GameChat – Twins @ Rays #4, 11:10am

This is it.  This is the final game of the series.  After that marathon pitching battle last night, I would really like to come out and play well today.  Mauer tried throwing this morning and the shoulder is still sore so he’s not ready to catch yet.  Butera will be going for the 5th day in a row.  My hope is that Slowey will continue his good pitching and not shake off Butera either.  He has to let his pitcher run the call and not let himself get tied up in his own head.  Win TWINS!!!

Minnesota @ Tampa Bay
Repko, CF   Rodriguez, S, 2B
Casilla, A, 2B   Crawford, LF
Mauer, DH   Longoria, 3B
Young, D, LF   Aybar, W, DH
Kubel, RF   Joyce, RF
Cuddyer, 1B   Johnson, D, 1B
Valencia, 3B   Upton, B, CF
Hardy, SS   Brignac, R, SS
Butera, C   Shoppach, C
  Slowey, P     Davis, W, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 8 15 2
Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 6 5 0

 

*dies laughing*  No, really, I’m still laughing.  What an utterly ridiculous series of events!  For those who couldn’t see the game because they are gainfully employed, this is going to be hard to convey and the boxscore simply does not do it justice.

To start with, Kevin Slowey was amazing.  He pitched a BEAUTIFUL game (very similar to Bakers but even faster).  He really had the Rays lineup off-balance in ways that were obviously frustrating them – poor Kelly Shoppach tried to break his bat over his knee after one particular strike out.  He got ALMOST all the way through the 8th inning before he started to struggle a bit – kind of wish he’d stayed out there because he couldn’t have done any WORSE than the relief pitching that came out.  Our bullpen was taxed and tired after the last three games so it was wonderful that Slowey did what he did. 

The Twins offense got to Davis early and hard getting 4 runs in the first inning and sending all 9 hitters to the plate.  In the following innings, Davis managed to refocus but we still tagged the Rays with another couple runs and kept the shutout going until the 8th inning.  That was assisted hugely by some GREAT defensive plays that contrasted greatly with the defensive miscues from yesterday.  But defense and pitching kept the Rays frustrated for a good portion of the game…  and then came the 8th inning. 

Slowey didn’t seem to be working as successfully with the strike zone and started letting men on base after he gave up a solo HR.  Jesse Crain was brought in and he couldn’t get an out to save his life and by the time he walked in an additional run to make the score 6-2, he was pulled and Mahay came in.  Um… yeah, ouch.  Mahay ended up giving up a grand slam to Bartlett who came in as a pinch hitter and tied the game.  All of Twins fandom felt their hearts crack as yet another stellar starting pitching outting ended in a no decision. (We really have to do better to support our starters wehn they do so well guys!)  Matt Capps came in and FINALLY got the last out.  That left one inning left to try to take the game back even if it was too late for Kev.

Twins hitters once again managed to make something happen to get on base even without Mauer who was walked intentionally twice.  The truly entertaining part was Kubel coming up with runners on the corners and 2 outs.  He REALLY wanted to hit that long HR and be the hero…  well, he hit it hard, that’s for sure – straight up.  The ball ended up bouncing off of the inner-most metal catwalk and bouncing back down into the infield in what was the luckiest play to go the Twins way in a long time.  The Rays infield simply had no way to play the ball as it ricocheted back down to almost the pitchers mound.  There was a lot of dropped jaws on the faces of players from both teams and much broadcaster reading of the rules so that fans knew what the heck counted as what.  But EVERYONE knew that was just a lucky bounce that went our way irregardless of what it bounced off of.  So Kubel ended up getting us that winning RBI off a hard hit single into the sky. For that, he and JJ Hardy and Jason Repko all get pastries for timely hitting.

However, the two highlights of today won’t really show up in the final stats.  The first was that no decision of Kev Slowey’s which was a beautifully pitched gem and the other was some consistently miraculous fielding from Alexi Casilla including the final out that didn’t even look humanly possible.  Especially since their accomplishments seem to lose impact in the final stats, the Chat voted them CO-BOD’s today.  Thanks you so much for your hard work and excellent comebacks from two players who have known what it is to struggle.

 

GameChat – Mariners @ Twins #2, 6:10

How is this for funny?  I’m sitting in the lobby of the church where I just played for a wedding ceremony.  Figured I would quick get the post up before I run into the reception.  Gotta love a church with public wifi!!

Anyway, I’m going to keep my pregame comments pretty minimal as a result – I’m already hearing giggling for sitting on a laptop in my wedding gear.  Since I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old in my care while at the wedding, I’m sure I won’t stay too long and I’ll be able to come join you during the game.

The one random bit of fun to get you going about the team is that Gardy has already been heard referring to our new closer as “Capper”.  Guess he’s officially one of the guys now!

Seattle @ Minnesota
Suzuki, I, RF Span, CF
Figgins, 2B Casilla, A, 2B
Kotchman, 1B Mauer, C
Branyan, DH Young, D, LF
Gutierrez, F, CF Thome, DH
Saunders, LF Cuddyer, 1B
Bard, J, C Kubel, RF
Tuiasosopo, M, 3B Valencia, 3B
Wilson, Ja, SS Hardy, SS
Hernandez, F, P Slowey, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Seattle 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 2
Minnesota 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 x 4 9 0

ANOTHER WIN!!!  After those months of dark times when it felt like we needed 3 new starting pitchers, it sure is nice to have a FANTASTIC outing from our starter, great offense from our lineup and flashy defense out in the field.  It really does a lot to repair the mood of us Twins fans.

Thank you, Kevin for 8 shutout innings.  There was a time when many wondered if you would ever be able to do that again and tonight was a thing of beauty.  For that, the chat unanimously voted you BOD!  We give pastries to Lexi and the rest of the heavy hitters.  Great outing boys!

GameChat – Royals @ Twins, 7:10

I’m all out of kilter – I’ve tried somewhat weakly to follow the draft during the offday but.. I don’t know these kids. Someday, one of them will be the next big furor the fans are bashing Gardy (or whoever) for not bringing up because he’s clearly read… I will be able to say “I remember when…” but I’m not sure I really will remember.

Injury updates: Orlando went on the DL today (however belatedly) and he’ll be eligible to return to the lineup on the 15th. Hardy got a cortizone shot in that troublesome wrist and he should be able to return much sooner. But he’s still out tonight so the lineup still looks a little wonky – glad to see Cuddy back out there though!

Kansas City @ Minnesota
Podsednik, LF   Span, CF
Kendall, C   Tolbert, 2B
DeJesus, D, RF   Mauer, C
Butler, 1B   Morneau, 1B
Guillen, J, DH   Cuddyer, RF
Callaspo, 3B   Kubel, DH
Aviles, M, 2B   Young, D, LF
Maier, CF   Valencia, 3B
Betancourt, Y, SS   Punto, SS
  Greinke, P     Slowey, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 7 1
Minnesota 3 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 x 7 12 1

 

This was not quite the pitchers duel that I had anticipated…  seems like we broke Grienke last year because our guys sure have figured out how to hit him now – at least they could tonight.  But for all that, Kevin Slowey held up his side of the duel and pitched his butt off.. great outting.  For that, the Chat gave him BOD!!  For all that fun hitting, we give pastries to Valencia, Kubel, and Span – he’s so glad to be back home!  We also would like to present a Cuban sandwich and our deepest thanks to Joe Nathan for such great fun in the broadcast booth without forgetting that there was a game on the field!  Joe, you have a future beyond pitching!

Kevin Slowey pitching for BOD

GameChat – Rangers @ Twins, 7:10

I’m putting this up a little early because KL and I are going to the game and I am planning to celebrate my birthday.. well.  So the Twins better win it for me!!  At the time of this posting, final lineups haven’t been posted to MLB yet so you’ll have to deal with the preliminary list they give the media (thanks Joe C.) and that list has BOTH Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto listed at 3B.  That will be a game time decision based on how Nicky’s finger is responding to BP.  Sorry no fancy lineup chart today.

RANGERS (26-21)

1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Ian Kinsler, 2B
4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Josh Hamilton, LF
6. David Murphy, RF
7. Justin Smoak, 1B
8. Max Ramirez, C
9. Julio Borbon, CF

Starting pitcher: RH Colby Lewis (4-2, 3.45 ERA)

TWINS (27-20)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Jason Kubel, LF
8. J.J. Hardy, SS
9. Nick Punto or Alexi Casilla, 3B

Starting pitcher: RH Kevin Slowey (5-3, 4.53 ERA)

******************

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

 

Kevin Slowey, you are the Knuckleballs' Boyfriend of the Day!

Happy birthday to Babs! She and KL got to see a great game to celebrate the birthday.

GameChat BOD honors go to Kevin Slowey for finally breaking through the 6 inning barrier with a 1-run, 6.2 inning effort. Baked goods for the bullpen trio of Mijares, Guerrier and Rauch for slamming the door and to Orlando Hudson for some remarkable plays on defense. -JC

Friday Hot Dish

Way down south, where I’m living (in Iowa), it’s called a casserole. But as I recall from my younger years in Minnesota, up there it’s a hot dish. Either way, to me it’s still a bunch of stuff thrown together, cooked, and if you’re really good at it (or really lucky), it turns out tasty, satisfying and filling. So that’s the purpose of this post… throw a few things together and, since I’m not likely to be really good, I’ll hope to be lucky.

It didn’t take long for the Twins to completely disregard my suggested roster moves. In fact, not only did they NOT make the moves I recommended, even the one move that I said “we all know WILL happen this weekend” isn’t going to happen this weekend. JJ Hardy won’t be rejoining the Twins for their series against JJ’s former team, the Brewers, this weekend. I’m getting a bit more concerned about this slow-healing wrist. A couple of our readers added comments taking issue with my suggestion that it might be time for Brian Duensing to slide in to Kevin Slowey’s spot in the rotation. Whether my suggestions turn out to be as far off base as they’re already starting to look, only time will tell. Let’s see where things stand in 2-3 weeks.

By the way, given that Hardy isn’t ready yet, it makes perfect sense to have Trevor Plouffe join the team this weekend. Luke Hughes is on the DL and Matt Tolbert can’t return to the Bigs until 10 days after he was sent down, so Plouffe makes sense. Let’s just hope Gardy isn’t tempted to use him as a late-game defensive replacement in a close game. Trevor has eight errors already this year.

Joe Mauer... moving up TSN's "Best Player in Baseball" list.

The Sporting News polled 125 baseball “experts” (apparently my ballot was lost in the mail) to find out who they thought the best 50 players in baseball are. Guess what!? Joe Mauer isn’t #1! Yeah, that Pujols guy over in the National League (or as I call it, Class AAAA) got the nod for the second year in a row. But Joe’s on Albert’s heels at #2 after moving up 37 spots from last year’s poll. Seriously… these experts thought Joe was the 39th best player a year ago? I mean… I know he missed April with back issues so maybe the votes last year were influenced by what was then Mauer’s “current performance”, but 39th?

Doc not impressing the TSN 'experts'?

The Twins’ other representative in the top 50 is another head-scratcher. Justin Morneau is ranked 23rd by these experts. If current performance is important, how is Doc’s 2010 not being recognized? He’s off to arguably the best start of his career. And he’s DROPPED 9 spots from last year?

The panel, as described by TSN, “included 18 Hall of Famers, 12 Cy Young award winners, 8 MVPs, 15 rookies of the year, 3 batting champions, 3 home run champions, 9 Silver Slugger award winners, 18 Gold Glove winners, 6 ERA champions, 4 World Series MVPs, 2 relievers of the year, 7 managers of the year, 5 former executives, 6 media members and 9 team broadcasters.” Sounds like a bunch of old men, to me.

Apparently senility has set in among some of those old “experts”.

It wouldn’t be a JimCrikket link fest without something from Joe Posnanski, of course… so I’m going to link to two of Joe’s recent efforts. Don’t worry, they’re both short.

First, Poz (I don’t know if that’s really a nickname he uses, but if it isn’t it should be) looked at the Hanley Ramirez fiasco and posed the question “What if it had been Jeter?”  He’s also given us a peek inside the Sports Illustrated tent and, as someone who’s giving some thought to buying an iPad in the near future, I found his “Sports Illustrated for iPad” posting of some interest.

You may have noticed how I’ve avoided any mention of last night’s loss to the East Coast Bitch Sox in Boston. It was aggravating on so many levels, but I think the thing that stood out the most, right from the start of the game, was the absolute joke that particular umpiring crew has become. Since the Twins have a “history” with some of those guys (remember Brendan Harris not being allowed a time out and having a pitch zip by him while not even looking?), it was probably predictable. But rather than me ranting today, I’ll just send you over to k-bro’s place to see her scientific (I’m sure) diagram of the strike zone last night.

I guess I need to get a little real work done this morning, so that’s enough for now. Check back later… if I come across any other interesting ingredients for today’s hot dish, I’ll add them as the day rolls on. – JC

UPDATE 1: I did mean to include this post from Jim Manelaro concerning the Stephen Strasburg “event” in Rochester. Strasburg, the uber-phenom of the Washington Nationals who is being kept busy mowing down minor leaguers until the Nats can be sure he won’t qualify for “super 2″ arbitration status in a couple of years, pitched against the Red Wings Wednesday night.

He pitched well (although newly promoted Twin Trevor Plouffe did get one hit off him). As you’d expect, the Rochester stadium was overflowing (with a significant number of fans wearing Strasburg T-shirts sold at the stadium by the Red Wings!) and when Strasburg was finally relieved of duty, he was given a huge ovation as he left the field. However, he apparently did not acknowledge the ovation with the traditional “cap tip”, causing much of the ovation to turn to boos. This has apparently become a bit of a “thing” now. So my questions, working backwards a bit, are:

1- Why is it a big deal that Strasburg didn’t tip his cap to the opposing crowd?

2- Why would an opposing crowd be THAT enthusiastic in the first place toward an opposing pitcher?

3- What the heck were the Red Wings thinking when they printed up T-shirts and turned their entire crowd in to an 8,000-strong Syracuse/Strasburg love fest? (Yes, I know, money.)

4- I want to know what the Red Wing players… and for that matter the Twins organization… thinks of Rochester’s bizarre promotion of an opponent? (If I were a Red Wing player, I’d have been pissed!)

UPDATE 2: This one made me laugh and almost cheer a bit, as well. Seems the people who run the city of Los Angeles decided they should boycott the state of Arizona over the issue of their controversial immigration law. Now, this blog is not the place for me to express my feelings regarding the law itself, but I REALLY don’t like it when the people on either coast (who think they know everything and that the rest of us should do things the way the folks on the coasts tell us to) start throwing their weight around.

So THAT’S why I found this response from an Arizona Corporation Commission (an oddly named agency that oversees electrical power plants in Arizona) member to the Mayor of Los Angeles hilarious:

“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives power from Arizona-based generation.”

Seems Los Angeles gets about 25% of their electricity from power plants in Arizona. Oops.

Yeah, I know it’s unlikely they could actually withhold electricity from LA, but any time someone is willing to stand up and say “stick it, jerk!” to bullies, I love it. I also know this article has almost nothing to do with baseball… except let me say that if Bud Selig actually does change his mind (what mind?) and pull the 2011 AllStar game from Arizona over this issue, the good people of Arizona should tell Bud to “stick it”, too. Immigration is a serious issue and should be dealt with by serious people… and that leaves out Bud Selig (and the LA City Council, too).

The Twins Roster – What to do, what to do?

I’ve stayed away from watching the Twins the last couple of games, partially of necessity and partially by choice, but I’m ready to get back in the game. I figured a good way to jump back in would be to share my wisdom with Gardy and Bill Smith on the subject of what roster moves should be made.

I know they say you don’t mess with something that isn’t broken, but let’s be clear… even though the Twins have won several more games than they’ve lost, this roster is at least cracked, if not broken. You don’t carry 13 pitchers, even for just a couple of days, and even pretend that all’s well.

One roster move we all know WILL happen this weekend is that JJ Hardy will be coming off the Disabled List. What’s less clear is who will be removed from the 25-man roster to make room for Hardy. The most likely move will be to send pitcher Jeff Manship back to Rochester since, according to media reports, he was brought up just to give the Twins some bullpen depth in Boston after the pen got used and abused in Toronto earlier in the week. In all likelihood, that’s the only move the Twins will make this weekend… but that doesn’t make it the only move they SHOULD make or even the best move they COULD make.

Casilla should have been Hardy's replacement.

But before I get to my wish list of roster moves, let me take a step back and discuss the Hardy situation briefly. Yes, it will be good to get JJ back and yes, he’s been a very good defender and no, you dare not underestimate the value of his defense to his team and specifically to his pitching staff. That said, I really would love to know why the heck Gardy hasn’t simply plugged Alexi Casilla’s name in to the lineup in Hardy’s absence instead of moving players around the infield like chess pieces. Specifically, I’d like to know what it is that Brendan Harris has done to warrant getting as many starts in Hardy’s absence as Casilla has.

Look, I like Casilla… always have. But I’ve also been a bit of a fan of Harris, so this is not a personal preference thing on my part. This is a “the numbers couldn’t possibly make things any more obvious” thing. Hardy’s offensive contribution so far this year has been pretty pedestrian, but that’s OK for your #8 hitter. His .250/.299/.400 line (batting average/on base pct/slugging pct) isn’t great but it’s tolerable at this point in the season.

But when faced with replacing Hardy for a couple of weeks, why in the world would you give as much playing time to Harris (.181/.277/.264 on the season and .148/.179/.185 the past two weeks) as you do to Casilla (.273/.351/.364 on the season and .294/.400/.471 the past two weeks)? It’s not like Harris is better defensively at SS, either. It just baffles me. In fact, even with Hardy coming back, I’m not sure I wouldn’t be starting Casilla until I’m sure JJ is 100%. Ah well.

Now about that roster.

Valencia isn't ready to replace LNP... yet!

What you won’t hear from me is a loud cry to “bring up the guys from AAA!” I believe there is generally a reason why some players are in the Bigs and some are in Rochester. And let’s face it, the Red Wings aren’t exactly ripping up the International League folks. After getting blown away by Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg last night, they’ve got the worst record in the I-League. So I’m not going to rant about how half their roster should be promoted while the Twins send a bunch of guys packing who have been contributing (in various degrees) to the Twins success this season. For example, count me as one vote against bringing Danny Valencia  and/or Trevor Plouffe up until they show more (Valencia more power and Plouffe more glove) in Rochester.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anyone down there who could improve things for the Twins, either.

First, there’s no point in screwing around with the position players. You add Hardy and leave it at that. But the pitching staff… oh my… yes there are some improvements that could and should be made there.

This is perhaps a good time for me to say I wish people would stop with the “Rauch is doing so well that the Twins don’t really miss Nathan” crap. Jon Rauch has been great. But wouldn’t you love to have him being great as Nathan’s set-up man, instead? You’d basically be shortening every game the Twins led after 7 innings to a 7 inning game.

But we’ve got to deal with the situation as it is, without Nathan, and they’re going to have to get down to a 12-man staff to make room for Hardy. As I mentioned, sending Manship down to Rochester is the easy call. But is it the only call or even the right call? Well, kinda.

I do believe you send Manship down. In fact, I don’t quite understand why he was the choice to be brought up in the first place since he really hasn’t been Rochester’s best pitcher (or even their best starting pitcher… among a group of pretty poor starting pitchers). In fact, I can only think of one reason to keep Manship with the Twins… and that’s so you can use him as your long reliever while you send Brian Duensing down to Rochester.

Why send a guy who’s pitched as well as Duensing has down to AAA? Only one good reason… to have him stretch his arm out so you can bring him back up and plug him in to the rotation. When he’s ready, you call him up and give him Kevin Slowey’s spot, move Slowey to the long relief role and send Manship back down.

Now, last but not least, we come to the obvious question everyone is asking. When are the Twins going to give up on Jesse Crain? The answer should be “now”. It is time to designate him for assignment and, if the Twins can’t get anything for him in a trade, eat the $1 million or so they’d owe him and release him. Even saying that, I believe Crain will go on to have a productive career somewhere else. I just don’t think the Twins, in a year in which they believe they have World Series expectations, can afford to have even one pitcher that they clearly have lost all confidence in.

Anthony Slama and his old school stirrups are ready NOW!

So when Crain is gone, who takes his place in the bullpen? Here’s where the Twins have a number of options. Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop and Anthony Slama have all been very effective in Rochester and, that being the case, it makes even less sense to keep calling Crain’s number and holding your breath, closing your eyes, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best when he takes the mound. My preference, for what it’s worth, would be Slama.

Will any of these moves actually happen this weekend? Besides the Hardy-for-Manship swap out, probably not. Slama probably won’t make his Twins debut until June so the Twins can postpone his arbitration eligibility an extra year. By the way, I think that kind of thinking is fine when you are just trying to be competitive and build for the future, but when you have a chance to win NOW, it’s just silly… and I feel the same way about the Nationals delaying Strasburg’s MLB debut for the same reason. They’re going to end up a game or two out of making the playoffs and have only their frugalness to blame. I just hope the Twins aren’t looking back and feeling the same way.

 In any event, whether it’s this weekend or two weeks from now when the service time issue is no longer a concern, here’s my recommended roster:

Starting position players: Mauer, Morneau, Hudson, Hardy, Punto, Young, Span, Cuddyer, Kubel.

Bench position players: Thome, Casilla, Harris, Butera (yes, I agree with having Morales and Ramos in AAA… for a little while longer).

Starting Pitchers: Liriano, Baker, Pavano, Blackburn, Duensing.

Bullpen: Rauch (closer), Guerrier (set-up), Slama (set-up/mid relief), Burnett (mid relief/set-up), Mahay (mid relief/LOOGY), Mijares (LOOGY), Slowey (long relief/spot start).

Now… would someone please pass this along to Gardy and Bill Smith? They don’t seem to be returning my calls. Or maybe I should try Tweeting it… I heard Pat Neshek say Gardy really likes the whole Tweeting thing, right? - JC

GameChat – Cleveland @ Minnesota, 7:10 pm

Gotta love a night game start in April in Minnesota that has clear weather and 70 degrees!  Punto is still out but is reportedly feeling better.

Cleveland @ Minnesota
Cabrera, A, SS   Span, CF
Sizemore, CF   Hudson, O, 2B
Choo, RF   Mauer, C
Hafner, DH   Morneau, 1B
Peralta, J, 3B   Cuddyer, RF
Branyan, 1B   Kubel, DH
Kearns, LF   Young, D, LF
Valbuena, 2B   Hardy, SS
Marson, C   Harris, B, 3B
  Masterson, P     Slowey, P

 

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

 

And, according to the consensus in the gamechat, Kevin Slowey was elected BOD for his daring use of Hugs in the Dugout and a lovely number of K’s.

Kevin Slowey on the mound

My God, isn’t it Friday yet!? Oh… it is? COOL!

To say it has been a long week is putting it mildly, but we didn’t create this blog to give voice to our whining about our personal lives, so I’ll just say I’m REALLY glad this week is wrapping up.

So let’s talk Twins-stuff.

Yeah, I know the guys lost to Boston last night in their Grapefruit League opener and those four measly singles weren’t much to get excited about, but I’m very excited about the performances of Kevin Slowey and Pat Neshek! Slowey’s spoken openly about how his wrist feels “different”, so it was good to see him be very effective in his first two-inning stint of the spring. And, while he hasn’t posted anything yet on his blog, I can’t wait to see what “Sideshow” has to say about his first trip to the mound in almost two years, so I’ll be checking back there later.

It was interesting reading Gardy’s post-game comments, this morning, though. I get the very distinct impression than he considers his bullpen full, at this time, and he’s downplaying any expectations of having Neshek go north when camp breaks. (Although, technically, Rochester is also “north”, right?) All I know is that if Neshek is anywhere close to his old self, it’s going to be very tough to keep him off the roster.

We’ll probably try to do the GameChat thing again here today for the Red Sox’ return visit to Hammond Stadium. Since some of us actually work for a living during the day, I’m not sure how that will work out, but we’ll give it a go.

As much fun as it is to listen to games and chat a bit online as it unfolds, it’s even more fun to actually attend the spring training games! Nick Nelson of Nick’s Twins Blog will be doing just that today and mentions he will be doing some Tweeting in the process. Needless to say, I’m VERY jealous. I just keep reminding myself that my turn is coming. Less than two weeks from “JimCrikket’s Spring Training Vacation”!

I got my copy of the Twins Annual, put out by the TwinsCentric guys and Maple Street Press, in the mail this week. This is the magazine edited by “TwinsGeek” John Bonnes with articles contributed by a virutal “Who’s Who of Twins Blogging”. Nick Nelson, Seth Stohs, Parker Hageman, Howard Sinker, Josh Johnson and a number of other terrific local authors, in addition to the TwinsGeek, himself, contributed some terrific writing. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, what the heck are you waiting for???? Absolutely the best Twins magazine you’ll see all year.

Speaking of reading material, I’m patiently (OK, not so patiently) awaiting the arrival of my copy of Seth’s Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. I see he was expecting to mail them out to those of us who pre-ordered yesterday, so perhaps my wait is about over. I did note that half of Twins Territory apparently have received their copies already and provided reviews, while I’m sitting here waiting for mine. But I’m not impatient. I can wait. And I even promise not to write him any more harassing emails asking where my copy is. After all, I now have a blog where I can express just how PATIENTLY I’M WAITING for my dang Prospect Handbook!!!

By the way, Seth’s got a nice interview with Jesse Crain on his site today.

I guess that’s enough ranting for this morning.  I feel better… even though I realize that just two days in to this whole blogging thing, nobody is listening. It’s still very therapeutic, I’m sure.