TwinsTakes Update – 7/17/2011 – On to the 2nd Half

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I’m going to try to post a weekly update that focuses on the Twins and how their week has gone and what’s happened in the most recent week. This week might have some material older than a week as it’s the first update.

All-Star Break
The All-Star break is over and the National League won the All-Star game 5-1 behind Prince Fielder’s 3-run Home Run (he was named MVP of the game also.) So the National League gets home field advantage in the 2011 World Series.

How much longer will the All-Star game decide which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series? It alternated between leagues before the current format was instated. Teams battle all season long to win as many games as possible and have the best record in baseball. Whatever team that is should get home-field advantage!

16 players opted out of or missed the game due to injury, ineligibility or “emotional & physical exhaustion.”* The league and the player’s union wanted the players to have more incentive to win. The best starting pitchers can’t even pitch because they pitched two days earlier making them ineligible.

*If Jeter had a legitimate injury, then I don’t have a big problem with him opting out of the All-Star game. I still think he should’ve showed up being he was voted in by the fan’s and is baseball’s most recent player to get 3000 hits. Jeter is one of the few Yankee’s I can stand along with Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera and Curtis Granderson.

The All-Star game is about fun and it shouldn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the World Series.

More problems with the All-Star Game – (StarTribune.com – Lavelle E. Neal) – 7/12/2011

Cuddyer is an All-Star
Michael Cuddyer was the lone Minnesota Twins All-Star this season and it was well deserved. He’s been on fire since the calendar turned to May.

If you take out the month of April, Cuddy would have a batting average (AVG) of .320 (72/225), an on-base percentage (OBP) of .391 and a slugging percentage (SLG) of .511 with 13 doubles, 10 HRs and 39 RBIs with 29 walks and 34 strikeouts in 61 games. With a triple slash of .320/.391/.511, Cuddy has an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of .902. His career OPS is .796.

That’s awesome but here’s the crazy stat, in the 25 games Cuddy has played 1st base this season, he’s hitting .341/.398/.634 for an OPS of 1.032 with 6 doubles, 6 HRs and 19 RBIs with 8 walks and 13 strikeouts. To put that into perspective, an OPS of 1.032 would land him between Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder as the only other hitters with an OPS over 1.000. Cuddy likes the #3 position! Maybe that’s Cuddy’s way of honoring Harmon Killebrew!*

*Sorry, I like to look at splits and situational stats. As a RF, Cuddy is hitting .303/.396/.451 for an OPS of .847 with 6 HRs and 20 RBIs and 25 walks and 30 strikeouts which isn’t too shabby either. Cuddy must want to keep that high salary when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.

June is when Cuddy started crushing the ball. 16 of his 30 hits were of the extra-base variety (11 doubles and 5 HRs). His numbers for June are similar to his 1st base numbers – .323/.402/.602 for a 1.004 OPS with those 16 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs.

He’s continuing to hit in July as well with 3 HRs and 13 RBIs. Hopefully Cuddy keeps this great season going and the Twins can make something out of this season that started out so ugly.

Cuddyer: Behind the Lens - (foxsportsnorth.com – Michael Cuddyer) – 7/10/2011

  • Some pretty cool photography from Cuddy while he travels with the Twins – This gallery is from Miller Park in Milwaukee – some great pictures in here

Mauer at First Base
It was fun to watch Joe Mauer make his first appearance at 1st base in Chicago right before the All-Star break. He played great in his first start at 1st, making all 3 outs in the first inning and making a tough catch on a low Valencia throw later in the game.

I’m not going to get too used to seeing Joe play first base. It’s a nice option to be able to put him over there every now and then but his best position is catcher. He’s won gold gloves there, he can shut down a running game and he calls a good game for the pitchers. He loves being a catcher as well.

On the other hand, if he keeps getting injured, Joe could move to another position if he had to. It’s not that easy to just say he’s your new everyday third baseman or left fielder. Do you trade a Valencia or a Delmon Young or some of the outfield prospects to make room for Joe? How long does it take Joe to get comfortable at a new position? An offseason and a spring training?

Having Wilson Ramos available would’ve been nice too. Who’s the best catching prospect in the Twins system? Herrman, Lehmann, Rohlfing, Rams? Do they have to go sign a starting catcher? Get one in a trade? A permanent move to a different position is still a long ways off if you ask me.

Moving Mauer may be magnificent: A Fan’s Opinion – (Yahoo Contributor Network – Blair Reynolds) – 7/7/2011
The Value of Joe Mauer – (Fangraphs.com – Chris Cwik) – 7/8/2011
In Praise of Joe Mauer – (Puckett’sPond.com – Adam Krueger) – 7/8/2011

2nd Half Twins! Getting Healthy and Making a Run for the AL Central Division!
The Twins are still in a 6-game whole behind first place Cleveland and the .500 mark. They seemed to have turned the corner to playing good baseball and should start getting back some players soon. Delmon came back and has been hitting well.

Most of the injured players are on track to return including Baker who should start one of the games on Monday against Cleveland. Justin Morneau, who had neck surgery on June 29th, is “doing great” according to trainer Rick McWane. They will see where they are with Justin on Monday and go from there.

Kevin Slowey started for Rochester on Friday, went 4.2 innings and was given the loss after giving up 6 hits, 3 ER with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He is probably pretty close to returning but what will happen with him? He’s not too popular with Gardy and the front office right now so he could be traded but would that be the right thing to do? Will they leave him down in Rochester or bring him back up to the Twins even though they don’t have a spot in the starting rotation for him?

Denard Span has been cleared for a rehab assignment which is great news! He and Jason Kubel will start for Rochester on Sunday!

What can the Twins do with everybody healthy and playing well? It would be nice to see what this lineup – Span, Casilla, Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Kubel, Young, Valencia, Nishioka – could do. Maybe you flip Casilla and Nishi or just put Casilla 8th and put Cuddyer between the M&M boys.

Bert Blyleven enters the Twins Hall of Fame
Congratulations to Bert Blyleven on going into the Twins Hall of Fame and having his number retired last night! It probably should’ve happened a long time ago but I’m sure it’s worth the wait. He should have a pretty good week this week with everything that comes with entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame!

Here’s some interesting articles I’ve read over the last week or so:
Skeptics view Pujols’ return as unnatural – (Yahoo! Sports – Jeff Passan) – 7/6/2011
Scouting the Futures Game for deals – (ESPN.com The GM’s Office Blog – Jim Bowden) – 7/10/2011

  • Denard Span & Ben Revere mentioned in trade rumors

The Price of a Baseball – (weareoffthemark.wordpress.com – Andrew) – 7/12/2011

  • What people will do to get a ball at a baseball game! Is it really worth it?

Cuddyer Will Be Back - (TwinsGeek.com – John Bonnes) – 7/13/2011

  • The Twins Geek shows us the reasons why Cuddy will be back as a Minnesota Twin

Team says Cuddyer won’t be dealt this season – (StarTribune.com – Joe Christensen) – 7/16/2011

 

Tell us what you think of the update! Let us know if you like something or don’t like something or if you have any suggestions for the update.

 

Robb

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2 Responses to TwinsTakes Update – 7/17/2011 – On to the 2nd Half

  1. Bryz says:

    Hey Robb, thanks for linking to my post!

  2. Robb says:

    No problem!

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