The Cleveland Indians head to Minnesota tonight to kick off a four-game series against the Twins in their third and final trip to Minneapolis of the 2012 season. So I talked to Puckett’s Pond‘s Nate Gilmore about Joe Mauer‘s move off of first base, Ben Revere‘s power (or lack thereof), and former Indian Jamey Carroll‘s glove.
Joe Mauer has spent about half of his games this year at DH or first base. Are the Twins handling his transition away from catcher correctly?
Coincidentally, I wrote about this very subject about a month ago. I think the Twins have done a great job utilizing Mauer and Ryan Doumit at the catcher position, and now that Doumit is signed through 2014, they should be able to keep up that arrangement for two more seasons. Look for Mauer to catch about half the time at least until then. After that, it’s impossible to say what position he’ll be playing. It looked like the team was grooming him to play first base once Justin Morneau leaves, but that was before Chris Parmelee‘s emergence as a long-term option. If only Mauer could play shortstop…
- Ben Revere has now gotten 960 MLB plate appearances and he has yet to hit a home run. How long do you think it will take for him to go yard?
I would be surprised if Revere ever hits one over a fence, unless the Twins play an interleague series at Coors Field on a windy day. He just isn’t a flyball hitter, and when he does hit flyballs, they don’t carry. I’m sure Revere will hit a homer eventually, but my money is on an inside-the-park shot. The man can run. For a true power drought, Revere may never match Al Newman, who had 1,876 plate appearances with the Twins and not a single dinger.
- Speaking of Jamey Carroll, per UZR the 38-year-old former Indian is on track for the second-best defensive season of his career. Has his glove really been that good?
He isn’t a flashy defender, and he is not the kind of player who stands out in any aspect of the game, but he has been a solid role player for the Twins this year. I cannot recall a single highlight-reel play by Carroll this year, but he gets to the ball and he does not make mistakes in the field. For a team like the Twins, whose awful, awful pitching staff gives up way too much contact, you cannot overstate the value of a competent middle infielder like Carroll. Even though he’s 38, I think he’ll still be an asset to the team next year.
Give us some quick scouting reports on the pitchers the Indians will see this weekend.
Liam Hendriks takes the mound tonight. He has been phenomenal in the minors, but he hasn’t yet figured out how to get MLB hitters out. With a career 0-9 record, Hendriks is fast approaching Terry Felton territory. (For you non-Twins fans, in the early ’80s Felton set a dubious MLB record by recording 16 career decisions – all were losses!). But Hendriks is still young, and I have faith that he will eventually become a competent starter.
Cole De Vries starts Saturday. He’s a Minnesota native, and it’s hard not to like a guy like De Vries who went undrafted and then battled his way to the Majors despite not actually having any good pitches. In a stat that should tell you how terrible the Twins’ staff is, De Vries actually leads the current starters with 6.2 K/9.
Sunday’s starter is Esmerling Vasquez, one of the many pitchers the Twins plucked off the scrap heap last offseason. He managed to dominate hitters at AAA, but we don’t know much about him because he has only started one game this year, getting knocked around by the Royals last weekend.
Finally, Samuel Deduno starts on Monday. If you need more evidence of how bad Twins pitching is, consider that Deduno is widely accepted to be the team’s #2 starter right now (behind Scott Diamond). His fastball is often compared to a knuckleball, because Deduno has about as much control over that pitch as a typical knuckleballer does. His curve is actually quite good, though. As long as Deduno doesn’t walk the first five batters in any given start, he actually manages to give the Twins a chance to win.
- What’s your prediction for the series?
My prediction for this series is that it will cause thousands of fans on both sides to cry tears of shame. These are two bad teams that are getting worse as the season drags on, and I’m sure that by Sunday everyone will be much more interested the Browns and/or Vikings. But if you’re looking for a prediction about who’ll win, I think it will be a split.