Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Notes from a Late Night Game

The Bonnes Bar and Baseball Basement is at least 12 degress cooler than the rest of the house and sports some HD goodness, so let's just watch most of a Twins game and write a bit, shall we?

Brendan Harris
Two home runs in two games makes me wonder if he's starting a streak that could raise his stats back to the level we anticipated. If so, he's got a long way to go.

Last year Harris sported a .286/.343/.434 line. This year, even after the two home runs, he's giving up 30 points in average and on-base percentage and 60 points of power. My perception is that he's struggled a bit all year, but he had a decent April, slid a little in May, and fell off the table for the first couple weeks of June. A week ago his slugging percentage was under .300. that's the kind of "production" that could have lead to him never being heard from again if Punto had just been healthy.

For the record, he never faced that kind of adversity last year. But he does have a history of bunching home runs together. Last year, of his twelve home runs, he hit six in a 3 week span around early June, and another four in 10 days in September.

The Gardy Move
I was a little surprised that Ron Gardenhire pulled Glen Perkins after five innings, but maybe I shouldn't have been. Perkins had thrown 91 pitches, and threw as many balls as strikes in the bottom of the fifth. Gardy removed him for pinch hitter Mike Lamb because it was Perkins turn to bat, and there were runners on first and second base with one out. He was looking to bust the game open.

But the Twins were already ahead 5-3. The move meant that the bullpen would need to hold the lead for four innings instead of just three. And it wasn't that great of a scoring opportunity.

In the short term, the move didn't work, but it did long term. Lamb grounded to first, moving the runners, which is precisely what Perkins probably would have tried to do with a bunt. But the Twins did pick up two more runs that inning (see below) and Brian Bass shut down the Padres in the sixth and seventh inning.

I'm not being critical. I just find it intersesting how Gardy played that situation. At best I would've considered it borderline aggressive, and the truth is that I really expected him to just let Perkins bunt those players over.

The Big Hit
The big hit that inning was by Carlos Gomez, and I must admit I wasn't optimistic about his chances. Here's Gomez, who hasn't improved a lick in his plate discipline since early May, facing Greg Maddux, who can toy with far more disciplined hitters.

Gomez didn't have a particularly good at-bat, but I seem to remember him laying off at least one pitch (I think it was the first one) that was down and away. He earned another ball when he didn't swing at a pitch that was near his elbow (that had already been hit once tonight). I'm pretty sure the two foul balls he hit were borderline balls, so no credit for those.

But Maddux messed up on that 2-2 ball that Gomez pulled on the ground into left field. Frankly, it looks like the control artist missed his spot inside, left the ball out over the plate, and Gomez was aggressive and skilled enough to take advantage. Sometimes that's all hitter needs.

Bonser's Ninth
I'm looking at Bonser's last five relief outings and it just doesn't make sense. He's pitched six innings which means he got eighteeen outs. Seven of them were strikouts, which is good. Another eight were ground outs, which is a really good sign. Only three were fly ball outs. What's more, he's only walked a single batter in those outings. All of those are great signs.

But in those six innings, he's given up eighteen hits?!? Are you kidding me? Eighteen? How do you get 85% or your outs from strikeouts and ground balls and still give up that many hits?

Last nigth he got two strikeouts, one ground ball out, one ground ball that was an error, and one ground ball that was a single. Which means he was a dribbler short of giving up another run. Goofy.

The Wolves Game
They make draft maneuvering sound like chess, but for the Wolves, it's really more of a child's board game.

And it's simpler than that, because the Wolves don't need to make a move. If they do nothing more than stand pat, they're going to either end up with Michael Beasley or OJ Mayo, and both would be outstanding additions to this team. Instead, Wolves fans are having the snot scared out of them amid speculation the Wolves are actively looking to move down in the draft.

There used to be a time that the Wolves looked like masters of the game with their early draft picks. They picked KG up as the fifth pick, and people still don't recognize just how inspipred that was. They also maneuvered their way into the Stephon Marbury pick, which was equally insightful. Even Wally Sczerbiak, who I believed they drafted sixth overall, ended up being a solid move. Those were the ony low picks they had for most of KG's time here, thanks to all the "skip a turn" cards we gathered from Joe Smith's contract.

But lately, the game has been a little trickier. Last year's pick, Corey Brewer, is going to need to start scoring to be anywhere near the pick they invested in him. And the last time the Wolves moved down in the draft they essentially chose Randy Foye over Brandon Roy. With Roy's play the last two years, that now looks disasterous. Given that history and that they are guaranteed a difference maker by standing pat, you would think they would sit tight with the cards they have.

Instead, every early rumor had them looking to trade down with this pick, and every sound bite muttered by TWolves management for the last 48 hours sounds like they're preparing their fan base for that move. If they turn this pick into anything less than additional lottery picks in future years, it will be (probably correctly) judged a mistake.

My biggest fear is that they move down not for additional lottery picks or for a veteran role player, but to shed the contract of Antoine Walker, Troy Hudson or Marko Jaric. While nobody doubts the debilitating effect these types of contracts have in the NBA, that additional salary space doesn't buy the Wolves much this year (because they're still going to have a lot of salary) or in future years (because so much cash comes off the books already).

All it would really do is save owner Glen Taylor some money. If that means costing the Wolves Beasley or Mayo, fans have the right to skip over "dissappointed" and advance directly to "betrayed".

3 comments:

Josh's Thoughts said...

Like they did with Brandon Roy, I'm starting to get worried about the Wolves selecting either Mayo or Beasley and then trading him for a player lower on the board (a guy like Kevin Love) and then A) unload some salary and/or B) pick up a veteran role player as well.

I hope that whoever they pick (as long as it's one of those two or Rose), I hope they keep them.

Nick N. said...

I'm looking at Bonser's last five relief outings and it just doesn't make sense. He's pitched six innings which means he got eighteeen outs. Seven of them were strikouts, which is good. Another eight were ground outs, which is a really good sign. Only three were fly ball outs. What's more, he's only walked a single batter in those outings. All of those are great signs.

But in those six innings, he's given up eighteen hits?!? Are you kidding me? Eighteen? How do you get 85% or your outs from strikeouts and ground balls and still give up that many hits?


This is basically the reason I've been sticking up for Bonser all year long. His peripherals have been SOOO much better than his results. It strikes me that he's just been unbelievably unlucky. I really feel like he'd be fine if he got back into the rotation; the bullpen is not a particularly good fit for him.

Anonymous said...

Personally I would not describe the Marbury trade as the work of inspired, insightful masters of the trade. The Timberwolves traded Ray Allen and a number one pick for Marbury. Not much to like there.

Marbury was and is a bad attitude ball hog. He caused Gugliotta to leave with in a him or me ultimatum, without compensation. Then he immediately demanded a trade because he didn't want to be on the same team as Kevin Garnett.

That alone should tell you all you need to know.

But no, Marbury had to be the biggest star on his team. It mattered not that KG was the kind of sacrifice for the team all star sane point guards would kill for. But the unresolvable problem was that Garnett made more money. It made no difference that league rules prevented the T-wolves from matching Garnett's contract even if they wanted to. He preferred to be on a worse team where he could be the star.

He couldn't coexist in Jersey so they traded him for Jason Kidd. Predicably, the Nets shot upward and the Suns collapsed.

His work with the Knicks need not be rehashed here. Suffice it to say he destroys every team he plays for.

I rehash all this because you could say, at the time pairing Starbury with KG looked like the makings of a championship nucleus. Yes people hoped that. We all did. But the fact is people were wrong. You can excuse that error, but you can't call it a success.

And the fact is there were plenty of question marks at the time. He was a street ball hotshot who blew off school and had a look at me attitude. He was always a narcissist, and didn't hide it. Projecting him to develop a conscience or team concept was wishful thinking, not savvy.

Imagine KG with Allen, and Gugliotta, and high number one pick, instead of a team cancer like Marbury. I'm sorry, but I really, really, really can't stand that guy.