Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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Posts about Ron Gardenhire

What a lousy game

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 11, 2012 - 10:51 PM

Twins lose, 9-1, tonight. The Twins announced 28,993, which might have been within 10,000 or so of being correct.

It was ugly. Josh Willingham says he lost a fly ball in the twilight. That led to a three-run inning that goes on Scott Diamond's record. And that was about all that happened.

A few tidbits-

-Ben Revere continues to play with a lot of life. He went 3-for-5, his 38th mutli-hit game. Joe Mauer leads the team with 43. Revere also made a fine running catch in left-center.

Revere got a handshake and a few sentences of praise from Tom Kelly in the dugout before the game. Kelly doesn't offer false praise.

I think Revere should be this team's centerfielder next year. But I've been saying that for a while.

-Justin Morneau went 2-for-3 and is hitting .326 in his last 62 games and .357 in his last 17 games. Some of my insiders say he still struggles to cover the whole plate, but I see him getting hits to leftfield, which is always the sign that he's staying back and swinging well.

-The Twins have scored one run or fewer 24 times this year. While their rotation is the most important area of concern, that's a pathetic statistic for what should be a professional lineup.

-Scott Diamond allowed four runs in six innings, but I thought he battled pretty well despite Willingham's mistake and without his best stuff.

-Pedro Florimon continues to dazzle on some plays, but I see him being a little too lax on relays. He could have thrown one or two runners out at third tonight had he been alert on one play and had he thrown accurately on another.

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To chime in on a popular national debate, I think the aspect of the Stephen Strasburg debate that is too often missing is that the Nationals aren't shutting down someone who would likely have dominated in the postseason. They're shutting down a young pitching coming off Tommy John surgery who likely would have been hitting a wall in October, even if the Nationals had rested him to stretch his workload into the postseason.

In my view, it's unlikely he would have pitched well against top competition while fatigued. The Nationals have a deep rotation without him. Whether or not the Nationals handled Strasburg correctly, they'll be better off with starting pitchers in the postseason who aren't reaching their physical limits.

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I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

No longer sure Twins in playoff race

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 28, 2012 - 10:40 PM

Colleague Patrick Reusse figured it out before I got back up from the Twins' clubhouse:

Since July 18, 2011, the Twins are 71-127, for a winning percentage of .357.

That's pathetic.

For the Wednesday paper, I conducted a lengthy interview with Twins GM Terry Ryan. He was not happy. The column is about future plans, but he's stumped as to why what should be a pretty good lineup has fallen apart.

The Twins have failed to homer in 10 of their last 11 games. They went through a 14-inning scoreless streak before finally scoring in the third inning on Tuesday, and then they went to sleep until a token rally in the ninth.

They've been outscored 47-19 in their last eight games.

A lack of pitching is the reason they're not in contention. There's no sound explanation for why they've stopped hitting.

-The Mariners have beaten the Twins in seven straight games.

-The Twins are 10-26 against the AL West.

Enough about this team. Again, my interview with Terry Ryan will be in the Wednesday paper and at Startribune.com.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Hendriks vs. Hernandez

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 27, 2012 - 10:11 PM
Liam Hendriks allowed just one run in his first complete game, but lost, 1-0, to Felix Hernandez on Monday night at Target Field.
Tidbits and thoughts after another Twins loss:
-Hernandez has won four games 1-0 this year. He's allowed one earned run in his last 27 2/3 innings this year. He is the third pitcher since 1969 to have four wins with 1-0 scores in one season. The other two were Fergie Jenkins in 1974 and Bert Blyleven in 1976.
-The Mariners have beaten the Twins in six straight games.
-Asked why Justin Morneau wasn't running from third on Trevor Plouffe's grounder to second in the seventh inning, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire indicated that he doesn't believe in putting Morneau, with his injury and concussion history, at risk on such plays.
-The Twins have one homer in their last 10 games.
-I asked Twins outfielder Ben Revere if Hernandez was intimidating or sneaky. ``Sneaky,'' Revere said. ``Some of his pitches are so good, you think they're going to be a ball and they come back for a strike, there's so much late movement.''
-Given that Gardenhire often cites a pitcher's pace as an indicator of success, I asked Hendriks if he thought pitching with a quicker pace was a result of, or a cause of, his success on Monday.

``It's a bit of both,'' he said. ``It starts off as the result of pitching well early in the game, and then as soon as you get into a groove, it definitely helps you. It keeps you going.''

One way to get into a groove is to be on the same page as the catcher. How many times did he shake off a Joe Mauer sign on Monday? ``I didn't shake him off once,''' Hendriks said. ``We were on the same page all night. He called an absolute fantastic game.''

-Hendriks on how long he's been waiting to pitch this way in the big leagues: ``Well, this is my 14th start, so about 14 starts.''

Hendriks has yet to win a major league game.

-Joe Mauer caught his 832nd career game, passing Earl Battey for first place on the Twins' all-time list. He made one throwing error. He also made a fine, sliding catch against the backstop.

-The game lasted 2:10, tied for the shortest of the Twins' season, with a May 1 game at the Angels.

-The Twins have turned 133 ground-ball double plays this season, most in the majors. Pedro Florimon started one masterfully, getting screened by the second-base ump before handling a bad hop and pitching it to Jamey Carroll.

-Before the game, Twins' general manager Terry Ryan said it's time for Trevor Plouffe to prove he's the third baseman of the future. Plouffe had one shot to the centerfield fence caught, robbing him of a double, and hit a single. He also worked on fielding grounders early in the afternoon.

-The Twins are 52-76. If their lineup continues to slump, their 63-99 finish of a year ago is within reach.

-Asked about Scott Baker and Carl Pavano being in the Twins' future plans, even though they're injured and will become free agents at the end of the season, Ryan did not rule out the Twins being interested in one or both.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

What was up with Denard Span?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 13, 2012 - 11:02 PM

Denard Span on Friday got picked off in the first inning, got caught off base on a line drive in the third inning, and dropped a fly ball that preceeded the grand slam that ruined Francisco Liriano's otherwise dominant outing.

For all the time we spend analyzing statistics, new-wave statistics and pitching matchups, it's amazing how often games are won and lost on baserunning plays, and mistakes that don't count as errors, and what I would call ``awareness'' plays - throwing to the right base, backing up throws, taking the extra base.

Span improved his batting average on Friday night but may have cost the Twins the game.

Span's a quality guy. I think he's also sensitive to chatter. I wonder if he was a bit off because he's worried about getting traded.

The Twins are desperate to upgrade their starting rotation and their organizational pitching depth. The Twins wouldn't trade Span because they don't like him; they would trade him because he's a valuable and affordable player, and teams like the Washington Nationals are New York Yankees are looking to aquire outfielders with speed and respectable on-base percentages.

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Yes, Liriano was dominant, striking out 15 in eight innings. Yes, he's pitched very well of late.

But do I trust him? No.

That's the subject of my column in the Saturday paper. To sign someone to a long-term deal, you have to trust them. Liriano has been erratic for years now. And if the Twins don't sign him to a long-term deal, they need to trade him now, while his value is at its highest point in more than a year.

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No, I don't think Adrian Peterson did anything wrong.

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Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Tom Pelissero and I will host Sunday Morning Sports Talk outside the ballpark from 10-noon this Sunday, after running the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10.

And if you're interested in the London Olympics, Rachel Blount and I will have a series of profiles running between now and the start of the games. On Sunday, we'll run my feature on Hugh McCutcheon, the women's volleyball coach of the US Olympic team who will take over the Gopher program in the fall.

Cool, very interesting guy. And, no, the feature is not all about the attack on his in-laws in Beijing.

 

Sorry, Joe

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: June 12, 2012 - 11:12 PM

So I recommended the Twins reassign hitting coach Joe Vavra. And in the Twins' last nine games, they're hitting .318 with 35 extra-base hits and 59 runs. They're hitting .371 on the homestand.

Maybe this means Vavra is a great hitting coach, or that he invented a new buzzphrase that sticks between the ears of his hitters.

What it probably means is that I shouldn't have written about a coach, because they are too often scapegoated. I thought the Twins' young hitters would benefit from Tom Brunansky's voice in the lockerroom.

The real-world, big-picture view is this: Hitting coaches are paid to work hard and pat a lot of backs, but they don't determine success and failure. The Twins' early-season struggles and their recent successes have much more to do with the health of Morneau and the improved approach of Trevor Plouffe than any hitting drill anyone could invent.

What's shocking is that the Twins could go on this impressive surge...and still be 10 games under .500.

 

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