Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jim Thome Beats Former Team (and other ramblings)

It was an interesting night for the Twins.  First, the offense jumped on John Danks, scoring 4 runs in the first inning.  Scott Baker responded by giving back 3 runs in the next half-inning and only managed to make it through 4 2/3 pretty miserable innings.  That was the last straw, as I finally had to jettison him from my fantasy team.  I showed a lot of faith and really wanted to hang on to him, but I could no longer justify rostering him.

After Matt Capps blew a save in the 9th and Jon Rauch gave the White Sox the lead in the 10th, the Twins were facing a 6-5 deficit with 3 outs to go; they would need none of them.  Delmon Young, who'd earlier broken out of a slump with a homer, singled to lead off the Twins' half of the 10th.  Jim Thome followed that with an absolute laser to right field, giving Minnesota a 7-6 victory over the White Sox.

It's fitting that it was Thome who sealed the win, as he spent many seasons with Chicago before signing a one-year deal with the Twins this off-season.  It's fitting because Chicago so clearly has a need for someone exactly like Thome, and because the Twins have benefited so greatly from their signing of Thome.  While the Twins rank third among AL teams in OPS and wOBA from their DH spot (.838 and .360), the White Sox rank in the bottom third in both categories (.715 and .313).

[A quick aside.  The Mariners have received a .256 wOBA from their aggregate DH this season.  The guy who is put in the lineup to do nothing other than hit has a .182 average, a .260 OBP, and a .303 slugging percent.  Again, this guy's ONLY job is to hit.  By definition, he does nothing else.  The Mariners might want to propose a move to the National League.]

Thome, of course, has a significant number of the Twins' designated hitter appearances.  His performance, in fact, is far and above the aggregate DH total for the Twins.  His wOBA sits at a robust .416 and he's slugged 17 homers in his role as a part-time player.  And to think that I questioned his signing at the time!  To be fair, though, as one of Delmon Young's last supporters, I was more worried about him cutting into Delmon's playing time than anything else.

And that has not happened, largely because Young has rebounded and been a productive player this year.  I don't want to go crazy, however, as I am worried the Twins will.  He still doesn't walk at all and even if he's improved on defense, he's still below average--he's just not the worst outfield defender in the league anymore.  But what gets the money is home runs and runs batted in, which Young is doing prolifically.  I'm concerned that the Twins will see that and overpay for a player who, while no longer useless, does have significant flaws.  I would love to see Young continue playing for the Twins but not if he's going to be demonstrably overvalued.

Since I'm on the topic of Young anyways, I would be remiss not to mention his collision with A.J. Pierzynski at home plate yesterday.  Rather than trying to slide in for the run (which possibly could have been successful), Young made a beeline for Pierzynski and shoved him in the face.  It was ostensibly in the course of trying to score, so there won't be a punishment, but it was a pretty blatant maneuver.

One of the things I love about the Twins is that things like that almost never happen.  The Twins don't stoop to the level of immature children like most baseball teams do.  When a Twin gets hit, for instance, they take their lump and thank the opposing team for the automatic base-runner, rather than charging the mound or silently plotting their eventual vindication.  Seeing Glen Perkins hit Carlos Quentin twice after he homered, or seeing Young do what he did yesterday, is the rare exception to the rule.

On the other side are the White Sox announcers.  And the more I listen to them, the more I enjoy beating the White Sox solely to hear them suffer.  They are insufferable and unwatchable, and continue to be the only commentators I've heard who have absolutely no regard for impartiality.  When a ball is hit, you can practically guarantee that you'll hear "Stretch" or "Get down" or any number of prayers sent toward the ball that would help Chicago.  In this case, however, I'm talking about how vengeful they are.  I guess they are like most people in baseball in that respect, but it's a part of the game I could certainly do without.  In response to Young's play on Pierzynski, their immediate reaction was this: "All right.  All right, Delmon.  You got it, buddy.  We'll see what happens either later on this series or when y'all come back to us."  And a few moments later: "I wonder how this Rawlings would look stuck in the earhole of his helmet."

Really?  I don't understand this.  Can't we just admit it was a lapse in judgment and move on?  Do we really need to plot our revenge that we'll take in a few weeks?  Especially a revenge that is so dangerous?  Many people seem to believe that throwing at a player is so innocuous.  What about Justin Morneau?  Remember how much he suffered after he was hit in the head with a pitch back in 2004 (not that that was on purpose)?  I'm sure you're aware of the time he's missed this year from what appeared to be a harmless collision.  Head injuries are serious--players shouldn't have their safety risked just so people can get their petty revenge.

1 comment:

  1. Ken Harleson is the biggest "homer" in broadcasting. He's sickening to listen to, as there is zero objectivity. I love it when he's forced to go into whining mode in the late innings when the sox are a cinch to lose.


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