Archive for the ‘Minnesota Twins’ Category
WCCO is reporting that the Minnesota Twins fired GM Billy Smith. Terry Ryan will take over as the interim GM effective immediately.
I’ve been a Twins fan since attending my first game at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington in August, 1966. I didn’t see this coming at all. I doubt anyone did. That isn’t to say the Pohlad family liked the results from Smith’s trades. Obviously, in retrospect, they thought he did a lousy job.
Terry Ryan will step in and not miss a beat. He’s a better talent evaluator than Smith was, which is important going forward. The Twins’ farm system, long the envy of baseball, is depleted & in desperate need of a talent infusion.
The good news for TR is that the Twins will have 4 of the top 50 picks, including the 2nd overall, in next summer’s entry draft. Drafting 2nd in each round of the draft won’t hurt either.
That can’t a minute too soon.
As a passionate, lifelong Twins fan, it was difficult to read this news:
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew said Friday he will no longer fight his esophageal cancer and is settling in for the final days of his life.
The Minnesota Twins released a statement on Friday from Killebrew, who said he has “exhausted all options” for treatment of the “awful disease” and that the cancer is incurable.
“It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end,” he said. “My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure.”
The 74-year-old Killebrew said he will enter hospice care.
“I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends,” he said, thanking fans and well-wishers for their support and encouragement. “I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with (wife) Nita by my side.”
One of my favorite memories as a teenager is thinking back to the night I met Mr. Killebrew. He was the featured guest at the grand opening of the St. Cloud Crown Auto store on Division Street. Every kid that played Little League or sandlot baseball was there. (Or so it seemed.)
Harmon wore as big a smile that night as he did throughout his illustrious career. Throughout his illustrious career, Harmon was as great an ambassador to the game as has ever lived. Simply put, Harmon wasn’t just one of the 5 greatest home run hitters of all time (behind Ruth, Aaron & Mays). Harmon was a true fan of the game. Besides, he was one of the greatest gentlemen to ever play the game. (In that respect, the Twins have his modern-day equivalent in Jim Thome.)
Let’s remember that Harmon essentially played his entire career in spacious outdoor stadiums. As spacious as Target Field is, it would be swallowed up by Old Met Stadium with room to spare. Just to the right field side of center field was 430 feet. The power allies were 365 feet in left, 370 in right. Down the lines were 343 in left, 330 in right.
Had he played in the Metrodome, I’d argue that you should’ve tacked at least another 100 onto his home run total.
Typical Harmon home runs weren’t the type that just landed 6-7 rows deep in straightaway left. They were “no-doubters” as Herb Carneal used to say. I remember watching Harmon shatter a seat in the upper deck at the Met on the nightly news. It was estimated that that ball travelled 535 feet. Suffice it to say that the wind wasn’t blowing out that day.
Joe Garagiola had a saying reserved for the biggest mashers. He’d say [fill in the name] can hit the ball out of any park in America, including Yellowstone. That would’ve fit Harmon to a Tee.
Now baseball is losing one of its greatest ambassadors, one of its great gentlemen. It’s a sad, sad day for this over-grown teenager-at-heart to think that the man who provided so many great memories will soon be leaving us.
If baseball had more Harmon Killebrews, it’d still be the most popular sport in America. In fact, America could use more decent, straightforward people like Harmon.
Harmon, I’ll miss hearing you in the Twins booth twice a year. May God pour out His blessings on you.
To prevent scalpers from getting in ahead of consumers when tickets go on sale, venues are selling “nontransferable paperless e-tickets,” for certain seats at certain concerts and events.
A nontransferable paperless ticket is a ticket whose receipt is the digital paperless domain of your own mobile telephone. It means that the person in whose name one buys the ticket actually has to want to go to the show.
If event promoters want to sell “‘nontransferable paperless e-tickets’” at their events, the state shouldn’t be interested in how the tickets are sold. The State should be neutral on this issue. This legislation would prohibit event promoters from selling e-tickets.
Here’s the offensive language of SF425:
Sec. 2. [325E.70] FREE MARKET IN RESALE OF EVENT TICKETS.
Subdivision 1. Prohibition. It is unlawful for a ticket issuer to prohibit or restrict the resale or offering for resale of an event ticket by a lawful possessor of the ticket.
Subd. 2. Prohibited acts. Ticket issuers are prohibited from engaging in the following acts:
(1) purporting to impose license or contractual terms on the initial sale of event tickets including, but not limited to, terms printed on the back of a physical ticket that prohibit resale of the ticket, or that restrict the price or other terms and conditions under which a ticket may be resold or transferred;
(2) requiring the purchaser of a ticket, whether for a single event or for a series or season of events, to agree not to resell the ticket, or to resell the ticket only through a specific channel approved by the ticket issuer;
That language prohibits event planners and promoters from issuing e-tickets. The state, as near as I can determine, doesn’t have an interest in how commerce is conducted. In fact, I don’t know that the state has the authority to say that some contracts are legal while other types of contracts aren’t legal.
Let’s remember that tickets to events, whether it’s to a Twins game or whether it’s to a We Fest concert, are a contract between the event planner and the consumer. The consumer ordering the ticket online is telling the event planner that he’s willing to spend money in exchange for a ticket to attend the event of his picking.
There’s nothing complicated about that.
Yes, yes, yes. John Boehner is the new Speaker. Congratulations. Now for the important stuff: Rikalbert Bert Blyleven is finally & officially a member of the most elite fraternity in sports: the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This ends what’s been the longest ongoing travesty in modern sports history. That Bert wasn’t picked a decade ago tells me that too many baseball writers don’t have a flipping clue about Bert’s greatness.
I was reminded today that people used to criticize him for tipping his curve by sticking his tongue out. On FSN, Roy Smalley summed it up perfectly, saying “That’s like saying Nolan Ryan tipped his fastball by grunting.” Mr. Smalley, you’re exactly right. It wasn’t like a hitter was going to hit Ryan’s fastball or Bert’s curve when they had it working.
I can recite Bert’s impressive numbers from memory: 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts, 60 shutouts, 242 complete games during a 23 year career. That only tells part of Bert’s story.
Bert was a great teammate, possibly the greatest prankster in MLB history. He also took alot of pressure off Frankie ‘Sweet Music’ Viola, which allowed Mr. Viola to relax and blossom into the Twins’ co-ace in their first Twins’ World Championship season.
TK will tell you that he was a better manager anytime he handed the ball to Bert, which is typical of TK. What TK, Kent Hrbek and Tim Laudner will tell you is that Bert was as great a competitor as has ever played the game. How great a competitor?
In Bert’s last season with the Texas Rangers, Bert was out for different parts of the season with a groin injury. In September, he pitched a game against the Angels. (Back then, they were known as the California Angels.
Late in the game, the eighth inning, Bert reinjured himself, prompting a visit by the pitching coach. The coach asked Bert how he was. Bert’s simple reply was “Look at the scoreboard.” Bert carried a no-hitter into the eighth. The message was sent. That’s the night Bert threw his only no-hitter.
I remember watching the 87 World Series. ABC assigned Al Michaels, Tim McCarver & Jim Palmer to cover the Series. In Game Two, Bert’s curve was really working. I remember Palmer ridiculing the Cards for “sitting on Bert’s curve.” Palmer added that “It’s not like they’re going to hit it anyway.”
At the end of this, I’m still left with this thought: How the BBWAA didn’t elect him to the Hall of Fame a decade ago is one of life’s biggest misteries, one of life’s greatest injustices.
Congratulations, Bert. You’ve been a Hall of Famer in my mind for years. It’s great that the BBWAA finally noticed and gave you this richly deserved honor.
LaVelle E. Neal, the Strib’s beat writer, is reporting that the Twins appear to be on the verge of trading J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris to the Baltimore Orioles:
Indications are that the Twins are on the verge of a deal with the Orioles in which shortstop J.J. Hardy and infielder Brendan Harris would head to Baltimore on Thursday in exchange for two pitchers, one being righthanded prospect Brett Jacobson.
The deal, barring any last-minute developments, could be wrapped up following the Rule 5 draft Thursday morning.
The potential deal suggests the Twins also are closing in on a contract with Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins wouldn’t move Hardy unless they knew they were in position to wrap up talks with Nishioka. The Twins’ middle infield combination for 2011 would be Nishioka and Alexi Casilla, with Casilla probably playing shortstop.
Twins fanatics will say that Hardy and Harris were part of the two most high-profile trades in recent Twins history, with Harris coming in the Garza-Delmon young trade and Hardy coming in a trade for Carlos Gomez, the last player left from the Johan Santana trade.
Many Twins fanatics will reflexively argue that the Twins got ripped off in the Santana trade. These fans would be wrong. There’s no questioning the fact that Santana was a dominant pitcher. At his best, Johan was possibly the best pitcher in Twins history. That’s the Johan that these fans are likely basing their opinion off of. That isn’t the Johan of today, at least according to Baseball-Reference.com. Johan’s first year with the Mets was standard Johan but he’s battled injuries the past 2 years.
The Johan of today isn’t the dominant pitcher of his Twins days.
I don’t know whether this trade helps the Twins immediately but it gives the Twins more live arms for the bullpen, both now and in the future.
The trade suggests that the Twins are close to finishing their negotiation with Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Based on the videos I’ve watched, it’s safe to say he’ll bring more speed to the Twins lineup. Similarly, Alexi Casilla, the likely next starting shortstop, will bring alot more speed to the lineup.
Still, the Twins have holes to fill, mostly in their rotation and in the bullpen. Alot of that can be solved if they sign Carl Pavano, which seems more likely than it did a week ago. He’d be the Twins’ innings-eater in the rotation, which would change the demand on the bullpen.
Of more concern is the bullpen. Matt Capps returns from a solid performance last year after being acquired in a trade with the Washington Nationals. Pitching coach Rick Anderson will pay close attention to 2008 closer Joe Nathan, who returns after sitting last year out after undergoing Tommy John Surgery.
After that, the cupboard is pretty thin, especially if they lose Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes. Possible in-house fill-ins include Glenn Perkins and Pat Neshek.
Nick Blackburn pitched a masterpiece thsi afternoon in Seattle, throwing a 2-hitter at a feeble Seattle lineup. Rookie Danny Valencia scored the game’s only run. Meanwhile, newly acquired Brian Fuentes threw 4 pitches to strike out Russell Branyan to end the game.
With Umpire Ron Kulpa giving the pitchers the benefit of hitting their targets and because they were working quickly, it soon became apparent that this would be a quick game. Blackburn got a bunch of ground ball outs early, which helped him enter the 6th inning with less than 60 pitches.
In his second start since being recalled from the minors, Blackburn was in total control. Chone Figgins’ walk snapped Blackburn’s consecutive hitters retired streak at 21 with 2 out in the 9th, ending Blackburn’s day.
Manager Ron Gardenhire opted for Brian Fuentes in the situation because lefthanded hitters are only hitting .132 against him this year. A quick 4 pitches later and the Twins were celebrating another win. Branyan looked as outmatched as Custer at Little Bighorn.
What’s clear to me is that Danny Valencia will be the Twins’ starting third baseman for the next 5-10 years. He’s improved as a hitter since getting his shot early in the season. More impressive to me is his defense. He simply makes all the plays, day after day, whether they’re the routine plays or whether it’s the play he made on a sharp one-hopper down the line off Ichiro’s bat. After planting & throwing, he got Ichiro by a half-step.
Ichiro has lost a step or two. Later in the game, Ichiro hit a bouncer up the first base line which Cuddyer fielded cleanly. What’s astonishing is that Blackburn had to cover and beating Ichiro to the bag. Five years ago, that isn’t even a close play.
It’s clear to me that Danny Valencia will win a bunch of gold gloves at third. His throwing arm isn’t as powerful as Gary Gaetti’s but he can bring it pretty good. His plant-and-throw plays get there in a hurry. His reactions going right or left are very good. His hand-eye coordination is excellent.
Getting Brian Fuentes for a player to be named later or “other considerations” means that the Twins got a gift for the final month. Like I said earlier, Branyan looked totally mismatched. He started Branyan with a change-up, which produced a feeble half-swing. He followed that up with a fastball that painted the outside corner. After missing with a breaking pitch, Fuentes finished it with another fastball that Branyan couldn’t catch up to.
I’d still feel better if the Twins could acquire another veteran starting pitcher but this is a good baseball team. They’ve played without Justin Morneau, who was having a monster year, since before the All Star game. The Twins have the best post-All Star game record in the majors. Michael Cuddyer has played great since moving to first, too, with Jason Kubel moving from DH to right field. That, in turn, gave Jim Thome more at-bats.
Your lineup is pretty solid when your seventh and eighth hitters, Delmon Young and Danny Valencia are hitting .308 & .325 respectively. The bullpen was good before getting Fuentes, with Matt Capps doing a good job as closer and Jesse Crain pitching light’s out since June. (Since the All Star game, Jesse has allowed only 8 hits in 20.1 innings, an opponents’ batting average of .125. He’s only given up 1 run since the All Star game, too, for a post-All Star game ERA of 0.44.
Factor in the Twins’ stingy defense, with a major league leading 53 errors, and you’ve got a team that could be dangerous in the playoffs if they get their starting pitching to be more consistent.
This afternoon, the Twins took another step towards proving that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the AL this October. While it’s true that the Twins pitching staff still has to prove that they can put win streaks together with well-pitched games, 2006 phenom Francisco Liriano’s performance today has Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson smiling.
After a bumpy start, Liriano settled into a grove, striking out eight Red Sox hitters in an efficient 7 innings of work. After throwing 37 pitches the first two innings, Liriano used a mere 97 pitches total for his 7 innings. That’s an impressive average for a ground ball pitcher. It’s just short of fantastic for a pitcher with 8 strikeouts.
Once Liriano got command of his fastball, the Red Sox hitters started taking more defensive swings. They weren’t getting around on Liriano’s fastball, which was routinely timed at 93-95 mph. That made them all the more susceptable to Liriano’s slider, considered by some to be among the best in the game.
What the Twins have lacked in pitching consistency has been more than made up for by the Twins’ hitters. Today, the Twins’ backups combined with Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer for a 15 hit attack. included in this year’s Twins’ reserves is Jim Thome. Today’s batting order was Span, followed by Orlando Hudson, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, J.J. Hardy & Nick Punto.
It’s worth asking these questions: When was the last timt the Twins had a 7th hitter as dangerous as Jason Kubel? Or an eighth hitter as dangerous as J.J. Hardy?
Beyond the potent lineup & Liriano’s dominant pitching, one thing hasn’t gotten the recognition that it deserves: the Twins’ defense. This is another stunning fact. Thus far this season, the Twins have played 10 games & committed just 1 error. The Twins are the only AL team that still hasn’t allowed an unearned run this season.
The final mind-blowing stat that Twins fans should smile about is that they’ve won their first 3 series this year against the Angels, White Sox & Red Sox. Last year, those teams had a combined winning percentage of .558. The Twins lost their season opener to the Angels, then reeled off 5 straight wins before losing in Chicago. Now they’ve won the series against the Red Sox in impressive fashion.
People are noticing. Now it’s a matter of sustaining a high level of play for the rest of the season. With this lineup and with the Twins’ defense & pitching, this should be a fun season to be a Twins fan.
After last season, rumors spread in New York that Brett Favre was a diva, an egomaniac. Running back Thomas Jones even told a NY radio station that Brett Favre didn’t meet the players’ expectations. I never took Jones’ statement, or other Favre-related rumors, seriously. Likewise, I didn’t take seriously the ESPN reports that serious divisions had already developed in the Vikings’ locker room.
What’s causing the rise of these gossip stories is the editors’ knowledge that anything Favre-related sells papers. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether it’s accurate or not.
What caused me to not trust the Favre-related stories is something that’s been a hallmark Twins tradition. Under TK, the Twins respected the game but they had fun every day. Bert Blyleven, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett played the game the right way but they were world-class pranksters, too.
That’s what Brett Favre brings to the Vikings. There’s no question but that Favre is one of the fiercest competitors in sports history. There’s no questioning whether he’s been a prankster, too. This leads to an important question in deciphering whether Brett Favre is a diva, as the NY media has suggested: What player wouldn’t love playing with someone with Hall of Fame talent, a competitive nature and a funloving attitude?
Back in the day, everyone loved playing alongside Kirby Puckett. They saw in him the same things we see in Brett Favre.
Now it’s time to watch Mr. Favre settle in with his new team and to watch the victories to start piling up en masse.
I don’t often talk on this blog about Sid Hartman’s columns but I can’t avoid talking about his latest column this time. Here’s the idiotic statement Sid made that should make him the laughingstock of the sportswriting community:
The point I’m trying to make is that, had the Twins decided to sign Hunter, and not have made the deals involving Castillo, Santana, Bartlett and Garza, they would have a lot more solid club with fewer holes in the lineup.
No shit Sherlock??? The Twins couldn’t have signed Hunter, Santana, Castillo, Bartlett & Garza. Hunter & Santana alone would’ve added $38 million to this year’s payroll, with Castillo & Bartlett adding another $8.75 million. According to this ESPN website, the Twins payroll is approximately $65,000,000.
Keeping Santana, Hunter, Bartlett & Castillo alone would’ve pushed the Twins payroll north of $110,000,000, approximately $40,000,000 more than their highest payroll ever. That’s before thinking about signing Joe Mauer, the best hitter in baseball by far, to a contract extension. Expect that contract extension to be in the neighborhood of $25,000,000 a year.
If that typical Sid boilerplate isn’t enough, then think of this:
Talking about holes, if they should lose Joe Mauer, it would be impossible to replace him.
No shit Sherlock. That’s like saying it would’ve been impossible for the Giants to replace Barry Bonds if he got injured.
Sid Hartman & Nick Coleman are (semi-living) proof positive of why the STrib is a dying newspaper.
Yesterday, I heard another person talking about whether Curt Schilling should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Everytime I hear that question, or when people ask whether Tom Glavine should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires, I see red.
It’s time to dispense with the niceties.
As a Twins fan, I don’t know how people can talk about Curt Schilling without first talking about the disgrace the BBWWA heaps on itself because they haven’t inducted Bert Blyleven & Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame already. It isn’t that I think Tom Glavine & Curt Schilling aren’t HoF-worthy. It’s that I’m certain that Bert Blyleven & Jack Morris are worthy.
Let’s examine things from a statistical perspective. Bert Blyleven struck out 3,701 hitters over a 22 year career, a figure that’s still in the top 5 all time, even surpassing the great Walter Johnson’s totals by almost 200. He threw 60 shutouts, which still is in the top 10 all-time. He threw 242 complete games, far outdistancing Mr. Glavine’s or Mr. Schilling’s statistics.
That’s before we start talking about his curveball, which, when he was on, was simply unhittable. Other than Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Bert’s curveball was the dominant pitch of his era.
That’s before talking about his 287 wins & his winning 2 World Championships. That’s before talking about all the wins he would’ve gotten had he played on good teams all his career. Had he played on his era’s equivalent of the Yankees or the Braves, you’d likely be talking about adding an additional 50 wins over his career.
Jack Morris is also Hall-worthy. Baseball writers like talking about Schilling being HoF-worthy because of his bloody sock game in the ALCS. There’s no denying that that was one of the great games of postseason history. There’s also no denying that it pales in comparison to Jack Morris’s complete game, 130-pitch, 7-hit shutout masterpiece of the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I’ll admit that I’m biased because I’m a Twins fan who watched every pitch of that game. That said, that isn’t Mr. Morris’s only qualification.
Mr. Morris won 3 World Series chanpionships. Each time, he was the ace of the staff. He also finished his career with 254 wins, nearly 70 games above .500.
As much as Mssrs. Blyleven & Morris deserve to induction into the Hall of Fame, they pale in comparison to Tony Oliva’s credentials. Tony O is the only player in history to win the batting title his rookie season. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, he demolished the so-called Sophomore jinx to repeat as AL batting champion.
Tony O was the greatest hitter I’ve ever watched. That’s significant because I watched Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett & Joe Mauer on an almost daily basis. While those names don’t match Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio & Mantle, they aren’t chopped liver either.
To this day, Rod Carew will state without hesitation that Tony O was his hitting mentor. That alone should be Hall-worthy.
That’s before talking about his winning 3 batting titles in his career. That’s before talking about his winning a Gold Glove for defensive excellence.
The reason why Tony hasn’t been inducted into Cooperstown is because, in August, 1968, he suffered a debilitating knee injury. He wasn’t the same since. Nonetheless, he still rebounded to win another batting title. Had they invented arthroscopic surgery before that time, he probably would’ve put up spectacular numbers, possibly even gawdy, numbers.
As it was, Tony O still averaged 170 hits per full season, certainly an impressive figure.
It isn’t a stretch to say that Tony Oliva was one of the top 25 hitters of all time, which certainly should qualify him for Cooperstown alone. Mix in his 3 batting titles & his Gold Glove & you’ve got solid Hall of Fame credentials.
It’s time that the idiots in the BBWWA stopped asking whether Curt Schilling should be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer & finally correct the injustice they’ve visited upon Mssrs. Oliva, Blyleven & Morris.
Anything less is unacceptable.