Notepad Scribbles, 6/17/11

What a nice little streak the Twins have put together over there last 13 games (11-2). Owners of the worst record in the league for most of the season, they’ve now moved up to third-worst, passing the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, and they are now just a game behind the Kansas City Royals for 4th place in the AL Central. With Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka back, along with Jason Kubel and Jim Thome arriving soon as well, the Twins should continue their winning ways.

Nishioka and the Batting Order

Tsuyoshi Nishioka made his first appearance since breaking his leg against the Yankees before the season was even a week old, and the results were mixed. Despite making an error on a potential double play, he looked very fluid on most other plays. I know that one of his criticisms was his throwing arm, but it looked just fine to me. As for at the plate, Nishioka did get a single in four trips, but it was an infield single on a slow chopper, and he did tally 2 strikeouts.

I know he’s still adjusting to MLB pitchers and has only played in 7 games so far, but I’m definitely not a fan of him batting in the top half of the order right now. He hit third yesterday, though Joe Mauer’s return should prevent that from happening again. However, Ron Gardenhire has to choose between Nishi and Alexi Casilla batting second, and I’m a little worried that he might make this decision more difficult that it should be.

Nishioka did start the season batting second, but Casilla has certainly earned the right to stay in the 2-hole with his hot hitting over the past month and a half. Meanwhile, Nishi has been striking out in over 35% of his at-bats, which is higher than noted strikeout artist Mark Reynolds (32.2%) and Three True Outcomes* member Jack Cust (34.6%), among others. Gardy has usually justified having a weak-hitting middle infielder bat second by saying that the respective player “handles the bat well.” Well, Nishioka doesn’t appear to be handling the bat well right now, based on that strikeout rate. I’d recommend keeping Casilla batting second, and having Nishioka bat in the bottom half of the order, at least until his bat starts to pick up.

* A player that seemingly always ends a plate appearance with a home run,** walk, or strikeout.

** Though it may be important to note that Cust has only 2 home runs this year, and may no longer qualify as a Three True Outcomes hitter.

Delmon Doesn’t Like To DH… So He’s Going To DH

It’s obvious that Delmon Young is not a good defensive outfielder. Even if his 2011 UZR claims that he’s been an above-average defensive outfielder (so far) this season, that doesn’t outweigh all the negative numbers he’s put up in his career. I even talked to Twins coach Jerry White at TwinsFest this year, and he admitted to me that he believed Delmon Young should be a DH. So this means that Delmon Young would DH at some point this season, right? Not happening

“Delmon’s not really too excited about DH-ing,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been working really hard in the outfield, trying to get better. He feels a lot more comfortable playing, and I respect that.”

… or is it? Either Demolition Delmon has been warming up to the idea lately, or Gardy is throwing feelings to the curb and playing Delmon there against his will, but he’s made 4 starts as the DH since Gardy’s quote on June 2nd, including 3 times in the last 5 days (and that doesn’t include the June 14th rainout against the White Sox in which he was scheduled to DH). Another important thing to note is that Young had not started a single game this season as the DH until after Gardy claimed that Delmon didn’t want to DH. While it seemed like the Twins were going to succumb to Delmon Young’s preferences, it instead appears like the Twins and Gardenhire can still get what they want.

James > Dumatrait

For the second time this season, the Twins have shown a preference to Phil Dumatrait over Chuck James. While Joe Mauer’s return is going to get all the news, Glen Perkins also will return from the 15-day disabled list today. To make room for him, the Twins sent James back to Triple-A roster, which means that Dumatrait remains on the active roster. Dumatrait was also promoted to the majors before James, despite the fact that James’ pitching numbers were equal or better to Dumatrait’s. The same has been the case for the Twins for both players.

Phil Dumatrait

9 IP, 2.00 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 2.00 K/9, 6.00 BB/9, .103 BABIP

Chuck James

5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 3.60 K/9, 3.60 K/9, .077 BABIP

As if Dumatrait’s walk rate wasn’t enough evidence for a lack of control, he’s thrown 74 strikes compared to 71 balls thus far this season. Both pitchers have extremely unsustainable BABIP numbers, and they both clearly have the small sample size issue, but going back to their Triple-A numbers with Rochester prior to their call-ups, James had a much better walk rate. Ultimately, if Dumatrait continues to have success, then this complaint is mostly moot, and I do think James will be back in the majors again this season. I just think that when/if these two pitchers regress to their normal selves, James wouldn’t be hit as hard (no pun intended).

Finally, I Have To Dinkel

But I don’t think I will get the chance because Brian Dinkelman was outrighted off the 25- and 40-man rosters to make room for Joe Mauer. This means that Gardy gets his (at times seemingly) favored 3 catcher roster, but until Mauer proves that he’s finally 100% healthy or somewhere near that point, Drew Butera and Rene Rivera will remain on the major league roster.

Brian Dinkelman, just remember that the fans love you because of your name, and you certainly will have a first major league plate appearance to cherish.

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