Red Wings Report Card: The Hitters

In this edition of Live From Rochester, Ted gives us an indepth look at the hitters for the Red Wings this season. He breaks them down into three categories based on games played, and grades them on an A-F scale.

Now that both the Red Wings and Twins have been tucked away for the season, it's time to review what one reporter saw in 2006 down at old ballyard at 1 Morrie Silver Way in Rochester NY. And seeing as no local newspapers wrote one single word about the Wings after the game 5 Governor's Cup game was completed, I feel it almost my civic duty to put some closure to the Red Wings fine 2006 season. So here goes:

Category #1 includes all players who appeared in at least 90 games

Josh Rabe:
Josh got off to a sizzling start and was one of the Wings hottest hitters over the first couple of months. He eventually cooled down a bit, earned a promotion to the Twins and returned to the Wings to finish the season, before getting called up on September 1st. He hit 20 doubles and 6 HR's; drove in 47 runs in 93 games and ended up with a .299 BA. His OBP was an excellent .362. Rabe will get a long look with the Twins in 2007. Grade: A-

Chris Heintz:
Immensely popular player in Rochester. Played in 100 games and batted .286 with 22 doubles and 39 RBI. He split his time between catcher and 3rd and played both positions admirably. Chris even attempted to steal 4 times...alas he was unsuccessful in all 4 tries. Earned a courtesy recall in September. A good depth player. It is hoped he returns next season. Grade: B+

Glenn Williams:
Very personable Aussie who never reached his potential this year. In 113 games he hit 20 doubles, 4 triples and 7 HR's, good for only 37 RBI and a rather disappointing .257 BA. His OBP was a respectable .326 but he led the team in errors with 21. Wings were expecting more from Glenn. He disappeared completely in the post season. Might not return in 2007. Grade: C-

Shawn Wooten:
Shawn played in 104 games and did the bulk of the catching. He hit 20 doubles (7 Wings hit over 20 2-baggers) and 6 HR's, 41 RBI and a .253 BA. Wooten performed adequately but the Wings were hoping for some of the power he displayed while with Pawtucket. Provided good veteran leadership. Grade: B-

Garrett Jones:
I was kind of tough on Jones for most of the season but he came on real strong down the stretch to earn my nod hands down for Red Wings MVP for 2006. Jones played in 140 games and actually put up some very impressive numbers: 32 doubles, 3 triples, 21 HR's and 92 RBI (good for 2nd in the I.L.). While his BA was an anemic .238, his slugging % was .430 and for a free-swinger his OBP was a remarkable .302. He led the team in strikeouts with 121 but also tied for the team lead in walks with 49. Jones had a dynamite post season and deserves a good look in spring training, although all signs point to him playing one more season at AAA. Grade: A

Andres Torres:
Although it didn't start out that way, Torres became the Red Wing's regular lead-off hitter when Jason Tyner went up to the Twins. In 116 games, Torres batted ..236 with 17 doubles and 30 RBI. He led the team in stolen bases with 19 and was caught stealing 7 times. With his 49 walks he had a good OBP of .333. A decent lead-off hitter and decent outfielder, but probably not a major league prospect. Grade: C+

Luis Maza:
How could someone who showed so much promise in 2005 fall so flat on his face? Luis had one gigantic miserable season in 2006. Almost nothing went right for him right from the opening week. His one memorable contribution was a solo HR in April to win a game 1-0 for the Wings. And that was it. 10 doubles, 6 triples, 3 HR's and 35 RBI to go along with a horrible .207 BA and an even worse .255 OBP. By mid July, Maza was mostly riding the bench. Remains to be seen what plans the Twins have for him. Grade: D-

Category #2 includes players who appeared in from 50 to 90 games

Jason Tyner:
Was having a great season when he got ‘the call'. In 80 games as the Wings lead-off hitter, Jason actually led the Wings in BA with a .329 mark. His OBP was .379 which is very acceptable for a leadoff hitter. He stole 8 bases in 10 attempts. Naturally there were no HR's but he played a near flawless outfield, making only 2 errors. He certainly deserved his callup and he continued his consistent hitting with the Twins during the remainder of the regular season. Grade: A

Jason Bartlett:
We were glad to have him for the first 58 games, although he should never have played here at all in 2006. He did it all: 23 doubles, 3 triples 1 HR and 20 RBI to go with a solid .306 BA, a .336 OBP and a .443 slugging %. Most of his 8 errors came early in April. When he was recalled, he started every single game at shortstop for the rest of the season. While he tired out at the end, and had a shaky post-season, he will be the Twins SS hopefully for years to come. Grade: A

Thomas Watkins:
Quite a pleasant surprise. Was an emergency recall when Gil Velazquez went down with an injury. Had never played a game at AAA after spending several seasons in the lower minors. Showed more with the bat than was expected, and had several key hits over the last 2 months. In 60 games, he hit 10 doubles and 4 HR's to go with 23 RBI. He flirted with .300 for several weeks before finally falling back to .276. His OBP was .345. While his defense was sometimes erratic, he also made some highlight reel plays to thoroughly entertain the Frontier Field faithful. Grade: B+

Terry Tiffee:
May have played his final games as member of the Twins organization. Couldn't seem to impress the Twins enough to stick. In 79 games he batted .273 with 20 doubles 4 HR's and 38 RBI. He also hit another of his famous game winning grand slam homeruns. Tiffee finished his Red Wing career with an incredible batting line with the bases loaded, the likes of which will probably never be duplicated. His defense suffered a bit in 2006 as he made 14 errors while minding 3rd base. Grade for the popular Red Wing: B-

Alexander Romero:
Alex started the season and couldn't get untracked. After some seasoning at New Britain, he returned to the Wings in the summer and continue his awful play. But Stan Cliburn told him he would be in the lineup everyday, and he made a wonderful transformation as the season unwound. In 71 games he hit a most respectable .250 with a .300 OBP. Over the last 2 months, he contributed several game winning hits and sparkling plays in the outfield. A decent contact hitter, he fanned only 22 times in 251 plate appearances. He is still looking for his first AAA homerun. Hard work paid off for Alex.He should have a decent season in 2007. Grade: B

Gilbert Velazquez:
Got in 56 games, mostly as a utility player. A serious injury kept him out of the lineup most of the month of August. He batted .250. He'll get a shot to be the regular SS for Rochester next year. Grade: C+

Kevin West:
Like Glenn Williams, West was a major disappointment in 2006. West played only 76 games as he started the season on the DL. He never found his rhythm. 9 doubles, 11 HR's (incredibly 2nd most on the team) and 41 RBI to go with a .246 BA. Kevin would be the first to tell you he was most dissatisfied with his performance. He played a flawless outfield. Had a very poor post season. Jury is out as to whether the Twins will ask him back for 2007. Grade: C

Category #3–Honorable Mentions:

Quinton McCracken:
Acquired late in the season, Quint played 31 games and was a sparkplug for several Red Wing rallies in August. He had an excellent post season. His numbers for 31 games: 4 doubles, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .284 BA, and .339 OBP. He played a tidy outfield, committing no errors. I'd like the Twins to hang on to this guy. Grade: B+

Jason Kubel:
Coming off a terrible season killing injury which caused him to miss all of 2005, Kubel played 30 games for the Wings. It was clear he wasn't quite ready for the big leagues, and he got a premature promotion after hitting .283 with 7 doubles, 4 HR's and 22 RBI. He struck out 23 times in 132 plate appearances. Jason would have been better served to have stayed at AAA a bit longer in 2006. While he got off to a hot start when he returned to the Twins, his injury flared up again and he basically wasted the last 2 ½ months of the season. He'll have to fight for a spot on the 2007 Twins roster. Grade: B

Jason Hart:
AAA veteran acquired to provide Wings some major power to go with Garrett Jones. Jason never got it going and was released after only 30 games and 80 AB's. He hit 4 HR's and drove in 8 runs with a .225 BA. He struck out 27 times. A failed experiment. Grade: D-

Donaldo Mendez:
Called up late in the season when the injury-recall bug hit the Wings, Donaldo played in parts of 19 games. 4 of his 8 hits were for extra bases...1 double and 3 HR's. No grade.

Erubiel Durazo:
Like Jason Hart, the Twins were hoping Durazo would provide some veteran pop for the Wings down the stretch. Durazo was not happy in Rochester and asked for his release after 17 games where he hit .264 (14-53 with 1 HR and only 3 RBI) When McCracken arrived in town, Durazo knew his time was up. No grade.

During the season a few Twins made the journey to Rochester for some rehab. Ruben Sierra played 2 games; Shannon Stewart was here for 5 games and went 5-18; Lew Ford got in 8 games and picked up 8 hits in 29 AB's. Finally Rondell White came down for 13 games and while he was only 12-51, when he returned to Minnesota he was a different hitter than the one who couldn't get his average over .200 for the first half of the season.

Despite a roster that was constantly turning over, and with an almost total lack of homerun power, the Wings managed to enjoy their best season since their Governor's Cup win in 1997. And they came within 1 game of winning the Cup again in 2006. They were a very entertaining club to watch.

I'll review the pitching in my next installment.

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