Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Mayor's Cup is Lost!

Red Sox 9, Twins 4
Sox win Mayor's Cup 3-1

For the 3rd straight year, the Twins have fallen short in their quest for the Mayor's Cup. While players may show a brave face to the media, saying that their main goal in spring training is to "get in shape" or "work on their stuff," we all know that losing out on this hardware has to hurt. These little setbacks build character. At least, that's what I've been telling myself since game #163 last fall.

It's funny how similar today's game was to the Twins' last appearance at City of Palms park, when the score was 9-5 and it was Scott Baker who was touched for a couple of home runs. The real culprit today, even more than the long ball, was poor control by the pitchers. Any time you see more runs than hits in the box score, you know something was off when the defense was on the field. Twins pitchers combined for 8 BB and 2 HBP today, and 5 of those guys scored. Blech.

(My fantasy league this year is scoring IP, ERA, K, BB and HR allowed. Needless to say, Liriano had an atrocious day by those standards, only scoring well with 5 K in his 3 IP.)

Not much happened on the offensive side either (no walks for the Twins today), but that's been the exception for most of this week. Matt Tolbert is starting to look like quite a bruiser (surely the wind has helped him this spring). Delmon Young's 0-4 day including a couple of loud fly ball outs. I wish I could say the same about Denard Span's 0-4.

The Twins worked out a trade with the Yankees this morning, sending Class A pitcher Charles Nolte to NY in order to keep the rights to Jason Jones, who now heads to the Red Wings' rotation. Nolte had a 2.05 ERA in 44 relief appearances for A- Beloit last year, posting a 75/35 K/BB ratio in 70.1 IP. Most impressively, he allowed only 1 HR all season thanks to a really good sinker. He was only a 27th round pick, starting his age 23 season at A+, so I suppose he wasn't too important to the Twins' long-term plans. Then again, a guy who gave up less than a hit per IP, struck out more than a batter per IP, and got grounders almost 5 times as often as he gave up flies could have had some utility as at least a situational righty out of the 'pen. (He would be very useful in my fantasy league, especially to compliment a low-BB, high-HR guy like Kevin Slowey).

With Jones secured a place in AAA, and RA Dickey signed to a minor league contract, and Philip Humber out of options, it seems pretty clear that Humber has a place on the 25-man roster. His outing today was encouraging. Like most of the Twins pitchers, he allowed a walk that came around to score, but he struck out 3 batters in 2 IP, including Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell. His pattern reminded of Glen Perkins when he's effective: back and forth between the fastball and the slow stuff. There's potential there, as with Perkins, if Humber can command the fastball and at least one of his off-speed pitches.

Draft day is tomorrow - I'm ready to dominate!

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