Episode 94: The Future of the Twins?!

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After a week off, we’re back and making podcast magic!  This week we discuss the roster moves that happened surrounding the trade deadline, and talk about how the Twins are going to put a roster together when Joe Mauer returns.  We muse ont he future of Ron Gardenhire and who is going to manage the Twins in the future.  We talk about some of the young taelnt coming through the organization and how everything could fit together.  Plus we do the regular – beer, baseball, and the news.

90 minutes to make your ears bleed.

 

I hope you enjoy this special episode.You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review our show on iTunes.  iTunes ratings and reviews are the main way we judge our self-worth.

GameChat – Twins @ Mariners #3, 9:10pm

I think I like the idea of a win streak.. but yeah, gotta admit that staying up late for the end of these games when my mornings are earlier than ever? yeah, that’s rough. But I like seeing a winning boxscore regardless. Make it happen boys!

Minnesota @ Seattle
Dozier, 2B Chavez, En, LF
Nunez, SS Jones, J, CF
Plouffe, 3B Cano, 2B
Morales, K, DH Seager, 3B
Willingham, LF Morrison, 1B
Arcia, O, RF Hart, DH
Suzuki, K, C Saunders, M, RF
Colabello, 1B Zunino, C
Fuld, CF Miller, B, SS
  Gibson, P   Elias, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 1 4 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 8 9 0
Seattle 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 12 1

Nice win for our guys. Jumped on the M’s right from the beginning and didn’t let up.

Good to see Morales do some damage in front of a crowd that apparently isn’t shy about booing the former Mariner.

Kyle Gibson perhaps wasn’t as dominant as it may have appeared, but you can’t do a lot better than not allowing opponents to score. For that, he’s our BOD.

Photo Credit: Betsy Bissen

Photo Credit: Betsy Bissen

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #3, 2:05pm

the baseball this weekend has been pretty disappointing. honestly. Let’s see if the Twins can’t do something to entertain us today. I may miss the beginning but I might actually get to WATCH some baseball today! It would be great if it was worth it.

Minnesota Texas
Dozier, 2B Choo, DH
Mauer, 1B Andrus, SS
Parmelee, CF Pena, C, 1B
Willingham, LF Beltre, A, 3B
Morales, K, DH Rios, A, RF
Arcia, O, RF Martin, L, CF
Escobar, E, 3B Chirinos, C
Fryer, C Choice, LF
Polanco, J, SS Odor, 2B
  Gibson, P   Lewis, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 7 0
Texas 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 8 0

so I was wrong… doesn’t happen often but there you go. I didn’t get to watch any of the game. *sigh*

And of course they WON!

Looking at the box score though, I have to make only one determination for BOD – I see that Gibson pitched 8 innings. That’s pretty rare these days so I’m taking it. Let’s hope they all get back to doing that again.

Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers, 6:08pm

I have to admit that I’m really interested to see how this series goes – it could be a bell-weather of the whole season. Both teams are kind of at a cross-roads with one on the upswing (I hope) and one sagging (so it appears).

Any predictions?

Roster update: Hicks is on the DL, Fuld is back and the Twins recalled Eric Fryer.

I’m also really interested to see how this new lineup order works AND how it gets adjusted when Dozier is back swinging a bat.

Minnesota @ Detroit
Santana, D, CF Kinsler, 2B
Suzuki, K, C Jackson, A, CF
Mauer, 1B Cabrera, M, 1B
Willingham, LF Martinez, V, DH
Morales, K, DH Martinez, J, RF
Arcia, O, RF Kelly, D, LF
Plouffe, 3B Castellanos, N, 3B
Nunez, SS Avila, C
Escobar, E, 2B Romine, A, SS
  Gibson, P   Smyly, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 4 1
Detroit 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1

wow, that was actually a fun game to watch!

Of course it doesn’t hurt that we won but there were a lot of positives tonight – not the least of which is beating a division opponent and making progress back towards that .500 mark. We didn’t have a LOT of offense but getting that home run in the third from Escobar set up the win well. Only his 2nd HR of the year because he’s not a power hitter but I’ll take it regardless. And getting a walk off Joe Nathan in the 9th inning isn’t as hard as it used to be but it’s still nothing to sneeze at, especially when that walk sent in an additional cushion run! All your RBI’s are belong to Eduardo! I hope he enjoys the All-You-Can-Eat pastry buffet on us.

It turned out to be all that was necessary because Kyle really did a fantastic job tonight. And it wasn’t one of those “no one can touch him” kind of good jobs either. It was a night where he wasn’t perfect and figured out how to get the job done anyway – in some very big situations. He made life hard for himself in both the 5th and 7th innings and Gardy left him out there to figure it out. Had it all gone sour, we’d have been screaming that he once again left him in one pitch too long but I think it does a lot for a young pitcher to make it or break it on his own and we’ll be the better for it in the long run. This was an important game for Kyle because he statistically hasn’t done well on the road and he broke that “curse” tonight. With the 7 scoreless innings tonight, that is 15 consecutive for him without giving up a run. The bullpen was SOLID against this Tigers lineup with both Casey and Glenn putting out excellent innings but tonight was really all about Kyle and for that, he’s today’s BOD!

Kyle Gibson (photo: MiLB.com)

Kyle Gibson (photo: MiLB.com)

GameChat – Blue Jays @ Twins #2, 12:10pm

ok, they are actually going to play ball.. no clue how much snow they got at Target Field because the amounts were extremely variable.. I got nothing. I bet they got plenty.

I’m also fairly sure that the rest of the Knuckleballers here are as romantically fond of having a knuckleball pitcher in the game as I am – but especially we would like to welcome R.A. Dickey back to Minnesota! Sorry about the weather, man..

Toronto

@

Minnesota
Cabrera, Me, LF Dozier, 2B
Kawasaki, 2B Mauer, 1B
Bautista, CF Plouffe, 3B
Encarnacion, 1B Colabello, RF
Rasmus, C, DH Kubel, LF
Lawrie, 3B Pinto, DH
Sierra, RF Suzuki, K, C
Thole, C Hicks, CF
Goins, SS Florimon, SS
  Dickey, P   Gibson, P

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Toronto

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4

2

Minnesota

0

0

0

0

5

2

0

0

x

7

10

2

Well that was actually an interesting game – odd, but interesting – to watch, at least on TV.. I don’t think I would have been dying to be in the stands at 32 degrees but a win is a win so for those who were there, I’m glad they got that benefit! RA Dickey didn’t get that benefit. He had the same cold and not nearly as much good feeling about it all. He was pretty pissed.

As for this afternoon’s BOD, wow, that is hard to come up with. The room was empty before I could remind people to vote so .. yeah, today’s decision is unilateral – but still hard. There was so much all-around effort from our boys and a good result that it’s hard to narrow down. But I keep going back to the one thing that I am looking for out of every game and never know if I’m going to get – good starting pitching. Today, we got excellent starting pitching against a team that KNOWS how to hit the ball.. so I grant BOD to Kyle Gibson.. again!

Kyle Gibson (Photo: Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com_

Kyle Gibson (Photo: Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com_

Episode 79: Brian Dozier is Robinson Cano and Other Lies

Happy birthday to our very own Jay Corn!  As a birthday present to Jay, Paul skipped the show!  Without him Eric is free to heap all of the praise in the world on Brian Dozier, and he does. You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

Dozier at bat

Jay Corn revisits his prediction that Josmil Pinto will hit 25 home runs (which is not looking so bad right now), and we wonder what might happen to Pinto’s playing time when Josh Willingham and/or Oswaldo Arcia return from the DL and Chris Herrmann goes back to AAA.  The jabbering continues with Logan Darnell, one of three AAA Left Handers in the Rochester starting rotation.  Lots of beer talk this week, and Eric is a little over excited about his “bready beer” and then the gang goes Around the League.

Enjoy the show!

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are like syrup for our metaphorical banana walnut pancakes.

Eating Crow with the Minnesota Twins

crow eatAlmost a week ago, with the Twins in the middle of being swept by the Oakland Athletics, I wrote (over at BaseballTwins.com) that the Twins had no chance of being above .500 for the entire season, and then went so far as to loudly proclaim the same stance on the most recent Talk to Contact podcast.  After a weekend of hot baseball, from the offense and pitching staff, the Twins are now back to .500, at 6-6, and with an off day today to prep for a three game series at home with the Blue Jays, I find myself on the verge of eating crow.

How did this happen?

The Twins pitching turned in their three best performances of the year, the Twins’ bats woke up in a big way, and some timely defensive miscues allowed the Twins to steal a victory on Sunday.

On Friday night, Kyle Gibson put in another strong start, going 6.1 innings and giving up just one run.  Like his first start of the year, Gibson once again walked four batters, and recorded just three strike outs, so it wasn’t a perfect start, but he got the outs he needed and avoided any real damage (and the run he gave up in the first inning was directly related to Pedro Florimon booting a tailor-made double-play ball).

Not to be outdone, on Saturday afternoon, Ricky Nolasco pitched eight strong innings of one run ball, controlling the ball well, recording four strike outs and surrendering only a single walk.

While Nolasco and Gibson put up strong performances, the Twins hitters did their jobs too, scoring 17 runs in those first two games, with a balanced lineup that saw key hits from Dozier, Suzuki, Pinto, Mauer, Kubel, Colabello and Plouffe.  Everyone was hitting except Florimon and Mastroianni, who managed to be 0-8 (but did chip in two walks) while the rest of the team recorded a .346 on base percentage.

On Sunday, Kevin Correia worked seven scoreless innings, but let the first three batters of the inning reach base, and Brian Duensing came in with two one and one in already.  He couldn’t stop the bleeding and the Twins were down 3-2 going into the home half of the eighth.  IN the bottom of the inning the Twins loaded the bases and Chris Herrmann grounded to the pitcher Wade Davis who tried to start a home-to-first double play, but instead threw the ball away allowing two runs to score.

While the Twins might creep over .500 before this home stand ends, I still think that the Twins next four series after that, against the Royals, Rays, Tigers and Dodgers will put the Twins firmly below .500 without much chance of a return.

For now though, the Twins are interesting, and I look forward to eating crow.

GameChat – Royals @ Twins, 7:10pm

The Twins first evening game of the year… kind of nice that it’s still 60 degrees out there this evening!

Let’s see if we can’t do better against the Royals than we did against the A’s – who are legitimately really good this year. Anyone know if the Royals have better pitching than we do?

Kansas City

@

Minnesota
Aoki, RF Dozier, 2B
Infante, 2B Mauer, 1B
Hosmer, 1B Plouffe, 3B
Butler, B, DH Colabello, RF
Gordon, A, LF Kubel, LF
Perez, S, C Pinto, DH
Moustakas, 3B Suzuki, K, C
Cain, L, CF Hicks, CF
Escobar, A, SS Florimon, SS
  Chen, B, P   Gibson, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 1
Minnesota 2 0 0 5 0 0 2 1 x 10 11 0

Ten runs! again. That’s three times already this year that the Twins have racked up double digit runs. They managed to do that a total of six times all of last season. Kind of fun seeing all those runs on the board, isn’t it?

Kurt Suzuki and Chris Colabello both had two hits and Trevor Plouffe had three. Josmil Pinto went yard and Jason Kubel had a triple (?!).

It would be one of those games where choosing a BOD from among all those bats would be a tough call. But Kyle Gibson shrugged off a dicey first inning and pitched in to the seventh for his second win and longest outing of his career. That’s the kind of thing we’d like to see more of out of this starting staff and it’s enough to earn tonight’s BOD!

Kyle Gibson (photo: MiLB.com)

Kyle Gibson (photo: MiLB.com)

(We really need to get us a picture of Gibson in his Twins uniform soon.)

- JC

Episode 78: The Phantom DL and Gardy’s 1000th Win

For the first time in a long time we have a full week of Twins baseball to talk about on the podcast. We talk about Ron Gardenhire‘s 1000th managerial win, a couple of disabled list moves that brought both Chris Herrmann and Darin Mastroianni back to the Twins, and pontificate on what early season attendance numbers mean for the club going forward. You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

Don't drink my beer!

Don’t drink my beer!

We’re running a promotional giveaway. Make sure to listen to the end for the details and your chance to win a 1991 World Series box set (#TwinsNickname).

We are joined by Jeremy Nygaard (@jeremynygaard) of Twins Daily’s Hang out and Talk Twins video/podcast (@TwinsHangouts) to discuss the roster moves, the Twins payroll in 2014 and what it means for the future of the franchise and if bringing in Stephen Drew is still a valid discussion point.
You’ll also hear the weekly standby’s hitter/pitcher of the week, and around the league. We had to put the Down on the Pond segment on hold this week, but next week we’ll be taking a closer look at Twins AAA pitcher, Logan Darnell.

Enjoy the show.

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are like t.p. for our bung holes.

Final Twins Cuts: Much Ado About (Almost) Nothing

There seemed to be much consternation in some corners of the Twins blogosphere the last couple of days as the final roster decisions became evident.

Alex Presley began spring training as a competitor for the Twins centerfield job. He leaves spring training a member of the Astros after Houston claimed him from the Twins on waivers.

Lefty pitcher Scott Diamond and 1B/OF Chris Parmelee had inside lanes on roster spots entering camp, but neither made much of an impression on the Twins. In fact, they obviously didn’t make much of an impression on anyone else, either, since both players cleared waivers. Both are now members of the Rochester Red Wings (AAA).

Saturday, catcher Dan Rohlfing was sent to Rochester, as well, in a move that was generally expected.

It’s hard to make an argument that any of the players who didn’t stick with the Twins were unfairly deprived of their roster spots. In fact, almost immediately upon learning he’d been passed over in favor of Kyle Gibson for the fifth spot in the Twins rotation, Diamond told reporters he agreed with the Twins’ decision.

No, none of these players really impressed, so that’s not where the disagreements come from.

The problem many fans seem to have is with regard to a couple of players that DID make the Twins Opening Day roster; veterans Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett.

Jason Bartlett

Jason Bartlett

The argument is that neither Jason put up spring training numbers that were any better than other, younger, players who were let go.

That’s a valid point. Kubel hit just .196 this spring and yet, remarkably, outhit Bartlett by over 100 points. Still, both were officially added to the Twins roster on Saturday.

I would agree with those who claim they didn’t “earn” their roster spots, but I’m not getting worked up over it because, frankly, nobody else earned those roster spots, either.

It’s not a case of Bartlett and Kubel being handed spots while young players who are likely to be significant parts of the next generation of competitive Twins teams are being blocked from getting valuable Major League experience. Diamond and Parmelee could yet become serviceable MLB players, but when you project the lineups/rotations of the next great Twins teams, neither are likely to be listed.

Likewise, while Presley certainly could contribute as a spare outfielder capable of playing some centerfield, losing him is not debilitating. By mid 2014, if the Twins decide another guy capable of playing CF would be nice to have, they’ll still have Darin Mastroianni around somewhere to call on. But, honestly, you know the Twins front office is silently hoping the next CF that joins the big league club is Byron Buxton.

The Twins candidly stated that Bartlett and Kubel are on the roster because nobody proved they were clearly better than those two guys, they have significant Major League experience with winning ballclubs, and it was clearly felt that the young players with the Twins could benefit from seeing how that kind of veteran conducts himself on and off the field.

That roster decisions are made based on such “intangibles” rubs some fans the wrong way. I understand that. But in the absence of tangible advantages demonstrated by someone else, I have no issue with going the route that provides some veteran leadership. And if having a couple more familiar names on the roster gives casual fans more reason to attend a game or two early in the season, too, that’s fine.

The young players that showed that they deserved to stick with the team to open the season are on the squad. Kyle Gibson, Sam Deduno, Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks may all be part of the next great Twins teams and all of them earned their roster spots. If any of them had been held back to make room for Bartlett and Kubel, I’d have been disappointed.

But that’s not what happened.

So with the last two roster spots, the Twins decided to keep a couple of guys who have more past than futures on the field, yet provide a clubhouse presence that the organization thinks might be helpful in developing the aforementioned young players instead of a couple other guys who likely don’t have significant futures, either. I honestly can’t argue with that logic.

The critics point out that Ron Gardenhire may be relying on Bartlett to fill in as the fourth outfielder, despite having no outfield experience at any professional level. That’s a fair point, too. But I watched Bartlett play a few games in the outfield in Florida and I have to say he looked like he knew what he was doing out there. Enough so, anyway, for me not to get too worked up over the fact that he might see a little time out there occasionally.

Now, if you want to argue that Bartlett and Kubel are getting roster spots that woulda-coulda-shoulda gone to other players from outside the organization that would have provided more punch to what is clearly looking like another punchless Twins offense, I heartily agree. But the decision to bypass other external options was made weeks and months ago and I see that as a separate set of decisions than what we’re talking about here.

From what I’ve seen of the Twins pitching this spring, I think the rotation will be considerably improved over last year’s disaster. But the offense remains offensive and, at some point, I think the front office is going to realize they could have… and should have… done more to shore it up during the offseason.

But fretting over whether Bartlett and Kubel should have made the team over Presley and Parmelee? That’s the very definition of Much Ado About Nothing.

- JC