man, what an absolutely beautiful day for baseball.. We all had a warm but wonderful time and the Twins were very generous to the series win for KL.
There was some really awkward ways to get on base today though. Walked in runs, hit batter walked in runs.. it was entertaining. It was a fun bit of small ball actually!
I think the most exciting inning of the game however was the 5th – and the return of Joe Mauer. He hit a patented double to knock in a pair of runs and then, crossed home plate himself on a single by Morales. That was all we needed to get the win – which is good because we didn’t get any more. The pitching kind of tried to give it up and Perkins made us all flash back to last night when he gave up one of the cushion runs but he held on and kept the Save instead of hoping they’d give him the Win. But since Josh Willingham’s kid as the Jr. PA didn’t actually improve the score and Mauer made the win possible, he is today’s BOD! I hope you’re actually back to stay this time.
ok, it’s finally not raining in Minnesota!!! This is especially joyous for me as the carpet from my two basement bedrooms are currently laid out in my driveway hopefully drying enough to continue to be used as temporary floor covering until we decide what the permanent replacement will be. Oh yeah and everything else that was in those two rooms in now removed and piled elsewhere while we attempt to dry out.. Just so much water in this state right now.
All that being said, it’s a hot but beautiful day for baseball in Minnesota. Let’s see if the boys can make use of that hot, humid air to let some long balls carry a ways!
Man, Glen Perkins owes the team a steak dinner… They pulled his butt out of an ignominious post-game lockerroom walk of shame.
That being said, game long highlight player was really Kurt Suzuki! wow, did he ever perform – great defense and great hit leadership! That absolutely perfect pickoff to 2B was a thing of beauty for defense-lovers. For that, the beer is on us! Whatever you want.
Escobar also provided some hefty help to this team with timely RBI but the MOST timely RBI, of course, is the walk-off hit from Brian Dozier. After the 2 run lead melted away during Perkins’ 9th inning meltdown, it was hard to keep the optimism up but out came the Bull Dozier to pull it all back together in what has become a very consistent level of performance from him which should absolutely get him an All Star game slot. But for the more local honorifics, we just call BOD!
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No reason to bury the lead, Trevor May is BACK! Trevor talked about his approach to pitching, what he’s been doing in 2014 that has allowed him to be successful, and how much fun he’s having as a member of the outstanding pitching staff in Triple-A Rochester.
Just Cody and Eric this week, in addition to talking with Trevor May, they talk about what the Twins have been doing well (pitching) and what they have not been doing at all (hitting) in the past week. They also take a shot at predicting the Twins’ All-Star representative (and fail), and they whip around the world for beers and around the league to talk about great pitching from Clayton Kershaw and bad pitching from Justin Verlander.
The radar in the Twin Cities area reportedly is making some folks doubt whether tonight’s series opener with the White Sox will actually get played, but if it does, it will be Yohan Pino’s MLB debut.
It would be a real shame (for me) if it isn’t played since it’s being televised on CSN (the Sox network), making it one of the rare times I would actually get to see a Twins game on TV. Yes I know it would be a shame for Pino, too, but it’s all about me.
I’ll be heading up toward Target Field about noon tomorrow to catch the Friday and Saturday games and I’m looking forward to that. – JC
In September of 2012, the Minnesota Twins announced a four-year affiliation agreement with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, with the Twins’ then-Senior Director of Minor Leagues Jim Rantz telling the media, “We are confident that this relationship will grow into one of the strongest affiliations in minor league baseball.”
Less than two years later, the Twins organization appears to be flirting with another minor league ownership group with an eye toward moving their Class A Midwest League affiliation to nearby St. Paul, Minnesota, and potentially leaving the Kernels to shop for another new Major League affiliate when their current Player Development Contract expires following the 2016 season.
According to a story Tuesday in the Business Journal, Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter and Derek Sharrer, the General Manager the St. Paul Saints, an independent minor league team, expressed mutual interest in a future affiliation agreement between the two teams.
Their comments were made at the Business Journal’s Business of Sports Power Breakfast Tuesday morning.
“Long-term, there are aspects that make a lot of sense,” St. Peter is quoted as telling the group. “Short-term, it’s more challenging. We have a tremendous partnership with Cedar Rapids and the Kernels. It’s been a home run for the Twins. It’s been strategic for the Twins relative to marketing in the state of Iowa.
“I think it’s something that will require some additional discussions and I’m guessing that dialogue will take place.”
The Twins President did point out that the potential arrangement comes with challenges.
“It’s a bus league, and when you’re in St. Paul and there are teams east of Cleveland, that’s a tough bus trip for your players,” St. Peter said. “Things like that need to be addressed long-term.”
The Saints are in the process of building a new 7.000 seat stadium in St. Paul that’s being built to meet or exceed standards required by baseball for Class AA and lower affiliated teams. The stadium is scheduled to open in 2015.
The Saints are owned by a group that recently agreed to sell the Twins’ Class high-A affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida.
“Our organization has a tremendous amount of respect for Derek and his team,” St. Peter said of the Twins’ relationship with the Saints organization. “We’ve worked very closely with the Saints’ ownership … for 20 years.”
As the Twins President alluded to, there are a number of obstacles that the Twins and Saints would need to overcome before placing an affiliate in St. Paul.
The most likely arrangement would be for the Twins to place their Class A Midwest League affiliate in St. Paul. There are no high-A or AA leagues located in the Midwest and the new Saints stadium is not being built up to AAA standards.
However, putting a Midwest League team in St. Paul would not be a simple matter, either.
For the Twins and Saints to make the plan work, they would need to either seek to have the Midwest League expand by two teams (to keep the number of league teams at an even number for scheduling purposes) or acquire an existing MWL team and move it to St. Paul.
Every Major League team already has a full season Class A affiliate, which would seem to make expansion unlikely.
Acquiring a team and moving it would only be somewhat easier.
Under the current Professional Baseball Agreement between the Major and Minor League governing bodies, every current affiliated minor league team is guaranteed an affiliation. Baseball can’t just tell an existing affiliated team that they’re being kicked out of affiliated minor league baseball.
The Saints ownership would likely need to acquire an existing Midwest League team and relocate it to St. Paul, rather than looking to acquire a team currently competing in another Class A league.
While it would not be totally unheard of for a team to move from one minor league to another, the same scheduling issues that affect expansion would also require any movement between leagues to result in each affected league retaining an even number of teams.
With the eastward migration of Midwest League teams over the past two decades, virtually every club in the Eastern Division of the league is playing in relatively new ballparks and before generally larger crowds than is the case among their Western Division brethren. This would make it much more likely that a current Western Division club would be targeted.
With relatively new or recently renovated ballparks in Appleton WI, Kane County IL, Peoria IL and Iowa clubs in the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids, it would be unlikely that the teams in those communities would go on the sale block.
That leaves Beloit WI, Clinton IA and Burlington IA, three teams with, perhaps, the most difficult stadium situations left among potential MWL targets.
However, all three of those teams are, like the Kernels, long-time MWL members. More importantly, also like the Kernels, all three clubs are community owned. Prying ownership away from those communities would likely be no easy task.
Finally, even if an existing ownership group were made an offer they can’t refuse, the team would need approval of the other members of the MWL to relocate. That hurdle might not be so easy to overcome, either.
St. Paul is well outside the current MWL footprint. Cedar Rapids is the closest current league city and it’s a good 250 miles from the Twin Cities. Every other MWL community, except Appleton (270 miles) is at least 300 miles from St. Paul.
South Bend IN, at 495 miles, would be the only MWL Eastern Division location less than 500 miles away.
That’s an important consideration for the league, too, because under the terms of the Professional Baseball Agreement rules, players must be given an off day any time they are bused 500 miles or more. Having a team that far outside the league’s current footprint could present a nightmare for MWL schedule-makers.
It also would increase travel costs, not only for the team that relocates, but for every other team in the league that would have to send teams to St. Paul on road trips. Those travel costs are primarily the responsibility of the local team, not their Big League affiliate.
St. Peter is certainly correct in cautioning Twin Cities fans that putting an affiliate in St. Paul would be difficult to arrange, but if the Twins were to decide to make such a move a priority, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they could throw enough weight around to get what they want. It remains to be seen whether the Twins and Saints are truly interested enough in a marriage to overcome the obstacles.
The agreement between the Kernels and Twins will have young Twins prospects calling Cedar Rapids their summer home for two more years after the current season.
Nevertheless, it’s no doubt disappointing to Twins fans in Eastern Iowa to learn that at least one Twins executive may no longer be interested in seeing the relationship between the Twins and Kernels, “grow into one of the strongest affiliations in minor league baseball.”
Kernels General Manager Doug Nelson, reached Tuesday afternoon while in Comstock Park MI for the Midwest League All-Star game, was asked for his reaction to St. Peter’s statements to the Business Journal.
“The Kernels view our affiliation with the Twins as a long term partnership,” stated Nelson via email.
It is less clear whether the Twins continue to share that view.
Go ahead and underestimate Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder Jason Kanzler. He’s used to it. Having to show people they’re wrong about him is nothing new.
”I think I’ve done that my whole life, pretty much,” Kanzler said. “I was never really at the top on anyone’s priority list. I wasn’t recruited out of high school. I tried to walk on at Northeastern University and I was cut after two weeks.
“Then I went to Buffalo as kind of a recruited walk-on and I didn’t play. I guess my red-shirt freshman year, I got 10 at-bats.Then I platooned a little in left and right my sophomore year.”
That’s not exactly the kind of start to a college baseball career that you’d expect for a guy with hopes of playing ball professionally.
Things turned around for Kanzler his next two seasons at the University of Buffalo, however.
“I started in center field my junior and senior year and won two gold gloves so I kind of shoved it up in everyone’s faces.”
If you think it sounds like Kanzler has a little chip on his shoulder over people underestimating him, you would be correct.
Kanzler spent spring training with the Class A group, but got the word the last week of camp that he would not be heading north to Cedar Rapids with the others.
Asked how he felt about being one of the final cuts to the Kernels’ roster as spring training drew to a close in March, he quickly corrected the questioner and didn’t hesitate to say exactly how he felt about it.
”I was the last guy,” he said. And he said it without a trace of a smile.
“I was angry, I was really angry,” he admitted. “The coaches down in extended (spring training) told me to cool it and I’ll get my chance eventually.”
You get the sense from Kanzler that “cooling it” isn’t something that comes very natural to him on a baseball field. In fact, in the game the evening after giving the interview, Kanzler was ejected for arguing a called third strike late in the game.
In any event, he didn’t have to cool it for very long this spring before he was given a plane ticket for Cedar Rapids. Four games in to the season, Kernels center fielder Zack Granite was injured and Kanzler got the call.
Granite rejoined the Kernels last week, but it wasn’t Kanzler’s roster spot he took. Instead, Ivory Thomas was given his unconditional release by the Twins to make room for Granite and Kanzler in the same outfield.
At the Midwest League’s All-Star break, the halfway point of the Kernels’ season, Kanzler is hitting .293 with an .813 OPS. He has five doubles, five triples and one night after his ejection he hit his seventh home run of the year. He has also stolen 10 bases.
Kanzler was utilized as a top-of-the order hitter when he first arrived in Cedar Rapids, but the power he’s demonstrated has resulted in a move toward the middle of the lineup.
How could power go unnoticed?
“I’m not a ‘guy’ really. Just an ‘extended guy’,” Kanzler explained. “I was hurt for 14 days during spring training with a hamstring, so I really only got to play like ten spring training games.”
The pop in his bat may have surprised others, but not Kanzler. “I knew I had it. I think it makes me even more mad that no one else really knew,” he said.
Kanzler has let his play convince others he’s more than just a defensive specialist and slap hitter.
“I guess I could show it off in BP a little bit,” he said, “but they kind of figured I was just a speed guy with good defense and once you get pigeon-holed, it’s hard to kind of climb your way out.”
Kernels hitting coach Tommy Watkins knows Kanzler has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and that the player uses it to his advantage.
“I think that’s one thing that motivated him, being the last guy left off the team,” Watkins said. “From talking to him since he’s been here and in spring training, I think he’s been a guy that people have always told him he couldn’t do it, so he set himself out to prove everybody wrong.
“If you tell him he can’t do it, he’s going to work 10 times harder to prove you wrong.”
Asked about his goals for this season before the year started and whether they have changed at all with his performance in Cedar Rapids, Kanzler was thoughtful with his responses.
“I think my goals are just to play my game,” he responded initially. “I think if I play my game, everything will kind of work itself out. I guess my main goal is to play excellent defense and kind of be a spark plug. I kind of like to do a little bit of everything. So whether it’s hit a home run or steal a base or make a diving catch, I just like to play the game hard.”
Watkins thinks Kanzler’s on the right track with that goal.
“I think for him just to work on his overall game,” Watkins said. “He’s a guy that has tremendous tools, all of them. He can hit, hit with power, he can run, he can throw. He’s got all the tools, it’s just fine-tuning all of them and have them show in the game.”
Of course, Kanzler has longer term goals, too. “My goal is to get to the Big Leagues, but that’s more like a dream than a goal right now. Still a few too many steps away to be a goal yet.”
A native of upstate New York, Kanzler added another potential goal before he reaches the Big Leagues, “Fill up the Red Wings’ stadium.”
“Maybe my (short term) goal would be to make a post-season all-star team and help the Kernels win the second half and get in the playoffs and win the playoffs.
“I like that. I like to win.”
Kanzler and his team mates aren’t accustomed to looking at the standings and seeing their team near the bottom. They don’t like it much.
“Yeah, I think especially because we have, I think, a lot more talent than a lot of the teams that are above us. We have so many games where we can’t put everything together. One or two things go right instead of all three.”
As intense as Kanzler can be on the field, he’s capable of relaxing and enjoying his time away from the ballpark.
Recently, that included a trip to a local music store with team mate and Cedar Rapids native Chad Christensen.
“He (Christensen) bought a guitar and I bought a ukulele,” Kanzler related. “So I’ve been practicing my ukulele a little bit. Ryan Walker has a banjo and it’s amazing, It’s an instrument I’d like to learn.”
How’s that ukulele coming and does it sound good with Christensen’s guitar?
“No we haven’t tried that. The guitar is too loud and they don’t collaborate well I don’t think.
“Chad’s been learning mostly country songs and I’ve been learning video game songs, like Mario and Zelda. That’s my kind of thing. Just fun little stuff.”
You get the feeling that all it would take for Kanzler to become the best ukulele player ever would be for someone to tell him he can’t do it.
Some sad news in the baseball world this afternoon as word came out that Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has passed away. Gwynn was as pure a hitter of baseballs as you’re likely to ever see. During his career, I always felt he was under-appreciated. Maybe because he played for a lot of bad teams in San Diego and maybe because he wasn’t a noted power hitter. RIP Tony.
Kevin Correia is on the mound for the Twins in Boston tonight.