GameChat – Twins @ Royals #2, 6:10 pm, FSN & am1500

Just got home and am throwing this up quickly, so not much to read here!

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Span, CF Aviles, M, 3B
Tolbert, SS Cabrera, Me, CF
Kubel, RF Gordon, A, LF
Morneau, 1B Butler, 1B
Cuddyer, 2B Francoeur, RF
Thome, DH Betemit, DH
Valencia, 3B Escobar, A, SS
Holm, C Treanor, C
Tosoni, LF Getz, 2B
Duensing, P O’Sullivan, P 

 

You know, I don’t think I have it in me to even bother remembering what I just watched. Maybe we should just call it a comedy of errors and leave it at that. Thank goodness April is over.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 2
Kansas City 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 8 x 11 13 2

 

Looking For Distractions

I’m in the middle of a three-week period where I’m traveling to different parts of the country every week for work, so it’s not that I have nothing going on to occupy my mind, but since March I’ve focused much of my “spare time” on what’s going on with the Twins. I’ve blogged about the Twins. I went to Spring Training to hang out for a week watching the Twins. I’ve ranted about the blackout rules that keep me from being able to watch Twins games.

I’ve watched as one Twins player after another has fallen to injury, illness, or both. I’m not sure which team has been hurt more by injury/illness… the Twins or my Fantasy teams. But as Strib  beat reporter LaVelle E. Neal III pointed out in a recent post, the problem isn’t JUST the guys who aren’t available to play… most of the guys who ARE playing are simply not playing well. And there’s really no excuse for that.

I’m not jumping on the “fire, trade and release everyone” bandwagon that Seth Stohs did a great job of debunking in his recent post over at SethSpeaks.net. As miserable as the month of April has been for the Twins, it is after all just one of six months that make up the MLB regular season. Some of these guys are going to get it figured out and start being much more productive. Some may not. And it’s not like there’s much of anyone hitting down on the farm at Rochester, anyway (with Trevor Plouffe being one possible exception… at least until he, too, began a recent slump at the plate).

But I’m really not sure how much more of this ineptitude I can keep watching, right now. That Royals game Friday night was just downright painful to see unfold. So, I’m looking for other things to focus some attention on. Here are just a couple of things that I’ve found.

Ozzie and the White Sox: This group sucks just as much as the Twins lately (if not more). All things considered, I would much rather watch good baseball than bad baseball. The two Orioles/Red Sox games I attended this week in Baltimore were fun to watch because I saw good pitching, timely hitting, and some good defensive plays. That’s what I LIKE to see when I watch professional ballplayers. But if I have to watch bad baseball, I get a lot more enjoyment out of watching bad baseball being played by players wearing White Sox uniforms than Twins uniforms and fortunately, the current group of BitchSox are accommodating me.

Maybe Ozzie could give Gardy Tweeting lessons

And did you see that Ozzie immediately went to tweeting about an umpire that had just ejected him from a game this week? Now THAT’S the kind of “firing it through the internet” you won’t see Gardy doing! Of course, I would probably enjoy the Sox struggles even more if I didn’t have Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn on one of my already-doomed Fantasy teams.

The NFL Draft: I haven’t watched a lot of the NFL draft this week, but I hoped following it a bit would be a nice distraction from what’s happening with the Twins. Sounded good, in theory. Then the Vikings used the 12th pick of the draft to pick up a QB that I really don’t see as being any better than many of the QBs still on the board going in to Saturday’s fourth round… and a tight end in the second round… seriously? The Vikings have enormous needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, not to mention the defensive secondary. And there were some terrific options available at those positions when their turn came in the first round, but they decided to pick a QB that either won’t play this season or will get killed if he does play, because they have nobody who can protect him.

Twins fans… those of you who like to call for the firing of everyone who is responsible for filling out the Twins’ roster, let this serve as a warning… having different decision makers is not the same as having good decision makers. You could end up with a front office like the Vikings have and the Twins could very quickly become the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the other hand, Hawkeye defensive end Adrian Clayborn was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of the draft, so that was nice to see. There are probably 7-8 other former Hawkeyes that have some chance of getting drafted in the later rounds this weekend, so I’ll keep an eye on that.

UPDATE: The Vikings picked Hawkeye DT Christian Ballard in the 4th round… so I’m a bit excited about that. It will be great to have another Hawkeye joining LB Chad Greenway on the Vikings’ defense for me to cheer for!

Minor League Baseball: I really wish the Cedar Rapids Kernels were in town this weekend. I wanted badly to just go spend my Friday night and Saturday at the ballpark watching them play. Alas, they were on the road. But in checking their schedule, I was reminded that a week from today, the Kernels will be hosting the first game of a three-game series with the Twins’ Midwest League affiliate, the Beloit Snappers. That’s at least something to look forward to next weekend!

The Snappers visit the Kernels next weekend

Both the Snappers and Kernels are off to pretty good starts, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the kids I watched on the minor league spring training complex in Ft. Myers take on the local club. They play a night game Saturday, a 2:00 game Sunday afternoon and a noon game on getaway day, Monday. I’m thinking that may be a good day to take a vacation day before I have to get on a plane for Florida the next day. It will also give me an opportunity to get the camera out and provide material for at least a couple of posts here at Knuckleballs.

What about you? Are you finding something to focus your free time on to take your mind off the Twins’ struggles? Let us know if you’ve got any great ideas to share!

– JC

 

GameChat – Twins @ Royals, 7:10 pm, FSN & am1500

There is some good news since my wrap-up earlier today: Repko has been declared ready to go and he’s available tonight AND Thome is feeling better swinging they say he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.

That’s all great.. can we please just score some runs and pitch decently tonight? I’m not even asking for AMAZING! I would just like the baseball gods to grant me something other than a boxscore that makes me bang my head against a wall.

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Span, CF Getz, 2B
Casilla, A, SS Cabrera, Me, CF
Kubel, RF Gordon, A, LF
Morneau, DH Butler, DH
Cuddyer, 1B Francoeur, RF
Valencia, 3B Betemit, 3B
Tosoni, LF Ka’aihue, 1B
Butera, C Pena, B, C
Hughes, L, 2B Escobar, A, SS
Baker, S, P Chen, P

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 3 9 1
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 x 4 10 1

I guess we’re supposed to take some consolation from the fact that the Twins showed some imagination in just how they managed to lose tonight’s game. They didn’t get bludgeoned to death, for a change. Instead, they died of several consecutive papercuts in the 8th inning. But a loss is a loss and they just keep on coming. – JC

 

Friday Wrap-up

There is nothing like the sun coming out!

 

Spring has finally returned to Minnesota – it could have come back earlier, just saying. But for those who won tickets from us here at Knuckleballs, I really hope you went to last night’s game! The baseball wasn’t really any better but the weather sure was. It was dry, sunny, and the temp was about 10 degrees warmer than the afternoon game when it ended – not going to tell you what it was when it started. But needless to say, as you can tell from the photo above, it was a beautiful if cool evening. Yes, I dressed in layers and brought gloves, no I didn’t need to wear a coat or earmuffs.  If only the Twins had chosen to actually PLAY baseball.

You can make all the excuses you want but this whole series, we just got out-played on all sides of the diamond. The Rays had great defense, phenomenal hitting and stellar pitching – kind of like the Twins I like to remember in my mind and NOTHING like the Twins that showed up in Target Field. And for the record, pitching was problematic, yes, but until we start scoring RUNS, I’m not going to listen to a single pitching complaint about how many the other guys score.

This has been such a crazy week with all the injuries, the ups & downs, that I thought I would try to summarize where we’re at as the Twins head south on the road trip.

Folk on the DL:

Kevin Slowey (shoulder)

Joe Mauer (legs/back)

Delmon Young (strained oblique)

Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken leg)

Folk injured but not on the DL:

Jim Thome (strained oblique)

Jason Repko (strained quadriceps)

Carl Pavano (sick/flu)

All this going on has made this a pretty interesting week of ups & downs in with the minor leagues. Delmon was supposed to be back on Sunday and then he couldn’t play & we had literally an empty bench (except Holm) so he was finally DL’ed and Rene Tosoni came up. He did a decent job over all.  Then, after the rainout on Tuesday, we all received notification of the expected starting rotation – except that within a matter of hours, we were discussing the possibility of bringing up Eric Hacker to take Scott Baker’s place in the replacement game because Baker was moved to Pavano’s start so his could be pushed back to Sunday… and then Liriano sucked.. so we had to bring in Hacker to finish on Wednesday which made him unavailable for Thursday so we sent him back down after being here merely hours and brought up Anthony Swarzak.  Then Blackburn had his sucking turn and we used everything in the bullpen just about in the first game of a double header – wow, that sounds like fun.  We left ourselves Perkins and Nathan untouched and hoped Capps could do two in one day. I was hoping that when the weather cleared, our boys would begin to literally see the light and hoped for better play.  I didn’t get it. Swarzak did ok in his second MLB start in two seasons and got further into the game than Liriano did. Perkins and Nathan actually did well enough (Nathan kicked ass but too little too late) but without scoring RUNS it’s hard to win a game.

As far as all those DL’ers? Well, both Mauer & Slowey are now eligible to return. Mauer’s not ready and finally spoke to the press about it yesterday. Slowey is being stretched back out to 75+ pitches to be ready to take back a starting role to replace Liriano if his next start isn’t a 180 turnaround. (I do recall saying something like Liriano should be in the bullpen and Slowey should be starting right at the end of spring training but I won’t rub that in anywhere.)  Thome says he should be ready to play any day now and Gardy is giving him the benefit of the doubt but if this continues more than a couple games, he’ll go to the DL as well. I’m not sure who is left down in AAA to come up and hit for us but there you go. Repko is genuinely on the mend and should be back shortly which is good because he is still a better OF than Tosoni or Revere. Very little has been said about how Pavano is feeling – so I’m hoping that’s a good sign that he’s not on par with his teammates in contracting whatever virus is body-hopping in the clubhouse.

Ok, honest, I’m just about done channeling my inner JimCrikket (both in mood & post length) so I figure I will just pass along some good summary reading from others on how things have gone this week:

Parker Hageman – Over the Baggy: Answers for Liriano

Howard Sinker – Section 219: Bad Performances, Bad Decisions

Brett Bollinger – MLB: Update from Mauer

Seth Stohs – SethSpeaks: Bizzaro Seth

Phil Mackey – 1500ESPN.com: Somebody needs to step up

Joe Christensen – Around the Majors: Next Home Game…

I’m sure that my baseball mood won’t take much to improve – winning a game would help.

GameChat – Tampa Bay @ Minnesota #3, 7:10 pm, FSN & am1500

It looks like the weather at Target Field should be a heckuva lot better this evening than the snow of last night. I’m actually seeing sunshine as I write this. Better weather, better game?

It was a busy day at work so I don’t know much about what happened in the afternoon game other than the score was pretty ugly (hello, oxymoron!). The injury update was covered earlier, so I’ll just say I hope things get better soon. Having one, or maybe even two, of the key guys injured or ill is one thing, but it’s starting to feel like a bit of an epidemic. And I just want the guys to all feel better. It’s no fun for them being hurt or sick either.

I’m interested in seeing how Swarzak does. He was the starting pitcher at the Red Wings game I attended back in August 2009, and he only lasted 2.1 innings, so… I’m maybe not his biggest fan. (The Red Wings did win in the end, but after it went into extra innings I couldn’t stay for because I had other plans. I hate having to leave games before they’re over.) He can totally sway my opinion, though.

On with the lineups:

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota
Fuld, LF Span, CF
Damon, DH Tolbert, SS
Upton, B, CF Kubel, DH
Joyce, RF Morneau, 1B
Zobrist, 2B Cuddyer, RF
Kotchman, 1B Tosoni, LF
Rodriguez, S, 3B Valencia, 3B
Jaso, J, C Butera, C
Johnson, E, SS Hughes, L, 2B
Niemann, P Swarzak, A, P

At least the Rays didn’t make it into double digits of runs? At least Swarzak did okay considering he had only three days’ rest and flew in just today? At least it wasn’t a shutout? Hey, I’m trying to stay positive.

Late word is that we’ll be seeing more roster changes tomorrow. Burnett up, Swarzak down? Slowey up? I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but all will become clear in the light of day. I hope.

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

 

GameChat – Tampa Bay @ Minnesota #2, 12:10 pm, FSN & am1500

[update: it's currently raining at TF so there is possibility of a delay - but the rain is supposed to be leaving so both games should still be played.]

So in obvious acknowledgement that injuries are starting to pile up on this Twins roster, the usual pre-game lockerroom discussions were altered a bit to include Rick McWane, the Twins trainer.  Discussions were tweeted out covering all the players who we WON’T see today. Delmon has a strained oblique that he wanted to play through but, especially given the current weather, just couldn’t. Rene Tosoni will be making his MLB debut as a result.

Joe Mauer is eligible to come off the DL today but he’s not quite ready. However, the trainer says he’s perfectly healthy other than the orthopedic issues – what a relief. *snort* Since his “orthopedic issues” are called Bilateral Leg Weakness and the rest of us don’t have the faintest clue what that means, I think that is a big enough problem for us to deal with. Glad to know the virus is gone though. They are saying he will need a rehab stint in the minors before he comes back to TF though.

Thome still isn’t available due to an oblique issue as well. This weather sucks and it probably sucks even more for a body over 40. I still thank god there is at least one person on the team older than I am but honestly, I don’t know how he does it.

Morneau is actually back at 1B today and I’m looking forward to that. Something tells me he’ll be back to DH’ing tonight though. I’m pretty sure that he isn’t going to man the base for two games in a row.  If he does though, I will be happily surprised and it’s probably only possible because he didn’t play the field last night.  We’ll see.

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota
Fuld, LF   Span, CF
Damon, DH   Casilla, A, SS
Upton, B, CF   Kubel, DH
Joyce, RF   Morneau, 1B
Zobrist, 2B   Cuddyer, RF
Rodriguez, S, 3B   Valencia, 3B
Shoppach, C   Tosoni, LF
Kotchman, 1B   Holm, C
Brignac, R, SS   Hughes, L, 2B
  Hellickson, P     Blackburn, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 2 1 2 2 0 3 3 0 2 15 19 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 3 8 2

 

 

Well that was just ugly… congrats to Rene Tosoni for getting his first MLB hit & RBI today – as well as starting with his first MLB error. Oh well, I’m hoping that tonights game can only get better right? That has nothing to do with the fact that I’m going to tonight’s game – I would just like to see us hit the cover off the ball a bit, and win one. Is that too much to ask?

Road Trip To Camden Yards

I’ve got a few new work responsibilities these days, so I haven’t been able to follow the Twins as much as I’d like, much less blog about them. On the other hand, those new responsibilities also have me in Baltimore this week and I’ve taken advantage of that by staying at a hotel just a few blocks from Camden Yards, home of the Orioles. Sure, it would have been nice if this trip had corresponded with the Twins’ series in Baltimore a week ago, but my luck doesn’t run that good (besides, the weather this week was much better for baseball in Baltimore).

I didn’t pack the camera on this trip, but I took a few pictures with my phone and thought I’d share.

On Tuesday, I joined a few coworkers at the first game of the O’s/Red Sox series (the company has some pretty nice seats just up from the visiting dugout). It was a bit warm… close to 80 degrees… and a bit on the humid side, but it sure beat the 40 degree weather back home.

A fixture out on Eutaw Street beyond RF at the ballpark is “Boog’s Bar-b-q”. Wednesday night, Boog Powell was on hand to sign autographs, pose for pictures with fans and just generally shoot the bull with anyone who cared to do so. Seemed like a really good guy. (If you don’t know who Boog Powell is, I’ll try not to hold your relative youth against you… but he and Harmon Killebrew were having their own little “home run derby” contests during Twins/Orioles games throughout most of my youth.)

I moved around a bit on Wednesday. I spent some time early in the game in the upper deck, under the overhang, avoiding raindrops and hoping the lightning I was seeing to the west of the stadium didn’t get much closer.

Fortunately, the storm moved just to the north of Camden Yards. Again, it was in the mid 70s and humid… with a few raindrops here and there… but nothing to complain about, especially compared to the snow that the Twins and Rays were playing in back at Target Field!

Later, I moved back down to the RF line… grabbing a beer and a bit of Boog’s BBQ and watching an inning or so from the standing room area above the large out-of-town scoreboard that serves as the RF wall.

Then I grabbed a seat near the RF foul pole.

Speaking of the foul pole… I didn’t realize those poles were actually carry-overs from old Memorial Stadium. Gotta like that they brought a bit of the “old ballpark” to their new one (hard to believe this place is already 20 years old, though!).

Finally, on my way out, I just snapped a shot of Eutaw Street between the signature warehouse and the OF seating area and the Oriole Hall of Fame plaques behind the large scoreboard in CF.

Oh… and I apparently brought a bit of good luck to the O’s as they beat the Red Sox both games I attended… 4-1 on Tuesday, when I got to see young Zach Britton pretty much shut down the Red Sox, taking a no-hitter through roughly the first half of the game, and 5-4 on Wednesday, when balls were flying out of the park a bit. Luke Scott and Adam Jones went back-to-back to stake Jeremy Guthrie to a 3-0 lead over Josh Beckett, but a Kevin Youkalis 3-run HR tied the game at 4 in the 8th inning. Vlad Guerrero’s RBI single in the 8th provided the margin of victory for the Orioles.

I made my first trip to Camden Yards just a year or two after it was built and it’s still one of my favorite ballparks. I’m looking forward to making more trips out here during the summer months over the next few years.

– JC

GameChat – Tampa Bay @ Minnesota, 7:10 pm, FSN & am1500

Yes, they ARE playing tonight (so far) and yes, it is butt-cold out there. Stupid snow flurries. But the word really is that it should be a mostly dry game and they’ll just play in the cold.  Poor Liriano who really really doesn’t like cold.

I had heard earlier today that Young might be in the lineup tonight but either that was just not really happening or the weather made them re-evaluate that tonight. I haven’t heard any of the pre-game stuff on TV or radio so they’ll probably tell you if you’re paying attention.

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota
Fuld, LF   Span, CF
Damon, DH   Casilla, A, SS
Upton, B, CF   Kubel, LF
Zobrist, RF   Morneau, DH
Rodriguez, S, 2B   Cuddyer, RF
Lopez, F, 3B   Valencia, 3B
Shoppach, C   Butera, C
Johnson, D, 1B   Hughes, L, 1B
Brignac, R, SS   Tolbert, 2B
Davis, W, P   Liriano, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 4 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 8 8 0
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 7 1

 

Not much to say about this game tonight except that it’s a pretty good bet everyone involved was glad when it was over. Snow… at the end of April… during a Twins game. ugh.

Apparently DY is going on the DL and Rene Tosoni should be in uniform for the Twins in time for the Thursday doubleheader. I really don’t want to even think about which pitchers will/won’t be available for those games. Could be interesting. – JC

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

 

Tonight’s Twins game versus the Rays has been officially called off due to the weather. 

It’s been postponed until Thursday evening at 7:10 pm as part of a split Double Header after the regularly scheduled afternoon game. All tickets for tonight’s game will be honored on Thursday so just hang on to them and hopefully you’re able to reschedule.

Off-day entertainment…

For all of us who love to watch but hitting that little white ball is a huge challenge…

courtesy of GoComics

 

(this might be the only time I’d approve of the combination of baseball & a beachball)