So about that radio thing…

You know how we keep talking about broadcast revenues being a big part of the Twins income?? StarTribune reported this morning that Twins games won’t be on 1500 anymore after this season.

I guess that the big switchover to all sports isn’t really helping 1500 ESPN in the ratings OR in keeping the Twins broadcast. It appears that the game broadcasts will be transferring over to the Pohlad-owned FM station, KTWN 96.3 starting in 2013. The contract with KSTP was renewed for 2 years in 2010 – but it doesn’t appear that it’s going to happen again. In fact, the official announcement is supposed to happen tomorrow morning.

From wikipedia regarding K-Twin:

The move to “K-Twin”

On December 29, 2011, Northern Lights announced that KHTC would drop the rhythmic format and “Now” branding on January 1, 2012, and shift to a modern adult contemporary format, branded as “96.3 K-Twin.”[9] At Midnight on January 1 (after “In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West was “96.3 Now’s” final song), the changeover to “K-Twin” officially occurred, with “Misery” by Soul Asylum the first song being played. The “K-Twin” playlist features, according to Northern Lights’ preview of the change, “today’s guitar based, pop alternative music” and similar, gold-based hits from 1985 onward.[9] “K-Twin,” though it is described as a modern adult contemporary format with an alternative rock lean, is classified as adult top 40 because of rhythmic content (such as Bruno Mars‘ “It Will Rain“) and non-alternative classic hits(such as Def Leppard‘s “Pour Some Sugar on Me“), and to differ itself from hot adult contemporary rival KSTP-FM (that station reports to the Mediabase/BDS hot AC panels). Even some 1970s staples can be found on the station, such as “Jamming” by Bob Marley. The artist roster on “K-Twin” features acts ranging from Bon Jovi and U2 to Adele and Green Day, along with songs and artists that, according to Northern Lights, “aren’t currently being played in the (Twin Cities) market.”[9] It leans in a much older direction versus KSTP; however, as ofApril 2012, the station is now on the Nielsen BDS hot AC panel.

Another noticeable emphasis of “K-Twin” is its connections with Twin Cities listeners and its employment of local personalities, including a morning show (which debuted on January 4) that features Tony Fly (a holdover from both “B96″ and “96.3 Now”), former Miss Minnesota International contestant Danni Star (also a holdover from “Now”), and KARE news personality Eric Perkins.

With the flip to “K-Twin,” the station changed its call sign to KTWN-FM, which mirrors the calls on Northern Lights’ country-formatted AM station in Glencoe, Minnesota. The calls and “K-Twin” branding were originally used by what is now KQQL from 1968 to 1983.

Ummm.. yeah, I have absolutely no interest in any of that. I’ll listen to Twins games when I’m in the car but yeah.. maybe that format works for other Twins fans but not this one.

Then again, I didn’t really like the switch to ESPN. I liked LOCAL (which is why I still only bother with the guys I know and couldn’t give a crap about the rest of the new programming). I don’t really understand the media thought that people don’t just change the channel??? I don’t care about national media and I don’t care about the music format. I’ll just change the station back to what I want to listen to when the game broadcast is completed.

The article where I first saw this reported – on Minnpost - focused on ESPN’s perspective to the move. I have to admit that the story itself doesn’t really make sense to me. Of course ESPN radio would remain committed to a sports format… duh? Interestingly enough, they also think one of the only shows that I listen to on that station is apparently a “speed bump” holding the station back. I’m amused. If they lose the local shows, you can guarantee that I won’t waste a single moment of my day on am1500. I have no interest in the nationwide syndication that focuses on basketball and football ad nauseam.

Does that mean I’ll listen to KTWN 96.3? Only for Twins games.. when I’m in the car.. Seriously, people, why doesn’t this make sense to them?

Anyone know what this does to the all-important revenue stream?

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins, 7:10 pm

The bad news is that the Twins just got swept in a 3 game home series with the Rays. The good news is that they get to start a series against a Central Division team. On top of that, they won’t even face Justin Verlander in this series.

also – Trevor Plouffe is back and the Twins optioned Nishi back down to Rochester. No, he has not been DFA’d.. yet… one wonders how long they have him taking a bench spot either there or here. – CB

TIGERS

@

TWINS
Jackson, A, CF Revere, CF
Dirks, LF Mastroianni, RF
Cabrera, Mi, 3B Mauer, 1B
Fielder, 1B Willingham, LF
Avila, C Morneau, DH
Young, D, DH Doumit, C
Boesch, RF Plouffe, 3B
Peralta, Jh, SS Carroll, SS
Infante, 2B Casilla, A, 2B
  _Sanchez, An, P   _Deduno, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 3 6 0
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 1 3 3 1 x 9 18 0

What’d I say? It only takes getting back to the Central Division in order to turn the Twins’ fortunes around.

It’s been a rare occasion when the hitting, defense, starting pitching and bullpen all come together, but this was one of those nights.

Four different hitters had three hits a piece and a couple more added a pair of hits, contributing to the Twins’ 18 hit attack. Jeff Gray finished the game off with 1 1/3 perfect innings, including a game-finishing strikeout.

But the consensus co-BODs of the night were starting pitcher Sam Deduno, who upped his record to 4-0, and outfielder Darin Mastroiani, who had a home run among his three hits and added 3 RBI. That’s a combination of pitching and hitting we’d like to see a bit more of!

Sam Deduno (Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Darin Mastroianni (Photo: CapitalBabs)

Brian Dozier: Shortstop of the Future?

There was significant fanfare surrounding Brian Dozier following a successful Spring Training by the then 24 year old Twins shortstop.  Dozier hit .277/.333/.511 in 22 games at short stop during Spring Training to lead all shortstops, but without any Triple-A seasoning under his belt, the Twins sent him to Rochester to begin the 2012 campaign.  Dozier started out red hot for the Red Wings and raised a lot of eyebrows in the Twins’ front office.  After just 28 games Dozier was hitting .276/.339/.371 (about what he was hitting in 2009 and 2010, but his OPS was about 200 points below what he hit in 2011 between A+ and AA) and the Twins called him up the Minneapolis.

Brian Dozier

In the 55 games before the All-Star Game, Brian Dozier hit .242/.267/.332 with only 8 walks to go along with 41 strike outs.  Clearly, with only 28 games at AAA and 55 more with the Twins, Dozier would take a little time to adjust to the talent level of the best baseball players on the planet.  In just 28 games since the All-Star break Dozier’s bat has started to come around, his batting average has sagged (.228), but his OBP (.288) and SLG (.347) are both climbing towards acceptable levels for Major League shortstops, even with a BABIP of .244 (league average is around .300).  Along with increased on-base and power numbers, Dozier has matched his walk and home run totals from the 1st half, and cut down his strike out rate from 19.43% to 16.83%.

Yesterday afternoon, with the bases load in the 10th inning and 1 out, Dozier had an opportunity to either start a difficult double play, attempt to throw out the runner heading home, or take the safe out at first base.  Dozier chose to take the out at 1B, conceding what turned out to be the game winning run as the Rays went on to win the game 7-3, scoring three more times before the Twins could get out of the inning.  While it is hard to fault Dozier too much for his play yesterday, his defense has been up and down all season long.  He has 15 errors in 83 games, and his UZR is below zero, -2.8.  While fielding% certainly does not tell the whole story, Dozier sits at .963 while the average MLB shortstop is fielding 15 points better at .978, which is four errors better over the same number of attempts.  Coupled with his sub-par offensive numbers, Dozier’s defensive performance performance makes him easily expendable.

To the Twins’ credit, they keep running Dozier out there day after day, giving him the opportunity to prove he belongs, and luckily for him the Twins don’t really have a lot of other options to play in his place.  Alexi Casilla has played shortstop only as a last resort, Tsuyoshi Nishioka is a complete disaster, and while the 38 year-old Jamey Carroll could slide back into the shortstop role, he will not be factoring into the Twins’ future plans, so sticking with Dozier is the best of several below average options.  Hiding away at AAA Rochester is Pedro Florimon, a defense first shortstop who is hitting almost as well as Brian Dozier did before his call up, and the newly acquired Eduardo Escobar who the Twins likely view as a utility player, as he’s played 4 different positions for Rochester since joining the team just two weeks ago (and just a .557 OPS in 45 games for the Chicago White Sox).

If Brian Dozier does not make big improvements down the stretch, both offensively and defensively, he will not have a future with the Minnesota Twins.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Rays @ Twins #3, 1:10pm

I would like to see the Twins reverse the very recent (I have been reassured that this is NOT a season problem) trend where they can’t seem to bring the day game home.

It would be a nice change for this series – you know, the whole not being swept at home thing..  If anyone on our pitching rotation can pull it off, it is Scotty so… here’s hoping.

Tampa Bay

@

Minnesota
Jennings, LF Span, CF
Upton, B, CF Revere, RF
Zobrist, RF Mauer, C
Longoria, DH Willingham, DH
Keppinger, 3B Morneau, 1B
Pena, C, 1B Doumit, LF
Roberts, R, 2B Casilla, A, 2B
Rodriguez, S, SS Dozier, SS
Lobaton, C Carroll, 3B
  Shields, P   Diamond, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Tampa Bay 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 7 12 3
Minnesota 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 7 0

Scott Diamond pitched well enough for 7 innings, and the bullpen brought the Twins all the way to the 10th inning before surrendering a run.  Unfortunately, the Twins couldn’t capitalize on multiple base runners and scoring opportunities late in the game.

Would have been nice to avoid a sweep at home, but it wasn’t meant to be.

-ERolfPleiss

Sunday Morning Comic Relief

Ok, good news/bad news: decided to share a few of the new Deep Thoughts commercials so you could actually have something entertaining to watch involving the Twins. Problem is that they just don’t have all of them – including a few of the ones I find REALLY funny. So I’ll just keep watching to see if they ever put them up. Not sure why they don’t use them all on the website.

At any rate, for those of you who don’t get FSN, here’s a couple new ones!

 

GameChat – Rays @ Twins #2, 6:10pm

I don’t have much to say about tonight’s game except that I would like it to be a MUCH better game than last night.

That is all, Thank you very much.

Tampa Bay

@

Minnesota
Jennings, LF Revere, CF
Upton, B, CF Carroll, 3B
Joyce, RF Mauer, DH
Longoria, DH Willingham, LF
Zobrist, SS Morneau, 1B
Pena, C, 1B Mastroianni, RF
Keppinger, 3B Dozier, SS
Roberts, R, 2B Butera, C
Molina, J, C Casilla, A, 2B
  Price, P   Blackburn, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Tampa Bay

3

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

4

11

0

Minnesota

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

2

7

0

yeah, that wasn’t better than last night.. OK, maybe a little better but not enough.

Olympic Tidings

Brian Duensing is a former Olympian, winning bronze in the 2008 Olympics as a member of the USA’s baseball team.  But where might the rest of the Twins’ current 25 man roster fit within the 2012 Summer Olympics?

Let’s go around the diamond, 1-9 and examine the Twins’ Olympic roster.

Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.91 ERA): His fastball is not really all that fast, so he’s unlikely to be competitive in any of the speed based events, but his meteoric rise from Rule 5 draftee to staff ace definitely marks him as a fierce competitor.  Diamond’s excellent command (1.3 BB/9) will suit him well as an Olympic archer.  Arrows away, Scotty.

Joe Mauer, after an injury plagued 2011, is once again hitting the ball with authority (.316/.413/.438) but the time he spends crouched behind home plate will serve him best as a Greco-Roman wrestler.

Justin Morneau is a proud Canadian, and the easy place to put him would be the Field Hockey team, considering his familiarity with the version played on sheets of ice.  Speed is not really Morneau’s game (though he hasn’t been caught stealing since 2008), but he he has power to spare and his bat is quick through the hitting zone, and I think he would do well as a throwing member of the Canadian track and field team.  Perhaps the shot put or discus?

Alexi Casilla has played second base and third base for the Twins in 2012, but his 68 games at 2B lead the team.  However, Casilla has played all of the infield positions with the exception of 1B throughout his career with the Twins, and has even made a couple of appearances in the outfield and as a DH.  That’s only 5 different positions, but it gets him half way to a decathlon and his speed should take him the rest of the way.

Brian Dozier fills the shortstop position vacated by Tsuyoshi Nishioka‘s inability to bring his performance across the ocean to an American style of baseball.  Dozier has not hit well after a hot start for the Twins, and his fielding has been pretty bad as well, but he’s fighting through his struggles and should be a better ballplayer in 2013 because of it.  It is that fighting spirit that will help Dozier in the Olympic boxing ring.  Bob and weave, Dozier.

Trevor Plouffe showed the Twins a glimpse of his power in 2011 between Rochester and Minneapolis, but in 2012 he has been a powerful surprise (19 HR, more than doubling his 2011 total).  Olympic sports that require a surprising amount of power?  How about badminton?

Josh Willingham just mashes home runs.  His defense is passable, considering what he does with his bat (29 HR, 83 RBI), so there is no need to dock him too many points for poor form in the outfield.  Poor form would certainly not help Willingham in either gymnastics or synchronized swimming, but in a sport like soccer, being able to dominate the offensive side of the ball can play well.  Look for the Hammer to put plenty of balls in the back of the net.

Denard Span, he’s fast, but he’s not faster then his right field teammate, so he won’t be winning any Gold medals in the 100M.  Instead, Span has speed, doubles power, and a smooth swift way of going about his business.  His combination of speed and strength make him an excellent candidate to row his way to an Olympic medal as a member of the Men’s crew team.

Ben Revere leads the team in steals with 27, and only Alexi Casilla (14) has even half as many.  And he’s no slouch on defense either, sprinting through the outfield and catching would-be doubles and triples at the warning track.  He’s easily the Twins’ best chance to win a medal as an Olympic sprinter.  Run, Ben, run.

Baseball is no longer an Olympic sport, so this will have to due.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Rays @ Twins, 7:10pm

The Twins could not have asked for a more perfect day to play baseball! It’s just such a beautiful day outside that even though I can’t be AT the game tonight, it breaks my heart just a bit to even be inside watching the TV! My husband keeps talking about running a line to the deck to have the ability to move a TV out there sometimes. Maybe I’ll see if I can get him to figure that out…

News for today:

  1. Plouffe isn’t ready to come back yet. I get the impression he wasn’t happy with the decision but they sent him to Rochester for a couple days to rehab before he gets back into the lineup here. He would rather have just played.
  2. Despite the fact Plouffe isn’t ready yet, Nishioka will not have to worry about the home team crowd reaction just yet. He’s not in the lineup tonight. No, I don’t think that means anything yet. I think it’s still a wait & see situation with Nishi.
  3. Also out playing catch on the field with Rochester is Scott Baker. It’s good to see things are progressing with him. It seems like Scott Baker sightings are a little rare.

Cole DeVries gets another hometown start. The lineup behinds him SHOULD be able to give him the defense he needs and the run support to give him confidence. I will really appreciate it if that actually happens.

Tampa Bay

@

Minnesota
Jennings, LF Span, CF
Upton, B, CF Revere, RF
Joyce, RF Mauer, C
Longoria, DH Willingham, LF
Zobrist, SS Morneau, 1B
Pena, C, 1B Doumit, DH
Keppinger, 3B Casilla, A, 2B
Roberts, R, 2B Dozier, SS
Molina, J, C Carroll, 3B
  Hellickson, P   De Vries, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Tampa Bay

2

6

0

0

0

4

0

0

0

12

13

0

Minnesota

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

2

1

6

12

1

Ouch.

I have to admit.. I didn’t make it to the end of the game. I can watch losing baseball. I’m a Twins fan, I’ve seen a LOT of losing baseball. I stick with it right to the bitter end.

But.. yeah.. BAD baseball .. I have a very low threshold. Tonight was just not good baseball.

Just Because It’s a Cliché Doesn’t Mean It’s Not True

I’m not sure any sport has spawned more clichés than baseball. Right now, though, even clichés that are applicable to multiple sports seem to make me think of the Twins.

As I’ve been following the the team lately, I keep hearing various clichés in my mind (“look the ball in to your glove, Nishi.” “Make sure of one, Nishi.”). A lot of them come to mind, however, as I reflect on the entirety of the Twins’ season.

Plenty of discussion in Twinsville recently has revolved around the fact that the Twins’ record since mid-May has been respectable… even slightly above .500 perhaps, depending upon when you start to measure those games in your cherry-picking exercise. I tend to think that kind of exercise is best reserved for the lonely off-season when you’re trying to find hope for the future. However, I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there. (Pardon that obscure Simon & Garfunkel reference. I’ve been thinking I could probably write an entire post equating being a Twins player to “The Boxer”. Another time, perhaps.) 

The problem with this cherry-picking, of course, is that Major League Baseball has determined that the schedule shall begin in early April and that games played in April and May count toward each team’s overall record. All the games count the same.

Which brings me back to clichés and just a few that seem to be appropriate to mention at this time, if for no other reason than to serve as a reminder to us… and the Twins… that the games played next April should perhaps be treated with more respect.

It’s a long season.

*Sigh* Yeah… there’s still a lot of season left. Especially when the only suspense left by mid August is whether your team is going to end up losing 100 games.

Every team will win 54 games and every team will lose 54 games. It’s what you do with the other 54 games that matters.

I was tempted to leave this one out. First of all, I don’t believe clichés should involve doing math.

More than that, though, I’m kind of afraid that someone in the Twins organization might take the “every team will win 54 games” part as a challenge and try to disprove it.

You can’t win a Championship in April, but you can lose one.

Yeah. This one we’re certainly familiar with, aren’t we?

It’s not how you start a season that matters; it’s how you finish it.

I call “bullshit”.

You need to take the first two months of the season to figure out which adjustments need to be made.

Isn’t this what Spring Training is for? Regardless, it really shouldn’t take you two months to figure out that your starting pitching absolutely sucks and try someone else.

There’s plenty of time left, no need to panic.

If the Opening Day starting pitcher next year gets pounded and can’t survive 4 innings, I think it will be perfectly acceptable for Twins fans to commence to panic.

In fact, if the Opening Day starting pitcher is ANY pitcher already part of the Twins organization today, I don’t think we should even be required to wait until the first pitch of the season is thrown before starting to panic.

You can’t rush to judgment.

It’s been two years of absolute failure. Unless significant changes are made, concluding that the 2013 Twins are a bad team on or before Opening Day would not be considered “rushing” to anything.

You have to take it one game at a time.

This is true… but God, that’s often SO painful.

Pitching and defense win championships.

Maybe this is true, maybe it isn’t. But I think the Twins have adequately demonstrated that bad pitching and bad defense does mean no championships, so maybe Terry Ryan should at least give this cliché a little credence.

They’re a better team than their record indicates.

I do think the Twins, right now, are a better team than their record indicates, so maybe this cliché is true at times.

I don’t think it matters, though, because what IS absolutely true is that a team’s record determines where they fall in the standings. So if you give me a choice between a team that’s better than their record indicates or not as good as their record indicates (see: Orioles… or even perhaps the Twins most of the past decade) I’ll take the latter every time. After all, you play to win the game! (how’s that for a cliché?)

They’re still missing a few pieces to the puzzle.

Funny thing about puzzles. If you’re missing corner pieces, it’s sometimes tough to even get to the point where you can figure out which other pieces you’re missing.

The Twins are missing some corner pieces.

There’s a lot of season left.

*Sigh* Yeah… it’s a long season.

- JC