Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Grades Are In

Joe Mauer
The Minnesota Twins (65-86) came into the 2013 season with some relatively high hopes. They lost 96 and 99 games in the previous two seasons and were determined not to repeat that pattern. Some off-season moves were made and aspirations were higher than they have been the past two years. Here's a list of some of the things the Twins were looking forward to and how they fared.
  1. To say the least, they were hoping for, perhaps, a .500 season. 
  2. They were hoping Mauer and Morneau would be back to old MVP-like form. 
  3. They were hoping that Aaron Hicks would be the next star center fielder to take over for Denard Span. 
  4. They were hoping that the three free agent pitchers they picked up in the off-season (Worley, Pelfrey and Correia) would make them a competitive team and solidify a respectable starting rotation. 
  5. They were hoping that Perkins would continue to dominate as a closer. 
  6. With new hitting coach and Twins alumni Tom Brunansky, they were hoping to elevate the team batting average. 
  7. Most of all, they were hoping to contend so that they could continue to put butts in the seats at prestigious Target Field.
Based on those hopes, lets see how they fared. I went ahead and assigned letter grades to each hope.
  1. At 65-86 with only 11 games left in the season, getting to .500 can't happen. At least they can't get to 100 loses. D
  2. Mauer is hitting very well at .324/.404/.476 but his power numbers of 11 HR and 47 RBI in 445 AB definitely isn't elite status. He has also missed the last two weeks due to a concussion and will probably be out for most of the remainder of the year. Morneau has been traded to the Pirates. His power numbers were respectable with the Twins at 17/74 but was having trouble keeping his batting average above .250 and, lets face it, he has never looked the same since his concussion issues three years ago. C+
  3. Aaron Hicks was given the starting center field position on opening day but after 81 games, the rookie couldn't ever get his average above the Mendoza line. He is a decent fielding CF but struggled horrendously at the plate and wasn't much of a threat on the bases once he did get on. D-
  4. Vance Worley, Kevin Corriea and Mike Pelfrey were sent to the Minnesota Twins to hopefully give them some stability in the starting rotation. Rounded out with Scott Diamond (was injured at the beginning of the season) and either Samuel Deduno (was injured at the beginning of the season), P.J. Walters or Cole DeVries the starters actually seemed legit on paper. Because of Diamond's injury, Vance "Vanimal" Worley took the hill on opening day. The Minnesota fans and media were eating up all the potential that the Vanimal had to offer. His line wasn't terrible. He went 6 innings and gave up 3 runs - a "quality start". However, the Twins lost that game 4-2 to the Tigers and Vanimal's starts got worse and worse. He managed to go 6 innings or more only twice since and by the end of May he was posting a 1-5 record with a 7.21 ERA and was sent down to AAA. Corriea (9-12, 4.31) has been the best of the three at a mediocre level. And Pelfrey (5-13, 5.34) had been just short of horrid. F
  5. Glen Perkins has done well getting 35 saves thus far in 39 attempts. His ERA of 2.45 is a little high for a closer and could use some improvement. But overall, considering the team he is on, he has done well. B+
  6. Twins fans were happy to see Joe Vavre be replaced by favorite Tom Brunansky, however, the team .241 BA is the lowest it's been since 1981 when they hit .240 and went 41-68 in a strike shortened season. Although the Twins have already hit 144 homers, which is the most since 2009 (172), their runs per game has dropped significantly since last year from 4.33 to 3.85. Walks are down and strikeouts are up and even though I personally like Bruno as the hitting coach, he's still has a lot to prove. D
  7. Contend they really haven't, and Target Field is starting to lose its luster. Attendance per game has dropped every year since the stadium was built (from 39,798 in 2010 to 30,953 in 2013). However, even though they aren't selling out every game anymore, the per game average is still higher than in 1992, the year after a World Series victory. Coincidentally, team payroll has also dropped considerably from $112.7 million in 2011 to $79 million today. But since fans still get excited to watch the Twins outdoors in their nice, new stadium, despite the team's lack of success, I'll give them a B.
At the beginning of the season, the Twins looked decent on paper and I really thought they would be able to compete and finish middle of the pack in the Central Division. The fact that they have a lot of talent in the minors is comforting but, unless they make some bold off-season moves to legitimately bolster the pitching staff and add some above .275/25/100 hitters, next year will likely play out just like the last three. It's too bad that the bar keeps getting lower for those relatively high hopes that don't translate into more wins. I think some more housecleaning needs to be done but that's a topic for another blog post.

Overall grade for Twins 2013 - D

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Attitude is Everything

The Minnesota Twins have had a ho-hum, go about your business but don't rock the boat type of attitude ever since they opened Target Field. It's the laid back, country club type of atmosphere where you go to hang out, take a few cuts in the cage and enjoy some baseball. Who cares if you win, right? They have the new field and the big contracts (Mauer, Morneau, Willingham) so what's the difference if they win games or not?

Ho-hum
Now, all due respect to Joe, Justin and Josh, as I know they work hard each and every day and deep down they do want to win. However, it's tough for a passionate baseball fan like me to see clips of them in the dugout and there's absolutely no emotion after they bounce out a double play ball. I mean COME ON!!

It seems to me like no one cares.

Gardy sits there and talks with Anderson (the only one he seems to converse with) and it looks like you could hear crickets in the dugout.

Seeing Eddie Guardado get his Twins Hall of Fame bid made me realize that the Twins miss a guy like him. They miss guys like A.J. and Hunter. Guys like Kirby and Hrbie. Guys like Bert. They had chips on their shoulders and weren't there just for the hell of it.

Right now there isn't a single soul on the team with any fire or personality to get everyone going. It's almost like they're robots. I'd hate to be in the clubhouse before and after games. I bet its like being on the golf course. Everyone is probably very courteous to eachother and they just go about their business in a quiet manner. Wouldn't want to bother anyone!

Seriously! If the Twins want to contend again, they need personality in the clubhouse. I miss a guy like Redmond who would walk around the clubhouse naked just to get a rise out of guys.

Wake up Twins!! Show some fire and passion.

Attitude is everything, and you won't win consistently without it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Was this year's draft a good one for the Twins?

Twins #1 pick Kohl Stewart
Pitching, pitching and more...catchers...?

The 2013 draft saw the Minnesota Twins doing some of the predictable by picking up a bunch of pitching prospects. It also saw some of the unpredictable with them going with some catching prospects as well.

It's obvious that the Twins need pitching as game in and game out, it seems to be their achilles heel as starters struggle to get through 6 innings.

RHP Kohl Stewart should help. He was selected with the #4 overall pick and was one of the top high school kids in the draft posting a 0.18 ERA! He's also been compared to pitchers such as Josh Beckett. Not bad!

Another pitcher by the name of Ryan Eades out of LSU was selected in the second round by the Twins. He's definitely a starter that has good stuff including a nasty curveball that gets batters out. The biggest blemish on Eades is that he underwent shoulder surgery while a senior in high school, but it appears that that is not a factor right now.

As the draft went on, more and more pitchers were selected with third baseman Dustin DeMuth thrown in for good measure. However, with the picks in the 3rd, 6th and 9th rounds, the Twins selected catchers Stuart Turner out of the University of Mississippi; Brian Navarreto, a high school kid from Florida; and Mitch Garver from New Mexico.

Looking at these guys, it's clear that none would be suitable replacements for Joe Mauer, so, why pick so many catchers?

For more info on the draft, please go to aarongleeman.com,


Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting Closer

At 25-29 the Twins have sneaked their way into 3rd place in the Central. They currently stand at a full game ahead of the White Sox and 4 games behind the 2nd place Indians. I had predicted they would grab 3rd by the All-Star break, but now they're working ahead of that.

Diamond

It has been beneficial that they are facing bottom feeder teams, but hey, you need to take care of business against those teams and the Twins are certainly doing that.

The Twins are 7-3 in the last 10 games and have won 6 out of their last 7. Also good news, they've improved their previously ailing home record to 13-14. It's nice to see Target field being somewhat of an advantage for them as they've been knocking a lot out of the park.

Rookie Aaron Hicks has been a spark they've needed on offense. During the last 7 games, he's hitting .286 with 2 homers, a triple, and a handful of spectacular defensive catches.

Hicks
Scott Diamond improved his record to 4-4 on the season with a win versus Seattle yesterday. He allowed only 4 hits while giving up 0 runs in the Twins 10-0 victory.

Don't get me wrong, the Twins still have a lot of work to do and a lot to prove if they want to contend for the Central Division title. They play KC (23-31) next with Washington (28-29) and Philadelphia (27-30) to follow. They need to take advantage of playing these sub .500 teams because come the middle of June, they see Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland again.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Back to the 2 hole

Joe Mauer returned to the number 2 spot in the lineup yesterday. Gardy says that's where he likes him to be. Check out the full article from the Pioneer Press right here: Chad Graff


#joemauerhitting#2

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

HIcks O Rama!

Sam Deduno pitched 7 solid innings giving up only 1 earned run and Glen Perkins picked up his 11th save of the season as the Twins (22-28) beat Milwaukee 4-1 tonight at Target Field. The victory gives Minnesota its 3rd win in a row (all three against the Brewers).

But the real story has been the play of Aaron Hicks who slammed another home run tonight, his 6th on the season. Last night he robbed Carlos Gomez of a homerun and jacked one out himself to help the Twins to a 6-5 extra inning victory. In total against the Brewers, Hicks is hitting .385 with 2 homers and 2 doubles.

In the last week, since May 22nd, Hicks is hitting .286 with 3 home runs and one taken away. A lot better than his sub .200 season average.

Is Hicks finally starting to hit his stride? Bat him leadoff again, I say, while he's hot!

All I know is that it's nice to see the Twins winning...maybe we can play Milwaukee the rest of the year?

Click HERE to see Hicks robbing Carlos Gomez of a homerun

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fore!

Aaron Hicks was officially named the Twins starting center fielder. Joe Mauer had a 6 RBI game. But you have to take a look at this clip of Sergio Garcia smacking a ball out of a tree! http://www.kfan.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=104673&article=11104067

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Groin Injury Giving Walters A Shot

P.J. Walters
 Samuel Deduno, who pitched extremely well at the WBC, suffered a groin injury during the championship game. He is expected to be out for only a couple weeks at most. This will give P.J. Walters a shot at starting today as the Twins take on the Tampa Bay Rays. However, even if Walters does well today, I still think that Deduno earned a shot at the 5th spot in the rotation with his play in the WBC.

Deduno at WBC
Last year, he showed that he is capable of pitching in the big leagues and even that he can overpower some hitters. The one thing the Twins saw that he needed to work on the most was his control as he walked almost as many batters as he struck out (57/53).

Walters last year was 2-5 for the Twins with a 5.69 ERA. Deduno was 6-5 with a 4.44. Both pitchers still need to prove they can be in the big leagues for a full season but right now, I'm hoping that Deduno comes back from that groin injury real soon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Twins Trim the Roster

The Twins made some cuts today.  Most notable among them is outfielder Joe Benson.  For more info, click on the link below for the Star Tribune report.

La Velle E. Neal III

Not the guy cut, but good for effect

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Twins Forecast: Cloudy

Cold Weather Carew
The Twins are set to open their 2013 season against the Detroit Tigers at home in front of a, hopefully, sold out crowd. Although the weather is 25 degrees outside my window right now, the 10 day forecast from Fox 9 News shows 54 degrees and cloudy with a chance of showers on April 1st.

This should offer some hope that the Twins will actually get this home opener in. However, after coming back to Minnesota from being in the 80's and sunny down in Ft. Meyers, 54 degrees will most likely make players succumb to turtlenecks and ear flap hats.

Ron Gardenhire is tight lipped about who will start on the mound, but all indications thus far point toward Vance "Vanimal" Worley getting the nod. Scott Diamond would've been the opening day starter, but he most likely won't be ready to go for another week or so. The umpires do allow the pitchers to blow on their hands during cold weather so if the "Vanimal" has a spit ball, this would be the time to bust it out.

If the rain and cold prove to be just too much for our sun baked club, no worries, the Twins were 3-0 in double headers last year.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cinderella Season

Just for fun I've put together some key stats from the 1987 World Series Champion Twins team.

85-77, 1st in West Division / 5th in AL

Getting TP'd!










Scored 786 runs, allowed 806 runs!

Batting:
Kirby
  • R - 786, 8th in AL
  • H - 1422, 13th in AL
  • HR - 196, 6th in AL
  • AVG - .261, 10th in AL




I wonder if he still has this shirt?

Pitching:
  • W-L % - .525, 5th in AL
  • CG - 16, Last in AL
  • SO - 990, 6th in AL
  • ERA - 4.63, 10th in AL




Hrbie!!
Individual Team Leaders

Batting:
  • AVG - Kirby Puckett - .332
  • HR - Kent Hrbek - 34
  • RBI - Gary Gaetti 109
  • SB - Dan Gladden - 25


 Most Valuable Player, Batter - Kirby Pucket (3.9 WAR)

Pitching:
  • W-L - Frank Viola - 17-10
  • SO - Frank Viola - 197
  • SV - Jeff Reardon - 31
  • ERA Starter - Frank Viola - 2.90
Most Valuable Player, Pitcher - Frank Viola (7.8 WAR)

Sweet Music


Overall, by looking at these stats, it's amazing that this team did win the World Series.  They were either average or below average in many categories.  Being in the AL West played a huge factor because if they were in the AL East, they would've been in 5th behind the Yankees.

However, new uniforms, a new Manager, the Metrodome and an unwillingness to quit when their backs were against the wall propelled them to World Series victory.  The 1987 Twins were the very definition of an "underdog" team because nobody gave them a chance.  However, I'm sure that if you were to talk to any of the former members of that team, they would tell you that they knew they had something very special that year -- a Cinderella season indeed!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Twins: Questionable At Best

With the Minnesota Twins season opener less than two months away, there are many question marks surrounding the team which has most people predicting a last place finish for the club.  In all reality, they've made some moves this off season to bolster the pitching staff as well as their farm system but they didn't add any power, the middle infield is questionable at best, they're without a proven center fielder, without a proven closer and they don't have a pitcher dominant enough to be called an "ace".
Scott Diamond

It's difficult to be optimistic about their chances when they continue to make the same moves that have gotten them into the cellar in the first place.  Picking up a couple back-of-the order starters in Kevin Correia and Vance Worley as well as using under-experienced position players such as Mastroianni and Dozier doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me.  If fact, it sounds like more of the status quo.   

One good thing is that Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham are all healthy and good to go but Mauer and Morneau will need to step up their offensive production, mainly homers and RBI's, if they are to have even a chance at scoring a lot of runs this season.  Ryan Doumit could be a sleeper to hit 20/80 this year which would help Morneau and Willingham to have legitimate power behind them.

Darrin Mastroianni is literally being thrown into the starting center field position after the departure of Span and Revere.  He has ability and range in the outfield but the biggest question mark will be his performance at the plate.  Span and Revere were both marginally good at getting on base, stealing bases and setting the table for the RBI guys, but now they have a glaring need for a lead off and number 2 hitter.  Mastroianni, Carrol??  Not so sure about that one. 

Scott Diamond, after starting last season in the minors, will be the ace of the staff after being the most consistent pitcher last year.  However, Diamond underwent minor surgery in December to remove bone fragments in his left (throwing) elbow.  He still has some soreness and tenderness and is not throwing the best right now.  The Twins are confident he will make a full recovery by opening day but it's a little discouraging to hear that he isn't recovering as well as he was hoping to this point.

Anthony Swarzak was messing around and broke a couple ribs last week which, for the Twins, could loom huge to start the season being that he's going to miss the first month and they need all the pitching they can get.

With all of these concerns facing the team this season, I think the biggest question mark that hasn't been addressed by Terry Ryan this off-season is the middle infield.  It's going to be tough to pull out games in the late innings with an average second baseman and a minor league shortstop.  Dozier will most likely get the start at short but he did nothing to impress last year as he was basically just a warm body.  On any other team he would most likely find himself in the minors.  Jamey Carrol is good but getting older and his range isn't what it used to be. 

Trevor Plouffe could be solid at 3B and I think that a full season there would help him gain more confidence and consistency.  His potential power is exciting as well and he could be another sleeper like Doumit to hit 20/80 this year.

Being a baseball fan, I am always excited with the beginning of new season as there is always hope that something magical could happen.  Unfortunately, I'm not so sure this year is going to be that year for the Twins with so many question marks that still need answers.