Well that sure felt familiar.. And then all of a sudden, Josh pulls out the Hammer and we’re on top again! I do like winning.. I think we need to win more SERIES however but I’ll take one whenever it happens. Today was all about the HR though thanks to Plouffe and Willy. And for pulling out that late game ‘grab the lead in the 9th’ blast, Josh Willingham is today’s BOD!
It turns out all of the Knuckelballs were AWOL last night, so we didn’t get a GameChat post up. Our apologies to anyone who came around looking to hang out during the game.
Maybe the most unfortunate part of not having a GameChat is that we missed an opportunity to award Josh Willingham a well-deserved BOD designation for his 10th inning walk-off heroics! So, we’ll make up for that right now by passing on that honor to Willy. A day late is better than never, right?
Now, on to today’s game.
The good news is that we see the return of Joe Mauer and Denard Span to the line up. Mauer has been out of action for almost a week with a sprained thumb, while Span has missed a couple of games with the flu (although he did make a cameo appearance as a pinch runner in the 9th inning Friday night).
We all know the Twins have been winning more regularly the past couple of weeks and that certainly makes their games more fun to watch. But here’s something you may not realize… the Twins are now 23-34 for a winning percentage of .404. This is the first time that Twins players are waking up to a day where they’ve won at least 40% of their games since the morning of September 14, 2011.
I realize that the reason for this stretch of wins has a lot to do with playing some pretty bad teams. But I’m also a baseball romantic so forgive me if I indulge myself, just for a little while, with the fantasy that it really does have something to do with the ‘M’ caps they’ve been sporting.
And they just beat the Cubs last night. For those of us who have to live amidst way too many Cub fans, that makes today a pretty good day.
I gotta say, Nuke LaLoosh was right when he said, “I love winning. It’s like… better than losing!”
The Twins put another W on the board, this one in far less dramatic fashion than the game Friday night. The built up an 11-0 lead before the Cubs put up some meaningless runs late in the game off of Jeff Gray. Six different Twins had more than one hit, led by Joe Mauer who had three hits, and seven different hitters drove runs in. That’s a pretty balanced offensive attack. Jeff Manship (with his name spelled correctly on his jersey today) pitched a final shutout inning in the 9th.
But Boyfriend of the Day consideration really came down to two players. Scott Diamond threw six scoreless innings, spreading out 7 hits, while striking out five Cubs without issuing a single walk. Trevor Plouffe continued his hot hitting, with a double and a home run, totaling four RBI and scoring a couple of runs himself, and racking up five assists from his 3B position, just for good measure. For those performances, Scott and Trevor, you are our BODs.
I know Twins fans aren’t quite accustomed to dealing with having their team be uncompetitive right out of the gate, but that’s no excuse for being rediculously stupid.
It seems like some folks just don’t know how to enjoy the rare good performance when they see one. No, it has to be immediately followed by, “Let’s trade him!”
Justin Morneau’s wrist is feeling good and he’s hitting the ball well! Let’s trade him NOW!
Ryan Doumit’s had some clutch hits! He should be traded while he’s hot!
Denard Span is getting on base and playing a decent center field! Trade him for a boatload of pitchers, right now!
Josh Willingham hit a walkoff home run! It’s time to trade him, NOW!
Listen carefully, please… May 30 is never “the time” for a non-contending team to trade productive veteran players for prospects. Why? Because Major League GMs are not idiots… in May. They aren’t going to see one home run in May and think, “Wow. I want that guy and I’ll trade away my best pitching prospect to get him!” At least not for another several weeks.
Should Twins General Manager Terry Ryan be listening to offers for most of his productive veterans? Absolutely. There’s nobody on this roster that should be “off limits” right now. Some of the contracts may make certain players (that would be you, Mr. Mauer) untradeable for all practical purposes, but that doesn’t mean Ryan shouldn’t listen if a fellow GM thinks he has an idea that would work.
But May 30 is for listening… for determining which teams might have interest in certain players… but not for trading.
Frankly, nobody is desperate (read: stupid) enough to give enough in return, yet.
The Red Sox, Tigers and Angels are off to slow starts, but they are far from being desperate… yet. The Indians and Orioles, although finding themselves in better positions than they perhaps expected heading in to the season, still have some holes to fill. But they are far from desperate… yet.
It’s desperation that makes for unequal trades and we all know that fans… Twins fans in particular, it seems… tend to overvalue their players and thus expect more for them in return for a trade than other teams are likely to be willing to give up. There is simply no trade Ryan could make on May 30 that would make anyone in Twinsville happy, unless it happened to involve a player that a particular fan has some screwy personal grudge against.
First, you have to at least get past the upcoming draft. Until then, neither the Twins nor potential trading partners know for sure what their respective organizatinal needs are, nor where they have sufficient depth to afford the luxury of trading away a decent prospect or two.
Perhaps more than any other professional draft, the MLB draft is a crapshoot. Players can’t be counted on to make an immediate impact at the Major League level and, in fact, they can’t really be counted on to ever play Big League ball. So, despite all the fan chatter about how teams need to draft pitching or power hitting or speed because of the perception that the organization’s current MLB roster is short on that particular talent, teams almost always draft what they believe is the “best player available” when their turn comes around. You simply don’t know with any level of certainty what your organization’s needs will be by the time a particular kid is ready to play Big League baseball.
As a result, it’s only after the draft is over that you can judge with any precision what kind of talents you should be targeting in the trade market… and it’s only after the draft is over that you or potential trade partners can accurately judge which talents they may have a surplus of and can thus afford to send off in a trade.
That’s when phone lines between GMs start to warm up.
Even then, real interest doesn’t often reveal itself until July rolls around and desperation doesn’t kick in until later that month. That’s when teams convince themselves that they need a toolsy lead-off hitting center fielder or a versatile switch-hitting back up catcher with a little pop, especially if they’ve got team-friendly contracts.
For guys with big contracts, the “time” to trade them might not come around until August, after the non-waiver deadline passes. That’s when desperation really sets in and teams become willing to take on big contracts and overpay in prospects, if they think the guy could help them bring home some sort of championship this year.
I think we all understand the reality of 2012. Every GM in baseball will have Terry Ryan on speed dial and Ryan is going to make some deals. I don’t especially like that, but it’s the reality that comes with being an underperforming last place team. But that doesn’t mean I want him giving away every veteran on the ballclub without getting guys who are pretty damn close to being Major League ready in return.
Some people may be willing and even eager to ship current players off for a couple of “organization players” who will never be more than roster fillers for Rochester or New Britain (or whoever next year’s AAA and AA Twins affiliates are). I am not one of those people.
I want… I expect… to see a much better product on the field next season and if Ryan can’t get players in trade that should be expected to contribute to this team being more competitive in 2013, then I’d just as soon see the Spans, Doumits, Morneaus and Willinghams still wearing Twins uniforms next year.
And nobody is offering that level of talent, especially the potential top of the rotation pitching talent the team desperately needs most, on May 30.
So how about we just stop with the, “Twins need to trade so-and-so right now,” crap? No, they don’t.
First, I would like to thank the Twins very much for that lovely win as a present for my birthday yesterday. However, I would also like to remind them as I turned 40, the whole year needs a bit of lifting I’d think. My request is merely that they win more often than they did last year as a way to celebrate my 40th year!
I think a good start would be to give young Mr. DeVries a bit better support in his second start than they did for his first.
Nothing like taking as long as absolutely possible before getting the game-winner, right? Cole DeVries walked a few more guys than I’d like to see, but he did OK for his second start as a Big Leaguer. The bullpen was less than perfect, but they kept the game close. Then in the 9th, a single here, a walk there, a very poor bunt attempt on top of those, and a fielders choice led up to one mighty swing of the bat by Josh Willingham. That game winning 3 run HR with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth gave the Twins their first walkoff win of the season… and earned Willie the BOD award. – JC
For me, Memorial Day weekend was always a time when our family went on a camping trip. In the last three years I have been camping about 15 times. Mostly overnight trips, but a few week long adventures in the boundary waters. I just love camping. Something about spending time in the woods, sleeping in a tent and cooking food with a fire that really excites me. But here’s the thing, those last 15 times I have been camping, it has rained EVERY TIME. Not just passing showers or an occasional drizzle. I’m talking about wind and thunder and lightening and everything. I tell people that if they need rain all they have to do is invite me on a camping trip. And that has me thinking about the Twins.
Despite the Twins’ tough early schedule it seemed like the Twins were catching a lot of teams while they were down. Twins played the Red Sox and Yankees and Angels and the Tigers this season and each team was struggling to string together stretches of good solid baseball. Enter the Twins. It seems like every time one of the Twins’ opponents really needs to turn things around the Twins are more than happy to do it. So MLB owners, if your team is struggling, all you have to do is invite the Twins to town.
Oakland was 22-21 before their current 5 game losing streak, perfect time for them to visit Minnesota…
Here are the line ups for the Twins and Athletics:
How about that, a Twins win! What a great birthday present for our very own CapitalBabs! Happy birthday, Babs, hope you enjoyed that one as much as the rest of us.
Scott Diamnd pitched pretty well through the first 6 innings before running into trouble in the 7th and being lifted after just one out. The bullpen gave up a run in the 8th but the Twins battled back with two runs in the bottom of the 8th thanks to a Justin Morneau double that scored Joe Mauer and a sac fly from Ryan Doumit to score Josh Willingham.
For his RBI double Morneau is today’s BOD. What a swell guy.
Interesting lineup for Ron Gardenhire tonight. With Josh Willingham serving as the Twins’ DH tonight, Gardenhire had an opportunity to move Ben Revere into left field and move Trevor Plouffe into right field. Instead Gardy leaves Revere out in RF where his weak arm is most exposed, and sends Plouffe out to LF where his limited range could come into play. Perhaps Gardenhire is keeping Revere in RF to chase down liners and fly balls from the 5 left handed hitters in Detroit’s line-up, but a more likely scenario is Gardenhire keeping his guys where he likes them, not where it always makes the most sense to play them.
Either way, should be an interesting game. Here are the rest of the line ups:
The Twins scored more than their fair share of runs tonight, but the pitching let them down for the second night in a row.Not a lot of positives in a game like this, but at least the Twins were not charged with an error, so that’s an improvement.
10-24: The Twins record through their first 34 games, roughly 20% of their season. Going in to 2012 I thought the Twins would be slightly better than a .500 ballclub, optimistically projecting them to win 83 games. Yet here they are, 14 games under .500 with little reason to expect the Twins will be much better in the 128 games left on the schedule. With that in mind, here is a list (of arbitrary length and order) of fun Twins Things from 2012.
Josh Willingham – Willingham is leading the Twins in just about every offensive category you can think of, batting average, RBIs, on-base percentage, home runs, etc. He’s come to Minnesota and established himself as a fan favorite. Plus he looks like he’d be right at home chopping down trees in the forest with another Twins newcomer, Ryan Doumit. Offense and tree chopping, two of my favorite things.
Scott Diamond – Not exactly a success story in 2011, in his two starts since being called up in 2012 he has been perfect. He’s pitched 14 innings without giving up a run and now has as many Wins in just two starts as any other Twins pitcher. Also, Dick and Bert think that he looks like Cliff Lee, so take that for what it’s worth.
Jamey Carroll – Before Sunday’s game FSN showed clips of some Twins players wishing their mothers (and sometimes their wives, too) a happy Mother’s Day. During his segment Jamey Carroll referred to his mom as “the Bomb dot com.” That was one of the best moments of 2012. He’s also playing pretty great defense and was even rocking some variant of the Fu Manchu for a couple weeks. Great stuff.
The Joel Zumaya Saga – It is unfortunate that Zumaya couldn’t stay healthy and wound up heading back to the operating table before Spring Training was even in full swing because Zumaya had an opportunity to be the flame throwing reliever the Twins desperately need in their bullpen. While the signing ultimately did not work out, there was plenty of fan excitement over the winter, speculating on the health and possible impact of a guy like Zumaya playing for the Twins. Plus I liked saying, “Zoom-zoom”.
Trevor Plouffe‘s hair – Love it or hate it, Plouffe’s curly locks have provided more humorous commentary in the Knuckleballs GameChat’s than just about any other Twins topic in 2012, follicle related or otherwise.
Brian Dozier – For a while there when Dozier was hitting .400+ in AAA and it seemed like just about everyday some Twins blogger would be pining for the Twins to bring Dozier up to replace Carroll or Casilla. Carroll and Casilla, in the meantime, managed to play pretty solid defense, but ultimately their lack of success in the batter’s box (and pretty much ever other Twins hitter as well) forced the Twins’ hand and they called up Dozier to be the everyday shortstop and he has not disappointed. He’s been fun to watch defensively, getting to balls deep in the hole and showing off some pretty decent arm strength. And he hit a home run yesterday! Dozier is having fun playing baseball, and he’s even more fun to watch.
It’s been a while, so it’s hard to recognize it when we see it, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they call a WIN!
Once again, the bats did their job. Danny Valencia had a good day, with three hits, a couple of ribbies and started a critical double play in the field. One thing we saw today that we haven’t seen in a while was a “Quality Start” from a member of the Twins rotation. Three or fewer runs in six or more innings doesn’t seem like a terribly high standard until your guys can’t seem to meet it. But Jason Marquis did exactly that today and Jared Burton, Glen Perkins and Matt Capps managed to hold the lead.
But today’s Boyfriend of the Day has to be Josh Willingham, who managed 3/4 of the “cycle” with a single, double and triple, to go with two RBI and a couple of runs scored. Great way to end the homestand, guys! – JC
I always enjoy our series against the Rays simply because … well.. I like the Rays for the most part. I think they play in a ridiculous division and they do a lot of stuff with that anyway and let’s just say they do it efficiently. Of course by that I mean that they don’t have anywhere near the payroll as their divisional competitors. It’s just something that goes to the core of being a Twins fan that likes an underdog. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, right?
At any rate, that doesn’t mean I don’t want the Twins to win.. it just means I would enjoy watching the Rays beat the Yankees almost as much as I would our boys. What I do hope is that the Twins are able to give better support to Liam tonight than they did the last time around for him. And I really want to see Hendriks pitch his little patooter off. I want to see one of our starters do well… please?
Woohoo!! Starting a series with a win always feels good. And I’m grateful that the boys gave Liam enough run support to get it done.
Tonight was an easy BOD though – Josh Willingham all the way. Seriously that boy is hitting. Not only did his solid blast give the Twins the lead, but it continued his streak to 14 games. I don’t really get too excited about streaks but it is kind of fun to see from a guy who STARTED the season with starting his streak… yeah, like I said, fun.
Mauer & Carroll get treats too as well as the bullpen for coming in and nailing it down again. But the big honor goes to Willy – hope it continues.
I swear if there’s one thing I’ve grown more tired of than people using small sample sizes to “prove” how good or bad a player is, at this still-early point in the season, it’s people who do so while even admitting that they’re using small sample sizes. Let’s be brutally honest here, statheads, stats over a single two week period, even if it’s the first two weeks of the season, are almost completely worthless.
That’s one reason that, despite the disadvantage I have of living in blacked out Iowa, I’ve made considerable efforts to hang out in the local Cedar Rapids sports bars as often as possible this month. This allows me to actually watch the Twins, rather than just look at the box scores, to judge who’s doing well and who isn’t. Naturally, it also gives me the opportunity to purchase overpriced beer and fried food, but that’s just a sacrifice I’m willing to make for my team and our readers.
One thing about having a blog like this is that you eventually feel compelled to write something, even if almost everything you have to say has most likely been expressed elsewhere. With that said, here’s what I think about what I’ve seen of the 2012 Minnesota Twins:
I don’t know what to think.
Are they the team that might just as well have been using toothpicks for bats in their opening series sweep at the hands of the mighty Baltimore Orioles? (That’s the American League East Division LEADING Baltimore Orioles to you, Mack!) Or are they the team that took two of three games from Albert Pujols’ Angels? Or the one that got swept by Joe Nathan’s new buddies from Texas? Or the guys that have taken two out of the first three games from the Evil Empire in Yankee Stadium, no less?
It’s probably just stating the obvious, but since that’s one of the things I do best, here’s a rundown of a few things we probably have found out about this season’s edition of the Twins:
Spring Training numbers mean zip, zilch, nada, not a friggin’ thing.
Remember all those good vibrations we were getting in March from Francisco Liriano? Three starts in to the season and he’s the same head case he was last year. Maybe he’ll turn things around yet, but man has he looked bad after being pretty much unhittable in Ft. Myers.
For the second season in a row, Luke Hughes put up very impressive numbers in Spring Training. The same Luke Hughes who’s now been Designated for Assignment because the team needed his roster spot for Jason Marquis on Wednesday and Hughes is out of options. I suppose he COULD pass through waivers, but expectations are that some team will claim him and he’ll get a chance to join another organization’s Big League roster. Best of luck to Luke (unless he ends up with the F’ing Yankees or White Sox, of course).
There was a lot of hand-wringing in Spring Training over Justin Morneau with many people pretty much writing off his career. He’s attacking the ball at the plate with an intensity we haven’t seen since before his head came in to contact with a Blue Jay knee at second base almost two years ago. Three home runs in the two games he’s played at Yankee Stadium so far this week isn’t too shabby.
Josh Willingham can hit baseballs really, really well. Yes, defensively, balls hit in his direction can turn in to an adventure, but this is a fan base that’s been watching Delmon Young in LF for a couple of years… we can deal with Willingham. Especially if he keeps hitting the ball consistently. You can’t get much more consistent than starting the season with a 12 game hitting streak.
Reports of the demise of Joe Mauer and Denard Span were a tad premature. Both are still really good at baseball. Mauer still hits in to too many 4-6-3 double plays, but as is the case with Morneau, we’re seeing a version of Mauer we haven’t seen on the field in far too long. Span looks poised to reclaim his spot atop the rankings of AL lead-off center fielders.
Jamey Carroll is pretty much exactly what we thought he was… a solid shortstop that will field the balls hit near him and make good throws to first base. If the position hadn’t been such a disaster last year, that might not be big news, but I enjoy not having to hold my breath every time a ground ball gets hit that direction.
Alexi Casilla is really bad… or really good… face it, none of us have figured that out for sure ever since the Twins got him in return for JC Romero. We still don’t know, but I like the Lexi that’s been playing in Yankee Stadium this week.
The bullpen hasn’t sucked. Again, faint praise, perhaps. But given the angst most of us felt about the situation and the fact that a couple of guys that were counted on to fortify the pen have either been injured or pushed to the rotation, things could be much worse out there. I’m a bit nervous about Glen Perkins, though.
So with all of this stuff going well, why the hell have the Twins lost twice as many games as they’ve won?
The answer, of course, is a familiar one. This team has a rotation that simply is not very good and the pitchers are being backed up by a defense that’s not much better. I don’t need two weeks worth of statistics to tell me that’s a dangerous combination.
Liam Hendriks and Anthony Swarzak have looked marginally promising. Carl Pavano looks to be what we all know he is… a marginal, but gutsy, innings-eater. Maybe Jason Marquis will be something similar. Nick Blackburn hasn’t been awful, but his ceiling isn’t terribly high, not to mention this “mystery shoulder tightness” thing he came down with this week.
The bottom line is that we still really don’t know what to expect from this team after two weeks. The rest of April will continue to be a challenge, due to the brutal scheduling this month and the iffy pitching situation, but there’s nothing like a couple of wins against the F’ing Yankees at their place to raise spirits a bit. Win another game to claim the series tonight and I may not be able to contain my giddiness!