Category Archives: Twins

Who put this soapbox here?

The Twinkies added Luis Ayala to help bolster their bullpen.  Ayala was flat out terrible last season.  I would think his poor numbers are a reflection of his lingering groin injury.  Maybe that is just wishful thinking.  Ayala will certainly add a veteran presence to the bullpen and now we have a healthy competition for the 8th inning role.  Ayala is the Twins only free agent signing of 2009.  I come from the school of thought that you do not always HAVE to bring in new players.  We certainly have the money to bring in a stud, but our GM Bill Smith does not spend money just to spend it.  Twins go after value for their money and it has payed off since 2001. 

Yesterday I received a redemption card from 07 Fleer Ultra.  It was a John Danks auto.  I really enjoyed that product but my redemption card was terrible.  Fleer and Mr. Danks are LAZY!  Fleer put the cut auto on the far left of the card, it is not even close to being centered.  Danks scribbled his signature on the sticker.  Apparently, Mr. Danks is too cool to sign his name properly.  Maybe I am wrong, maybe he just has the handwriting of a 4 year old.  The card did not make or break the product for me, but it was depressing to see such a lazy card.  I’m sure there are hundreds of collectors who see this on a day-to-day basis.  

If I was in Danks shoes I would like to think that I would have enough respect for my fans to give them a quality auto.  I don’t care how boring it is to sign your name 1000 times in a row.  You are a millionaire playing a children’s game.  Without the fans paying to see you play, you would just be another great softball player in my Spring league.  In times like these I need to remember the Superman analogy.  When ball players put on the uniform they are Superman, but when they take it off…..they are just another donkey.  Let’s not idolize these athletes; take them for what they are.  I guess I can’t really be mad at John Danks after all.  Keep the crappy autos coming.

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Sign Crede? Sign Mauer!

I’m on the fence about Joe Crede.  The Twins have been in attendance at his workouts but believe he is only 75% healthy.  His agent, Scott Boras (Ugh!), says he is 100% ready to go.  Three things are certain in life: you pay your taxes, you die, and you DO NOT believe a word Scott Boras says!  With that in mind, I can understand why the Twins are hesitant to pull the trigger.  Crede also wants $5 million for 1 year (roughly what he made last year).  The Twins don’t have a habit of spending money just to spend it.  Crede has a lot of things going against him.  Let’s list them:

  1. His agent is Scott Boras.
  2. He has been riddled with back injuries the last 2 years.
  3. He wants $5 million for 1 year
  4. Twins believe his back will get worse playing on Field Turf
  5. He is a dreaded White Sox (Yuck!).

However, his ability to hit the long-ball and play defense at 3B is intriguing.  Injuries and money aside, Crede would be an upgrade at third base and add a power righty to our lineup.  I can’t imagine pitchers would be too excited to see Mauer, Morneau, Crede, and Kubel.  As much as I want to add his bat and glove to this team, I don’t think the reward out ways the risk.  If he plays half the season we just flushed $5 million down the toilet, and the Twins don’t waste money.  I won’t be upset if we do sign him because there is so much upside if he stays healthy.

In other news, that only Twins’ fans care about….Matt Guerrier signed for one year at $1.475 million.  We no longer have any players on arbitration. 

Now it is time to sign Joe Mauer to a lifelong deal.  WE MUST SIGN HIM NOW!  He can’t leave Spring Training without a contract.  From what I have heard, the Twins are not going to mess around with Joe, they will try to lock him up ASAP!  We can not let Joe Mauer become a Yankee or Red Sox.  Joe is a hometown kid and I believe he is willing to give us a hometown discount, if we lock him up now.  He is the face of our franchise and will go down as the greatest catcher to every play the game.  That is not my opinion and I’m not drinking the cool aid, that is fact!  He will be the greatest catcher of ALL TIME!
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P.S. I may have a small man crush on Joe, nothing serious, just a small one.

-John

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Twins add vital piece to puzzle!

target-fieldThe Twinkies have hired Washington Nationals groundskeeper Larry DiVito!  We have not had a groundskeeper since 1981, when we left the beloved Metropolitan Stadium for uglier pastures (i.e. Homer Dome).  I heard La Velle E. Neal III on the radio yesterday fielding questions about how absurd it is to have an open air stadium.  Apparently, Bud Selig was texting Carl Poland weather patterns for April and September.  He was trying to convince him to put a roof on Target Field.  La Velle said last year on opening day it snowed 6 inches! 

I go back and forth on this issue.  I love the look of Safeco Field in Seattle.  I always thought our new stadium would be a reflection of Safeco.  Maybe a retractable roof was going to increase the overall cost of the stadium so much that the Minnesota citizens would have to fork over too much in taxes and the local government would have never given the Twins the green light.  In any event, I read the grass we will be using is a Kentucky bluegrass hybrid (I can just smell it), and beneath the grass will be a state-of-the-art drainage system and heating system.  I bet that heating system will pummel the snow!  Things are really starting to come together at Target Field.  I can’t wait to start the season already and say goodbye to the Homer Dome.  Farewell white dome and thank you for making outfielders look bush league.  Farewell blue baggy, we’ll miss Mauer hitting doubles off you.  Farewell field turf and thanks for the infield choppers.  And finally, farewell Humbert H. Humphrey Dome and the best home field advantage in sports history.*hhh

-John

*Harold Reynolds said it, so it’s FACT!

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Twins Roster ’09 Part II

twinsTime to talk about pitching (according to ME)!  I am very excited about our rotation this year.  The experience our young guys gained last year in the hunt for the division will prove to be invaluable.  I am so glad we are not starting the season with the likes of Ramon Ortiz or Livan Hernandez.  I understand the desire to pepper your rotation with veterans, but we have Rick Anderson, it doesn’t get more veteran than that! 

ROTATION (in order):

Liriano – “The Franchise” went 6-4 with a 3.91 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 32 walks in 76 innings pitched.  He has always had the tools to be tops in our rotation.  He came back too soon from surgery and got rocked in the Majors.  He settled in at Rochester and got his mind right and never looked back.  He was back to his old self the rest of the way and I’ll be chanting Cy Young in 2009!

Baker – Once referred to as Scott “The home run maker” Baker, this 27 year old veteran went 11-4 with a 3.45 ERA with 141 strikeouts and 42 walks in 172.1 innings pitched.  Who could forgot his almost no hitter in 2007 against the Royals.  Baker does not have overpowering stuff, but he can paint the corners and mix up his pitches nicely.  I like our 1-2 punch for 2009.

Slowey – “Slow Throw” takes the third spot by going 12-11 with a 3.99 ERA with 123 strikeouts and 24 walks in 160.1 innings pitched.  He is very reminiscent of Brad Radke because of his superb control.  24 walks in 160.1 innings is amazing!

Blackburn – “Sideburns Jr.” as I like to call him went 11-11 with a 4.05 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 39 walks in 193.1 innings pitched.  I think you are seeing a pattern among Twins pitchers….they don’t give up walks!

Perkins – I don’t have a nickname for him yet (work in progress) went 12-4 with a 4.41 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 39 walks in 151 innings pitched.  A Minnesota native that is beginning to show a lot of promise and I feel he has what it takes to secure another spot in the rotation this year.

The rotation looks really good this year.  Liriano is the only household name to MLB fans but those four other guys have more than enough talent and potential to take us to the next level.  I feel like the division is ours for the taking.

-John

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Twins ’09 Roster

2005_twins_logo_2Only 12 days remain until the first Pitchers/Catchers report to Spring Training.  I thought I’d take the time to forecast the Twins depth chart.  I am no Ron Gardenhire, but I’ll try my best. 

C – Mauer(Duh!  I would like to see him make a transition to 3B at some point in his career.  He is very tall and squatting will eventually take a serious toll on his knees.  You have to keep his bat in the lineup at all costs, but I would like to see him play the field, not just DH.)

1B – Morneau (Really cooled off toward the end of last season, but is still progressing and is our franchise first baseman.  Easy pick.)

2B – Casilla (Only played in 98 games but shows great potential, especially as a defensive wizard.  His bat is slowly coming around.)

3B – Buscher/Harris– Harris will probably get the nod to start the season.  Many people believe Buscher will platoon with Harris throughout the season.  Makes sense but I would like to see one of those guys step up and win the job out right.  Buscher is homegrown and can crush the ball when he is in the zone and hit for average.  I hope he is the future, however, his glove may hold him back.  Gardy preaches defense and fundamentals.

SS – Punto – Everett is gone, and not a second too soon.  Punto has zippy competition at this position and I can’t think of anyone who could overtake him this year.  I love Punto, he fits the Twins mold (i.e. team player, great defense, plays the game hard), but his bat is something to be desired.  He certainly has his moments with the lumber but is a hole in our lineup.  His saving grace in his leadership and defense.  Punto is one of the best infielders I have ever watched.  He is a vaccum!

|OF – Young/Span/Cuddyer/Gomez– This is where things get VERY complicated.  We have TOO much talent in the OF (great problem to have!).  I have racked my brain for weeks trying to figure out how this will shake out.  Gomez is great #9 hitter, but has not developed enough to leadoff.  He has fantastic defense but has a lot to learn about the game.  I don’t want him to waste away on the bench all year so may I be so bold as to start him in Rochester this year.  Let him continue to develop plate patience.  In my opinion Span is further along in his development and has the same tools as Gomez, so he takes over CF.  Young is a firecracker in your hand just waiting to explode with talent (or so we Twins’ fans pray).  I believe Young’s bat will finally develop into the power hitter we need him to be.  I’m a little skeptical of his defense, he looks very slow and stiff in LF, but his cannon of an arm may help mask his speed.  Cuddy gets the nod in RF, one, because he is from the state I was born in (VA), and two, he is a proven player.  We could debate this position forever, but like I said, Gomez should start in AAA.

DH – Kubel – Why Monroe even sniffed the field last year is beyond me.  I think Gardy did not have complete faith in Kubel to be an everyday DH.  However, at the end of the year Kubel showed enough consistency to win the job out right and did a great job.  He was second on the team in HRs behind Morneau.  Morneau had 623 ABs and 23 HRs, Kubel had 463 ABs and 20 HRs.  He is here to stay.

This isn’t a science, just a gut feeling from what I’ve seen on the field.  We have a lot of great weapons this year and a ton of Minor Leaguers waiting to make a name for themselves.  I can’t wait to see how everything shakes out in Spring Training.  I’ll go over Pitchers next post. 

-John

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Shark Week

I was at AJ’s Sports Cards (in Vienna, VA) last week to purchase a shoebox for Chris and could not help but grab four packs of ’08 A&G.  It’s a good thing I did, because I pulled an elusive Mako Shark mini card.  Some may find the “World’s Deadliest Sharks” mini cards a bit gimmicky, but I like the sub-set and enjoyed pulling this card.  I’m very excited to see what sub-sets will find their way into the ’09 A&G set.  Personally, I’d like to see a SP set of famous ballparks.  I enjoy trying to put the ’08 base set together, but I get tired of pulling “dupes” and getting minimum “hits” in return.  I feel like the product runs it’s course after 2 hobby boxes and a blaster.

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Thursday night, Chris, Drew, Woody, and I will be opening up 2 boxes of ’07 Fleer Ultra SE and 1 box of ’07 UD Masterpieces.  Chris and I will be sure to post our hits ASAP.

The Twinkies still remain very quiet this off-season.  I love that Kubel was signed for 2 years with a 3rd year option.  He was a monster in the minors and his knee problem in ’04 really set him back; however, I feel like that is finally behind him and he is finding his power stroke again.  In 463 at bats last year he hit 20 HRs, second on the team behind Morneau (23).  This is the year Kubel becomes a household name, mark my words.  In setup man news, Jesse Crain doesn’t want to see Minnesota bring in another reliever (i.e. Gagne).  Crain said he feels like the job is his for the taking and I’m going to believe him.  He is two years removed from his shoulder surgery and was throwing gas toward the end of last year.   

-John

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Turf toe? A thing of the past.

metrodome

Since I was born, Minnesota has always played it’s home games in an indoor stadium.  The “Homer Dome” is a bit of an eyesore, but I’m going to miss the blue baggy in the right field, the folded up bleachers, and the white homer hankies during the post-season.  I did not have the pleasure of living in Minnesota like my Dad but I remember so many great memories on TV.  Kirby Puckett forcing a game seven in the 1991 World Series with a walk off homer.  Jack Morris throwing a complete game shutdown in game 7 of the same series while “Mean” Gene Larkin drove in Dan Gladden in extra innings for our second World Series Title.  Minnesota has three great HOFers (Rod Carew, Harmen Killebrew, Kirby Puckett), but only Kirby is synonymous with the Metrodome.  He will go down in history as the greatest Twin to ever play under the white roof. 

A new era of Twins baseball begins in 2010 and it is the most significant change for the team in my lifetime.  For Chris, it’s when the O’s left Memorial Stadium and ushered in a new era of tradition at Camden Yards.  I’m sure Chris can attest to the significance and history of that transformation and how special it was.  I’m counting the days until Minnesota runs out on the field and can look up and see the sky and feel freshly cut grass below their feet.  I hope they mow our “TC” logo into the outfield or infield, I’m a sucker for little touches like that.  While I could not be more excited for the new stadium, I know it will bring hardship along the way.  Our beloved manager, Ron Gardenhire, has built this current team around the Dome.  We are built for speed and we move runners into scoring position.  I can’t remember a team that bunts for hits more than the Twins.  When the doors close on the dome, Minnesota is losing the greatest home field advantage in SPORTS!  I may be so bold because Harold Reynolds agrees with me (http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?c_id=min), and Mr. Reynolds is the greatest baseball mind of the 21st century, period!  Playing in an outdoor stadium will be difficult for the Twins, first of, can we even play during the beginning and end of a season?  It is going to be butt cold outside!  Minnesota fans need to realize our strategy is going to be different.  I think you can play small ball anywhere, but it is not going to be as easy on real grass.  I could go on forever…… In conclusion, I want to enjoy the last year of the “Homer Dome,” it will be sad to see it go, but I have so much to look forward to at Target Field. 

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P.S. 16 days until Pitchers and Catchers report!

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