Friday, March 05, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

The Twins kicked off their spring schedule last night with a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers. It was a rather uneventful game, with the Twins managing only four hits -- all singles -- but there were a few noteworthy performances. Chief among them was Pat Neshek's first appearance since May of 2008. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning, inducing a pop-out, a ground-out and a swinging strikeout. I expect Neshek to open the season in Rochester after his lengthy layoff, but if he keeps shutting down hitters this spring that could change.

Today the Twins play their first home game of the spring, and I'll be in attendance. I'll probably post some quick reactions from the game on my Twitter account later today, but I'll have a full recap here on Monday. I apologize for the sparse posting around here lately, but things will kick into full gear next week starting with the launch of my annual Position Analysis series.

For now, a few links to take you into the weekend...

* Mariners scribe Keizo Konishi, the only voter who did not place Joe Mauer first on his AL MVP ballot last year, recently explained the reasoning behind his choice to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Konishi's rationale:
“I thought that the Western division and the Eastern division were almost decided by mid-August,” he said. “The only tight race was the Central division. Two teams went really deep, the Tigers and the Twins, so I thought the M.V.P. should be selected from those two teams.

"What I thought is, ‘Who has the most importance to those two teams?’ I imagined what would happen if you picked someone out of the lineup. For example, if I took Cabrera out of the Tigers’ lineup, I thought it would be a very different team. If I did the same thing for the Twins, if I picked Mauer out of their lineup, they would still have a better lineup compared to the Tigers.”
Plenty of smart people have given up on caring about MVP results by now. Stubbornly, I keep trying to care, because I think it's such an important part of the way the game's history will be written. But when people with this type of mindset are bestowed one of the 28 votes for this prestigious award, I am beyond disheartened.

The notion that an individual player should be penalized for being on a great team (such as the Angels and Yankees, who pulled away in their divisions in mid-August as Konishi notes) or for being surrounded by quality hitters is absurd, horribly illogical and seemingly beneath a seasoned baseball writer. But, apparently not.

* Parker wrote yesterday about Joe Mauer and Jim Thome's shared penchant for hitting home runs to the opposite field in 2009.

* Over at his blog, Curve For a Strike, Topper Anton continued his series of on-site reports on the Twins' spring training activities.

* Make sure to check out Seth's spring training Q & A with my No. 9 Twins prospect, Carlos Gutierrez.

* The Twins Geek gives his take on a gambling site's over/under for the 2010 win totals of teams across the American League.

* Finally, as was announced on Wednesday, I will be a part-time front-page contributor at Twinkie Town this season. My involvement won't be terribly extensive, but you'll be able to find some manner of disjointed ramblings from me there each Wednesday this summer.

I think commenter "Eric in Madison" put it best when he stated that Twinkie Town is now "One less website to go to and not find Nick Nelson. Sigh..." So true. My presence is becoming parasitic at this point. But people keep enlisting me to write, and given that writing is one of my favorite activities I'm not very good at saying no, despite the fact that these commitments are basically taking over my life at this point.

Worry not, I'm sure that people will start revoking my posting privileges soon. Particularly if I continue to make the very grave mistake of temporarily lapsing on the fact that Alexei Ramirez is Chicago's starting shortstop while writing a post at midnight on a Tuesday...


Beth said...

I think Keizo Konishi's most ridiculous comment was that the WBC is big in Japan, and Joe Mauer didn't play in the WBC, and Miguel Cabrera played into the playoffs (I forget off-hand how far). The WBC has nothing to with the MLB AL-MVP. How big something is in Japan has nothing to do with the MLB AL-MVP. It's a matter of looking at the entire AL, and picking the player whom you deem the most valuable. /rant

Dave said...

I was in attendance at the game last night at City of Palms, so let me share some insights I saw.

Blackburn: He looked like it was his first start of spring training. Blackey left a ton of pitches up, fastball was flat, sinker wouldn't locate, the kind of issues you expect first game of spring. He was constantly behind in the count and needed the sox to help him out with bad swings. Not too concerned, but something to watch as he progresses towards the regular season.

Slowey: I was flabergasted. He looked really good, much better then I anticipated. His fastball had some zip to it and it wasn't completely flat. He was hitting the corners pretty well and keeping the ball down. With a new mechanical wrist this was the start I was hoping for. He hung all his breaking balls, but those will come around later. I was just thrilled to see him accurate and strong throwing with confidence. As a fantasy baseball guy, I needed to see that kind of pitching to convince me he is draftable without injury concern. The concern lingers, but it has been largely alleviated.

Neshek: Like Nick said, looked good. I was most impressed with the one changeup he threw for a strikeout. If he can do that regularly this season he will be deadly. He needs an out pitch and he may have it.

Jacques: Pardon my spelling, I haven't had to spell his name in a while. Jacques looked like I remember him. He swung at all but 1 pitch, fouling off a ton. He did make a great play in the field, a diving grab in left, and he looks great physically.

Kubel: Lost some weight in the offseason. Or maybe he just trimed his beard. Not much to say about his 2 AB's.

Span: His bat speed is just as good as last year. I love watching Span hit, he waits so long to swing and then snaps the bat through the zone so quickly its a thing of beauty.

Gardy: He looked pretty drunk and surly, should be a good season!

Anonymous said...

let us know if anyone hits any dingers. cleary the coolest thing in baseball.


Anonymous said...

Clearly C-Tattles is the coolest guy in the park. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

38 more days. Then Boom. Super excited to see what these guys can do.