8-13-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Seems like just yesterday I was typing “well, we've fooled them again”...

Wait, that was just two columns ago! No wonder!

But we have fooled them again, and made it through another work week. I promised an announcement about my employment situation a couple of weeks back, and sadly, it's been delayed yet again. I hope to have more information for you in a week or two, but I promise... it's coming!

Let me also say at the outset that if this column ends up being more brief than usual, it's because I got a late start due to being out watching my cousin's band play last night. He's got a CD coming out in the not too distant future, and as soon as I get details on where you can check it out, trust me, I'll be passing that along as well.

Okay. Apologies and details are out of the way. Let's get to the Updating shall we?

Yes we shall...

Right after the quote.

”The forceps of our minds are clumsy forceps, and crush the truth a little in taking hold of it.”
- H.G. Wells (1866 - 1946), English author

I think this one can be understood in several different ways. Me? I'm going to understand it as, “if I concentrate really hard, I can crush stuff with my mind”!

Speaking of concentrating really hard... we've done that all week. Now it's time to relax, take it easy, and enjoy what I like to call... everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 65-50, in first place in the AL Central and one game up on the Chicago White Sox.

Yep, that's right. The Twins took two out of three in the Windy City and left town with a one-game lead over the Whities, finishing their ten-game trip with a record of 6-4.

To me, what the series with Chicago demonstrated - more than anything - was the importance of good pitching. The Twins had it Tuesday and Thursday nights, the White Sox had it Wednesday night. Guess how the games broke down?

Tuesday, the Twins got a solid - though hardly spectacular - outing from Scott Baker, while the Sox's Freddy Garcia got lit up early. The Twins won 12-6.

Wednesday, the Sox got a fantastic outing from John Danks while Glen Perkins did a fair “gas can meets open flame” bit for the Twins. Minnesota lost 6-1.

Thursday, Francisco Liriano reverted near to form after a sketchy outing against the Indians, while Gavin Floyd buckled in a key situation and ended up giving up six earned over his six and two-thirds innings and the Twins won 6-1.

Pitching and defense, pitching and defense, pitching and defense. I'll keep saying it 'til you all dream of the phrase in your sleep!

There's no question that clutch hitting is part of any winning baseball formula, but the foundation of a championship club is pitching and defense. Over the last three games, the Twins were demonstrably better than the White Sox in those two departments.

We'll see what happens when Chicago visits Target Field next week!

In the meantime, the Twins have to worry a bit about the injury bug rearing it's ugly head again. Jose Mijares sprained a knee ligament Wednesday night, and was immediately shelved on the disabled list.

J.J. Hardy's wrist is giving him trouble again, and while Alexi Casilla isn't a bad replacement, if Orlando Hudson gets nicked up again (and let's be honest, that could happen on any given play) the Twins are going to find themselves awfully short of middle infielders again.

And we still don't know when Justin Morneau's going to be able to play again. There was a plan for him to join the club in Chicago - not to play, but to work out to a point where he might be ready for a rehab assignment. But after a bad reaction to a workout, those plans were scrapped. Now I hear that before Thursday night's game, Gardy was talking again about Morneau being close to ready for a rehab assignment.

Concussions are strange things. While sports medicine has made great strides in recent years, improving diagnoses and treatment, the fact of the matter is that there's still more we don't know about dealing with those kinds of head injuries than that which we do.

The bottom line is, while the club would love to have Justin back in the line-up sooner than later, Morneau needs to take as much time as is necessary to fully recover. If that means we don't see him on the field until early September, or even later, so be it. Rushing him back before he's ready will only further aggravate the problem, and then you lose him for the playoffs. That won't do anybody any good.

Get well soon, Justin!

Healthy or not, the Twins will have to keep plugging away. They finally return to the friendly confines of Target Field this evening, opening up a three-gamer with the Oakland Athletics.

The A's come in having split their last ten games, five wins and five losses. They're one of those teams that's impossible to predict. They just finished dropping two of three to a Seattle team that can't score runs if you put a gun to their heads. But prior to that, Oakland took two of three from the presumptive AL West champ, the Texas Rangers. Again, you go figure baseball out. I can't.

Here are your pitching match-ups for the weekend:

Tonight (7:10pm): Carl Pavano (14-7, 3.28) vs. Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.51)

Saturday (6:10pm): Brian Duensing (5-1, 2.27) vs. Trevor Cahill (12-4, 2.56)

Sunday (1:10pm): Kevin Slowey (10-5, 4.45) vs. Vin Mazzaro (6-4, 3.86)

(And yes, I did just mentally add Vin Mazzaro to the “WftC All-Name Team”!)

After finishing up with the A's this weekend, the Twins welcome the White Sox to town for three games starting Tuesday night. Another two-out-of-three would fit the bill quite nicely, don't you think?

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 46-70, in last place in the NL West and 22.5 games behind the San Diego Padres.

Okay. I know 46-70 looks awful. It does. I can't deny that.

But I am reminded of a quote from “Major League”:

“In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Indians [D'backs] have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar.”
-Harry Doyle

Only in this case, the Snakes aren't really threatening to climb out of the cellar - they're still 13.5 games behind the Dodgers. Instead, let's say they're threatening to become a relevant baseball club once again.

After splitting a four-gamer with the Nationals last week, Arizona took two of three from the division-leading Padres last weekend and three out of four in Milwaukee* this week. Winning three of their last four series? Keep that up and they'll be within spitting distance of .500 sooner than later. And at this point in the season, that'd be a pretty significant achievement!

(*- Aside: To those of you Brewer fans out there, you can blame that series squarely on David in Milwaukee, who sent me the following note prior to the four-game set:

“Brewers swept the Astros over the weekend which was nice. Hope they can keep it going against your D'backs. Sorry, but a good winning streak would be nice. Would love to get close to .500 by the end of the year.”

The lesson here, of course, is never mess with the DFTU. Just don't do it. The bad magambo you bring on your club simply isn't worth it. Sorry David. Lesson learned buddy!)

What's the root cause of the Diamondbacks mini-resurgence? I do hate to be redundant, but (you guessed it) it's pitching and... well in this case, it's just pitching.

The Diamondbacks defense is still brutal enough to give one nightmares, but the pitching has been downright watchable lately!

Daniel Hudson has been fantastic since coming over from the White Sox at the trade deadline. He's 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his three Arizona starts. Go deeper than that and you'll find a gaudy WHIP of 0.750, and a ridiculous 4.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Granted, the sample-size is small, but those numbers are just silly.

Then there's the emergence of Barry Enright. Over the last four weeks, Enright's compiled a 2-0 record with a 2.25 ERA over 5 starts. His WHIP is a solid 1.156 over the same period of time. He's still walking more batters than you'd prefer, but in a results-oriented business, the D'backs have won 3 of those 5 starts, and lost the other two by a single run. That's a pretty solid performance.

Add to that some stability at the back-end of the bullpen in the form of Aaron Heilman (1-0, 2.08 ERA and 3 saves over the last four weeks) and suddenly the core of a halfway decent pitching staff is starting to emerge.

In baseball, you can't afford to get too excited over short-term success. But in a season that's been as dreadful as Arizona's has, Diamondbacks fans can be forgiven a little short-sighted glee!

The Snakes continue their road-trip tonight, opening a three-game series in Washington against the Nationals. The Nats are only a half-game better than the D'backs so presumably, the two clubs are evenly matched. Washington's dropped seven of their last ten however, so this is a chance for Arizona to keep it rolling against a scuffling club.

Here are your weekend pitching probables:

Tonight (6:05pm): Joe Saunders (1-1, 3.27) vs. John Lannan (3-5, 5.44)

Saturday (6:05pm): Ian Kennedy (6-9, 4.47) vs. Jason Marquis (0-4, 15.32)

Sunday (12:35pm): Barry Enright (3-2, 2.64) vs. Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 3.07)*

*- If you're in Arizona, or have the MLB package, do yourself a favor and check out a few innings of this one. Strasburg's worth the price of admission, even if he did stumble after coming back from the DL.

After Sunday's game in the Nation's Capital, the D'backs return home for a six-game home-stand featuring the Cincinnati Reds* and Colorado Rockies. Get your tickets now, good seats are still available!

*- Dear Miguel Montero/John Hester, when Reds 2B Brandon Phillips comes up to bat and taps you on the shinguard... just let it go. Otherwise, silly crap like this can happen!

That's going to wrap things up for today. Hope you all feel properly Updated!

Have a safe and fun weekend. I'll be back on Monday (hopefully) with something wonderfully incisive and thought-provoking!

… or more of the usual nonsense and skulduggery. One of the two!

Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. I have to ask this. You said great pitching by the twins. The guys on TV, all they could talk about was how great the pitching was because they got out of three bases full situations. Who the hell was on the mound when the bases filled up?

  2. That's a completely fair question...

    I guess in my mind, all pitchers are going to get hit at some point. What separates the great pitchers from the average pitchers is their ability to get out of tough situations.

    Plus, one of those key outs came from Matt Guerrier after Liriano got in a jam.

  3. I think as long as Philips doesn't say he hates the Snakes, all will be fine. At least Molina talked with his bat after the 'discussion'.

  4. So maybe Yady should send Phillips a "Thank You" card then?