Minnesota Twins Players of the Week 5/7-5/13
The Minnesota Twins' continued roster changes are finally starting to pay off.
This week saw the Major League debut of shortstop Brian Dozier and the season debuts of Scott Diamond, P.J. Walters and Darin Mastroianni.
Each played well when called upon, combining with the surviving Twins roster for a 3-4 record at Target Field this week.
As always, there were positives and negatives.
Leadoff hitter Denard Span finally scored a run on Friday, breaking a dumbfounding streak of nine straight games played without crossing home plate.
However, Carl Pavano pitched only four innings in a 6-2 loss to the Angels on Wednesday and had to have an MRI on his shoulder, which revealed inflammation and a bruised ego.
Let's now take a closer look at the past week and reward the Twins best and worst performances.
Pitcher of the Week: Scott Diamond
What took so long?
Scott Diamond made his season debut versus the Angels on Tuesday and did something no other Twins starting pitcher has done this year, leave the game without allowing a run.
That wasn't enough for Scott Diamond though, as on Sunday against the Blue Jays he did it again.
Diamond finished the week pitching 14 inning, allowing nine hits, zero earned runs (0.00 earned run average), one walk and 10 strikeouts; good enough for a 2-0 record.
To put Diamond's 14 scoreless innings this week in perspective, Nick Blackburn has thrown 19 scoreless innings all year (31.1 Innings Pitched total) in six starts, Francisco Liriano has 12 scoreless innings (26.2 IP) in six starts and Jason Marquis has thrown 16 scoreless innings (27.1 IP) in five starts this season.
Can Diamond keep this up all season? Well no, runs will eventually be scored on him.
However, this is a positive sign and a reason to believe the Twins' starting pitching has a chance to turn things around.
Honorable Mention: Matt Capps
Matt Capps appeared in three games this week, pitching the 9th inning of all three Twins' wins this week.
In total, Capps threw three innings, gave up two hits, zero earned runs, no walks and struck out two in earning his 6th and 7th saves of the season.
It sure seems as if the Twins made a wise decision in bringing back Capps after his sub-par 2011 performance.
Capps is not only valuable to the Twins as a reliable closer, but will also have value if and when the Twins decide to start trading their veteran players to contending teams later this summer.
Hitter of the Week: Josh Willingham
Josh Willingham did not play in the series opener versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday, but quickly made up for it on his way to being Twins hitter of the week.
Willingham played in six games this week, going 6-for-19 (.316 BA), scoring four runs, with five runs batted in, two home runs, three doubles and five walks.
Willingham's five extra base hits this week are more than the Twins had as an entire team last week (four total).
While none of his performances were jaw-dropping, Josh's consistency and ability to hit for power make him invaluable with Justin Morneau on the shelf.
Honorable Mention: Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer once again played in every game this week, catching three games and playing first base in four games.
At the plate Joe was 7-for-22 (.318 BA), with three runs scored, one run batted in, three doubles and nine walks this week.
With the nine walks added, Mauer was on base 16 times in 31 plate appearances for an on-base percentage of .516.
Mauer will continue to be criticized for his lack of power at the position he holds in the batting order, but he is and will continue to be the Twins best hitter and needs to stay in the third spot in the order.
Least Valuable Player: Francisco Liriano
Order has been restored in the Twins universe.
Not because Francisco Liriano has been moved to the bullpen, but because Liriano is once again the Twins least valuable player this week.
To be fair, Liriano pitched in one game this week, the 8-3 loss to the Angels on Monday night.
Frankie pitched five innings, allowing five hits, four earned runs, three walks and striking out four in taking the loss.
To be completely unfair, Liriano has no value whatsoever in the bullpen and is only taking up a roster spot because the Twins are afraid to designate him for assignment.
The Twins know that Liriano will be claimed quickly once he hits the waiver wire and cannot end up getting nothing in return for a player that at the beginning of last year could have netted the team Ivan Nova and Joba Chamberlain, if one wants to believe the MLB rumor mill.
So, the Twins are stuck in the position of trying to get a few decent outings out of Liriano in the bullpen and receiving a few low-level prospects in return.
This can only end well.
Honorable Mention: Chris Parmelee
With all of the changes that have been made to the Twins roster this last few weeks, Chris Parmelee has found himself in an awkward position.
The Twins want to see Parmelee play and have been making an effort to do so, but Parmelee has not produced as of late.
Parmelee appeared in four games this week, going 1-for-11 (.091 BA), with one run scored, two RBI and two walks.
Chris realistically seems to be the next player headed to Triple-A, but only to receive the playing time he deserves and a chance to develop into a more complete major league player.
The Upcoming Week
The Twins start the week with an overall record of 10-24, eight games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division.
The Twins will get their first chance to make up some of that ground as they will take on Cleveland in a two game series starting Monday night at Target Field.
Next up, the Twins once again hit the road for another two game series, this time against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday and Thursday.
Finally, interleague play starts once again this weekend as the Twins will be across the border to play nine against their former division rival the Milwaukee Brewers in a three game weekend series.
Hopefully next week Twins fans will be talking about the team's first winning week of the season.