Monday, November 30, 2009


Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I went out to Blairstown, New Jersey over by the Delaware Water Gap and had a great time concentrating on turkey and football. I've never been much of a hunter, but the people I was celebrating with certainly were: somehow I avoided having to test out one of their new gadgets -- I know I would have hurt myself.

Let me do a quick wrap-up to get your Monday started out right:

*Do you trust the Chicago Tribune as your source for Minnesota sports rumblings? I know I do. If you're of the same opinion, maybe we can take comfort that apparently things are "heating up" on the Joe Mauer contract situation. (Try to make it past the creepy Bud Selig picture at the beginning of the article. They don't talk about Joe until a little further down...)

*There is a Vikings bar in Manhattan, FYI. And even I feel intimidated going there because some of the people there are craaaazzzzyyy. But it's an awesome home away from home during big games. And a whole bar in the middle of the East Village singing Skol Vikings after every touchdown and randomly breaking out into chants of "10-AND-1" is a fun way to spend your Sunday afternoon in New York. Yes, this it, trust me, it's much crazier than this picture appears:

Bar None, New York, NY. (3rd Ave and 12th street.)

*When I was in high school and then when I went to college for film school, I used to see every movie almost as soon as it would hit the theaters. Now that I actually have responsibilities and a life it's somewhat tougher, and I'm trying to do my best to keep on top of things. So, forgive me for just finally getting around to seeing this movie, and if you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and go rent it right away:

Sugar is an amazing movie that will really give you an eye opening look into the Latin American baseball world. It's about a promising prospect from the Dominican Republic and his struggles to make it to the U.S. and adapt to playing minor league ball in a really different environment. You'll also have a whole new appreciation when speaking about minor leaguers after seeing the struggles and pressure they deal with. (Plus, the main character's name is Miguel Santos, which sounds kind of like Miguel Sano...)

*Speaking of Miguel Angel Sano, he is now called Miguel Jean. Just make a note.

*No Josh Johnson trade. Ugh. Thanks for getting my hopes up rumor mill.

That's all for now! Be sure to check back later this week -- I'll have a real article for you all (finally!), I'll be appearing on Jack Steal's podcast this Wednesday (no reception last week in rural NJ), and I'll be profiling Andrew Bryz-Gornia of We Are Off the Mark on Friday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em" presents Plunking Gomez

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Since this week is cut short for the holiday, my offseason series is being published today instead of Friday. Not much in the way of baseball news usually happens over Thanksgiving weekend usually, it seems like everyone takes a well-deserved break. I do remember being up in Boston two years ago for Thanksgiving though, and that's when I read the news of Torii Hunter signing with the Angels. On Thanksgiving. Let's hope that if we get any news this weekend that it's positive news regarding signings...

This week I'm happy to present Erin of Plunking Gomez! Erin is able to perfectly balance that fine blogging line between humor and analysis, and she does both with the utmost expertise. Not only is she able to use SABR friendly terminology to project the sustainability of someone like Matt Guerrier, but she's also able to do it in a way that keeps you smiling while you read it. I always look forward to seeing a new post on her site, and I hope you get a chance to check it out because it's one of the first places I stop by every morning.

Without further ado:

NAME: Erin
WEBSITE: Plunking Gomez. At least for now.
BIRTHDAY: 2/2/1982
HOMETOWN: Bumf**k, Minnesota. I grew up in Hugo, when it was pretty much a rural community. Back then it was pretty much just a gas station, the gun shop, and the liquor store. I think we had a bank/post office and a church or two, as well.
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I work for the gubmint (sort of). Oh, and it's not technically a job, but I am also a student at the University of St. Thomas (go Tommies!). I think I'm going to be an accountant when I grow up.
FAVORITE COLOR: I don't really have one.
FAVORITE FOOD: Oooh, that's a tough one. I have yet to meet food that I don't like. I just had beef lo mein for lunch, so as of this moment, beef lo mein is my favorite food.
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Eye. The original version, directed by the Pang brothers. I've never seen the one with Jessica Alba. I tend to like horror movies a lot, and this one is about the best I've seen. A Tale of Two Sisters is definitely at the top of my list as well.
FAVORITE BOOK: I don't have time to do much reading outside of college, but I just got done reading Joe Posnanski's The Machine: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, which I liked a lot. The TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is the best non-beer related $10 I've ever spent. Non-sports related: Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: Well, as you can probably tell from reading my blog, I like all kinds of music. Probably "whatever I'm listening to at the moment" is my favorite type of music, which has to be about the lamest answer ever.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: I dunno, I'm not terribly athletic. Lawn darts isn't really a sport, is it?
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: Vikings: I'm not a huge football fan, but I do cheer for the Vikes. Maybe they'll finally win the Super Bowl this year! Well, provided Favre's arm holds up and he doesn't throw any costly picks in the playoffs. And provided Antoine Winfield makes a speedy recovery, the secondary looks pretty week without him. Geez, I don't know if I should be excited about this team or not.

Timberwolves: Yeah, they've won one entire game so far this season, but for the first time in what seems like forever, I feel pretty optimistic about the direction of the franchise. I like what David Khan is doing with the team. He completely ripped apart everything Kevin McHale did in a matter of weeks, essentially erasing the stench of failure that has dogged this team for the past fourteen years. They now have salary and cap room! And I'm also really excited about the arrival of Ricky Rubio in 2025 or so.

Wild: Ummm...well, at least they'll end up with a high draft pick, so there's that. Unless they screw up and start winning, anyway. There isn't much talent in the system, so the Wild could really benefit from a down year. I'd like to see them get the number one pick, but it's really hard to be worse at hockey than the Leafs.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: It is the closest thing to a thinking man's game in professional sports in this country. That's probably why football is America's game.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I guess I might kind of pay attention to the Brewers from now on.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: I have never actually been to a ballpark other than the Dome, though I do have a rather lengthy list of ballparks I would like to visit. I just don't get out of town very often. I am definitely going to make the trip to Miller Park during interleague next year, though.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: It's all fun and games until a starting pitcher twists his ankle running the bases. Seriously, National League, get with the times already!
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I have kind of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I love the unbalanced schedule. Bitter sports rivalries are fun, and I enjoy playing the White Sox eighty-something times per year. Especially when we beat them and Ozzie completely loses his sh*t. Man, those post-game press conferences are the best. On the other hand, it gives fans of mediocre teams in tough divisons too much to bitch about. I get tired of hearing how teams like the Twins and Tigers don't belong in the postseason because they play in such a weak division. And it probably isn't fair that teams like the Rays and Blue Jays have to play the Yankees and Red Sox eleventy-billion times a season, while the Twins get the Royals and Indians. So down with the unbalanced schedule, bring on the Yankees and Red Sox! I guess.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I always enjoyed watching Pedro Martinez pitch during his prime. I had never seen anything like him before, and I doubt I ever will again (although Zack Greinke's 2009 season was pretty special). I feel the same way about Albert Pujols as a hitter right now.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I don't really hate other players. I mean, there are players I don't really like, but I don't like to waste time actively hating on them. It just takes too much energy that could be used in more productive ways, like obsessing over Joe Mauer's contract extension.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I have only played softball during gym class. I think I played left field. I wasn't very good.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: I did write a lengthy post on this subject awhile back, but it's mostly because of the 1987 World Series. When this is one of your earliest memories of your baseball team:

you are pretty much hooked for life.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Gosh, there have been so many. Well, there have been plenty of crappy ones, too. Most of the Twins teams I am old enough to remember were pretty bad. I have to say that watching Johan Santana strike out 17 Rangers was pretty cool, though.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST? HOW WAS IT: No, and I don't really want to go, either. I haven't had any desire to meet the players or get autographs or anything since I was about 12.
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING? HOW WAS IT: Nope. I have always wanted to go, though. I mean, it's baseball. In Florida. In March. Unfortunately, either work obligations or lack of money have always gotten in the way. Maybe I'll finally make it down there this year.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Harmon Killebrew. Arguably the greatest Twin of all time, and from what I've heard, probably the nicest guy on the planet.
FAVORITE CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: Denard Span, although I am really, really, really going to miss Go Go. This Interview with Yahoo! Sports pretty much sealed it, though.
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: When I was a kid, I really liked Bernardo Brito. I thought he had such a cool-sounding name. What can I say? I was ten.
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: Not really. Certainly, there are some players I like more than others, but I cheer for them all anyway. Delmon Young, for example, is hardly my favorite player, but nothing would make me happier than to see him live up to his enormous potential.

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I was born the same year as the BaggieDome, so I have never known outdoor baseball. Lots of people think it's going to be cold in April and during the Twins' annual World Series run in October, but I doubt I'll ever notice after a beer or twelve. The new place looks beautiful, though, and the best part is that opponents won't have the Dome to blame when they lose anymore. People will just have to admit that the Twins are a good team.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: To win the World Series. I don't think that's asking too much, is it?


A huge thanks to Erin! Add her site to your daily queue, you'll be glad you did! I'm off to New Jersey for Thanksgiving, and it's going to be rather rural, so I might not have much in the way of phone reception, but I'm still going to try to join Jack Steal for our weekly podcast, so check it out regardless of if I'm able to call in or not! And be sure to stop by next Friday, when I profile Andrew Bryz-Gornia of We Are Off the Mark! Have a great Thanksgiving!

The Obvious Choice

First things first: "Congratulations, Joe."

After a couple years I can admit that perhaps Morneau's MVP case wasn't so clear-cut. In fact, he probably wasn't the MVP that year. But I can honestly say without a doubt that Mauer's honor is one of the most clear-cut, water-tight cases in history. There just isn't any debating.

In fact, I was surprised there wasn't more outcry from the Yankee fans I'm surrounded by. I wore a Twins t-shirt Monday in support of Joe and the decision that I knew was coming. Conveniently, two of the more avid Yankee fans at my office were both out, but the others that I did see didn't say a word. The TV in our office kitchen plays Sports Center on a loop practically all day, and even after the announcement came and everyone assuredly saw it, nobody said anything.

It was somewhat of a let-down. I was hoping for more vitriol to combat. Perhaps everyone is simply laying in wait to see if we can sign him to that long-term contract before they really speak up about the situation. Even my own enjoyment of Mauer's recognition is being tempered by the fact that I know we're only guaranteed one more year of him on our club.

(Is building a statue of him downtown next to Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew not enough to convince him that he's a necessity?)

Anyway, I had another post in mind for today, but that's only because I completely forgot that I'd need to write something up about Mauer's MVP win. So, that means I'm going to have to put my intended post on ice for another time.

Instead, take heart, because for most of us this is a short week! Thanksgiving celebrations are (hopefully) allowing most of us to be done on Wednesday. So because nobody will really be around the office at all on Friday to read my weekly offseason series, I'm going to just pretend that Wednesday is Friday. So check back tomorrow morning for my next installment of Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em, where I'll be interviewing Erin of Plunking Gomez. The weekend's almost here!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Twins Bloggers, "Get to Know 'Em!" presents: K-Bro

I'd first like to start by apologizing for not being around here much! I promise, I haven't forgotten about this blog, I've just been inundated with work as it seems like we've hit a "Holiday Rush" of projects. I vow to have at least one insightful post next week before Thanksgiving. The good thing though is that there are some things that force me to pay attention to this blog! The first of which was Jack Steal's weekly podcast that I help co-host -- go check out the archive, we were joined by Seth Stohs of Seth Speaks, and Andrew Bryz-Gornia of We Are Off The Mark this week! And the second thing that forces me to pay attention to this blog is my Friday off-season series...

Today I'm continuing with my weekly offseason series: Twins Bloggers, "Get to Know 'Em!" I've been lucky to have many of my favorite bloggers help me out so far by answering some of my questions about their life and their fanhood, and I've got plenty more contributing over the rest of this offseason. Today, I'm thrilled to be able to present K-Bro of K-Bro's Baseball Blog. In addition to being a whiz with photoshop illustrations to accompany her often humorous (and always enjoyable) posts, K-Bro got plenty of recognition after being picked up by Howard Sinker's blog on the Star Tribune website which noticed her fun, charitable, Twins Pennant Race Food Drive. Without further ado:

NAME: You can call me k-bro. But I'm not a "bro," I'm a chick (well, a female anyway; I'm kind of old to be a "chick"). It's the "J-Lo" version of Kirsten Brown.
BIRTHDAY: November 3rd
HOMETOWN: Pretty much all over the Twins Cities area
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: Senior Technical Writer for a medical software company
FAVORITE FOOD: Seafood. And chocolate.
FAVORITE BOOK: Things That Make Us [Sic] -- it's a grammar book ... yes, I'm a dork.
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: Classic Rock -- Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, etc.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: I wish I could golf, but I tried and got mad that I'm horrible at it, so I quit. So, none.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: Love the Vikings. Like the Wild -- I think going to their games is a blast, but I can't watch hockey on TV. I really don't care for basketball.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: The pace of the game. There is no clock. There is no "hurry-up offense." It just takes as long as it takes, and they play until somebody wins. I love great pitching; a 1-0 game is a joy for me. I also love great defense; there's nothing sexier than a turn of a good double-play.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I like watching good young pitchers develop into great pitchers, so I would follow the Royals or the Mariners, because it would be fun to follow Grienke and King Felix.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: Once, on a business trip to San Francisco, I took in a Giants game at AT&T Park. It was very chilly, but I didn't care, however it did amuse me that hot chocolate vendors out-numbered beer vendors 4 to 1 (hello Target Field?). It must've been weird for the fans there to see a woman sitting by herself keeping score, because so many people asked me where I was from. But the fans were super nice and were fun to talk baseball with. Oh, and I got to see Tim Lincecum pitch.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I don't mind it, but maybe they could dial back a bit.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Ozzie Smith. Oh, and here's an obscure one for you, Al Hrabosky (a very bizarre closer for the Royals who would "talk" to the ball)
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: No, but I have coached youth baseball some. Well, I've been a bench coach, which amounts to keeping the score book and hollering out the batting order all the time.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: When I was little. My dad was a big Twins fan. I'm an only child of divorced parents, and I grew up with my dad. Before the days of cable TV, the only way to keep up with the Twins was to listen to them on the radio. The only reliable AM radio my dad had was in his truck, so about three times a week, he would take me to DQ so we could sit in the truck and listen to the games while eating our ice cream.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: The final game of 2006 when the fans were watching the Royals/Tigers game on the Jumbotrons and cheering for KC to win so that the Twins would win the division.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST? HOW WAS IT: I go to Twins Fest every couple years or so. It's always the same, but I like it. It gets me excited for the coming season.
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING? HOW WAS IT: Yes. It's amazing! Fort Myers is my favorite place on the planet, even though I've only been there once. I'd go again in a heartbeat if someone would be willing to pay for my kids' college.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME: No, but Justin Morneau tossed a ball to my kid as he went back to the dugout.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER, PLEASE DESCRIBE: I've never actually met any players, but at autograph signings Bert Blyleven, Joe Nathan, and Johan Santana were really friendly and joked around with my kids, which was kind of fun.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Gardy. I would love to know what goes on in his head during a game.
LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: Mike Redmond. I bet he tells great stories. And I bet his stories get better with every beer.
LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WITH: We'll just keep that within the boundaries of my imagination, 'k?
LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Michael Cuddyer. He seems like a good conversationalist. But I would have to respectfully request that he refrain from the magic tricks; sleight of hand creeps me out.
WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: Jon Rauch. He seems like he'd be a good musician -- I don't know why.
YOU'D ASK FOR HELP ON A SCIENCE LAB: If I wanted to get an A, probably Joe Mauer, because he seems smart -- although it would be too bad that Craig Breslow's still not around. If I just wanted to blow stuff up, probably Red.
LIKE TO START A BUSINESS WITH: Joe Nathan, because you know he'd worry about everything.

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I think it'll be great, and I'm looking forward to checking it out.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: World Series Champions, baby!


A big thanks to K-Bro for all her help! I've always loved reading her blog since way before I started writing mine, so it's great to have her lend a hand! If you haven't checked out her site before, make sure to add it to your list of visits!

FYI, next week I believe Friday is not the day to publish a blog article. Most people have Thursday and Friday off from work. So instead, I'm going to treat Wednesday as the normal "Friday", and I'll be publishing my new "Get to Know 'Em", this time from Erin at Plunking Gomez, so be sure to stop by!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Podcast Tonight

Hey! I've been joining Jack Steal on his weekly Twins Talk podcast every Wednesday. Check out our show tonight 9PM CST/10PM EST. We're joined by special guests Andrew Bryz-Gornia of Off the Mark, and Seth Stohs of Seth Speaks tonight!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Twins Bloggers, "Get to Know 'Em!" presents: The Tenth Inning Stretch

First off, I'd like to give a big thanks to Jack Steal for having me back on his podcast last night! We had a great conversation and were even joined by The Twins Geek who called in, and Seth Stohs dropped by the chatroom! If you weren't able to listen in, you can check out the podcast on archive by clicking here.

It's Friday. Thankfully. And with Friday brings another edition of my offseason special -- Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em!

Today, I have the pleasure of presenting Thrylos from The Tenth Inning Stretch. I first noticed Thrylos from some of the many insightful comments he'd leave on some of the other blogs I was reading, and after clicking on his URL I was amazed to find out that not only did he have great things to say in the comments I was seeing but he had amazing posts that really delve into some intricate aspects of the game. I've come to regard him as one of the premier must-reads in regards to all issues centered around pitching and pitching mechanics. There's no one else I'd rather consult than him. But without further ado -- let's hear from Thrylos!

NAME: Thrylos is good enough :)
HOMETOWN: Aberdeen (Scotland, not SD), then Minneapolis, then after many stops Lehigh Valley, PA
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I own and operate my own business; health sciences and computer-related.
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Sweet Movie or The Unbearable Lightness of Being (love long, twisted European movies)
FAVORITE BOOK: Too many to mention. Probably The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: I listen to all (mostly). Alternative rock and New Wave top my charts. Funk (Prince and the Time) are close too.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: Does triathlon count as a sport? Baseball also (softball not that much). Never say no to a good game of tackle football, especially in the winter time when I have no races.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: I am the hugest Vikings fan in PA. World Champions this season. I do not bother with Basketball or Hockey.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: Baseball is the only sport that about 20 people at the field, on the mound, behind the plate, at the batter's box, on the bases, in the coaching boxes, and in the dugout have to think before every single pitch and make some decisions. Of course, they will be second-guessed later. It is a mental game that requires a lot of skill as well. Very rare combination in team sports.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I always followed the Mets in the NL. Really liked their mid 80s teams. These days I would not mind following the Phillies (they are my local team).
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: 1991. Fenway. Got obstructed seat walk up tickets ($10 each) on the 1st base line and watched the Twins beat up the Red Sox.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: It's ok, but since the teams in the same division often face different teams and the same teams in different parks is not always fair. NL teams are in severe disadvantage because they have to use utility players as the DH or a regular as the DH and a utility guy on the field.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: It's good. A lot like football. You grind it with your division to win it. As in football, weaker divisions are in a disadvantage for WCs but not a big deal. Help sell tickets as well. I suspect that the Twins draw more people playing the White Sox than the Orioles.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: From the ones whom I have seen playing: Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Bo Jackson.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Jose Canseco. Before the current rivalry with the White Sox, the Twins had a huge rivalry with the steroid-pumped A's.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I pitched. Still pitch as a matter of fact, just not that effectively.

Twins Generic-
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Hands down, the night after the Twins returned from beating the Tigers in 1987. The dome was in football configuration and me and 65000 others filled the place up. That was a hair-raising zen kind of fanhood experience.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST? HOW WAS IT: Never had it, never will
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING? HOW WAS IT: Several times. Being on the East Coast I follow and watch several of the Twins' minor league teams so I have seen several of these players. And few places can beat Florida in March.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN BALL AT THE DOME?: 1991 a Chili Davis drive at right center.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: Kevin Slowey (Carlos Gomez was a close second)
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: I do not dislike anyone... Back in the day Rick Aguilera even though great at the field was not extremely approachable by the fans... Also I do not appreciate players who tried to handcuff the team for personal gain, like Chuck Knoblauch or who chose to go to other places like Torii Hunter. Also I think that some players help the team less than the press coverage about them suggests, which is a fact I dislike.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: A couple, and they are a bit different than a player/fan meeting (and I will leave out player names to protect the innocent): a. I had a working relationship with one Twins player when he was in college. I was his supervisor at his place of work. It was really surprising to find out that he was to play for the Twins a few years ago, b. Last summer, when my wife and I were vacationing in Florida, we were chatting for half an hour with an elderly couple. The man ended up being a (non-Twins) hall of famer and there was an incredible experience discussing baseball with someone like that and an extremely humbling experience to see how low key he was/in comparison to some of today's players.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Kevin Slowey. I think that he looks like a guy who has a tremendous insight for the game.
MOST LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: Jose Mijares. Looks like he can hold his alcohol and take care of the appetizers so I won't be tempted by them
MOST LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH: (Not Mike Redmond, for obvious reasons.) Carlos Gomez. I might get a mile time down a few notches if I run with him. Plus, I could be throwing him 1000 sliders outside the zone daily so he learns how not to swing at them. Plus I can work on my Spanish.
MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Pat Neshek. We both don't eat meat or chicken, so it would be an easy restaurant choice, plus I bet he is a great conversationalist
WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: Joe Nathan. Band is called "Twitched Sisters"
THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: Joe Mauer. The Natural. But I can see Brian Buscher starring as "The Butcher" in a B horror flick.
YOU'D START A BUSINESS WITH: Mike Cuddyer; he'd make a good clown for kid's parties (and can do magic tricks)

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: The first Twins' World Championship in 19 years. A very interesting place to see a home game.


A huge thanks for Thrylos for his answers. If you haven't yet checked out The Tenth Inning Stretch, add it to your "favorites" because his insight is unmatched. And make sure to stop by next Friday, when K-Bro of K-Bro's Baseball Blog takes the hotseat!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Podcast Tonight

I'm joining Jack Steal on his weekly podcast tonight at 10PM EST/ 9PM CST! Make sure to check it out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

We Can Still Trade Delmon!

I must say, I'm extremely happy that JJ Hardy is officially a Twin. It hasn't really set in yet that Carlos Gomez and all his exuberance and funny antics will no longer be a part of our team, but it's nice to look at that shortstop position on our roster and know that we have a quality major league player locking it down.

You, sir, are a shortstop. And a good one.

It seems that everyone's biggest criticism of this move is that our outfield defense has been set with Cuddyer occupying right field, Span in center, and Young in left. While that certainly looks to be the case, remember that the offseason has just begun.

I would still be perfectly happy packaging Delmon Young and shipping him off too. If the Twins are finally ready to concede how awful both the Santana and the Garza/Bartlett trades were, why not just scrap both of them and start anew? I still think we could pry something away for Delmon Young. He's not that far removed from his successful rookie year, and he's shown enough flashes of greatness down the stretch the past two years that someone should be willing to take a chance on him.

Most everyone will concede that Denard Span's defense isn't quite up to par in centerfield, but is exceptionally better in left or right. If I were Bill Smith, I'd start looking at free agent and trade candidate center fielders -- and there are several realistic options out there.

Of course we could always grab Mike Cameron and allow both he and JJ Hardy a mini Brewer's reunion party at Target Field. But even if the Twins didn't want to go after someone on the Cameron level of 7 or 8 million a year, they could easily take a flier on a couple other candidates:

Endy Chavez
Chavez has always been a great defensive outfielder, and adding him to our roster would easily upgrade our outfield defense. He should come relatively cheap too, at around 2 or 3 million for a year. Perhaps a 2-year deal to provide a stop-gap until someone like Ben Revere is ready to take over?

Coco Crisp
Crisp is coming off one of his worst seasons as a batter (.228/.336/.378), but his glove should still be sharp, and those numbers are a cry from his 8-year average of .277/.331/.407. The Royals weren't willing to pay him $8M next year, so they bought out his option. He is joining the wrong-side of 30 for a baseball player who relies on speed and defense, but he figures to have a few productive years ahead of him, and just like Chavez he could be a useful and inexpensive holdover until our better prospects are ready to come.

Of course those are just a couple of the potential free agent names that spring to mind. There are also a few trade candidates out there who shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to pry away from their teams. I bet we could pull a Matt Guerrier-for-Juan Pierre trade.

Pierre's a solid center fielder and a career .301 hitter who wouldn't be a bad fit in that second spot in our lineup for starters (although he does bat lefthanded and wouldn't break up the Span-Mauer-Morneau lefty combo). He comes at a steep salary, but the Twins could still handle it, especially for such a good player. The Dodgers definitely don't need him, with Kemp, Ethier, and Ramirez already locking down their outfield, so I'm sure they'd rather take a year of Guerrier than pay $10M for a bench player/pinch runner. The Twins could certainly use someone of his particular skill set.

I'd even take Felix Pie.

Mmmm, Pie.

Not the best hitter, but a decent glove, and the Orioles certainly make some weird trades, so, maybe we could trade them Rick Stelmascek?

Hey, don't be upset, you'd be helping us get a center-fielder.

If we got Pie from the Orioles and upgraded at either 2B or 3B, we'd still have a pretty solid lineup next year and keep our outfield defense intact.

Of course we have a stock of minor league center fielders coming through, so someone like Crisp, Chavez, or Pierre would perhaps make more sense than someone like Pie, as we'd only need them for one or two years until one of our better prospects is ready to take over.

Rene Tosoni profiles more as a corner outfielder although he's played center some in the minors. He's perhaps the most major-league ready, but right on his heels is Ben Revere, who is one of the best prospects in our system and has steadily moved up a level each year. He should be ready to debut in 2011 or 2012 at the latest if he keeps this pace.

Even further back are Joe Benson, Angel Morales and Aaron Hicks, who could be ready in 2012 or 2013, and many wouldn't be hesitant to label them All-Stars once they arrive.

Anyway, my point is simply that we shouldn't just think that we're stuck with Delmon in the lineup every day because we traded away Gomez. We shouldn't be hesitant to trade Young, as there are enough center fielders out there that we could afford to snag one of them for a year or two until some of our guys are ready to come up, and that way Span can still be an everyday starter in left, where he should be.

Just my thoughts.

Make sure to listen in as I rejoin Jack Steal this Wednesday for his podcast at 9PM CST/10PM EST!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Obviously you've all heard by now...

JJ Hardy will be suiting up for the Twins next year, and Carlos Gomez will be with our NL border-rival Brewers.

I'm definitely happy to see the proactivity on Bill Smith's part in addressing a position of need by dealing from a position of (relative) strengh -- the outfield. Especially because some of our highest prospects are outfielders.

I have some definite opinion on how this changes my approach to the offseason, and some of my thoughts could be a little off-the-wall, but I think they make perfect sense. I don't want to say it all now before I have time to do a more in-depth write-up, but suffice it to say that I still think we should be trading Delmon Young.

Expect a pretty article about this on Monday for everyone to read.

Twins Bloggers, "Get to Know 'Em!" presents: Josh Johnson

If you haven't already checked out the podcast from earlier this week, do so! I've been a regular co-host for Jack Steal each Wednesday and the shows have had some great discussion, great guests, and great call-ins, so please help support the effort by tuning in or listening to the archive! In other news....

We are back for the 5th installment of my offseason series: Twins Bloggers "Get to Know 'Em". If you haven't checked out the previous installments, definitely go through and get to know some of your Twins bloggers a little better (KC's Baseball Blog, Seth Stohs, Jack Steal, and For the Love of the Game).

This week, I'm pleased to introduce Josh Johnson of Josh's Thoughts. His blog was one of the first I came across when I started getting interested in the Twins blogosphere, and it still remains one of the best today. Josh has very balanced insight into the Twins organization, and is also very knowledgeable about prospects -- both within our minor league system and without -- as he does very detailed profiles on them that will provide you with plenty of information to read. He also wrote one of the single best pieces looking at the White Sox that I've ever read.

Without further ado:

NAME: Josh Johnson
BIRTHDAY: February 8, 1988
HOMETOWN: Burnsville, MN
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I'm a student at SCSU. Work in the summer though.
FAVORITE COLOR: Blue, Green, and Orange. It's a pretty close race between the 3.
FAVORITE FOOD: Pizza? Other than that I like pancakes.
FAVORITE MOVIE: I don't know if I have a real 'favorite'. Shawshank Redemption, Into the Wild, Crash, and Forrest Gump are all up there. And of course, Superbad.
FAVORITE BOOK: Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: Anything can happen at any time. One bad pitch or one good swing can change the ball game instantly.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: Probably the Pirates or Rangers. I used to love the Tampa Bay Rays (still do), I like teams that build from within. I doubt the Twins had anything to do with that :)
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: I unfortunately haven't been to another stadium. That'll hopefully be changing soon, though.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I personally love it, although I can see why some wouldn't like it. I actually wish there was more of it and I actually wish they'd either get rid of the DH rule or make it used in both leagues. I just like playing against a wider variety of teams. I wish we played the Cardinals, Cubs, etc. more.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I'm fine with it. But I do wish we played against more NL teams, even if that meant taking away games against teams in our division.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Even though I never got to see him play, I've seen film of Willie Mays and to me he's probably the best ever. Other than that, I'd have to say Ken Griffey Jr. (Come on, I grew up in the 90's. If you didn't have a man crush on Griffey, there might have been something wrong with you.)
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I couldn't stand Carl Everett. For much of the same reasons I can't stand Milton Bradley.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: Yes. Nowadays, I'm the Nick Punto of my softball team. But don't worry, my bat is much like Delmon Young's :/

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: Around 7th/8th grade (2000/2001). I liked baseball, but I saw a day game against the Kansas City Royals when Jacque Jones lead off the game with a home run and later in the same inning Torii Hunter also hit a home run. I think both finished with two on the day. For some reason, that got me hooked.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: June 13, 2006. Santana vs. Schilling. Kubel hit a walk-off Grand Slam in extra innings.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST?: I go pretty regularly. It's a great experience and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't gone before.
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING: I haven't yet, but I hope to soon.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT: No. I don't bring signs to games.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME: No. But it's a dream to catch a home run ball.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Kirby Puckett. Again, it's a 90's thing.
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: A few. I couldn't stand Denny Hocking. I know he was a 'good guy' but man he was annoying to watch. And I know I am in the minority on this one, but I for some reason held a grudge against Lew Ford. I regularly refer to him as "Loser" Ford. Clever, I know.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: I met both Denard Span and Jeff Manship at Twins Fest two years ago and had conversations with both. (Both had recently done interviews for my site). Both are great guys. I also got a hugging handshake from Torii Hunter once. I think he thought I was someone else.
BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH: ?? Maybe Nick Punto for his tree-climbing abilities.
BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: If it's a rap group, definitely Joe Mauer.
THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: I'm going to go with Torii Hunter. Now I know he's not a current Twin, but he looks like The Haitian from Heroes.

EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: It's going to be the best place to watch a baseball game in America. But in that, I'm excluding 'classic' ballparks of Fenway and Wrigley.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: Make the needed improvements in the areas we are weak. That obviously will start this offseason. I also expect us to make the playoffs next season.


Much thanks to Josh Johnson for taking the time to answer my questions! He's been very busy with all his classes recently, so getting his assistance was a huge help and greatly appreciated. Be sure to check out his site if you don't already! Also, stop by next Friday when we profile Thrylos of The Tenth Inning Stretch!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Live Podcast!

Hey! I'll be re-joining Jack Steal on his weekly podcast talking Twins tonight! We've moved up an hour, so we'll be starting at 10PM EST, 9PM CST. Feel free to call in with any questions or insights! We'll be joined by special guest Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target for part of the show!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Cuddyer Trap

If there's one thing that sticks in my mind from the past month of this '09 campaign, it was the amazing performance of Michael Cuddyer. After Justin Morneau went down for the season and Twins fans everywhere began to throw in the towel, Michael Cuddyer went on a torrid streak of baseball hitting .279/.338/.582, while jolting 10 home runs to accompany his 29 RBIs. Those are some impressive numbers over the course of a month, and he did it all while playing out of position on the infield (where, come to mention, he provided stellar defense as well).

Recently, there's been some speculation in the blogging world -- and I'm sorry, I can't find the link -- that the Twins could be looking to lock up Michael Cuddyer for a lifetime contract this offseason.


My immediate reaction is that this would be a great chance for the Twins to showcase a commitment to keeping some of their core players and building a championship team. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this should really be a priority?

Yes, I think I'd love you as a career Twins player, but is that for the best right now?

Michael Cuddyer is a great player, especially on a Twins team that's almost devoid of veteran leadership and power-hitting outfielders. But neither of those traits are particularly hard to find in free agency, and unless Cuddyer comes at a lower price, why should we commit such a large chunk of payroll to it? This, especially, in the season in which we are trying to resign ultimately the best player in baseball to one of the most lucrative and perhaps cash-strapping contracts in Twins history?

Is it because of Baseball Unplugged?

I'm still hoping to go sometime, so I'd kind of like you to stick around. (Thanks for the photo, Betsy.)

The Twins shouldn't be in any rush to sign him long term this offseason, especially considering that they'd be signing him after he just had the hottest month ever in his career. He's still under contract for this season, and the Twins will undoubtedly be able to afford his option for 2011 (10.5 million).

Cuddyer has been in the majors since '01, but he only started getting regular playing time since '04, where he primarily started in the infield to rather unsuccessful results. His first full year in RF he rocketed out of his mediocre numbers to post a solid .284/.362/.504 while belting 24 HRs and 109 RBIs in '06. After his monster year, he was rewarded with a big 3-year contract and an option for 2011.

He went on to post a decent, if unspectacular season in '07, and an awful season in '08 hampered by numerous injuries, before turning it on again this year (though to be realistic, those numbers were significantly helped by that September onslaught he produced).

Grrr, onslaught, grrr.

Let's be clear, I'm not advocating letting Cuddyer go. I just don't think resigning him right now is the priority when he's already inked. We can afford to wait and see how 2010 goes for him, how much money it takes to resign Mauer (which had better be Bill Smith's priority), and get ourselves a look at players like Rene Tosoni and Chris Parmelee, who don't seem to be too far away and both could profile as corner outfielders.

I would argue that the outfield is still one of the richest areas for the Twins right now. Denard Span is probably the third, maybe the fourth best hitter on our team (debating how he ranks compared to Kubel). Young and Gomez both represent substantial investments and are both still young and relatively cheap -- hence, their presence on this team does not impede money we need to resign Mauer and shore up our entire infield left of Morneau. Even Kubel is, when not a DH, a corner outfielder. This just isn't an area of pressing concern in my mind right now.

But again, his leadership and clubhouse presence is substantial, especially if Redmond is gone next year. Cuddyer WILL be around in 2010, and he will almost certainly be around in 2011 as well. Let's focus on some players of more urgency this offseason.

Feel free to discuss, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how hard we should go after resigning Cuddyer this offseason.

Also, be sure to tune into the podcast Wednesday night as I join Jack Steal again -- this time it will be at 9PM Central, 10PM EST.