Is there a more frustrating endeavor than to monitor spring training developments from 1200 miles away? I say "no". You can glean a smidgen of info from the stats, and a little more from the lineups, but mostly you need to watch the games.
For Twins fans, this weekend provided two opportunities to do so, and I was able to take advantage of one of them. The Voice of Reason and I had our annual Twins-Phillies bet riding on Saturday's game because it was on TV locally. Since she artfully arranged to have our kids dying Easter Eggs at my parents' house for the same three hours, we got to hunker down at Majors in Bloomington for a baseball date.
It was beautiful. And, because we view you all as our close friends, it seems only fitting we bring you along....
- Over at Stick and Ball Guy's blog, Ubelmann was kind (cruel?) enough to point out to us that the Twins have started Nick Punto at second base most of the time when Adam Everett was playing shorstop. It's a reasonable assumption that Gardenhire is interested in having his keystone combination play together in spring training. Yikes.
Sure enough, Punto played there for our game, too. My impression? It looks like he has rediscovered the plate discipline he lost midway through last season. I did not notice how he handled high pitches, which was part of last year's downfall.
(TVOR's reaction? "OOOH! Look at him move those tiny little legs to get to first base. Isn't he just adorable?".
Umm, OK. I just made that up. That would never happen. She wanted the Phils to win so bad that she would've been more likely to root for him to strain a hammy. She is, after all, from The City of Brotherly Love.)
Then, in yesterday's call-in radio show, Gardenhire was asked point blank whether Brendan Harris would be his starting second baseman. He refused to say that he would be.
And then, in Sunday's game, Harris missed yet another ground ball that should have been playable by 95% of all second baseman. And about 50% of all one-legged second basemen. To be fair, Dick Bremer said it was hit "in the perfect spot", of course. But in the replay, it looked like the perfect spot is about fifteen feet to the right of second base.
Which is a long way of saying that you shouldn't be shocked if Nick Punto is your starting second baseman this year. And even more shocking, I might not have a problem with it.
- Majors was great. I don't think I've been there to watch games more than a handful of times in my life, despite it being very close to may parents house, but it was fantastic. The food was very good, the TVs were everywhere, and the service was fantastic. And you have to love anyplace where a staff member confides that they got a whole one hour and 45 minutes of sleep last night.
- The Twins broke the game open versus JD "The Real Deal" Durbin, who bounced around last year before latching on with the Phils. He's battling for the 5th starter job versus Adam Eaton, who was pretty good versus the Twins. The Phils also re-signed JC Romero during the offseason. Oh, and Kyle Lohse rejected their 3-year, $21 million offer before he snapped up that 1-year, $5 million deal from the Cardinals.
Between Durbin's meltdown on Saturday and Lohse's and Romero's playoff performance last year, I almost have TVOR convinced that their our secret agents.
- It would have been nice to see the offense come alive versus some players who might make the Phils major league staff this season, but beating the hell out of some AAA guys makes for a pretty nice afternoon, too. The most impressive swing of the day came from Jason Kubel, who hit a no doubt home run to deep right field against a horrendous wind.
If you've seen any highlights of the game, you know the same wind played havoc with the gloves, but there was at least one play that drew a some low whistle in the bar. Phillies speedster Jimmy Rollins hit a line drive into the left field corner. Delmon Young chased it down, planted, and threw a strike (directly into the teeth of that wind) to second base. Rollins made it to second, but just barely. Young's arm is real.
That's it for tonight. The whole CF situation deserves more time that I've got. Check back later this week and we'll see if we can't break it down.