Posts Tagged ‘Brendan Harris’

Twins Continue To Improve, Sign Orlando Hudson

February 5, 2010

Going into the offseason, everyone knew the Minnesota Twins needed an upgrade at three of the four infield positions. The Twins were set with Justin Morneau at first, but needed to improve at second, short, and third in order to get to the next level.

Back in November, the Twins stole JJ Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez to upgrade their shortstop position and yesterday they upgraded at second base.

Hudson is an upgrade at second for the Twins

According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Twins have signed second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. The deal has no incentives and no option for 2011.

Hudson is a clear upgrade over last year’s starting second baseman Nick Punto. Here are their stats from last year:

Hudson: .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs in 146 games.

Punto: .228/.337/.284 with one home runs in 125 games.

Punto is a nice little player, who does a lot of things right. He is a guy that every team should have on their ball club. But he shouldn’t be starting for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Hudson will certainly lengthen the Twins’ lineup. Here is a possible Minnesota lineup against right-handed pitching:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Jason Kubel, LF

6. Michael Cuddyer, RF

7. Jim Thome, DH

8. JJ Hardy, SS

9. Brendan Harris, 3B

That is one stacked lineup. These are no longer your father’s punch-and-Judy Twins’ lineup. This lineup can flat-out rake.

Of course against lefties, the Twins can go with Delmon Young in left and put Kubel back at DH. That’s still a pretty good lineup.

With the additions of Hudson, Hardy, Thome, and with their above average rotation and solid bullpen, I believe the Twins are the clear favorites in the American League Central.

Their closest competition in the Central will come from the Chicago White Sox. But with a suspect lineup and very mediocre defense, I am not sure the White Sox have what it takes to overtake the Twins in the division.

Now that the Twins have added Hardy and Hudson, don’t look for them to sign a third baseman as well. I think the Twins are done spending this offseason.

They will most likely go with Harris at third in 2010. Punto and Matt Tolbert could see some time at third as well.

Hudson will be entering his eighth year in the major leagues and has a career .282 average with 77 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 50 triples, and a .778 OPS with the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Starting Nine: American League Central

January 12, 2010

Yesterday, I took at the starting nine position players for each American League East team. Today, I will cover the starting nine position players for each American League Central team.

Remember, these lineups are as of today. Obviously these will change as the offseason continues. I will update these lineups as the season approaches.

Here are the starting lineups for each American League Central team:

Minnesota Twins

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Joe Mauer, C

3. Justin Morneau, 1B

4. Michael Cuddyer, RF

5. Jason Kubel, DH

6. Delmon Young, LF

7. J.J. Hardy, SS

8. Brendan Harris, 3B

9. Nick Punto, 2B

Quick Take – The Twins have as good a one through five as anyone in baseball. They desperately need a third and second baseman. Orlando Hudson would be a nice addition.

Chicago White Sox

1. Juan Pierre, LF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Carlos Quentin, RF

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, CF

6. Alexei Ramirez, SS

7. A.J. Pierzynski, C

8. Mark Teahen, 3B

9. Mark Kotsay, DH

Quick Take – Perhaps there is no lineup that is harder to put together than the White Sox’s. This lineup could go in nine different directions. They need a DH and bringing back Jim Thome would make sense.

Detroit Tigers

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Carlos Guillen, DH

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Magglio Ordonez, RF

5. Brandon Inge, 3B

6. Ryan Raburn, LF

7. Gerald Laird, C

8. Adam Everett, SS

9. Scott Sizemore, 2B

Quick Take – Another hard lineup to put together. Jackson and Sizemore could flip-flop in the order. I don’t see a reason to ever pitch to Cabrera.

Kansas City Royals

1. Scott Podsednik, CF

2. David DeJesus, LF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Jose Guillen, RF

5. Alex Gordon, 3B

6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B

7. Josh Fields, DH

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

9. Jason Kendall, C

Quick Take – This lineup is going to have a hard time scoring runs. This year might be make or break for Gordon.

Cleveland Indians

1. Azdrubal Cabrera, SS

2. Michael Brantley, LF

3. Grady Sizemore, CF

4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF

5. Travis Hafner, DH

6. Jhonny Peralta, 3B

7. Matt LaPorta, 1B

8. Lou Marson, C

9. Luis Valbuena, 2B

Quick Take – I like putting Brantley in the two-hole because of the speed and high OBP ability he showed in the minors. Sizemore moves down to the three-hole and takes on the role of a run producer.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Yankees Sweep Twins, Advance To ALCS

October 12, 2009

If you are a New York Yankees fan, you have to start feeling like there is a lot of late 90’s magic going on with this team. When I say magic, I am not talking the clutch hitting from Alex Rodriguez or the brilliant pitching by Andy Pettitte.

I am talking the egregious umpiring that always benefits the Yankees (Joe Mauer call in Game Two), teams and players making bonehead plays they would normally not make (Nick Punto last night), and even when the Yankees make a bad play, it somehow works out in their favor (Robinson Cano misplay leads to an out last night).

Those were staples of the Yankee teams in their glory years from 1996-2000.

Pettitte was great last night

Pettitte was great last night

The Yankees lost that magic starting with the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, they got some of that magic back in a big way against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees beat the Twins last 4-1 to sweep the Twins 3-0 in their best-of-five American League Division Series and advance to their first ALCS since 2004. The Yankees used some great pitching, timely homeruns, and some just brutal baserunning by the Twins to get by the Twins in this series.

What was amazing about this series, was that every single time the Twins would take the lead, the Yankees would come back to either tie the game or take the lead the very next inning. It was unbelievable.

Last night was such a perfect example of what I am talking about.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Joe Mauer single off of Pettitte, who was brilliant in this game. The very next inning, Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit solo homeruns and just like that, the Yankees have a 2-1 lead.

I even wrote on my Twitter page that the Yankees have the Twins right where they want them being down 1-0. The tragedy of that, is that Carl Pavano was pitching the game of his life before those two homeruns.

That was the best I have ever seen Pavano look. For six innings he completely controled the game. There is no doubt in my mind he earned a multi-year deal with his performance last night.

Even down 2-1, the Twins had their chances in this game. In the bottom of the seventh, Yankees manager Joe Girardi took out Pettitte for reasons only know to himself and replaced him with Mr. Mediocre himself–Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain proceeds to give up a double to Delmon Young and the Twins had a runner on second with just one out. Chamberlain got Brendan Harris out on a hard grounder to third and then struckout Jose Morales to end the inning.

Do the Twins not have anyone else that can DH besides Morales? This guy stinks. Every time I see him play, he doesn’t seem even close to getting a hit.

In the bottom of the eighth is when the you know what really hit the fan for the Twins. Punto led off the inning with a double off of the suddenly shaky Phil Hughes.

The next batter Denard Span hit a chopper up the middle. Derek Jeter got to the ball and didn’t throw to first because he knew he couldn’t get Span. Punto, not picking up his third base coach thought the ball went up the middle and decided to head home.

Punto realized the ball didn’t go into the outfield halfway between home and third, Jeter threw the ball home to Posada, and Posada threw out Punto trying to go back to third.

I really thought at that point Ron Gardenhire was going to punch Punto when he got back to the dugout. He had that look on his face.

After that play, the game was essentially over.

I can’t believe how many bad baserunning plays the Twins made in this series. And this was the supposedly the more fundamentally sound team coming into this series. It really was inexcusable.

Now the Yankees will move on to play their arch nemesis in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Game One of the ALCS will be on Friday.

Yankees Steal Game Two From Twins

October 10, 2009

The Minnesota Twins begged the New York Yankees to win Game Two of their American League Division Series last night at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees took them up on their offer.

The Yankees beat the Twins last night 4-3 in 11 innings on a walk-off homerun by Mark Teixeira to give the Bronx Bombers a two games to none advantage in their best-of-five series.

It’s very rare that the game-winning homerun isn’t the biggest story of the game. But in this game Teixeira’s homerun wasn’t even close to being the biggest story of this game. The biggest story of this game was how the Twins just imploded in every facet of the game.

I am starting to wonder if the Twins and St Louis Cardinals have a bet going on to see who can be more inept during the playoffs.

First, let’s start with Carlos Gomez’s awful awful baserunning in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Delmon Young on second, and Gomez on first, Matt Tolbert lined a single to right-centerfield.

As Young was attempting to score, Gomez rounded second, slipped, and was tagged out before Young touched home plate. The fact that Gomez slipped wasn’t the bad play–it could happen to anyone.

The blunder Gomez made was that when he slipped and was caught in no man’s land, he should have gotten in a run-down to ensure that Young would score. It was a horrible play that cost the Twins an ever so valuable run.

Nathan imploded last night

Nathan imploded last night

Second, there was the Twins pitching. I am not talking about Nick Blackburn because he was outstanding last night. I am talking about the Joe Nathan implosion that took place in the ninth.

The Twins had that game won. Up 3-1 going into the ninth and with Joe Nathan on the mound, you have to win that game. Nathan had a meltdown that would have made Trevor Hoffman proud.

Now facing Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui in hopes of closing out a game is no easy task. But if you are supposed to be one of the best closers in the game, you have to get it down with a two run lead.

Nathan allowed a leadoff single to Teixeira and then came the Rodriguez AB. Nathan and Mauer’s approach to Arod made no sense. Nathan fell behind the count 3-0 and it looked like they were pitching around him.

At 3-0 to Arod, the battle is lost. I know it is a cardinal sin to put the winning run on base, but in that spot you have to do it. Nathan then proceeds to throw such a get-me-over fastball, that I am a surprised Arod didn’t come out of his shoes.

Okay, now the count is 3-1. At this point, you throw a cutter or something soft away and hope that you can use Arod’s aggressiveness against him. Maybe he will roll one over to short or foul it off to get the count to 3-2.

So what does Nathan decide to do? He throws a flat, mediocre fastball right down the middle of the plate.

Boom! Homerun and the game is tied at three.

Nathan had another meltdown again in the 10th when tried to pick off Brett Gardner at second base. Nathan threw the ball into centerfield and the Yankees had a runner on third with just one out.

After a Derek Jeter intentional walk, Nathan got Johnny Damon to line weakly to Orlando Cabrera. For some reason Gardner forgot to freeze on the linedrive and got doubled up. It was a terrible baserunning play by Gardner.

Third and finally for the Twins, there situational hitting was horrific in this game. The Twins left 17 men on base last night. 17!!! The icing on the cake was in the 11th inning.

The Twins had bases loaded and noboby out and DIDN’T SCORE! Young lined out to Teixeira, Gomez ground into a force out, and Brendan Harris flied out to center.

After watching his pathetic AB in that frame, I have come to the conclusion that Gomez is maybe the worst player in baseball. He has no skills outside of running. He would make for a perfect wide receiver on the Oakland Raiders.

Of course the biggest story of the top of the 11th besides the Twins not scoring was the inexcusable missed call by leftfield umpire Phil Cuzzi. Joe Mauer fit a flyball down the leftfield line that dropped about three feet in fair territory, but was called foul.

Mauer would have had a ground-rule double.

However, this was not the reason the Twins lost the game. You got the feeling that even if the Twins scored five runs in that inning, the Yankees would have scored six in the next.

The Twins did everything they could to give this game away. Now, their season is all but over.

Game Three is Sunday at 7:07 ET.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg