Catching Up On All Things Twins

Sometimes you take a little business trip and pull back from the blogging thing for a few days and almost lose track of what’s going on with the Twins. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of great Twins blogs and podcasts to help bring you back up to speed. Of course, there also are some great Twins beat reporters that also keep us abreast of Twins news. So now that I’ve had a couple of days to get caught up, I’ve got some thoughts to share.

About those beat reporters

When one local newspaper announces a change in assignments for its Twins reporter, you don’t really give it much thought. When a second newspaper does the same, it may or may not raise an eyebrow.

But, while I don’t really keep close tabs on who is or isn’t covering the Twins for which traditional media outlet, I think a third Twins beat reporter took a different assignment last week… and I’m not sure he ever really started covering the Twins full time before he got his new gig.

Now Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN also is dropping the Twins beat, in favor of a switch to afternoon drive-time slot for his radio show. I understand that “drive-time” is a big deal to radio folks, since for many of us, the only time we even listen to the radio any more is during our commutes to/from work. And of course, the fact that 1500ESPN won’t be carrying Twins games going forward might have a little something to do with this change at Mackey’s station.

In fact, I’m sure there were plenty of good reasons for each of these moves… some apparently at the request of the respective reporters themselves, but FOUR beat reporters dropping the Twins beat? If it’s all a coincidence, it’s one heck of a coincidence, isn’t it?

By January, I’ll officially be following more FORMER Twins reporters on Twitter than current Twins reporters.

And some people say bloggers tend to come and go quickly.

Twins Moves… And Lack Thereof

When I boarded my flight for St. Petersburg FL about a week ago (which, as it turned out, did not actually land in St. Petersburg, but that’s not important here), Terry Ryan had recently traded away his second center fielder, Ben Revere, for another pitching prospect and for Vance Worley, who projects to slot in ahead of Scott Diamond in the Twins rotation. Not many were excited about losing Revere, but Ryan was generally praised for the bold move because, unlike his trade of Denard Span, this deal also helped address the 2013 pitching rotation.

We also tried to guess what Ryan’s next move would be. Certainly, he would need to wade in to the free agent pitching market if he intended to make good on his public promises to add enough starting pitching talent to assure the Twins can at least be competitive in 2013.

Worley was just the start. Of course Ryan would add more pitching, but we had to be patient. After all, Zack Greinke hadn’t signed anywhere yet, so the market for pitching hadn’t been set. Once that first domino fell, Ryan would know what the going rate for second tier pitching would be and he’d make his moves. Yes, more pitching help was coming. We just needed to be patient.

Since that time, Greinke has signed with the Dodgers, Anibal Sanchez has agreed to terms with the Tigers (and, perhaps the Cubs, too?), Ryan Dempster has signed with the Red Sox, Brandon McCarthy has joined the D’Backs, Joe Blanton has become an Angel, and Dan Haren has been inked by the Nationals… just to name a few. All in all, you’d have to say the market has now been set.

Even the Royals pulled off a big trade this week, sending a boatload of prospects to Tampa Bay in return for TWO starting pitchers. Say what you wish about how wise or unwise the Royals were for giving up what they did, but they made one thing clear to their fans… they are planning on competing in 2013.

Kevin CVorreia

Kevin Correia

The Twins? Well they haven’t stood idly by either. They signed Kevin Correia to a two-year contract. He wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for and my initial reaction was pretty much as negative as most others, but I actually have little problem with the Twins signing Correia. I think they overpaid, but as we’ve mentioned before, they’re the worst team in the AL and that means they will have to overpay for pretty much any free agent.  Correia doesn’t have good “peripheral stats” so he’s certainly not a darling of the saber-metric community, but I do think he could well be better than most of the in-house options the team has.

My problem at this point isn’t with signing Correia, it’s with NOT signing other… better… pitchers.

Right now there’s no indication that the Twins are even thinking about Shawn Marcum, Edwin Jackson or anyone else of any quality. They are being linked to various has-beens, never-will-bes, and long-shot reclamation projects. The consensus seems to be that they’ve been scared off by the high prices being demanded by the remaining pitchers who could actually be… well… good at pitching.

In other words, they waited for the market to set the price of pitching and then decided that price was too high. What a surprise that is, right? How un-Twinslike! Now aren’t you glad we were patient?

Twins Hall of Fame

While the General Manager’s office has been busy dumpster diving this week, the PR folks have opened up public voting for this year’s Twins Hall of Fame inductions. I haven’t quite figured out how much say the fan voting has in determining who eventually garners enough support to be added to the club’s HoF, but if nothing else, the ballot certainly brings back a lot of memories. You should check it out.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already saw who I voted for, but here’s the list of my choices: Dave Boswell, Dave Goltz, Mudcat Grant, Chuck Knoblauch, Shane Mack, Cesar Tovar.

There were others I could certainly support. Dean Chance, Corey Koskie, Jeff Reardon, Roy Smalley and Al Worthington are quite possibly worthy… some perhaps even more worthy than a couple of guys I voted for.

Cesar Tovar tries to score

Cesar Tovar tries to score

I personally feel Tovar and Mack are among the most underrated players in Twins history and deserve to be in the Twins’ Hall, but I’m not sure voters will agree. The one player that is, as always, the most controversial is Knoblauch.

Knobby certainly didn’t endear himself to Twins fans during his messy exit from Minnesota and he has the PED thing tarnishing his image further. Maybe some people don’t like voting for “cheaters”, but I’ll bet all my money against all of yours that the Twins HoF has several players already in it that were aided by taking amphetamines and if you don’t think those are “performance enhancing” drugs, you’ve never taken them.

Knoblauch was the best second baseman in club history this side of Rod Carew and he was a critical member of the 1991 championship team. So, yeah, he wanted out of Minnesota in the end. But frankly, the Twins showed absolutely no interest in fielding a competitive team in the mid 1990s and if I had been a member of the Twins then, I almost certainly would have done anything I could do to get out of town, too.

It’s too bad Knoblauch wasn’t born a few years later. Think of how much more fun he would have been having with the Twins now, what with the organization’s new commitment to competitiveness.

– JC

Minnesota Twins Podcast – Talk to Contact – Episode 17

Episode 17 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

 
itunes pic

 
Once again the Twins’ twins get together to talk Twins baseball. This week Eric and Paul discuss the Kevin Correia signing (yuck), a look at the 2013 starting pitching rotation and the outfield, and the quick escalation of MLB player salaries. Later in the podcast they take a look at Rick Aguilera‘s career in Minnesota, what the offseason moves so far mean to the balance of power in the AL Central and they go Down on the Pond to take a closer look at Niko Goodrum before finishing off with a debate about the places each of them would like to be season ticket holders. Arguably the best 90 minutes ever recorded.

 

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us become warlocks.)

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.

– ERolfPleiss

Kevin Correia and the 2013 Minnesota Twins

According to Jerry Crasnick, the Twins have signed Kevin Correia to a two-year, $10 million dollar contract.  The savvy Twins fan might liken this deal to the Jason Marquis signing from a year ago, but with an extra year tacked on, just for fun!  Correia has been a below average starter in the National League over the past two years for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In 2012 the Pirates (not known for the pitching depth) decided that they had better starting options and demoted Correia to the bullpen.  On a one-year deal, signing Correia would not seem half as bad, as the Twins are likely in the midst of a serious rebuilding effort after trading Denard Span and Ben Revere over the past couple of weeks.  The second year of the deal could be tricky as Correia is not likely to improve coming to the American League for the first time in his career where he’ll have to face the designated hitters instead of pitchers.

Twins #3 Starter, Kevin Corriea, Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America

 

Correia joins the Twins and is instantly their third best starting pitching option in 2013 behind Scott Diamond and Vance Worley.  That’s how bad the Twins pitching is right now, they are turning to the Pirates’ bullpen for starting pitching help.  While the Correia signing gives the Twins a much needed are in 2013, his role in 2014 is less clear.  With Kyle Gibson another year removed from Tommy John surgery, and Liam Hendriks with some additional Major League experience (and perhaps some confidence boosting time at Triple-A), Correia’s best option for 2013 is as the Twins fifth starter.  But five million dollars for a fifth starter, when guys like Cole De Vries, B.J. Hermsen, Sam Deduno and Esmerling Vasquez are all equally qualified to fill that spot, is harder to stomach.

If you’re a glass half-full type of person, it is possible that the Twins could flip Correia in 2014, maybe even eating some of his salary, in hopes of bringing back a low-level prospect.  But it seems more likely to me that he ends up in the bullpen filling the long relief role that Anthony Swarzak currently fills, or becomes the swing-man that Brian Duensing has occupied the past couple of years.  All in all, Correia is a Major League veteran that fills a roster spot for 2013, just keep your fingers crossed that he does not turn into another Nick Blackburn.

-ERolfPleiss

TWINSFEST Tickets Now Available

TwinsFest 2013 is coming up soon and tickets went on sale TODAY. This is your chance to meet/see some of the new Twins folk we have added during the off-season and catching up with old favorites who are still with us. This definitely could be an interesting year – our own JimCrikket may even make the drive up from Iowa!

Click the picture above for more information!

A Popular Twin is Coming Back!!

If you haven’t already heard this already, I’m not sure where you were hiding – especially since I’m sure most of the country could HEAR my squealing and jumping! The Twins have finally made an off-season move that I can whole-heartedly support.

So you know how we moved Jake Mauer up to Cedar Rapids and left that High A Miracle team without a manager?  Yeah, now it has one!!

“I always wanted to see if I could be a manager,” … “I always felt like I was a Twin. What I want to do is get it back to where it was when I was there.” Doug Mientkiewicz

This fulfills one of my personal dreams as a Twins fan – not just because Dougie Baseball was my first baseball love – since I think he provides a true understanding of how to LEARN a defensive position and my hopes are that kids coming up through the system will learn the balance between the glove and the bat. I know this is only my personal bias but it’s something I think has been lacking in a lot of the kids we’ve been bringing up. I really couldn’t be happier about this arrangement.

Since I’m a little behind on getting it written up, here’s a couple other stories that give all the details:  Twins name Doug Mientkiewicz manager at Fort Myers and Mientkiewicz back in Miracle uniform.

Now we just have to get Red Dog back coaching/managing for us and my dreams will all have come true. I don’t ask for much.. it’s not like I want JJ Hardy to move into my neighborhood so I still get peeks of him too…

Followup: just listened to Dougie get interviewed by Reusse & Mackey – here’s a link to the podcast (Dec 11, Hour 1, about 24:30) because it was a GREAT one – and he covered a bit of how this all happened. Sounds like Mauer moved specifically to create the opening for the Twins to bring Doug in. Doug’s Mother-in-Law is very ill and his family is all in Florida. It took awhile for them to figure out if he could make the decision to keep working full-time given the family needs but once it was decided, his move to Florida was the best for the family and I think works out really well for the Twins too. I think it explains a lot about the moves and the timing. I haven’t felt this good about what we were doing in the lower levels in a long time and it’s definitely making me more optimistic about the teams in the next few years.

 

 

Minnesota Twins Podcast – Talk to Contact – Episode 16

Episode 16 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Ben Revere rides to Philadelphia!

This week the Pleiss Twins discuss happenings from the winter meetings and are joined by Alex Kienholz of www.BeyondTheBoxscore.com to discuss the Twins/Phillies trade that sent Ben Revere to Philly in exchange for Vance Worley and prospect Trevor May, the Rule 5 draft and about his interested in sabermetrics. After Alex departs Eric and Paul get into the Jared Burton extension, Tom Kelly‘s Twins career, beer, prospects and a whole bunch of questions from the interwebs.

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us become warlocks.)

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.

– ERolfPleiss

Hey Twins Fans, Meet Vanimal!

(Image: timokreations)

Now that we’ve had a day to absorb the news of the Twins trading Ben Revere to Philadelphia, it’s time for us to get to know our newest member of the Twins MLB family, Vance Worley… aka “Vanimal.”

In an effort to do a little advance scouting on behalf of the Twins fanbase, I did a little Vanimal hunting on the internet. I have to say, so far I’ve liked what I’ve found.

All of the initial reports provided the basics. He had a great rookie year in 2011 as a 23-year-old, during which he finished 3rd in National League Rookie of the Year balloting, but his sophomore year in 2012 was a bit bumpy and ended with some “clean up” surgery on his pitching elbow in September. He’s back to throwing now and is expected to be ready to roll in time for Spring Training.

You can read all about Worley’s pitching record any number of places (though you might want to start with Parker Hageman’s excellent break down of Worley by clicking here). We’ll strive to bring you more here at Knuckleballs.

The Asian-American pitcher (his mother is Chinese) apparently had the “Vanimal” moniker bestowed upon him by a weightlifting coach in the weight room during his freshman year at Long Beach State University (or Cal State Long Beach, if you prefer). I guess Worley must have hit the weights pretty hard, because the nickname has stuck.

(Photo: Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Here’s something else you should know… Vanimal has a reputation for having some swagger. We’ll definitely know when Worley is on the mound. The distinctive Oakley goggles are one clue and he’s got a bit of a strut coming off the mound after a strikeout. And then, of course, there’s the mohawk haircut (though word has it he may be tiring of that trademark hairstyle and might just let his hair grow long… so we have that to look forward to).

He also talks to himself on the mound… and parents of small children might want to be prepared to answer some awkward, “what did he say, daddy?” questions from the young fans in the family. It’s not personal, just all about self-motivation, but lipreading could be entertaining this season.

Vance Worely

Like most professional athletes, Worley values his privacy away from the workplace. Don’t hassle him if you see him at a movie theater and if you happen to discover where he gets his haircut, don’t Tweet it to everyone in cyberspace. That kinda thing ticks him off. But on the job, he has a reputation for being friendly and accessible to fans and media (and even to the occasional blogger). While he wasn’t a fan of any particular MLB team while growing up in Northern California, he has grown in to a hobby of sorts that he shares with many fans… he collects autographed baseballs from many of his peers in the game.

I’m looking forward to getting to know Worley better next season. He’s got personality and, frankly, that’s something I’ve thought the Twins clubhouse could use a bit more of lately. I’m not sure how the largely staid local fanbase will react to the Vanimal persona, but I suspect a lot of that will be determined by how well he gets… what do they call them?… oh yeah… outs.

If you’d like to read more about our newest Twins pitcher, I suggest clicking here. He granted weekly access to Ed Condran, a columnist/blogger for www.metro.us, an online news publication. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer also wrote a couple of interesting background pieces on Worley during his rookie campaign in 2011, which can be found here and here.

– JC

Revere Traded to Phillies!

Wow did I pick the wrong day to forget my cell phone at home this morning! It’s the only way I have of accessing social media sites like Twitter or any of my personal email accounts from my office. As a result of that (and actually doing some work today), I’ve been a bit slow to catch breaking news. Any other day, that wouldn’t have been a big deal, but today it’s a very big deal!

Many of us have talked in recent weeks about how the Twins need to trade from a position of strength, such as their outfield depth, to fill a position of need (that would be starting pitching, for those who haven’t been keeping up). Today, the Twins doubled down on the gamble they made a week ago in trading CF Denard Span by also trading CF Ben Revere to the Phillies.

Span brought “just” a minor league pitcher with top-of-the-rotation upside. Revere, however, not only brought a very highly rated minor league starting pitcher (Trevor May), but also a Major League starting pitcher (Vance Worley) who, if healthy, could arguably slot in above Scott Diamond in the 2013 rotation.

I’m going to miss this smile!

While I don’t think the Twins went to Nashville intending to trade Revere, the market for CFs seemed to almost explode once they got there and Terry Ryan took advantage of that.

My reaction to the Span trade last week was something along the lines of, “that’s too bad, I really like Span, but the Twins absolutely need pitching that has ‘ace’ potential, so this is a fair deal.”

My reaction to the Revere trade today was more like, “I’m really going to miss Revere’s smile and his overall approach to playing baseball, but HOLY CRAP the Twins got a great return for him!”

This deal didn’t come out of nowhere, but it certainly seemed to fall in place quickly.

Last night, there were rumors that Revere’s name was being mentioned and that the Twins were open to listening to proposals.

This morning, the Strib’s LaVelle E. Neal III posted in his blog that the Twins spent the night isolated in their suite working on a Revere trade and had recalled their PR guy from the airport where he was getting ready to fly back to Minnesota. Obviously, this was not just idle chat, but we all can point to multiple deals the Twins have “almost” pulled off over the years at the Winter Meetings.

By mid-morning, there was speculation that the Twins might be targeting high upside pitching prospects, but I personally wondered how that would sell with most Twins fans. I felt they would need to get some kind of immediate help in any further trades of current MLB starting position players, including Revere.

By noon, we had our answer. The Twins not only landed a young, talented Big League pitcher who’s under team control for several more years, but also another AA level starting pitching prospect who immediately would have to be considered one of the team’s top 10 prospects (MLB.com had him ranked as the #2 prospect in the Phillies organization).

I hope Ryan isn’t done getting pitching help for 2013 and beyond, but despite the fears of many people (myself included) he certainly is not returning from Nashville empty handed. Congratulations to the Twins front office certainly appears to be in order today.

– JC