La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Three thoughts from LEN3: Baker, Greg Gibson, Flustered Frankie.

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 17, 2012 - 11:28 PM

 

The Twins lost 8-3 to the Yankees on Tuesday. Here are three things on my mind at the end of a busy night in the Bronx:


1. Scott Baker. You can't blame the Twins' medical staff on this one. Baker had an MRI late in spring training. Dr. David Altchek, one of the best in the business, read the MRI and agreed with the Twins that the elbow ligament was sound. Guess what? MRI's don't tell the whole story. Once Altchek got in there today he saw a little trouble and decided to repair the ligament. It stinks for Baker, who won't be ready until next April at the earliest - and then has to see if he has his command back. What Baker shouldn't have done is say that the elbow looked "great" which led us all to believe that the flexor tendon was the only problem.
Here's where we are dumb. When they said the surgery was not arthroscopic, none of us fake doctors realized that was a signal that they still wanted to look at the UCL ligament and repair it if they had to. It all created this belief that flexor tendon surgery was the only thing he needed. When I reminded Terry Ryan that Baker said the ligament was "great" Ryan replied, "I was a little more guarded."

2. Strike zone: Greg Gibson's strike zone seemed to be whacked tonight. Checking Brooksbaseball.net, the pitch f/x charts show several pitches that should have been called strikes that he called balls. Teams get mad when the strike zone expands but seem to really get mad when the zone shrinks.
So I wonder if Gibson was getting it from both sides, and he had a short fuse when Denard Span was in the batter's box in the third. Just wondering.....

3. Francisco Liriano has lost his confidence. I've seen it before, and Gardy confirmed it after the game when he said he had to cheer Liriano up. The Twins have a problem on their hands here. They've got to get Liriano right or he's going to have no value this season. Right now, he can't command his fastball, so how in the heck is he going to incorporate his slider and change when that happens? Not good. For those of you wanting him to be sent to the minors, since he has five years in the league, he can reject the assignment. I think he's better off up here, working with Rick Anderson. I think he deserves a couple more starts but might have to go to the bullpen if he continues to give up five runs an outing.


 

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