Sunday, March 30, 2008

I will NOT boo Torii Hunter

By Michael Haas

Torii Hunter gave Twins fans joy and fun during his seasons in the sun. He represented the Minnesota Twins superbly for the past five seasons. He had his downsides, like his inconsistent play and his perceived inability to keep his mouth shut, but I believe Torii brought much more good than bad to the Twins.

Then Hunter left Minnesota.

The Twins offered him a three-year, $45 million contract, the Angels offered a 5-year, $90 million deal. For the Twins, it would have been dumb to give that kind of money to the centerfielder. For Torii, it would have been dumb to not take the Angels deal.

So why would I even think about booing Torii Hunter?

Would I boo him because he left Minnesota? No, I understand why he would want to play for a contending team and make a lot more money and secure his livelihood for FIVE more years. We all knew he was going to leave - I mean, we should have traded him.

Would I boo him because I once loved him but now feel scorned? No, because that's stupid. That would be letting my emotions get the best of me, like wishing an ex girlfriend would be hit by a train. Rise above it.

Would I boo him because he was an over rated, loud and ugly baseball player? No, it's not his fault that he was over-rated. I think he gave a great effort everyday when he was here. He said a lot of dumb stuff, but he said a lot of funny and real stuff too. And he's not ugly - he has a nice smile.

There is no reason to boo Torii Hunter. In fact, I might even cheer for him. Ya know, just to thank him for his years of entertainment, his helping bringing 4 division titles to town and being a true Twin for seven years.

There is no reason to boo Torii Hunter.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Truth Behind the Sandlot.

So I am packing up to move to a new apartment. And everyone knows the best thing to watch while packing is a classic movie that you know every line to and yet has unlimited playability. It was like a sign from God when I turned on the TV and The Sandlot was on. Like I said, I know every line from the movie but I noticed something I had never seen before while watching it this time. Something that if the latest controversy in baseball hadn't been under the spot light, it might have slipped by me once again.

I am talking about the obvious fact that Benjamin Franklin Rodriquez is clearly on some sort of performance enhancing drugs. "The Jet" as most people know Benny by, shows multiple undeniable signs during the film.

First, there is Benny himself, he is leaps and bounds above all his other teammates. He can pickle with the beast and hit the cover off of a baseball. Superior genetics you might say? Maybe. But why is he still on a team with a bunch of scrubs instead of the organized teams they often challenge? My guess he Benny's fear of the random drug testing procedure these organized leagues utilize.

Second, when the sandlot gang is at the carnival, Benny offers to pay for all the kids rides. He says "This one's on me." Where does a twelve year old boy who plays ball all day get that kind of money? Sound like he's not just using the 'roids but also dealing. Not to mention the brand new PF Fliers he pulls out. Those were not cheap back in the day.

It's really a shame even after using a concoction of what I predict to be HGH and anabolic steroids, it was only good enough to pinch run for the Dodgers. Benny should be banned from baseball and the Sandlot should be removed from store shelves. These role models are not good for our children.

Friday, March 28, 2008

What to watch for in a rebuilding year

By Michael Haas

The one thing all the baseball pundits, and most of the fans, say about the Twins chances this season: they won't compete for the division. The national media seems to be really down on Gardys club this spring, citing the botched Santana deal and the loss of 3/5ths of the rotation. We lost Torii Hunter for nothing. We have Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris and Adam Everett in the infield. The team looks worse than last years team that only won 79 games.

But rather than focus on what we don't have, let's see what we do have. Here's the projected lineup:

1. CF Carlos Gomez
2. C Joe Mauer
3. LF Delmon Young
4. 1B Justin Morneau
5. RF Michael Cuddyer
6. DH Jason Kubel/Craig Monroe
7. 2B Brendan Harris
8. 3B Mike Lamb
9. SS Adam Everett

and rotation:

1. Scott Baker
2. Boof Bonser
3. Francisco Liriano
4. Livan Hernandez
5. Kevin Slowey

Man, just imagine how good we'd be if we had Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Torii Hunter. What? Oh yeah, we're focusing on what we have.

Joe Christenson recently wrote an interesting piece with a hilarious headline: The Twins Are Better Than They Look On Paper. It's an odd declaration from because it comes from a Twins beat writer. But he explains that a lot can happen over the course of the season, and he's decided to pick them 3rd in the division. It's a good read.

So everyone agrees that the Twins won't compete for any titles this year, I don't think it's very productive to argue about where the Twins will finish in the standings. In a rebuilding year, I think we should focus on the player development and the roster evolution. Here are some things that I'd like to see this year:

1. Carlos Gomez and his "Toolbox"

How many bases can this kid steal? Can he really hit for power? And for average? He's got a gun, is this the best throwing outfield ever? Can his fielding make us forget Torii Hunter's gold glove?
Can he remember the names of his teammates? Actual Gomez quote: "...Morneau, the catcher, and the other guy.."
A less important, but more interesting question is this: will he be sent down at any point this season?

2. Joe Mauer

We talked about his lack of a desire for social interaction yesterday, but that's not the only thing to look for in 2008. It would be huge if he could stay off the disabled list. That's really all I ask. We can talk about the lack of home runs or all the bouncers to the 2nd baseman, but I just want him to play a whole season, and we'll go from there. If not, will the Twins admit they have given thought to The Mauer Position Switch?

3. Our pitchers Dietary habits.

When will Pat Neshek start eating meat again?
Boof Bonser scale watch.
I don't know why, but I want Neshek to break down and eat a huge steak.

4. These guys Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris and Adam Everett - we have to get something on them so they are worth mentioning here. Are they interesting?

5. The minor league guys.

I don't follow the minors too much, but there are some blogs that do. Guys like Anthony Swarzak, Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe, and the three pitchers we got for Santana. Obviously, I don't know shit about these guys. I'll have to research this some more. I smell a blog poooost.

What else would you like to see in '08? Goals and predictions: your comments!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Leaders Of The Team

By Michael Haas

Editors Note: This is a pessimistic column about Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. It is more of a "i wish we had Torii Hunter" complaint, and a response to articles like these two, than a complete rip job on the boys. So remember Torii and read those two articles before you get all pissed off.

A lot has happened to Justin Morneau in the past 16 months. In November of 2006, he was named the American Leagues Most Valuable Player. He couldn't quite match his MVP productivity in 2007, but still found a girl to marry him and signed a fat, six year contract. So far, he has lived up to his minor league hype and helped the Twins to a division title. He's proven that he can hit for power and average, and that trading Doug Mientkiewicz was the right decision. But now he has another obstacle to overcome: becoming a team leader.

Can Joe Mauer be an inspirational leader?

It's been a fairly bumpy career for Joe Mauer, but in 2008, he finds himself as one of the most accomplished players on the team. He'll turn just 25 years old in April, but could be considered a veteran in the Twins clubhouse. He helped the Twins win a division title, won a batting championship and made the ladies swoon. This season, he'll need to add another title to his resume: leader.

I'm skeptical of the M&M boys ability to take control of the team. I would rip them for giving bad interviews and being generally boring, but that's not really fair - I don't know what they're like behind closed doors. And I suppose, when it comes down to it, I would rather have a good player than an exciting personality. But if the guys showed a little more emotion, a little more fire, some humor or something, I would think higher of them and their leadership skills. If they can't be vocal leaders in the clubhouse, can they lead by example?

Mauer and Morneau both had off years after great seasons in '06. Mauer was banged up - sat out over 50 games, and his average took a hit of over 50 points from last year. As the Twins faded in '07, so did Morneau - he hit just seven bombs during the second half of the year.

If this Twins club is going to share attributes of Morneau and Mauer - like boring, uninterested, inconsistent, Canadian, awkward, dopey, oft-injured and quiet - - it's going to be a long season.

Just a Few Thoughts on the Twins...

By Josh Holm

Is Brian Bass the son of Whitt Bass from "Angels in the Outfield"? I hope he is, so we can watch him carry on the tradition of the mound slide...

Knoblauch's 62 stolen bases of '97 better watch out for Carlos Gomez, because "that boy is a runnin' fool."

Where's Oswaldo? Watch out for Oswaldo Sosa, he is fighting for his name to be inked in to Ron's roster come opening day. His young pitching carreer has been a successful one, I hope he can bring his winning ways to the majors. We might not see him for a while, but I have a feeling that he will show up in the near future...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hello Carlos Gomez, and other Twins notes

By Michael Haas

- Less than one week until the season starts, and the Twins made two announcements on Monday that feature a forward looking mentality: Signing Joe Nathan and naming Carlos Gomez the center fielder. I really do feel bad for Denard Span, he played his tail off this spring, and has had an up and down career - all in the minor leagues. But Gomez is apparently the future, and the Twins would certainly save face on that Santana deal if he turns in a productive season. The Joe Nathan contract has been in the works for a while. It seems kind've backwards to ink the closer to a long term deal in the same offseason that you watched two cornerstone players walk, but what the heck do I know. We certainly have the money for him, and he has a nice head of hair.

- I am determined to find that Golden Ticket. It's this big scavenger hunt that the Twins are doing with the Strib. I would win a Flex 40 season ticket package, get to throw out a first pitch at a game, and a bunch of other stuff. The first clue was on Sunday, and is basically said that the ticket was in a park. Mondays clue goes like this: "When you watch our boys play, hustling you'll see, however you'll want to ignore, Mr. Greeley's plea." I'll let you figure out that one for yourself. I'm only helping out my teammates.

- Construction on the new Twins stadium is coming right along. I've learned a few things from that I think are worth mentioning.

The sports bar in the Left Field Foul Pole Building will use the original floor on which the Minneapolis Lakers played. It's been in storage since they left for Los Angeles in 1960, waiting for the right time to be stepped on once again. Just imagine, I'll be spilling my beer on a piece of history.

The team is reportedly close to a deal with a corporation for the naming rights to the stadium. It is a local company with a strong international presence. So what could it be? If it's Best Buy, I'm just going to be sick.

I've been thinking about the other ramifications of the new stadium. Like, what happens to small college baseball at the dome? Will it still be able to turn into a baseball field, or will they make it a permanent football stadium? I don't know where the Gophers will be playing baseball if that happens. I tried to contact the MSFC about this, but they have yet to answer.

And what about the Dome Dog? Or Hormel hot dogs in general? The Twins have announced that Centerplate will not be their concessionaire in the new ballpark. If the hot dogs suck at the new place, I don't know if I'll be able to handle it. I have contacted Hormel about this potential problem, but haven't heard back yet. If all else fails, omgTwins suggests that I sell domedogs from a stand on the sidewalk in 2010. Dammit, I'm hungry. I dare you to type 'DomeDog' three times and not NEED one.

That's it for today. Twins "preview" week will continue Wednesday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Old Faces, New Places: Twins Edition

By Michael Haas

One of the first websites I created was called The Ex-Twin Update. As a fan, sometimes it's hard to let go of the players we loved. It doesn't make a lot of sense on paper, but I really do want to know how Eddie Guardado and Doug Mientkiewicz are doing.

Twins of 2007 no longer with the club:

Jason Tyner - The Hit Machine was released this winter, and was signed to a minor league deal by the Indians. Last Summer, Tyner hit his first home run in 1,220 at-bats. It was one of the highlights of the 2007 season. Guess where he hit it? That's right, Jacobs Field. The word is the Indians are trying to turn him into a power hitter. Good luck.

Lew Ford - A fan favorite and computer nerd, Lew was outrighted in October. I'll always remember Lewis for the story that Gardenhire told about how he saw Ford and some of his friends eating dinner while on a road trip. Gardy thought the guys were former college team mates of Lews, so he went to introduce himself. Lew introduced them as his Doom friends who he met online. Gardenhire turned and walked away. Ha. So now I can only assume that Ford has become obsessed with DragonBall Z or other nerdy Japanese stuff. Because he's decided to play for the Hanshin Tigers. Imagine that.

Rondell White - Retired. It's a shame. I really thought you could have fit well as a 4th outfielder/DH/veteran presence. Just kidding.

Torii Hunter - Signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, 92806. More on this next week.

Johan Santana - Traded for four players to the Mets. Let's not talk about it.

Jason Bartlett - Will start at shortstop for the Tampa Bay 'Not The Devil' Rays. It seems like we spent more time worrying about his progress in the minors than we spent appreciating his solid play in the majors. But we'll always have The Run of '06. Jason Bartlett, we hardly knew ye.

Matt Garza - Talk about 'gone before his time.' We never saw exactly what Garza was capable of while he was in Minnesota. He'll join James Shields and Scott Kazmir in the Rays rotation - those three will be pretty good. Too bad the Rays don't have Delmon Young anymore, or they might have a shot at 3rd place in the division.

Sidney Ponson - The Texas Ranger signed him to a minor league deal in March, for some reason. Could you imagine what his ERA would be if he pitched a full season down in Arlington?

Ramon Ortiz - After some success as a reliever for the Rockies at the end of '07, Ramon can't find a job. He's still a free agent. I liked him, even though he couldn't pitch very well. When he was traded from the floundering Twins to the pennant racing Rockies, he said, "I don't want to go, I like it in Minnesota."

JD Durbin - Out of options during spring training last year, Durbin was released by the Twins and picked up by Arizona, released then picked up by Colorado, Boston, and finally the Phillies. The Real Deal is currently battling for a bullpen job.

Jeff Cirillo - Like Ramon Ortiz, Cirillo and his salary was dumped late last season, and now he can't find a job.

Ah, now I feel better that I know where those guys are and what they're doing. And Doug Mienkiewicz looks like he'll start for the Pirates this season. Look out NL Central.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alright Hamilton! Bracket Pick 'Em

So I made this excel spreadsheet with drop down menus so you can pick your teams pretty easily. I didn't go with Yahoo or CBS sportsline because not everyone has a user name at those places and I want to be able to get these things back ASAP.

If you want to do it here is what you need to do:
1. Download the bracket here.
2. Fill it out by clicking on the area where the two team names populate.
3. Save the bracket with the your name in the name of the excel spread sheet (ex: the_daymonster_bracket.xls)
4. Email it to
5. I will compile the brackets, turn them into PDFs and post them so everyone can see everyones picks.
6. I will keep the blog updated with the current standings and scores.
7. No entry fee it's just for bragging rights. Possible AH! Tournament Pick'em Blog Trophy.

The scoring is pretty straight forward and is located on the excel spread sheet bracket in more detail. As it gets deeper into the rounds, the worth of that round double. For example: 1st round, 1pt. 2nd round, 2 pts. 3rd round 4 pts... etc. Upsets are given a bonus of the seed difference multiplied by the round's worth. In the first round if a 15 seed beats a 2 seed they get 13 points, as opposed to just 1 point if you pick the two seed to win. These upset bonuses only count in the first two rounds.

Please, please fill it out as soon as you can, since there is no cash prize there is no reason to cheat.

Twins Mailbag: Dumb Questions, Real Dumb Answers

By Michael Haas

Over at the Twins official website, beat writer Kelly Thesier periodically fields questions from the fans. It can make for some informative baseball talk, but it's not exactly groundbreaking stuff. You see, Ms. Thesier works for the Twins, so she is required to tow the company line and remain optimistic about things. So I'm going to answer dumb fans questions from the biased, negative fans view.

Q - How can the Twins be so optimistic about Francisco Liriano's ability to help the club this season? The general consensus on Philip Humber and other Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery recipients is that they don't return to form until their second full season.
--- Paul P.

A - That's not really a question, Paul. That's more like an accusation followed by a statement. It sounds like you're accusing the Twins of being over-optimistic about Lirianos recovery, and you want to know why. First of all, I don't know what makes you think they are overly positive about the projection of Liriano's effectiveness for 2008, but let's just say that you're right on. You see, the team has to sell tickets. You think they can market Scott Baker, Levon Hernandez or Kevin Slowey? Hell no. They need the F-bomb for money just as much as they need him for wins. Let's chalk this up to Wishful Thinking.

Q - This year will Joe Mauer still have to DH when they play a day game after a night game?
-- Anthony H

A - You should know the answer to this question.

Q - With Nick Punto being the main backup for most infield positions, who would be the Spring Training candidates to backup Justin Morneau at first base? Does Punto have the ability to play first?
-- Jake H

A - Punto? You kidding me? Could you imagine Punto over there at first? Ha! When he would hold a guy on, he would probably take a lead with the guy, then dive headfirst back to the bag with him too! Punto! C'mon! But in all seriousness, who cares about a backup first baseman anyway? That's way down the list of needs at this point - right behind a number one starter, a number two starter, a number three starter, a center fielder, a DH, a shortstop, a third baseman, a second baseman, a reliever or two, and an Al Newman.

Q: What are the chances that the Twins could get Barry Bonds? It seems not many teams are interested in him, and I think he'd fit good as another veteran in the Twins young lineup.
-- Donald W

Nice fucking grammar, Don.

Q - With Coco Crisp wanting out of Boston, is there still a chance that we could get him? Or are the Twins set with the three players they have competing for the center field spot?
-- Ben W

A - Contrary to what the Twins say, I believe that this is a rebuilding year. A team generally will not block or trade prospects in a rebuilding year. And even if it wasn't, Coco Crisp ain't exactly the guy who would wrap up the title for ya.

Q - How long is Mike Redmond under contract with the Twins? Do you think he will stay in Minnesota until he retires?
-- Dan P

A - We used to worry about the future of guys like Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. We'd imagine a future that has those guys forever in a Twins uniform. Now you want to ask about Mike Redmond. Like you'd really be upset if you saw Mike Effin Redmond playing for another team. Oh, how things have changed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Somewhat Subdued March Madness

By TwinsWin83

HOLY CRAP IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN SPORTS FANS!!!!!!!!! You know, the time of year when every sportscaster in North America freaks out and mentions every night for about a month how this is their favorite time of the sports year. I mean common,' you’ve got the high school tournaments, which include basketball, hockey and wrestling. On top of that the NBA and NHL seasons are finally winding down and the playoff push is on. Not to mention the biggest reason for all the hoopla, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is about to start.

So is this really the best time of the sports year? I should be freaking out along with the rest of them if I knew what was good for me as a sports fan, right? Then why is March 31st the only real date I have circled on my calendar this month? Well, I’ll tell you why.

The High School Tournaments in Minnesota are fun to watch but predictable. In hockey a private school is going to win the big school class tournament and probably the small one as well, unless some tiny town from up north that we’ve barely heard of can pull one out. Solution: Create a whole new class system for hockey, one class for public schools and one for private. I know a lot of people will disagree with this system but hear me out. After each tournament the private school winner and the public school winner could play each other in one final state title game. That would be cool and maybe it would do away with all the people that have been complaing for the past 15 years about the tourney spliting into two classes.

In basketball the winner of the big school class will more than likely be a giant school like Hopkins or Tartan from the northern part of the cities that I not only don’t care about but generally dislike because of their size. Class 3A might be interesting every other year but the other two classes usualy involve teams with too many towns hyphenated together to understand. So that means there are four classes in Minnesota High School Basketball, and more specifically four state champions. That’s too many. The tournament should be broken down into two classes and have an opening-round field of 16 teams in each class. That would not only make the tournament more competitive but also more interesting to watch.

As for wrestling….I have no idea. I guess maybe they could shut down Apple Valley High School and then it would be wide-open for everyone else.

When it comes to the NHL and NBA I’m not really sure how this is a great time of year for its fans unless the team you cheer for is in the midst of the playoff chase. In Minnesota we have a bit of both worlds as our NBA team is just starting to climb out the dark hole they’ve been in all season but are still light years removed from the playoff picture. The Wild are in the middle of a ridiculously close race for not only the playoffs but also the teams’ first division title. With nine games to go in the regular season I guess you could say March is a ‘crazy’ time for them and their fans, but it’s not quite ‘mad’ because lets face it, aside from Canadians, Minnesotans and very select few on the east coast, no one really cares about NHL hockey. Which in itself is entirely too bad and an entirely seperate article topic.

Now we come to the real culprit for the overuse of the phrase ‘March Madness,’ the NCAA basketball tournament. I will admit that the opening round of this thing can be fun to watch with so many games crammed into two nights, but aside from maybe a couple first and second round upsets this thing tends to follow a general pattern after that. I know right now your thinking, “Well, what about George Mason dude,” but hold on a minute.

George Mason was a complete aberration and it’s not like they won the national title, they just made it to the Final Four. Even though there tend to be a couple upsets in the first round or two, the Cinderella’s are quickly weeded out after that and the powerhouses take over as the same 8-10 programs find themselves playing for the title year in and year out. That is why I'm cheering for Memphis this year, because look at the other number one seeds, Kansas, UCLA and North Carolina. Same old, same old. My other qualm with this tournament is that I never even finish in the top half of any tourney pool I enter. You would think with as much insight as I have into the general workings of this thing that I would fair better, but you would be wrong.

Probably the other reason I think I’m not hip to the whole March Madness thing is that the Major League season doesn’t typically begin until April. But thanks to an odd calendar year and Bud’s plan to have MLB open in a different foreign country each year, the 2008 season will begin in March. So, I guess for at least one year I can say….HOLY CRAP IT’S MARCH, MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Women Love Me on My Space

I don't mean to brag or anything but I am a pretty popular guy on the internet. I get a lot of friend requests on My Space. I mean A LOT. Check out this one I got from Martha today. She is hot, and she wants to be my friend. I don't even know her, and she wants to be my friend.

I'm a little concerned with how she is dressed in her picture. Don't get me wrong I find her clothing choice and pose appealing, it's just that I don't want all my close friends to be parading around for other people like that. Call me old fashion but I like my random internet friends be a little more conservative.

If this had happened just once, I wouldn't be bragging. But, I get probably like 5 or 6 of these requests a week! I even got a request from Ashley Alexandre Dupre, she is the high priced call girl involved in the Gov. Spitzer story. She wanted to be my friend. I don't know if it's my profile picture (it makes me look really good) or if it's my interests in movies, music and sports, but for some reason the women just flock to my My Space page.

Add that to the fact I have like a hundred friends of facebook, and it's hard to argue that there is anyone more popular than me.

Also, in an unrelated story, my Halo and Call of Duty clan, the Knights of Columbus have been served with a letter from the Real Knights of Columbus (the Catholic fraternal organization) telling us to "cease and desist" all uses of the name or we will be served with Trademark Infringement. You can check out the letter here on our blog.

Yes, I am in a Halo/Call of Duty clan. Yet, Martha still wants to do me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Training Questions: Then and Now

By Michael Haas

About a month ago, we wrote about the story lines and questions for spring training. Now that we've seen the guys in action, what have we learned?

Fransisco Liriano: Mixed results. They are taking it very slow with The Franchise, only allowing him to start two games. The first game went went well, but the second game, in which he said he 'let loose' wasn't so good. Of course, everyone says he is progressing and feeling no pain. Where would you draft him in your fantasy league?

Joe Mauer: He's been relatively healthy this spring so far, and has even hit one home run. If thats a sign of things to come, look out Detroit. The Mauer Pauer is finally here.

Fort Myers: It's called a Fort because, you guessed it, it once was a military fort. It was built in 1850 to hold off Seminole Indians, and named for Col. Abraham C. Myers.

Carlos Gomez and the Centerfield Saga: Still a pretty cool name for a band. Maybe it could be used as a fictional band for a concept album, ala Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. But anyway, with only two weeks left of spring training, even less is decided about our centerfielder than was heading into camp. It's between Pridie, Gomez and Span. I think it will be Pridie, for no particular reason.

The New Guys - Here's what I wrote last month:

Can the newly acquired Twins play baseball? Can they earn our respect and admiration? Do they have personalities? I'm talkin about Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, Kevin Mulvey, Phil Humber, Livan Hernandez, and those other guys that I'm forgetting.

Phillip Humber has a shot at the rotation, and it looks like Livan will be our opening day starter, but other than that, not much is known. It's well known that Everett is a good glove, bad bat guy, and Brendan Harris is the opposite. As for personality, I have really only heard Lamb. He was on the air with Barriero one day and have a pretty good interview. He said all the right things and seemed excited, but he wasn't Torii Hunter either.

The rotation and Boof's fat ass: Boof truly did lose a bunch of weight. I will never doubt him again. But the rotation still isn't set. I have a feeling that when this is all figured out, we still won't be happy about it. It's going to feel like we're missing some pieces when we head north, and the answers won't necessarily be in triple A.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Old Faces, New Places: The Central

By Michael Haas

This is Part 3 of our Old Faces, New Places series. We're giving you (shortly and sweetly) what you need to know to be an informed baseball fan for the 2008 season. Today we'll take a look at the AL Central.

The biggest story in the division is the Tigers acquisition of Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. This move certainly makes Detroit the favorites, pushing them ahead of the Indians. Cabrera and Willis come via trade from the Marlins. Miguel, a third baseman, is a beast at the plate. He's only 24 years old, and already has 138 home runs and sports a .930 career OPS. He'll be an imposing player for years to come, provided he doesn't have injuries due to his increasing weight. Dontrelle Willis was once a poster boy for Major League Baseball, but has settled into about a number 3 starter. He did not have a very good year for the Marlins in '07, but will always pitch 200 innings.

The Tigers get two good players for six prospects, highlighted by flamethrower Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin. I dig this move. Detroit knows they have a shot, so they are taking the chance of trading some youth for a couple of all-stars who could push them over the edge.

The White Sox, Royals and Indians have more or less stood pat during the offseason. Experts seem to think that Kansas City will somehow be better this year, but they say that every spring.

And in my never ending quest to end every post with a Delmon Young positivity note, there's this:

Perhaps the move that will have the largest impact on the division is the Twins acquisition of Delmon Young. The sky is the limit for this kid, and Minnesota has to be the favorite to win the pennant in 2008.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesdays With Kory

By TwinsWin83

*The Twins are 8-4 right now in Spring Training and are playing at a .667 clip. So the only way I can figure it is that level of play should automatically transfer over into the regular season, meaning the Twins will go 108-54 this year. Awesome.

*Kevin Slowey reminds me of Brad Radke more every time I see him pitch. Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up serving up dingers to opposing hitters at record pace like Radke did throughout the second half of his career. You have to figure since the Twins no longer have Radke, Silva or Santana in their rotation the staff should give up quite a few less home runs this season.

*A little less than three weeks to go before the season opener and we still don’t have a clue who will be starting in center come March 31st. Many think Carlos Gomez will get the gig but Denard Span seems to finally be playing up to his potential and according to Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier, Jason Pridie is the most consistent of all three on both the offensive and defensive end.
So what does it all mean? Well, the best I can guess is that they will give the opening day job to Gomez and everyone in the front office will be hoping and praying he takes the job and runs with it so that the average Twins fan doesn’t feel like the Johan trade was a complete wash when it came to the 2008 season. If Gomez can’t produce, look for one of the other two to jump in and get a chance to show what they can do at the Major League level.

*Phil Humber had a nice outing yesterday. I'm trying not to get too excited over a Spring Training outing but if Humber was able to grab that 4 or 5 spot in the rotation and pick up 12 or 13 wins this season that would not only be a huge boost to the team but it would also take some pressure off the rest of the young rotation. It would also make the Johan trade look a little less haunting.

*I was listening to Common Man yesterday and he was talking about how he felt if the Twins would have started Glen Perkins in Game 3 of the 2006 ALDS in Oakland instead of the ailing Brad Radke that Minnesota would have won the game and eventualy the series. He then stated such a win would have started a chain of events that would have led to the team winning the World Series that year and ultimately change the path of the organization forever. Now I know that Common is known for making ridiculous statements, most of which he knows just as well as his listeners are not serious, but this one had me thinking.
It's hard to say what would have happened had Perkins started Game 3, I mean the Twins were already down two games to none, but the 2006 squad was a streaky team and one win could have gotten the ball rolling. I firmly believe the 2006 squad was the best Twins team of my young lifetime, (yes I know that means they were better than the two World Championship teams) and they did have to potential to ride a hot streak right past the Tigers and Cardinals, who they would have met after the A’s that postseason.

If the Twins did win the World Series that year it could have changed the entire path of the organization as players like Hunter and Santana might have taken a discount price to remain a Twin and other big name free agents might have started to take a more serious look at coming to Minnesota. The financial windfall alone from winning a World Series would have provided the team with a bigger budget. I know these are all a lot of what if’s but I just thought Common raised an interesting discussion topic. What if Perkins had started in Game 3 instead of Radke? Where would the Twins as an organization be now, in the same place or somewhere completely different?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fandom: Picking a Favorite Player

By Michael Haas

Who's your favorite player?
That question is one of the fundamental pieces of being a Fan. Most kids have favorite players before they know anything about the sport. The bar was set awfully high for those of us who grew up with Kirby Puckett. He was much more than a 'favorite player' to most of us. The kids who had a different fave chose that way just to go against the proverbial grain. It was obvious why we chose Kirby as, at least, our favorite player; but what if the decision isn't so easy? How do people generally choose their Guy? What specifications are there for a favorite player?

The Ability to Play Baseball

It's a fact that ability and popularity are closely linked, especially at the top of the scale. The better a player is, the more fans he has. But there are many subsets of pure ability and statistics. Perceived grit, effort and clutchness are important to fans too. Nobody likes a lazy, flippant fuckface, but makes up for it with talent (J.D Drew, Glen Perkins.) Grit can come in especially handy for those ballplayers who aren't very skilled. It's the old, "hey, they play hard everyday" (Mike Redmond, Nick Punto.) It is certainly admirable to see a guy give it all he's got, even though the only way he can drive in a run is to slap it into right field.


Players with an affinity for the game, the fans, and life are undeniably likable. A funny, quotable, original personality is great for us older sports fans. A heroic, role model type guy is ideal for the youngsters. Obviously, it's tough to know a professional baseball players true character. This is where the media can either help or hurt a guy. Mickey Mantle was widely regarded as a hero, but it may have been different if the sportswriters hadn't suppressed their knowledge of his foibles. But it doesn't really matter the flaws, as long as we don't get too obsessed with the player and/or don't hear about them. Now reread the first two sentences of this paragraph and you'll understand why I am not a big fan of Mauer and Morneau.


Most fans will try to pick a less obvious player as their favorite. It's lame to like someone that everyone else likes. That's probably why I was in denial about Torii Hunter being My Guy until it was too late. Tear.


Girls like baseball players, but only the cute ones. Generally, a girls hottest player is also their favorite player.

My New Favorite Player

As noted above, I recently realized that Torii Hunter was my favorite Twin. Cinderella said it best: You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. So I suppose I'll pick a new guy, as I suspect a lot of other Twins fans are doing. I'm not going to pick Justin Morneau or Joe Mauer - - they are frustrating players to follow, give lame interviews and are adored by all women. So who else? Joe Nathan is pretty good. But I can't choose a closer as my favorite player, or any pitcher for that matter. The same argument for why a pitcher can't win an MVP holds true here - they only appear once in five games. When I pay good money to see my team, I damn well better see my player too. So how about one of the new guys? There is something to be said about hitching your wagon to a player early. It's a badge of honor, just like my friends 2003 copyrighted Santana shirt. How about Delmon Young? He talks, he hits baseballs, and not everyone loves him yet. I think we have a winner!

Congratulations Delmon Young, you are now my favorite Twin.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Old Faces, New Places. Part 2

A look back at off-season moves
By Michael Haas

Perhaps the two best players to switch clubs over the winter did so in the most annoyingly drawn out fashion possible. I'm talking about those two pitchers, Johan Santana and Erik "with a K" Bedard.

Stop the presses. I just realized that I have no desire to compare the two pitchers, gauge their worth and then analyze the prospects for whom they were traded.

I'll break it down really quickly for you:

Santana is way way better than Bedard. He was traded to the Mets for four players - - none of them technically major-league ready.

Bedard was traded to the Mariners for young outfielder Adam Jones and four prospects.

Here are the differences between the two trades:

1. Bedard sucks compared to Santana.

2. Santana was essentially demanding a record setting contract extension from whichever team he was traded. Bedard has two years left until he becomes a free agent, and signed a $7 million deal with the M's a few weeks ago.

3. Santana's numbers will improve and the Mets will win a lot of games. Bedard won't be that

I think the Matt Garza for Delmon Young trade is just as interesting as the big guns. Matt Garza will be very very good for the Rays for many years to come. And Delmon Young is going to be awesome for a long time.

to review:

Bedard - Mariners. They should finish in first or second place this season.

Santana - Mets. They should finish in first or second place this season.

Garza - Rays. They should finish in fourth place.

Delmon - Twins. They should win the World Series this year.

Tuesdays Baseball Notes

By M. Haas

On Sunday, I watched live baseball for the first time since September. It was everything I could have hoped for, and more. I saw the Golden Gophers defeat the 29th ranked Pepperdine Waves 5-2 to win the Gopher Classic. It was a pretty good game, but it was nice just to see baseball again. However, I was disappointed about a few things:

1. I saw a lot of Boston Red Sox hats. wtf?

2. I don't actually care too much if people wear Red Sox paraphernalia to the dome, but the sheer amount of it was disturbing. What really bothered me was the Yankee hat and the White Sox jersey. I just assume that all people who are in Minnesota while wearing a Yankee or White Sox hat are idiots.

3. The dirt around 1st, 2nd and 3rd base wasn't dirt at all. It was turf. I assume that the grounds crew was just being lazy and hadn't fully converted the field from football, but what if it were to stay like that for the Twins season? Is that even legal? I've never seen an all turf infield.

4. They were playing a lot of the same songs over the P.A. system during the game. One can only hear Joe Satriani rip through the Top Gun theme so many times. But worst of all, they played The Beach Boys 'California Girls.' We were playing Pepperdine. Pepperdine is in California. Playing that song is like telling the opponent that our girlfriends are ugly and we wish all girls were like theirs. Personally, I prefer the Northern girls with the way they kiss. Get real Gophers audio guy - - where's Kevin Dutcher when you need him?

- The three other teams in this weekends tournament were from California (Pepperdine), Texas (TCU) and Louisiana (Tulane). Watching the southern schools reminded me of an article I read a while back about the absence of northern schools in the College World Series. No Big Ten team has appeared in the CWS since Michigan in 1984. Those bastards in the south get to practice outdoors all year around, for their whole lives. Looking at the top 25 NCAA baseball teams, there is only one northern team. Imagine how much fun it would be if Big Ten and Gopher baseball were a bigger deal here. The ability to compete nationally would certainly help boost the popularity of the program.

- First and Third Base coaches will be required to wear a helmet this season. The rule is in response to minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh's death last season. Certainly a tragedy, but I seem to remember that he was actually hit in the neck. Hopefully the helmets will be painted in a non-glossy finish so they won't be so noticeable.

- Delmon Young's new nickname: The Truth.
Someone email him to tell him that this should be his walk-up song:

Brother Ali - Truth Is


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jim Pohlad and The Payroll

By Michael Haas

Just like Hank Steinbrenner before him, Jim Pohlad has quietly assumed the reigns of ownership from his father. In an article in the Star Tribune, the son of 93-year old Carl Pohlad was asked of his title with the Twins, he replied, "Owner works."

So Jim Pohlad is now the owner of the Twins. That'll take a moment to get used to.

The story debunked my theory that the family will sell the team by 2015, thereby raking in the profits of the new stadium and capitalizing on the doubled worth of the club. He also confirmed that the payroll in the new stadium could reach $100 million.

But ya know what? I think this guy is full of shit. Maybe they'll hang onto the club for generations, but I'm calling shenanigans on his payroll figure, for a couple reasons.

1 - He's a Pohlad

2 - It damn well better be $100 million in 2010. Now I realize that just spending money won't make us a better team, but hell, we have the money. And who paid for the bulk of the new stadium?

I've said this before: the Twins will make $40 million more per year than they do in the dome. Twins president Dave St. Peter said that the Twins would put half that into payroll. The payroll last year was about $75 million. With revenue sharing last year, the Twins got about $10 million from the league - so their payroll this year should be close to $80 million. But it's not. What does Jim say about the Twins 2008 payroll being only $60 million this season?

3 - "Our payroll is not yet set." C'mon Jim. It's not yet set? You're going to sign some big free agent yet? The payroll has a better chance of going down than going up.

See how messed up the situation is? The 2008 payroll is almost $20 million less than it could/should be, and he tries to smooth that over by saying that it isn't set yet. He says that our payroll will grow by $40 million dollars in the next two years? First of all, I don't even think that's possible, and secondly, I argue that it should grow more.

At least we won't be scared away from expensive picks in the draft. Right? Right?