According to Twitter, Joba Chamberlain is already a big fan of not only Target Field, but also the Minnesota weather! Who could argue on a day like today when everyone was expecting thunderstorms! Also from Twitter, it’s somewhat interesting in a way I can’t quite explain that the umpires and the Yankees have checked into the same hotel…
In lineup news, Hardy is BACK!!! I love that! Trevor Plouffe is officially back down to Rochester with this grateful fan’s thanks for his valiant efforts to fill hole in our roster. He did a great job and I look forward to an excellent future for that young man.
Well, we’re not done yet! First Rain Delay in Minnesota baseball since 1981. But since we got through 5 innings and it’s still a scoreless tied game, it’s officially suspended and we’ll pick it up tomorrow with the 6th inning at 4:05 pm. The official word is that if you had tickets for tonight, your game time is done. If you have tickets for tomorrow’s game, you can get in early for the rest of tonight’s game and stay for the second game as well. Lots of details we haven’t had to deal with in awhile.
Tonight’s outting certainly had it’s moments though! We’d like to congratulate Span on a great effort with two steals and a perfect bunt that annoyed the living crap out of Burnett. It was great!!
The other highlight, which you, no doubt, have either heard about or seen was the Target Field Squirrel appearance. Most of us were greatly amused. I’m not so sure about Brendan Harris. However, the chat deemed that the squirrel deserved recognition if just for inducing a beautiful strikeout from A-Roid! Good Squirrel!
Kevin over at 7th Inning Stache did a quick post with still photos during the game that you should check out! It shows multiple angles.
But if you just want the live experience, here’s the video:
KL and I went to the Milwaukee game on Saturday. What a beautiful day for baseball – especially EXTRA baseball! I brought my camera along because she has a pretty good view from her seats up in 322 and I thought maybe I would bring the big lens and get some pictures.
Boy, did I!
see?? She’s got GREAT seats – also right by a bathroom, the escalators AND easy vendors with almost no lines!
But considering I took sooooooo many pictures (700+) during that exceedingly long game (12 innings), I thought I would put together a couple slideshows (75 pics per show) and share the experience of the day with you. They are in chronological order and the first picture in the second show starts off right where the first one leaves off so put your mouse on the pictures and stop it and send it back to the beginning to keep it in order (or just refresh the window and start again when you get all the way through the first one…).
it’s amazing how much fun you can have watching a game through a telephoto lens!
PS. you can go to my other blog for more Kestral pictures – Babs’ Blotter
Getting ready for another series with the Evil Empire this week and starting it off with an off day. Once again, it’s a good day to take a glance back through Twins history*.
May 24 has seen monumental performances from a couple of all-time Twins legends:
1964: Oriole Milt Pappas gave up the longest home run in the history of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium to Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew… a 471 foot shot to left-centerfield. Unfortunately, the Twins lost the game, 8-7.
1972: Jim Kaat pitched 11 innings of the Twins’ 12-inning, 1-0 win over the Royals and pitcher Dick Drago. Drago went all 12 innings but gave up an RBI single to Rod Carew in the 12th. Wayne Granger got the save for Kaat. Amazingly, this was nothing really unusual for Kaat, who pitched more than nine innings 18 times in his career… winning 10 of those games.
May 25, 1977 saw one of the most impressive doubleheader performances in Twins’ history. In game one of the twi-night doubleheader in Boston, the Twins took advantage of a wind blowing out to CF and hit .500 for the game, as a team (24 for 48), in their 13-5 win. The game featured the last of Rod Carew’s five 5-hit games. In the nightcap, Lyman Bostock tied a MLB record for outfielders with 12 put outs (and his 17 put outs for the doubleheader was also a record), as the Twins swept the doubledip from the Red Sox with a 9-4 win. Also of note, twenty years later, on May 25, 1997, the Twins retired the #34 jersey of Kirby Puckett.
On May 26, 1997, the Twins and A’s fought a battle of attrition that the Twins eventually won 12-11 after a long line of relief pitchers in both bullpens failed to hold opposing hitters in check. It was not an insubstantial list of arms either, as Goose Gossage, Rick Honeycutt, Dennis Eckersley, and Rick Aguilera were all among the relievers who got knocked around. By the time the Twins had the W, the game had seen 5 lead changes, 30 hits and 15 walks off of 13 pitchers and the teams had left a combined 22 runners on base. Rookie George Tsamis eventually recorded the win for the Twins, his first (and only) career W. Tsamis finished his night in a local hospital with a stomach ailment.
On May 27, 1983, Twins relief pitcher Rick Lysander became the first Twins pitcher to lose both ends of a doubleheader as he was the pitcher of record in the Twins’ 7-4 and 2-1 losses to the Tigers in Detroit.
May 28 has seen a couple of unremarkable, yet unusual, events in Twins’ history… both in the last two years:
2008: Craig Monroe had one of his few highlights as a Twin in the 9th inning of a game in Kansas City. A Carlos Gomez single scored 2 runs to bring the Twins within an 8-5 score with two runners on base and Gardy elected to have Monroe hit for Alexi Casilla. Monroe took a Joel Peralta pitch over the left field wall to tie the game. Justin Morneau’s 10th inning HR won the game 9-8.
2009: A close call at the plate in the top of the 7th inning of a game vs. the Red Sox resulted in umpire Todd Tichenor ejecting Twins catcher Mike Redmond for the first time in his 12 years as a big leaguer. Ron Gardenhire earned his own ejection moments later. But Tichenor wasn’t finished. In the bottom of the 7th, Tichenor also ejected Boston catcher Jason Varitek, for arguing a ball/strike call, and followed it up by throwing out Boston manager Terry Francona. Despite Tichenor’s best efforts, the two teams keep enough players eligible to finish the game and the Sox win 3-1.
May 29 has seen a couple of impressive feats, exactly 20 years apart:
1962: The Twins wiped out Cleveland 14-3 on the strength of first inning grand slam home runs by both Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison.
1982: Twins current backup catcher Drew Butera is reputed to be a fine defensive catcher and has shown off his arm already in 2010. Perhaps he comes by that prowess naturally. On May 29, 1982, Twins catcher (and Drew’s father) Sal Butera set a Twins record by throwing out four baserunners in a game. Yankees Ken Griffey Sr., Graig Nettles, Bobby Murcer and Willie Randolph were the victims.
The Metrodome saw a couple of “firsts” on May 30:
1986: In a game against the Red Sox, Roy Smalley became the first Twin to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game.
1992: Tiger Rob Deer popped out on consecutive trips to the plate, both times to Twins SS Greg Gagne. What’s so unique about that? Nothing… except that both popups also landed in Gagne’s glove after first ricocheting off of the Metrodome ceiling.
That’s a wrap for this week’s History Lesson! Now let’s get ready for the inevitable humbling of the Evil Empire!- JC
Babs and KL are at Target Field today and I’m doing some manual labor this afternoon so I’m not all that sure who will or won’t be around for the GameChat, but I hope everyone enjoys the game, wherever you are!
Well that took a little longer than it needed to, but it all worked out in the end, right?
Consensus in the GameChat was that four hits, scoring the winning run, and catching 12 innings earns Joe Mauer Boyfriend of the Day honors. I’m going to award baked goods to Jason Kubel for FINALLY coming through with a game winning RBI (though it would have been nice if he had done so on either of his first two opportunities).
With last night’s laughable “performance” by Carlos Gomez, standing and admiring his meaningless moon-shot off of Nick Blackburn after flipping his bat and hitting catcher Joe Mauer, then making some rather mocking “chirping” motions with his hands on his way back to the dugout in response to the words being sent his way by Blackburn and/or Mauer, it begs the question… is Gomez destined to be our next AJ Pierzynski? (And, is that possibly the longest run-on sentence, you’ve ever read? My Journalism teacher would be so disappointed!)
Ever since joining the White Sox, AJ has been the ex-Twin that fans love to hate. He’s just got the kind of personality that grates on people (even his own team mates, apparently). He’s consistently greeted with a loud chorus of booooooooooooos whenever he comes to the plate in Minnesota.
But AJ is clearly coming to the end of his time as a BitchSox and, if you believe reports coming out of Chicago, he could easily be traded within the next two weeks (he becomes a “10 and 5” player June 14 and earns the right to veto any trade if he’s still with the Tidy Whities at that time).
So perhaps GoGo’s timing is perfect. If we’re going to be in need of a new ex-Twin to demonize, who better than the guy who was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade and failed to live up to his potential with the Twins?
I will say that, personally, it’s much tougher for me to dislike Gomez than it is AJ. Pierzynski is an intentional irritant. He thrives on getting under the skin of opponents and their fans. With Gomez, I don’t believe that’s the case. I think Howard Sinker at the Strib is right… he’s simply clueless.
I love watching the way he clearly is having fun playing baseball. It’s almost childlike. In fact, delete the “almost”… it IS childlike. I spent years coaching my son’s youth baseball teams and every year we had at least one kid who honestly had no clue about the “right” and “wrong” way to do things. Those kids just loved playing baseball and were completely unaware that you just don’t DO some things…. like over-celebrating a HR when your team is down 12 runs with one inning to play, for example.
Gomez will likely eventually learn that sort of thing. I’d say he might even get his first lesson in his first AB in this afternoon’s game, but that’s just not the way the Twins roll. (He might want to stand clear if he sees broadcaster Bert Blyleven with a ball in his hands during pre-game, though.)
But a part of me hopes he never completely learns. I don’t want to see his unbridled joy dampened. It’s just so fun to watch when he’s playing ball with a smile.
And if he becomes the “new AJ”, that will just make these interleague games with the Brewers that much more entertaining.
Way down south, where I’m living (in Iowa), it’s called a casserole. But as I recall from my younger years in Minnesota, up there it’s a hot dish. Either way, to me it’s still a bunch of stuff thrown together, cooked, and if you’re really good at it (or really lucky), it turns out tasty, satisfying and filling. So that’s the purpose of this post… throw a few things together and, since I’m not likely to be really good, I’ll hope to be lucky.
It didn’t take long for the Twins to completely disregard my suggested roster moves. In fact, not only did they NOT make the moves I recommended, even the one move that I said “we all know WILL happen this weekend” isn’t going to happen this weekend. JJ Hardy won’t be rejoining the Twins for their series against JJ’s former team, the Brewers, this weekend. I’m getting a bit more concerned about this slow-healing wrist. A couple of our readers added comments taking issue with my suggestion that it might be time for Brian Duensing to slide in to Kevin Slowey’s spot in the rotation. Whether my suggestions turn out to be as far off base as they’re already starting to look, only time will tell. Let’s see where things stand in 2-3 weeks.
By the way, given that Hardy isn’t ready yet, it makes perfect sense to have Trevor Plouffe join the team this weekend. Luke Hughes is on the DL and Matt Tolbert can’t return to the Bigs until 10 days after he was sent down, so Plouffe makes sense. Let’s just hope Gardy isn’t tempted to use him as a late-game defensive replacement in a close game. Trevor has eight errors already this year.
The Sporting News polled 125 baseball “experts” (apparently my ballot was lost in the mail) to find out who they thought the best 50 players in baseball are. Guess what!? Joe Mauer isn’t #1! Yeah, that Pujols guy over in the National League (or as I call it, Class AAAA) got the nod for the second year in a row. But Joe’s on Albert’s heels at #2 after moving up 37 spots from last year’s poll. Seriously… these experts thought Joe was the 39th best player a year ago? I mean… I know he missed April with back issues so maybe the votes last year were influenced by what was then Mauer’s “current performance”, but 39th?
The Twins’ other representative in the top 50 is another head-scratcher. Justin Morneau is ranked 23rd by these experts. If current performance is important, how is Doc’s 2010 not being recognized? He’s off to arguably the best start of his career. And he’s DROPPED 9 spots from last year?
The panel, as described by TSN, “included 18 Hall of Famers, 12 Cy Young award winners, 8 MVPs, 15 rookies of the year, 3 batting champions, 3 home run champions, 9 Silver Slugger award winners, 18 Gold Glove winners, 6 ERA champions, 4 World Series MVPs, 2 relievers of the year, 7 managers of the year, 5 former executives, 6 media members and 9 team broadcasters.” Sounds like a bunch of old men, to me.
Apparently senility has set in among some of those old “experts”.
It wouldn’t be a JimCrikket link fest without something from Joe Posnanski, of course… so I’m going to link to two of Joe’s recent efforts. Don’t worry, they’re both short.
First, Poz (I don’t know if that’s really a nickname he uses, but if it isn’t it should be) looked at the Hanley Ramirez fiasco and posed the question “What if it had been Jeter?” He’s also given us a peek inside the Sports Illustrated tent and, as someone who’s giving some thought to buying an iPad in the near future, I found his “Sports Illustrated for iPad” posting of some interest.
You may have noticed how I’ve avoided any mention of last night’s loss to the East Coast Bitch Sox in Boston. It was aggravating on so many levels, but I think the thing that stood out the most, right from the start of the game, was the absolute joke that particular umpiring crew has become. Since the Twins have a “history” with some of those guys (remember Brendan Harris not being allowed a time out and having a pitch zip by him while not even looking?), it was probably predictable. But rather than me ranting today, I’ll just send you over to k-bro’s place to see her scientific (I’m sure) diagram of the strike zone last night.
I guess I need to get a little real work done this morning, so that’s enough for now. Check back later… if I come across any other interesting ingredients for today’s hot dish, I’ll add them as the day rolls on. – JC
UPDATE 1: I did mean to include this post from Jim Manelaro concerning the Stephen Strasburg “event” in Rochester. Strasburg, the uber-phenom of the Washington Nationals who is being kept busy mowing down minor leaguers until the Nats can be sure he won’t qualify for “super 2” arbitration status in a couple of years, pitched against the Red Wings Wednesday night.
He pitched well (although newly promoted Twin Trevor Plouffe did get one hit off him). As you’d expect, the Rochester stadium was overflowing (with a significant number of fans wearing Strasburg T-shirts sold at the stadium by the Red Wings!) and when Strasburg was finally relieved of duty, he was given a huge ovation as he left the field. However, he apparently did not acknowledge the ovation with the traditional “cap tip”, causing much of the ovation to turn to boos. This has apparently become a bit of a “thing” now. So my questions, working backwards a bit, are:
1- Why is it a big deal that Strasburg didn’t tip his cap to the opposing crowd?
2- Why would an opposing crowd be THAT enthusiastic in the first place toward an opposing pitcher?
3- What the heck were the Red Wings thinking when they printed up T-shirts and turned their entire crowd in to an 8,000-strong Syracuse/Strasburg love fest? (Yes, I know, money.)
4- I want to know what the Red Wing players… and for that matter the Twins organization… thinks of Rochester’s bizarre promotion of an opponent? (If I were a Red Wing player, I’d have been pissed!)
UPDATE 2: This one made me laugh and almost cheer a bit, as well. Seems the people who run the city of Los Angeles decided they should boycott the state of Arizona over the issue of their controversial immigration law. Now, this blog is not the place for me to express my feelings regarding the law itself, but I REALLY don’t like it when the people on either coast (who think they know everything and that the rest of us should do things the way the folks on the coasts tell us to) start throwing their weight around.
So THAT’S why I found this response from an Arizona Corporation Commission (an oddly named agency that oversees electrical power plants in Arizona) member to the Mayor of Los Angeles hilarious:
“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives power from Arizona-based generation.”
Seems Los Angeles gets about 25% of their electricity from power plants in Arizona. Oops.
Yeah, I know it’s unlikely they could actually withhold electricity from LA, but any time someone is willing to stand up and say “stick it, jerk!” to bullies, I love it. I also know this article has almost nothing to do with baseball… except let me say that if Bud Selig actually does change his mind (what mind?) and pull the 2011 AllStar game from Arizona over this issue, the good people of Arizona should tell Bud to “stick it”, too. Immigration is a serious issue and should be dealt with by serious people… and that leaves out Bud Selig (and the LA City Council, too).
I’m deliberately choosing to put the past and all it’s aggravations behind me and am going into tonight’s game thinking purely about the opportunities that today alone presents. I have to admit that the matchup of Liriano vs Lester makes me all giggly. I LOVE a good pitchers duel and this has all the makings of the OK Corral!!
A 2-5 road trip and dropping in to a tie for the division lead with the Tigers isn’t exactly what we had in mind for this week. Time to start fresh by putting some hurtin on the Brew crew this weekend.
I’ve stayed away from watching the Twins the last couple of games, partially of necessity and partially by choice, but I’m ready to get back in the game. I figured a good way to jump back in would be to share my wisdom with Gardy and Bill Smith on the subject of what roster moves should be made.
I know they say you don’t mess with something that isn’t broken, but let’s be clear… even though the Twins have won several more games than they’ve lost, this roster is at least cracked, if not broken. You don’t carry 13 pitchers, even for just a couple of days, and even pretend that all’s well.
One roster move we all know WILL happen this weekend is that JJ Hardy will be coming off the Disabled List. What’s less clear is who will be removed from the 25-man roster to make room for Hardy. The most likely move will be to send pitcher Jeff Manship back to Rochester since, according to media reports, he was brought up just to give the Twins some bullpen depth in Boston after the pen got used and abused in Toronto earlier in the week. In all likelihood, that’s the only move the Twins will make this weekend… but that doesn’t make it the only move they SHOULD make or even the best move they COULD make.
But before I get to my wish list of roster moves, let me take a step back and discuss the Hardy situation briefly. Yes, it will be good to get JJ back and yes, he’s been a very good defender and no, you dare not underestimate the value of his defense to his team and specifically to his pitching staff. That said, I really would love to know why the heck Gardy hasn’t simply plugged Alexi Casilla’s name in to the lineup in Hardy’s absence instead of moving players around the infield like chess pieces. Specifically, I’d like to know what it is that Brendan Harris has done to warrant getting as many starts in Hardy’s absence as Casilla has.
Look, I like Casilla… always have. But I’ve also been a bit of a fan of Harris, so this is not a personal preference thing on my part. This is a “the numbers couldn’t possibly make things any more obvious” thing. Hardy’s offensive contribution so far this year has been pretty pedestrian, but that’s OK for your #8 hitter. His .250/.299/.400 line (batting average/on base pct/slugging pct) isn’t great but it’s tolerable at this point in the season.
But when faced with replacing Hardy for a couple of weeks, why in the world would you give as much playing time to Harris (.181/.277/.264 on the season and .148/.179/.185 the past two weeks) as you do to Casilla (.273/.351/.364 on the season and .294/.400/.471 the past two weeks)? It’s not like Harris is better defensively at SS, either. It just baffles me. In fact, even with Hardy coming back, I’m not sure I wouldn’t be starting Casilla until I’m sure JJ is 100%. Ah well.
Now about that roster.
What you won’t hear from me is a loud cry to “bring up the guys from AAA!” I believe there is generally a reason why some players are in the Bigs and some are in Rochester. And let’s face it, the Red Wings aren’t exactly ripping up the International League folks. After getting blown away by Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg last night, they’ve got the worst record in the I-League. So I’m not going to rant about how half their roster should be promoted while the Twins send a bunch of guys packing who have been contributing (in various degrees) to the Twins success this season. For example, count me as one vote against bringing Danny Valencia and/or Trevor Plouffe up until they show more (Valencia more power and Plouffe more glove) in Rochester.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anyone down there who could improve things for the Twins, either.
First, there’s no point in screwing around with the position players. You add Hardy and leave it at that. But the pitching staff… oh my… yes there are some improvements that could and should be made there.
This is perhaps a good time for me to say I wish people would stop with the “Rauch is doing so well that the Twins don’t really miss Nathan” crap. Jon Rauch has been great. But wouldn’t you love to have him being great as Nathan’s set-up man, instead? You’d basically be shortening every game the Twins led after 7 innings to a 7 inning game.
But we’ve got to deal with the situation as it is, without Nathan, and they’re going to have to get down to a 12-man staff to make room for Hardy. As I mentioned, sending Manship down to Rochester is the easy call. But is it the only call or even the right call? Well, kinda.
I do believe you send Manship down. In fact, I don’t quite understand why he was the choice to be brought up in the first place since he really hasn’t been Rochester’s best pitcher (or even their best starting pitcher… among a group of pretty poor starting pitchers). In fact, I can only think of one reason to keep Manship with the Twins… and that’s so you can use him as your long reliever while you send Brian Duensing down to Rochester.
Why send a guy who’s pitched as well as Duensing has down to AAA? Only one good reason… to have him stretch his arm out so you can bring him back up and plug him in to the rotation. When he’s ready, you call him up and give him Kevin Slowey’s spot, move Slowey to the long relief role and send Manship back down.
Now, last but not least, we come to the obvious question everyone is asking. When are the Twins going to give up on Jesse Crain? The answer should be “now”. It is time to designate him for assignment and, if the Twins can’t get anything for him in a trade, eat the $1 million or so they’d owe him and release him. Even saying that, I believe Crain will go on to have a productive career somewhere else. I just don’t think the Twins, in a year in which they believe they have World Series expectations, can afford to have even one pitcher that they clearly have lost all confidence in.
So when Crain is gone, who takes his place in the bullpen? Here’s where the Twins have a number of options. Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop and Anthony Slama have all been very effective in Rochester and, that being the case, it makes even less sense to keep calling Crain’s number and holding your breath, closing your eyes, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best when he takes the mound. My preference, for what it’s worth, would be Slama.
Will any of these moves actually happen this weekend? Besides the Hardy-for-Manship swap out, probably not. Slama probably won’t make his Twins debut until June so the Twins can postpone his arbitration eligibility an extra year. By the way, I think that kind of thinking is fine when you are just trying to be competitive and build for the future, but when you have a chance to win NOW, it’s just silly… and I feel the same way about the Nationals delaying Strasburg’s MLB debut for the same reason. They’re going to end up a game or two out of making the playoffs and have only their frugalness to blame. I just hope the Twins aren’t looking back and feeling the same way.
In any event, whether it’s this weekend or two weeks from now when the service time issue is no longer a concern, here’s my recommended roster: