Maybe it’s just me but there are several unfamiliar names on the Giants roster tonight. And I have to admit that somehow, this game feels… like a wednesday? Not the actual day of the week but some sort of middle of the duration hump that is lacking in energy. I would love for the game itself to prove that feeling wrong.
Ok, Bumgarner really had a great outting tonight – as a rookie in the World Series it’s hard enough just to start. But he’s the 4th youngest pitcher in the history of the game to get the WIN in a WS game much less go 8 innings of shutout baseball. Good job Giants – let’s see what happens tomorrow!
Definitely was the game for the Rangers to enjoy their homefield advantage – and win their second post-season game at home no less! Definitely looking forward to game #4 to see if this is going to get all tied up. I know a lot of people are predicting that these two teams will go to game #7 because of the fairly even matchup. We’re almost halfway there!
Ok, there are a couple different opportunities to vote for ome of your favorite Twins for their performances both on and off the field this year.
First, this might be the last opportunity you get to support Nick Punto as a MN Twin since they decided not to pick up his option today when they picked up Kubel’s. I think even he knew it wasn’t likely that the Twins were going to pay something like $5 mil for him next year. His contract buyout is $500,000 and then he’s a free agent. At that point, he could still resign here but it would likely be at a lot more reasonable contract amount for his expected role. Whatever will the bloggers complain about then? oh yeah, poor Cuddy…
Anyway, Nicky was selected as our representative for the 2010 Heart and Hustle Award.
Created by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association in 2005, the Heart & Hustle Award is voted on by Alumni and active Major League players and is presented annually to an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.
You canVOTE up to 10 times a day so lets support the guy that we all know actually is all about heart and hustle. Go Nicky!
Second, MLB has published the ballots for the 2010 This Year in Baseball awards. There are a LOT of categories and there aren’t Twins in all of them BUT even for the ones that don’t have Twins, they are entertaining enough that I encourage everyone to look through and make selections. It’s a great bit of entertainment.
However, Twins highlights to look for include Danny Valencia for X-factor, Delmon Young for Breakout, Bill Smith for Executive and Ron Gardenhire for Manager of the Year. Vote here!
Ok, they SAY the game starts at 6:30 (central) but as last night proved, that’s when all the pregame festivities start and the actual game probably won’t start until 7 pm. Just a heads up. I really want to see CJ Wilson kick a little butt tonight – metaphorically speaking… (literally would be fun though).
Is anyone else a little weirded out that Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum … well… they kind of look alike? Seriously! They could almost be father and son! Ok, maybe brothers.. but still.
photo courtsey of MLB.com
But superficial distractions aside, YAY!!!! The World Series is here! I’m actually interested enough to watch! AND I don’t have to watch yet another east coast team so BONUS! Ok, yes, I have a bias and I’m probably in the minority and the bosses over at Fox are having fits worrying that there won’t be enough ratings – maybe they won’t renew the contract and someone with better announcers and less commercial interruption can broadcast but for now, this is what we have.
I was a big fan of the late George Carlin back in the days of my misspent youth. I mean, I liked Bill Cosby and Gallagher, too… but Carlin always made me laugh. My favorite part of his stand-up routine was when he’d come up with the “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”. You know what I mean… like “Why don’t you ever see the headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?”
Well, since Bud Selig and the other geniuses at MLB decided we should all take what seems like a month off between the end of the LCS and the World Series, I thought this would be a good time to share some of what I’ve read lately that made me go “hmmm.” So that’s what I’m going to do. Below are a few things I found interesting and links to where you might read more.
I’ve been a big fan of Zack Greinke and have been up front for some time about wishing there was a way to get him in to a Twins uniform. So this tidbit from Seth Stohs’ post on Sunday caught my attention:
Speaking of the offseason, the Zack Greinke rumors are already in full gear. Apparently the Twins are among the teams that Greinke would accept a trade to. There is talk that due to his social anxiety disorder, he would prefer to stay in a small market. Travis Aune (of) TravisTwinsTalk.blogspot.com tells me that he has heard rumors of a potential deal involving Greinke and David DeJesus coming to the Twins in exchange for Kevin Slowey, Delmon Young and Aaron Hicks.
Greinke is due $13.5 million for both 2011 and 2012. DeJesus gets $6 million for 2011. Together, that’s about $12 million more than the Twins would be paying Slowey and Young next season (Hicks would remain a minor leaguer for at least another year with the Twins). I’m not sure the Twins have room for that kind of payroll bump, but it’s an interesting thought.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are chomping at the bit to get moving on making sure they don’t fail to reach the World Series two years in a row. Frustrated, I’m sure, by not being able to throw gazillions of dollars at Cliff Lee while Lee is still pitching for his current team, the Rangers, in the World Series, the Yankees decided to do something immediately to begin the process of fixing their team… they fired their pitching coach, Dave Eiland. Right, guys, it wasn’t your overpaid, underperforming, arms that cost you the World Series berth you feel entitled to, it was your pitching coach.
Perhaps the Rangers’ greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.
“The fans did not do good things in my heart,” Kristen says.
“When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”
Wouldn’t it be a gas if the typical Yankee fan behavior turned out to be a critical factor in Cliff Lee telling the Yankees to “shove it” and staying with the Rangers?
While on the subject of the Yankees, I’ve read the following “rumors” about Cashman’s offseason plans (beyond the obvious intent to throw money at Cliff Lee):
While Derek Jeter’s value on the open market to teams other than the Yankees would be about $7 million on a one-year deal, the Yankees are likely to sign him to a 3-year contract for about $45 million. HOWEVER… as part of that deal, they should let him know that he should no longer expect to always hit in the top two spots in the order and he should be made aware that he’ll not be playing shortstop every day. He may transition to other positions, including possibly DHing. (Where do I sign up for a gig that gets me paid, by my current employer, twice what I’m worth to anyone else, on the condition that I accept the fact that I won’t be working as much?)
One writer speculated that Jeter would begin transitioning to 3B, with Alex Rodriguez beginning to DH.
Jorge Posada will not be catching as much next year but would be used as the primary DH. In fact, the Yankees may carry three catchers including current part-time catcher Francisco Cervelli and uber-prospect Jesus Montero, with the plan being to gradually get Montero MLB catching experience and using both Montero and Posada as DHs.
In an effort to figure out how to justify spending even more Steinbrenner money to bring in Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth for 2011, there’s speculation that the Yankees might trade current RF Nick Swisher or… if the Yankees find no takers for Swisher and his $9 million contract… move Swisher to DH.
All of which has me wondering just how soon Bud Selig will be proposing a new rule allowing the Yankees to use five DHs in their line up.
Finally, I’ve gone several weeks now without linking to a Joe Posnanski “Curiously Long Post” so I’m going to link/recommend two of them that should be considered “must reads”. One is about Mike Sweeney (caution… if you’re anything like me, reading this may make you feel inclined to wish the Twins would offer Sweeney a non-roster invitation to Spring Training, just to see if they could wring a little more magic out of him as a right handed DH/PH) and the other is actually a re-post of an article he wrote about accompanying Tony Pena on a trip to his native Dominican Republic several years ago when Pena was the Royals’ manager. I have to admit, I loved the way Pena ran a team from the catcher position and wish there was a bit of Pena’s fire in Mr. Mauer.
Since the Twins were eliminated from the 2010 postseason, we (and a whole lot of other people) have written a bit about the roster decisions the Twins will be making this off-season. I still haven’t quite landed on what I really want to see Bill Smith and the gang do about the roster. One thing I have figured out, though, is that if I sat down to write a blog post about what I think the Twins should do, it would be a very… very… long post.
So I think we should attack this subject a little bit at a time. Like, maybe just one or two players in a post. Let’s especially look at some of the guys that may or may not be wearing the Twins pinstripes next season. Along the way, if we decide they may not be around, we should also mention something about the options the team might explore to replace that player.
Let’s start with Jesse Crain and Matt Capps because I believe their futures with the Twins are mutually exclusive. If one stays, the other goes elsewhere. And I think both of their fates are entangled a bit with Joe Nathan’s.
Let me just say that I’m one of those people who think the “save” statistic is wayyyyyy overrated as a meaningful statistic. That said, I don’t believe you can just plug any decent bullpen arm in to the closer role and watch them succeed. Mental makeup matters. But it’s really too bad that saves have become the kind of statistic that makes the difference between whether a pitcher makes $8 million a year or $3 million.
Think that’s an overstatement? Consider that for most of 2010, Jesse Crain was clearly the most effective pitcher coming out of the Twins’ bullpen. But he wasn’t getting saves. Matt Capps was. Jon Rauch was. Brian Fuentes got saves for the Angels before coming over to the Twins. Next season, unless he and his agent can find a team willing to just hand him a closer job (and pay him accordingly), Jesse Crain is probably going to be pitching somewhere for less than $4 million. All three of his team mates mentioned above, who racked up over 20 saves each during the season, may be making “closer money” somewhere… likely twice what Crain will get.
As much as I would love to see Crain back in the same role he had this year with the Twins… coming in to games in the most critical late-inning situations (which I think is when teams SHOULD use their most dominant reliever)... you really can’t blame Crain for publicly stating that he’d like get an opportunity to be a closer somewhere. Yes, you and I could live just fine on $3-4 million a year. I’m sure Jesse does, too. But we’re talking about possibly doubling his pay if he can work himself in to a closer role in the next year or two and start notching those saves. That would matter to me, too.
The Twins are a bit handcuffed by the $12.5 million they’re going to be obligated to pay Joe Nathan next season. That’s high-end closer money going to a guy who probably is not going to be closing for them. Yes, it would be wonderful if Nathan came to Spring Training and just picked right up where he left off before having his elbow rebuilt this past March. But it’s really just not reasonable to expect that to happen. It would be rare for a pitcher to return to that level of effectiveness that soon. It would be foolish of the Twins not to have at least one other option they trust to slam the door on opponents in the last inning.
Sure, maybe one of the cheaper arms in the Twins’ stable could step in… Mijares or Neshek maybe… or perhaps one of the kids who have been toiling in Rochester or New Britain could rise to the challenge. But if you were Bill Smith, would you want to rely on that? I’m not Bill Smith and I don’t want to rely on that.
The Twins need a Plan B (or arguably a Plan A, with a fully recovered Nathan the Plan B). That’s where Capps and Crain come in.
Matt Capps is arbitration eligible and people who know this stuff much better than I do say he’d get something around $8-9 million in arbitration because that process rewards those pesky save statistics. I know Capps is not exactly Mr. Popular among a lot of Twins fans/bloggers. I’ve never quite understood that. He’s still young and I expect he’ll perform well in a closer role for several years to come… somewhere. Then again, Jesse Crain has felt the wrath of Twins fans/bloggers, as well, over the years.
Crain is a free agent. To bring him back, the Twins will need to outbid other teams who might be interested in his services. I’m not sure any team will pay him $5+ million and promise him the opportunity to close, but they might. If he gets that kind of offer, he should take it and the Twins should thank him for his services and say good-bye. Hey… at least that would free up the Twins to retire #28 when Bert is elected to the Hall of Fame this year, right?
But if Crain doesn’t get that kind of offer elsewhere, maybe he’d be willing to come back for another year with the Twins at $3-4 million (perhaps with a much higher option for 2012 with a reasonable buy-out) and the promise that he’ll be given an opportunity to compete for the closer role.
If the Twins could make that deal with Crain, they could non-tender Capps and save a few bucks to use elsewhere. Alternatively, they could go ahead and take Capps to arbitration and then let Capps and Crain compete in March. The winner gets the Twins closer gig and the loser gets traded to someone else who suddenly finds themselves needing a closer as Opening Day nears. Someone always needs a closer as Opening Day nears.
The risk of this approach, however, is that if one of those guys gets injured, the Twins are stuck paying both Capps and Crain next season.
The bottom line is, I don’t see a need to carry Nathan, Crain and Capps in to 2011. That’s about $25 million in salary to three relief pitchers and I believe that’s a luxury the Twins can’t afford if they’re going to maintain a competitive group of every day players. – JC
Use the comment section to tell us who you think will/should get the opportunity to fill the role of Twins’ closer in 2011.
Interesting how both leagues Championship Series went to 3-1? Last night’s game was very interesting but.. very long. In fact, BOTH games yesterday were torturously long for 9 inning games. NOW, I know why MLB has been trying to institute measures to “speed up games”. Too bad they aren’t enforcing them on a) teams that are actually causing the problems and b) TV networks that drag out games with additional commercial breaks. That definitely is going to drive away viewers, not draw them which I am pretty sure is the general point of television broadcasts.
I hope tonight doesn’t keep me up later than the laundry I have to do… Of course, given the piles of laundry, let’s hope I am done with that before the World Series starts.