Down On The Farm: Snappers Photos

The Beloit Snappers, Midwest League (low Class A) affiliate of the Twins, are making their last appearance of the season in Cedar Rapids this week with games Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and Monday afternoon, and as I’m prone to doing, I’ve been out at the ballpark getting a look-see at the young future Twins.

Snappers in the field in Cedar Rapids

I saw plenty of offense out of some of the Snappers on Saturday night and Iowan BJ Hermsen survived some early struggles to squeak out a “Quality Start” in front of a packed house that included a fair number of Hermsen fans. Beloit won the game 10-5.

Sunday, the results were less favorable for the Snappers, as they gave up three runs in the first inning to the Kernels en route to a 6-1 loss.

But enough about the games. The purpose of this post is simply to give Twins fans a glance at the names and faces of a few of the young players who are toiling in the farm system as they work toward their dreams of playing Major League baseball. They work hard and know they face long odds… and they deserve some recognition. – JC

Jhonatan Arias donned the catchers gear on Sunday

DH Michael Gonzales was the picture of intensity at the plate

SS Andy Leer takes his lead off 1B

LF Derek McCallum gets his cuts

RF Daniel Ortiz went deep with this swing... but foul

3B Jairo Perez rips a line drive

OF/1B Lance Ray checks signs before getting in the batters box

Starting pitcher Adrian Salcedo strides toward home

CF Daniel Santana watches a pitch sail wide of the plate

Relief pitcher Sam Spangler delivers to the plate

2B Reggie Williams readies on defense

 

GameChat – Twins @ A’s #3, 3:05pm

As Span-watch continues, the Twins send an interesting line up out to finish off the series with Oakland this afternoon. Cuddy’s at 2B and Mauer is at 1B.

Gardy also shifted his line up up a spot, so we have Joe batting 2nd. At least he figured out that Nishioka has no business hitting up near the top of his order. (I still think “Nishioka” is Japanese for “weak ground ball”.)

I’m off to see some of today’s Snappers v Kernels game again, so I’ll be joining the GameChat later.

TWINS

@

A’s
Revere, CF   Weeks, 2B
Mauer, 1B   Crisp, CF
Cuddyer, 2B   Matsui, DH
Kubel, RF   Willingham, LF
Thome, DH   Jackson, C, 1B
Valencia, 3B   Sweeney, RF
Nishioka, SS   Pennington, SS
Plouffe, RF   Suzuki, K, C
Butera, C   Sizemore, S, 3B
  _Pavano, P     _McCarthy, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 11 0
Oakland 0 0 6 1 0 0 0 0 x 7 11 0

The Twins not only lost 2 of 3 to the friggin A’s but they are now 7 games behind the Tigers. Carl Pavano sucked again and the bottom of the Twins batting order sucked just as bad, if not worse.

The good news is that Denard Span is not a Washington National and will be rejoining the Twins in Anaheim. The bad news is that he isn’t a shortstop so he won’t be replacing the worst ballplayer in the line up. The other bad news is that Bill Smith apparently can’t multi-task and since he didn’t get a deal done with the Nationals, he didn’t get anything done at all before the trade deadline.

[EDIT] It’s official: Denard Span has been activated from the DL and Luke Hughes has been optioned back down to Rochester. Am I the only one who thinks there might have been better selections for a stint in AAA? – CB

Things are looking pretty bleak as the calendar turns to August.

Twins @ Athletics #2, 8:05pm

As we all wait to find out whether Twins GM Bill Smith has totally lost his mind and will be trading away Denard Span yet tonight or tomorrow, the Twins themselves have another game to play in Oakland.

As I write this, it looks like Detroit’s going to drop their game to the Angels, so our guys can pick up a game in the standings with a win tonight.

I’m heading out to watch the Twins’ low Class A team, the Beloit Snappers, take on our local Cedar Rapids Kernels, but I’ll probably cut out a bit early so I can get back for most of the Twins game.

Here are tonight’s line ups.

TWINS

@

ATHLETICS
Revere, CF Weeks, 2B
Plouffe, 2B Crisp, CF
Mauer, C Matsui, LF
Cuddyer, RF Willingham, DH
Kubel, RF DeJesus, RF
Thome, DH Jackson, C, 1B
Valencia, 3B Pennington, SS
Young, D, LF Sizemore, S, 3B
Nishioka, SS Powell, C
  _Blackburn, P   _Moscoso, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 8 1
Oakland 1 2 0 0 4 1 0 0 x 8 12 1

Well the guys missed an opportunity to pick up a game on the Tigers and White Sox, who both lost today. Blackie was not good and the offense wasn’t much better. I wish I could say it was an unusual performance for either one, but it wasn’t.

By the time game time rolls around on Sunday, the non-waiver trade deadline will have passed and we’ll know if Denard Span is heading to Anaheim Monday to meet up with the Twins there or whether he’s joining the Nationals, while the Twins get several young members of the Nationals organization. I still suspect Kevin Slowey my find himself packing his bags Sunday. He had a really nice performance on Saturday for the Red Wings.

Should be an interesting morning for Twins fans… not to mention their players.

Not Quite a Book Review: Sense & Nonsense

There is an interesting dynamic that happens when you officially combine two families – aside from too many names to remember – and it means you suddenly have close attachments to people you are just getting to know. For me, the benefit of gaining a husband-to-be also includes another grandfather, Thomas R. Smith, who lives much nearer than my own and is frighteningly similar in many ways to the one I still have through birth. Boppa and I often get the chance for private conversation and I think he enjoys chatting about his previous “life” in the world of agriculture & Ag. Finance. But I haven’t actually known him all that long so imagine my surprise when I found out that a few years ago, he put together a bunch of his favorite jokes, stories and quotes and published his own book!

Sense & Nonsense turned out to be a funny little distraction in the crazy times of new family interactions and considering that he devoted an entire chapter to athletics, I thought maybe I would take advantage of the work he already did in collecting all this amusement into one place and share some of them with you.

True Confessions of a Little League Manager, by Tom R. Smith

Three summers spent managing a Little League Baseball team have convinced me that baseball is America and America is baseball.

Baseball is most often pictured in the form of huge stadiums, wildly cheering fans, stern umpires and great stars. However, the baseball that is most near and dear to the hearts and homes of our nation is Little League baseball.

Little League baseball is people. It affects people in many ways.

Young, eager, red-blooded managers, through a wide variety of deteriorating processes, become shriveled, bald-headed, toothless little round gnomes.

Strangely enough, mama’s little darlings become baseball players.

Staid, conservative, businessman fathers react on occasion as snarling tigers.

Sweet, lovable young mothers, in the heat of the contest, become screaming maniacs.

I have the teeth marks to prove all these statements.

Little league baseball is boys like Jimmy Ryan. Jimmy joined our club without the benefit of a father with whom he could play catch. He had never learned how to throw. He was a “girl thrower,” or sometimes called a “chicken winger.”

Three weeks of practice did wonders for him.

He was playing center field during practice. After hitting him a fly, I felt perfectly secure in stooping to pick up another ball to hit. As I straightened up, his bull’s eye throw to the plate hit me square in the mouth. It left me with a mouthful of enamel and what is still described as a rather peculiar pucker.

Little league players come in all shapes and sizes. David Boon joined our team last year. He was shaped like a side view of a Log Cabin Syrup bottle. He had the biggest feet I have ever seen on such a small boy; and they turned outward at an unusual angle. One glance at the angle of his feet and the other boys nicknamed him “ten minutes to two.”

Due managerial deliberation placed him at second base. Any ball hit to him was funneled right into his glove by his feet.

Howie Roan, Jr. had a different problem. When excitement overcame him, he lost control of his bladder. I placed him in right field where control is less important than it is for a pitcher, for example. Control is more important at the ballpark though than it is on the farm. We kept him in a deep right field out near the fence all summer, so he could go by the boards in an emergency.

Baseball does teach sportsmanship. My two sons and I returned from a Saturday afternoon game. We had been soundly defeated by a score of 22 to 9. It was a close game until the last half of the first inning.

My wife was waiting on the patio and cheerfully called out, “how did your game come out?” She doesn’t go to the games anymore (she has the same problem as Howie Roan, Jr.)

Jeff, our 8 year old, answered her inquiry, “We Won!”

I immediately launched into a dissertation on the importance of learning to accept defeat and to lose gracefully. I pointed out that we wouldn’t always win and that we had in fact been soundly defeated.

When I finished, Jeff said, “We won.”

Again I explained that baseball was like life – a series of wins and losses and that we must learn to accept the bitter with the sweet.

Once more he spoke out, “we won!”

Again I repeated my lecture, as he turned on his heels and went out the back door.

As he went across the yard, the neighbor lady called to him, “Jeff, how did your game come out today?”

Without stopping or even turning his head, he responded, “We didn’t play today.”

Little League Lexicon:

Close game – 32-29

Heavy hitter – 1 for 13

Spiked – touched by a sneaker

Fans – Mothers knitting in the stands

Home run – single and three errors

Big hit – sixty feet, including the roll

Error – the boy assigned to first base

Bad hop – what any missed grounder took

Team bus – Pitcher’s father’s station wagon

Great arm – boy who carries equipment to the game

Manager – Father who gets home from work early

Double play – three runners on second base at the same time

Most valuable player – candy store owner’s son

Curve ball – what struck out batter says pitcher has

Catcher – a 50 pound boy in 60 pounds of equipment

Some great baseball quotes:

Don Liddle, New York Giants’ relief pitcher: He was summoned from the bullpen in the 1954 World Series to pitch to Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians, with the score tied in the eighth inning and two runners on. Wertz crushed a Liddle pitch, rocketing 460 yards in dead center field. Only at the Polo Grounds would such a drive not be a home run, and only the Giants young center fielder, Willie Mays, could have run I down and make perhaps the greatest catch in World Series history. Liddle, promptly replaced, strode into the dugout and said contentedly, “well, I got my man!”

Jerry Coleman: Pete Rose has 3000 hits and 3014 overall.

Unattributed: the umpires are rally flexing their fangs tonight.

George Bret: I’d like to strike oil and buy up all the newspapers, radio and TV stations in the country and fire all the jerks in the sports departments. (does that make you wonder if there would be anyone left?)

Christy Mathewson: Fans look at umpires as necessary evils to the luxury of baseball, like the odor that follows an automobile. (yeah, and some stink worse than others..)

Jimmie Durante:

The umpire was a runt of a fellow. An enormous batter was up and an equally large catcher was behind the plate. The count was one and one.The next pitch sizzled across the corner of the plate and the umpire called out, “Two!”

“Two what?” snarled the catcher.

“Yeah, two what?” growled the batter, raising his bat.

The umpire looked from one to the other and said, “Too close to tell!”

Scott Ostler, writer: George Brett may have had a bad year at the plate, but he has a healthy slugging percentage. So far this season (1981), he has swung at, slapped or broken one photographer, two sportswriters and two toilets.

Dan Quisenberry: My new contract with the San Francisco Giants is guaranteed through the year 2000 or until the last “Rocky” movie is made.

(and you can’t have a quotes section without some Yogi Berra contributions!)

When asked what time it was, Berra responded “You mean right now?”

Good pitching beats good hitting every time; and vice versa

Throw three fast balls, one up, one down and one the other way.

Don’t major in the minors.

The future ain’t what it used to be.

 

With apologies to my soon-to-be brother-in-law: An Arab sheik had three sons and he offered to give them each anything they wanted. The first chose a home on the Riviera, three wives and a billion dollars. The second asked for and received a castle in Spain, five wives and a billion dollars. The third, a rather simple fellow, said all he wanted was a Mickey Mouse outfit… so the sheik bought him the Chicago Cubs.

And lastly, a hockey joke because it was funny: A young player learned that he had been traded to Detroit. He told the press, “I don’t want to go there. All they have in that town are hookers and hockey players.” The owner at the same press conference said, “Young man, I’ll have you know that my wife came from Detroit.” The young player recovered miraculously, “Which team did she play for?”

Yes, folks, this is the kind of story I frequently hear at family dinners – I’m a lucky a girl. Btw, I basically only shared his offerings regarding baseball. If this were a blog about golf, you’d be rolling laughing because the section of the chapter which he follows suit had me practically peeing my pants.

GameChat – Twins @ Athletics, 9:05pm

This is certainly a different line up tonight. Danny Valencia and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have seats on the pine while the Twins field an infield of Mauer, Plouffe, Hughes and Tolbert.

Sure looks like the Twins could use Denard Span in their line up and Denard Tweeted earlier today that he expected to play his last game for Rochester tonight and then rejoin the Twins in Oakland. But, not so fast… Ron Gardenhire, who had previously been quoted as saying Span needed to play 3 straight games of nine innings for Rochester, now told reporters that he’d have to see Denard play 5-6 straight games.

WTF? Why?

There’s only one reason I can think of and I don’t like it a bit. It’s got to be the trade talk heating up.

If Span is healthy enough to be playing baseball, there’s absolutely no legitimate reason to keep him in Rochester instead of having him play those games for the Twins. None. Nada. Not when Gardy is throwing the kind of players on his line up card that we’ve seen the last couple of games.

Ah well… on with tonight’s game.

TWINS

@

ATHLETICS
Revere, CF Weeks, 2B
Plouffe, 2B Crisp, CF
Mauer, 1B Matsui, DH
Cuddyer, RF Willingham, LF
Kubel, DH Jackson, C, 1B
Young, D, LF DeJesus, RF
Hughes, L, 3B Sizemore, S, 3B
Tolbert, SS Suzuki, K, C
Butera, C Pennington, SS
  _Liriano, P   _Gonzalez, G, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 4 0 9 12 0
Oakland 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 5 8 2

A 12-hit attack with the top four in the order all having multi-hit games and a starting pitcher who gives 7 strong innings. Those are the results we expected to see this season… even if the line up wasn’t exactly what we envisioned.

Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe and Michael Cuddyer provided most of the offensive fireworks, but we do want to encourage Frankie to provide more performances like this one. He coughed up the early 2-run lead by giving up a HR in the bottom of the first inning, but that’s all the damage done. Liriano was definitely helped out of a couple of jams by inning-ending double plays, but all told it was a very good performance, earning him our BOD honors.

Francisco Liriano

Span Trade Needed… And Soon!

Gotcha.

You saw that headline and I hooked ya. Now it’s time to reel you in.

No, I certainly do not believe the Twins need to trade Denard Span for Drew Storen or any other package centered on a relief pitcher. They’re seriously talking about trading him for relief pitching? REALLY? I wish someone could give me an example of when another organization traded away a guy of Span’s talents and contract status for a damn relief pitcher. I don’t care if someone is calling to offer me Dennis Eckersly in his prime, unless Eck is going to be used at the top of the rotation, I hang up the phone.

In fact, the more I  look at this stuff, the more amazed I am that the Twins would even consider dealing Denard Span for anyone, really. They probably aren’t going to offer Delmon Young arbitration this offseason and both Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer are going to be free agents with no shortage of suitors.

Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson, and/or others among the Twins’ reputably talented outfield prospects may indeed combine in some manner to give us a “golden era” outfield, but I don’t believe for a moment that such an era is set to begin in 2012.

Denard Span... Twins need to trade FOR him, not trade him away

So yes, Denard Span needs to be traded, but the trade that needs to happen is one the Twins can implement all by themselves. Span needs to be traded TO the Twins by the Rochester Red Wings… and it needs to happen really, really soon.

Hey, I admit I’m no doctor and I would never, ever, advocate doing anything that would put a player’s health at risk. That’s particularly true when we’re talking about something as important as the man’s brain. If Span’s concussion symptoms are hanging around similarly to what Justin Morneau’s did a year ago, then sit him out until they’re gone. No doubt about it.

But he’s not sitting down. He’s playing baseball almost every day… in Rochester. If he needs a few extra days off, that’s fine. But when he does play, it should be while wearing a Minnesota uniform!

Look, if Alexi Casilla hadn’t pulled a hammie, a few days more or less of Denard entertaining fans at Frontier Field instead of playing for the Twins might not be a huge deal. But Lexi DID pull that hammie and he’s out for what the Twins witchdoctors say will be 2-3 weeks, which means we’ll be lucky to see him in a Twins uniform by this time next year, given the track record of the Twins’ medical staff (and I use that term loosely).

Did you see that line up Ron Gardenhire fielded in the final game of the Rangers series last night? Rochester wouldn’t be able to win an International League game with a line up that has Matt Tolbert, Ben Revere and Tsuyoshi Nishioka batting back-to-back-to-back in the 9, 1 and 2 spots, respectively… though I think I’d be OK with sending them down to let them try!

That may be being a bit harsh, I know. Tolbert actually got a couple of hits in his return last night, so the Twins certainly didn’t lose that game because of his presence. But as much as we all enjoy Revere’s approach to the game and appreciate the boost he gave the Twins when it was needed most, his performance at the top of the order has been really bad lately.

And then there’s Nishioka.

I am trying, for the life of me, to figure out why he’s still holding down a regular spot in the Twins line up while they are still considering themselves playoff contenders. Manager Ron Gardenhire has, as we all know, been known to stick with “his guys” through thick and thin (and thinner and thinnest), but I don’t recall many guys getting the level of patience Nishi has. Nick Punto, in his worst times, performed better than what we’ve seen this season out of Nishioka.

The man is a ground ball machine. You would think that just the law of averages would mean a few more of those ground balls would find holes in the infield, but they don’t. They aren’t hit hard enough to get through any but the most minute gaps and he’s not the fleetest guy from home to first base, so he’s not beating many of those infield grounders out.

Maybe I’m not seeing what Gardy is, because of everyone on his bench, he’s the last guy I would have moved up to the 2-spot in the batting order when Lexi went on the DL. As a matter of fact, since I’m advocating a “trade” with Rochester for Denard’s services, let me strongly suggest that it be Nishioka who gets sent to the Red Wings in return.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka... good chance he just grounded out.

The quotes from Gardy about this guy are consistently about how they still believe he can be a good ballplayer and they don’t want to destroy his confidence. I get that. It’s admirable. But do they think he’s an idiot and doesn’t see for himself that he’s hitting for sh*t? What’s more demoralizing for a player’s confidence, getting benched or continuously being overmatched by even the most mediocre Major League pitchers?

I keep hearing the excuses… the pitchers throw harder here, the strike zone is different in the US than Japan, he got a “star” level of respect from Japanese umpires and he’s getting “rookie” respect (e.g. none at all) from MLB umpires, his injury set back his learning curve.  blah, blah, blah. I don’t care.

HE’S NOT HITTING THE BASEBALL!

I know the Twins have few other middle infield options. Matt Tolbert is barely replacement level, Trevor Plouffe would make the Jolly Green Giant leap to catch throws from SS, Luke Hughes doesn’t play short, and now Casilla is out of commission. At least Nishi is making the routine defensive plays at shortstop (and a few not-so-routine plays, as well), so I know there’s a case to be made that he’s the best of a bad bunch of options. But as long as we’ve still got a couple of days before the deadline, maybe Bill Smith can find someone with a spare AAA shortstop who occasionally will get the ball out of the infield. If not, I’d probably be fine with letting Tolbert or Plouffe get another shot, rather than continuing to watch Nishi flail away at the plate. It’s just too painful to watch and it has to be even more painful for him to experience.

The Twins are probably not going to get back in contention. I know that. And if they’re ready to throw in the towel, so be it. I can’t really argue against that, at this point. If that’s the case, then yes, let Nishioka keep trying to see, nevermind hit, American League pitching if we no longer care about winning games. Give Denard all the time he might need to get his game back together and be able to contribute 9 innings for 3, 4, 5 days in a row… whatever. Let’s get innings for Hughes, Plouffe and whomever else might warrant an extended look.

But, Bill and Gardy, don’t tell me you’re serious about getting back in to contention when you’ve still got Nishioka in your batting order, much less up near the top of it. It just makes you sound like idiots.

- JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #4, 7:05pm

Well more roster news – Alexi Casilla is going to be out on the DL with a strained hamstring and Hughes is officially on his way back to join the team. This is on top of the move made after the game last night that sent James back down and brought up Tolbert. I have to admit that I’m a little confused by the move but we’ll see what that gives us to work with tonight. I would really like to see the boys continue to win and gain ground on this whole “games back” formula.

Minnesota

@

Texas
Revere, CF Kinsler, 2B
Nishioka, SS Andrus, SS
Mauer, C Hamilton, LF
Cuddyer, 1B Young, M, DH
Kubel, RF Cruz, N, RF
Thome, DH Moreland, 1B
Valencia, 3B Torrealba, C
Young, D, LF Davis, C, 3B
Tolbert, 2B Chavez, En, CF
  Baker, S, P   Harrison, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 8 1
Texas 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 x 4 10 0

I didn’t really see much of the game tonight, but from the looks of things, I didn’t miss much. I’m a little curious how a team goes 3 for 8 with RISP and only scores 1 run. That sounds kind of tough to do. Anyway, Scott Baker had a nice game and Matt Tolbert celebrated his promotion with a couple of hits.

In the end, an opportunity to close to within 5 games of the Tigers was missed. Ah well… let’s sweep Oakland and go from there. – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #3, 7:05pm

Let’s hope we get the “good Brian” tonight against the Rangers. It would really be nice to get back to the days when a starting pitcher gave us 6-7 decent innings. It wasn’t really THAT long ago, was it? Just seems like forever.

Rumors continued to swirl today about a possible Denard Span trade to the Nationals for a handful of magic beans (or something of approximately the same value). I have to say that if Bill Smith makes a deal even remotely similar to what’s being bounced around Twitterworld, I’ll be totally on board with everyone who wants to call for his dismissal. It’s almost like he’s telling us, “so you think that deal I made with the Nationals last year was terribly one-sided in favor of Washington? Let me show you how much worse I can let them rip me off!”

Ah well… the Tigers and Indians both lost this afternoon (in fact the Toons got no-hit by the Angels), so without even playing a game, the Twins managed to gain half a game in the standings on both teams. This has me thinking the Twins should just take the next 14 days off… maybe they’ll find themselves tied for first place by mid-August.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

TWINS

@

RANGERS
Revere, CF   Kinsler, 2B
Casilla, A, 2B   Andrus, SS
Mauer, C   Hamilton, LF
Cuddyer, 1B   Young, M, 3B
Kubel, RF   Cruz, N, RF
Thome, DH   Napoli, 1B
Valencia, 3B   Moreland, DH
Young, D, LF   Torrealba, C
Nishioka, SS   Chavez, En, CF
  _Duensing, P     _Lewis, C, P

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

1

0

0

1

2

0

0

0

3

7

12

1

Texas

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

2

9

1

 

Well that’s the kind of game we were all wanting to see!

Five different guys with multiple hits, including three from Jason Kubel! Lexi had two doubles (although he did pull up lame on the last one and it sounds like he’ll miss some time with a hamstring issue… dammit) and we got another HR from Cuddy. And yes, finally, the Chairman yanked his first HR of the season in the first inning to start the scoring. The bullpen also did another nice job.

But the star of the game was Brian Duensing. The Twins got exactly what they needed from him. He went 6.2 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up just one run. He walked just one while striking out 6. That badly needed quality start earns Brian our BOD award!

Brian Duensing

WWYD? (What Would You Do?)

(Contest update: With Joe Nathan’s save Tuesday night, he needs just one more save to pass Rick Aguilera and become the Twins’ career saves leader… and that means you’re running out of time to submit your entry for a chance to win a set of Twins 1991 World Series DVDs!)

As has been written and said by many a professional baseball “expert” the last week or so, “This is when GMs earn their money.”

July 31, the non-waiver trade deadline, is just four days away. Some teams are clearly shopping for players that can help them in their push for the playoffs over the final two months of the season and some teams have absolutely no shot, so they’re looking to sell off veterans in return for prospects and/or payroll relief.

And then there are the Twins.

A few games ago, the Twins were only five games behind the AL Central Division leaders and all media reports indicated GM Bill Smith was shopping for players to help manager Ron Gardenhire make his team’s traditional late-season surge.

Since then, the Twins have not only been losing ground to all three teams ahead of them in the standings, but, despite Tuesday’s win over the Rangers, have looked pretty bad in doing so. I wasn’t sure they could play any worse than they did in April, but the evidence is shaping up to indicate I was wrong.

So I pose the question… if you were Bill Smith, what would YOU do?

To help you sort through the question, let me try to lay out the arguments on both sides. Let’s start with…

REASONS TO BUY

  • This is still the AL Central Division and as bad as the Twins look lately, nobody else is really, really good.
  • Seven games simply isn’t all that much to make up, even in just two months. The Twins have overcome bigger deficits in the past and all three of their Division competitors have histories of late season fades. In fact, reports are that the Sox GM is already waiving the white flag and is looking to sell players.
  • Two of the Twins most productive offensive players, Denard Span and Justin Morneau, should be rejoining the team over the course of the next month. Not many other teams will add two players with the potential to add comparable offensive stats.
  • The Twins’ rotation has been inconsistent, but that means they won’t continue to be as bad as they have been for the past week. Don’t overreact to one bad… very bad… very, very bad… week of starting pitching.
  • There’s no need for the Twins to slash payroll. Unlike many “sellers”, the Twins don’t have to worry about ticket sales falling off if the team doesn’t catch fire to stay in the race. They’re already guaranteed over 3 million in paid attendance. Sure, some fans with tickets may not show up, but they’re likely to sell their tickets, even if it has to be at a discount, so there isn’t likely to even be a loss in concession sales. There’s no risk of income falling off to the point where it can’t support not only current payroll, but a couple of extra relief pitchers and bench bats.
  • Even if you suspect the team won’t stay in contention, you don’t want to send the message to your clubhouse that this organization is going to establish a habit of giving up in July.
  • The non-waiver deadline is largely a faux deadline. Often, the first thing teams do on August 1 is send their entire roster through revocable waivers. Almost the entire roster goes through unclaimed. Worst case scenario, you get an indication of which teams might be interested in those players that DO get claimed. If things continue to go downhill, there’s still a good chance you can trade most of the players with any value before the end of August.
  • If you make a deal for a “rental” player that you like, you’ve got a couple of months to convince him that he should stick around and sign an extension with you.
  • Hey… the team COULD catch fire again and give us all another pennant race to get excited about. Stranger things have happened!

On the other hand…

REASONS TO SELL

  • It’s not just the seven games they need to make up, it’s that they have to pass THREE other teams. The chances of getting that hot again AND all three teams ahead of you faltering enough to pass all of them are simply not very good.
  • The core of this team has so many flaws that (a) it is almost impossible to imagine they could pass three teams in the standings over the last two months; and (b) it will take more infusion of new (and better) talent to regain competitiveness next season than can be done simply by tweaking around the edges in the offseason.
  • The top prospects in the Twins organization are either not good enough or not advanced enough (or both) to contribute at the MLB level by next season and now is the time to acquire some MLB-ready talent from other organizations.
  • Throwing in the towel on this season would allow the Twins to get their younger players two months of MLB competition and allow the decision-makers in the organization to evaluate them at that level. This is pretty much what the Royals are doing (but then again, it’s what they do every season at this time).
  • Even if the Twins catch lightning in a bottle again over the next two months and win the Division again, they’ve proven they would do nothing but embarrass themselves and their fans in the playoffs… again. It would be better to make some deals that could make the team a stronger contender in 2012 and beyond than to try desperately to pull one more miracle out of this core group of players.
  • Trading pending free agents like Cuddyer, Nathan, and Kubel would not necessarily preclude the Twins from re-signing them next season if the price is right.
  • A lower finish would give the Twins a higher position in the 2012 amateur draft than they have had in a while and would also likely mean they could sign other teams’ Type A free agents in the offseason without giving up their first round pick (the top 15 spots in the draft only lose their 2nd round pick when they sign a Type A FA).
  • Whether by trading veterans for prospects or through higher draft picks, there’s a better chance that the Twins will end up with a pitching prospect with true “ace” potential… something the team doesn’t have now anywhere in their organization and a team must have to be considered a serious contender for a World Series Championship.

So there you have it. Have I missed anything? What factors would guide you to making a decision to buy or sell if you were the Twins GM for the rest of the month? Let us know in the comments.

- JC

 

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #2, 7:05pm

Wow.. I go to ValleyFair for ONE day and look what kind of stuff I miss!! Are you kidding me? Cuddyer finally gets his chance to pitch and I was standing in line for the Wild Thing..  it’s just not right (nor was that score). If, like me, you didn’t get to see Cuddyer pitch, here’s a link to the video – if I can figure out how to embed it, I’ll do it but right now, it’s not letting me: Cuddyer Pitching.

However, the blessing of missing the game last night was that I didn’t witness what was apparently a hell of bad pitching, WORSE fielding and a complete lack of offense.  When I called in for an update, I was informed that the Rangers line looked like a golf score each inning - par, par, birdy, birdy…  Whoever thought of that is a genius but what a horrible concept when it’s the opposing team.

I’m looking forward to seeing CJ Wilson – I really love watching him pitch – but I would REALLY like to see the Twins get to him tonight. We need some offense.

 

Minnesota

@

Texas
Revere, CF Kinsler, 2B
Casilla, A, 2B Andrus, SS
Cuddyer, 1B Hamilton, LF
Kubel, DH Young, M, DH
Valencia, 3B Cruz, N, RF
Young, D, LF Moreland, 1B
Plouffe, RF Torrealba, C
Nishioka, SS Davis, C, 3B
Butera, C Chavez, En, CF
  Pavano, P   Wilson, C, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 3 0 0 3 1 0 0 2 9 13 1
Texas 0 2 0 5 1 0 0 0 0 8 13 2

Certainly an exciting game! Things didn’t look so great when Texas put a 5-spot up against Carl Pavano in the 4th inning to take a 7-3 lead. But the offense kept chipping away, with contributions from up and down the batting order, not to mention pinch hitters Jim Thome and Joe Mauer who both came through with pinch hit doubles late in the game. Joe Nathan got the save (which means you need to enter the DVD contest below in a hurry… before Joe gets his next save).

But our BOD tonight is Glen Perkins. Glen entered the game with two men on base and nobody out in the bottom of the 8th inning and sat three straight hitters down without giving up a run, keeping his team within one run. That’s clutch BOD material. – JC

Glen Perkins