Posted at 8:30 AM on May 30, 2007
by David Zingler
When Justin Morneau was named AL MVP last November, I have to admit that I was shocked. Not because I didn’t think he was worthy of the award, but I figured this was the perfect opportunity for the adoring press to finally present Derek Jeter with a lifetime achievement style MVP. I thought Morneau needed to hit 40 homeruns to seal the award and when his long ball production fell in September; I thought his MVP chances had faded as well.
After the news sunk in, I started to wonder if it was too much too soon. After all, this is the same guy that drew (completely unfair) David McCarty comparisons just 12 months earlier. How would he handle the pressure, could this possibly stunt his development? The answer, thankfully, is a resounding no. We are seeing one the greatest players in Twins history develop before our eyes.
Joe Mauer’s mysterious injury has cemented Morneau’s status as this team’s most essential everyday player. With Mike Redmond stepping in for Mauer, the Twins have lost little offensively – maybe a double and walk here and there – and his defense is more-than-adequate. If the same thing were to happen to Morneau, where would the power come from? Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer would each see fewer hittable pitches and Morneau’s possible replacements – Luis Rodriguez, Jeff Cirillo, Matt LeCroy or Ken Harvey – are all borderline major leaguers (or worse) at this point (sorry Cirillo, but .211/.297/.351 ‘aint cuttin’ it).
So, while all teams have to deal with injuries, as long as Morneau and Johan Santana stay off the Disabled List, the Twins should be OK.
Posted at 12:18 PM on May 30, 2007
by Steve Rudolph
It’s official, Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey will make his major league debut Friday night at Oakland. Normally demoting a veteran starter to the bullpen and calling up a 23-year-old with no experience is an act of desperation and not something a contending team does.
But Slowey isn’t your average rookie. He’s the latest in a string of Twins phenoms and currently leads the International League with a 1.54 ERA.
I’ve yet to see him pitch, but I hear he’s another Brad Radke with pinpoint accuracy, a fastball in the low 90s and the ability to throw any of his pitches for strikes. Hopefully the comparison to Radke doesn’t also include a propensity for giving up homeruns in the first inning.
In Rochester this season, Slowey has recorded 57 strikeouts while only issuing just five free passes. At any level of play, an 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is virtually unheard of! In 2005, Carlos Silva led the majors with a 7.89 K/BB ratio.
In his minor league career, Slowey has gone 17-9 with a 1.87 ERA. In the 284 innings he's thrown, he fanned 292 while only walking 35.
Could this be the Francisco Liriano-type move that gets the Twins back in the AL Central race?
But the Twins aren’t as far back as they were in 2006, so Slowey doesn’t need to match Liriano’s numbers to help his team contend. Just eating up some innings and giving the team a chance to compete could be huge if Carlos Silva and Boof Bonser continue to pitch as they have of late. Last year Liriano had to step in and be the Twins second starter. This year they have a lot more depth in the rotation.
An added benefit of the move is that the Twins will give their relievers some much-needed relief. The team needs someone that can give them some innings in long relief now that Matt Guerrier is being used primarily as a setup man. Ortiz still has some stuff left and pitching in relief might help him get back on track. He looked okay finishing last night’s game. Plus, he can’t possibly be any worse than Julio DePaula.