Saturday, March 31, 2007

Twins Recap; Twins 6, Pirates 4

The Twins played their last pre-season game of the season and made sure it ended on a good note with a 6-4 win over the Pirates. The game was important for a number of reasons. First off the game saw the return to major league action of both catcher Joe Mauer and third baseman Nick Punto. Mauer and Punto who have both had poor pre-seasons at the plate combined to go 1-5 at the plate with Batting Champ delivering the only hit, a bases clearing double in the third that tied the game. Also having good nights for the Twins with the stick were Rondell WhiteJason Bartlett also went 2-2 with a pair of singles raising his spring average to .302. With Punto hitting this season like he hit the rest of his career I could see Bartlett becoming a strong option to replace him at #2 in the order if he can just increase his patience at the plate. Also worth a mention is Brock Peterson, who I made mention of in the Twins recap a couple days ago. He went 2-2 with a homer to raise his spring batting average to ' who's hot hitting this spring has me thinking we are definitely getting both the guy we signed and the guy who hit so well over the second half last year as he went 2-2 with a pair of singles to raise his spring average to .340. 'respectable' 1.000 perhaps MVP needs to be worried. Not likely.

On the mound for the Twins Sidney Ponson made his final start of the season and got roughed up a bit giving up four runs (three earned) over five innings while giving up ten hits and a walk while striking out three. I have sort of a mixed review of his performance. As a sinkerballer you want to see him inducing ground-outs which he did well with a 9-3 GBo-FBo ratio, but he also gave up four doubles which means he probably left a few up in the zone and when sinkerballer's do that the sinker doesn't move and it gets hit hard. So I suppose he was both good and bad. I expect we'll see a number of performances like that from him this year but as long as he can scatter the hits and keep the ball on the ground he should induce enough double plays to stay away from big innings and be able to keep the club in the game as he did today. Rincon also had a good frame today striking out two. Twins prospect Eduardo Morlan also made an appearance today in the ninth giving up a hit, walking one, and striking out a pair.

Twins-Pirates Boxscore 3/31/2007

Who Is Denard Span?


With the conclusion of the most important issue of the pre-season, the Twins starting rotation, having been decided its time to move on to other important issues. Today I'll be covering Denard Span, the Twins center fielder of the future. It's widely known that the man Denard will have to replace, Twins legend Torii Hunter, is in the final year of his contact and that the Twins will either need to move him or lose him. Once this happens it will be the end of an era of sorts in Twins history as he is the final holdover from the 2001 season when the Twins began a streak of 5 consecutive winning seasons which ended the doldrums the team had been living in since their 1991 World Series victory and ushered in a new era of perennial contention. An era that will likely be left to the protection of youngsters such as Span and Alexi Casilla.

Who is Denard Span;

Born February 27, 1984, the 23 year old Span was the Twins 1st round selection with the 20th pick in 2002. A left handed hitter, Span is more of Juan Pierre than a Torii Hunter having hit only 4 home runs in 1452 combined minor league at-bats in his four year minor league career. Twins fans got a glimpse of what's to come from Span this spring as he hit .359 in 36 spring at-bats over 13 games before being sent down to AAA to get some polish.

While many in the Twins organization rave about his speed, and rightly so, I think he's still got quite a ways to go as he really doesn't seem to have figured out exactly how to read pitchers, an opinion based on his 67% career stolen base rate in the minors. But you also know the raw speed is there because he had 6 triples in 536 at-bats last year at AA New Britain. In 2004 Baseball-America rated him as the Twins fastest player, best fielder, and also its best athlete. Praise like that combined with a spring like he had is certain to generate a lot of hope. I for one am a believer that Span could very well turn out to be every bit as good as advertised but I'm not sold that he is ready yet. Two things in particular worry me, the SB% I mentioned earlier and a very low walk rate. His BABIP of .331 is pretty good and tells us he's both fast enough to beat out grounders he hits deep into holes and that he gets enough line drives to be successful.
Another good sign is that in536 at-bats last year he struck out only 78 times, still almost twice as much as he walked but still only 14% of the time which means for his age he has a pretty advanced feel for the strike-zone leaving hope that he could tun into a very good leadoff-type hitter.

Whether or not Span will become a capable replacement to Torii Hunter in center field is largely a decision of his own making. Clearly he has the talent to stick at the major league level, and while he'll never be a super-star he can provide the things the Twins have built their success on, speed and defense. I don't think he's there yet, but he's getting awfully close.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Twins Recap; Twins 3, Pirates 5

The Twins traveled to Bradenton to take on the Buccaneers and Ramon Ortiz who Gardenhire announced will be the Twins #3 pitcher got the starting nod. Ortiz, who was ruffed up a bit in his last outing after an otherwise stellar pre-season came into the game sporting a 3.86 ERA and pitched even better than that going four innings while giving up only one single. Ortiz didn't over-power anyone but did a good job keeping the Pirates bats off-balance mixing up his pitches, and location. Text book pitching really. While the Twins lost the game, all of the Pirates offense came in the bottom of the eighth against 22 year-old Beloit reliever David Shinskie who was clearly over-matched giving up five runs on five hits while recording only one out. Other than that the Twins got two scoreless frames from Matt Guerrier and Juan Rincon along with a couple outs from Twins pitching prospect Kyle Waldrop.

After a scorching hot night at the plate last night the Twins bats cooled off substantially while facing off against young Pirates lefty Tom Gorzelanny who was on fire giving up only two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out eight. The Twins for the game only managed five hits all by either bench players or guys who will begin the year in the minors as the regulars for the most part had the night off. In an ironic note, much maligned third catcher Chris Heintz got the start behind the plate and made good hitting a home run off Gorzelanny.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Twins Recap; Twins 10, Reds 2

This is the type of Twins recap I absolutely love doing. The kind where I get to brag about how our boys whipped the stuffing out of yours, heck even Silva pitched like he did when he knew how to pitch. Having said that, lets get down to breakin' it down.

The Reds played host to the Twins Thursday night at their facility in Sarasota. Carlos Silva, fresh off securing his spot in the starting rotation after the widely controversial decision was made to keep Matt Garza in the minors, delivered big-time in what will be his last start until the Twins play host to the Yankee's Wednesday the 11th. Silva dropped five innings of two hit ball while walking no one and striking out two. Even more encouraging, he did so with a 9-4 ground ball out to fly ball out ratio, the most indicative barometer of whether or not a pitcher is throwing a good sinker. Twins middle reliever Jesse Crain allowed the two Reds runs on a two run homer by second baseman Brandon Phillips. Pat Neshek tossed a scoreless eighth walking one and striking out one while Close Joe Nathan pitched his second scoreless frame in as many nights in the ninth.

As for the really fun part, the Twins who had been held relatively quiet on offense the past couple nights by the Yankees and Red Sox busted out the bats in a big way. Four Twins had two hits while seven others tallied base knocks. Of the 15 total hits five were doubles, one each by Rondell White, Jeff Cirillo, Luis Castillo, Jason Tyner, and Luis Rodriguez. Heck MVP (as I may call him on occasion because its fun) was the only guy who didn't have a good night going 0-3 with a walk while stranding 3.

Usually I reserve the end of the recap for the other teams notables, but theres nothing notable about getting shelled.

Twins Update 3/29/2007

Its early and unsubstantiated, but the whispers out of Twins camp are that JD Durbin's time with the Twins may be done as the Twins will designate him for assignment, placing him on outright waivers, deciding rather to carry Chris Hientz as a third catcher. If this proves to be true, then the most likely scenario would have Durbin refusing assignment and immediately becoming a free agent (I believe he's already been outrighted once) or being plucked off the waiver wire. Either way, its nearly inconceivable that he'll remain with the team.


Durbin was indeed released and immediately picked up by the Diamondbacks who must have had someone patiently waiting for Durbin to become available as they pounced like cats. With claws. And Teeth. Find the story from here.

In Mauer related news, it appears that the Twins either are or will be playing him in another minor league contest today. Yesterday as you may have heard he made his return at the minor league camp catching Glen Perkins for three innings while going 2-3 at the plate with a sharply hit double and a home run to center. I'm not certain what type of Wheaties Joe ate as a kid but they must have been the 'Baseball God' formula.


Not exactly Twins news, but certainly relevant. The Tigers placed Kenny Rogers on the disabled list earlier today with a "fatigued left arm." I'm not certain exactly how this will work out for the rest of the season, its certainly the first time IVE seen or heard of this being used as a reason for a trip to the DL. If the Twins are lucky it'll keep him out for more than just these 15 days and maybe nag him all season.


Ok, I should preface this by telling anyone who doesn't already know that Im a pretty big Ron Gardenhire guy. I think he runs a bullpen better than any manager in the game and players really seem to like his approach. That said...

I read this quote today in an article I found on that was reported from the AP.

"We've been thinking about it over and over again, trying to decide what's best for this young man and our ballclub," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He needs to be able to locate his pitches a little bit more.

"You have to be able to locate all of your pitches, besides your fastball. You can survive in spring training into six or seven innings with your fastball. You can't do that in the big leagues. He'll mature out there after a couple of weeks."

This makes me wonder a few things...

1) If Garza is locating so badly and ending up with a 1.50 ERA all with one pitch and getting sent down, how exactly does he justify Silva getting shelled to the tune of 11.02 with one barely functioning pitch which he locates almost solely belt high and down-the middle?

2) We all know Garza doesn't have a plus second pitch, but with a good fastball if he can learn to mix in enough breaking balls to keep guys honest and guessing, he can be effective (though not great) right now.

3) What the hell does he expect Garza to figure out "in a couple of weeks" that he hasn't figured out yet? Does he really think that somehow in a month or so he's going to develop Maddux-esqe control?

Now don't get me wrong I, unlike most Twins Nation believe Garza is a good but not GREAT prospect, and wont change that opinion till he works on his breaking stuff, but come on Gardy. I feel like he's insulting my intelligence when he says stuff like that. Everyone knows the reason Garza going and Silva is staying is related to arbitration, just say it. Instead they should say, "Listen right now the people who run the organization have decided that its in the best interest of this ballclub to delay arbitration on the players they feel give them the best opportunity to win in the future. If that means digging a hole for ourselves this season then so be it, we think we're making the best long-term decision there is to be made." Now of course there's no way they'll say that, but they should.

Twins Recap; Twins 4, Red Sox 5

Twins-Red Sox Boxscore 3/28/2007

The Twins hosted the Red Sox last night in what was to be Johan Santana's final start of the year. regretfully to say things didn't go entirely smoothly as the Twins ace gave up four runs, all earned over five innings surrendering eight hits and two walks while striking out six against what is most likely to be the Sox starting lineup in the regular season.

''You know what?'' Santana said. ''I feel good. I was working on my changeup. I threw a lot of changeups, and that's what they were looking for." They must have been. The Red Sox tallied their four runs off Santana in the second and third innings. In the second, Manny Ramirez doubled in a pair and in the third Kevin Youkilis and newcomer Julio Lugo each drove in a run on RBI singles.

While the Twins were completely stymied by Curt Schilling through the first four and two-thirds managing just two singles,
they did make a comeback effort against the Sox pen as they tallied a pair of runs in the seventh on a single by back-up first baseman Brock Peterson who Will Young has penciled in as the Twins likely starting first baseman for AA New Britain this year. The Twins then gave up a run in the top of the eight when former Twin Alex Ochoa drove one in. The Twins tallied their final two in the bottom half of the eighth on a double from Luis Rodriguez which brought home two.

In relief of Santana, Dennys Reyes pitched a lights out inning, striking out the side in the seventh, and Joe Nathan settled into his closers role getting the Sox to go down in order in the ninth.

Game Notes

Brock Peterson who singled in two in the seventh also had a triple; Chris heintz who's in the running for the final roster spot was 1 for 1 with a single in relief of Mike Redmond; Twins SS prospect Trevor Plouffe had his second throwing error of this spring when he made a bad throw... as an aside it seems like the Twins have made more errors this spring than I ever remember seeing. Worrisome.; Even with Santana giving up 4 in 5 it only raised his ERA to 2.62. ; Rondell White had another single today. He's looked good this spring hitting the ball well, though his D in left is still well below par where I predict Tyner will see a lot of time late in games as a defensive replacement. Rondell's range is just terrible.; Coco Crisp who will once again be starting in center for the Red Sox this season had a pair of doubles to raise his average to .220.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Twins Update 3/28/2007

As has been speculated for much of spring training Twins super-stud-prospect Matt Garza will begin the season with Rochester. However Twins fans can expect to see him up no later than mid-May once the Twins have delayed his arbitration eligibility by one more year, and even earlier if Carlos Silva struggles early. In other words, we'll see him again in a few weeks.

The roster is now down to 28 with three players left to trim. The last spot up for grabs is really a battle between J.D. Durbin a former top-prospect with the organization as a twelfth pitcher who is out of options, Chris Hientz a player who would serve as a third catcher and almost certainly never play, and Josh Rabe a left fielder who saw some time with the big club last year and would be the sixth outfielder.

The common community opinion seems to be that the Twins should keep Durbin as an insurance policy with such an unsettled rotation, an opinion I fully support. I think giving Durbin one last shot to prove he can be the pitcher everyone knows he has the talent to be can't be a bad idea. However, its common knowledge that manager Ron Gardenhire has a man love with carrying three catchers in the unlikely event both Mauer and Redmond go down in the same game. I think its ridiculous but perhaps theres a reason the Twins didn't call me when the managerial job opened up after T.K. left, I just don't know what that reason is.

Mauer Returns to Action

Joe Mauer played in a AAA game today. Sounds like things went really well as he caught Perkins and had a couple hits including a homer (apparently when your swing is a part of your genetics its easy to miss a week or so and act like it never happened). Of course all of this is just what I heard... I haven't managed to dig up a box score yet. I'll have more details to you as soon as I get them.

Lovin' the scrubs?

As Mr. Mosvick pointed out over at Nick and Nick's earlier today, the Twins as an organization really seems to be at odds over what they'll do with their final two rosters spots. His piece does a great job of analyzing the battle and prognosticating the outcome, and for the most part I couldn't agree more. The one thing that got me thinking was his very last line where he laments the knowledge that the Twins will probably break camp with a pitcher who is clearly inferior to the one they'll be sending down to AAA.

Clearly the race for who would break camp with the team and comprise its starting rotation was/is the biggest storyline of this spring for the Twins. With the organization having dumped almost 9.5 million on the trio of Carlos Silva, Ramon Ortiz, and Sidney Ponson it was expected that there would be a legitimate fight for the 2-5 spots with the Twins minor league arms. But, despite strong showings by Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and Matt Garza, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has made no secret of his preference for starting the season with the veteran's, 11.00 ERA's be damned.

For the fan, it appears in surfing the message boards that we break down into two groups. One who believes that the Twins can win this season (the 'win now' camp), and ought to be putting the best talent (the kids) on the field from day one, and another that could best be described as the 'win later.' The members of this camp cite various reasons for keeping the Twins promising young arms in the minors, among them experience, confidence, and probably most importantly from an organizational standpoint, arbitration eligibility.

I began the season firmly entrenched in the 'win later' camp, and having been involved in many spirited debates with some real great baseball minds, I don't feel my opinion has been swayed. My opinion is certainly encouraged by the fact that I'm a typical sports guy in that I believe the grass is always greener on the other side. Coming into spring training I was of the opinion that the Twins should probably start the regular season with the veteran guys who they had signed and have Boof Bonser, who despite having to get sent down a couple times mid-season last year, showed consistent progress as they year went on and finished with very respectable numbers and a nice start in the divisional series against the Oakland Athletics. So far, it appears that the Twins braintrust agrees with me, though I can definitely see why a number of Twins fans have some steam billowing from their frostbitten heads after watching Carlos Silva pitch his way to an 11.00+ ERA this spring.

The reasons I tend to believe the Twins should keep the young kids in the minors are;

1) For the most part they have very limited experience above AA.

-Slowey, for one has never pitched above AA and had only 59.3 innings there last year with a good but not outstanding 3.19 ERA.

-Perkins has more experience having logged 196.3 innings at AA but has only 10 combined innings between AAA and the majors. And in his AA experience has an ERA of 4.31, that doesn't exactly scream 'major league ready.'

-Garza, clearly the biggest prospect and the one everyone really wants to see start the year immediately has 84 innings beyond AA and while he dominated AAA he did get hit pretty well in his time with the big club, struggling to a 5.76 ERA. Many people attribute this to his being fatigued, however when he got the call to the big club he had pitched only 135 innings. Certainly not an overwhelming number. Others say he simply wasn't experienced enough. I for one am not certain whats changed between last September and now to show he's either developed more stamina or is more experienced (were they playing major league games while I wasn't looking?).

-Scott Baker on the other hand clearly has the most experience having joined the Twins on a number of occasions. First in 2005 where he impressed with a 3.35 ERA in 10 games (9 starts), and again in 2006 when he did not impress with a 6.37 ERA in 16 starts. However its clear by his minor league numbers that he SHOULD be ready having pitched 273.3 innings at AAA Rochester while logging a 3.29 ERA and a respectable 6.95 K/9.

2) The Twins are still a small market ballclub and with teams having made the decision this offseason to start signing starting pitchers using monopoly money (7 yeas and $126 million for Barry Zito who at this point in his career is more of a number 2/3 than a number 1? Man if mediocrity paid that well in real life, I'd be a billionaire). By keeping the young guys in the minors until mid-May, these pitchers have to wait an extra year before they can become arbitration eligible. Assuming that the Twins would need to offer them each at least $3 million per year for their first year (probably more like $5 million by the time they become eligible) , the team is in effect saving itself $9-12 million dollars.

3) Disclaimer: I'm going to be explaining some aspects of the baseball shuttling system most knowledgeable baseball guys will know, if you don't feel like being condescended to, you can skip most of this.

As established veterans, players such as Silva, Ortiz, and Ponson have cannot be 'optioned' to the minors, the process teams use to shuffle prospects back and forth between the minor and major leagues, rather the Twins would have to 'designate them for assignment.' As veterans, they have the right to refuse being designated, however in doing so, they are opting out of their contacts and become free agents. For someone like Silva in this case, opting out of a $4.35 million dollar deal would probably be foolish because no one would sign him for more at this point. Except maybe the Cubs, because they apparently have decided money grows on trees.

In keeping these players in the major league system, we not only give guys like Perkins, Baker, and Garza a few more innings in AAA, we also give the Vets a chance to prove whether or not they can play, and ideally hope that they pitch well enough to establish some trade value, that way when May comes around, we can bring the kids up having saved the year of eligibility, and get some mid-level propects from teams starved for pitching like the Rockies, Orioles, or Devil rays. Worst case scenario, May comes around and we designate poorly performing pitchers for assignment and they opt-out, which would be too perfect.

Of course all of my rationale is going to be irrelevant to someone who believes that its imperative that the Twins focus all their efforts on winning immediately, because the truth is the Twins will (in almost all likelihood) be 5-10 games worse with the staff we have now vs. the staff we could have. And, since most people are once again prognosticating that the AL Central will be baseball's toughest division, it would be unlikely that the Twins could overcome a large deficit the way they did last year. Not impossible to be certain, but definitely difficult.

All of that being said, I will always be the guy who believes the team should do absolutely everything in its power to work for the future. That means managing all of the details perfectly and making sure that even when you make bad signings (Silva) you do everything in your power to extract maximum value from you investment. Sometimes that means keeping a guy in the majors even when there is a clearly superior candidate waiting for his shot.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Twins Preseason game recap; Twins 4, Yankees 3

Box Score and recap from

Making his final start of the spring Boof Bonser made an emphatic final statement for his qualifications for making this rotation. While Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has officially refused to announce his rotation for 2007, it has been widely considered by those in the know that, barring some monumentally bad performances, and a couple outstanding ones, the Twins starters for this final week of spring training would most likely be those who would break season with the big club. Well its this writers opinion that Mr. Bonser can start packing his bags and heading up to the cities. In six quality innings against a strong group of what will be the Yankee's regular starting lineup Bonser gave up just four hits and two walks, all while striking out seven. The only real doubt that should be left for Twins fans is why the Twins seem to view him as their fifth starter. It's well known that last year the Twins trusted him enough to hand him the ball in the second of the game of the playoffs and were rewarded with a strong performance. Why Bonser has ended up at the bottom of the Twins rotation is unclear, but I think Twins fans can assume that if he continues pitching the way he has this spring, he won't remain there long. The one negative that can be taken away from Bonser's performance today is that he did give up two solo homers, one to Bobby Abreu, his second of the season, and another to former Blue jays prospect Josh Phelps, his third of the spring.

As an aside, I think fantasy owners would be well advised to take note of what a nice spring Phelps is having with the Yankee's.

Checking out the box score today it was interesting to see a familiar name in a not so familiar place, as a Gardenhire made an appearance today, just not the one you'd expect. This time it was Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's son, Toby, a shortstop taken in the 41st round of the 2005 draft who is currently in the Twins minor league system with Low A Beloit. Certainly it was a good moment for the Gardenhire family. You can read more in a 2005 column by Bob Sansevere here.

In other game news, Twins relievers Pat Neshek, Dennys Reyes, and Juan Rincon all pitched a frame, giving up a total of 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 earned run while striking out 5.

The Twins pounded out 8 hits, all singles, which they paired with four walks and stolen bases by both Jason Tyner (2) and Luis Castillo (1), and parlayed into four runs. Castillo had a two RBI single to center and shortstop Matt Tolbert, who Will Young has backing up Alexi Casilla at shortstop on his Twins Bigboard for Double A New Britian, tied the game on a two out single in the bottom of the ninth.

On the other side of the diamond, I'm impressed by the game Carl Pavano tossed. Even though he didn't strike anyone out, he registered 6 innings, allowing just six singles and a walk. While the Yankee's may never "get their monies worth" out of Pavano, hopefully they can at least start to get something from him.

Who is Sidney Ponson?

The Twins entered spring training this year with few question marks. A club that last year discovered a consistent and talented lineup paired itself with arguably of the finest bullpens of the last many years, and continued to play above average defense, and for the most part, had consistent starting pitching. To be certain the Twins had to patch things together a bit in the rotation as, Brad Radke, the Twins stalwart for the last decade or so had a miserable first half with a 5.13 ERA, and once promising youngster Carlos Silva began what has become a well documented melt-down. To further complicate matters, Twins prospect Scott Baker who won the 5th starter role out of spring training couldn't find the bottom half of the strike zone, and Kyle Lohse couldn't find anything until Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire found him a spot on the end of the bench in the bullpen. In total, the Twins used 10 starting pitchers last year.

However the staff ended the year respectably led by newcomer Fransisco Liriano (The Sisco Kid?), and Best Pitcher In The Universe Johan Santana. That along with a resurgent Brad Radke, and enough quality starts from Boof Bonser managed to get the Twins the Central Division Crown. Albeit for only the last hour or so of the regular season.

This season however things look dramatically different. Old dependable Brad Radke retired with what was left of his right shoulder, Fransisco Liriano had Tommy John surgery, and the Twins suddenly found themselves scrambling to find the right pieces to put together a staff. One of the pieces to General Manager Terry Ryan's starting rotation puzzle was Sidney Ponson. A long time Baltimore Oriole, Ponson has been through numerous off-the-field issues in the past few years and was finally run out of town when his pitching went south. For the first couple years of his career Sidney was an above average major league pitcher sporting a 4.54 ERA over his first six seasons.

Ponson, a citizen of Aruba, made his major league debute at age 21 for the Baltimore Orioles and put together a respectable rookie campaign going 8-9 in 31 games (20 starts) while posting a 5.27 ERA.

Coming off his best season ever in 2003 when he tossed 216 innings with an ERA of 3.75, along with an official 'Knighting' by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, (Aruba is a province of the Netherlands) the Orioles made Ponson their opening day starter for 2004. However he was never able to find his groove and started the season with a 3-12 record. Even though his numbers were better in the second half, he still struggled to a 11-15 final record with a career high ERA of 5.30. Despite that, the Orioles we're clearly impressed enough by his second half to decide that he was worth resigning to the tune of 8.5 million for 2005. It was a bad decision. In 2005, Ponson, a lifetime sinkerballer suffered a serious case of Silva-itis. Posting only 130.3 innings with a ghastly 6.21 ERA. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, it was bad off-the-field for Ponson too.

On Christmas 2004, Ponson was arrested in his native Aruba for assaulting a judge presiding on a case over the mishandling of his speedboat. He spent 11 days in jail and was released after agreeing to pay fines, and do community service. The next month he was arrested in Florida for drunk driving. Just eight months later Ponson was arrested again, this time in Baltimore, and once again for drunken driving, his second charge in a year. The Orioles, fed up with his off-the-field trouble, disgusted with his pitching, and anxious to get his 3 year 22.5 million dollar contact off their books release Ponson and voided his contact that September.

After his embarrassing 2005, Ponson, suddenly without a team signed a 1 million dollar deal with the Cardinals in 2006, but never really got going, and the Cardinals designated him for assignment. The Yankees, desperate for starting pitching took a flier on him later that year, but it never worked out, and he was released after the season. For the year he posted a 6.25 ERA over 85 innings.

Now with the Twins, Ponson is trying once again to prove himself in major league baseball. His spring so far has been pretty good. And while the numbers overall aren't overly impressive, he has been the one thing the Twins desperately seek, consistent. This spring 'Sir Sidney' has posted 16 innings over 4 starts, giving up 7 earned runs, on 22 hits and 3 walks for a 3.93 ERA, and a 1.56 WHIP. His strikeout rate is a disturbingly low 3.37, well below his career average, but perhaps the most promising number for Twins fans is that Ponson, as a sinkerballer has posted a 28-13 GBo-FBo ratio this spring, while giving up no home runs, both indications that his sinker has life and he's keeping it down in the zone.

If Ponson can carry over his spring training success to the regular season (admittedly a HUGE if) then the Twins will, for a million dollars have bought themselves a lot of consistency in the middle of the rotation.

Ponson's Spring Training Stats