February 29, 2008

We're Moving!

Since we started Twins Territory in early July 2006, Blogger has been great. It has allowed us to do everything we wanted to -- write about the Minnesota Twins and have a pretty cool look to the site as well.

A few month ago however, we approached Derek Hanson about helping us out with a huge site redesign. When he was interested, we made the plans to make the move shortly in to Spring Training. Spring Training is here, and the project is now done.

The new site allows us to do more with our writing, and allows you the readers to sign up and get more active with your own personal user profile and the forum. We are really excited about the future of the site, and we hope that you’ll follow us over to our new domain.

As of this post, this site will not be updated. The site will remain in tact for archive purposes, but that’s it. Make sure to switch your bookmarks to the domain below and come over.
Some of the new features when you sign up include commenting and a forum name. The biggest feature however is the Clubhouse. You'll get your own profile where you can post FanBlogs, pictures, videos and more. Come over and sign up to join the community!
www.twins-territory.com

February 28, 2008

Spring Training: Game One

Spring Training is now officially underway after the Twins kicked off their spring schedule with a game in Sarasota against the Cincinnati Reds. They lost by a final of 6-1, but there were some things to take away from the game.

You can’t judge a lot about stats or performances for the first week or two for a few different reasons. First, the first week or more for pitchers is simply them getting back into game form and getting an inning or two under their belts in each outing. For the hitters, it takes longer, and they normally don’t get their timing back until they see a good amount of action.

I do have some notes from the game, but take them with a grain of salt with it being the first game and all.

* Scott Baker kicked off spring with a nice outing. He pitched two innings in his first stint, and allowed just three hits and no runs. They said some of his pitches were up in the zone, which isn’t all that surprising for his first time out.

* After Baker, Matt Guerrier and Pat Neshek each pitched scoreless innings. Glen Perkins then came into the game to relieve them, and he didn’t get off the start he would have liked. With a bullpen spot open, and Perkins being a leading candidate, he allowed four hits and a three-run homerun in just one inning. Reports are that the homerun was wind aided.

* Casey Daigle and Julio DePaula each pitched scoreless innings after Perkins which gives them good starts in their pursuit of the final bullpen spot. The Twins then put in Ricky Barrett (who is in camp simply to get some work) and he gave up three runs.

* Offensively it wasn’t a very good day for the Twins. They collected just five hits and none of those hits came from any of the young guys outside of the starters.

* Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer, Craig Monroe, Jason Kubel and Mike Lamb each collected one hit on the day and accounted for all of the team's hits. It was a nice start for the guys almost certain to make the roster.

* Carlos Gomez started off the centerfield competition with an 0-2 day. He did however make a diving catch which could be a factor in him eventually getting the spot (speed and defense). Jason Pridie followed him up with an 0-2 day as well replacing him in the sixth.

* Alexi Casilla, Garrett Jones, Matt Macri, Matt Tolbert and Tommy Watkins all checked into the came for the team’s infield. With the final bench spot most likely being an infielder, these are guys to watch (along with Buscher). Macri made an error but the rest played well defensively.

Again, take these notes lightly as it was the first game and the first week or so will be games to get the team back into game shape.

First Gomez Pic

I had to post this. The first visual of Carlos Gomez in a Twins uni!

February 27, 2008

Its Franchise!

Franchise is officially back! And look at that new glove. I guess he signed some deal with TPX.

February 25, 2008

Comparing the Infields

Looking back to last season and the Opening Day infield, the moves that the Twins have made this off-season don’t seem so bad. On March 31, when the Twins open their season against the Angels, three of the four positions will likely have different starters. This is projecting that Brendan Harris be at second, Adam Everett at short and Mike Lamb at third.

The question is, which infield is better?

Last season on Opening Day, the Twins sent out Justin Morneau at first, Luis Castillo at second, Jason Bartlett at shortstop and Nick Punto at third.

Let go position-by-position for a better look.

First Base:
First off, we’ll skip first base. This is the lone position that will remain the same, and it should provide more productivity assuming that Morneau has gotten even better on defense and will hit homeruns after the break unlike last season.

Second Base:
Last season at second base, the Twins sent Luis Castillo to the field. Castillo wasn’t bad, he put up a .304 batting average with no homeruns and 18 runs batted in. The main upgrade that Brendan Harris will provide is more run support. He is a much bigger power threat, belting 12 homeruns last season from a low-power position and also collecting 59 runs batting in. His average was lower at .286, but their on-base percentages were comparable as Castillo posted a .356 OBP and Harris a .343 OBP.

Its hard to argue that Harris’ defense will be any better than what Castillo did for the Twins, because Castillo was pretty solid. He made about as few errors as you possibly can and even had a shot at the longest streak without an error at one point. The main thing was his health. Harris should be easier to count on with good knees.

I’d have to say that Harris is an upgrade. Castillo has good defense, but Harris should be able to hold his own at one of the easier defensive positions. And for a team starving for offense last season, the 12 homeruns and 59 runs batted in will definitely help.

Shortstop:
Comparing the shortstops for this season and last season is pretty hard since both are basically opposites. Last season, Jason Bartlett hit .265 with 5 homeruns and 43 runs batted in. Adam Everett didn’t play in many games after getting injured early in a collision (66), and returned to hit only .232. Neither player really had a great offensive season, and while Bartlett does have an edge in this spot, the fact that Everett missed so much time does make it hard to compare.

On defense, there is no argument for who is the better player. Last season, Bartlett committed 26 errors in 138 games. In his 66 games, Everett committed 8 errors. This may sound like an unfair comparison because of the big differential in games played, but in his seven major league seasons, Everett has never committed more than 17 errors and only twice committed more than 10. Everett has never won a gold glove, but has always been known as one of the best defenders.

At this position, I’d say its a toss-up. The Twins are swapping a small amount of offense for a lot better defense that will probably save them the runs that Bartlett will score more than Everett.

Third Base:
Last season, the Twins had Nick Punto at third after having a stellar 2006 season. Things didn’t go well at all as Punto hit just .210 in 150 games. Basically any change that the Twins made would have been an upgrade, and Lamb is definitely that. Lamb hit .289 for the Astros is just 124 games last season. Plus these numbers are better because 45 of those games were as a pinch hitter. So change his stats to 79 games with a .289 average, 11 homeruns and 40 runs batted in, and you have the best hitting third baseman for the Twins since Corey Koskie. The biggest key for Lamb will be how he adjusts to playing everyday.

On the defensive side, the advantage goes to Nick Punto. Defense is really the only thing that went right for Punto last season. In 138 games at third last season, Punto made just seven errors, and made about that many spectacular plays as well. On the other side, Lamb has always been known for his hitting and not his defense. Last season, Lamb played in 58 games at third and made eight errors.

The Twins made an upgrade at third this off-season, and Lamb is definitely going to help the Twins a lot more than Punto. If he can adjust to getting 500 at-bats instead of the 311 that he received last season, and still put up the same production, then the Twins will have a huge upgrade offensively. The biggest question will be his defense. As long as he doesn’t cost the team a lot of runs, it shouldn’t be a huge problem. And the Twins will have Punto on the bench for late game defense.

So take your pick, which infield is better, the projected Opening Day infield of 2008, or last season’s Opening Day infield?

2008 Infield:
1B - Justin Morneau
2B - Brendan Harris
SS - Adam Everett
3B - Mike Lamb

2007 Infield:
1B - Justin Morneau
2B - Luis Castillo
SS - Jason Bartlett
3B - Nick Punto

February 23, 2008

Craving Baseball

Spring Training is my favorite time of the year. One could argue that October is better, and when I experience more of that in the future with this team, I may change my mind, but there is no denying that Spring is the most exciting time.

Spring is when all thirty teams get off to a new start. Everybody starts clean. Worst team or best team it doesn't matter, they're all starting once again going for the gold in October. Its a time for more than teams, its also a time for hundreds of players to put the past behind and start with a clean slate.

There's something about the way spring feels, something that makes me enjoy it. Maybe its that there is no arguing over big market teams paying huge amounts to swipe away players and maybe its the fact that everyday, the players play the game the right way, for small crowds and with competition hoping that this year will be the year that they finally crack the bigs.

Whatever the case, spring is a fun time. Seeing all of the new faces and some of the old ones too is exciting. This year in particular when the Twins lost key team faces Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, spring is fun. We get to see the next generation of potential faces of the franchise in Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young and others.

Finally, spring is the time when baseball returns and the time when you'll look everywhere and read every little note you can find on your team. Today I experienced the 'baseball craving' looking everywhere hoping to find more information on how the first day went.

I finally found the thing to satisfy my craving, coming from Phil Miller:

I passed the indoor cages, where Carlos Gomez was doing something I had not seen before. He was squaring around to bunt against a pitching machine, then pulling his bat back at the last moment and trying to get a good hack at it. Had the machine totally shocked every time, I’m sure. Bet we see that move a lot this summer.
Man, I can't wait to see Gomez play...