Okay, so refresh me...what just happened?
The barrell of the bat rested just above the turf, hanging from David Ortiz's right hand, as he leaned back to watch his latest ball sail. You knew it from the moment it left the bat. David Ortiz, deep to right field.
Screaming off the bat the ball didn't arch; it was hit too hard. On a straight line you could have charted it to be travelling at a 60 degree angle, leaving doubt as to whether the upper deck would be the force to stop the ball. This was about to be the longest home run hit this season; perhaps in the history of baseball. That is how hard, how high, this pitch was hit.
Suddenly the ball was dropping from the teflon sky. On a bullet that was still rising, the careful placement of a PA speaker robbed David Ortiz of what could have been the biggest (in terms of distance) home run he'd ever hit.
Now, Ortiz is lumbering down to first base, as a ball that never should see the green of a baseball field again is relayed back to the infield. The hardest hit ball I've ever seen, translated into a single.
Up 4-0, a solo shot wouldn't have done too much immediate damage. At the most it shifts momentum just a shade; momentum the intangible bully. Momentum, however, wasn't a fan of the Red Sox last night. No matter how many times they made a run at the Twins, they were ultimately repelled.
It's nice to see some guys stand and watch their home runs. Especially when the lack of effort, due to just a bit of showboating, leads to an inning-ending double play. David Ortiz may never just "watch" his homers in the Metrodome ever again; but he's welcome to, anytime he likes.
So much has happened this week! The Twins have finally decided to stop wasting time on Tony Batista, and it's about damn time. When we initially signed him, I attempted to find some sort of middle ground, reasoning that having a 25-homer guy hitting 7th or 8th in the order wasn't the worst thing in the world. Well, turns out I was right. Kansas City's Teahen is worse. But second to last isn't anything to be happy about either, and Tony B.'s exit from uniform is, at the best, four weeks late.
Following Jason Bartlett's long overdue promotion, the hapless Juan Castro followed Batista out the door, being traded to the Reds for minor league outfielder Brandon Roberts. If Batista's designation was four weeks late, Bartlett's promotion is roughly 11 weeks late.
Juan Castro was signed as a defensive replacement, and was a decent player last season as such, and as a short-term stop-gap. This year has shown a continuing decline in Castro's abilities across the board, and being a marginal, replacement-level player in the first place...this wasn't a good thing.
One last glance at the numbers for Batista and Castro, in their stint with the 2006 Minnesota Twins.
Name G AB R H 2B HR RBI Avg Obp Slg
Batista 50 178 24 42 12 5 21 .236 .303 .388
Castro 50 156 10 36 5 1 14 .231 .258 .308
Terry Ryan has recently been quoted discussing Rondell White's future with the Twins, which also should have been cut short about four weeks ago. Ryan has called on himself and on White, saying they're both responsible for the results the team has seen thus far. In one case, he's right. Rondell White is responsible for his own performance. Terry Ryan, however, is not responsible. Just because Baseball Prospectus projected a 40% chance of a collapse for White in 2006 is no reason for him to think it would actually happen; there just wasn't a track record for the kind of production we've seen. Sorry, Terry, you don't get to blame yourself on the White situation.
Welcome Back, Kotter I Mean Bartlett
How long have we been waiting for Jason's Return? Batgirl had issued "Free Bartlett" badges. Third Base Line had been keeping a running count of how many days it'd been since the Twins had lost their collective mind. Everyone here was waiting on baited breath for Jason's comeback to the majors. As if that wasn't enough, Bartlett was also ripping up AAA pitchers to the tune of .306/.336/.443. No, it's definately not "tearing the cover off the ball", but after hitting .332/.417/.475 in 2004 and .332/.405/.459 in 2005...was there really anything left to prove for him in Rochester?
Oh, yes. That's right. The rookie needed to be more of a leader. That's right. Lead, rookie!
On one last sidenote to last night's game, both Bartlett and Nick Punto deserve credit for diving stops that were relayed without bounce to first base for an out. Both plays were made on screaming grounders that were pegged with gloves outstretched. Both of these plays, had they come days prior with Castro and Batista playing the field, would have gone for base hits. Nick Putno, quick as a cat; Jason Bartlett, range of a hawk.
It's been one crazy week. Bartlett's back, Castro's out, Roberts is in (the minors), Batista's out, Kyle is back, Silva is back, Baker is back...in Rochester. Stewart returns soon, Sierra is rehabbing, Rondell's clock is ticking. More changes are coming, and even if it is a bit like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, it's better than nothing at all. And really, at this point, we're just looking for a continuing presence of positive action.
That Red Sox series was amazing. Not only because we pulled out the brooms, but because the PA system played such a pivotal role. As I mentioned earlier, last night's game involved the speakers robbing Papi of a massive skyjack. In the first game of the series, a speaker along the third base line literally ate a foul ball. It didn't come down.
Now at 31-34, the Twins are within sight of .500. Check out Nick Nelson's post on our home and away issues, there are some nice insights. Like Tyler Durden says, it's all goin' down, man. But that doesn't mean we have to stop trying to get better. From the actions that have taken place this week, the Twins organization agrees.