Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions i really appreciate it.
TT: Lets start with how you got involved in your blog and how it has come to be as big as it is.
SS: About five years ago, I was at home trying to find baseball stuff to read, so I did a google (or probably Yahoo back then) search for "Twins Dork." Well, the Twins Geek site popped up, and through there I learned of Aaron Gleeman's blog and the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum. I figured I'm not too dumb, have opinions on the Twins, why not start my own blog. It started slowly, but over time, it really picked up. I went from 15-25 hits a day, to a mention by the Twins Geek that got me up to 100 for a day. then Aaron would mention my site. Gradually over time, it went to a couple hundred hits a day. Now, there are generally four to six thousand hits a day which makes it a lot of fun.
TT: What is your view on the Johan Santana trade when it comes to the prospects the Twins brought in?
SS: Like all Twins fans, I followed all of the rumors throughout the offseason. I wondered frequently if we were about the hear about the deal. It took forever and like many, I finally got to the point where I didn't want to discuss it until it was over. So many names were thrown out in the media. that is great for the Twins because it raises the level. I admit mixed feelings with the deal. I believe that the Twins not only needed top prospects in return, but I thought that quantity of prospects were important for the organization as well. Carlos Gomez or Fernando Martinez? I could go either way, but the Twins need was a CF, not a corner guy where the Twins are set for the next 3-5 years. Carlos Gomez or Jacoby Ellsbury. Sure, Ellsbury looks like a sure thing, but he doesn't have nearly the upside as Gomez. He's also a couple years older. Philip Humber fell down on lists as well after Tommy John surgery, but he's now in Year 2 back after a very solid return from the surgery. He's close and could help the Twins right away if needed. Kevin Mulvey could be a #3 and he appears to be the type that will make it and have some success, even if not an ace. He will be solid! And finally, Deolis Guerra's upside is tremendous and I'm glad he was part of the deal. He has an amazing ceiling, but I'm glad that the Twins have decided to go slow with him. I really believe that all four will come up and help the Twins over the next several years. I think the deal had to be made and will prove to be a great deal for the Twins. What other deals were truly on the table? We'll never know, but I don't think we can assume that any were better, and with prospects, that can't really be judged for several years anyway.
TT: Do you view Daniel Valencia as a future starter at the Big League Level?
SS: I certainly do. In a way, I'm glad that they are starting him back at Ft. Myers. I'd like to see him succeed for six to eight weeks and then take over the hot corner for New Britain. With Mike Lamb signed for two years, the Twins should feel no need to rush him. Brian Buscher and Matt Macri would be adequate replacement level types for the next year or until Valencia is ready. So, I would think that Valencia could be the Twins starting 3B by 2010.
TT:How high of a ceiling do you see for Valencia?
SS:He'll need to cut down on the strikeouts and probably find a way to walk a little bit more. But I can see him as a future .280/.350/.480 type of ceiling. Very solid, borderline all star.
TT: Who do you view as the Shortstop of the future?
SS: As of today, I still believe that Trevor Plouffe is the Twins SS of the future. In part, I believe that because I still see Alexi Casilla as the 2B of the future. I can see Casilla being the Twins SS in 2009, with Plouffe likely playing in Rochester, but by 2010, I can see the two teaming for double plays up the middle.
TT:Do you view Anthony Swarzak being as a future Twin if so how effective do you see him being.
SS: Certainly I think that Swarzak is a guy that the Twins will bring up at some point. I had him ranked 2nd in the organization (behind only Tyler Robertson) in my Top 50 Twins prospects at the end of last season. Reports are that he still has just two pitches, so that is limiting, but I think those two pitches are good and he has experienced a lot of success. That said, the Twins have a lot of pitching prospects, Swarzak right there among the top, and he is very close. The Twins will have to add him to the 40 man roster after the season, so they can also be patient with him. Let's not forget that there is always the option of trading some of the pitching prospects.
TT: What is your view on Jeff Manship?
SS: Manship is one of my favorite Twins prospects. He's easily a top 10. He is several years after his Tommy John surgery now and has been healthy. He's got a good fastball, but his big pitch is his curveball. I was also happy that he began the season at Ft. Myers, but like Valencia, I think 6-8 weeks of success there should have him moving up to New Britain. That is the level in which college pitchers tend to first struggle. It will be interesting to see how he performs with the Rockcats before we really know how good he can be. I expect him to succeed because he doesn't walk a lot of hitters and he just seems to understand how to pitch. Plus, he's a nice guy who has done a couple of Q&As on my site and participated in the NFL "Expert" Picks panel this offseason.
TT: Do you see Brock Peterson ever making it to the major leagues?
SS: I do, and yet 2008 is a very important year for him. As a 49th round draft pick, the odds certainly are not in his favor. However, the odds of him making it to AA weren't good either, and he has done well. Last year, something happened at the midway point of the season. He stopped striking out and started walking more, without losing his power. I think that he can be a solid backup to Justin Morneau as well as a DH option and right-hander off the bench. However, he will have to show again in 2008 that his 2007 success was no fluke. He has to have a solid year. Because of the depth at Rochester, the Twins can afford to not push him more than they neeed to which allows him to further develop. But don't forget that Danny Matienzo had a monster year at AA about three years ago. He was sent back to AA the following year and struggled the whole year. The next year, he was out of the organization. That's why 2008 is very important for Brock Peterson.
TT: What kind of ceiling do you see for Deolis Guerra?
SS: The 18 year old is already 6-4 and strong. He's got a fastball that touches 95 and people say his changeup is already advanced. He will need that curveball to become truly a top level prospect. But again, he's young, and unlike the Mets, the Twins are going to be willing to let him advance fairly slowly. I think that is smart. Let him develop that third pitch. But I think that ceiling for Guerra means a couple of Cy Young awards. But it's impossible to know what an 18 year old phenom in Hi-A ball will do in 3-4 years. Health is the biggest key.
TT: What letter grade would you give the Twins Minor League System and why?
SS: B-... Outside of Carlos Gomez and Deolis Guerra, there aren't a lot of blue-chip prospects. But there are a LOT of 2nd tier pitching prospects, guys that could be #3 and #4 types of pitchers. I think that is very important and a strength for the organization. As we know, there are not a lot of high level bats in the organization and the hitting prospects, for the most part, are in the lower levels, so they can improve or drop in status. But there are a lot of minor leaguers who could provide depth to the Twins even now. So, that is why I will still say that the minor leauge system is above average overall.
thanks for your time i really appreciate it
- Brenden Harris- Brenden is a interesting player that just came into the Twins organization in the Delmon Young trade. I really like how flexible he is in that he can play 2nd,ss,and 3rd which is a must for infielders in the Twins organization. I know he hasnt shown it yet this year, but i think he will bring an improvement over Jason Bartlett. He is a good hitter with decent power and a good glove. Last year was his first full season in the Majors and put up good numbers he hit .286 with 12 HR's and 59 rbi's in 137 games. He was a journeyman early in his career going to 5 different organizations before his breakthrough season last season. With not alot of depth at 2nd base i think Brenden has a chance to start at 2nd for the next few years. What he needs to do is show last year was not a fluke and if he can do that he will be fine.
- Matt Macri- Matt is a very flexible infielder who plays 2nd,ss,and 3rd also. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 4th round of the '04 draft and joined the Twins in a late season trade for Ramon Ortiz. His best position is 3rd base but i wanted break him down because we really dont have a 2nd basemen at Rochester. Howie Clark gets alot of playing time but i dont see much future for him so i thought i would write about Macri because i see a brighter future for him. He is a career .282 hitter who plays good defense and has a little pop in his bat. I dont look for him to have huge upside but its possible for him to make it to the majors as a utility man as early as next season.
- Steven Tolleson- He is a solid second baseman that has worked his way up to the Rock cats. He hit .285 last season with 79 BB's and 27 stolen bases to earn the promotion to the Rock Cats. For him to improve he needs to work on cutting down his strikeout total he had 97 strikeouts in 487 at bats. It was a real credit for him to rebound when he got demoted from Ft Myers back down to Beloit. I dont see much of a outlook for him but every organization needs solid players to show how to play the game the right way and should be commended for it.
- Brian Dinkelman- He was selected by the Twins in the 6th round of the '06 draft and has been pretty solid so far in his Twins career. He is a career .277 hitter who plays good defense and is finding his swing. He is slowly working his way up going from elizabethton to beloit and now to fort myers. He has a very good eye at plate which helps the team and he is off to a good start this season so hopefully he can keep it up. Its a little early to judge how he is going to be but he is off to a good start and worth keeping an eye on.
- Steven Singleton- The Snappers don't really have a natural 2nd base so Steve has been playing there this season. Steve was a 11th round selection in the '06 draft. He put up a decent '07 season with the Snappers and is back for another season. He hit .271 in 102 games so he has shown that he can hit, but for him to take the next step he needs to get better discipline at the plate. Look at last year he only had 8 walks compared to 47 strikeouts you would like to see that ratio close to 50-50 in a middle infielder. Its too early to tell but its worth keeping an eye on him.
To be all honest our 2nd base position is weak by any standards and was hurt worse when the decision to move Alexi Casilla to shortstop was made. The Twins have to hope Brenden Harris turns out and they need improvement at 2nd out of every level in the system.