Game Recap #1: Fighting Gardenhires 3, Rockin’ Robins 5

Since no one signed up for some of the game recaps, I decided to try to fill in.

As the old saying goes, there are Opening Day Pitchers and there are guys who pitch on Opening Day.  Ricky Nolasco clearly falls into the latter category.  He's no one's idea of an ace, but he has been an average-to-a-bit-below-average pitcher, and that's what he probably will be this year.  Vanimal II is always possible, but it doesn't seem likely.

Nolasco did not pitch well yesterday, but he was not terrible, either.  In fact, he wasn't bad at all when not pitching to batters named Alejandro De Aza.  Unfortunately, the White Sox have a batter with that name, so his line is six innings, ten hits, two walks, and five runs.  He did strike out four.

The Twins bullpen did well.  They threw two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out two, both by Anthony Swarzak.

On the batting side, the Twins scored three runs, not what you want but a respectable total against Chris Sale, who actually is an Opening Day Pitcher.  Kurt Suzuki drove in all three runs with a pair of two-out singles.  Based on current trends, I predict Suzuki will bat .500 this season and drive in 486 runs, all on two-out singles.  It's good to see that the Twins finally have a catcher who can hit, especially in the clutch.  Chris Colabello and Aaron Hicks also contributed two hits apiece, although not being veterans, they were not able to drive in runs with their hits.  They will learn eventually, I'm sure.

Gardy used Eduardo Escobar as a pinch-hitter for Pedro Florimon late in the game.  Since Sale was still in the game, the only logical conclusion is that Gardy thinks Escobar is a better batter than Florimon, a thought I agree with.  The question is, is Florimon a clearly superior fielder to Escobar?  Because if he's not, there's no justification for making Florimon the regular.  I'm not arguing for a specific answer--I don't know the answer, and am interested in others' thoughts on the subject.

So, baseball is back!  It feels really good to say that.  The outcome wasn't what we wanted, but it's a long season.  No team has ever gone 162-0, and this season's edition of the Twins won't be the first.  I guess we'll just have to settle for 161-1!

30 thoughts on “Game Recap #1: Fighting Gardenhires 3, Rockin’ Robins 5”

  1. there's no justification for making Florimon the regular

    Escobar is younger, seems to have a better bat and is a solid defender. I'm not sure why Florimon is the starter, except that Escobar seems to be more flexible defensively- has Pedro ever played another position besides short?

    1. Not sure, but both Dozier and Plouffe started as SS's and neither seem to have as much defensive talent as Pedro. You'd think he could handle himself in either of the other infield positions he'd likely be asked to play as a super-utility.

      I know they don't want four years of Stephen Drew, but if you were really throwing money at FA's this offseason and no one bit, then couldn't you sign him to fill in until Santana/someone else is ready and then trade him with a willingness to eat/pay some of his salary?

      1. Drew would be a bit under a win better than Florimon (1.7 v 0.8). With the loss of the second round pick, I'm not sure he's worth it on a one-year or two-year deal.

        1. I knew I'd previously decided it wasn't a great move but couldn't remember why. At 90+ losses, their second-rounder could be pretty valuable.

          1. this is, unfortunately, a cruel logic. When you are expected to lose 90+ games, any one addition is not going to turn you into a contender, or even a marketable loser. So the marginal analysis is probably negative. You almost have to go "all in" to have a shot at being good. Hence, the wait-and-suffer-until-Sano-and-Buxton approach.

            1. I always think back to the Tigers signing Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez in the couple of winters following the epic tragedy of their 2003 season. Those were not efficient contracts, and they did not immediately make the Tigers a contender, but they were really useful players to have around during their '06 run to the WS. So for me, the question is more about whether or not you expect Drew to be a positive contributor 3-4 years from now.

              1. The other option is to sign free agents with the idea of trading them at the deadline for players more advanced and more projectable than players in the draft.

        2. Unrelated, but since you're here. Can we get an arrow button at the top of the page that will take us to the top of the page (like what spooky has at Casa)?

            1. Yeah. There also needs to be one for the other way when in mobile view.

              This. I do adore the mobile site, but that arrow would be ultra nice.

          1. I added a TODO page with comments enabled. Comments added there won't show up on the sidebar. I consider that a bug and should be fixed. Until then, I will periodically check the page for things.

    2. Escobar vs. Florimon minor league career averages:

      .269/.316/.358 -- Escobar
      .249/.321/.354 -- Florimon

      ZiPS projects Escobar at a .279 wOBA and Florimon at a .277 wOBA. To me, they appear to be equally shitty hitters.

      1. That could very well be. On the other hand, Escobar hit .307/.380/.500 over the last two months in Rochester last year. Yeah, small sample size and all, but he's twenty-five, so there's also a chance it could be a sign of real improvement. Florimon is twenty-seven and doesn't appear to have put up numbers like that at a level higher than rookie ball. It seems to me it would at least be worth giving Escobar a chance to see whether it means anything or not.

        And to my original point, Gardy apparently thinks Escobar is a better hitter than Florimon, or he wouldn't have used him to pinch-hit. So, Gardy must also think Florimon is a superior defender to Escobar. That could very well be true--I just don't have any idea. That's what I'd really like some opinions on.

        1. Even if you consider that a real step forward, it's not such a step forward that you'd consider him to be a .300 hitter in the majors going forward. Maybe it means he'll be a marginally better hitter than Florimon, but I still think he'll be a poor hitter in MLB.

          1. yea, I'm more persuaded by Escobar's cumulative AAA line of 266/312/376 and 167:52 K:BB over 875 PA the last three years.

            In 2,734 minor league PA he has hit 19 HRs and struck out 507 times. That's not an encouraging combination.

            1. This, of course, is one of the problems in following a team like the Twins. We're reduced to discussing which futility infielder would be less bad.

              1. I prefer to avoid worrying about the futility infielders and focus on finding non-Twins diversions until Mauer is hitting.

      1. Yes. You know the roster is pretty bad when Eduardo Escobar is the first bullet the manager fires off the bench.

      2. And that Bartlett wasn't used against a left-hander. If Escobar is truly the better offensive option there, then Bartlett truly has no purpose than to be a cheerleader and emergency CF. At least if Hermann were on the team, then Gardy could have used Pinto to pinch hit against the lefty. How long until Pinto is sent down because Gardy can't find at-bats for him because he won't DH/PH him because of the 1 in 1,000 chance that he'll be forced to use an emergency catcher in a close game. They've only got Escobar as the emergency catcher and two former major league catchers in the field in Mauer and Willingham.

  2. Nice that we scored three runs; that should raise our per game scoring for the year.

    I like having Colabello on the bench or against LH starters. He's the right handed bat available that we haven't had for a while now.

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