Friday, October 30, 2009

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em!" presents For the Love of the Game

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for stopping by the past few days to read my Matt Guerrier article. Thanks to John Bonnes for plugging it on Gameday and Seth Stohs for plugging it again on his website - I really appreciated the great comments on it and the site traffic.

Second, thanks again to Jack Steal for inviting me on his podcast! We had more call-ins and also a great special guest: Nick Nelson, of Nick's Twins Blog, one of the most respected Twins bloggers out there and a great source of discussion. If you haven't already listened to the podcast you can listen to it here.

Third, and MOST important, it's Friday. And that means we continue my weekly offseason series:

For my fourth installment of "Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em", I'm pleased to be able to introduce Betsy of For the Love of the Game. Easily one of my favorite Twins blogs, she's also one of the first bloggers I ever met and went to a game with! In fact, along with Katie from KC's Baseball Blog, we scaled a parking garage wall to scope out the great views of Target Field. Betsy always has witty and well-thought-out content about whatever is going on in the Twins universe, and she also is quite adept at making signs. So, without further ado, on to Betsy's answers!

NAME: Betsy
BIRTHDAY: 10/16/80
FAVORITE MOVIE: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: I like most kinds of music
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: haha ... I dance
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: I don't follow basketball, but for football, I prefer the Chargers, and I LOVE the Wild!

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: I grew up watching baseball ... and when I was really little I'd play baseball with the boys in my neighborhood.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: The Rays, because Jason Bartlett is still a favorite of mine.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: I've only been to Petco Park other than the Dome, so I don't have much experience, but I LOVED Petco Park! It's beautiful!
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I love watching the pitchers hit ... it's amusing. Plus Milwaukee is a great rival of the Twins!
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I think it makes sense considering these are the teams you need to beat in order to get to the World Series!
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: ummm...?? Maybe Albert Pujols... I have a high amount of respect for him and he is an outstanding player, and I know he's very much into his faith, which I think is so cool
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Nick Swisher... his on field attitude drives me crazy!
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: Well when I played baseball, we just played, no positions were picked.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: Sometime in the 80's ... I don't remember when exactly!
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: During signings (back when Kent Hrbek was on the team), the players would stand on the field and kids could go around and meet them ... When my brother and I got to Kent Hrbek, he saw that my brother had an Oakland A's hat on ... Kent took the hat off my brother's head and threw it on the ground as my brother got his picture taken with him.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST? HOW WAS IT?: Yes, I've been to Twinsfest several years! It's always fun ... it can get kind of expensive for autographs, but I enjoy the picture line A LOT!
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING? HOW WAS IT?: Never been to Spring Training ... some day.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT?: Well, technically it was just my "Yankees = Evil Empire" sign that got circled ... I don't know that I ever have been with one of my signs.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME?: Nope, just have gotten two balls thrown to me after warm ups or batting practice.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: I always had a soft spot for Kent Hrbek growing up, so I have to go with him.
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: Haha ... Joe Crede? I never thought I'd like him when he signed with us in the off-season, but he's grown on me.
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: Juan Rincon for sure ... I'm sure there were others too, but he was the first to come to mind.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: Meeting Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the bar I worked at a couple years ago. I got to talk to both of them and got pictures with them. Plus I got to serve Justin a beer (I worked at the beer tub)
GO TO A BAR WITH: Kevin Slowey
BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: Joe Nathan! (or Mauer! Lol)

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I think it'll be great ... a little cold in April and not looking forward to rain delays or cancelled games, but overall it should be great!
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: I hope the "rebuilding" stages are finally over and Bill Smith gets his act in gear and signs Joe Mauer long-term.

Thanks so much to Betsy for answering my questions and letting us profile her this week! Make sure to check out her site and add it to your daily reads! And next Friday we'll be back when Josh Johnson of Josh's Thoughts takes the stage for us!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Live Podcast Pt. 2

I'm joining Jack Steal to co-host his second live podcast tonight! You can listen to it live or on archive here. If you're around between 11EST (10CT) and Midnight (11CT) definitely check it out and call in! We'd appreciate your support!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Piece the Twins SHOULD Trade

By now, enough other bloggers have expounded on the fact that the Twins will probably only have around $20 million dollars or so at most to spend this offseason, and that will have to cover any restructuring of Joe Mauer's contract and plug all the leaks that have sprung in the infield and rotation. This could be a tall task for a Twins front office that hasn't displayed much in the way of creativity over its short tenure.

Consequently, one of the off-season options we could potentially expect to see again would be a significant trade. Twins Fix poses Jason Kubel as a potential tradable asset in a very well-thought out article. While I'd have to agree that if Kubel were able to net us a gold-mine, we should be willing to part with him, I'm not sure if he's the most likely candidate.

Kubel's position on our offense has been invaluable. And we have him at a relative bargain for at least the next two years if the Twins pick up their option (and I don't see how they wouldn't). After endless seasons of not having much power in the middle of our lineup, Kubel's presence has solidified a punch that I don't think we would be able to easily replace for a decent value on the free agent market or in our farm system. Without him, our potent lineup takes a big knock.

I'd like to pose that the Twins should deal from an area where they have overabundance. That area, believe it or not, is in our bullpen.

The Twins are going to have a massive group of pitchers lining up for a spot in their bullpen this year, and one area that practically every team in the majors is always looking to address (and always willing to overpay for) is in the bullpen.

Don't scoff. It's true that this past offseason, and up until our acquisition of Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay at the waiver deadline, the bullpen was a major achilles heel for our team as well. But with all the major players from this last year returning, in addition to Boof Bonser, Pat Neshek, and several people knocking on the door in Rochester, we might just have too few spots for all the available arms.

I am not advocating trading Joe Nathan.

Joe Nathan is one of the best closers in baseball, and no untimely misfortune in a high-pressure series against the Yankees will convince me otherwise. Give me one relief pitcher I want to see trot out of a bullpen in a close game and 5 out of 5 times I'll take Nathan.

I think we need to trade Matt Guerrier.

I love Guerrier. I think Guerrier is a quality bullpen arm and has been the second most reliable person out of our pen the past few years. I also think he performed well over his head this past year, and his value will never be higher.

The old adage is that it's better to trade a player too soon than too late. The ideal would to be trading that player right after they've peaked. Matt Guerrier is 31, his prime is just behind him, and he just posted a career year, with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.969 WHIP (well below his 6-year career numbers of a 3.41 ERA and 1.269 WHIP). He also was tied with Jeremy Affeldt for the most "Holds" (a meaningless stat but a stat nonetheless) with 33 on the season, 5 more than the next best of the set-up men.

I think Guerrier still has several solid years as a set-up man, but I would be willing to wager almost anything he doesn't post numbers like these again. (See Erin's article at Plunking Gomez for more on Guerrier's sustainability.)

Consider for a minute that next year we will have 6-7 spots open in the bullpen. You can assume that Joe Nathan, Jose Mijares and Jon Rauch will occupy 3 of those spots. Unless Jesse Crain is non-tendered, he is also a lock, and the way he pitched since coming back from his demotion to Rochester I have to believe that Crain will remain on our team. As frustrating as he's been, he's not been all that bad of a relief pitcher compared to many others.

I believe that that both Neshek and Bonser will be members of the bullpen as well. And between Liriano, Perkins, and Duensing, only one of them will likely make the rotation while the other two will either be traded or moved to the bullpen.

That's at least 7 good-to-serviceable arms in the pen, not counting Guerrier's. Top that with the fact that Gardenhire is strongly pushing to bring Mahay back under contract, and we have those vaunted prospects of Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama waiting for their shot down in Rochester. We have too many options!

Guerrier is entering his third year of arbitration after making nearly $1.5M in '09. In 2011 he'll hit free agency and the Twins will certainly not retain him. By all means the Twins should see how much somebody would be willing to overpay in a trade.

Perhaps the Angels or Dodgers, who both have suffered this past post-season from ineffective bullpens? Or perhaps Guerrier could be packaged with someone like Delmon Young or Glen Perkins to make a sweeter offer for an infielder like JJ Hardy or Yunel Escobar?

Truth be told, I don't know what kind of package we could get in return for one year of Guerrier, but I imagine that there are many teams looking for a solid reliever, and Guerrier is coming off his best year while the Twins suddenly find themselves with a surplus of bullpen arms for 2010. Some things just make sense.

You too can pretend to dream up brilliant moves and imagine you're the Twins GM, and the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is not only a useful tool for your musings, but it is packed with enough information to get you through the lonely winter months of the offseason. And it's only $9.95! That's a real deal, especially considering all the free blogging that John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Parker Hageman, and Nick Nelson have supplied us with on a daily basis.

Anyway, that's all for now. Be sure to check back later this week. I'll be rejoining Jack Steal on his podcast Wednesday night for another go-round, and on Friday I'll be continuing my Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em segment focusing on Betsy of For the Love of the Game!

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em" presents Jack Steal

Happy Friday everyone! In case you haven't heard it already, I helped Jack Steal co-host his first ever Twins podcast on Wednesday night. Check it out! We had a couple callers and some very good discussion about the postseason, use of instant replay, reviewing the Twins season, and some things to change and address this offseason.

Speaking of Jack Steal, this Friday's installment of our Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em series will be focusing on him! Jack started his website around the beginning of the '09 season and it has been going strong ever since. He always provides great game recaps during the season and has good insight and analysis on all aspects of the Twins team in his posts. You can find him at Fanatic Jack Talks Twins. Without further ado, let's give the floor to Jack:

NAME: Jack Steal
BIRTHDAY: June 11, 1971
HOMETOWN: Born in St. Paul, MN and reside in the NW suburbs.
FAVORITE MOVIE: A Few Good Men, Pride of the Yankees, The Natural
FAVORITE BOOK: Profiles in Courage, Tale of Two Cities
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: Rock and Country. I like them both a lot.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: Baseball as a kid, now softball.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/WILD/TIMBERWOLVES: I love the Vikings and was devastated when they lost to Atlanta in 1999. I am just starting to get into the Wild now. I was a huge hockey fan and when the North Stars moved to Dallas a part of me died inside. I like the Timberwolves and support them but am not really a big basketball fan. Too many THUGS!!

Baseball Generic-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: It is America's past time!! It is a beautiful game, the bases are 90 feet, the pitcher's mound is 60 feet 3 inches, and it is the only sport that does not have a time clock. The games finish when they finish.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: My second favorite team is the Boston Red Sox. I of course was a Red Sox fan when it was not popular and they were getting their brains beat in by the Yankees every year. It is losing its luster now because they have such a high payroll. After going to St. Louis this year, I have become intrigued by the Cardinals.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: This year in St. Louis when we went to see the Twins play there. The best fans in the country!!! They were great to me even though I wore Twins stuff and rooted for them. Very affable.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I like it, how else could the Twins play Milwaukee and other teams we would never see.
OPINION ON UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: It should be more balanced and the Twins should play more games against the East and West division teams.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Growing up, my favorite players were Mike Schmidt, Darryl Strawberry, and Don Mattingly.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I played through my Sophomore year in H.S. I still play softball 6 months of the year. I pitched and played mostly outfield.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: Growing up in Minnesota they were the home team. I really appreciated them when it looked like Pohlad was going to move the team back in 1997. It has turned into an obsession.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: October 6, 2009. The tie-breaker with Detroit.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST: I have went the last three years in a row and it's awesome. I can hardly wait for it to come every winter.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT: No, and I don't want to either.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME: No, but I would give the ball to my kid or another if it happened.

Twins Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Kirby Puckett, but Joe Mauer is climbing the charts.
TWINS PLAYERS I DISLIKE: Ron Davis and Jesse Crain.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: Shannon Stewart a couple years ago in left field before the game. Nice guy. Bert Blyleven seems nice as well.

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: It should be nice if they did not cut any corners. It will be cold and we might struggle in April and May until the players get used to playing outside. The scenery around outside needs to improve. Get rid of the garbage burner behind it.

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: It will depend on the Pohlad family to spend money and Bill Smith to make some good moves to improve the team. We could be real good but only if Mauer/Morneau/Kubel/Cuddyer have a supporting cast around them.

Thanks so much to Jack for answering my questions! If you haven't checked out the previous surveys of Katie from KC's Baseball Blog, or Seth Stohs, definitely go back and read those. Make sure to stop by next Wednesday night when I join Jack for another podcast talking more Twins baseball, and be sure to check out the next installment of Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em when Betsy from For the Love of the Game takes the hotseat!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Live Podcast!

I'm helping Jack Steal of Fanatic Jack Talks Twins with his live podcast tonight. Check it out!

Rooting for the Yankees... like rooting for the hunter that shot Bambi's mother.

And who could want to hurt this, it's adorable...

I'm really torn -- I have a lot of friends out here in New York that are obviously cheering for the Yankees. And, honestly, I want to see them all cry. But I really could care less about the Angels, and rooting against the Yankees out of spite just seems petulant. Usually, if I don't have any strong feelings about a team I'll cheer for the one that I have the most connection to through my friends -- and to be fair, that would be the Yankees.

But I can't cheer for them. They don't need any more encouragement.

A-Rod especially. Calm down.

Jeter is a class-act but he's just so overrated at this point in his career. (Don't flip out, he's still good.) Mariano Rivera has been the definition of consistency and dominance as a closer and I don't think anyone could honestly admit they wouldn't want him locking down their 'pen. But looking up and down the rest of their roster is stomach-churning. It's like looking at the worst tools on the cast of "I Love New York."

Waiting for their pinstripes...

That being said, I should stop wishing ill and hardship on the friends of mine that are unfortunate enough to be Yankee fans. I'm going to actually try to be happy for them. I'm going to try. But I'm not going to like it.


On to happier topics! Tonight at 11PM EST, 10PM Central, I will be joining Jack Steal from Fanatic Jack Talks Twins as the co-host for his inaugural podcast. It should be a great time and there will be plenty to discuss.

Click here for the link to the podcast page on Blog Talk Radio, and if you're free around that time definitely call in with comments or questions, we'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em!" presents Seth Stohs

In case you missed last week's installment of my weekly offseason series, I surveyed Katie over at KC's Baseball Blog. Her answers can be read here. This week, Seth Stohs is on the hotseat. Seth needs no introduction, but I'll try anyway: he runs one of the longest active Twins blogs on the internet, publishes a Twins Prospect Handbook, is a member of the elite Twins Centric group that is publishing its latest book, and is generally considered the person to speak to when seeking any information about the Twins' minor leagues.

So, without further ado, let's get to know a little bit more about Seth...

Personal -
NAME: Seth Stohs
BIRTHDAY: June 25th
HOMETOWN: Born in Fargo, ND - raised in Perham, MN
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I am the Regulatory Product Planner for Marvin Windows & Doors
FOOD: so many!
BOOK: Besides the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2009, I would have to say that Kirby Puckett: I Love This Game has been one of my favorites. Also enjoyed Bo Knows Bo, Jim Kaat's: Still Pitching, Moneyball, and Fantasyland.
TYPE OF MUSIC: Rap, and 80s songs, you know, like The Jets!
SPORT TO PLAY: Ping pong
Vikings - I'm excited about the upcoming season. I thought that with Sage Rosenfels as the QB, they could win 11-12 games. I think with Brett Favre as the QB they could win 12-13 games. I'm excited about that defense and think that having EJ Henderson back, and playing alongside Chad Greenway will be a lot of fun.
Timberwolves - I was a huge KG fan and watched most games when he was with the team. Have watched them very little since his trade. I am actually very excited about what David Kahn is doing. At least you can see some direction. I like watching the young guys get a chance, and for some reason, I really appreciate watching Ryan Gomes play the game the way he does.
Wild - nope.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: It's the good and the bad. I don't think there is a sport around where you can second-guess so much. GM decisions, manager lineup and in-game decisions, players, minor leagues. There is so much to this game that makes it so great. It leads itself to second-guessing which can be fun OR lead to frustration!
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I really like watching teams develop their own players, and build from within. I was a fan of the Rays before they became good last year because you could see the plan. The Brewers built a core from within as well a couple of years ago. I also appreciate a team like the Red Sox who not only have the financial means to be big players, but they also do things the right way in terms of player development.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: Sitting along the first base line on a 95 degree day at Coors Field was really pretty incredible. What an amazing facility and great atmosphere and the mountains in the background. Miller Park was very nice too, in my opinion. Again, on a Sunday afternoon on a warm day, sitting behind home plate.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I don't mind it, but I wish there was a way to truly balance the schedule. It's neat to see other teams, but this year, the Twins fans got to see Houston and Pittsburgh, so that doesn't generate a ton of excitement.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I prefer the old way of playing everyone the same number of times. It makes the Wild Card more meaningful when teams from different divisions play the same schedule. That said, the Twins and White Sox have developed a nice rivalry.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Not really applicable. Maybe Mark Buehrle, if I have to pick.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: Played all over the infield. I was a shortstop growing up. When I got to ninth grade, there was an opening on the varsity team at 3B, so I played there. I pitched a little too. I didn't want to catch, but after playing in college, I came home and played some amateur ball and because my brother got hurt, I said I'd catch a game. I loved it! Best position on the field. Played a little softball after that, but it's just not the same, not fun.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: I think on some level, I just always have. Being from Minnesota, it was my team. My earliest memories were through baseball cards of Bobby Mitchell and Lenny Faedo, and then a guy named Kirby Puckett was called up. Obviously, I was mainly intrigued by his name. I mean, I was 8!
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Lots of them. A few walkoffs, one a couple of years ago against the Brewers when Justin Morneau ended a game. Tom Brunansky hit a walkoff long before there was a term "Walk Off." Got a ball tossed to me by a Red Sox reliever John Henry Johnson. Dave Engle threatened to take it from me and put it in their batting practice ball bag. That was funny. Seeing Michael Cuddyer's cycle.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST? HOW WAS IT?: Yeah, I have been there the last four years. I love it. I really enjoy it. Meeting people, the minor league area, the atmosphere, people watching, listening to radio interviews. It's all baseball in January. What's not to love!
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING? HOW WAS IT?: Went to a little spring training probably 8-9 years go. Again, great atmosphere, just fun watching what happens. Actually spent a little more time in Port St. Lucie at Mets camp a few years ago and that was fun.

Twins Player Specific-
CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: easy answers are Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but I am a big Michael Cuddyer fan. And, obviously communicating with Kevin Slowey and Jeff Manship, two terrific people, put them high on my list too.
OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: Matt Lawton, I think, is one of the most underrated Twins players.
EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: Lew Ford, Jason Bartlett, Gardy and Rick Anderson came up to Warroad, and I had the opportunity to meet them at the radio station before their Twins Caravan appearance. Lew Ford was always fun to talk to. Had several conversations with him. Just a very good guy. But there have been numerous. Denard Span telling me that he "likes my site" was pretty cool.
GO TO A BAR WITH: Jeff Manship
BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH: I don't really know how to answer this one... :)
LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Brendan Harris. He's very smart and intellectual. And he's been in several organizations already, so I'm sure he's got a lot of stories and teammates to ask about.
THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: Carlos Gomez, the man is hilarious and so energetic. He would be great!

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: It's going to be great! Outdoor baseball is incredible. Yeah, there'll be some questionable days, but seats that face the infield are a good thing. It's an incredible facility and baseball will be played where it is supposed to be!
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: I think that there are a few holes that came out this year. But I also think that injuries really hurt the team, especially in the pitching staff. I think that with minimal changes/upgrades, this team can be a very good team.

Thanks so much to Seth for taking the time to fill out the survey so we can get to know him a little better! Next Friday check back for Jack Steal of Fanatic Jack Talks Twins as he takes center stage to answer my questions!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Farewell Dear Friend

It's taken me awhile to process the fact that I won't ever watch the Twins play in the Metrodome again.

I'm not quite as ecstatic about this as I thought I would be. Perhaps it's because all of my fondest baseball memories happened there -- I'm not old enough to have experienced the old Met Stadium. The Metrodome was a dump, but it was our dump. I think I grew to love its quirks and being able to bash it and talk about how weird of a place to baseball it was. (Even writing about it in the past tense feels odd.)

Oh well. I know I'll always remember that amazing win over the Tigers in game 163. I almost wish our season could have just ended after that game so we didn't have to experience the stark reality of facing the Yankees and being supremely overmatched.

This weekend I watched the final game up in Boston in a whole city full of people pulling for us. Too bad it didn't help. I wore my Twins gear to a Bruins/Islanders game Saturday night and got some high fives from Boston fans -- much more congenial than Yankee Stadium was.

I'm done talking about our woeful exit from the post-season. For the next few months I'll focus a little bit on the Vikings and Timberwolves, but I'll do some thorough examination of Twins offseason topics, in addition to continuing my "Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em" series. Check back Friday for the next installment, where Seth Stohs answers my Twins survey.

Speaking of Seth, he and the other group of Twins Bloggers at Twins Centric, have published an amazing book which should help you get your Twins fix throughout the offseason. Some of you may have read their Trade Deadline Primer and hopefully all of you have read Seth's Prospect Handbook he publishes, so you should all know what great writers they are.

They've all contributed very hard to put this book together, and for all the free content they publish for us, I think it's only fitting we help support their work and buy a copy of this book. If you're still not convinced, you can download 1/3 of it for free on the website! Need I say more?!?!?

*Also, interesting article on Nick Punto over at Andrew Kneeland's new website. Definitely check it out, he makes some great points.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What is it About New York?

What an awful night. Now I know how Tigers fans felt earlier this week. Squandering numerous chances, not being able to close out, and then watching the home team celebrate a ridiculously ecstatic walk-off win.

I wish that was a rock instead of shaving cream being shoved in his face...

I've lived in New York for seven years now and I haven't been to one game at Yankee Stadium where the Twins actually won. I apologize to everyone in Minnesota if in fact I'm the jinx. If by some miracle we get to game 5 I think I would turn down field level seats at this point just to test my theory.

On a positive note, I made it out of Yankee Stadium alive. I had to take the Subway up by myself since my friend was already there waiting for me, and crossing Babe Ruth Plaza in my Aguilera jersey with a bright red Twins cap was one of the scarier moments of my life with several already drunk Yankee fans walking steps behind me yelling "Hey Aguilera! You suck! Go home you f*ggot!" (Those are some of the nicer things they said to me... it's a real self-esteem boost going to the Bronx FYI.)

Thankfully my friend was waiting for me on the other side of Babe Ruth Plaza because he's a nice Yankees fan and I thought I'd be safe. Unfortunately he wasn't wearing any team apparel so he just got lumped in with me.

Our seats were in the upper section past first base. Sadly, that's where a lot of raucous fans usually make their home. Including the Marlboro Man:

This video he apparently is still sober... The guy on his immediate left was there too and he was even more vocal. He was directly across the aisle from us and I had to lean tot he side when the camera would catch him so I didn't make it on the Jumbotron at the stadium. One poor Twins fan made the mistake of jumping in front of the Marlboro Man when he was rocking out on the Jumbotron and waving his Twins cap in Marlboro's face. That was not a good idea. A chorus of boos, chants of "Asshole! Asshole!" and people throwing their drinks ensued. Somebody tried to knock his hat off his head down into the lower levels. Security had to usher him out for his own safety. It kind of helped divert some of the focus from me at least.

My friend Tim and I found a somewhat safe haven in the bar behind homeplate for the 5th inning. We went to meet my boss there (he was at the game on our company seats with his family), and he bought us all a drink. It's a weird thought to realize you're paying over a hundred dollars for a seat to the game and you're standing in a bar at the stadium watching the game on TV and drinking a $15 dollar vodka tonic. So we didn't stay in the bar too long...

I don't want to paint a horrible picture of all the Yankees fans there. We sat immediately next to an old man and his two daughters in their late 20's who were season ticket holding Yankee fans and had grown up in the Bronx. They were the some of the nicest people I ever met. They loved my Homer Hanky and chatted with me about the Twins and were awesome people.

There were some extremely drunk fans right behind us who found my Aguilera jersey funny and kept chanting "Christina Aguilera" as their fight song to me. After the Yankees tied it up off Nathan they hit the back of my head  and spilled some of their drink on me and I still don't know if it was intentional or not. One of them did pat me on the shoulder the next inning and said that he didn't want to give me too much of a ribbing, he thought having an classic Aguilera jersey was actually pretty cool, and he shook my hand after the game. So despite finding them obnoxious I can't dislike them too much.

I hate to say it but as obnoxious as those Yankees fans can be, most of them there did know their team really well and were completely passionate about it. I actually have to respect them a little bit. I still don't particularly like them, but I do respect them.

I made it home on the train OK although I did get a chorus of boos on the way back across Babe Ruth plaza, and one fan in my subway car kept harassing me about Brett Favre, because, apparently, he assumes I actually like Favre. (Hint: I still don't.)

Anyway, hopefully the Twins can mount a miraculous comeback. But even if they don't, we at least get one more baseball game, and one more postseason game nonetheless!

Also, I called in after the game on Seth Stohs' nightly podcast. He and John Bonnes were hosting and I got to give my report from being at Yankee Stadium. Check it out! And if you aren't already listening to their podcasts you should start! Seth has been hosting every night during the Twins' amazing run and the discussion and analysis is great -- we're extremely blessed as fans to have such amazing writers and bloggers covering so many aspects of our team so utilize them!

I'm off to Cape Cod for the weekend with Boston Dan. We're going to a Bruins/Islanders game tomorrow night and watching some baseball out at his place on the Cape for Columbus Day weekend. I'll post if I can, but if not I'll be back next week! Go Twins!

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em!" presents KC's Baseball Blog

First off: BREAKING NEWS. I'm going to the freakin' Twins/Yankees Game 2 at New Yankee Stadium tonight! Special thanks to my buddy Tim for buying tickets and taking me there. I know you're a Yankee fan, I just hope you know what you're bringing down on your head by inviting a person in a Rick Aguilera Twins jersey and waving a homer hanky to a playoff game in the Bronx... Also, this will be my first live post-season experience. I'm ridiculously psyched -- I'll try to get my hands on a camera but no guarantees...

Even in light of our boys making it to the post-season, I'll be kicking off my first installment of "Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em", the title of which refers to the old Twins campaign, but the posts are a flashback to those "questionnaires" people like to send around (though this one is particularly Twins Centric). A huge thanks to Katie for her responses. She's the sole writer at KC's Baseball Blog which is one of my daily reads, and she's also one of the only two fellow bloggers I've actually met in person! For those avid readers of her site, below you'll get to know her fanhood even more! For those who haven't yet checked out her site, you should do so and let her help post you through our miraculous playoff run and into Target Field from here on!

Without further ado:

NAME: Katie
BIRTHDAY: March 2nd
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I do accounts payable/accounts receivable for a trucking company.
FAVORITE FOOD: My Mom's homemade pizza
FAVORITE BOOK: A Walk to Remember
FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH OTHER THAN BASEBALL: Toss up between Hockey and Football
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: Vikings and Wolves I could care less about. I do love the Wild though.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: The excitement of the game. Never know what each inning is going to bring.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I follow the Tampa Bay Rays besides the Twins. They have my first baseball love, which is Jason Bartlett.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: I've only been to one other stadium and that was Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. It is a beautiful ballpark and I hope to get back there some day.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I don't mind it. It's nice to change things up a little bit every once and a while.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I'd like it if we could play different teams more often. It gets kinda old playing the same team 18 times a year.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: If you are talking non-current Twins players, AJ Pierzynski. Otherwise Alex Rodriguez.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I played softball for 3 years and I played first base.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: I have always been a Twins fan because of my grandmother. She would always watch the game when I would spend the night at her place and I became hooked.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Probably my first game in person last year. I had never been to a game in the Dome and my dad got free tickets from his work so I went and that was that!
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST? HOW WAS IT: Not yet, I'm looking forward to going before the 2010 season.
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING? HOW WAS IT: No, but I'm hoping to make it down there maybe next year.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: I took my 8 year old nephew to meet Michael Cuddyer Mother's day weekend and Cuddy was so down to earth and friendly. He carried on a good 5 minute conversation with my nephew before we were told to move on.
HAVE DINNER WITH: Michael Cuddyer
BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: Joe Mauer since he thinks he can rap
THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: Good question ... Jeff Manship

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I'm excited for outdoor baseball here in Minnesota. I like the excitement that the guys have been bringing to in talking about Target Field next year. I just hope they bring that excitement and show everyone that they can play on real grass too! I think it's going to be an interesting season with the new ball park and everyone getting adjusted to how the ball carries.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: Hopefully a repeat of what happened in 2006 and 2008. This team has what it takes to make it to the playoffs, we just need the starting pitchers figured out and get our bats swinging and hopefully the guys can show everyone they know what to do again.

Thanks for stopping by! This series will hopefully continue every week throughout the off-season! Next week, pre-eminent Twins blogger and minor league guru: Seth Stohs is on the hotseat! Go Twins! Look for me and my homer hanky tonight!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I don't know how else to describe it. That's easily one of the craziest, most amazing games I've ever watched.

Anyone think it's time to make a new "Metrodome Moments" collection? Leaving this night off would be a crime.

What an evenly matched game, though. Just as last year's pitcher's duel was so symbolic of how no team in the Central really was going to grab the crown, this year perhaps emphasized that even more. 12 innings???? 

My Yankee Fan Boss was cheering for the Twins to force this extra game to tire out either us or Tigers before we have to face the Yankees, and think about how tired we're going to be now! Especially after the champagne party they are certainly enjoying.

Enjoy it boys. This was an amazing game and you've proved all of us doubters wrong. Keep it up?

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm Baaaaaack

... and so are the Twins! What a crazy week in baseball!

I apologize for my absence on this blog for awhile ... it's been a little hectic learning my new position at work on the fly and trying to catch up on a backlog of paperwork there. But I haven't forgotten about what's going on with our hometeam! This amazing stretch of baseball is one of the few things that's been keeping me sane.

I think that having my hopes and expectations about the postseason shattered back in August has given me a new appreciation for these final weeks. I'm trying to just enjoy this improbable run instead of getting too worked up about it, and I think that's been very helpful for my blood pressure. When we left Detroit having not made up any of the ground that we should have, I wasn't as amazingly crushed as I otherwise would have been thanks to having already dealt with my pessimism a month ago.

That being said, I was a little nonplussed to be seeing Pavano start tonight. I've appreciated what he's done for this team, but after his last outing and the fact that he's already greatly surpassed his innings pitched in a season since 2004 with the Marlins, bringing him back on short rest seemed like one of those "always trust your veteran too much" moves that Gardy so frequently loves.

I eat my words.

While Pavano's performance wasn't particularly dominant, he looked in control almost the whole time he was on the mound. Of course, having a huge cushion of runs to back him up probably doesn't hurt too much.

Thanks, you rock. I'll buy your jersey next.

I promised myself that if Ozzie and the White Sox would sweep the Tigers that I'd cut A.J. and the rest of my most hated enemies a little bit of slack in the future. Well, they came close to a sweep, but without their two wins we wouldn't have another Twins game to watch this year, so, I'll give a hat tip to the White Sox and not bash them too much this offseason (although a win today would have been spectacular; I'm not complaining though...).

This brings Porcello and the Tigers to Minnesota on Tuesday. Thankfully my boss is actually enjoying the Twins bringing this down to the wire ... as a Yankees fan he appreciates that regardless of who wins, our pitching staff won't have that much rest and we won't really be able to line up our starters how we otherwise might. I've been getting gleeful texts from him all weekend. But I love it too, and his appreciation of our streak means we'll have the game on at the office during the day so I'll at least be able to catch pieces of it if not the whole thing (we'll see how busy Tuesday is).

I was watching Saturday's game with Boston Dan, and he gave me some reassurance from an unbiased outsider's perspective. He said that in 2004, even when the Red Sox were 3 games up on the Cardinals, he and all his Boston fans were so nervous going into game 4 that something was going to mess up. But a San Francisco friend of theirs who was with them essentially just told them to relax because they were playing so well as opposed to the Cardinals that they were all but assured their World Series. He said that's how he sees the Twins and the Tigers this year in the Central ... the Tigers implosion just screams too much of wanting to lose, while the Twins are playing the best baseball of their season at exactly the right time.

I'm still not going to relax.

Neither will you, Mr. Leyland. Neither will you.

I would like to take this moment to take back every negative thing I've ever said about Orlando Cabrera, Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto, and especially Delmon Young.

You might be greatly increasing your trade value, but now I kind of want to keep you...

If it weren't for these guys, who I think most of us pick on all the time, we wouldn't be here. Their inspired play is making me ashamed of being so hard on them. At the same time, I think numbers don't lie, but there's something to be said for people performing when everything's on the line, and this handful of my usual whipping boys is doing it above and beyond what I could have imagined. If they can beat Detroit on Tuesday, maybe I'll have to cut them some more slack along with my offer I made to the White Sox.

FYI, I've been pulling together a series of posts to get us through the long offseason. It's going to be called "Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em", in conjunction with the old series of Twins ads before the "This Is Twins Territory" campaign:

By the way, I love Koskie's ZZ Top beard in this commercial...

This series was going to start last Friday and run every Friday of the offseason focusing on a different member of the Twins blogosphere every week. But since the Twins have improbably given people something to care about on the field recently, I'm going to delay these posts until at least this Friday.

Definitely check back for them once they start going up as it will give you a new perspective on some of the best Twins voices on the web. I've had the pleasure of already reading over the answers from my questionnaire from the first 5 bloggers I approached about this and it's been great getting to know their own unique reasons why they love the Twins, baseball in general, and other aspects of their fandom too.

Also, if you run a Twins blog and I haven't e-mailed you my questionnaire yet, I'm going to do so soon, be warned. It's going to be a long offseason so I'm sure I'm going to approach every Twins blogger out there. But a big thanks to Seth, Katie, Jack, Betsy and Josh for being my first experiments into this series.

Check back Friday probably for the first installment. But in the meantime, we're not through enjoying this for a little longer:

Let's go Twins!

*If you haven't been listening to the podcasts from Seth Stohs, you're missing out on a huge heap of Twins related talk from one of the most knowledgeable bloggers out there. It's great to have so much material from him so definitely go back and start listening to some if you haven't already.

Also, an interesting statistical observation from Twinkie Town. Just another reason to love what Delmon's been doing recently.