Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Game 101: Youthful Expression

Like almost every trade, the one that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris seemed like a fair deal at the time. The clubs exchanged average-hitting middle infielders in the late 20's and each gave up a decent minor league prospect, but the centerpieces to the deal were Garza and Young.

At the beginning of the 2007 season, Garza was the top prospect in the Twins organization. He started the year at AAA in Rochester and was vocal about his frustrations with the way he was being used. The organization called up guys like Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey before Garza, primarily due to a disagreement in pitch selection. The Rochester coaching staff was trying to get Garza to mix more offspeed pitches into his repertoire, but he insisted on throwing almost exclusively on fastballs.

"He's getting a little frustrated so we're going to bring him up here and give him a chance to pitch for us," Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. That's not exactly the tone you want the relationship between an organization and a top prospect to sound like.

Delmon Young probably wasn't the most popular character in the Rays franchise either, considering he was the player in the infamous minor league bat throwing incident in 2006, when he was with the AAA Durham Bulls. The idea of the trade was to get a fresh start for both guys and it seemed like a good one.

Since then, Garza has turned into a solid, top of the rotation presence for the Rays while Young has regressed to platooning with Carlos Gomez and batting .264/.291/.346 on the season. Garza pitched 184 2/3 innings for the Rays last year at a 3.70 ERA and is on pace for over 200 innings at the same ERA this year. He was the MVP of the ALCS last year, picking up two wins including game 7.

At the ripe old age of 25, Garza is the elder statesman of the pitching match-up this evening. He's had two pretty strong outings against the Yanks this year (12IP, 3ER) but has been stuck with a no-decision both times. He's coming of a studly outing in Toronto where he pitched a complete game and struck out 9.

Joba goes tonight for the Yanks. He's given up only 5 hits in his last two starts but has walked 6 in 13 2/3 IP. He's gave up a run each time and picked up two wins, bringing his season mark to 6-2. He was tantalizingly close to efficient in these two outings, throwing 107 pitches in the first and 100 in the second.

These two hard-tossin', young guns square off tonight in the rubber game of the series. The first one was lopsided and the second was sloppy. Perhaps tonight's performance will be a little more tightly executed?

Body's healthy, mind is wealthy,
Thoughts, they flow, that will prepare me,
To be a Native, get creative,
Original and designative.

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