GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #3, 3:05 pm (FOX)

Of course, the big news in baseball today is about the trade that’s gone down between the Red Sox and Dodgers, with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and former Twin Nick Punto all headed straight in to a pennant race. while the Sox get James Loney and a number of minor leaguers in return. The amazing part of this deal, tome, is that the Red Sox were able to not only shed over a quarter of a billion dollars of future payroll (they are only sending $12 million to the Dodgers), but also get several supposedly quality players on top of the salary relief. Are the Dodgers becoming the “new” Yankees?

The LA Times story on the trade also mentioned that the Red Sox went after Gonzalez after efforts to acquire Justin Morneau from the Twins last week were unsuccessful. I haven’t seen any confirmation concerning exactly how those discussions played out. I suspect the Dodgers weren’t offering a whole lot for Morneau over and above taking on his salary. Then again, they had to take on a lot more salary in the Red Sox deal and still gave up some good young pitchers. Then again, perhaps the Twins simply don’t want to part with their first baseman. That would certainly say something about their confidence level in Chris Parmelee, wouldn’t it?

The other possibility would be that the Twins hadn’t yet sent Morneau through waivers when the Dodgers approached them and someone else claimed Morneau ahead of the Dodgers, nixing a potential deal.

In any event, I have to admit I find it amusing that Nicky Punto finds himself once again in a position to make a deep playoff run. Talk about a guy who just seems to find himself in the right place at the right time.

Anyway… on to the Twins. Scott Diamond has been suspended for six games for throwing a ball near the head of Josh Hamilton. Seems a little harsh and he’ll appeal, but in the end he’s going to end up missing a start at some point.

The Twins face Ryan Dempster this afternoon. Dempster hasn’t been terrific since being traded to the Rangers, but he did pretty much shut the Twins down earlier in the season when he was still wearing a Cubs uniform.

Josh Willingham is back in the Twins lineup, as is Denard Span, so I guess that’s something.

TWINS

@

RANGERS
Span, CF Kinsler, 2B
Revere, RF Andrus, SS
Mauer, DH Hamilton, LF
Willingham, LF Beltre, A, 3B
Morneau, 1B Cruz, N, DH
Doumit, C Murphy, Dv, RF
Plouffe, 3B Soto, C
Carroll, 2B Gentry, CF
Florimon, SS Moreland, 1B
  _Duensing, P   _Dempster, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 3 12 2
Texas 2 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 x 9 14 0

I’m going to be honest, I stopped listening to the Twins game when it was 9-0 after three innings. I have no idea what happened after that, but looking at the boxscore, it’s clear that nothing good happened. Though I suppose the fact that the Rangers ended up with just those nine runs would indicate the bullpen did a job, so there’s that. Way to go bullpen.

However, I did see the Beloit Snappers beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 13-2 and it didn’t start raining until about the 6th inning. It was a good time, even though the game wasn’t terribly exciting. – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #2, 7:05pm

So apparently I’m the only one who is around to post gamechats on Friday nights..  we’ll see if there is any one there to do the chatting! LOL

So there was more roster change activity today.. Matt Carson was sent back down and we brought Kyle Waldrop is up. Yes, that means we are back to 13 pitchers and down a person on the bench. At least Span is playing again???

Let’s see how Deduno does tonight and if he plunks anyone…

Minnesota

@

Texas
Revere, CF Kinsler, 2B
Mastroianni, RF Andrus, SS
Mauer, C Hamilton, DH
Morneau, 1B Beltre, A, 3B
Doumit, LF Cruz, N, RF
Plouffe, DH Murphy, Dv, LF
Carroll, 3B Moreland, 1B
Casilla, A, 2B Martinez, L, C
Florimon, SS Gentry, CF
  Deduno, P   Harrison, 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

1

Texas

1

5

0

0

1

0

0

1

x

8

15

1

Yeah, THAT was ugly. Funny, Deduno hit two batters tonight and he didn’t get ejected or suspended for 6 games like Diamond.. anyone else think there’s something a little goofy in baseball sometimes?

Fantasy Football Season

I was VERY amused last night at the blogger meetup because the bar was pretty packed – with a bunch of guys all doing their fantasy football drafts.. yeah, it made me giggle just a little bit but I can only make so much fun since I’m the commissioner of a little league myself. But I, for one, do not take it so seriously!

After all, baseball fans need something to do in the off-season right? No, the season isn’t over yet but Twins fans more than almost any others, know it’s coming all too soon.

Several years ago, I decided that fantasy football was taken entirely too seriously by those around me who participated. I had experienced first hand how hard it was for a beginner to be competitive in, much less someone who didn’t know football very well. So I started an easy & FREE league intended to allow a competitive environment whether you understood all the facets or not. And then I bought a traveling trophy!

It’s an auto draft league so you don’t have to know anything about the players (but it still always helps if you do) and you don’t have to be a fan of any particular team (it helps if you aren’t). You sign up, & it does most of the work for you!

The reason I’m bringing this up now is that we have a couple openings in the league this year! If you are interested in participating or want to know more about our rules & set up, contact me and I’ll fill you in. Most of the Knuckleballs staff here are participants so you would have at least some baseball fans in the group. And unlike fantasy baseball, which needs almost daily attention, football is only a weekly time commitment!

But make up your mind quickly! I plan to set the league to draft on September 1!!!

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers, 7:05pm

So KL and I are headed out to Park Tavern to gather with a few of the other local Twin Cities Twins bloggers and associated hangers on.. but of course I’ll be attempting to live blog from the event with the chat window. It should be a fun evening and if you are a twitter follower, keep your eyes open for various pics for the geek with the laptop on the bar table.. yeah, that will be me.

Tonight should be about as good a matchup as it will get for the Twins against the Rangers – Scott is our best guy and Oswalt kind of sucks lately. Let’s cross our fingers.

Minnesota

@

Texas
Span, CF Kinsler, 2B
Revere, RF Andrus, SS
Mauer, C Hamilton, CF
Willingham, DH Beltre, A, 3B
Morneau, 1B Cruz, N, RF
Doumit, LF Young, M, DH
Plouffe, 3B Murphy, Dv, LF
Carroll, 2B Soto, C
Florimon, SS Olt, 1B
  Diamond, P   Oswalt, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 2 6 12 2
Texas 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 6 x 10 10 2

I guess you could say that game was at least entertaining in a depressing sorta way.

Roy Oswalt intentionally drills Joe Mauer in the back. Scott Diamond throws a ball over Josh Hamilton’s head and gets ejected, along with Gardy.

The Twins somehow manage a 4-4 tie heading to the bottom of the 8th inning… and give up six runs… only one of them earned. Yeah, ugly inning.

Our guys push two runs across in the top of the 9th, but Joe Nathan enters and retires Ben Revere to end the game. By the way, if you ever needed an example of how stupid the “save” stat is, consider this… Nathan entered the game with a 4-run lead, pitched to one hitter and gets credit for a save.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. – JC

Guest Appearance

On Monday night I was lucky enough to be a guest on the Phil Naessens Show.

I joined him to talk about the successes and failures of the 2012 Twins and a little bit of other AL Central news.

I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast, as Phil is a great host and does an excellent job asking informed and interesting questions to all of his guests.  If you’re looking to fast forward to the Twins talk, I come on around the 1 hour and 22 minute mark.

http://phillipnaessens.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/the-phil-naessens-show-august-20-2012-new-york-mets-la-angels-and-minnesota-twins-baseball-show/

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ A’s #3, 2:35pm

MLB finally has today’s lineups posted – odd that it took so long today but I can finally put up the nice little lineup grid when they do that.

Hard to be confident going in to today’s game – there are just so many things that seem to work against the Twins all together:

  1. It’s a day game with your typical ‘not quite our A game’ getaway day lineup.
  2. Liam Hendriks is making his return to the Big League mound – and the last time he was here was a rough experience for the guy.
  3. Still no Span and still no one sitting on the bench in his place. That tends to make me crabby.

 

Minnesota

@

Oakland
Revere, CF Crisp, CF
Casilla, A, 2B Drew, S, SS
Mauer, 1B Reddick, RF
Willingham, LF Cespedes, LF
Doumit, DH Carter, 1B
Carson, RF Smith, S, DH
Plouffe, 3B Donaldson, 3B
Butera, C Kottaras, C
Florimon, SS Pennington, 2B
  Hendriks, P   Milone, P


 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

3

1

Oakland

1

0

2

1

0

0

1

0

x

5

8

4

To quote Lecroy24fan: “Different day, same old story.”

The Future of Ron Gardenhire

Ron Gardenhire has been managing the Twins since 2002.  Despite the terrible record the Twins have put up the past two years, he still has a .526 winning percentage, and more often than not has led the Twins to a first place finish in the American League Central.  Gardenhire certain;y has not had the post season success that Tom Kelly enjoyed as his predecessor, but Gardenhire has at least gotten the Twins to the postseason and a couple of thrilling game 163s.

Over the past two seasons the Twins are 114-169, good for a .403 winning percentage, but outside of a 79-83 blip on the radar in 2007, Gardenhire has presided over winning baseball teams.  Still, with the Twins losing 99 games a year ago, and on pace to lose 90+ games again in 2012, it is surprising that there has not been more clamoring from the fans and the media for Minnesota to start looking for someone else to perform the managerial duties.

Organizationally, the Twins have had only two managers since 1986, so changing managers after a couple losing seasons, or even eight consecutive losing seasons from Tom Kelly (1993-2000) does not fit with Minnesota’s managerial philosophy.  Furthermore, the Twins ran into a plethora of injury issues in 2011 that ultimately derailed that season, and in 2012 the Twins’ starting pitching has been terrible and Gardenhire has not had the roster depth or payroll flexibility to really deal with either of those issues.

However, if the Twins go out and grab a couple of free agent starting pitchers this offseason to go along with the position players they signed this past winter, and Gardenhire still cannot get the Twins playing winning baseball, he’ll likely be feeling a lot more heat at this time in the 2013 season.

So keep enjoying Ron Gardenhire.  Keep battling your tail off.  And keep picture Gardy dressed up as Santa Claus.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ A’s #2, 9:05pm

So you’ve probably already heard today’s big news but just in case, here you go: Carl Pavano has been shut down for the rest of the season with a bruised humorous – yes, he has been misdiagnosed for the last three months and he’s frustrated even if he didn’t take the step of blaming the Twins med staff, he didn’t find this out until he visited the specialist in NY.

How many times does this happen until the management takes it seriously and investigates/changes the situation in the training room? I don’t know the cause but I see the symptoms and say, “Houston, we have a problem.” And before you ask, no, Span isn’t in the lineup yet. *raises eyebrow*

[edit] Span did NOT get the MRI today as planned… turns out that he’s claustrophobic.. something about not enough valium??

Minnesota

@

Oakland
Revere, CF Crisp, CF
Mastroianni, RF Drew, S, SS
Mauer, DH Reddick, RF
Willingham, LF Cespedes, LF
Morneau, 1B Carter, 1B
Doumit, C Smith, S, DH
Plouffe, 3B Donaldson, 3B
Carroll, 2B Norris, C
Florimon, SS Rosales, 2B
  De Vries, P   Anderson, P

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

4

0

Oakland

0

1

0

0

0

1

2

0

x

4

10

0

Well that certainly didn’t go the way I would like it to but wow, it was weird.

  1. The Twins never left any runners on base.. I can’t personally ever remember that happening (of course I sure it must have at some point, I just don’t think I saw it).
  2. The A’s turned a triple play and that’s pretty darn rare. I hate being on the receiving end of it but still, you don’t see that every day.
  3. Twins got an odd double play call in our favor at one point because a base runner left the base path and then got hit with the throw to 1B from home plate. I think. Not really sure how that works out. Announcers didn’t seem to be any clearer.

Not a great game for all that. Kind of glad a lot of Twins fans didn’t stay up for it.

Butterflies With Hiccups

“Like butterflies with hiccups” is our tagline at Knuckleballs and today it’s a pretty appropriate heading for the following post.

I seem to find myself in a “very little to say about several unrelated things” situation a lot lately. Maybe I’ll make this a quasi-regular thing here. Or maybe this will be a one-time thing. Anyway, there are a few things I’ve read here and there that I feel inclined to comment about. Most are baseball related, but not all.

The Twins

Will Nick Blackburn be at Twins Spring Training in 2013?

On Monday, the Twins outrighted both Nick Blackburn and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, meaning they both cleared waivers and were removed from the Twins’ 40-man roster. Arguably, they were among the last remaining “scholarship” players on the Twins roster and clearly Terry Ryan finally had seen enough of both of them. I certainly won’t be surprised to see both players invited to Spring Training next year and given opportunities to regain spots with the Twins. Then again, I won’t be surprised NOT to see them in Ft. Myers, either.

With 42 games remaining on their schedule, through Monday night, the Twins are 51-70. That means, in order to improve on their 99-loss record of a year ago, they need to go 13-28 from here on out. A bit more than half of their remaining games are against teams that currently still have some playoff hopes, so winning 1/3 of their remaining games may not be as easy at you’d think it should be. Factor in that the final month’s games will pretty much all include line ups with at least one “September call-up” and the task of avoiding 100 losses gets’ trickier yet.

Still, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the Rochester and New Britain players show us what they can do in a Twins uniform. It will at least give me some reason to pay attention to the games, which I admittedly have struggled to muster much interest in doing lately.

The Playoffs

Way before MLB announced its new playoff structure, with 2 wild cards playing a single “play in” game in each league, I was on record here of liking that format. I’ve certainly seen nothing so far this year to change my opinion. I understand that some people (in particular, managers and players) aren’t as enthusiastic about it as I am. But even in expressing their dislike for it, they actually make the exact case FOR the new format. In one of Jayson Stark’s recent pieces over at ESPN.com, he related the following quotes from the Braves’ Chipper Jones:

“I’m not a big advocate of playing 162 games for a one-game playoff,” Jones told Rumblings. “You could easily see two teams in the same division have the two best records in the league, and one of them has the luxury of waiting a couple of days to play a best-three-out-of-five [series], while the other one has that one-game playoff. And I don’t see that as fair.

“It’s basically a Game 7, right off the gut,” Jones went on. “It’s win or go home — and three other teams [in that league] get to sit back and watch it. So that’s why, at least for the guys in this clubhouse, we’re putting the utmost emphasis on every game from here on out. For us, these are must-win games the rest of the way, because we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket, for that one game.”

Exactly, Chipper!

Winning your division SHOULD mean something. It should give you an advantage over a team that just happens to make the playoffs as a wild card for no other reason than that there happens to be an odd number of divisions in each league.

We’re already seeing writers speculate “what if” scenarios where managers may have to decide whether to use a Justin Verlander or Jared Weaver in the wild card game. Unlike many recent years, we won’t be seeing every playoff manager spend the final two weeks more concerned about setting his rotation than winning baseball games.

I have read that the new format meant there weren’t enough “sellers” at the non-waiver trade deadline for all of the potential playoff teams to pick from to help fortify their rosters. Gosh, I guess more teams will just have to try to win primarily with the players that they had on their rosters during the first four months of the season. Such a shame. #sarcasm

Keith Law on Miguel Sano

ESPN’s Keith Law got the attention of many of us who pay close attention to the Twins’ farm system last week when he Tweeted that he would be in Beloit over the weekend to watch the Twins’ prospects there. We were all anxious to find out what he had to say about Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, et al.

Law’s Monday post requires ESPN Insider membership to read, so we certainly will respect ESPN’s copyright to the material and not paste all of what he had to say here. In a nutshell, however, Law was impressed with Sano’s offensive talent and potential, but called Sano out for what he termed his “obvious disdain” for playing defense. He went on to compare Sano’s enthusiasm for defense to that of his own daughter’s enthusiasm for cleaning her room. Ouch.

Miguel Sano

Then again, Law admittedly only watched one game on the Friday night of that weekend.

I have nothing against Keith Law and he may be a pretty good judge of baseball talent. That said, I believe if you’re going to call in to question a young player’s work ethic (which he certainly did in this case), you should provide a little more information concerning the basis for doing so. Was it body language? Did he lollygag around the infield? Did Law speak to coaches, team mates, scouts or front office types?

I’ve seen Sano play 6-7 times this year and will see him some more this weekend. His defensive skills are not good at 3B. This is not news. But if there’s cause to question his work ethic and his interest in improving those skills, that IS news… and I’d be interested in knowing the basis for that conclusion (giving Law benefit of the doubt enough to assume it’s not based on seeing Sano play one game).

Joe Poz on JoePa

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big Joe Posnanski fan. I may have also mentioned at some point that I’ve never been a huge Joe Paterno fan (even before the Sandusky s**t hit the fan).

If you also happen to follow Poz, you are probably aware that at the time of Paterno’s abrupt dismissal as Penn State’s football coach last November, Posnanski had pretty much moved his family to Happy Valley and was spending the better part of a year shadowing Paterno, his family and the Penn State football program as he researched an authorized biography he was writing on JoePa. Talk about finding yourself in the eye of a hurricane!

In the days and weeks that followed Paterno’s dismissal and, ultimately, his death, Posnanski kept almost completely mum on the subject of the coach. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure if the plans for the book were even going forward. However, now we know.

The book, cleverly entitled Paterno, hits bookstores today (August 21) and excerpts have been in GQ (and on GQ.com) in the days ahead of the book’s release.

I can’t help but feel Posnanski’s in a no-win situation in terms of the public’s response. Based on the excerpts I read, I’m pretty sure that Paterno’s family and defenders will object to much of what’s written and will probably feel betrayed for having allowed Posnanski inside their “circle.” I’m even more convinced that the anti-Paterno crowd will accuse Posnanski of going too soft on Paterno.

That’s enough for today. Maybe I’ll post some sort of “review” after I’ve read Paterno. Almost certainly, I’ll be posting something (a bunch of pictures, if nothing else) during or after the Snappers four-game series with my home town Cedar Rapids Kernels this weekend (the series runs Saturday through Tuesday). Until then, someone let me know if the Twins do anything noteworthy, ok?

– JC

GameChat – Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics 9:05pm

The Twins made waves this afternoon when it was announced that Nick Blackburn and Tsuyoshi Nishioka had been outrighted from the 40 man roster.  They’ll still remain with the Minnesota organization and Blackburn will join Nishioka in Rochester.

Twins have just 1 win in their last 9 games, so it would be nice for them to do something positive tonight.  Hasn’t been a Boyfriend of the Day in almost a week!

 Minnesota Twins

@

Oakland Athletics 
 Revere, CF  Crisp, CF
 Mastroianni, RF  Gomes, J, DH
 Mauer, C  Reddick, RF
 Willingham, LF  Cespedes, LF
 Morneau, 1B  Carter, 1B
 Doumit, DH  Donaldson, 3B
 Plouffe, 3B  Norris, C
 Carroll, 2B  Rosales, SS
 Florimon, SS  Weeks, 2B
 _Duensing, P  _McCarthy, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 7 15 2
Oakland 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 1

It’s been a while, so I’m not 100% sure, but I think that’s what they call a WIN!

The Twins racked up 15 hits and we’ll let it pass that only one of them was an extra-base hit (a double by Willingham). The Hammer certainly earned baked goods of his choice, as did Joe Mauer, with both of them ripping 3 hits a piece. Brian Duensing also earns a few pastries with his six innings of excelling mound work (5 hits, 1 BB and 7 Ks!).

But tonight’s (or is it this morning’s?) BOD award goes to Pedro Florimon, who also came up with three hits of his own. He also walked once, putting him on base four times. He scored three of the Twins’ seven runs on the night. Just to prove he can do it all, he also turned in some pretty fancy leatherwork. That total package earns him the BOD.

Pedro Florimon (Photo:Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)