Vote for the AMI 2010 Mustached American of the Year!

Step 1 was a SUCCESS!! The American Mustache Institute has assembled all the nominations that were submitted for the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year and have 19 finalists now ready for your vote!  Among those finalists is none other than our very own Carl Pavano!!

Many thought Carl Pavano’s baseball career was done. And then he grew a mustache. Since then, he resurrected his career with a 17-11 record in 2010, 3.75 ERA, and a Central Division Championship. His Pavstache single handedly brought the popularity of lip garments back to Minnesota and powered the team into the 2010 playoffs.

So here is your Ballot and let’s support the big man and his facial hair – because who knows how long the wife will let him keep it!

Here’s the voting info supplied by AMI:

The “Goulet” is NOT A BEST MUSTACHE CONTEST. Based on popular voting, the award recognizes the person who best-represents or contributes to the Mustached American community over the past year and will be announced in St. Louis on Dec. 4, at ‘Stache Bash 2010.

I’m not entirely sure how long they will be accepting ballots so vote early, often and share with your friends!  Time to support our favorite mustachioed MN Twin!

GameChat – ALCS Game 5: Rangers @ Yankees

The game is already in to the 2nd inning as I post this, but let’s see if we can all send our positive, if somewhat (at least in my case) margarita-influenced, energies in the direction of the Rangers. I’d like nothing more than to see them beat Captain Cheeseburger and his buddies and celebrate on the field in front of the Yankee faithful (at least those that don’t leave early, like they have en masse the last two games). – JC

Andrus, SS Jeter, SS
Young, M, 3B Swisher, RF
Hamilton, CF Cano, 2B
Guerrero, DH Rodriguez, A, 3B
Cruz, N, LF Thames, DH
Kinsler, 2B Berkman, 1B
Francoeur, RF Posada, C
Treanor, C Granderson, CF
Moreland, 1B Gardner, LF
Wilson, C, P Sabathia, P


I’ll conveniently ignore the Yankee win and mention what a great game the SF/Phil game was. Maybe Manuel should have joined the Giants in arguing about that hit-by-pitch before the game winning Sac Fly?

Oh… and something really should be done about the length of these games. OMG, they just DRAG on!


GameChat – Rangers @ Yankees ALCS #4, 7:00, TBS

Sorry if you were watching this afternoon’s NLCS game and felt an overwhelming need to chat – I just wasn’t around to be able to get anything up.  Here’s your scoreboard update though:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Philadelphia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
San Francisco 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 x 3 5 0


As for tonight’s game, here’s the info you want.  I won’t be around for the chat but at least it will be open available for those who are starting to really get caught up in a great series.  I LOVED seeing the Rangers take it to the Yankees last night.  Now they are ahead 2-1 and the Yankees are behind the 8 ball at home.  Of course, they seem to respond fairly strongly to that situation as a rule so I sense we’ll see some real fight from the NY boys tonight.  Gut instinct tells me that this will have a LOT more scoring for both teams than last night… we’ll have to see how this goes.

Texas @ NY Yankees
Andrus, SS   Jeter, SS
Young, M, 3B   Granderson, CF
Hamilton, CF   Teixeira, 1B
Guerrero, DH   Rodriguez, A, 3B
Cruz, N, RF   Cano, 2B
Kinsler, 2B   Swisher, RF
Murphy, Dv, LF   Berkman, DH
Molina, B, C   Gardner, LF
Moreland, 1B   Cervelli, C
  Hunter, T, P     Burnett, A, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 0 0 2 0 0 3 2 0 3 10 13 0
NY Yankees 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 7 0


*giggling uncontrollably*

That was fun to watch the end of – kind of wish I had seen more of the game.  Now that the Rangers are up 3-1 and have taken 2 from the Yankees on their home grass with a chance to end the entire series tomorrow, I think we have all learned one very important lesson:  Nick Swisher shouldn’t play 1B.  But if he does, you should watch because it’s hilarious.  If someone ever gives him that opportunity again (unlikely) he should be required to wear a red nose and a wig when he goes out there.  And for the record, yeah, Hamilton really does know how to swing a bat – along with several other members of his team.  Nice.

Not sure whether we are going to be able to get a gamechat up for tomorrow afternoon’s game but if I can, I will because I gotta tell you that I am going to be trying to catch any part of the game I can.  Go Rangers.

GameChat – Rangers @ Yankees ALCS #3, 7:00 pm

OK, MLB’s page says 7:00 pm BUT I have heard that first pitch isn’t actually until 7:30.  I’m not exactly sure who to believe but.. there you go anyway.

So… Cliff Lee in NY – anyone think this might be a little bit of an audition?? I am glad that so far, it’s a split series with the Rangers.  I would fall down in a faint if the Rangers can take both here in NY but I would be ecstatic with another split series.

Texas @ NY Yankees
Andrus, SS   Jeter, SS
Young, M, 3B   Swisher, RF
Hamilton, CF   Teixeira, 1B
Guerrero, DH   Rodriguez, A, 3B
Cruz, N, LF   Cano, 2B
Kinsler, 2B   Thames, DH
Francoeur, RF   Posada, C
Molina, B, C   Granderson, CF
Moreland, 1B   Gardner, LF
Lee, Cl, P   Pettitte, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 8 11 0
NY Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0


That was just an old fashioned butt-kicking by the Rangers! I didn’t see the first 7 innings but when Yankee Stadium is virtually empty before the home team comes up for their last swings, that says just about all you need to know. Keep it up Rangers! – JC

Let’s Build a Twins Roster

Last week, we took a glance at all of the players that we may have to be willing to say good-bye to by Opening Day next season.Today, let’s try to figure out how we (or more specifically, Twins GM Bill Smith) can find room for at least some of those players on next years’ roster.

Unfortunately, the first thing we have to talk about is money. The Twins front office doesn’t like to talk about money. (Have you ever noticed, the people who HAVE money are always the people who don’t like talking about money?) The Twins’ reluctance (refusal?) to disclose details about their financial status makes the exercise of trying to figure out who they can afford to bring back (never mind add) to the roster this off-season.

This is when Bill Smith earns his paycheck

This season, the Twins had about a $98 million payroll to start the season and, with the midseason additions, apparently barely broke through the $100 million mark.I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect revenues to increase significantly (although I’m sure they’ll raise ticket prices) and if revenues don’t increase a lot, neither will payroll.

The bottom line is that the Twins are not going to allow their payroll to increase like it did this season. I’m hoping we see Bill Smith set a goal to open the season with a Major League payroll at or above $115 million, but that may be wishful thinking. (If you think the Twins are going to escalate payroll more dramatically, keep in mind that the Angels broke the $100 million payroll mark in 2004… and didn’t escalate past $120 million until just this year.)

Let’s see what that means in terms of who we can expect to see in a Twins uniform in 2011. To do that, we have to do some guesswork concerning the team picking up various player options and likely arbitration awards. Players in bold have guaranteed contracts.

Catchers: Joe Mauer ($23mil) and a back up ($500K) getting the league minimum. Total $23.5 million.

Infield: Justin Morneau ($14mil), Brendan Harris ($1.75mil), Alexi Casilla ($1mil), Danny Valencia ($500K), Matt Tolbert ($500K). Total $17.75 million. (We’ll talk about Nick Punto, JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson later.)

Outfield: Michael Cuddyer ($10.5mil), Denard Span ($1mil), Jason Kubel ($5.25mil), Delmon Young ($5mil). Total $21.75 million. (We’ll talk about Jason Repko later.)

Starting pitchers: Scott Baker ($5mil), Francisco Liriano ($4.5mil), Nick Blackburn ($3mil), Kevin Slowey ($3mil), Brian Duensing ($500K). Total $16 million. (We’ll talk about Carl Pavano later.)

Relief pitchers: Joe Nathan ($12.5mil), Matt Capps ($8mil), Jose Mijares ($500K). Total $21 million. (We’ll try to fill in the rest of the bullpen later.)

What do you do about Jason Kubel's option?

That’s exactly $100 million for those 19 ballplayers. If we use that $115 million figure as our “payroll budget”, we have $15 million to spend on the remaining half dozen players to fill out our roster. If they want to spend more than that, they can make room by trading one of these 19 (assuming the trade partner is willing to take on all of that player’s salary), by buying out Kubel’s option year (saving a little under $5 million), or not offering arbitration to Capps, Young, Liriano, Slowey or other lesser-compensated players and letting them become free agents.

Assuming the Twins would carry a 12-arm pitching staff, four of the remaining six spots would be pitchers and the other two would be somehow accounted for by an infielder, an outfielder and/or a DH.

If you’re going to shop first among the players who wore Twins uniforms this season, here are your options… and their estimated price tags:


Carl Pavano (likely to command a 2-3 year contract at about $10 million per year as a free agent)

Jesse Crain (made $2 million this year and likely to command a multi-year contract for at least $3 million per year as a free agent)

Matt Guerrier (made $3.15 million this year and likely to get at least that much next year as a free agent)

Glen Perkins, Pat Neshek, Ron Mahay, Randy Flores are probably going to cost somewhere just south of $1 million.

Alex Burnett, Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop would make the league minimum $500K.

Position Players:

Orlando Hudson (likely to command $6 million as a free agent).

JJ Hardy (likely to earn $6 million or more through arbitration).

Nick Punto (Twins have a $5 million option that almost certainly won’t be picked up. They could buy it out for $500K and try to bring him back for something closer to $1.5 million).

Jim Thome (likely to command $4 million as a free agent).

Jason Repko (likely available for something less than $1 million)

Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere would be options at the league minimum $500K.

Will the Twins be outbid for Jesse Crain?

So, you say you want to bring back Pavano, Crain, Guerrier and one of the rookies, along with Hardy and Thome? That’s $26.5 million… or $11.5 million more than you have available to spend.

Maybe you’re willing to let Pavano go and stick with the home grown rotation, if it means keeping Crain and Guerrier and filling out the rest of the pen with kids. That could leave you $9 million to spend on position players, perhaps allowing you to keep Hardy and Thome.

But you say you want to see Nick Punto stay in a Twins uniform? OK… which are you saying good-bye to, Jim Thome or JJ Hardy? (Not exercising Nick’s option wouldn’t necessarily preclude the Twins from signing him to a more reasonable “utility player” contract… maybe $1.5 million or so.)

Maybe you’d try to trade Jason Kubel. That’s fine, but that leaves you with just 3 outfielders, unless Punto or Hardy can move out there.

See… being a General Manager isn’t so easy, is it?

And we haven’t even discussed the possibility that there might be someone out there on the free agent market that you think might help improve your team.

I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to recommend to Bill Smith when he calls to ask for my advice. I want a top of the line starting pitcher for the rotation and I’d like to add an outfielder that can hit AND field a position. I just haven’t figured out how to pay for all that and bring back a couple of guys I don’t really want to lose.

But don’t wait for me. Feel free to use the comment section to play General Manager and let us know how you’d fill out the roster AND stay within your budget. – JC

GameChat – ALCS & NLCS Post-Season Saturday

Ok, I decided that I would just do one post for the games today – and people can jut pop in and out as they wish during the course of the day and both games. I’ll post a separate roster for each game to use as a reference – if anyone is even using those.

Yankees @ Rangers, ALCS #2, TBS, 3:00 CT


NY Yankees @ Texas
Jeter, SS   Andrus, SS
Granderson, CF   Young, M, 3B
Teixeira, 1B   Hamilton, CF
Rodriguez, A, 3B   Guerrero, DH
Cano, 2B   Cruz, N, RF
Swisher, RF   Kinsler, 2B
Posada, C   Murphy, Dv, LF
Berkman, DH   Molina, B, C
Gardner, LF   Moreland, 1B
  Hughes, P, P     Lewis, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 7 0
Texas 1 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 x 7 12 0



Giants @ Phillies, NLCS #1, FOX, 6:30 CT


San Francisco @ Philadelphia
Torres, CF   Victorino, CF
Sanchez, F, 2B   Polanco, 3B
Huff, A, 1B   Utley, 2B
Posey, B, C   Howard, 1B
Burrell, LF   Werth, RF
Uribe, SS   Rollins, SS
Fontenot, 3B   Ibanez, LF
Ross, C, RF   Ruiz, C
Lincecum, P   Halladay, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Francisco 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 4 9 0
Philadelphia 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 7 0

GameChat – Yankees @ Rangers, ALCS, 7:00 pm, TBS

So the Yankees are in Texas.  heheheheheheee…  Sorry, I can’t help it.  They may make me swallow my giggling by the end of the night but I am still unrepentantly rooting for the Rangers. The benefit for watching games at this level even when it’s not your team is that you almost always are guaranteed a good pitching matchup. Wilson might not quite have the acclaim of Sabathia and for a reason or two but he’s definitely no slouch and I have to admit that CC hasn’t always had his best stuff in hand lately. This promises to be good.

I’m also pleased by the fortune that has the ALCS on TBS and not on FOX like the NLCS.  I have to tell you that I think that fact alone may make me less apt to watch any portion of that series.  It’s bad enough for the WS.  *SIGH*  Anyway, I won’t get to watch much of the game tonight but for what little of it that I can, I’m glad it’s not going to be intolerable. Besides, pre-game starts at 6 pm so I guess I can watch that at least.

NY Yankees @ Texas
Jeter, SS   Andrus, SS
Swisher, RF   Young, M, 3B
Teixeira, 1B   Hamilton, CF
Rodriguez, A, 3B   Guerrero, DH
Cano, 2B   Cruz, N, LF
Thames, DH   Kinsler, 2B
Posada, C   Francoeur, RF
Granderson, CF   Treanor, C
Gardner, LF   Cantu, 1B
Sabathia, P   Wilson, C, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 6 10 1
Texas 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 7 1


Well that wasn’t exactly the way I wanted that game to go. CJ Wilson certainly deserved a better fate. His bullpen sure let him (and the rest of the Rangers) down. On the other hand, I guess the country found out that it’s not just the Twins who are capable of blowing leads and losing to the Yankees.

Saturday’s LCS games are at 3:00 CT (American League) and 6:30 CT (National League). I admit that this rather surprises me. I thought there was some kind of MLB mandated rule that the F’ing Yankees had to play all post season games in prime time.  – JC

Gardy And The Gripers

Sometimes Ron Gardenhire drives me nuts with some of the decisions he makes during the course of a game. Then again, I’m sure managers of every MLB team drive some of their fans nuts with that kind of thing.

But what ‘s nuttier are the people loudly clamoring for Ron Gardenhire’s hide because he hasn’t successfully vanquished the Yankees to get to a World Series. That’s just crap.

Ron Gardenhire

Why can’t Gardy get his teams past the Yankees? Hmmmm… gosh… I wonder. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that in exactly NONE of the seasons the Twins lost to the Yankees in the LDS (2004, 05, 09, 10) has the Twins payroll been within even $100 million friggin dollars of the Yankees, could it?

It’s impossible for me to take any Gardy critic seriously if all he/she does is go on about how the Twins need to fire Gardy without telling us who they think would do the job better. Who  WOULD lead this team past those pesky Yankees? The closest most of them ever come to presenting alternatives is when they drone on about how great Tom Kelly was because he won two titles or argue that Ozzie Friggin Guillen would have delivered titles if he had been managing the Twins instead of the White Sox. Are you kidding me?

Tom Kelly

Tom Kelly won two division titles in 16 years! Yes, he won World Series those two seasons, but (a) he never faced a team in the playoffs with a significant talent/payroll advantage, and (b) all he had to do to get to the World Series those two years was win one best-of-five series each year. I like Tom Kelly but comparing his “success” with Gardenhire’s is absurd. And Guillen? Seriously? He’s won exactly two division titles in seven years. Yes, he won one World Series. How did he do against the Yankees, though? Oh… that’s right… he’s never faced the Yankees in the post-season.

But there must be SOMEONE the Twins could replace Gardy with who’s had some success against the Yankees, right? After all, they don’t win the World Series every year!

Maybe we could hire Mike Scioscia away from the Angels! He’s managed to beat the Yankees twice this decade in the post-season (2002, 2005). Sure, he lost to the Yankees a year ago and his post-season record against the Red Sox (1-3) isn’t much to brag about, but if you can get him, go for it. Then again, he’s already working for an organization that’s been spending $100 million on payroll since about 2004, so he might be tough to convince to make the jump to Minnesota.

Likewise, Terry Francona managed to beat the Yankees in the post-season… once. But I think he still has a job with a team that’s been pumping over $100 million in to payroll the entire decade, so I’m not sure your chances of pulling him to Minnesota are even as good as getting Scioscia.

Hmm… managers with the kind of success Twins fans want to have against the Yankees seem to be already managing teams who have been far out-spending the Twins for players this decade. I wonder if that has anything to do with how “smart” those managers are?

But someone else in the AL must have beaten the Yankees in the post-season, right?

Hey, Eric Wedge beat the Yankees with the Indians in 2007 (with an assist from a swarm of bugs) and he’s looking for a gig. Then again, the reason he’s available is that Cleveland dumped his ass two years after he conquered those Yanks. It seems that was the only year Wedge led his team to the playoffs. In fact, his teams won more than half their games exactly twice in his seven years leading the Tribe. Is that the kind of ‘success’ you want? Maybe Gardy should get in touch with the head of the Minnesota Mosquito Union to get some help.

Jim Leyland beat the Yankees in the post-season. Once. But then again, Leyland has won exactly one division title in 19 years of managing. Tiger fans can’t seem to figure out how come Leyland’s teams fall on their collective faces during the second half of what seems like every season. Maybe he could take over in Minnesota and show fans here how that’s done! But hey, at least we wouldn’t be complaining about not being able to beat the Yankees in the post-season any more.

Bobby Valentine is making the rounds, interviewing with pretty much every team looking for a manager. Never mind that in 15 years as a Major League manager, Valentine won exactly… wait for it… ZERO division championships! But hey, he did lead ONE Met team to a World Series as a wild card. Maybe that’s the kind of leadership we need in the Twins clubhouse!

You can talk all you want about Gardy’s puzzling in-game strategy or how he’s too buddy-buddy with the players or how the Yankees are “in his head”. But if you want to know why his Twins teams haven’t been able to get past the Yankees in the playoffs, it’s not hard to figure out. Follow the money.

After starting the 2010 season with a payroll of about $98 million, the Twins added some pieces mid season and broke through that $100 million payroll barrier for the first time in franchise history. With Mauer’s raise to $23 million per season kicking in for 2011, Gardy’s going to be leading a team next season that will have a $100 million+ opening day payroll, including a $20 million player and at least three guys getting better than $10 million each for salaries. Wooooo boy, we’re big time now, right!?

Those Yankees that Gardy’s boys were supposed to beat in the LDS had a $213 million payroll this season. They had four players already bringing down better than $20 million a year. In fact the salaries for just those four players together virtually equaled the Twins entire opening day payroll. They had seven more players pulling down better than $10 million a season. Next year, Cano’s contract moves him in to that $10 million club. There’s also every reason to believe they’ll be adding Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford (or both) to their $20 million-per-year ranks in 2011.

Since 2000, the Yankees are 12-7 in post-season series (if you go back to 1995, it’s 21-9). Yes, four of those series wins this decade have been over the Twins. They’ve also beaten Oakland and Seattle twice each, and the Red Sox, Angels, Mets and Phillies once each. The Angels are the only club who’s managed to win two post-season series from the Yankees in this decade.

Maybe one reason the Yankees have beaten the Twins more than they’ve beaten anyone else in the post-season is because they’ve played the Twins more than they have anyone else. Only the Angels, who’ve had three post-season series with the Yankees, have faced off with the Yankees more than twice since 2000. Only the A’s, Mariners and Red Sox have met them even twice (the Yankees are 5-1 in those match ups).

In the 11 post-seasons since 2000, the Twins have made six post-season appearances, all as division champion and all under Ron Gardenhire. Who can match that?

  • The Red Sox have also been to the post-season six times, the last five under Terry Francona.
  • The Angels have also participated six times, all of them under Mike Scioscia.
  • The Braves have been to the playoffs seven times, all under Bobby Cox.
  • The Cardinals have also made seven post-season appearances, all under Tony LaRussa.
  • The Yankees have appeared in the post-season 10 times, eight under Joe Torre and the last two under Joe Girardi.

What do those teams have in common? Solid, consistent managers and front offices and the ability to afford to put competitive talent on the field almost every year.

Explain to me again why a team who’s gone to the playoffs at least as often as all but three teams in all of baseball in the past 11 years should fire their manager? You’re going to have to do better than pointing out that his teams haven’t managed to defeat a team that has used its inherent financial advantages to dominate virtually every other team in baseball, as well.

Bud Selig, the national media, and the Steinbrenners want you to believe that a system that allows one team to rake in so much more revenue than every other team that they can literally buy any player they want, making them the prohibitive favorite to represent the AL in the World Series every year, is good for baseball. Hell, maybe it is. I’m sure rigging things so that the Yankees are likely to get to the World Series almost every year means more money from FOX, TBS or whoever else might pay MLB for television rights to the playoffs. Anyway, I’m just a dumb Midwestern hick, what do I know about running a multi-billion-dollar cartel?

Just don’t try to tell me it’s fair and that the “right manager” evens the odds. It just makes you sound like an idiot.

I may not be as smart as Bud and his cronies, but I’m smart enough to know that the reason the Twins go in to every series with the Yankees as prohibitive underdogs has virtually nothing to do with their manager and everything to do with the talent levels of the players that those teams can afford to put on the field.

You can’t advance in the playoffs unless you make the playoffs. In the American League, that means you manage in a way to give you the best chance to win your division, then you hope to catch lightning in a bottle to get past the team that MLB and its network partners want to see in the World Series. The deck is going to be stacked against you every year and calling for a manager to be fired because he hasn’t beaten those prohibitive odds in four tries is just silly. – JC

GameChat – Texas @ Rays, ALDS #5, 7:00 pm, TBS

I guess if you are going to watch two other teams matchup in a Final Showdown, watching Lee take on Price is a pretty good deal.  I know many Twins fans have picked a side in this match which makes for great conversation but I can honestly say that I would be happy with either team being in the World Series – I just want whoever wins tonight to whallop the Yankees.  Is that too much to ask?

I’m not sure if anyone will participate in this chat or not but we thought we should at least give people the opportunity to continue to gather around a good game.

Texas @ Tampa Bay
Andrus, SS   Bartlett, SS
Young, M, 3B   Zobrist, RF
Hamilton, CF   Crawford, LF
Guerrero, DH   Longoria, 3B
Cruz, N, LF   Pena, C, 1B
Kinsler, 2B   Upton, B, CF
Francoeur, RF   Johnson, D, DH
Molina, B, C   Shoppach, C
Moreland, 1B   Rodriguez, S, 2B
Lee, Cl, P   Price, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 5 11 1
Tampa Bay 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 2


Congratulations, Texas Rangers! Now, go beat the F’ing Yankees!