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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Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 on Thursday.
He has at least one hit in his last eight games at Target Field, hitting .423 in that time. He's hitting .424 at Target Field in his last 16 games with a .521 on-base percentage.
He's hitting .378 at Target Field this season. Entering last night's game, he ranked second in the AL and third in baseball in home average.
He's hit only two of his six home runs at home.
The dimensions of Target Field, with a deep leftfield fence, limit his power production.
The Twins are 29-34, and I'm not sure how their record is even that good.
Their rotation hasn't been good enough. Their fielders lack range. They don't have speed to create runs. They have only one true home-run hitter on the team, Josh Willingham, and his 10 home runs are offset by the slump that has reduced his average to .214.
The bullpen has been the team's strength, but the bullpen tends to be most important for good teams that frequently attain leads.
Wrote about closer Glen Perkins for the Friday paper. He's a Sabermetrician who doesn't think Sabermetrics properly appreciate the way a bullpen should be set up in real life.
Ben Revere, who had four hits last night, is hitting ..319 in his last 35 games.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.
P.J. Walters is now the Twins' ace.
Seriously. The guy is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has shown the aptitude known in the big leagues as ``pitchability.'' Tuesday, he limited Philadelphia to one earned run in 7 1/3 innings by throwing his breaking pitch as slow as 73 mph. ``That makes his fastbal look like it's about 95,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Justin Morneau (the subject of my Friday column) went 3-for-4 with the game-winning hit, and Jamey Carroll broke out of a slump with two hits and a walk, and Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save and lowered his ERA to 2.66.
But there were a few mistakes that shouldn't happen on a major-league diamond.
Brian Dozier ran into a doubleplay in the fourth inning, ending a rally that had already produced two runs. He was on first with one out when Clete Thomas hit a chopper to second and ran into the tag so the Phillies could turn an easy double play, preventing the runner on third from having a chance to score.
Shortstop Pedro Florimon has looked good compared to many of his teammates this season, but he made a low throw that was ruled an error on Morneau when the ball went under Morneau's glove, and was playing Ben Revere up the middle when Revere's single went into leftfield to produce a run.
Miss Aaron Hicks? You should. While Clete Thomas made one spectacular catch on Tuesday, he couldn't get to two balls that Hicks routinely catches.
Sometime in the next two years the Twins hope to field an outfield of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia made a fine running catch in left on Tuesday. Hicks is an outstanding centerfielder, and Buxton could become the best centerfielder in the game.
Spoke with Morneau before the game. He's gone 168 plate appearances without a home run ,and he admits it bothers him. He was gracious when speaking about it. That column will be in the Friday paper on on the web site.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow.
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.
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.
I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
So why would the Twins place Denard Span on the disabled list two days before they're allowed to expand their roster for September callups?
I think there are two reasons.
1. They want to bring up Matt Carson, a corner outfielder who played well in his brief stint with the team. Because they sent Carson down a week ago, they can't call him up again unless he's replacing someone who is headed for the DL. Thus, the move.
2. Reading between a lot of lines, I also think the Twins are tired of waiting for Span, who has been ``day-to-day'' for a long time. This is a way of telling him that he's driving them nuts and that they'd rather play other people at this time, anyway.
Other notes from the Twins' 5-4 loss to Seattle:
-Twins lost 8 of 190 against Seattle this season.
-The Twins have lost 17 of their last 21 against the Mariners.
-Josh Willingham had two bat at-bats with runners in scoring position early in the game, then dropped a line drive in the sixth that prolonged the Mariners' four-run sixth. He also hit his 32nd home run.
-Brian Duensing's record is now 3-10 with a 5.26 ERA.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 6:30 tonight and 2:05 tomorrow. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Watched Trevor Plouffe and Pedro Florimon take the field for early infield practice today. It's one of those little things that could be meaningless but indicates a willingness to work on their craft.
The morning of a day game following a night game, they might have been tempted to sleep in or relax in the clubhouse with their teammates. Anyway, while watching them, I started to project what the infield will be next year.
Trevor Plouffe is the third baseman. Ron Gardenhire keeps pushing him to work on his fielding and concentration, but let's be honest - the guy has hit 20 homers in 321 at-bats. He's going to be in the lineup.
I think Florimon has a chance to stick as the shortstop. He's talented and athletic, with a strong arm and speed, and the Twins don't believe he's going to be a classic bottom-of-the-order out.
Brian Dozier, I'm guessing, will, be given a chance to compete with Florimon next spring, and if Florimon holds the job, Dozier might be the leading candidate to play second if the Twins don't spend on that position in free agency.
Eduardo Escobar is likely to become a utility infielder.
Justin Morneau is the obvious choice at first base, but Chris Parmalee's big season at Class AAA gives the team options.
Between catcher, DH, first base and the three outfield spots, the Twins will have Joe Mauer, Morneau, Parmalee, Ryan Doumit, Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Darin Mastroianni and a handful of prospects like Arcia and Hicks.
To me, that glut, or potential glut, points to a trade this winter of Span, if the Twins can aquire enough pitching to justify sacrificing a good offensive player. Trading Span would open centerfield for Revere, who belongs there, and rightfield for Parmalee or one of the prospects.
The Twins could trade Morneau, too, which would open first base for Parmalee and free payroll to pursue pitching.
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