GameChat – Twins @ Blue Jays #3, Final 2012 Game, 6:07pm

Welcome to the Final Game of the 2012 Twins Season! gotta admit, it suddenly hit home that there’s no game tomorrow.. weird. I’m not ready yet. The off season always seems so.. empty. I admit that I always seem to discover a tv show or something that I didn’t know existed to go catch up on with the empty time that I’m usually watching a game.

Before we get into the game though, thought you guys might like to join me in congratulating former Twins, Pat Neshek, on the birth of his first child. Gehrig John Neshek was born last night and managed to wait long enough for his daddy to fly from California to Florida so that he could be there for the birth. If you wish to hit him up, he’s on both Facebook and Twitter at @PatNeshek.

As for tonight, I think it’s now out of the range of possibility for Mauer to take the lead in the batting race but he WILL reach 147 games played which is a career high for a single season. Considering we were wondering how many games he’d play after the last couple seasons, I would have to say he’s set a few complaints to rest even if he only finishes 2nd or 3rd in BA – what a slacker. I’m kind of sad that we don’t get to see a little out of Willingham just to kind of have a chance to see him on the field one more time but we get what we get. I would love to see what Scott Diamond can do with his final outing of the year too – I’m pretty sure he’ll be back next year but this was the season that he surprised all of Twins Territory so it will always be special for him I think.

Minnesota

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Toronto
Span, CF Davis, R, LF
Revere, RF Hechavarria, 2B
Mauer, DH Lawrie, 3B
Parmelee, 1B Lind, DH
Plouffe, 3B Gomes, 1B
Carson, LF Arencibia, C
Escobar, 2B Vizquel, SS
Butera, C Sierra, RF
Florimon, SS Gose, CF
  Diamond, P   Morrow, P

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4

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Toronto

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Would it have been nice to win the last game of the year? Yes, yes it would. But that didn’t happen and to be honest, I don’t know how many of us actually expected it. Highlights from this game included Terry Ryan in the booth with Dick & Bert having a startlingly honest conversation about the pluses and minuses of the current team by position (player) and what he thinks they need to do this off season. I never judge the winter until Spring Training starts but it does at least give me hope that we might see more activity this year than we could otherwise expect from salary limitations. It makes me wonder if he had a similar conversation time with the radio guys.

The other highlight from tonight is the final game for Omar Vizquel. He seems to be one of those guys that was loved by every fan of every team he ever played for and is pretty certain to be in the HOF at some point. The crowd at home got a great opportunity to share their appreciation and I think Mr. Vizquel can be very proud of his accomplishments as a professional baseball player.

POST SEASON officially starts tomorrow. I’m sure that we’ll be doing a gamechat here and there during the month of October so keep your eyes peeled for the subject line. I can’t say that I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the 2012 season but I will miss baseball… Spring Training, you’re in my thoughts!

GameChat – Twins @ Blue Jays #2, 6:07pm

So Swarzak gets a start.. I admit that makes me a little nervous. But there are only two games left of the season so we’ll let it go.

Mauer is going to have to do a lot better tonight if he wants to keep any chance in the batting race. But tonight’s lineup is changing things up a little over last night. We’ll see what happens!

Minnesota

@

Toronto
Span, CF Davis, R, LF
Revere, RF Escobar, Y, SS
Mauer, DH Lawrie, 3B
Parmelee, 1B Lind, 1B
Plouffe, 3B Arencibia, C
Carson, LF Johnson, K, DH
Herrmann, C Hechavarria, 2B
Casilla, A, 2B Sierra, RF
Escobar, SS Gose, CF
  Swarzak, P   Jenkins, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 3 10 2
Toronto 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 x 4 6 0

Once again, not much to say about this game. Span and Carson had a couple hits a piece. Anthony Swarzak wasn’t terrible in a spot start and the bullpen did a good job (outside of Tyler Robertson dropping a ball while covering 1B). But the Twins lost… again. – JC

Looking Back… and Ahead

I have a poor memory.  I have trouble remembering names and all sorts of other things. I need to be reminded of appointments and family events I’m supposed to show up at. This may well be indicative of some pretty unpleasant final years of my life, but for right now I’m trying to look at the positive side to having a bad memory.

For example, I can tell you I don’t remember predicting before the season started that the Twins would come through with an 86-76 record for 2012.

I can tell you I sure as hell don’t remember predicting Francisco Liriano would be the Twins “pitcher of the year,” before the season got underway or that Liam Hendriks was likely to be the team’s “rookie of the year.”

The problem is that Eric went and made all of those predictions public back in April, so there’s a record of my preseason bout of insanity. Then again, maybe he just made that stuff up?

Scott Diamond

The reality is that the Twins pitcher of the year was probably Glen Perkins and when your best pitcher is a member of your bullpen, that’s probably not good. I suppose Scott Diamond should get some consideration for this award, as well, however. He certainly was the lone bright spot in the rotation (though I suspect he just seems brighter because of how totally dull the rest of the rotation was, by comparison).

Eric and I both apparently thought Justin Morneau was poised for a huge rebound season and predicted he would be the team’s hitter of the year. Justin certainly bounced back well, but Josh Willingham had a huge season and Joe Mauer is once again leading the league in on-base percentage and fighting for the batting title. Either of those two would be legitimate choices for the Twins hitter of the year, but I’d go with Willingham.

I predicted Denard Span would be the team’s defender of the year and I could make a pretty good case for that having turned out to be accurate. But Ben Revere would probably get my vote at this point.

I’m a bit fuzzy on who’s eligible to be considered a rookie and who isn’t, but assuming they’re both eligible, my choices would be Revere and Trevor Plouffe, in that order.

Morneau didn’t turn out to be a bad choice for Twins comeback player of the year, but I’d probably vote for Mauer.

Twins MVP would come down to Willingham and Mauer, but I’d probably go with Mauer because he contributed so much more than Willingham defensively. Then again, does anyone really want to be considered the most valuable player on a 90+ loss team?

I did get one prediction right. I said up front that the Tigers had to be the favorites to win the AL Central Division, but that their defense was going to be bad enough that they’d struggle more than a lot of experts were predicting. I did not, however, expect the White Sox to be the team that challenged them. It does appear that I was slightly overly optimistic about the Twins doing the challenging. (OK, more than slightly.)

But enough about the past, let’s look ahead a bit.

The big question being tossed around these days seems to be whether the Twins will (or should) blow up the roster and rebuild with an eye toward competing in 2016 and beyond or try to improve enough to get competitive again as early as next year.

It’s a fair question. But there’s only one realistic answer.

In a fantasy world where revenue streams are secondary to strategy, you could make an argument that the Twins should blow off the next couple of years and plan for the days when some of their current Class A and AA prospects are arriving at Target Field. But this is the real world and the Twins are a real business.

If they trade away Willingham, Span, Morneau and anyone else with any value who might not be expected to be around in 2016, attendance over the next couple of years will continue to drop even more dramatically, right along with television ratings. That means lower revenues. That means lower payrolls.

Granted, those prospects we’re counting on will be playing for the league minimum for a while, but even by 2016, this team will still be paying $23 million a year to Joe Mauer through the 2018 season. The bottom line is that, regardless of how good prospects look in the Eastern League, Florida State League and Midwest League, the odds are that more than half of them will never become above average MLB ballplayers. That means that blowing the team up now is just as likely to result in bad teams in 2016 and beyond as it is championship caliber teams. Taking that risk might be gutsy to some, but to me it would just be stupid.

Terry Ryan

Building from within with young players is necessary. But it’s not necessary to do so exclusively. Terry Ryan has told media and fans that he and his front office simply need to do better. They need to scout better. They need to trade better. They need to do better at finding the right free agents. He may not have come right out and said it, but he’s certainly hinted that the front office needs to take a very close look at the coaching and training staffs throughout the organization and make better decisions concerning those positions, as well.

Ryan is right. The Twins can’t be satisfied with two or three more seasons of bad baseball while they wait for their top prospects to be ready for prime time. They need to spend the next couple of years improving every. single. year. They need to reinstitute an expectation of competitiveness among their fan base AND in their clubhouse. They obviously need to start that search with their rotation, but whether by trade or free agency, they do need to improve the product on the field immediately.

That may not be the popular approach with some fans, but it is the right approach.

- JC

GameChat – Twins @ Blue Jays, 6:07pm

6:07 pm?? who starts a game at such a whacky time? I guess I really don’t care what time it starts since I am still old fashioned enough that I switch my channels around at the start of the hour.. LOL

At any rate, so begins our final baseball series of the year. The regular season is almost completed – for us. It will be interesting to see how October goes for those fortunate enough to be still playing baseball. I’m sure we’ll be posting results and even doing chats here at there as we go. It would be nice to go out with a bang (series win) though!

Minnesota

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Toronto
Revere, CF Davis, R, RF
Carroll, 2B Rasmus, CF
Mauer, DH Lawrie, 3B
Parmelee, 1B Lind, 1B
Plouffe, 3B Escobar, Y, DH
Carson, RF Johnson, K, 2B
Herrmann, LF Hechavarria, SS
Butera, C Mathis, C
Florimon, SS Gose, LF
  Vasquez, P   Laffey, P

 

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Toronto

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That game started waaaay better than it ended. Plouffe had a great night, Butera did not. Mauer didn’t do himself any favors in the race for the batting title either. Glen Perkins blew his first Save. The only good news that Twins fans can take out of tonight is that it appears the Tigers have nearly sewn up the division title so we don’t have to see the White Sox in any post season games.