Stop With the Premature Trade Talk Already

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

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.

Ryan Doumit

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.

Denard Span

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.

– JC

(All photos: Jim Crikket, Knuckleballs)

GameChat – Oakland Athletics @ Minnesota Twins 1:10pm

Happy Memorial Day, Twins fans.

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:

Oakland Athletics

@

Minnesota Twins
Weeks, 2B Span, CF
Crisp, CF Mastroianni, RF
Reddick, RF Mauer, C
Gomes, J, DH Willingham, LF
Inge, 3B Morneau, 1B
Suzuki, K, C Doumit, DH
Ka’aihue, 1B Dozier, SS
Cowgill, LF Plouffe, 3B
Rosales, SS Casilla, A, 2B
_Blackley, T, P _Diamond, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 4 10 1
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 2 x 5 6 2

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.

Serious Boyfriend of the Day material! (Photo: Craig Lassig/AP)

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.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins #3 1:10pm

 

The Twins need a win this afternoon to avoid being swept at home by the Detroit Tigers.  Minnesota will send P.J. Walters (2.95 ERA) to the hill to face off against Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and the rest of the suddenly smashing Detroit lineup.  The Tigers counter with Rick Porcello (5.29 ERA) who has managed to completely baffle both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau throughout their careers.  Mauer and Morneau COMBINED are hitting just 7/37.  The good news is that 5 of those 7 hits are for extra bases, so if they can get wood on the ball, they should be in good shape.

Tough to know for sure which version of the Twins we will see today.  They were playing solid fundamental baseball for about 10 days, and then the wheels fell off in Chicago and they have not been the same since.  Baseball is fun to watch when it is plated the right way, and it is agonizing when done poorly.

Ron Gardenhire mentioned on 1500ESPN this morning that the Twins would be bringing up another pitcher after this series.  They’re looking for another relief arm to replace Francisco Liriano‘s spot in the bullpen.  Shortly thereafter the Twins tweeted that they’ll be calling up Jeff Manship to replace Erik Komatsu who has been DFA’d for release or assignment.  This is an interesting move for the Twins as Komatsu (claimed off waivers from St. Louis) was the Cardinal’s Rule 5 Draft Selection from the Nationals so if no other team puts in a claim on him he’ll either need to be returned to Washington or the Twins will need to work out a trade to keep him in their system.

Here are the lineups:

Detroit Tigers

@

Minnesota Twins
Berry, CF Span, CF
Dirks, LF Revere, RF
Cabrera, Mi, 3B Mauer, C
Fielder, 1B Willingham, LF
Boesch, DH Morneau, 1B
Avila, C Doumit, DH
Peralta, Jh, SS Plouffe, 3B
Kelly, RF Casilla, A, 2B
Raburn, 2B Carroll, SS
_Porcello, P _Walters, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 12 1
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 3 12 0

 

And just like that, Detroit sweeps Minnesota.

The Twins took a lead into the top of the 9th inning and then Miguel Cabrera took a hanging Matt Capps breaking ball to deep center field to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.  The top of the Twins order couldn’t scrape a run together in the bottom of the 9th and that was the ballgame.

Despite the loss the Twins again received a quality start from P.J. Walters, giving the Twins 6 innings and giving up just 2 runs (both in the first inning).  Alexi Casilla had a nice game for the Twins as well, going 3 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base and an RBI.

Have a happy Memorial Day tomorrow, everyone.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #2 1:10pm

The Twins scored plenty of runs to earn a win last night but the Twins’ pitching let them down for the second straight game and the Twins ended up on the wrong side of a 10-6 final.  Anthony Swarzak managed just3.2 innings, giving up 6 runs before he was chased from the mound.   Francisco Liriano pitched in relief again last night, looking fairly competent until his second time through the Detroit order when they lit him up for 3 runs in the 7th inning.  Not encouraging for Liriano’s efforts to return to the starting rotation.

Carl Pavano had an extra day of rest thanks to Swarzak and the off-day this past Monday.  Hopefully that extra day helped out his shoulder inflamation and he’s able to pitch 6+ innings so that the bullpen gets some much needed rest of their own.

Still no Ryan Doumit, so he’s likely still nursing the calf injury that had him initially scheduled for the DL, then not on the DL, then resting, then playing a couple games, then resting again.  The saga continues.

I’m a little under the weather this afternoon so I’ll just be popping in and out.  A Twins win ought to make me feel a little better…

 

Detroit Tigers

@

Minnesota Twins
Berry, CF Span, CF
Dirks, LF Revere, RF
Cabrera, Mi, 3B Mauer, DH
Fielder, 1B Willingham, LF
Young, D, DH Morneau, 1B
Boesch, RF Dozier, SS
Peralta, Jh, SS Casilla, A, 2B
Avila, C Butera, C
Santiago, 2B Carroll, 3B
_Scherzer, P _Pavano, P

 

 Detroit Tigers

2

0

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

12

0

 Minnesota Twins

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

Another game where the Twins starter, this time Carl Pavano, fails to get out of the 5th inning.  Pavano’s afternoon was done after 4.1 innings, giving up 6 runs, all earned, off of 10 hits.  The bullpen held the Tigers scoreless on just 2 hits the rest of the way but the Twins were not able to climb back into the game with their bats.  It seemed like the Twins had a rally going in the bottom of the 6th inning but a 30 minute rain delay drowned their momentum and the Twins threat was over.Denard Span and Justin Morneau each added solo home runs in the losing effort, but overall the Twins managed just 8 hits.

The Twins will attempt to finish the series and salvage a win tomorrow afternoon.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ Mariners #2, 8:10pm

One Day without Ron Gardenhire, one win.  Do with that what you will.

Per La Velle E. Neal, Justin Morneau, who is still struggling with wrist, soreness has finally landed on the Disabled List.  When Morneau left the game last Monday against the Angels it seemed like a trip to the DL was inevitable. Now, after playing almost an entire week with 13 pitchers and almost no bench players, the Twins finally make the call.  The Twins probably still get no-hit last Wednesday even if someone was called up, but you never know.

Even Without Gardenhire, Scott Ullger continues the Twins tradition of putting a new player into the lineup, giving Erik Komatsu the start in right field.  Hard to blame Ullger for taking a look at Komatsu as it pushes Ryan Doumit back behind the plate and relegates Drew Butera to the bench.

Here are the lineups:

 Minnesota Twins

@

Seattle Mariners
 Span, CF  Ackley, 2B
 Carroll, SS  Ryan, SS
 Mauer, DH  Suzuki, I, RF
 Willingham, LF  Montero, C
 Doumit, C  Seager, 3B
 Parmelee, 1B  Jaso, DH
 Valencia, 3B  Smoak, 1B
 Komatsu, RF  Carp, LF
 Casilla, A, 2B  Saunders, M, CF
  _Marquis, P   _Hernandez, F, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

 Minnesota

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

 Seattle

0

0

0

0

0

2

5

0

X

7

7

0

 

Jason Marquis pitched six innings giving up just 2 earned runs, scattering 6 walks and recording only one strike out.  In the 7th Anthony Swarzak, Matt Maloney, and Jeff Gray combined to give up 5 earned runs and the game was suddenly out of hand.

Regardless of what the pitching staff did, the real story of the night was Felix Hernandez.  He pitched 8 strong innings, struck out 9 Twins and gave up just a single Twins hit. The Twins were held scoreless again tonight and were just one Denard Span single away from being no-hit a 2nd time in a week.

Big changes to the Twins lineup are in the pipeline as Brian Dozier and Scott Diamond should be with the Twins on Monday.  Morneau will officially be moved to the DL and Liam Hendriks will most likely be option to Rochester to make room.

Twins have a chance to win the series tomorrow afternoon at 3pm, but it will take more than just one hit.

-ERolfPleiss

Two Weeks In: Who Is This Team?

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.

    Luke Hughes, we hardly knew ye

  • 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!

– JC

GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #3, 6:05

Francisco Liriano certainly didn’t have his best stuff last night, failing to get out of the 3rd inning and putting the Twins behind.  Liriano now has three terrible starts for the Twins in 2012, coming off a poor 2011 campaign, and if the Twins had anybody left at AAA to take his spot in the rotation, Liriano could be in trouble of losing his spot with the Major League club.

Morneau is back in the lineup today, after a day off.  He is not back at first, but he’s in the lineup, and so far reports are that everything went as planned on Monday with Morneau playing the field, so expect his playing time to increase.  Also of note: Ryan Doumit is getting the day off in favor of the hot hitting Clete Thomas.

 Minnesota

@

 NY Yankees
 Span, CF  Jeter, SS
 Carroll, SS  Granderson, CF
 Mauer, C  Teixeira, 1B
 Willingham, LF  Cano, 2B
 Morneau, DH  Swisher, DH
 Parmelee, 1B  Ibanez, RF
 Burroughs, 3B  Chavez, Er, 3B
 Thomas, C, RF  Martin, C
 Casilla, A, 2B  Gardner, LF
 _ Marquis, P  _ Kuroda, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 4 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 6 13 0
NY Yankees 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 11 0

BIG win for the Twins tonight! Once again, the guys jumped on the Yankee starting pitcher for runs in the first inning and once again the Twins pitcher gave a chunk of that lead right back. But, like Carl Pavano on Monday, Jason Marquis settled in and gave his team a chance to win.

A big sack of baked goods goes to the Twins’ bullpen as Brian Duensing and Jared Burton combined to throw three shutout innings of relief and Matt Capps survived a ninth inning Derek Jeter HR to nail down the save.

Plenty of hitting from the Twins tonight, as well, with eight different hitters contributing a total of 13 hits. Chris Parmelee notched two of them and Alexi Casilla continued to warm up at the plate with three hits of his own. Josh Willingham managed to stretch his hitting streak to 12 straight games to open the season with a ninth inning double.

But the Boyfriend of the Day award can go to nobody but Justin Morneau. Doc proved he doesn’t have to be playing 1B to hit well in Yankee Stadium, as the DH hit not one, but two more home runs!

It may be hard to believe, but the Twins will be going for a series win on Thursday night in Yankee Stadium. – JC

Justin Morneau

.
.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

After some early season snafus relating to the Twins’ previous post-season failures against the Yankees, the Twins have an opportunity to put some of those demons to bed, starting tonight, as the open a 4-game series in New York tonight at 6:05pm central.

Image from M.T.'s Blog, http://matt7.mlblogs.com/

While some former Twins (Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, etc.) may have indicated that they Twins were mentally beat against the Yankees before their previous post-season collapses, there is a wealth of historical precedence that helped create those mental barriers.  In the past 10 years the Twins are 18-51 against the Yankees, and that does not include the three times the Yankees eliminated the Twins from post-season play.  Add those in and the Twins are an even more embarrassing 20-63 against the Bronx Bombers. A W-L% of  about .241.  To put that in perspective, over a 162 game season, playing ONLY the Yankees, the Twins would win 39 games.

In those 83 games against the Yankees, 42 were in New York, and the Twins won only 7 times, which does not bode well for the Twins as they roll in to Yankee Stadium this evening.

But here is why I think the Twins have a chance to split* this four game series, which would be a resounding victory, historically:

*Let’s just assume that C.C. Sabathia is his regular self, and Francisco Liriano is the disappointing fallen star that we’ve come to know, so the Twins are not going to win tomorrow night.  And while only two Twins have faced Hiroki Kuroda (Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham), both have been unsuccessful and the Yankees have blasted Jason Marquis to the tun of .361/.395/.778 for an OPS of almost 1200! In the other two games, the Twins will face Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes.  Both are beatable and if the Twins can pitch well enough to keep the Yankees to 5 runs per game, they will have a chance to steal a couple of wins from the Yanks.

Hitting:

In addition to hitting 4 home runs and 6 doubles against Garcia in 71 plate appearances, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have combined to walk 10 times compared to just 5 strikeouts.  Of the 114 total plate appearances by current Twins, only Danny Valencia (1/4) has an OBP against Garcia that’s lower than .285.  The Twins have not fared quite as well against Phil Hughes, but still post an OBP of .317, albeit in a sample size limited to just 38 at bats.  Either way, the Twins have an opportunity to get out front of the Yankees early and to allow their starters to work deeper into games, limiting the opportunities for the bullpen to let another close game slip away.

Pitching/Defense:

In addition to hitting well against the Yankees, Carl Pavano (tonight’s starter) and Anthony Swarzak (projected to take Nick Blackburn‘s start on Thursday) have managed to keep the Yankees in check.  Pavano has limited current Yankees to a triple slash of just .229/.252/.359 with just 9/30 hits against him going for extra bases.  Swarzak has faced current Yankees hitters just 39 times, but he has yet to give up a home run to any of the current Yankees, which has been one of their biggest weapons against the Minnesota Twins.  Decent starting pitching will be complemented with a defense that is likely to be near league average with Justin Morneau slotted into first base and either Trevor Plouffe or Clete Thomas taking an outfield spot away from Ryan Doumit.

Winning two games against the Yankees and splitting the series will not get this team any closer to contending for the AL Central, but it will help plant the seed in the minds of this current group of Twins that they can beat the Yankees, something the Twins haven’t really done for a decade.

It starts tonight!

ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Angels @ Twins #3, 12:10pm

One win certainly does make things feel a little better but I’ll tell you, more would be better! LOL Today would be a great day for Liriano to improve on what was not a great first appearance. Yes, the Twins need to score more runs but this is a team sport. The pitching has to do their job and the defense needs to do theirs as well. We’ve been kind of weak on all fronts so far – everyone needs to step it up.

Speaking of a team needing to step it up, if you want to see a truly keystone cop moment on the field, AND the reason that you play it out no matter what as a baserunner, you can see Michael Cuddyer and his fellow Rockies pull off a baserunning miracle. It’s definitely worth the watch.

 

LA Angels

@

Minnesota
Izturis, M, SS Span, CF
Kendrick, H, 2B Carroll, SS
Pujols, 1B Mauer, C
Hunter, To, RF Morneau, DH
Trumbo, DH Willingham, LF
Wells, V, LF Parmelee, 1B
Callaspo, 3B Valencia, 3B
Wilson, Bo, C Revere, RF
Bourjos, CF Casilla, A, 2B
  Haren, P   Liriano, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

LA Angels

0

5

0

0

1

0

0

1

2

9

13

0

Minnesota

0

0

0

0

3

0

3

4

x

10

20

1

 

I can’t begin to figure out how to summarize that game… LOL Of all the games to play during a day game when half (or more) fans can’t even see what’s happening!??!?! I can guarantee that even the most diehard fan didn’t EXPECT a win today but we all hoped. To get the win in this fashion seems to be about the only way the Twins are willing to do it. They have to rip our hearts out, stomp on them, and put them back and inflate them just for the fun of it. THAT is what it means to be a Twins fan people…

Things started to look both familiar and disastrous in the second inning.. Liriano gave up a big hit and those of us who have watched him for a long time knew the meltdown was coming. And what a spectacular meltdown it was. We finally managed to get enough outs to get out of the inning.. 5 runs later. Franky DOES get points for coming out and working to put his brain back into the game for three more innings.. But for all that he only gave up one more run after that, his line is still not pretty. 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 HR and only 3 K’s means it was not a good day for Liriano, again.

Lately, this is about what you expect to be the end of the story for the Twins.. not today!

Today? They brought out the good bats!! hooray! We had lots and lots and lots of hits – more than we actually took advantage of for scoring purposes anyway. And when the runs started, they just started getting bigger and bigger! Guess what folks, it was the return of the HOMERUNS finally. And more importantly, it wasn’t just Josh Willingham! (who did hit his 4th homerun of the season however which leads all of MLB) We finally have the return of both the Big Boppers: Mauer AND Morneau. All of Twins Territory had collective fits when they went LONG. It’s the first time in June of 2010 that both have hit HRs in the same game and the first time EVER that it’s happened in Target Field.

It’d be great if that was the end but no… after two spectacular scoreless innings by Alex Burnett, we went into the 9th with a 3 run lead (10-7) which meant it was up to Capps to close it out for us. I know he’s really trying hard to improve the impression he left with Twins fans last year but that doesn’t mean we don’t hold our breath when he comes out. And today he showed it was with good reason. But he still managed to squeak the out the necessary outs before giving up more runs than we had lead.

Of course, that means we WON which means we have a STREAK which also means we had to vote on BOD! And again, like with the first win, the whole team was involved in getting these runs on the board so voting for who contributed the most was tough. In the spirit of the team victory, we have a chat team consensus as we assembled several ideas into the final offering we put to the public.

Your CO-BODs of the day are the M&M Boys!

 

But just so we don’t leave out our ever big bat, Josh Willingham, we offer him the finest of all Girl Scout Cookies – his own box of Thin Mints! This box is donated by our ever loyal TallDrinkOWater in California! Congrats to Josh for holding the biggest bat in MLB right now! That’s actually a very impressive accomplishment for someone wearing a Twins jersey. As your defensive abilities continue to improve, I’m sure that your selection of baked goods in the pantry will grow significantly!

 

We also offer a selection of tasty treats to Alex Burnett and Denard Span for their efforts today to hold the team together with both the bat, baserunning and solid pitching. As I mentioned in the pre-game, the only way to make a go of this with the roster we have is for everyone to step up their game in ever facet of play. They really seemed to take me at my word and go for it today.

If you get a chance to watch the replay, it’s totally worth it even when you already know how it ends! Besides, knowing the end will keep you from the ulcers that several of us got this afternoon during the live presentation.

What, Me Worry?

(This image is almost certainly the property of whomever owns the rights to MAD Magazine these days.)

Yes, I’m feeling a bit Alfred E. Neuman-ish today.

Yes, the Twins are 0-4, a trait they share with the Atlanta Braves. Yes, they’ve hit at a pathetic .165 clip and struggled to score a run or two, at most, each game. Yes, three of their four starting pitchers currently sport ERAs of 5.14, 7.50 and 11.25 after their first time through the rotation. 

But is all of that really enough to make everyone bail on the entire season?

Given that so many fans had pretty much written this season off before it started, I guess it’s not surprising that the answer to that question for just as many people is, “yes.” It just seems a tad premature, to me, after just four games, especially when everyone knew (or should have known) that April was going to be a brutal month.

No, the Orioles are not among the American League’s elite teams, but the Twins have struggled with them recently, especially on the road. And, yes, this team is likely to remain at or near the bottom of their Division through the rest of the month, given the nature of the upcoming schedule (the next 15 games are against what are probably five of the six best teams in the AL).  

But let’s keep a little perspective here. Despite the losses, there are a handful of things that haven’t gone too badly so far:

  • Josh Willingham will never be mistaken for a gold glove outfielder, but he’s done what he was brought in to do… hit the baseball hard. He’s hit .385 and has an OPS of 1.390 with a home run in Baltimore and, just to prove it can be done, another home run in Target Field Monday. (Hey, if others can use a small sample size to “prove” the team sucks, I can use it, too.)
  • Justin Morneau is hitting the ball hard. Do I wish he was playing 1B while hitting the ball hard? Of course. But given my limited expectations a month ago, I like what I see.
  • Most of the bullpen arms are looking OK. Matt Capps hasn’t blown a save (then again, there hasn’t been a save situation, yet) and he, along with Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Jeff Gray and Alex Burnett, have managed to hold opponents scoreless in their limited work.
  • Speaking of limited bullpen work, only Francisco Liriano failed to go at least five innings in his first start and the WHIPs (walks + hits per inning pitched) for the other three starters were very reasonable (1.20 for Anthony Swarzak, 1.17 for Nick Blackburn and 1.00 for Carl Pavano).

The bottom line, for me anyway, is that I believe this team will score some runs. My greatest fear entering the season was that the pitching staff would implode. In fact, that’s still my greatest fear. But the arms are off to a reasonably decent start, with a couple of exceptions (that would be you, Mr. Burton and Mr. Maloney, along with Mr. Liriano), so when the bats start to come around, maybe things won’t look so bad.

Even in the middle infield, where Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla have managed a total of one hit between them, at least they are making most of the plays they need to defensively, which is more than we could say a year ago. And if their bats don’t come around soon, Brian Dozier is already raking down in Rochester and he’s only a phone call away.

I really don’t expect a lot of wins over the next couple of weeks and I’m sure that will only intensify the grumbling among the fan base. But I’m anxious to see whether some of the young players like Swarzak, Liam Hendriks, Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee and, eventually, Dozier, can do when they get past the, “Oh my God, I’m in the Big Leagues!” phase of their seasons.

I’m still interested in this team and I hope most of the rest of you are, too. But if you really just can’t imagine the start to a season being any worse, keep in mind that things could be much worse.

Ask Ozzie Guillen.

– JC