I know we’ve got all we can handle, as Twins fans, to keep focused on what our guys are doing from day to day. After all, in just this one past series with the Dodgers, the Twins managed to win a game 1-0 and lose a game 15-0.
But as bad as that 15-0 thumping on Monday was, did anyone notice what happened to the Tigers the following two days? I don’t know if Gardy’s buddy Jim Leyland was just feeling so bad for the Twins manager that he decided to do something to make his friend feel better, but whatever the cause, his Tigers actually have had a worse week than Gardy’s Twins.
On Tuesday, Tiger relief pitcher Daniel Schlereth gave up not one, but TWO grand slam home runs in his team’s 14-3 loss. Said Schlereth, “With right-handers, I’m struggling.” See, and we thought Jose Mijares was having a tough stretch! Then again, at least Schlereth didn’t try to publicly blame his catcher.
True, that loss wasn’t as bad as the 15-0 debacle the Twins had on Monday, but the Tigers followed their trouncing up by losing to the Mets again on Wednesday, 16-9. In that game, the Tigers hit five home runs… and lost… by seven runs! Tiger utility player Don Kelly came in to pitch to get the final out of the game. Gardy may have had a tough time, but at least we didn’t see Matt Tolbert take to the mound.
Think the Twins have had a few pitching woes in the past week or so? Think about this… during their series with the Mets, the Tigers had not one… not two… not three… not four… but FIVE pitchers who saw their ERAs jump by more than half an earned run per nine innings! Here they are (courtesy of an interesting article on SBNation by Grant Brisbee)
Rick Porcello: before 4.50; after 5.06
Daniel Schlereth: before 2.96; after 4.91
Phil Coke: before 4.32; after 4.91
Al Alburquerque: before 1.95; after 2.79
David Purcey: before 0.77; after 3.58
Tiger reliever Ryan Perry managed to actually lower his ERA. He threw 3 2/3 innings and gave up 2 earned runs. That dropped his ERA from 9.95 to 9.00.
Tiger starter Phil Coke was so bad that he’s being relegated to the bullpen and replaced in the rotation by a guy named Charlie Furbush. (Insert your own tasteless comment here.)
So what’s my point? I’m not sure I really have one, other than (a) to remind all of us that every team has a game or two where they flat out get bludgeoned and that we shouldn’t take that as any more of a sign of the apocolypse than we should assume a single great performance means we can line up for playoff tickets, and (b) it’s more fun to make fun of division opponents failures than it is to discuss the Twins’ problems.
What a gorgeous day for baseball!!!! Lexi is sitting today with a sore thumb and a stiff back but should be back on Friday. Otherwise I really would like the Twins to just go outand win a game and a series today.
Wooohooo!! Nothing like a little run support! Yeah, obviously I mean VERY little run support. Twins win the game and the series by hanging in here for a 1-0 win. They really know how to give a girl an ulcer.
Since I was all by myself in the chat at the end of the game, I get to pick today’s BOD all by my lonesome. When you actually get a shutout? yeah, you had some excellent pitching and I think that is really the story of the game. Ben Revere was an awful lot of fun to watch as he single-handedly tried to energize the whole team and the bullpen rocked it again so they all get ice cream sundaes. But for the majority of the pitching mastery, it was Scott Baker who got 9 k’s and just held it all together. For that, he is today’s BOD!
Some good news today (assuming we can believe anything coming out of the organization’s medical staff) is that Delmon Young apparently has no ligament damage and should be ready to return to action when his DL time expires.
On a sad note, former Twins GM Howard Fox passed away at an Orlando hospice at the age of 90. Fox pretty much devoted his life to the Twins, having been involved with the franchise for something like 50 years in various capacities. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.
Tonight, we’ve got Joe Mauer DHing. This is actually encouraging to me in that Gardy has gotten past the standard “don’t catch Mauer in a day game after a night game” mentality and actually looked at pitching match ups to determine in advance what might be the best game to have him DH. Rather than having him catch tonight and Jim Thome DH against the Dodger lefty, Ted Lilly, Gardy will instead let Thome sit tonight and DH tomorrow against a righty. Seems like a small thing, but it shows more forethought that we’re accustomed to seeing out of the Twins manager, so that’s encouraging.
This was a rather unique win for the Twins… Brian Duensing fell short of a “quality start” and got bailed out a bit by the offense. Duensing actually pitched well for four innings, but walks were his downfall in the fifth. The bullpen did a nice job in relief and it was particularly nice to see Joe Nathan pitch a really nice 8th inning up against some tough hitters. Matt Capps had a few control issues in the 9th but got the save. Let’s buy a keg for the bullpen!
There was no shortage of offensive heroes tonight. In fact, when it came down to voting for BOD honors, it was pretty tough to name just one… or even two. So for the first time, we have tri-BODs. Ben Revere seemed like he was on base all night with two hits and a walk, leading to two runs. Luke Hughes provided the winning margin with a huge two-run home run in the 5th inning to break a 4-4 tie. And Jason Repko not only had two hits and scored two runs, he also had a huge assist, throwing a runner out at the plate from LF (yeah… maybe the call was a debatable but the umpire is always right, right?). Gentlemen… you are our BODs!
I saw the news scroll across the bottom of the TV screen Monday. Lornenzo Charles had been killed in a bus accident.
It took me a while to recall who that was. It wasn’t a name I’d heard in a while, but I knew that I SHOULD know who he was. Then I remembered… and smiled. Not, of course, because Charles had passed away, but because of the memory… the only memory I have, really… of watching him play basketball.
Charles, of course, is famous for “the dunk”. On the night of April 4, 1983, he found himself standing under the basket (out of rebounding position, actually) at the end of the 1983 NCAA Championship Game. Trailing Houston, Charles’ NC State teammate Derek Whittenburg launched about a 30 foot shot with just a few seconds left in the game. The shot was clearly going to be short, sealing the National Championship for the Phi Slamma Jamma guys from Houston. Then a single figure in red uniform rose from under the basket, grabbed the ball just as it fell short of the rim and slammed it through. The Wolfpack won and suddenly there was coach Jim Valvano running around the court looking for a hug.
I’ve lived in Big Ten country pretty much my whole life, so I’m not an ACC guy. But I’ll always remember that game. See, I was watching it in a hospital room.
My wife was pregnant with our first child in early April of that year and on the morning of April 4, her water broke and we headed in to the hospital. She didn’t start having contractions, however, so eventually they induced labor. We had a student nurse “shadowing” our delivery all day, so the three of us just sort of spent the afternoon together. It happened to be MLB’s Opening Day, so we watched the Reds play someone in the afternoon (OK, mostly it was the student nurse and me watching the game… Cedar Rapids was the Class A affiliate of the Reds in those days, so she and I both knew some of the Reds players).
As the sun set, there was still no baby, but there were occasional contractions. That night was the NC State/Houston National Championship Game, so we started watching that, too. My wife’s contractions started coming a bit more frequently, so we turned the sound off on the TV (see how considerate I was?) and I did my husbandly duties as I learned them to be in Lamaze Class.
The final minutes of the game, as I recall them, were a blur of intentional fouls, puffs of breath in time with my wife’s contractions, and missed Houston free throws. Finally, with mere seconds remaining, the Wolfpack took the ball out of bounds for the final possession.
Naturally, my wife chose that exact time to start another contraction, which could have led to a guy having to make some very difficult choices.
But, it turns out, I’m pretty good at multi-tasking.
I managed to blow in her face, watch that final amazing dunk by Lorenzo Charles, catch the student nurse’s eyes with a mutual “did you see that!?!?!” expression, all without the wife even knowing (much less caring) what had happened. Am I good or what?
It certainly wasn’t the highlight of my night (though, technically, our son was born after midnight, so the BIG highlight came on April 5), but it made the night even more memorable than it already would have been.
Charles was just an underclassman in 1983 and never became an NBA superstar. He apparently played professional ball at lower levels around the world and did some coaching, too. He was working as a bus driver for a charter bus company when his bus crashed Monday, killing him at the age of 47. By all accounts, he was a good human being and I’m sure he’ll be missed by friends and family, alike.
It would be an overstatement to say I will miss Lorenzo Charles. But he did play a significant role in one of the most important nights of my life. For that, he’ll always have a spot in my heart. Rest in peace, Lorenzo, and thank you for the memory.
I knew I shouldn’t have responded. Really. In fact, if I’ve learned one thing since setting up a Twitter account, it’s that you seldom, if ever, want to “tweet” a response to a comment you disagree with.
There just isn’t much point to it.
First of all, any point worth making can rarely be made well in 140 characters. Actually, you have less, since you have to at least include the name of the person who’s initial comment you are responding to.
So I really did know better. But I felt like crap Monday afternoon and I was feeling a bit ornery. So when I saw a tweet from one of the media types about how Joe Mauer was taking ground balls at 1B during early batting practice Monday, I reacted with what could be interpreted as sarcasm… I believe I used the term “whoopee”… and offered that the time to have been learning to play 1B was in spring training some time over the past few years.
If I had left things at that, I probably would have been OK. But no. It wasn’t long before I saw another tweet come through from one of the better known Twins bloggers (or was is a retweet? Hell I don’t know) that opined to the effect that it was ridiculous the way people were “rushing” to criticize and/or question Joe Mauer.
Now… I don’t think my original tweet was too critical. But I do think some of the criticism he’s been getting is (a) warranted, and (b) a bit of a backlash to the pampering that he’s gotten from the organization, the media and the fan base in general. I’m allowed to think that. Apparently, however, I shouldn’t express it publicly.
I honestly didn’t know that many people follow my tweets, much less bother to read them. Then again, I did dare to suggest Mauer has not been perfect nor a model of consistency, which, apparently, is blasphemous in these parts.
In any event, after 20ish tweets later, pretty much all in response to tweets from others who seemed intent on pointing out that Joe Mauer is above reproach, I finally decided there was no point in trying to continue a discussion in 140 character bites.
After all, I have a blog for that kind of thing.
So, since so many people seem to care about my opinion of Joe Mauer, here it is.
I think Joe Mauer has been a very good ballplayer. I think he’s played a critical role in all of the successes that that the Twins have had over the course of his time with the team, but perhaps not as big a role as a lot of people tend to give him credit for.
I also think he’s played a role in their failures and, in particular this season, he is responsible to some degree for the poor position the Twins are now in… and if some people have been too quick to criticize him, that’s not altogether unexpected. When you (and your agent) set yourself up as being worth more than twice as much as any other member of the team (and more than all but a handful of players in baseball), I don’t think you should react with shock and dismay when people point out that you aren’t playing well or aren’t at least… you know… playing.
So when Mauer went on the Disabled List due to “leg weakness” (sorry… that’s “bilateral leg weakness”… don’t want to make it sound any more candy-assed than it really was) less than two weeks after his $23 million/year contract kicked in, is it really so difficult to believe fans (not to mention team mates) might raise an eyebrow?
Apparently, this condition was caused by him not having a full Spring Training to get his legs in shape to catch. OK, I get that. But who’s fault was that?
Who’s responsibility was it to get his supposedly minor knee surgery taken care of early enough so that he could BE ready for Spring Training? Why was the “minor cleanup procedure” not performed right after the season? Why wait until December? This media report was just one where Mauer said he was all about being ready April 1, not necessarily in time for Sping Training.
I won’t be so cynical as to suggest that November was spent traveling around the country making commercials for video games and sports drinks, instead of getting his knee repaired. You may… but I won’t.
The fact remains, however, that Mauer clearly saw no need to be concerned about being in shape before reporting to Ft. Myers and maybe… just maybe… if he had been a bit more ready, his legs wouldn’t have been “bilaterally weak” in April.
Sure, hindsight is 20/20. Water under the bridge. The important thing, once it became clear he couldn’t perform, was to get him fixed up and back with the team as soon as possible, right?
For the sake of argument, let’s just accept that “bilateral leg weakness” actually does take longer to heal than a broken bone and skip to the part where Mauer reports to Ft. Myers for his rehab.
He flew down to Ft. Myers May 18. After a full week of just “working out”, he was apparently fit enough take some swings as a DH in an extended spring training game on May 25. Eleven days later, he had progressed to where he could manage to do the same thing for his brother Jake’s Ft. Myers Miracle team. Then, instead of going up to Rochester, or even New Britain, to face more experienced pitching before rejoining the Twins, Mauer spent the next week and a half with the Class A Miracle.
I’m sure it was nice being able to sleep in his own bed (Mauer has a home in Ft. Myers) and hang out with his brother instead of flying up to Rochester, but am I the only one who thinks maybe getting a look at better pitching MIGHT have prepared him more to face the Giants and Brewers pitchers?
Mauer reminded reporters Monday that he’s only been back a short time. That’s true. But wasn’t he, himself, responsible for getting as prepared as possible to return to face MLB pitchers?
Then again, maybe this is all the organization’s fault.
Maybe the team witch doctors told him it was OK to hold off on surgery until December.
Maybe it was Gardy who told him not to worry about getting his legs in shape in Spring Training.
Maybe those poor legs really did need over six weeks of complete rest before even thinking about rehabbing.
Maybe facing 18-19 year old pitchers for three weeks before returning to the Twins was plenty of preparation for trying to hit off of Major Leaguers… or maybe the Twins front office didn’t want to make their superstar get on a plane to Rochester.
I’m just a dumb fan with a blog. What do I know?
Well… I know that he’s the only Major League baseball player I’ve ever heard of who’s essentially missed half a season with leg weakness!
I know that, whether it was wise or not, Justin Morneau played for two months with a pinched nerve in his neck that caused his wrist to be weak and numbness in his fingers, while his former room mate rested his weak legs.
I know Mauer’s team… while mixing and matching two journeyman catchers who will likely end up with career batting averages around .180… was starting to win a bunch of ballgames before he came back and was handed the 3-spot in the batting order as if it was his birthright.
I know he’s hit about .180 since returning and the team has lost more games than they’ve won since he came back.
I know that, in the past, whenever the subject has been brought up that perhaps he should consider spending some time learning another position, he has loudly proclaimed, “I’m a catcher!” and I know that now… when he’s neither hitting nor catching much, if any, better than the two “backup” catchers, suddenly he’s out there taking ground balls at 3B and 1B and telling the media he’s never been averse to playing other positions from time to time.
I know that for $23 million dollars a year, the Twins and their fans should be entitled to some leadership, in addition to seeing the player performing at high levels on the field and they seem to be getting neither.
I know that there is at least the perception among a growing part of the fan base (and perhaps the clubhouse) that Joe Mauer is soft.
I know he’s a very rich ballplayer who has been coddled a bit since the day he was signed, got his big payday, has not performed in a manner worthy of what he’s being paid, and has not shown any indication that he accepts any accountability for the reasons why he has flat out sucked this season (when he’s even been on the field).
In short, I think he’s been selfish. Perhaps it’s because he’s never been required not to be selfish. He’s never been required to lead. He’s never been required to do anything outside his comfort zone and he’s never been told he’s anything but great.
This may be the first time he’s ever really struggled as a professional athlete for any prolonged period of time and I’m not sure he’s handling it very well… maybe he doesn’t know how.
I know a lot of people will consider this to be me “ripping” Mauer. So be it. When he steps up and warrants praise, I’ll give him that, too.
Well the Dodgers may have filed for bankruptcy but at least they get to play anyway. And Twins fans (and players) are glad to welcome Matty Guerrier back to town. And Tosoni is back with the team since Delmon is down – I’m really hoping he hadn’t actually gotten on the plane yet.
Yeah, that action garnered a LOT of discussion back & forth in the blogger/twitter/news media world. Joe is using Cuddyer’s glove right now but they have apparently ordered him one according to Gardy – he readily admits he’s not ready to go out there yet after a single day of practice but he has said he’ll play wherever they need him.
Delmon is scheduled to have an MRI today to look for tendon or ligament damage but for now, the verdict is sprained ankle because the X-rays showed no broken bones… oh yeah, and yet another trip to the DL for the Twins.
I would really like it if they could salvage at least one win out of this series.
So Thome is back.. again.. for all the discussion of which catcher would go back down once he was here? It turns out that Tosoni drew the short straw and I’m gues it’s because not even Gardenhire is confident that Mauer is actually ready to be back.. we’ll see.
And it seems like all the winning hasn’t necessarily made life all hunky dory in the clubhouse. There were words between Mijares/Mauer that were answered by Gardy – all of which was covered exhaustively by just about every media outlet in the state. I’m glad to see that people are people but I would like to see Mr. Niceguy Minnesota Mauer take his agression out with a bat – preferably at the plate on a ball.. just saying.
Well that SUCKED. And Delmon is down for an indefinite period of time with what they are saying right now is an ankle sprain – it sure looked a lot uglier that that and I don’t know how many Twins fans actually trust the medical staff right now.. we’ll see what gets said tomorrow and who actually comes up.
I try very hard to avoid overreacting to decisions that the people running the Twins make. Ron Gardenhire, Bill Smith and the others running the club have tough jobs. I appreciate that, so I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt on most issues, even when I don’t agree with specific decisions. That said, I’m beyond confused about a number of things right now. Maybe some of you smart people can tell me what I’m missing.
Joe Nathan pitches a few successful innings in Florida and proclaims himself ready to rejoin the bullpen, but Gardy says “no… you need to go to Rochester first and prove you can get someone over the age of 19 out.”
Joe Mauer gets a few hits off of 19 yr olds in Florida, but he’s activated straight away, without having to prove he can hit AAA pitching. He promptly proves to be less productive at the plate than Drew Butera or Rene Rivera… a feat that most of us didn’t think was possible.
Not only does Gardy keep putting Mauer in the line up, but he keeps putting him in the 3-spot in the order… exactly the spot where his impotence can do the most damage to his team.
Friday night, after another oh-fer, Gardy tells reporters that he’s considering using Mauer at 1B or even 3B. Why? Well, the announcement earlier in the day that Justin Morneau will miss at least six weeks for surgery on his neck (a topic I will revisit shortly) is a valid reason for looking for another 1B option. But that’s not Gardy’s reason… instead he’s intent on finding ways to keep Mauer’s bat in the line up (apparently even if it means he replaces the current third baseman, who has actually finally started hitting the ball with some success)!
So… if I understand this correctly… for the past few years, when Mauer was consistently hitting well over .300, Gardy steadfastly refused to even listen to anyone who dared to suggest that perhaps it might be a good idea for Joe to learn a position he could play part time in order to keep him healthy and in the line up more often. But now… when Mauer isn’t even coming close to making good contact… NOW we want to find creative ways to keep his bat in the line up???? Wouldn’t it make a little sense to worry about that some other time… like maybe if/when Joe remembers how to hit a baseball?
The Twins have 3 catchers, none of which can hit his way out of a wet paper bag right now, and the manager is trying to come up with creative ways to get TWO of them in the batting order? I don’t get it.
Butera and Rivera were actually occasionally coming up with some clutch hits during the team’s recent winning streak. They also were doing a good job behind the plate. I get that Mauer might need some time to get his timing back at the plate, but why the hell wasn’t he told the same thing Joe Nathan was… “show us you can compete with AAA players before we activate you”? If nothing else, after the way the Twins have had to leave Rochester with yet another crappy team, I’m sure they would have appreciated a couple of nice attendance nights at Frontier Field with Mauer on hand.
As for Morneau, I don’t have much more to add to what everyone else has been writing and tweeting. It dumbfounds me that someone let his neck issue go three months without appropriate treatment. I’d like to go back a couple of years and count the number of times one of the Twins players had an injury or illness, set out on an initial course of treatment with disappointing results, then got a second opinion which resulted in a different course of treatment, which essentially caused the recovery process to start over and thus delay the player’s return to the field. I don’t know how many times it has happened, but it sure seems to happen a lot.
So often, in fact, that one has to wonder… if these guys have to get second opinions so consistently in order to finally get the appropriate course of treatment, what kind of witch doctors are the Twins employing to hand out the worthless FIRST opinions? It’s bad enough when your $23 million a year catcher can’t hit .200, but when the doctors you employ can’t seem to “hit” on their diagnoses any better, that’s something that someone should be able to fix, isn’t it?
The frustrating thing is that so many of these questionable decisions are being made just as the team was fighting its way in to contention. It really makes one wonder whether Rachel Phelps has somehow taken control of the ballclub and is doing everything in her power to make sure this team DOESN’T win more games.
Implausible? Yeah, probably.
But if the Twins find themselves without hot water for their whirlpools and being forced to take WWII vintage turbo prop planes or even buses on road trips… remember I told ya so.