Thursday, August 21, 2008

Go. Go. Gone?

Today's picture was supposed to be one of the kids overlooking the badlands along with a story about how the Twins are facing their own little formidable trek.

While everyone is focusing on the length of the trip and the road woes this year, I think it's worth researching just how the Twins have done on West Coast swings during the Gardenhire era.

Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but hasn't this team consistently had one west cost trip each year that is a complete freaking disaster? I'm trying to throw these entries together on my iPhone, so I'm a little too lazy to do the research, but it seems like every year they finish one of these trips in complete implosion mode.

For instance, the whole Hawkins & Eddie whinefest lead to one such trip I think. Last year's August swoon started on a West Coast trip. I seem to remember a 3-7 trip in early 2006, too. Those might not be something we fans remember, but the players and coaches likely do.

Anyway, that's what I was going to write about.

Instead, we got to our hotel, which had this indoor waterpark you see pictured above. You see that twisting enclosed yellow water tube that's at least five stories high? Odds are that The Boy(TM) is somewhere in there right now. And I know this because he's been going up and down it like a turbo charged machine with a touch of OCD.

But here's the thing: if you ask him, he will tell you that he's afraid of heights. And enclosed spaces. And the water. And speed. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah, the dark. That about covers it.

But he LOVES water slides, provided he tries it just once. And today his sister got him to try it and a switch flicked on. He is shivering and blue because he's been doing that slide and five story climb as fast as he can for two hours now. He's our little go-go kid. You can't help but love him.

The Twins love their go-go kid too, but they are still waiting for the switch to flick on. Carlos Gomez sat on the bench Sunday and Monday and I wonder what might have happened later on this week if Delmon Young hadn't hurt his ankle.

Gomez probably would not have been the choice to send to go to AAA when Casilla was activated, because the only backup CFers the Twins would have had were not true CFers like Young or Nick Punto.

But with Kubel hitting lefties and Ruiz available to DH, the Twins best lineup just doesn't include Gomez. What's more, it appears that Ron Gardenhire has decided that these 0-14 skids the kid has occasionally aren't exactly helping his confidence.

Sometime within the next few days when the Twins confirm that Casilla and Young are healthy, they are going to want to callup a reliever from AAA, and it's going to be interesting to see who they pick to send down. The default pick has been Ruiz, but he seem safe. Given the health history of Punto and Casilla, it would be hard to release Everett. If they haven't released Lamb yet, they're unlikely to to lose their LHed bench bat just before Sept.

Sending down Gomez would be a tad harsh, but for whatever the reason, after five months in the bigs, the switch hadn't flicked 'ON'. They clearly love him - how can you not? - but necessity might require a week-long demotion until rosters expand.


Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that if the Twins were to demote Gomez it might crush his confidence far more than sitting on the bench has.

Anonymous said...

Since I happen to have baseballreference up (though I know what you mean about the awesomeness of the iPhone), I'll recount the Twins' West Coast trips of the Gardy era:

2007 - one six-game trip in early June (2-4), another six-game trip in mid-August (as part of a nine-game trip overall starting in KC) (2-4)
2006 - a nine-game trip in late May/early June that corresponded with the low point in the Twins season (3-6; the club was 26-33 after winning the last game in Seattle). The Twins didn't go any farther west than KC and Dallas after that.
2005 - the Twins opened the season with three in Seattle (2-1), went on a six-game interleague trip in early June (3-3 against the D'Backs and Dodgers, including the 10-0 win in Arizona that was Santana's national breakout game), three in LA as part of a seven-game trip before the break (1-2), six in Seattle and Oakland as part of a nine-game trip in early August (3-3), and finally three in Oakland as part of a seven-game trip in late September with the team already 15 games out (2-1).
2004 - a six-game trip in early May (2-4), a three-game interleague trip to Arizona in early July (2-1), three in Seattle as part of a six-game trip in mid-August (1-2), and three in Anaheim as part of a six game trip in late August (1-2).
2003 - a six-game trip in late May (4-2), another six-game interleague trip in early June (4-2), three in Anaheim as part of an 0-6 trip that included Texas just before the All-Star break, and a reapeat of the Anaheim-Texas trip in late August (2-1; 4-2 on trip).
2002 - a six-game trip to Anaheim and Texas in late May (2-1, 4-2 on trip), a seven-game trip just before the break to Seattle and Oakland (4-3), and a five-game trip to Seattle and Oakland in late August/early September (1-4, by which time the Twins were already up 16 games in the division).

So overall, the Twins are 40-49 against West Coast opponents on the coast under Gardenhire, which isn't stellar, but contains only one true gut-shot trip: the 0-6 trip just before the break in 2003.

Also, Gomez doesn't seem to me to be the kind of player who loses confidence -- he has that oblivious sense of his own good fortune that guys like Lenny Dykstra had. He might not be entirely happy to head to AAA, even for a week, but it certainly won't hurt his mood any more than staying here and not playing.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing about Lamb:

I'm sure we've put him through waivers and nobody's claimed him. To release him puts us on the hook for his 2009 salary. Unless we can get someone to take on his salary we'd be foolish not to hang on to him for 10 more days and bring him to spring training.

There's a reasonable possibility that this year was a throw-away and that he can return to a semblance of his former self and be a useful piece. Not worth the price but those costs are sunk anyway.

If he has a decent spring perhaps we could unload him. If not we eat the salary. At a cost of keeping him for 10 more days, I think its worth the risk.

As far as sending someone down, if Everett would accept a brief demotion I'd go that route. We have two shortstops and Everett could be recalled prior to the 10 day window if either was injured.

Regarding Go-go, my prediction is that he doesn't break camp with the team next spring. I'm high on his future but he simply needs to learn to hit. This year, however, I think he has value if Gardy continues to use him right. In games that figure to be pitchers duels, going with both Gomez and Span makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy Rapid and the Watiki Waterpark. There are plenty of Twins fans here in Paha Sapa. With four hits in two games...maybe...hopefully? How can you not root for this kid? He can be frustrating, but I love watching him and his enthusiasm.

sploorp said...

If Gomez was in AAA he would be tearing it up and everybody would be throwing a hissy fit over why he was still down there. Right now, he is one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. Even though his stats don't show it, he has gotten quite a bit better. He needs to learn how to hit major league hitting and he won't learn that in the minors. Keep Gomez right where he is.

Anonymous said...

I like water slides.