GameChat – Twins @ Royals #2, 3:10pm

We’ll see if anyone has the ability or interest to catch a day game with the Twins right now… that always is an interesting experiment anyway but we all have to admit that we don’t go to a lot of extra effort to catch a game when we don’t know if that effort will be rewarded with good baseball – notice I didn’t say winning. When GOOD baseball is being played, it’s fun to watch winning or not. I hope that our team and FO really considers this fact over this off-season. I will say that I’m looking forward to seeing Liam pitch again.

 

Minnesota

@

Kansas City
Revere, CF   Gordon, LF
Plouffe, SS   Cabrera, Me, CF
Mauer, C   Butler, DH
Cuddyer, RF   Hosmer, 1B
Kubel, DH   Francoeur, RF
Valencia, 3B   Moustakas, 3B
Parmelee, 1B   Giavotella, 2B
Benson, LF   Perez, S, C
Tolbert, 2B   Escobar, A, SS
  Hendriks, P     Hochevar, P

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

0

0

3

8

3

Kansas City

0

2

0

3

0

2

0

0

x

7

14

0

 

Yeah, this game was a perfect summation of this entire 5 game roadtrip: actual opportunities to do something but pissed it away for another loss – 5th loss in a row – not a single win on this roadtrip. What’s worse is that I should have been wearing that green shirt that Kbro designed for me… 12 MEN LEFT ON BASE!!!!! We had opportunities! The Royals actually walked 9 batters today. They even loaded the bases with walks twice – 7th and 9th innings and if we had hit something in, this would have been a different story! But no.. same story as it has been. And we once again had as many errors as runs..

The good news from today’s game is that Ben Revere stole three bases. He’s learning to read pitchers pretty well and taking advantage of good opportunities.  Good for him. He needs one more to match Luis Rivas’ rookie record so I would love to see him make a go of doing something that he can hold up as a success out of this miserable season.

Oh yeah.. and it’s hilarious to hear TK call Dick “Richard”…

Twins Release 2012 Schedule

Well… the good news is that they will almost definitely win more games next year than they did this year! *knock on wood*

From the Minnesota Twins:

September 14, 2011 – The Minnesota Twins will open the 2012 season on the road vs. the Orioles on April 5-8 before returning home for their third season at Target Field with a three-game set against the Angels on April 9, 11-12.

Other home schedule highlights include a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox (April 23-25), a three-game series against the New York Yankees (Sept. 24-26) and a Memorial Day weekend homestand against the Detroit Tigers (May 25-27) and the Oakland Athletics (May 28-30).

The Twins 2012 home interleague schedule features visits to Target Field by the Chicago Cubs (June 8-10), the Philadelphia Phillies (June 12-14) and the Brewers (June 15-17).

The Twins will close out the 2012 season on the road with a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays (Oct. 1-3).

Click here for the full schedule!

GameChat – Twins @ Royals, 7:10pm

So yet another night/day/occasion when I’m called away from baseball… I honestly think I have actually seen the least amount of baseball this season as any other in the last decade… seems like a good season for it, don’t ya think?

At any rate, here we go! I’ll hopefuly be back before the end of the game and I would love to see the score show the Twins with multiple runs! I would also love my wedding invite list to magically sort itself and handwrite itself onto all the envelopes… I’m not greedy so I don’t need BOTH but I will take either one of those things, please.

TWINS

@

ROYALS
Revere, CF Gordon, LF
Plouffe, SS Cabrera, Me, CF
Mauer, 1B Butler, DH
Cuddyer, RF Hosmer, 1B
Kubel, DH Francoeur, RF
Valencia, 3B Moustakas, 3B
Hughes, L, 2B Giavotella, 2B
Benson, LF Perez, S, C
Butera, C Escobar, A, SS
  _Pavano, P   _Chen, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2
Kansas City 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 x 4 12 0

Twins are shut out… again.

Try to contain your shock.

- JC

More Suggestions For the Twins To Ignore

Now that the weekend of football is over, my mind is drifting back toward baseball again and, specifically, toward ways the Twins can improve themselves for next season.

I realize that the Twins pretty much flat out ignore any ideas that don’t come from within their own ranks, but why should that stop any of us from writing about what we think the Twins should do before 2012 rolls around? It sure as hell won’t stop me, that’s for sure. I’ve been getting ignored for over half a century and by much smarter people than those folks in their Target Field offices, so there.

It’s no surprise that we’re seeing more and more being written, both in blogs and the more traditional media, about how inadequately some of the Twins’ young players appear to be prepared when they find their ways in to a Big League uniform. Given how long it takes the Twins to typically promote a player through their minor league ranks, it is surprising how flawed some of the call-ups are in certain fundamental aspects of the game of baseball.

I do believe some of the mistakes being made can be written off as rookies just trying to do too much to impress people during their first trips to the Big Leagues, but even where there are flaws, those flaws may not be fatal. I’m a big believer that hard work can overcome even years of doing things the wrong way… if the player is willing to work hard.

That said, I believe that one of best truisms in coaching is, “practice doesn’t make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect.”

It’s not enough to work hard. It’s not enough to field 100 ground balls a day and make 100 throws to 1B. It’s not enough to take an extra 50 cuts in early batting practice. It’s not enough get in extra mound work. If all you do is repeat poor form, you accomplish nothing but reinforcing that poor form until it becomes ingrained.

First, you have to learn the right way to do things, THEN you practice those things over and over again. Learning those right things requires someone to teach them and if the most recent batches of young Twins to arrive at Target Field aren’t doing things right, it’s certainly not because they’ve been rushed through the minor league system without having time to be taught.

Yes, the players have to be open to instruction. You can’t influence a closed mind. However, with few exceptions, the personalities of most of these players coming up don’t seem to indicate that they aren’t open to learning.

The recent dismissal by the Twins of their AAA manager and hitting coach, Tom Nieto and Floyd Rayford, could be indications that the Twins see the need to make changes in their instructional staff. On the other hand, it could simply reflect an acknowledgment that after two consecutive 90+ loss seasons in Rochester, the organization couldn’t afford the PR hit they’d take by sending the same failed leadership to the Red Wings for another season… especially given that 2012 is the final year of the Twins’ current affiliate agreement with Rochester. Let’s hope that’s not all it is.

For a very good take on the need to move on from Nieto, from Rochester’s perspective, go read through this blog post by Rochester Democrat-Chronicle beat reporter Jim Mandelaro. It’s well worth your time.

But enough about the problem, how about those suggestions?

When I make my annual trip to Spring Training in March, I enjoy spending most mornings over on the minor league complex watching the young players work out. Trust me when I say that there’s not a lot of “standing around” going on out on those minor league fields. They take ground balls. They take fly balls. They work on bunts. They work on fielding bunts. They work on relays. They work on baserunning. Then they do it all over and over again. There’s no shortage of work going on.

But let’s face it, when you’ve got 30 guys on each field, there isn’t a lot of opportunity for individual instruction. Still, it does happen.

I’ve seen Tom Kelly take aside a high ranking pitching prospect who was having trouble just fielding a bunt and throwing the ball to 3rd base. I’ve seen former GM Terry Ryan take a young infielder aside just to point out that, in the Twins organization, you tuck your jersey in your pants. Not big stuff, I grant you, and let’s be honest, Kelly and Ryan are not going to be spending summers riding buses up and down the east coast with 21 year old ballplayers.

There are, however, other guys I’ve watched in Ft. Myers who have impressed me with the time and attention they give to individual or small group instruction. One has been Bobby Cuellar, the AAA pitching coach. I enjoy watching him work with pitchers and it certainly appears that, when he talks, they listen. While I realize it may border on sacrilege to suggest, I’d like to see Cuellar become the Twins’ pitching coach. I’ve felt for a long time that they need at least one Latino coach on the Twins’ staff. Let Rick Anderson bounce around on minor league buses for a while. Anyway, I was glad to see Cuellar was not let go along with the rest of the Red Wings’ staff.

Paul Molitor is another guy who impresses during Spring Training. He works with young hitters. He works with infielders. He’s teaching constantly and he certainly has the Hall of Fame credentials to get a young player’s attention when he talks. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he’s a full-time member of the Twins’ coaching staff. I’ve heard that could be by his own choice and, if so, that’s fine. He has certainly earned the right spend his summers with his family doing whatever he feels like doing. But if he’s willing, the Twins really should find him a full-time job at either the minor league or Major League level. I know a lot of people who would like to see Molitor eventually become Ron Gardenhire’s successor with the Twins. I’m one of those people.

Another coach I enjoy watching is Jake Mauer. Jake may not have gotten his younger brother’s talent, but just from watching him, it appears he relates well to the young ballplayers. He’s been coaching in the Twins organization since 2006 and has spent the past couple of seasons managing the Ft. Myers Miracle, the Twins’ high-A affiliate.

Maybe his ability to work with younger players means that Mauer is best utilized right where he is, in the lower levels of the organization, but I’d like to see him move up to AA and work with the Twins’ more advanced prospects… guys who are considerably closer to needing to be ready to contribute to the Twins in Minnesota.

Finally, there’s another guy in the organization that impressed me as I watched him in Ft. Myers last March. Tom Brunansky is another former player who, like Molitor, is out there doing a lot more than posing for pictures in his old Twins uniform. He joined the Twins organization just over a year ago, finishing 2010 as a hitting instructor for their Gulf Coast Rookie League team in Ft. Myers. This season, he’s been the hitting coach for AA New Britain. (Since I’m in a linking mood, check this little story out about Brunansky’s trip to Cooperstown with some of the Rock Cats.)

I realize that Bruno hasn’t been working his way up the ranks of the organization’s coaching/managing ladder the way other guys have (he was coaching HS baseball in California from 2004 through 2010), but do me a favor… go read Mandelaro’s article again and then tell me if you could see the issues Mandelaro raised with regards to Nieto being even a remote possibility if Brunansky was managing in Rochester. There’s also most likely nobody in the organization more qualified to teach the “Twins Way” than Brunansky.

I won’t pretend to think that, because I’ve watched a few days of minor league Spring Training workouts, I know who the Twins should and shouldn’t fire, retain or promote in their organization. I also don’t want to insinuate that these are the only people who give individual attention to young players in Spring Training. I know better.

I simply mean to point out that the Twins do have guys who should know what they’re talking about and who appear to relate well with young players and I hope that the Nieto/Rayford firings are not an indication that they’re going to clean house just for the sake of cleaning house.

Changes should be made, but I’d like to see more of the guys I’ve mentioned here and, if possible, more guys like them brought in to the organization.

- JC

 

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers #3, 12:05pm

For those of you are are still planning to watch baseball instead of football today, you will be treated to Gardy’s version of getaway day lineups when … pretty much every other lineup is already like that. Let’s hope that Scott Diamond has something to work with today. Since I’m a Vikings fan too, I will get to see TWO major underdogs hit the turf today. Could be interesting.

 

Minnesota

@

Detroit
Repko, RF Jackson, A, CF
Plouffe, SS Ordonez, RF
Mauer, DH Young, D, LF
Hughes, L, 3B Cabrera, Mi, 1B
Parmelee, 1B Martinez, V, DH
Benson, CF Raburn, 2B
Tosoni, LF Peralta, Jh, SS
Tolbert, 2B Inge, 3B
Butera, C Santos, C
  Diamond, P   Fister, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 1
Detroit 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 2 9 0

At least it wasn’t a shutout. Not much offense to write about, but after a slow start, Scott Diamond did a nice job and Jim Hoey threw two shutout innings. Chris Parmelee flashed a little leather, too. In the end, though, another loss and another sweep. Then again, the Red Wings lost 90+ games in AAA, so it’s not surprising they’re struggling to win in the AL, too. – JC

What Do You Remember From 10 Years Ago?

So the fact that it’s September 11th is all over the news today. It’s the 10th Anniversary of the day the towers fell. Every reporter, every news show, everyone and their brother is trying to recount something new you might never have heard in the last 10 years or to put some new slant on it. And the result is that there is kind of a weird vibe about the memorials this year… at least the official public ones.

I had noticed a few odd things here & there but I admit that for the most part, I don’t get into all the big public stuff. I have heard a few individual stories that I hadn’t heard before but for the most part, it was just the same as usual. But then I heard from more than one person that all the coverage this weekend has put them off a little bit… so I started paying a little more attention. Sure enough, things feel tense – like a battle between trying to make reference to a BIG anniversary of a MONUMENTAL event while simultaneously trying to downplay  issues because they are afraid of overdoing something. Others are even posting similar viewpoints.

*shrug*  Seems like a bit too much work to me.

I’m perfectly willing to just remember that it was a horrible day in American history – to remember it for exactly what it was without either inflation or subjugation. It is a day to reminisce, absorb, share personal experiences and to draw back together as a community – to remember how unified we were and renew our valuable connections.

So I have gathered together a few things that were new to me this year and I encourage anyone who wants to share their remembrances of 10 years ago in the comments. This is a satellite image from the day the towers were struck. There are more images here.

Also, many of you have probably already seen or heard Michael Cuddyers account of that day and the effect it’s had on him and his teammates – Brad Thomas in particular. I really encourage you to give his account some attention if you haven’t seen it yet.

And another new account for me is some of the stories from the students who were with the President that day when he got the news. They are now getting ready to graduate from high school and have a unique perspective from the rest of us. I hadn’t heard any of their recollections until this year. You might find them interesting too.

For myself, as a government worker, I was desperately trying to figure out what we had to do next with the limited knowledge we had and in full capitol shutdown. Mostly we just sat around the television as a staff. There was little we could say to each other and even less we could do. Of course, life returns to a routine. And it should, we could never function if we had to live in the utter shock we lived in that day. But It would never do for us to forget that we had those feelings and why.

So I’m not going to bother watching any memorials today. I’m going to keep my thoughts on the personal recollections I have. For all my friends and community that felt more personal losses that day, my thoughts are with you. If you want to share, please feel free to do so.

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers #2, 3:10pm, FOX

Well… Mauer is back at DH. I guess there just isn’t much more we can say about our very young roster going out there every day.  I just hope Swarzak has a good day.

 

Minnesota

@

Detroit
Revere, CF Jackson, A, CF
Plouffe, SS Dirks, RF
Mauer, DH Young, D, LF
Valencia, 3B Cabrera, Mi, 1B
Parmelee, 1B Martinez, V, DH
Benson, RF Avila, C
Dinkelman, LF Peralta, Jh, SS
Hughes, L, 2B Betemit, 3B
Rivera, R, C Santiago, 2B
  Swarzak, P   Scherzer, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 5 0
Detroit 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 6 0

Big news! Twins lose!

Yeah, I know… not such big news. Joe Mauer hit his 3rd HR of the season, though, so we’ve got that going for us. Glen Perkins coughed up a walk-off HR to Brandon Inge, however, to take the loss. Anthony Swarzak did a nice job with his start on the mound. – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers, 6:05

Catching for the Twins… Joe Mauer? Really?

Seems to be true, assuming the game gets played tonight. Sounds like the weather could be problematic.

Otherwise, the only real news out of the Twins today was that they let the manager and hitting coach of their AAA Rochester club go. After back-to-back 90-loss seasons, I’m sure they had to do something to demonstrate to the Rochester folks that they care about what happens there. Maybe Tom Nieto had an impossible job, given the Twins’ injuries this season, but clearly the consistently boneheaded play of so many of the Twins’ young players makes one wonder about the instruction being imparted in the minor leagues.

Here’s tonight’s line up:

TWINS

@

TIGERS
Revere, CF Jackson, A, CF
Plouffe, 2B Ordonez, RF
Mauer, C Young, D, LF
Kubel, DH Cabrera, Mi, 1B
Valencia, 3B Martinez, V, DH
Parmelee, 1B Avila, C
Benson, RF Peralta, Jh, SS
Tosoni, LF Betemit, 3B
Nishioka, SS Santiago, 2B
  _Slowey, P   _Penny, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 6 1
Detroit 0 3 0 3 1 0 0 1 x 8 9 0

Another loss. One good inning, though, I guess. That’s better than getting shut out again, right?

Playoff baseball in Minnesota

Believe it or not, there’s actually a baseball team in Minnesota who is WINNING more games than they lose this year! The Saint Paul Saints started their playoff season last night here at Midway Stadium and they started it off WELL by kicking butt 7-1.  Last night’s game sounds like it was a really interesting go of it too – you should read up on the account at the Saints website: Saints are Money in Game 1 Win

They have another game in Minnesota tonight before they head off to Texas for the last three games of the five-game series. Since today is an off-day for the Twins, if you want to see a little Minnesota baseball, I suggest heading over to Midway and enjoying the opportunity! Tickets are available!  As an added bonus – they are still running their Thirsty Thursday promotions with $1 beer!

PS I love their ticket sales advert – subtle! LOL click it for a link to buy tickets online.

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #4, 7:10pm

Anyone else here hoping that Pavano can work a little magic and actually get us a win?? I shouldn’t be greedy, I should simply ask that they score more than one run. That seems to be tough enough to get these days.

Parmelee and Benson are back out there tonight so they must have done a good job of making their case to Gardy – that or there really isn’t anyone else who can. As an interesting anecdote, it appears that the two young men were fined $100 a piece yesterday for showing up to the park in suits – apparently it made Gardy’s jeans look bad. Nice to know that there is still something akin to a sense of humor in the clubhouse these days. *snort*

 

Chi White Sox

@

Minnesota
Pierre, LF   Revere, CF
Ramirez, Al, SS   Plouffe, SS
Konerko, 1B   Mauer, DH
Pierzynski, C   Valencia, 3B
Rios, CF   Parmelee, 1B
De Aza, RF   Hughes, L, 2B
Viciedo, DH   Benson, LF
Vizquel, 2B   Repko, RF
Morel, 3B   Butera, C
  Danks, P     Pavano, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 4 12 1
Minnesota 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 x 5 8 2

The kids are alright!

Carl Pavano only lasted a shaky 5 and 1/3 innings, but it was enough to get the W as five relief pitchers threw just well enough to salvage the win, while some of the young Twins hitters found a way to score a few runs. In fact, they scored four of them in just the 3rd inning.

The big blow was a double that rocketed off of Chris Parmelee’s bat over Alex Rios’  head in centerfield, earning Parmelee his first two career MLB RBI… and more impressively, his first Knuckleballs Boyfriend of the Day award!

Chris Parmelee (photo: J Megenhardt/MLB.com)

.