouffe's defense at third, remember who was he Twins' manager when they were trotting Brian Buscher there, in a competing team nevertheless, and whether Butcher was thrown under the bus by him as much as Plouffe has been.
      More to the point, IMO...did Gardy call out Willingham in the paper (or whoever was at fault) for the baserunning folly that cost the Twins a minimum of one run the other day in Cleveland? IMO, that's a bigger error than a 3rd baseman playing back with 2 outs, at minimum it's as avoidable. If he did say something, I haven't seen it.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      More to the point, IMO...did Gardy call out Willingham in the paper (or whoever was at fault) for the baserunning folly that cost the Twins a minimum of one run the other day in Cleveland? IMO, that's a bigger error than a 3rd baseman playing back with 2 outs, at minimum it's as avoidable. If he did say something, I haven't seen it.
      Gardy is definitely tougher on Plouffe than most of the players. There's no question that the Twins are trying to light a fire under his ass, and we can see evidence of that dating back to TR's very public pronouncements about wanting to find competition at third (and inexplicably not SS/2B) during the offseason.

      I get the sense that they see too much Valencia in him and want to steer him away from that path. Whether they're taking the right approach is unclear, but I don't think we should assume it's wrong.
    1. BHtwins's Avatar
      BHtwins -
      The making an example of and "lighting a fire under" a player from Gardy is very tiresome. He applies this standard so inconsistently it just gets frustrating.

      Plouffe is fine defensively and is is potentially the best offensive 3rd basement the Twins have had since Koskie. Just leave him alone and let him play.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Plouffe has a chance to be a good regular 3B. It is worth investing the games at 3B. He still has very little professional experience at the position. If he ranks 15th offensively at the end of the year that isn't given 30 teams. His age and point his career offer hope he will go up in rankings next year.

      As for fundamental mistakes, it does appear that the Twins have little patience with fundamental mistakes. Sometimes it seems like they would prefer players with no range or skill at the position as long as they don't make fundamental mistakes. On the other hand, it's the writers asking Gardenhire about the fundamental mistakes. Why ask everyday about the few of the chronically inept fielders they put out there? It wouldn't be news.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      More to the point, IMO...did Gardy call out Willingham in the paper (or whoever was at fault) for the baserunning folly that cost the Twins a minimum of one run the other day in Cleveland? IMO, that's a bigger error than a 3rd baseman playing back with 2 outs, at minimum it's as avoidable. If he did say something, I haven't seen it.
      That one was either on Willingham who did not see Vavra stop singing Mauer at 3rd or at Vavra who pulled the aforementioned stop sign too late for Willingham to stop. Regardless, Gardy is not about to throw any of them under the bus.
      Agreed, that was more awful than what Plouffe did.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      That one was either on Willingham who did not see Vavra stop singing Mauer at 3rd or at Vavra who pulled the aforementioned stop sign too late for Willingham to stop. Regardless, Gardy is not about to throw any of them under the bus.
      Agreed, that was more awful than what Plouffe did.
      Just more of the same-old, same old, as back when Punto, Cuddyer, Kubel, Young, et al, would repeatedly bungle in the field, at the plate, and/or on the basepaths, and all Gardy seemed to note in postgame was the "unacceptable" missed cutoff, missed sign, missed tag, et al, of some rookie or AAAA player.

      Lots of fires to light, not enough matches
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