Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ok...Now What?

Now with Revere and Span gone, the Twins are going to turn, most likely, to Darin Mastroianni to fill in as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.  However, with only 78 major league games under his belt, the former 16th round draft pick, is not exactly what any major league team would be excited to call their game day starter in the #8 position.

He batted only .252 last season with 45 K's to just 18 walks and a .328 OBP.  One bright spot however, is the 21 stolen bases which put him 2nd on the team behind Ben Revere's 40.  So as long as he can get on base, he can make some things happen on the base paths.  Mastroianni's defense isn't anything worth noting, however, and is a far cry from the glove work of Span or Revere.

Aaron Hicks
So what's the full time answer at center field?  More than likely, the position will be open for 2008 first round draft pick Aaron Hicks.  He put together a nice season in AA last year hitting .286 with 13 hr's and 61 RBI.  He also hit 11 triples and swiped 32 bases to go along with a .384 OBP.

Defensively, Hicks is ranked as the top outfielder in the Twins farm system and has the best outfield arm.  In high school he was clocked at 97 mph as a pitcher.

Of course, throwing a rookie in the starting lineup can always be a crap shoot, but if he's ready, Hicks could be a viable replacement to Span and Revere. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Span, Revere - Gone

Former Twin Ben Revere
The Minnesota Twins are making some waves to say the least.  After just recently dealing starting center fielder Denard Span to the Nationals, the Twins decide to trade their only existing center fielder away to the Phillies.  Ben Revere will now be donning the Philadelphia pinstripes as their newest field general, and in return, the Twins get the be-spectacled, mohawk wearing, 6' 2" right hander Vance Worley plus Phillies top pitching prospect, righty, Trevor May (AA - 10-13, 4.87) as well as minor league RHP Ryan Pressly (A, AA - 7-5, 5.38). 

It's easy to see what Twins GM Terry Ryan is focusing on this offseason and that's PITCHING!  Of course Denard Span was traded earlier this week for a 6' 9" flame throwing minor league prospect called Alex Meyer, Nationals top pitching prospect, who strikes guys out at a 10.5 per 9 clip.

Former Twin Denard Span
Amid speculation that the Twins are scrapping the 2013 season by getting pitching "prospects", Terry Ryan said, "I don't think we are taking steps back.  We are trying to take steps forward. I would understand if someone did equate it into taking a step back, [but] we aren't going to take a step forward until we get pitching."

New Twin Vance Worley
Ryan says there's plenty of money left in the piggy bank for free agents, but is that something they will be looking to spend on more pitching?  Let's not forget the other gaping hole in center where Denard Span and sometimes Ben Revere once stood.  Guys like  Darin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson are the top choices as of right now to fill that void. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Okay...so I've taken a little hiatus, (some may call it writer's cramp, I call it summer vacation).  But now I'm back and let's see...what have our beloved Twins done in the past month? 

Twinkie
Well, last time I checked in, the Twinkies were in last place with a horrid 30-42 but managed to only be 7.5 GB.

Liriano was still on the team but I was predicting that either he or D. Span would be gone by the trade deadline.

Franchise player Joe Mauer was underachieving at best, Joe Capps just went on the DL and Willingham and Plouffe were tearing the cover off the ball with 15 HR's apiece. 

My how things change in one month...or have they?

As of today, the Minnesota Twins are  49-62, 11.5 GB, but are no longer in last place as the KC Royals (47-63) have sucked worse.  Liriano was shipped off to the White Sox, Joe Mauer has actually started hitting the ball well (.316), Plouffe has been on the 15 day DL with an injured thumb which sparked the call up and then trade of Danny Valencia, Willingham leads the team in homers with 29 (tying his career high) and RBI's with 83 (3rd in the AL), Ben Revere has been blazing up the base paths and is 3rd in the AL with 27 SB's, and Scott Diamond (May call-up) is still the ace with a 10-5 record and a very respectable 2.91 ERA.

??
If I've left anything out, like Nishioka's return to the lineup (0-12 with 3 errors in 3 games) it's probably not that relevant anyway.

Surprisingly, the offense has picked it up some, however, with pitchers in the rotation like Blackburn (4-7, 7.42) and Duensing (2-7, 4.46) they've barely managed to increase their winning percentage (.416 on 7/26 to .441 today).

Sammy Deduno
One bright spot, however, has been Sammy Deduno who, since being called up a few weeks ago, has started 6 games and is 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA.  He's been a little wild (25 BB in 33 INN) but has been able to pitch himself out of jams.  Bottom line, along with Diamond, Deduno gives the Twins a chance to win every time he takes the hill and really, that's all you can ask out of your starter.

The Twins are 5-3 in the month of August and have the day off today after finishing up a series win over Cleveland.  They are back at Target Field on Friday taking on the Tampa Bay Rays (58-52) with Cole DeVries (2-2, 3.81) going up against Jeremy Hellickson (6-7, 3.43) at 7:10 CT.  It's getting pretty late in the season to be thinking playoffs, huh?  But with the Cleveland Indians only 2 games ahead of the Twins in the standings, a third place finish in the Central is well within reach. 

Stay tuned for continuous Twins updates.  Until next time, I will leave you with one of my favorite pics of Kate Upton.  C ya!
The lovely Kate



Friday, June 29, 2012

No One Is Untouchable

GM Guy
According to Twitter sources from AM 1500, Twins GM Terry Ryan has stated that no player is untouchable when discussing the trade deadline.

Huh?
 
This statement leads me to believe that he is just as frustrated as every other Twins fan with the way they've performed, or not performed, this season and to say it is a way for him to blow off some steam. 

It's a very interesting comment to make, though, when it is widely thought that guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau would be Twins for a long time to come.

It's no secret that the likes of Denard Span and Francisco Liriano are on the trading block as their stock has risen over that past few weeks. 

But to say that no one is untouchable throws out the possibility that the current face of the franchise Joe Mauer could be gone by the end of next month.

What?

If that were the case, what would his real trade value be and who would take his huge contract despite the fact that he's been putting up non-superstar like numbers?

Underachiever Guy
These are questions that will be pondered by the media and will have to be answered by GM's around the league, but I would like to think that there are a few teams out there that would consider trading for the '09 AL MVP.

For now, what truly appears to be untouchable this season for the Minnesota Twins, are their chances of competing, much less winning the Central Division title.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trade Deadline Looming


With the trade deadline on the horizon, who knows what will happen.  Liriano has definitely beefed up his value as has Denard Span and Joe Mauer.  Although, I don't think that many teams would want to eat Joe's enormous contract, it's definitely something that Ryan should at least entertain, if he hasn't already. 

Frankie High Cheese
I believe that either Span or Liriano will be gone by the deadline and between the two, Span would be the most likely to be dealt.  The Twins need all the pitching they can get and dealing Liriano, especially since he's pitching well now, might not be the smartest move.  Span could be replaced with Revere who's been hitting very well (.316) and leads the team in stolen bases with 14.  Revere covers a little more ground in the outfield and is more of an explosive player than Span.

Span Man
Josh Willingham leads the team in home runs (15) and RBI's (49) and has been more than a solid off-season pick up.  I'm hoping that Terry Ryan thinks we have a shot at winning in the second half of this season (especially with our division being so weak) and that he will keep Willingham around for the remainder of the year and possibly next year as well.

Sweeping the series against the White Sox would help Minnesota to gain some ground but in order for them to have a shot at competing in the division, they need more consistency in their starting pitching.  It would be nice to see a trade made with Span to get an accomplished pitcher on the roster.

Matt Capps going on the 15 day DL is just more insult to injury for the pitching staff.  The bullpen has been very surprisingly solid this year and has kept the Twins in a lot of games when the starter has left in the 3rd inning.  Gardy said that there will be a "closer by committee" approach but Jared Burton has 2 saves in as many opportunities and looks to be the guy to fill the void for now.

Plouffy Dog

Trevor Plouffe has definitely made an impact since making his way into the Twins lineup.  With 15 home runs, he's sharing the team lead in that category with Willingham, but has done it with far fewer at bats.  Some are saying that he would be a good candidate for the home run derby at the All-Star game.  Although it would be fun to see another Twin try to jack homers against the elite home run hitters in the league, it seems that swinging for the fences in that contest tends to mess up our guys' swings.  So I, for one, hope that he doesn't go.

One thing to note as well: Jamie Moyer was released from Baltimore over the weekend.  I know the dude is old, but I don't think it would hurt to give him a shot on the rotation.  Just sayin'.

Old Guy




Gardy Just Wants .500

The Minnesota Twins (30-42, 7.5 GB) will take on the Chicago White Sox (38-35, 0.0 GB) tonight at 7:10 CT with Liam Hendricks (0-4, 7.39) on the hill versus Gavin Floyd (5-7, 5.20).

Hendricks has been struggling to say the least with a 9.92 ERA over his last four starts and it's amazing that he is even in a major league rotation.  Just goes to show you how much this Twins starting 5 is really rough this year.

The one thing the Twins have going for them is that Gavin Floyd has an 8 game losing streak against the Twins and he hasn't been pitching well as of late.

After coming off of a winning series against the Reds, Minnesota has some momentum and there's no better team to beat right now than the White Sox as the Twins can gain some ground in the division.

"We've got a long way to go here but (the White Sox are) in our division and leading our division, so it's a good start to win the first one," manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's official website. "Our goal is still just to get to .500 and we have a ways to go to get there."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Twins Notes

The Twins have been playing better as of late but still sit in last place in the Central (8.0 GB) and continue to own the worst record in the AL at 26-39.  Tonight at 6:05 CT they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates (34-31) with ace Scott Diamond (5-2, 2.13) taking on Kevin Correia (2-6, 4.43).

Joe Mauer may or may not be in the lineup tonight as he is suffering from a bruised right quadriceps.  He has been hitting well lately with a .406 BA over the last 9 games.  Joe is currently 2nd in overall voting for AL catchers with over 1.2 million votes and is trailing Texas catcher Mike Napoli who has over 2.2 million votes.

Trevor Plouffe has been homerless in two straight games after having hit one is four straight.  He is leading the team with 14 homers and has been probably the most exciting Twin to watch as of late.  Over the last 10 games Plouffe is hitting .371 with 10 homers.  It will be interesting to see how he does after pitchers start to figure him out.

Scott Diamond is no doubt the ace of this stumbling, bumbling pitching staff which isn't saying much but, unlike any other pitcher in the rotation, he's at least fun to watch pitch.  Diamond will be looking to bounce back after a loss to Philly where he went 6 innings and surrendered 4 ER.  For any other pitcher in the rotation that would be a good outing but Diamond is looking to go deep into the ballgame tonight to give the tired bullpen some rest.

 I still think that if the Twins are to make any move toward contention, they have to get an established ace pitcher which could involve trading the likes of Denard Span or Josh Willingham.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cain Perfect, Should've Been A Twin

Tonight's game versus the Phillies in the series finale will more than likely be rained out but I wanted to take this opportunity to just mention Matt Cain's perfect game last night and how the Twins passed him up in the 2002 draft.

Matt Cain celebrating his perfection
Cain was masterful last night throwing the first perfect game in Giants history and only the 14th no hitter for the  franchise.  He struck out a career high 14 batters and got some help in the field, particularly a leaping catch by LF Melky Cabrera and a diving grab by RF Gregor Blanco.  With the win, Cain improved his record to 8-2 this year with a 2.18 ERA and 96 K's.

Back in 2002 Matt Cain was drafted 25th overall by the San Francisco Giants.  It was the same draft that saw the Rays taking B.J. Upton (#2), the Royals went with Zack Greinke (#6), the Brewers took Prince Fielder (#7) and the Phillies nabbed Cole Hamels (#17).

The Twins held pick #20 that year and they chose OF Denard Span.  Now the argument can be made that Denard was a good pick.  He has produced at the major league level and is a very solid center fielder.  His career WAR (wins above replacement) is a respectable 14.0 and his career BA is a good .286.  Span has served as the Twins starting center fielder and lead off batter for the better part of the last 4 years so it's safe to say that he definitely wasn't a bust.

Now I know that hindsight is always 20/20 and MLB drafts are literally just a crap shoot.  But I don't think I'm too far off saying that the Twins should've at least entertained the idea of taking Cain.  2002 was a good year for Minnesota.  It was Gardy's first year as manager.  They finished 1st in the AL Central at 94-67 and made it to the ALCS but you'll remember they lost to the Angels 4 games to 1.

Their pitching was fairly solid that year with Rick Reed leading the staff with 15 wins.  Kyle Lohse and Eric Milton each had 13 wins, Radke had 9 and Johan Santana made the move from the bullpen to a starter and posted 8 wins.  Joe Mays suffered injuries that year, pitched in only 95 innings and posted a rough 4-8 record with a 5.38 ERA.  The Twins' team ERA that year was a not-so-good but okay 4.12.

Torii Hunter was the starting center fielder and had good numbers that year with a .289 BA, 29 HR and 94 RBI.  Jaque Jones also roamed the OF that year and posted a .300 BA, 27 HR and 85 RBI.  They were both young and fast and looked to be the anchors for the Twins outfield for years to come.

Even though the pitching staff, with the exception of Rick Reed, was very young at the time, and Milton, Radke and Mays pitched very well the year before, there were definitely question marks with a young Kyle Lohse and no established #5 starter.  And who knew at that time that Johan Santana would go on to have the career he had.  That being said, looking back it would appear as if the Twins needed pitching shored up more than the outfield, especially when they had guys like Michael Cuddyer and Bobby Kielty waiting in the wings.  Therefore, it would've have been far fetched to select a guy like RHP Matt Cain with the 20th pick that year.

Now that's not to say that Cain has had HOF numbers but he has done very solid going 77-75 with a very good 3.28 ERA and 1181 K's over 1412.1 innings and would definitely be the ace of our staff right now.  Denard Span is doing well this year as well, batting .293 with 16 doubles, but I think its safe to say that Cain is out performing him this year and with 8 wins, would be making a bigger impact on the team.

Now Span might have been the better player at the time, but Cain would've definitely filled some holes and, ultimately, would've been the better investment.  Also too, that's not to mention that 3 other pitchers were picked inbetween the Twins #20 and the Giants #25 but, at least for me, it's fun (and sometimes depressing) to look back at past drafts and see who could've been on the Twins. 

But the emphasis at draft time is always that you need to select the best player available at the time whether he fills any holes or not.  And that's what makes me worried with this year's draft when they selected yet another outfielder in Byron Buxton and passed on what they needed with RHP Mark Appel.

Good for Cain and good for the Giants, but I will have to say this though, it would've been pretty nifty to have seen Cain pitch his masterful perfect game last night in the Minnesota Twins pinstripes instead of a San Francisco uniform.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Unthinkable

Who would've thought that going into tonight's inter-league game between the Minnesota Twins (24-35, 8.5 GB) and the Philadelphia Phillies (29-33, 8.5 GB) that they would both hold the same position in their respective divisions - dead last!

They couldn't have been any different to start the season as far as expectations go with the Phillies expected to compete for the division title and the Twins just trying to compete.  But with All-Star's like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay all out of Philadelphia's lineup due to injury, those expectations are suddenly very hard to reach.

The Phillies have lost 8 out of their last 9 in their plummet to the bottom of the division.  Meanwhile, the Twins have experienced an offensive surge from guys like Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe and Denard Span.  That coupled with decent pitching from Scott Diamond, P.J. Walters and (lately) Francisco Liriano has led to the Twins winning 9 out of their last 12.

Nick Blackburn
As of today, however, both teams sit at 8.5 games out of 1st place and while the Phillies are just trying not to lose, the Twins seem to have some confidence and swagger, the likes of which they haven't experienced in a couple years.

Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) will make the start for the Twins and is trying to turn his brutal season around.  He pitched well against K.C. in his first outing back after shoulder soreness last Wednesday giving up only 2 runs in 5 innings.  He said that he just went out there and tried not to think too much.

He will be facing a sometimes inconsistent Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44) who has pitched well as of late but got clobbered by the Dodgers giving up 5 ER over 5.2 innings. 

I'm thinking it will be a high scoring affair for both teams but let's hope for the Twins sake that Blacky's not doing any thinking out there at all tonight.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Twins Win Series

Francisco Liriano
The Minnesota Twins (24-35) picked up their 4th series win in a row and have won 7 out of their last 10 but still sit in last place in the Central Division at 8.5 games behind the 1st place White Sox and are only 0.5 games behind 4th place Kansas City.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to left in the 1st to score Reed Johnson and put the Cubs up 1-0 right away against Francisco Liriano (1-7, 6.45) and the Twins.  But Liriano settled down after that pitching strong through 5 innings  He struggled in the 6th however, giving up 3 runs and wasn't able to finish the inning.  Liriano ended up going 5.2 inn, gave up 4 ER and had 6K's.

The Twins bullpen didn't fare so well this time, though, as Jared Burton gave up 2 R, 1 ER and Anthony Swarzak allowed 2 ER to put the Cubs up 8-0 going into the bottom of the 9th.

Minnesota scored 2 in the 9th but the lowly Cubs, who hold the worst record in the Majors, held on to win 8-2.

Liriano pitched well, but proved he doesn't have the stamina to go deep into ballgames.  It seems as though 5 or 6 innings is about it for him.  Despite losing 2 games in June, his ERA this month is at 3.86 which is very promising for the sometimes erratic lefty.

Joe Mauer struck out 3 times in the game and said that he's glad that Ryan Dempster is in the National League so he doesn't have to face him again. 

Dempster extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings and lowered his ERA to 2.31.  He's been really the only bright spot for the Cubs this year.

The Twins take on the Phillies at Target Field Tuesday night at 7:10 CT with Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) taking on Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 Twins Draft Results

Here's a look at the 43 players the Twins took in the draft this year:


  1. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.
  2. Jose Berrios, RHP, Papa Juan XXII HS (Puerto Rico) (Cuddyer-Colorado)
  3. Luke Bard, RHP, Georgia Tech (Kubel-Arizona)
  4. Mason Melotakis, LHP, Northwestern St
  5. J.T. Chargois, RHP, Rice
  6. Adam Walker, RF, Jacksonville
  7. Zach Jones, RHP, San Jose St.
  8. Tyler Duffey, RHP, Rice
  9. Andre Martinez, LHP, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
  10. Jorge Fernandez, C, Colegio Hector Urdaneta, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico
  11. Christian Powell, RHP, College of Charleston
  12. LJ Mazzilli, 2B, Connecticut
  13. D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Arkansas
  14. Taylor Rogers, LHP, Kentucky
  15. Alexander Muren, RHP, CS Northridge
  16. Erich Knab, RHP, Carolina Forest HS, Conway, S.C.
  17. Jake Proctor, CF, Cincinnati
  18. Jarret Leverett, LHP, Georgia Southern
  19. Will Hurt, SS, Lexington (Ky.) Catholic HS
  20. Dalton Hicks, 1B, UCF
  21. William LaMarche, RHP, Chabot
  22. Jonathan Murphy, LF, Jacksonville
  23. Zach Larson, CF, Lakewood Ranch HS, Bradenton, Fla.
  24. Bo Altobelli, C, Texas Tech
  25. Joshua Graham, C, Roseburg (Ore.) Senior HS
  26. Travis Huber, RHP, Nebraska
  27. Jose Favela, C, Franklin HS, El Paso, Texas
  28. Joel Licon, 2B, Orange Coast College
  29. Justin Jones, LHS, California
  30. Jerad Grundy, LHP, Kentucky
  31. Carson Goldsmith, RHP, Northwestern St.
  32. Sean Hagan, LHP, St. John's
  33. Bryan Santy, C, U Washington
  34. Timothy Robinson, LF, Ocean View HS, Westminster, Calif.
  35. Andrew Ferreira, LHP, Harvard
  36. Kaleb Merck, RHP, TCU
  37. Brian Haar, OF, San Diego
  38. Jared Wilson, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
  39. Brandon Bayardi, OF, UNLV
  40. James Marvel, RHP, Campolindo HS, Moraga, Calif.
  41. Austin Rei, C, Campolindo HS, Moraga, Calif.
  42. Alex Liquori, OF, Whitewater HS, Brooks, Ga.
  43. Brad Schreiber, RHP, Purdue

Mansihp?

Justin Morneau was clutch again.  A bases loaded single to center scored two and put the Twins up 3-2.  They went on to win 4-2 over the Royals and claimed their 3rd series victory in a row.

Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75) gave up a 2 run homer to Yuniesky (huh?) Betancourt to left field on a 2-2 count, but that was it.  Blacky said after that 1st inning he stopped thinking out there, trusted his stuff and just pitched.  Great advice for any pitcher --just do it, don't think about it.  He rolled from there completing 5 innings on 92 pitches.  Not great, but good for Blacky.

The Twins bullpen threw 4 shutout innings in relief, including Matt Capps coming on for the save, his 14th.  Capps appears to have his stuff working too as his fastball was hitting 95 on the gun and looked like it was actually rising.  I remember Nolan Ryan threw a four seam riser, but not too many other pitchers have been able to duplicate that nasty pitch.  I'm not comparing Capps to Nolan Ryan by any means but just saying that he looks like he's got his confidence back on the mound and his pitches are moving.

Joe Mauer was once again out of the lineup with a sprained thumb.  He has not swung a bat since that last game against the Indians.  The Twins have today off so I guess there's a chance he may be in the lineup on Friday when they take on the Chicago Cubs at Target Field.  I said "a chance".

Jeff Manship, or should I say Mansihp, made his comeback appearance last night but had to wear a jersey with his name misspelled on it!  He came on to pitch a scoreless 6th -- I say keep the name spelled that way.  Mansihp seems to pitch better than Manship.


Despite winning 3 series' in a row, the Twins still hold the worst record in the AL at 22-34 and remain 9.0 games out of 1st place.  They are still ahead of the Cubs (19-37) and the Padres (19-38), however, for worst record in the Majors. 

Got to look at the positives, right?

Tune in to FSN at 7:10 CT on Friday for their series opener against the lowly Cubs.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Twins Update

Tonight's Twins update is listed here on my other Twins blog at ProSportsBlogging.com.

Twins Are Rocking!

The bats came alive last night for the Twins and Cole DeVries notched his first Major League victory as the Minnesota Twins (21-33) defeated the Kansas City Royals (23-30) 10-7. 

Justin Morneau (10) and Josh Willingham (11) both hit 2-run bombs and Trevor Plouffe (7) added one of his own as the Twins were able to pile on runs to help their pitcher out.  Ben Revere and Jamey Carroll each added 3 hits in a 12 hit fiesta.

DeVries went 5 innings and gave up 4 ER on 6 hits to put his season ERA at 4.20.  He got into a little trouble in the 4th but just tried to keep in the zone and not get rattled.  ''The whole thing is a blur,'' he said, ''to be honest with you.''  He said he doesn't even remember the last couple batters that inning.  About the win - ''It feels awesome,'' said De Vries, a former undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota. ''It's something I've been waiting for my whole life.''

Joe Mauer showed up to the ballpark unable to play with a sore thumb and he is still listed day-to-day.

The Twins take on the Royals again tonight @ 7:10 CT with Francisco Liriano (1-5, 7.20) getting his second start back in the rotation.  The Twins will face Bruce Chen (4-5, 4.86) a 13 year vet who has knocked back and forth between a starter and reliever in his career.

The Twins are on a bit of a roll lately having won 6 out of their last 7.  A win tonight would be their third series win in a row and would move them to only 1.5 games behind K.C. for last place in the AL Central. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Twins Take Series

The Twins took their second series in a row after defeating the Cleveland Indians 6-3 today.  Scott Diamond picked up his team leading 4th win with a 7 inning performance, giving up 0 ER on 7 hits and 93 pitches bringing his ERA down to 1.86 on the year.  Glen Perkins pitched a scoreless 8th and Matt Capps finished the 9th for his 12th save. 

Trevor Plouffe went 3-4 with an RBI and Josh Willingham picked up 2 hits including an RBI double to left in the 7th.

The Twins were able to score in the early innings via "small ball" with bunt singles and aggressive base running.  A very encouraging thing to see being that they had a lot of success manufacturing runs back when they were a winning ball club a few years ago. 

Brian Dozier struggled today at shortstop committing 2 errors dropping his fielding % to .965.  Dozier could've been charged with another error on a play he mis-fielded but was ruled a hit instead. 

Joe Mauer went 1-3 with an RBI single in the 1st but suffered a mild strained thumb and had to leave the game in the 7th after he struck out.  He is listed as day-to-day.

Look for Nick Blackburn to be making a comeback to the rotation soon as Gardy may insert him in for Pavano's next start as he is dealing with a sore shoulder.

With the win, the Twins improve to 20-33, 10.5 games out of first and only 2.5 games behind the A's for the worst record in the AL.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 Draft


 Every year the MLB First Year Player Draft is important, however, this year will mark the first time since 2001 that the Minnesota Twins have a pick in the top 10.  You may remember that in '01 they chose hometown kid Joe Mauer at #1 instead of the highly touted RHP Mark Prior.  That draft worked in favor of the Twins as Mauer is still playing with a career BA of .322 and also was MVP of the league in 2009.  Mark Prior hasn't been so fortunate as he has struggled with injuries his entire career and has only been able to play 5 seasons.

This year the Twins are staring at the #2 pick overall and don't want to mess it up.  It will be a chance to get a key, franchise player again and also, with 5 overall picks of the first 72, they will be able to really replenish their depleted farm system.

The Houston Astros have the first overall pick and they are tight lipped thus far as to who they are really looking at.  They and the Twins are evaluating both, high school and college players but, no doubt, in the conversation of the top picks are Stanford pitcher Mark Appel and High School OF Byron Buxton.

I think if the Twins are smart, they will try for a pitcher that will be able to make an impact early.  There aren't any Steven Strasburg's out there this year but with such a question mark in the rotation this year and the future, it would be in their best interest to go with a Mark Appel if he's available.

Go to MLB.com to follow the 2012 Draft or tune in to MLB Network at 5p CT on Monday to see live draft coverage.  


Friday, June 1, 2012

No Ace In The Hole

The Minnesota Twins are going into Cleveland tonight to take on the second place Indians in the start of a three game series.  The veteran Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.46) will take the hill facing Derek Lowe (6-3, 3.25) at 6:05 CT. 


Carl Pavavo
The expectations for the Twins pitching staff going into this season weren't very high to begin with, but they were counting on Pavano to at least be the anchor and make an attempt to be the ace.  Thus far he has definitely not been that, floundering on many of his starts and looking washed up. 

His 2 wins have really been his best games.  The first came against the Yankees back on April 16th where he threw 7 innings, gave up 3 ER on 7 hits and had 6 K's with only 1 BB.  His second win came against the Mariners back on May 4th where he went 6 innings and gave up 2 ER with 2 K's and 0 BB.  Both wins were on the road and, in fact, his worst game of the year came at home against the Angels where he went only 4 innings and gave up 4 ER. 

Derek Lowe
Pavano's fastball has dropped to an average of 86-87 mph and his stuff lacks any bite to it.  I hate to be a downer but I don't see him making it out of the 5th inning tonight and with Derek Lowe going for the Tribe, the Twins offense will definitely be challenged and most likely held to 1 or 2 runs.  The one saving grace will be that the Indians are struggling with injuries to key players such as Travis Hafner (knee), Carlos Santana (concussion) and Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) and have dropped their last two.

I think it will be up to Pavano though and whether or not he can get a quality start and give the Twins a chance to win and with the young pitching staff having some success, old man Pavano is going to really have to step up his performances if he is to keep up.  Otherwise, he might be another one the Twins designate for assignment.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hometown Heroes


The Twins will be enjoying their day off today after finishing a sweep of the lowly A's yesterday, but I had to blog about something, so here are some standings and stats for ya.

A.L. Central Division          W        L           %          GB     
  1. White Sox                29       22        .569          -
  2. Indians                     27       23        .540          1.5
  3. Tigers                       23       27        .460          5.5
  4. Royals                      21       28        .429          7.0
  5. Twins                      18        32        .360         10.5   
Twins Leaders:

AVG.   
  1. .302     Denard Span
  2. .296     Joe Mauer
  3. .276     Josh Willingham
Home Runs
  1. 10     Josh Willingham
  2. 9       Justin Morneau
  3. 5       Ryan Doumit
RBI
  1. 35    Josh Willingham
  2. 25    Justin Morneau
  3. 25    Ryan Doumit 
Wins
  1. 3    Scott Diamond
  2. 3    Jeff Gray
  3. 2    4 tied
ERA
  1. 2.27    Scott Diamond
  2. 2.63    Alex Burnett
  3. 2.70    Cole DeVries
K's
  1. 39    Francisco Liriano
  2. 31    Carl Pavano
  3. 27    Glen Perkins

As far as hometown heroes go, it's worth mentioning that the Twins like to promote from within.  Three current players on the roster are actually from Minnesota: Mauer, Perkins and DeVries.  It's no secret that the Twins are akin to looking in their own backyard for talent (Kent Hrbek grew up right next to the bright lights of Met Stadium) which is a good thing for Minnesota baseball all around.  It's not like they run a charity case either.  The players they get from this state have made significant contributions.  I think it's encouraging for any standout baseball player in the high school or college ranks here that the Twins are looking and that a shot at the big leagues is possible.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Get Out The Brooms!

The Twins (18-32) successfully completed the series sweep today against the bumbling, stumbling A's (22-29) in a 4-0 victory.  Frankie Liriano even recorded his first win of the season today going 6 shutout innings and striking out 9 in the process looking very similar to the old Liriano who commanded three pitches at all times.

Of course....this was against the Oakland A's who have been playing even worse than the Twins as of late extending their losing streak to 8 games.  

But this is the Major Leagues and a win is a win is a win, and it's not easy to throw shutout innings against anyone is this league.  Therefore, it is an encouraging outing for Liriano (1-5, 7.20) and hopefully an awakening for him to turn things around this season.  

Josh Willingham added another 3 RBI performance with an RBI single and a 2-run moon shot to the upper deck in left field to help enable the Twins to get out the brooms for real with their first three game sweep of the season.  

Willingham Goes Yard!

Sometimes, all it takes is one.  The Oakland A's (22-28) went into the 9th up by 2 runs against a the Minnesota Twins (17-32) and were hoping to finally end their 6 game losing streak.  That was until Josh Willingham stepped up to the dish with 2 on and 2 out and bashed a 3 run job over the fence to win the game -- walk off style.  The Twins celebrated by giving him a Gatorade bath during the post game interview.

''You want to be in that situation whether you get a hit or not,'' said Willingham.  ''Fortunately I was able to get a hit tonight. I've been on the other end several times as well.''  The beast shot was his 5th career walk-off.

Cole DeVries was a little amped up for his first home start but fared well, going 5 innings allowing 0 ER on 2 hits.  He did, however give 5 free passes which jacked up hit pitch count to 92 over the 5 innings but, non-the-less, it was a solid outing for the rookie.

The Twins wrap up the Oakland series today at 12:10 with Francisco Liriano (0-5, 8.47) getting the game ball after a brief stint in the bullpen.  Does he deserve it?  I don't think so, but Gardy says he's tired of moving guys around and that Liriano is a starter and should be in the rotation. 

The A's are throwing Tyson Ross (2-5, 5.79) so I wouldn't look for it to be a pitcher's duel.  Let's just hope the Twins can get their bats going early this time instead of waiting for 9th inning heroics.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Losing Comes To A Skid



Memorial Day is a day for American's to honor and remember those who have served our great country.  It's also a day to remember when the Twins' losing streak finally screeched to a halt.  

The Minnesota Twins (16-32) defeated the Oakland A's (22-27) yesterday 5-4 in another nail biter as Matt Capps entered the 9th to a round of boos in his home park.

Of course the fans weren't happy with his first blown save of the year just the night before when Miguel Cabrera launched an 0-2 fastball into the seats.  ''I don't blame people for booing. They expect us to do a job, and I'm no different from the 24 other guys in here,'' Capps said.
 
An error and a walk and suddenly there were 2 on and 2 out for the A's with their hottest hitter Josh Reddick up to the plate.  He had homered and tripled already this game and Gardy wasn't going to take any chances with him in the 9th.  Capps intentionally walked Reddick to load the bases with a less intimidating Jonny Gomes up to bat.  Once again, Capps got Gomes 0-2 and I'm sure the echos of the booing fans still rattled in his head. 

''I wouldn't be human if I didn't feel something. Nobody likes that, especially in their home ballpark,'' Capps said, adding: ''No matter what the fans think, this organization still expects it out of me, and I've got to go out and do it.''  

But this time Capps prevailed when he blew a 94 mph heater by Gomes to end the game and get his 10 save of the season amidst a roaring Target Field crowd.

''We feel comfortable with him on the mound. He's a guy with guts,'' Morneau said

Alex Burnett (2-0) recorded the win but Scott Diamond pitched another solid game going 6.1 inn giving up 3ER on 9 hits.  Joe Mauer had 2 hits in the game, Trevor Plouffe hit a bomb in the 5th and Justin Morneau added 2 RBI in the 8th to tie it up at 4.  Ryan Doumit clobbered a fly ball to left to score Josh Willingham for the go-ahead run. 

The Twins face the A's at Target Field again tonight at 7:10.  Cole DeVries (0-1, 5.40) will get his second major league start taking on Jarrod Parker (1-2, 3.38) in the 2nd of a 3 game series.  The win extends Oakland's losing streak to 6 games. 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Exercise In Futility


The Minnesota Twins need a win…badly!  The problem is, so do the Oakland A’s.  Both teams are undergoing the types of losing skids that makes them almost unwatchable.  The good news for the A’s and the Twins is that regardless of how awful they’ve been playing, one team will emerge victorious and end their losing streaks.
 
The A’s and the Twins have each lost 5 in row and the skid will stop today for one of them.  Exciting right??  The bad news is, one team will also lose, extending their losing streak to 6.

The good news for the Twins is they have their virtual ace, Scott Diamond on the hill facing Travis Blackley, who was picked up by the A’s on waivers from the LA Angels.

Diamond has made a statement this year having been brought up from the minors recently.  He is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA and has easily been the best pitcher in the rotation giving the Twins a great chance to win.

 Blackley, having been a middle reliever all year for the Angels posting a 0-0 record with a 4.09 ERA, is getting his first start of the season, which usually spells trouble for the Twins.  They typically like to make a new pitcher look like a first ballot Hall of Famer, so Blackley also has a great chance of winning.

On the futile side, the A’s are posting the worst batting average in the AL with a paltry .209 while the Twins bring the worst ERA at 5.47.

Something’s gotta give.  Tune in at 1:10 CT today to find out whose losing streak will be broken.

This blog post also appears on ProSportsBlogging.com written by Michael Schlottman

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Local Guy Gets The Call Up

Jason Marquis' tenure with the Minnesota Twins lasted just 7 starts as the club announced today that he will be designated for release or assignment.  His last start, where he only managed to go only 1.2 innings and gave up 8 earned runs, was the straw that broke the camel's back as patience finally ran out.  The Twins were hoping to get an innings eater with Marquis as well as another veteran in the rotation, but his astronomical 8.47 ERA and average innings per start of 4.2 just wasn't going to cut it.

In his place, the Twins are calling up Cole DeVries from AAA Rochester who will be making his first Major League start tonight in Chicago.  DeVries went to Eden Prairie High School and later the University of Minnesota.  He has spent 6 years in the Twins farm system compiling a 32-42 overall record with an ERA of 4.01.

Marquis is just another one from the opening day roster to be gone this year as the Twins' September call-ups continue on in May.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Simply Beat Up

Joe Mauer picked up 4 hits but the Twins got absolutely beat up by the Brewers in a 16 - 4 pounding today at Miller Park.  Minnesota went through 6 pitchers (including backup catcher Drew Butera) as Jason Marquis was only able to go 1.2 innings in his 7th start of the season, bringing his record to 2-4 with a depressing 8.47 ERA.

Conversely, Zack Greinke had the game in total control, going 6.2 innnings giving up 1 ER and picking up 6 K's along the way.  And Jonathan Lucroy tied a Brewers franchise record by driving in 7 runs on a day when the 10 run mercy rule would've been nice.
The Twins were able to draw first blood after a Willingham singled to left, scoring Ben Revere but the Brewers countered with 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st and never looked back picking up 6 in the 2nd, 2 in the 4th, 1 in the 5th and 5 more in the 7th.
Once again, Minnesota's starting pitching let the team down.

Marquis has 2 quality starts this year with a win against KC (6.0, 3ER) and a loss against Seattle (6.0, 2ER).  But he hasn't been able to go more than 6.1 innings this season and that number seems to be getting less and less with each start.  For a guy who was brought over as an "innings eater", he's certainly not living up to that billing.

The Twins are going to have to look at their options (which aren't many) to figure something out for their starting pitching.  Maybe that would be putting Swarzak or Duensing back into the rotation, or trading for an arm that can give us some quality starts.

Either way, they can't afford to continue to give Marquis the ball every 5th start when guys like Butera have to come in and finish the game.
  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Lost Art

There used to be a time when a starting pitcher with over a 5.00 era would get released or sent down to the minors.  In looking back at all those hours spent studying the backs of baseball cards and memorizing players' stats, I don't recall seeing many pitchers with such astronomical era's still pitching at the major league level.

Nick BlackburnTonight the Minnesota Twins (10-26) are in Detroit to take on the second place Tigers (18-18) at 7:05 CT.  Nick Blackburn (1-4, 7.18) is scheduled to take the hill versus Rick Porcello (3-3, 5.18). 

Now, a couple years ago, say like 2009, this match up would be one worth watching.  Blackburn went 11-11 with a 4.03 era and Porcello did a little better going 14-9 with a 3.96 era.  Both were career years for these pitchers who, at that time, were showing promise of being a good number 3 or 4 starter respectively.  However, instead of trending upward, Blacky and Porcello have spiralled downward and, once upon a time, wouldn't even be getting a sniff at a starting spot in the rotation.




But this is 2012.  Times have changed.  Where should I begin? 
  • the mound was lowered in the 80's
  • the strike zone has shrunk
  • the baseball seams are so non-existent that it's like throwing a cue ball
  • mechanics have been overly simplified causing pitchers to use less legs and more arm
  • a new baseball is used whenever one sniffs the ground
  • pitch counts are overly enforced
  • the rotation consists of 5 guys instead of 4
  • knuckleballs, curveballs, and splitters are discouraged by pitching coaches
  • a quality start is considered giving up 3 runs in 6 innings (4.5 era overall)
  • complete games are almost non-existent
  • Tommy John surgery has become an epidemic
  • baseball trainers and agents determine how many innings a guy throws per year
  • batter's were and maybe still are pumped up on 'roids and HGH
....I could go on and on.

My point is, Major League Baseball has consistently made it more and more difficult for the pitcher to succeed, going with the notion that fans want to see lot of home runs, lots of pitchers, and 14-10 ball games.  Ironically, though, at the same time, they are also desperately trying to find ways to speed up the game.  For instance, it's rumored that they will not allow the pitcher to fake a throw to third and look to first when runners are on first and third.  Sure, that'll speed up the game. 

A good old fashioned pitcher's duel where each starter throws a complete game and the score ends up something like 2-1, guaranteed, would only take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  A 14-10 game usually takes up to 4 hours or more.  However, Major League Baseball wants the latter with the time of the former?  Don't they also understand that the most boring and time consuming part about baseball is the pitching changes?

All of this, however, doesn't excuse the way that Blackburn and Porcello are pitching this year.  Despite all of the road blocks, there are pitchers out there that still dominate.  They are just becoming more and more scarce.  The gap between the good, the bad and the ugly is widening and the ugly (Blackburn) are still able to hang around starting rotations because, frankly, there's no one else to take their spots.

Pitching has really become a lost art over the years.  It's a scarey trend for guys like me who appreciate a good pitcher's duel.  With the way things are going, let's just hope that Major League Baseball doesn't decide to make the pitcher the guy who feeds the pitching machine.  I think I would have to stop watching at that point.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Diamond's A Mother's Best Friend

Scott Diamond took the hill on Mother's Day for his second start this season after throwing 7 shutout innings against the Angels a week ago.  He continued his shutout streak, throwing for 7 more shutout innings, 14 in a row.  Watch out Orel Hershiser and your 59 consecutive scoreless innings!

Diamond helped the Twins to get to that seemingly impossible feat of 10 wins on the season.  They are still the worst team in MLB at 10-24, trailing the Padres who are 12-23.


One bright spot is that Minnesota's winning percentage, .294, remains higher than their team batting average, which is a paltry .238, 23rd overall in the majors.

Seriously though....the good news is that they went 2-2 against the Jays and have won the last 2 out of 3 games.  The Cleveland Indians are coming to town for a two game series and it's worth noting that, while the Indians are the division leaders at 18-16, the Twins are only 8 games back.  With that in mind, I'm going to give you a little fantasy scenario:

The Tigers are going into a two game series with the White Sox and if the Tigers lose one or both of their games and the Twins win their two against Cleveland, Minnesota would be only 6 games behind going into Detroit for a two game series.  If the Twins were to win those two games against Detroit, now I know I'm really getting ahead of myself here, and the Indians lost their two games against Seattle, Minnesota would be 14-24 and only four games behind the Indians and the White Sox who would be tied for first at 18-20.

Whew!  Hey, it could happen.  Even with the Twins having the horrible, dreadful, puke worthy season they are having, any thing's possible in the Central Division.  And it starts tonight with Pavano (2-3, 5.02) vs. Jeanmar (who?) Gomez (2-2, 4.66).

However, I believe it was after Diamond's last start that I threw out some positive thoughts on my blog, only to have them squashed by Carl Pavano and his ineptitude.  It's just too bad Scott Diamond can't pitch every start.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wake Up Joe!!!

It's a familiar site for the Twins. 

Span is on first with one out and up to the plate is Twins' number three hitter Joe Mauer.  The first pitch is a cheese ball right down the middle of the plate.  Mauer aptly takes the pitch and proceeds to lightly brush the dirt around in the batters box.  He's behind in the count right away at 0-1, no big deal. The next pitch is low and away and Joe waves at it with not much purpose other than to establish to the pitcher that he is actually there.  The count is now 0-2 and the next pitch is a waste pitch, usually up in the zone.  Joe will typically take this pitch putting the count at 1-2.  Now if the pitcher is smart and has Joe figured out, he will go low and inside.  Most pitchers will do this and the outcome is Mauer tapping a grounder to second for an easy 4-6-3 double play and the inning is over.  Joe then trots off the field at a leisurely pace like it's just another day on the job. 

Wake up Joe!!!

This is the big leagues and you're the highest paid Twins player ever and you act like it's no big deal that you hit the ball like Alexi Casilla on a bad day.  It irks me, and many other Twins fans that I know, that he seems content with hitting grounders to second.  It bothers me that he doesn't change his approach at the plate. 

Instead of always taking that first fastball that is grooved down the middle, he needs to turn on it and jack it out of the park.  That's what smart hitters do.  Every pitcher in the world knows that he can get ahead of Mauer right away by just lobbing one up there for a strike because he's not going to swing at it!  C'mon man!

It also bothers me that he exudes the excitement of Yellow Dog from Funny Farm!  Remember that scene when Chevy Chase has to take Yellow Dog's tail out of the fire place?  If not, watch the movie...it will remind you of Joe Mauer!

Wake up Joe!!!

Be the leader that's you're supposed to be.  Being the highest paid player on the team comes with some responsibility, namely leadership.  Players, coaches and fans look to you to carry the team through the tough times, not just go out like it's business as usual.  Especially with Morneau's chronic DL status, it's time to put the team on your back.

Another thing that bothers me is that it's not like Joe's a little guy.  He's 6'5", 220.  He should be hitting for power, jacking balls out of Target Field.  Look at Curtis Granderson.  He's not that big of a dude but he still powers it out.  There's no reason Mauer shouldn't be hitting 30 + homers per year.  I guess other than that he enjoys grounding out to second and trotting down the first base line and then back into the dugout.

Wake up Joe!!!

If he doesn't change soon, I think the only logical thing for Terry Ryan and the Twins to do is shop him around and trade him.  Maybe we could get a pitching prospect that either already has had Tommy John surgery or doesn't need it.  Not to mention it would free up a bunch of money for the Twins to go out and get someone that will actually make a difference. 

In order to even have a shot at salvaging this season, change needs to come fast.  If that's getting rid of Mauer than so be it.  Otherwise, the only way the Twins have a chance is if Joe will change his approach at the plate, be a leader and just wake up.