GameChat – Twins @ Yankees, 6:05

Have you seen the pictures of Phil Hughes surrounded by the media hoard before tonight’s game? Crazy. I don’t know what he said to them, but I bet he was thinking, “man, I’m glad I don’t have to put up with this crap every day anymore.”

Speaking of returning Yankees, Eduardo Nunez is in the Twins line up tonight… as the DH. And Josmil Pinto is riding pine, again. I just don’t get it at all.

Minnesota @ New York
Santana, D, CF Gardner, B, LF
Dozier, 2B Jeter, SS
Mauer, 1B Ellsbury, CF
Willingham, LF Teixeira, 1B
Arcia, O, RF McCann, DH
Plouffe, 3B Roberts, B, 2B
Suzuki, K, C Suzuki, I, RF
Nunez, DH Solarte, 3B
Escobar, E, SS Murphy, C
  Nolasco, P   Nuno, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 6 10 0
NY Yankees 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 0

I’m just going to let that boxscore speak for itself.. In New York… The Yankees…

Just looking at the numbers, I say Plouffe did a pretty good job of bringing it… I could be wrong – make your case – but I’m putting him out there for BOD.

Plouffe20144

GameChat – Twins @ Royals #3, 1:10pm

Happy Easter!

Clearly the holiday has all of us Knuckleballers with our attention focused elsewhere but now that I have services done, brunch with the inlaws and the turkey in the oven, I can actually spend a little time with baseball – and feeding baby.

A quick roster update that happened just before the game started: the Twins have claimed Sam Fuld off of waivers from the A’s and DFA’d Darin Mastrioanni – which leaves the Twins a little short on the bench today but that is what happens when you need room on the 40 man.

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Dozier, 2B Aoki, RF
Mauer, 1B Infante, 2B
Plouffe, 3B Hosmer, 1B
Colabello, RF Perez, S, C
Kubel, LF Gordon, A, LF
Pinto, DH Butler, B, DH
Suzuki, K, C Moustakas, 3B
Hicks, CF Maxwell, CF
Escobar, E, SS Escobar, A, SS
  Hughes, P, P   Ventura, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 0 0 1 2 0 3 0 0 8 13 0
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 3 11 1

I started listening to the game about the time Phil Hughes was exiting, so I’m going to assume his first six innings of work were better than his last 2 hitters in the 7th inning.

In any event, the Twins move back up to .500 on the season with a 9-9 record, so I’ll take that performance from Hughes and the bullpen.

The story of the day looks like it was offense today, anyway, and a brief scan of the boxscore shows Trevor Plouffe with two doubles and a triple, as well as some RBI. Sounds like BOD material to me! – JC

Trevor Plouffe (photo: Jim Crikket)

Trevor Plouffe (photo: Jim Crikket)

Talk to Contact Episode 55: Canadian Meat Sticks and Infield Woes

Episode 55 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Sep 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Doug Bernier (17) sprints home against the Houston Astros during the twelfth inning at Minute Maid Park. The Twins won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Doug Bernier (17) sprints home against the Houston Astros during the twelfth inning at Minute Maid Park. The Twins won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

We’re essentially geniuses, that’s the only conclusion I could come to after recording and listening to this week’s episode. Pure baseball genius. We talk about some issues surrounding the infield this off-season (The return of Justin Morneau? What Miguel Sano means to Trevor Plouffe and if anyone can or should challenge Pedro Florimon at SS), talk a little bit about the farm system and some possible trades that might develop. We also talk about beer. Eric was fired for drinking water, then immediately hired back, because he’s my brother. We also made a wager of 100 beers while debating if Doug Bernier will ever post an OBP over .330 again in his career.

Thanks for listening!

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

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes(ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers).

Talk to Contact – Episode 52 – The Ryan Doumit Lovefest

Episode 52 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Ryan Doumit Pumpkin

Eric spends most of this episode belittling Ryan Doumit and then trying to convince me that Doumit should play more often than I think is reasonable. We talk about Twins prospect Tyler Jones and wonder aloud what the roles will be for players like Doumit, Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee. Summer is officially over and pumpkin beers have arrived across America. Tune in to find out about Paul’s favorite pumpkin beer and a bunch of Twins talk.


 

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

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes(ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers).

.

GameChat – Astros @ Twins #3, 1:10pm

The Twins bullpen has done a fantastic job of keeping the Astros off of the board this weekend, but after back-to-back games of heavy use, the Twins will be looking to Mike Pelfrey to pitch deep into the game.

The Twins are not necessarily running out the typical Sunday B-Lineup, but that might be because their everyday lineup is pretty bad on its own.  Trevor Plouffe has the day off, and it looks like Pedro Florimon is still nursing his sore wrist as Doug Bernier is starting for the second day in a row.

Go Twins!

 Astros

@

 Twins
 Grossman, LF  Dozier, 2B
 Altuve, 2B  Herrmann, C, RF
 Castro, Ja, C  Mauer, DH
 Wallace, 1B  Morneau, 1B
 Carter, DH  Doumit, C
 Krauss, RF  Arcia, LF
 Dominguez, 3B  Thomas, C, CF
 Barnes, B, CF  Carroll, 3B
 Villar, SS  Bernier, SS
   Peacock, P    Pelfrey, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Houston 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 9 0
Minnesota 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 x 3 5 0

I didn’t watch or hear anything about the game, but if you hit the home run that leads to the win, I think you get BOD, right?

Minnesota+Twins+Photo+Day+Arcia

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #2, 6:10

So it’s been raining just about the whole day here in Minnesota but the sun just came out at my house about half an hour ago.. I am thinking they may actually be able to get great game weather!

Let’s see if we can’t actually get a better GAME than we got last night though…

Detroit

@

Minnesota
Jackson, A, CF Thomas, C, CF
Dirks, LF Mauer, DH
Cabrera, M, 3B Doumit, C
Fielder, 1B Morneau, 1B
Martinez, V, DH Arcia, LF
Peralta, Jh, SS Plouffe, 3B
Kelly, D, RF Parmelee, RF
Infante, 2B Dozier, 2B
Avila, C Florimon, SS
  Sanchez, An, P   Deduno, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 8 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 2 0 3 1 0 x 6 14 1

That’s the kind of ballgame you watch and it brings back memories of the way the Twins used to play baseball on a regular basis. Seven excellent innings of work from Sam Deduno just demonstrated what can be accomplished when you get good starting pitching. Jared Burton struggled just a bit again, but Glen Perkins closed the door in the 9th inning.

Joe Mauer did his Joe Mauer thing collecting a two-out, two-RBI single in the sixth inning.

But Birthday Boy Trevor Plouffe is the clear choice for BOD tonight. 3 for 3, a double, a home run, 3 ribbies and a couple of runs scored in his first game back from the Disabled List. Welcome back, Trevor!

Trevor Plouffe

Trevor Plouffe

Twins’ Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

With one bad first inning on Tuesday night, the Twins fell from a first place tie atop the AL Central Division in to sole possession of next-to-last place.

Such is life in the second week of a six-month-long Major League Baseball season.

The Twins sit at .500 with a 4-4 record after winning their first two series of the season from Detroit and Baltimore, both of which were postseason participants a year ago. The latter series was also on the road. That ain’t bad.

The losses the past two games in Kansas City have been a bit hard to stomach, of course. Blowing a one-run lead and wasting a pretty fair performance by pitcher Kevin Correia (at least through his first seven innings) was galling on Monday and the five-run bottom of the first that the Twins coughed up to the Royals Tuesday night was way too reminiscent of the kind of starts the Twins endured last year from their rotation.

But, on balance, things could be a lot worse, right?

After all, the Twins have put together this .500 start while most of their best hitters have gotten off to what you’d have to be generous to call mediocre starts.

The Twins have three hitters with batting averages above .300 at this point and you’d have to add all of those three players’ plate appearances together to match the number of times the team’s regular position players have come to the plate. When Eduardo Escobar, Pedro Florimon and Wilkin Ramirez are leading your team’s offense, you know you aren’t hitting (in this case, literally) on all cylinders yet.

Josh Willingham

Josh Willingham

Josh Willingham is off to a productive start, however. He’s hitting .280 with a couple of doubles and a couple of dingers. We’ll take that from the Hammer all year long. Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe haven’t been great, but haven’t been awful either. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have not gotten off to great starts, so you have to figure the offense will improve as those two begin to warm up.

So things could be worse, offensively. Don’t believe me? Just imagine if Manager Ron Gardenhire had decided to plug Brian Dozier and his .174 On-base percentage in to the #2 spot of the order.

Then there’s the pitching. We’ve known all along that this team is going to live or die based on what kind of pitching they get.

Glen Perkins

Glen Perkins

Most of the good news is in the bullpen. Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Ryan Pressly and Josh Roenicke, as a group, have not yet surrendered a run, earned or otherwise. They have 14 strikeouts (and seven walks) in 15 innings of combined work. Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing have also contributed positively out of the pen.

The results from the rotation members have been mixed. But, as with most things in life, it’s all relative. Compared to what we grew accustomed to seeing a year ago, maybe it hasn’t been all that bad.

Kevin Correia isn’t striking anyone out, but nobody really thought he would. What he has done is induce 23 ground outs and taken his team through the first seven innings of each of his starts. I think we’d take that all year long if we could get it.

There have been some encouraging innings out of some of the other rotation members, as well, but we need to see improvement there. That improvement could potentially start when Scott Diamond comes off the Disabled List in a couple of days.

Still, considering that the Twins pitchers are sixth in the American League in team ERA and their hitters are 12th in both batting average and OPS, you’d almost have to say it’s the team’s pitching that has them even as high as .500 at this point. Who would have expected that?

- JC

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #3, 12:10pm

I think Twins fans and Detroit fans can both agree that we’re ok with not having Fister out there today… save him for the Yankees in Detroit, right? (and that means we don’t have to – Verlander was bad enough.)

Game time temps are actually pretty similar to yesterday even though the game is kicking off 3 hours earlier – not too bad for April in Minnesota. Of course, it’s been better but it’s been worse too. I’ll take almost 50 and see what happens. At least the sun is shining and the wind is light.

We get to see Carroll at 2B tonight and I have to admit that I like him out there. I’m ok with Dozier’s progress but with Pelfrey on the mound, I have to admit that I feel more secure and positive with the defense behind him with Carroll instead.

*shrug*

That’s probably just me though…

Detroit

@

Minnesota
Jackson, A, CF Hicks, CF
Hunter, To, RF Mauer, C
Cabrera, M, 3B Willingham, LF
Fielder, 1B Morneau, 1B
Martinez, V, DH Doumit, DH
Kelly, LF Plouffe, 3B
Peralta, Jh, SS Parmelee, RF
Avila, C Carroll, 2B
Infante, 2B Florimon, SS
  Porcello, P   Pelfrey, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Detroit

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

8

0

Minnesota

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

5

x

8

10

2

WOOHOOO!!!!  Yes, folks that is a Series Win! against the TIGERS! (gotta love divisional opponent wins). We’re officially over .500. I’m trying to remember how long it took us to get there last year and I’m pretty sure it was more than a month… We haven’t actually won an opening series since 2010!!!  That being said, it’s still only the first series and there is a lot of baseball left to play and they won’t all go like this. We are smart fans and we know better.

BUT that doesn’t mean a good day of baseball doesn’t feel amazing!

Twins Dairy Queen Cake, 6/21/2012Our heartiest congratulations to Aaron Hicks for FINALLY nailing in that first MLB hit! That must be a huge relief to have that taken care of now.

Have some cake – have a party! Grab your souvenir ball and be ready to do it again! Welcome to the Big Leagues.

Also deserving some congratulations is our pitching staff who I think we saw almost all of today… but again, holding that lineup to 2 runs is nothing to sneeze at. Post-game party at Butcher & the Boar‘s Bourbon Bar!

The difficult part of a commanding win is always picking the BOD – who really gave you that extra edge to win? Today the votes went to Trevor Plouffe for knocking in the go-ahead run and really getting the 2-out party started. For that, he is today’s BOD!

Trevor Plouffe

Trevor Plouffe

 

 

The Key to Being a Knuckleballer

Thanks to the nice people working at WholesaleKeychain.com, Knuckleballs has four brand spankin’ new Minnesota Twins keychains to give away to our lovely readers.

Here they are:

TWINS KEYCHAINS!

TWINS KEYCHAINS!

These keychains not only hold your keys, but they send a message to the world that says, “I have keys AND a passion for Minnesota Twins baseball, and I don’t care who knows it!”  How could anything be better than that?  Rumor even has it that Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe use these EXACT same keychains!*  You can be just like your favorite Big League ballplayer.

*Maybe.  Probably not.  We have no idea what kind of keychain anyone uses.  We’re not even sure where our own keys are.

If you want one of the keychains, leave us a message below, or send us a tweet on twitter (@knuckleballs).  We’ll select four winners at random on Monday morning (meaning you’ll have all weekend to convince all of your friends to enter for a chance to win YOU a keychain) and drop these keychains in the mail so you’ll have your new Twins keychain just in plenty of time for Opening Day.

Thanks again to the folks at WholesaleKeychain.com for sending the Keychains our way.

-ERolfPleiss

Roster Deconstruction

The 25-man roster is not yet set in stone, but if we take a look at the 40-man roster we can get some kind of idea about where the Twins players closest to the Major Leagues come from.

Drafted out of High School (12, 5 pitchers, 7 position players)

Alex Burnett, 12th round 2005 (375 overall); B.J. Hermsen, 6th round 2008 (186); Tyler Robertson, 3rd round 2006 (96); Anthony Swarzak, 2nd round 2004 (61); Michael Tonkin, 30th round 2008 (906); Joe Mauer, 1st round 2001 (1); Brian Dozier, 8th round 2009 (252); Justin Morneau, 3rd round 1999 (89); Chris Parmelee, 1st round 2006 (20); Trevor Plouffe, 1st round 2004 (20); Joe Benson, 2nd round 2006 (64); Aaron Hicks, 1st round 2008 (14)

Unsurprisingly the Twins largest group of players on the 40-man roster come as high school draftees.  There is a fairly good mix of position players and pitchers, though of the pitchers on the list none of them were drafted in the first round, compared to 4 first round position players*.  This makes sense as the arms on this list are all bullpen guys, not a single player there with really dominant stuff.

*Byron Buxton, the Twins most recent 1st round draft pick was just 5 years old when the Twins drafted Justin Morneau in 1999.  Morny has been with the team a long time, it will be interesting to see if the Twins look to move him later this year.

 

Free Agent (10, 7 pitchers, 3 position players)

Jared Burton, 2011; Kevin Correia, 2012; Cole De Vries, 2006 (undrafted out of University of Minnesota); Casey Fien, 2012; Mike Pelfrey, 2012; Caleb Thielbar, 2011; Tim Wood, 2012; Ryan Doumit, 2011; Jamey Carroll, 2011; Josh Willingham, 2011

Likely because the Twins spent so many high draft picks on position players, the Twins have struggled to develop their own pitching and have turned to the free agent market to balance their roster.  As with the high school draftees, none of the arms on this list are particularly dominant, though Burton was a pleasant surprise in 2012.

Trade (6, 4 pitchers, 2 position players)

Scott Diamond, 2011 (Billy Bullock); Pedro Hernandez, 2012 (Francisco Liriano); Eduardo Escobar, 2012 (Liriano); Trevor May, 2012 (Ben Revere); Vance Worley, 2012 (Revere); Drew Butera, 2007 (Luis Castillo)

I listed Scott Diamond as a player acquired via trade, but he originally joined the Twins through the 2010 Rule 5 draft, but when he failed to make the roster out of Spring Training the Twins completed a trade with the Atlanta Braves in order to keep him with the organization.  Of the other names here, only Butera sticks out, only because with his ties to the organization (his father Sal Butera was with the Twins for parts of 6 Minor League and 4 Major League seasons) I often forget that he was not originally drafted by the Twins.

Drafted out of College (4, 3 pitchers, 1 position player)

Brian Duensing, 3rd round 2005 (84); Kyle Gibson, 1st round 2009 (22); Glen Perkins, 1st round 2004 (22); Chris Herrmann, 6th round 2009 (192)

Again, because the Twins were not drafting and developing high school pitching they have used several early round picks on college pitchers in an effort to balance the system.  Of the two 1st rounders here, only Gibson was the Twins 1st overall pick of the draft, Perkins was selected after Trevor Plouffe, with a compensation pick from the Mariners when they signed Eddie Guardado.  In fact, in the 2004 draft the Twins had 3 first round picks and 2 more supplemental round picks, giving them 5 of the first 39 draft picks and 7 of the first 100.  Of those seven picks, Plouffe, Perkins and Anthony Swarzak are all still with the Twins, 9 years later.

International Free Agent (4, 1 pitcher, 3 position players)

Liam Hendriks, 2007; Josmil Pinto, 2006; Daniel Santana, 2008; Oswaldo Arcia, 2008

Pretty young group of players here, but lots of upside with Santana and Arcia cracking MLB’s list of Top 20 Twins prospects.

Waiver (3, 1 pitcher, 2 position players)

Josh Roenicke, 2012 (Rockies); Pedro Florimon, 2011 (Orioles); Darin Mastroianni, 2012 (Blue Jays)

As you’d expect, no superstars in this trio, but two of these guys could be in the starting lineup on Opening Day.

Rule 5 Draft (1, 1 pitcher, 0 position players)

Ryan Pressly, 2012 (Red Sox)

It remains to be seen if Pressly will make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training, though the cards are certainly stacked against him.  If the Twins are going to keep him long term, they’ll need to work out a trade with the Boston Red Sox to keep him in the organization if he is not on the big league roster.

So there you have it, 40 players and their origins within the Twins organization.  With high school draft picks making up the lion’s share of the roster, the Twins amateur scouts seem to know what they’re doing.   That bodes well for the future and  Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Travis Harrison and Hudson Boyd, the Twins’ highest drafted high school players in the past two drafts.

-ERolfPleiss

All player information obtained from Baseball-Reference.  If I’ve listed any player origins incorrectly, please let me know.