Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not Making Friends Today

This opinion is mine and mine alone. This opinion in no way reflects the opinions of the other people that contribute to AH!

It seems there are two types of Twins blogs these days. There are ones like Gleeman, SethSpeaks, TwinkieTown and Nick and Nick. They tend to use statistics and other (some times) conventional wisdom to discuss the current issues the ball club is facing. Gleeman sometimes adds his love for crappy pop music and the women that grace Maxim and FHM covers. But whatever.

Then there are the blogs that focus on the cuteness and rear ends of the Minnesota nine. It's Those Girls, Lipgloss, OMG and Twin Sisters tend to fall into this category.

Now many of you are probably wondering what my point is. Well, I am glad you asked. Here is the point: These two types of blogs have been at odds for most of the season. Maybe not overtly but believe me it's been going on for a while.

The first group (both writers and commenters) tend to write about ideas and moves that they think would help the Twins. While, the second group of blogs have been saying all of the first group's posts and comments are all doom and gloom. Both groups like the Minnesota Twins, I would even go as far as say they are fans of the Minnesota Twins. But they're two distinct groups, one looksat statistics, history and other factors and hypothesizing as to how to improve the Twins chances of succeeding in the future. The other likes to talk about the Twins in the past, or at least the present for the most part.

Typical responses to the same issues:
First Group: Livan Hernandez should be out of the rotation. His ERA is 5.31 and his WHIP is 1.60.
Second Group: But he has 10 wins.

First Group: Carlos Gomez is not a good lead off hitter when gets on base less than 29% of the time.
Second Group: But he is so fast.

First Group: (Before he learned to hit) Punto shouldn't be an everyday starter.
Second Group: But he is so good at defense.

My point isn't that either group is right or wrong and I find both types of blogs to be entertaining and I read all of them daily (or as often as they post). But my issue is of late, that the second group of blogs and people like them often complain that the first group aren't Twins Fans. Because they don't agree/like everything the Twins do, that means they are not true fans. Part of being a fan (even though it's not directly expressed in any definition) is always thinking you could do a better job at running the team. Some of the best fans live and die by the decisions their team makes and they always have an opinion. And that's what makes being a.... ah, shit. I should probably stop before I piss off any more people.

If you are wondering, this is what inspired me to write this.

Any complaints or compliments in the comments section would be appreciated.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Series Preview

Biggest series of the season thus far? 4 Games against the White Sox at home. I am pretty optimistic as here are the probable match ups as well as my predictions.

Kevin Slowey vs Mark Buehrle
Win. It really depends on if it's the Buerhle from May or the Buerhle from June. If it's the one from May we have this in the bag. If it's the one from June, were fucked. Luckily he is 3-5 away from the Cell.

Glen Perkins vs Clayton Richard
Win. This will be Clayton's second Major League Start. His first start was pretty shaky giving up 5 runs in 4 innings. I look to see the Twins knock this kid around at his debut in the Dome.

Livan Hernandez vs Gavin Floyd
Loss. I could be wrong. Livan could pitch another gem, but it seems unlikely. Especially with Floyd out there, he seems to have the Twins number this season.

Scott Baker vs John Danks
Win. With the White Sox giving up so many errors in the last week (9) let's hope the fast turf will make them commit some more.

It's easy to make a bigger deal about this series than it really is, but if the Twins don't split or win this series I don't see them coming back. God dammit, there I did it again. This is the most important baseball series of the Twins history. Ahhh, I can't stop doing it.

East Coast Baseball Today
I was listening to Baseball Today this morning and they were talking about how the the AL East is getting exciting and its interesting because while there are three teams in contention only two will make the playoffs. That kind of pissed me off a bit, but hopefully they are wrong. I'd like to see the Twins win the division and the Tigers take the wild card from any of the following teams, White Sox, Yankees or Red Sox. I wouldn't even mind for the Rays to falter down the stretch.

I Told You So
Remember when I said the Twins should pick up LaTroy Hawkins? Well. Looks like I was right.

Friday, July 25, 2008

MLS: What can be done?

As I am sure you all watched the big game last night. When I came in to work everyone was talking about it. Yep, that's right the MLS All-Star Game. (I always thought it was called the All-Star game because they 'all' the players were 'stars', if that's true why are they individually called 'All-Stars'?) Anyways, if you don't know about the MLS all-star game it differs from how the NBA and MLB do it. For the past five out of six years they have had all of the All-Stars on the same team and they play against another Club team from another country. So far they have played, Chivas De Guadalajara (MX), Fulham FC (England), Celtic FC (Scotland), Chelsea FC (England) and yesterday they played West Ham United FC from London England and beat them 3-2.

They have yet to lose one of these games. Which really, they never should. These are the best players from our entire league going up against a regular club team. Add to that the fact that the MLS teams are in the middle of their season, where all other leagues are just getting started. Eventually I see the MLS getting strong enough where these games will no longer happen, but for now it's a good way to show other countries the talent the MLS has as well as spreading the foreign teams to America and Canada. Since it's first season in 1996 the popularity of the league has fluctuated. During the years of the World Cup and other major tournaments it tends to grow, recently picking up big names like Beckham in LA and Blanco in Chicago has also helped boost attendance. But there is still a long, loooong way to go before the MLS can even compete with other leagues around the world, both on the level of talent and on economics.

If anyone is still reading, here are a few things that I think would help grow the league in the US.

1. Soccer only stadiums. About half of the teams have them currently or are building them. But for the league to be successful long term each team needs to have a good soccer stadium to watch a match at. In the short term, teams need to make it at least look like soccer is the only sport being played there that week, or at least that night. Nothing looks cheaper than seeing a bevy of colorful lines, representing football, lacrosse and lawn darts. It doesn't grow credibility to an international or domestic audience and not to mention it can be another barrier to the new fan that doesn't know which line is which.

2. Get rid of the conferences. Or at least make them less important. Right now there is the Western and Eastern conference and a vast majority of the games are played intra-conference. I get that this is in an attempt to build rivalries, but being able to see your team play all of the other teams would help keep things fresh. Conferences within leagues are an American development, they work for sports like basketball, football and baseball, but for some reason not soccer. Everyone should play everyone.

3. Get some more big names. Beckham is a good start. But there needs to be more stars in the MLS. Foreign and homegrown and not just European stars in the twilight of their careers. I realize you can't get stars without money and you can't really get money without stars, but what if teams could get money?

4. Sponsorships, Sponsorships, Sponsorships. Just recently the Chicago Fire finally put a sponsor on the front of their jersey. It was a ridiculously long time and it was foolish of them to wait. One of the major problems with soccer from a television and advertising standpoint is the game never stops. There for no convenient TV timeouts, pitching changes or official challenges. Therefore the MLS needs to be more creative (read: copy other leagues advertising models) instead of it being the MLS make it the Microsoft Soccer League or the AT&T Soccer League. Does this sound familiar? What other sport doesn't have any real breaks in the action yet is growing at an alarming rate and for most people is as boring as soccer? If you answered NASCAR you are correct! The MLS needs to look at NASCAR and other leagues (example: Barclay's English Premier League) for ideas on how to make the MLS more profitable.

5. System of relegation and promotion. Many people who are only familiar with American sports are really surprised when they hear about the promotional systems in Europe and around the world. In this system the worst team (or two) in the MLS gets relegated to the first division in the USL and the winner(s) of the the USL gets promoted to the MLS. This will make more games "count" and help develop a more traditional league setting.

6. Development of youth teams. Soccer teams around the world have youth development teams to do exactly what it sounds like. Groom young talented players to play for their side. There are no drafts in these leagues you develop homegrown talent or you go out and buy talent. MLS teams are embracing this but until they get rid of the draft it's kind of pointless.

7. More teams in Canada. As of right now only Toronto has a franchise. It sells out every game and is generally considered the best atmosphere in the league. The Phoenix Sun's Steve Nash is trying to get a franchise in Vancouver. But as of now there is no word on any more teams going north of the border. I think a fairly good Canadian presence is important to the longevity of the league (Think NHL).

As you can probably tell many of the MLS's failures is to try to make it more "American" from the team names (New York Metro Stars) to rule changes (Countdown clock, and 35 yd penalty shootouts). People in the US don't want those types of things, they work with baseball, football and basketball because that is part of the tradition and they have been perfected in these settings. Soccer has been around for many, many years and it has been popular all over the world and was also developed all over the world.

There are still some difficult questions concerning soccer in America. One of them is the dreaded tie. Tie games are a big part of soccer as it often gives both teams points in the standings and can make the end of the season actually even more exciting. Most of us are not used to ties and the worst way a game can end is in one of these draws. Unfortunately, going into overtime over and over again can really wear on the players and can actually make the games intense as the season goes on.

It is possible for it to be successful here, you don't need to make cheap changes to the game to dumb it down for us. We will get it, it just takes a bit of time. What would it take for you guys to actually flip the channel to an MLS game. Naked Girls? Money coming out of the TV?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Case of the Mundays

By TwinsWin83

*I’m going to assume without much doubt that most of you out there went at some point over the weekend to see The Dark Knight. Not only did the newest installment in the Batman saga have the biggest opening in history this weekend, racking up a tidy 155 mil, but it also received recommendations from 94% of the nation’s top critics, a rarity for a superhero flick. I was lucky enough to get tickets for a midnight showing Thursday evening and was glad I did. Since I am assuming most people out there saw the movie I am going to steer clear of the review angle and just give a couple of my thoughts on the movie instead. Those that haven’t seen it yet don’t worry, I won’t include any spoilers.

Before the movie’s release a lot was made in the press of Heath Ledgers portrayal of the iconic Joker. Now, I know that fans and critics alike can exaggerate the brilliance of a performance when the actor/actress has suffered an untimely death, but this is one case where all of the attention is not only warrented but also much deserved. The movie itself is solid on almost every level, from the engrossing storyline to the dark and ominous cinematography and even the overall message it tries to convey, but the one thing that pushes this film off the corner of being a good movie over the edge into a great one is simply Ledger’s performance.

There was almost an uneasiness among the crowd in the theatre every time Ledger appeared. Many laughed at lines I didn’t think were meant to be funny, but the figure he created is one that haunts the entire film. Even days after you’ve seen the movie his character stays with you. Now I’ll be the first to admit I’ve seen, and liked, a lot of movies in my time, but it might not be an overreaction when I say Heath Ledger's Joker is the most interesting, sinister, complex and memorable character I have seen in any film, superhero or not.

Aside from Ledgers performance the movie was impressive, leaving only a few questions to be asked by the well-versed Batman viewer, but ones that I won’t ask here in case someone reading this hasn’t seen it yet. I thought that Maggie Gyllenhaal was a much better choice for the role of Rachel Dawes then Katie Holmes was in Batman Begins. The Harvey Dent character was an intriguing addition as well. I’ll be interested to hear what the rest of you out there thought of The Dark Knight.

*As the Twins head to New York tonight for a series with the Yankees they remain a half game out of first place. I wonder if they do overtake the White Sox for the top spot in the AL Central if that will force the sports world out there to finally take a serious look at the Twins. The 2008 Twins are doing the whole more-with-less bit better than any of the previous division winners the organization has had this decade and it baffles me that more people aren’t taking notice. If they would all just go back and look at their preseason picks they would realize just how surprising and impressive this club has been so far.

*Did anyone watch the ESPY’s last night? For the second time in three years Blake Hoffarber was up for an award for Best Play of the Year. Here's the play. But unlike two years ago, when he was up for his amazing shot from his back in the Minnesota State title game, he didn’t win. Still though, that’s pretty impressive that the kid has made two bonkers shots like that in two game-ending situations in such a short period of time.

*Greg Norman is the anti-Tiger Woods. Every time the dude has a lead going into the final round he squirts the thing down his leg. You almost have to feel bad for the guy. I was actually hoping he could pull it off yesterday just so he could exercise some of those old demons, and because he’s almost old enough to be getting social security.

*Is anyone really looking forward to the Olympics? There are a few things in there I guess I am looking forward to seeing, like if the basketball team can finally win back some respect, but for the most part I am just dreading all of the ridiculous wall-to-wall coverage for two weeks. Especially at a time when I am going to want to be hearing more about baseballs pennant races.

*Speaking of which, I hope the Twins and White Sox are still neck-in-neck by the time Chicago comes to the Dome for that four-game set at the end of this month because if they are it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere at ol’ Triple-H. It was cool to see so many people turn out for a three game series with the Rangers this weekend. I guess that’s one thing that will always be true of Minnesotans: they support their teams when things are going well.

*Can we start an AH! pool for bets as to when Lariano will be called up?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Inside the Mind of Billy Smith

By Michael Haas

This whole Francisco Liriano debate is one of the biggest talkers among Twins fans, and it just got hotter. Liriano's agent, Greg Genske, requested an investigation by the players union into charges that the Twins are keeping the lefty in the minors for financial reasons. By limiting a players major league service time, their salary can be kept slightly lower. These allegations only fan the flames of the Big Question: When do we bring him up?

But to answer that question, we have to first answer Liriano's agents question: Why hasn't he been called up yet? Here's what I think Billy Smith and the Twins are thinking:

1. The F-bomb started the season with the big league club, and got shelled. TwinsGeek has mused that Genske helped put the pressure on the Twins to have him in the majors. In his three starts, Liriano pitched 10 innings and walked 13, and accumulated an era of 11.31. After that train wreck of an April, and especially after his year off due to surgery, the Twins have got to be absolutly positive that he gets all his work in, relearns his pitches, and gets a feel for the game. It might be counterproductive to put him the bullpen, where he would get sporadic work, and (hopefully) won't be his role on the Twins long-term.

2. But if we did put him in the bullpen, who would he replace? Guerrier, Crain, and Big Sweat aren't going anywhere.
Boof? Negatory, the Boof is out of options, so the Twins would probably lose him to another team if they tried to send him down. Now I know what you're sarcastically thinking: Oh no not Boof! But I don't think they're ready to give up on him just yet. Word is that they think he will be a much better pitcher once he drops another 20 pounds.

Breslow or Bass? They don't really count on these guys for much, but I don't see them getting booted. Both of them are out of options, so they're kind of stuck up here. Bass is the one most rumored to be out, but he's just a rookie and he's shown flashes. So how about the bullpen
There's Something About Livan

Obviously, the Twins love their veterans, even if they are historically terrible. Livan could set the record for most hits given up in a season, but he's still valuable. Hernandez was brought in as an innings-eater and veteran presence. The Twins view him as a necessary compliment to the young pitching staff. I mean, how many of those guys have thrown 200 innings? Baker, maybe once? Hell I don't know. And our bullpen could be considered 'over-worked' as well. So keeping Livan around makes sense in relation to the rest of the rotation. Does he make sense in relation to "winning games"? Some argue that he is a second half pitcher, a crafty vet who only get's better as the competition gets tough. We'll see.

Look, I love to criticize the Twins for their cheap ways and all, but I think this has more to do with circumstance than finance. So I really can't fault them for not bringing him up yet. But one thing is for sure: The Twins will be a better team when Liriano is wearing their uniform.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Morneau won, you idiots.

By Michael Haas

Justin Morneau won the home run derby last night, hitting 5 homers to Josh Hamiltons 3 in the finals. Initially, I did not want Morneau to participate in the derby. Remember last year? Here's what Alright Hamilton said of Justins less than stellar 07 second half production:

The 2007 All-Star game Home Run Derby

Like Tom Brunansky before him, Justin Morneau's swing got all screwed up by the Home Run Derby.

Before the Derby: 24 homers, 73 rbi
Since the Derby (as of publication) 5 homers, 25 rbi
We'll see what happens to Morneau's swing as the season goes a long, but for now, I'm obviously happy he won. I think MLB is regretting inviting him - he has the fewest homers of the 8 participants and accepted the late invitation because guys like A-rod are too cool to have fun. Well look at him now. As soon as Justin Morneau won, ESPN interviewed Josh Hamilton, told his life story and made excuses for him. It was sickening. They couldn't even remember who won the thing. In fact, the guy who presented Morneau with the trophy called him 'Jason'

Here's how most sports writers wrote their story on the derby:

Hamilton Dazzles at Derby

New York - Josh Hamilton put on a show at Historic Yankee Stadium on Monday night, belting a record 28 homers in the first round. Hamilton, a first time all-star, crushed ball after ball into the short right porch at Historic Yankee Stadium. Hamilton is awesome, blah blah blah, past drug addictions, blah blah blah, historic yankee stadium, blah blah, youth coach pitching, blah blah, hey wait, who won?

It was Morneau, you idiots.

But anyway..

Are you watching the All-Star game tonight? Do you hate the Yankees? If you answered Yes to both these questions, get prepared to throw up tonight. It is going to be an over-the-top smooch fest for that old crumbly stadium in the bronx. Oh, but it's the house that ruth built, a baseball cathedral, home to some of sports most famous events. Wrong. It's a rat infested stinkhole.

Hey look, I like baseball history just as much as the next guy. I hate when they tear down historic buildings for no reason. I even like Mickey Mantle, Joe D, Lou and the Babe. But the stadium that was built in the 20's was destroyed in the 70's. In the 1976 remodel, they changed everything - the fences were moved, home plate was moved, the classy signature facade was ripped out.

So when they show you pitctures of Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Knute Rockne, don't be fooled. It is not the same stadium.

MLB All-Star Game: The Skills Competition

By Soup

So today I was thinking that Minnesota should change its name to Brangelina. Then our favorite baseball team would be the Brangelina Twins. We would be so popular.

Wait, what the hell? Where has my mind gone? What has this all-star break done to me? I decided that the break needed more than the Home Run Derby. As entertaining as it is to listen to Chris Berman say the word "back" 894 times, we can do better. It's time we steal the most exciting part of NHL's all star break: the skills competition. Here are some proposed events:

Base running
The base runners would bunt, and the stopwatch would start as soon as the ball makes contact with the bat. The watch would stop timing when the base runner returns to home plate. To make the competition fair Carlos Gomez would do it wearing snow pants and clown shoes.

Pitching Accuracy
There would be four targets set up; one at the knees outside corner, one at the knees inside corner, one at the belt inside corner, and one at the belt outside corner. They would get something like 20 pitches. So it would be pretty similar to the NHL accuracy shooting event. Pitches also have to go at least 83mph. Daniel Cabrera also has to wear snow pants and clown shoes to make it fair.

Double Play
I think this one could be fun. Baseball purist would not approve. So this event would have to take place at 10 PM while they're all watching the news. The competition would have judges that would score a double play turned. The judges would score based on degree of difficulty, creativity, and style. Each mlb team would send up to 6 representatives to "perform" a double play. It could be any combination of outs (so it does not necessarily have to end at 1B). The teams would have 6 seconds (or whatever a realistic slow time to first is) from the crack of the bat to complete the second out. I'm expecting costumes and choreography.

Line Drive
The would be five large targets set up in the shallow part of the outfield: down the left field line, left center, center, right center, and right field line. The batter would have to hit the targets in order left to right. The ball would not have to hit the targets on the fly. Each missed target would be an out like in the homerun derby.

Outfield Accuracy
There would be targets at home and third. The outfielder's would all throw from the same spot and try to hit the targets on the fly or one hop. It would also operate on a homerun derby out system

Catcher Throwing Accuracy
Targets would be at each of the bases. The catchers would take balls from a pitching machine. It would be cool if the targets were on timers so they would be synchronized with the pitching machine and would pop up at random. They would also pop back down so the catcher has to throw with urgency. The winner would hit the most targets in the set time period.

Ok, this might be boring for some people to watch, but I think it would be cool. The winner would be the batter that bunts the ball closest to first or third base (batter's choice) without it going foul. Each batter would get like 3 tries.
Ok, now let's gets ridiculous...

Pop Fly Hang time
Adam Dunn has been practicing all year for this.

Chop Off the Plate Hang Time
Is Luis Castillo still in the MLB?

Dugout Handshake
Two players from each team would have 30 seconds to show off their most extravagant handshakes. Judges would score on a 1-10 scale.

Pitching Velocity
Yeah, this would never happen. Trying to pitch as hard as you can is probably not recommended by physical trainers. But, what do they know? They're like J.V. doctors.

Wall Run High Jump
There would be one of those poles with the different planks that you jump and hit on the outfield wall. Then the player runs up the wall and tries to swat as high as possible. My money is on Loek Van Mil.
Who would be invited to each event? Who would win? Any other events I missed? Something for the infielders maybe? Best bat flip competition? limbo? a Lincoln/Douglas debate? Hungry, Hungry Hippos?

Milton Bradley, shortly after losing the All-star Limbo Showdown.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Liriano Conundrum

By TwinsWin83

This is not so much a post as it is a question posed to AH!'s dedicated readers. Francisco Liriano is ripping up AAA Rochester right now and sooner or later the question as to what to do with him is going to explode on the Minnesota sports scene. So what does the Minnesota ballclub do? The Twins have 4, maybe 5 (depending on your definition of success), starters that are throwing well on a team that is making a suprising run at the AL Central title.

Does the team bring this phenom, a talent that ignited the imagination of Twins faithful and baseball fans across the country two years ago with his dynamic slider and sneaky-quick fastball, back up to majors? Should the Twins bring back the same pitcher who put together a +11 ERA in his three major league appearances earlier this season?

It isn’t a secret that things are going well in the Twins camp right now, but at what point does the organization realize this might not be a season long hot-streak the team is currently on and make a move to improve a surprising and overachieving starting rotation in the long run?

The Twins might be hot right now but youth does burn out at some point in a 162 game schedule, (look at the Rays right now) so the move right now needs to be to bring the best possible pitcher into the rotation at this exact point. The logical choice to leave the rotation in favor of Liriano might be Livan to most casual fans, but it might not be that simple. He does create some amount of leadership among the staff, (as the only one above the age of 26) and has won a team-high 9 games this season.

So what to do? Lariano is ready. Period. Look at his stats. And science would tell us he is about ready as well. He is now a year and a half removed from his Tommy John surgery which is the point most experts would say is close to the time when a pitcher starts to find his true form again.

So once again I ask you as AH! fans to play the role of Twins GM and tell us what your move would be in this situation.

It’s fun to play this role when the Twins are winning as opposed to when they are tanking isn’t it?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Help the Twins Bullpen

Believe it or not I had this whole thing written up about how something had to be done with this bullpen. I was going to break down a few of the mistakes I saw during this embarrassing three game sweep at Fenway. Things like Bass coming in during a 0-0 tie, Nathan not pitching in any of the three games and pitching to Manny when there was an open base at first. But I decided to take a look over at MNGameday to see what the "talented" bloggers were talking about. (Side note: was the title at MNGameday always just "Gameday" or did it used to have the abbreviation for Minnesota up there. I think I might be going crazy.)

Right there at the top was Jesse from Twinkie Town. And right there, the first paragraph, perfectly described my feelings.

It's easy to over-react after a series like the one we just went through, where the bullpen is the focal point of blame for A) being unable to keep a quality performance together, like what happened with Baker and Blackburn, and B) being unable to stop the opposition from racking up 12 runs in three innings. Our bullpen failed, three games in a row, and it wasn't pretty. It was destructive, and it was disconcerting.
Damn right it's easy to over-react! Trade the whole bullpen for some maple bats.

So what the hell can we do?

1. Stand pat, and hope some of these guys can pull themselves together.
2. The non-waiver trade deadline is coming up. There are bound to be some external options available.
3. There are pitchers in Rochester who have earned a shot, an internal promotion could bolster the troops.

Alright, number one sounds good. Bring in Pat. It's just a partially torn ligament. Man up Neshek, the team needs you.

Number two, get some outside help. I like it. I got three words for you: La. Troy. Hawkins.

Number three: Probably the most likely.
Lastly, if the Twins feel like their best option going forward for the bullpen is in the minor leagues, there are a couple of arms in Rochester worthy of a call. 27-year old southpaw Ricky Barrett is having another strong season. Opponents are hitting a meager .186 off of him in 49 innings, along with 58 strikeouts an a 1.16 WHIP. If you're tired of waiting for Minnesota to promote him, 25-year old southpaw Mariano Gomez might strike your fancy. He doesn't have the strikeouts but has been very effective, with a minuscule 2.02 ERA in 44.2 innings, to go along with a 1.30 WHIP. Finally there's Bobby Korecky and his tight breaking ball, if you'd rather bring up a right-hander. In triple-A this season he's struck out 37 in 42.2 innings for a 3.16 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. Those should probably be the first three guys in line, but even guys like Casey Daigle and Carmen Cali have been effective in relief. Tim Lahey's peripherals are better than his ERA suggests as well.
Jesse has some good suggestions but I have one that even he didn't come up with. Phil Humber. Okay, I know, I know. He is 4-7 with a 6.00 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in AAA Rochester, Ouch. But he does have 50 strikeouts in 72 innings, that could be worse, I guess.

But here is really the brilliance behind this idea: He is 6'4" and 210 lbs. He throws right handed. Who does that sound like? I'll give you a hint. He is 6'5" and 205 lbs and also throws righty.

Yep. That's right Joe Nathan. So here is what I am thinking. If we bring in Phil in the eighth and give him a number close to Nathan's 36, I don't know, like 38. (what!? that's already his number? Perfect!) The opposing batters might not notice and will be intimidated by the idea that Gardy finally put Nathan in before the ninth. It's brilliant.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Batting Stance Guy: Twins Impersonations

I am writing this while I try not to punch my computer screen. Watching the Twins blow opportunity after opportunity is really pissing me off. So I figure what better way to take my mind off it than watch Batting Stance Guy. This isn't new, actually it's about a month old, but I just watched it again and it makes me smile. If you don't know who BSG is he is a guy that does sometimes exaggerated but often very accurate batting stances and swings of major league players past and present.

Below is his take on some current and former Twins.

I thought he did a pretty good job on all of these. He has the Morneau's twirl, Hunter's bat toss and the varying stages of Hrbek's career. No sign of the real oldies like Killebrew or Oliva but I am pretty impressed with his impersonations.

Okay, back to getting pissed at the Twins.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mid-Season Questions and Answers

I was going to pretend that we had a bunch of questions from our loyal readership but it was just too unbelievable to even write it down. Obviously, no one has (or will) ever ask us questions when there are way more qualified Twins resources out there. But it's fun to dream and make up questions that you think you can answer. It's fun, you should try it. Seriously, do it in the comments, ask a question and answer it yourself. It's great. Here goes.

"What are the chances the Twins make the playoffs?" M.H., Minneapolis, MN

Well the PECOTA adjusted playoff odds at Baseball Prospectus puts the Twins at about 12.7% chance of making the playoffs. Based on my feelings (and that's what you were asking anyways, right?) I think the Twins chances are slightly better than that. I'd say somewhere in the 30-35% chance. I actually think the Twins have a better chance of winning the AL central than they do the Wild card. The Red Sox, Yankees and Rays are all pretty intimidating, while the White Sox and Detroit, not so much.

"Do you think Liriano will be up in the rotation soon?" M. Haas, Minneapolis, MN

If you (the imaginary person) would have asked me a week ago after Liriano had a great game against Lehigh Valley, with 7 innings, 9 SO and only 1 BB. I would have predicted that Livan would have been hit hard on the 4th and that the Twins would need to start to think about brining him up. But without Livan having a major melt down, I don't see any other starter in fear of losing their spot. In a perfect world, BS and RG would trade Livan away while he is doing alright and make room for the young Liriano. Which brings me to the next question.

"Will the Twins make a move before the deadline?" Mike H., Minneapolis, MN

It's not looking good. Bill Smith has said "you don't want to tinker too much with something that's not broken." While I agree the Twins aren't "broken" you can't be totally mesmerized my the recent success the Twins have had. Almost all those games were at home and with this upcoming road trip, things could turn around in a hurry. I don't see the Twins making a move by the 31st and that makes me a bit sad.

"Will Morneau participate in the Home Run Derby?" Michael Haas, Minneapolis, MN

Since he hasn't been asked yet, and with only 3 spots left, it's not looking good. Not that I really believe that it can fuck up your swing, I won't be sad if he doesn't participate. I just don't want to hear about how he is from Canada, played hockey growing up, is good friends with the other part of the M&M duo and all the other shit national commentators talk about constantly.

"Did Gardy make a mistake last night when he put Bass in?" Haasertime, Minneapolis, MN

Last night's game has brought about a lot of talk concerning Gardy's decision to choose Bass over well, just about anyone else in the Twins bullpen in the 8th. I think it was a mistake to not only bring him in, but to have him pitch to Manny. I was hoping, Bass would have at least walked Manny and brought Crain in to get Lowell to hit into a double play. I know, I know, it's easy to make these decisions after the fact, but I bet at least 90% of the Twins fans watching, put their palm to their face when you saw Bass walking to the mound. I thought it should have been Neshek (joking).

That's about it for my answers, please feel free to tell me how I am a complete moron in the comments section.

Monday, July 7, 2008

AL Central, Dumb Comment and WSOP

As we all know 14 years ago, the MLB was realigned and that realignment berthed the American League Central we have come to know and love. The original group consisted of the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and, of course, the Twins. In 1998, Milwaukee went to the NL Central, and Detroit moved in from the AL East to make the division what it is today.

I was actually surprised to see that the Twins have a Win-Loss record of below .500 (.493). I know we had that real bad run in the 90s, but I thought our more recent tear would even it out. But not surprisingly that puts us third behind Cleveland (.544) and Chicago (.524). The Royals are in last with .429 and Detroit is just above them (.438). Another interesting note the Indians are at exactly 1200 wins since the start of the AL central.

I was reading Sid Hartman's article about Hunter and Santana being snubbed for the All-Star game this year and I came across this as the featured comment on the Trib website.

"I do not think we would be better off right now if we had Santana and not Gomez. Santana would pitch every 4 or 5 days and I'm sure would be solid. Gomez on the other hand plays everyday and just ignites this team in a way Johan could never do. Our record would not be a s good if we had Santana and not Gomez. Santana was a reason people came to see the Twins play every 4 or 5 games, Gomez is a big reason why people come out to watch the Twins play EVERYDAY!! Keep it going Twins!!"

While I do like Gomez, I think this is a foolish thing to say. It kinda comes down to the pitcher vs position player thing, but even that doesn't make sense when the position player is batting .269/.305/.374. I would take Santana's 2.96 ERA every 5th day over Gomez right now. Span seems to be a very reasonable replacement for Gomez at CF if needed. I guess my biggest issue is this "Our record would not be a s good if we had Santana and not Gomez."I have to call bullshit on that, but I guess I am wondering what you guys think.

Also, my good friend Pete Christensen made it through the first day of the Main Event at the WSOP in Las Vegas. Day 2a starts tomorrow and he has just above the average amount of chips. I hope he wins the 8 million.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mid-way point: Cheers and Jeers

By Michael Haas

Editors note: this is Haas's first entry in a while. There are many theories on his lack of blogging, but unfortunately for you, he's back.

The Twins played their 82nd game of the season on Sunday, marking the half-way point of the season. There has been a lot to cheer about lately, and a lot more to cheer in general than we predicted at the beginning of the season.

Here's how the conventional wisdom went heading into the 2008 campaign:

The Twins are in a rebuilding year, with too many young pitchers and inexperienced bats to compete with the Tigers and Indians.

That's all wrong. Here are some fairly obvious observations, which don't match with the expectations we had in the spring:


Carlos Gomez - We weren't sure if this guy would be up in the majors at the beginning of spring training. Although he's still raw, he can absolutly play. He's fast too. His nickname is Go-Go, Which is fun for all the Minnesota 30-something women with their thick Minnesota accents:

"Well, ya know when we get done here at Calhoun we're headed over to the Dome to watch Go-go"

The Rotation (besides Boof) - Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins. This spring, I didn't feel confident that all of those boys could hold a spot in the majors for a long period of time. Perk at Play still hasn't proven he can do it, but he's done pretty well. Baker is a rock. Blackburn has been pretty alright. Slowey is making a Bakeresque turn toward solidity. And don't forget Livan. Considering the expectations, he's done well. We shall we where he ends up, especially if Liriano continues his slow journey back to the bigs.

Alexi Casilla - Forgotten in Triple-A, Casilla came up due to injury, and has been fantastic. We ripped him last year for being a space cadet, but he's cleaned up his act and become a professional. I hereby anoint him the starting second baseman of the new ballpark 2010 awesome team.

Brian Buscher - Is he the long awaited Answer to our third - base - post - Koskie nightmare? Probably not. But I read a Buscher - Coomer comparison the other day. Obviously, I'll take it.


Delmon Young - I proclaimed him my new favorite player at the beginning of the season. He was going to hit like 50 bombs and drive in 120 and build the new bridge all by himself. Fuck.

Neshek - his trademark sidearm pitching motion was a response to an arm injury. Now his sidearm delivery caused him to get injured. Or is it his new diet?

New camera angle at the dome - I don't like the over-the-top camera angle they have from centerfield.

There's still a lot of baseball left to be played. I am thankful that the Twins are competitive this year. Even though it's more fun to bitch about them when they suck.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Player of the Game: Carlos Gomez

Congratulations goes to Carlos Gomez last night. In his last 15 games he has not had one free pass, but last night he had, not one, but two walks! In all but two of the last 18 games he has struck out at least once, but not last night. No strike outs and a couple walks?! I don't want to get ahead of myself but I think Gomez might finally be getting some plate discipline.

Nah, who am I kidding, I am sure this was just a fluke, but let's celebrate his accomplishments when we can.