Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Wrap-up

Spring training is over at last. Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey each pitched into the 7th inning this weekend. Joe Mauer caught a day game after a night game. Real baseball begins tomorrow. Some closing thoughts about the exhibition season:

  • Yesterday's win gave the Twins a record of 16-14. Spring training records don't mean any more than spring training stats. And yet, you feel better about players who put up good numbers in the spring, and you feel better about a team that can come out of the Grapefruit League with a winning record. A lot of exhibition games tend to be decided by minor leaguers, but in the case of this season, they caused more losses than wins. The Twins' regular lineup put up a lot of crooked numbers early in games, and the rotation generally pitched great. It was the Anthony Swarzaks and Jeff Manships and Glen Perkins that were on the mound when things got away from the Twins late. And consider the strength of schedule: 7 games vs. Boston, 5 vs. Tampa, 4 vs. St. Louis and 2 each against the Yankees and Phillies. 2/3 of the games were against playoff caliber teams, and the Twins held their own.
  • Most of the guys on the 25-man roster had a productive spring and look ready for the season. Of the hitters, only Justin Morneau and Alexi Casilla had trouble getting it going. Morneau will be fine. Casilla will be used infrequently. Pavano, Scott Baker and Pat Neshek were all excellent except for one poor outing. I'm a big proponent of concentrating all of one's sucking into as few games as possible, so those guys are fine.
  • I want to call special attention to Delmon Young, who hit .310/.349/.466 over 63 PA. I'm sure we'd all take those rates over his full season. Even better, he had 50% more fly ball outs than grounders, and a 2/1 K/BB ratio. Even better than that, he struck out just 8 times, 12.7% of his plate appearances, an enormous improvement over his 20% career average or last year's 23.3%. Sure, he had only 4 BB in 63 PA. Then again, he had 4 BB in 63 PA! Remember, he had just 12 BB in 416 PA last season. A 6.3% BB rate would also be a new career high. He's got to keep it up, but the signs of progress are there.
  • I thought Jacque Jones was washed up, but now I kinda want to see him show up for some portion of 2010. Good luck in Rochester, Jacque!
  • Clay Condrey hit the DL, bringing Alex Burnett into the Twins bullpen. That's somewhat of a surprise, considering Burnett hasn't pitched above AA. But he was on the 40-man, and he definitely has promise, so why not? He's going to throw all of 2 IP before they send him down in favor of Ron Mahay. He'll join Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney in what has to be one of the most lights-out bullpens in the International League. We'll see all three of those guys by September.
  • Wilson Ramos and Ben Revere both raised their stock a bit during their time in the Twins' camp. I hope they get traded for something spiffy - sell high, Bill Smith!
  • Target Field looks magnificent. I wonder when I'll get to go there...

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