TwinkieTown's Jesse Lund posed this question the other day, and I'm going to take the bait. Hitting the Foul Pole lined up several Twins bloggers into the ideal pitching staff, and now I'm going to take a stab at arranging a batting order.
I'll be the bat-boy. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a tour of some of the best and brightest minds in the Twins' blogosphere!
Click here to read more...]]>
Tonight, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins will square off for the first game in a crucial late-season series between two teams vying for the American League Central crown. The Twins are comfortably ahead in the standings, and with the season winding down, this could be Chicago's last stand.
The AL Central has required a Game 163 for each of the last two years, and the divisional race remains close this season. Though Minnesota has a firm grip on the division, and Chicago will need to push all their chips forward during this head-to-head matchup, anything can happen. Should this series not go favorably for the White Sox, Chicago's south-side squad could be sitting as many as nine games behind the Twins with just 16 contests left to be played.
Contrary to what some would have you believe, Minnesota is a legitimate World Series contender, and one of the best teams in the league. As Phil Mackey mentions, Twins' fans may suffer from an inferiority complex based on the struggle (along with failure and ineptitude) of local sporting teams. Mackey puts it best: “Let's treat the Twins (39-16 since the All-Star break) like they deserve to be treated, as a World Series contender that can compete with, and beat, anybody in baseball -- not as a team that is desperately clinging to a six-game lead with 19 games to go. The Twins aren't just a pesky team playing over its head. They are legitimate contenders.”
No, the Twins aren't simply the best team in a poor division battling for home-field advantage in the postseason. They are a team made up of several excelling offensive stars, as well as an outstanding one-two rotation punches. They have been playing well above their heads for the last month of so, but a six-game lead will be tough to lose.
Even though the Twins will likely win the division, though, there doesn't seem to be much optimism among Minnesota fans. The general consensus, at least from where I sit, appears to be that if the Twins manage to qualify for the MLB postseason, the tough American League East will be more than happy to knock them right back out.
It happened last year, and many seem to think it will happen again.
In 2010, though, the Twins have a better team than last year, and could manage to clinch home-field advantage. This squad, the first in Target Field's history, is much better than last year's team. And the 2010 Twins are much better than the average playoff team.
Here's how the Twins stack up against all teams that have qualified for the playoffs in the last 50 yearsb.
|Team||Batting Average||On-Base||Slugging||Team ERA||Walks per 9 IP||Strikeouts per 9 IP|
|Average Playoff Team||.268||.338||.419||3.77||3.12||6.18|
|2010 Minnesota Twins||.277||.345||.428||3.84||2.3||6.4|
|Average WS Winner||.266||.333||.410||3.55||3.07||6.01|
So let's get Justin Morneau back on the team, wrap this division up, and take this show to the playoffs.]]>
Revere is generally considered one of Minnesota's best prospects, and should have a long major-league career. He has zero experience at the Triple-A level, though, so his current stay with the Twins is almost certainly temporary. Here is what I wrote about Revere a few months ago as a part of my Top 15 Prospects countdown.
2009 stats: .311/.372/.369, 517 PA, 2 HR, 34/40 K/BB, 45/17 SB/CS at Ft. Myers (A+)
Last year’s rank: 2
Acquired: 1st round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2007 draft
When this high-schooler was drafted a few years ago, there were many people who questioned the Twins' brass. Revere was considered to be one of the fastest guys in the '07 draft class, but had no shortage of flaws. His arm was below-average, he had little power, and no offensive bat to speak of.
What Minnesota saw, though, was a young kid with tremendous speed, great makeup, and an eager desire to improve as he aged. Two years have passed, and Revere is proving all doubters wrong. Although he still lacks a powerful swing, Revere was just named the Twins' Minor-League Hitter of the Year, his second award in as many years.
This past season Revere managed to hit .311/.372/.369 in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He stole 45 bases in 62 attempts, which was third in the league. One area of concern among some scouts was Revere's lack of patience at the plate. For whatever reason, some viewed the young lefty as a free-swinger. Revere quieted those scouts this past season, when he drew 40 walks and struck out just 34 times.
Revere has steadily progressed through the system, and is the organization's best hitter. Power-wise, several scouts remain sure that Revere will be able to hit around 15 home runs per season once he hits the major leagues. Through his first three years in the minor leagues, Revere has yet to hit more than two in a single-season.
Considering Revere's muscular frame, his lack of throwing power is puzzling. The young outfielder displays some great gap power, so his throwing technique is probably to blame for his below-average defensive rating.
He remains below-average defensively, but lacks nothing a few years of further instruction couldn't remedy. Last year, Revere spent some time in extended spring training to work on a throwing program that has improved both his throwing strength and accuracy. Slowly yet surely, Revere is utilizing all of his abilities.
Ideal scenario: Revere will start the 2010 season in Double-A New Britain, where he will most likely spend the entire year. The Twins are known for their incredibly conservative approach towards top prospects, and Revere likely won't be rushed. He will spend the 2011 season in Triple-A Rochester, and could break into the Big Leagues either that September or out of Spring Training in 2012.
Path to the majors: Things could get interesting for the Twins' outfield in a few years. The majority of Minnesota's top prospects are outfielders, and they will contribute to an already-jammed outfield. Denard Span, Delmon Young, Angel Morales, Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere, Joe Benson, Rene Tosoni, and several others could be competing for the same three positions. This is obviously a good problem to have, but it could result in a position change for many elite prospects.]]>
The Twins used a total of eight pitchers in the 13-inning series finale against the Detroit Tigers last night. Tuesday's starter, Brian Duensing, pitched two innings of the sloppy contest. Even Nick Blackburn, who was originally scheduled to start tonight's game against the Texas Rangers, was called upon to throw an inning.
With a depleted bullpen and a rotation in no shape to fill rotation gaps on the fly, there are precious few options at the starting pitcher position for tonight's series opener against the always-tough Rangers.
Here are Minnesota's options: