12.15.2012

2012 Winter Meeting Recap!

It's a holiday tradition as old as Barack Obama's presidency (...hmm that didn't sound quite as impressive as I thought I would...); every year, shortly after the Winter Meetings end, we Peanuts offer a poorly digested, mostly fabricated recap of the glad-handing and back slapping that turns four days of business meetings in a fancy hotel into something somewhat amusing.

We hope you enjoy this absurd dramatization of a professional business convention (and if you are somehow still amused by such absurd dramatizations feel free to explore our other recaps for 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.)

It's all so magical!
MONDAY:
9:23 AM--The serious professionals in the Twins organization are gobsmacked upon registering at the Opryland Hotel at the expansive atrium that could easily contain all the non-Lutherans in Minnesota!

10:05 AM--After purchasing a lot of swag at the Opryland Hotel Giftshop team budget managers sheepishly inform Terry Ryan that they have blown all the money saved by trading Denard Span

12:28 PM--Terry Ryan begins the going through his rolodex of available starting pitchers beginning with Blanton, Joe and Correia, Kevin.

4:41 PM--Ryan becomes seriously twitterpated before dialing "Grienke, Zack". Feeling just as nervous as  he did before he tried calling Suzi Charmical for a date to the Junior Prom back in Zanesville

Greinke wishes someone in LA would
think up doofy photoshops for him.
4:43 PM--Remembering the crushing rejection suffered at the hands of Suzi Charmical, Ryan decides to just move on to the next name on his list (who won't cost more than the state's budget for education) Jackson, Edwin.

8:45 PM--After a super awkward dinner with representatives from the Dodgers, Greinke wishes that those nice guys from the Twins would call him so he could just once know what it was like to have *nice* executives talk to him. (*tear*)

TUESDAY:
3:23 AM--As he hangs up with Zambrano, Carlos (who may or may not have been at a rave) Ryan lets out a contented sigh at having called every eligible free agent pitcher with a pulse.

4:03 AM--After a 30 minute cat nap, Ryan takes out a Ouiji board and begins calling free-agent pitchers without a pulse: beginning with Alexander, Grover Cleveland.
Johan, Bert and Three Zombies!...Dare to dream..

11:38 AM--Braves General Manager Frank Wren stops by to take Ryan to lunch and gauge interest in trading Josh Willingham. But his aura interrupts productive discussions about a 2 year/3 Million brain deal with Zombie Christy Matthewson, and trade talks are abruptly cut off

6:45 PM--Having failed to procure a magical amulet to raise the dead and sign them to pitching contracts, Ryan returns to his rolodex of available pitchers only to discover that Joe Blanton will be signing elsewhere, and thus Kevin Correia is the most alphabetically appropriate pitcher.

7:00 PM--Ryan rage quits on his free agent pursuits and the front office staff has to calm him down by starting the traditional Winter Meetings TV Show marathon a skosh early.

7:20 PM--Three scenes into the first episode of Sherlock, no one can remember who they are, what they are doing, or why anything except the fact that they HAVE TO watch more of this show.

WEDNESDAY:
6:01 AM--Ryan cries at the last scene of "Richenbach Falls"

6:02 AM--Ryan unleashes a stream of profanity about series creator Steven Moffat after seeing the ACTUAL last scene of "Richenbach Falls"

7:27 AM--The front office staff concludes their tv gorging winter meetings ritual by ordering up some room service, including an extra big banana split to calm down a still ragingly furious Terry Ryan.

10:43 AM--Finally emerging from the stale air of their suite, Ryan and his colleagues connect with their counterparts in the business and begin to gauge interest in possible trades.

2:18 PM--The staff reconvenes to compare their measurements on their "gauges of interest"; realizing that surprisingly Justin Morneau's interest rated at "14.8 STPE" (seconds thought per executive) which was below the measurements on the Ben Revere gauges: 47.7 STPE.

4:33 PM--Bert Blyleven calls in to plead with the Twins to step up their pursuit of trading for Texas lefty and his relative Derek Holland.

4:53 PM--After quite a bit of effort, the front office staff convinces Blyleven that just because his name is "Holland" does not mean that he is actually from Holland. But appreciate that thought.

"Finite Sucktarium!"
8:15 PM--As word leaks that Bluefield Blue Jays president Richard McGonagale will be named "King of Baseball", the Twins quietly inquire as to whether or not McGonagle has any relation to that British witch lady and if that magical touch chan be swayed into our organization.

THURSDAY
6:18 AM--Trade discussions about Revere nearly derail when Assistant Bill Smith asks Ruben Amaro Jr. "What the hell is a Phillie anyway?" making Amaro a little overly defensive.

8:53 AM--As the scouts plan to take to pick Ryan Pressly (a starter converted to a reliever) in the Rule 5 Draft; they have to awkwardly wait through the terminally unpopular Rule 1, Rule 2, Rule 3 and Rule 4 Drafts.

Don't cry Ben, we'll send your
forwarding address to Santa
11:07 AM--The team puts the final touches on a trade that will send Ben Revere to Philadelphia for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May, which forces Terry Ryan to do the hardest thing in the world...watch Ben Revere's childlike innocence die.

11:09 AM--When asked if Santa will still be able to find him in Philadelphia, Ryan can't help but say "YES! OF COURSE! Don't worry! Santa totally will find you and he is real!"

3:28 PM--En route the airport, Terry Ryan remembers that he was supposed to talk to Jared Burton at some point this weekend, calls him with the offer of 5.5 Million over two years with a 3.6 Million dollar option for the third year PLUS any razor he wants to shave down his neck scruff.

3:29 PM--Burton agrees, but doesn't require the "razor clause".

12.02.2012

A Little Bit Country...

but not at all rock and roll...that's our prediction for what the Twins will do during this week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Every offseason, when there is precious little else to write about, I make prognostications/recommendations for what will/should happen when the Twins' brass heads down to whatever exotic locale has agreed to host the most powerful people in baseball for four days.

This year, there's a lot that could be done to improve the team; some would go so far as to say there's a lot that needs to be done. The only question is what actually will  be done, when TR and company head down to the home of the Grand Ol' Opry.

What will TR get done?
I have no idea of course, but that won't stop me from making bizarre guesses for my and (hopefully) your enjoyment.

Who will be the next
Jason Marquis?
1. The Twins sign a mediocre pitcher who makes fans go "Him?"
We all know the Twins need starters, but with the frequently frugal Ryan spending the parsimonious Pohlads' dollars in a market where any one with a few Ws on their stat sheet is guaranteed a cool million dollars a year, Zack Grienke isn't happening.

Sure there are dreams of Brandon McCarthy and Shawn Marcum, but it's far more likely that we'll be perusing the "Livan Hernandez Memorial Bargin Bin" so brace yourself for Jonathan Sanchez, Ching Ming Wang and (dare we dream?) Jeff Karstens.

2. Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau sit awkwardly beside their phones for several days
Now that Denard Span is shopping for apartments in Foggy Bottom, the two most prized commodities in the Twins' stockpile are the bopping big men. So, for Josh and Justin, it's time for several tense days updating "mlbtraderumors.com" and playing Angry Birds in space to pass the time.

Of course, we tend to have a slightly higher opinion of both player's abilities than the market will likely bear (I mean, how much can you really expect to get for a corner outfielder with limited defensive abilities, or a first baseman who's still coming back from a concussion.

3. After signing another aging middle infielder, the Twins replace their post game buffet with Perkins' early bird special coupons.
There's always someone who wants to make the Twins their last stop on the road to the retirement home: Tony Batista, Jose Offerman, Jamey Carroll, and without a set of high calibre prospects to replace them, there's always a demand.

Rather than begrudging this fact, let's celebrate it! If we're going to try appealing to Marco Scutaro or Placido Palanco we might as well sweeten the pot with Perkins' all day breakfast deals...after all, who wouldn't want a chicken fried steak right before a big game? And hey, if we can splurge on a box of Werther's originals and the right to do an Andy Rooney style rant in the 8th inning each night then we'll  have officially cornered the market.

4. Scott Boras mistakes Terry Ryan's polite conversation for interest in a mediocre player and uses it to procure a grossly over indulgent contract.
You're welcome, Scott
Every year there's one or two of Scott Boras' clients who bring up a "mystery team" in an effort to boost the bidding for their services. Whether or not these teams actually exist is irrelevant, all that matters is the money pit Boras gets to jump in for his troubles.

The Twins won't be so foolish as to actually hire a Boras client; but Ryan's unflagging Minnesota Nice demeanor and past experience with Kyle Loshe may well lead to a casual conversation in the hallway, which leads to intense rumor mongering between Boras and the Dodgers, which leads to a $60 Million dollar pay day for Loshe...the least Boras could do would be to pay for the almonds Ryan takes from his minibar.

5. A fat lot o' nothing happens.
The most likely situation of all: each year there's a tremendous amount of speculation in the days and weeks leading up to the winter meetings, and each year we end up pretty much where we were at the start of it...a little bored and none the wiser about who or what the coming year will hold.

Still! The conjecture is fun and the impending sense of doom being alleviated when we don't waste our money is even better!

11.21.2012

A Thanksgiving Hors D'ouvre: A Peanuty Blueprint

'Tis the season both for overeating and overanalyzing potential Twins transactions. While most people in Twins Territory will be fixated on football in the next 72 hours, I thought, on the off chance that someone sneaks a peak at this space, that I should make it look presentable. So, here's a new blog on how best to address the biggest issue the local nine faces this year.
Available at Deviant Art

Most of the truly accomplished and respected Twins' bloggers have presented their blueprints for general consumption. The prognosticated quickly, and now, three weeks later, I'm doing the same. But, I do have something to offer which my fellow bloggers do not: a plan that balances a quest for wins with an equally important search: a search for a team fans might once again find interesting!

No offense, I know we like to talk about how victories equal ticket sales, but ticket sales also equal payroll and payroll often equals victories...so I thought approaching the problem from a new direction might prove interesting to some (or...okay...just me). Here now, my blueprint for the Twins 2013 offseason

Step 1: Trade Justin Morneau, Denard Span and Alex Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Niel Walker, Kyle McPherson and Alen Hanson--sign Walker to a four year, $8 Million contract extension

Sargeant Gardy's Lonely
Hits Club Band in hapier times
Start with the hardest thing I've ever suggested. I love Justin and I love Denard. I've invested considerable hours turning them into ninjas and mounties and an off brand version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; but they are pricy, expendable and in need of a chance to win now rather than later.

After being baseball's best story through June in 2011, and their best story through July in 2012, the Pirates need to win now too. Combining Denard's lead off skills with Justin's big bat should ease the burden on Andrew McCutchen and make it ease the blow of giving up a young, promising second baseman in Walker who helps solve our middle infield problem.

As an added bonus, McPherson's resume resembles the best prospect traded for players like Justin Morneau in the past (Jason Schmidt) and High A ball prospect Alen Hanson may set up a superb left side of the infield with Miguel Sano (he outranks all current Twins SS prospects).

While many fans may be turned off by the loss of two more long time Twins players and the addition of several new, unproven guys, I believe the next moves make up for that.

Step 2: Sign Brandon McCarthy to a three year, $51 million dollar contract (including a mandated Twitter clause) and Francisco Liriano to a one year $5 million/5 million sticks of gum contract (total: 5.3 m)

The man likes gum...
Scared as many might be by the return of Francisco Liriano, there should be comfort in the fact that we know what works for Frankie. Given his Target Field success last year (also in a contract year, and with a magical stash of gum), things should be sunshiney (plus we can always trade him again...provided we pay for the gum).

Meanwhile McCarthy makes a welcome addition of a solid #2 pitcher ahead of Scott Diamond and one who will be under contract for a considerable length of time (more than might have been suggested before the free agent bucks started flying, but hey we'll take what we can get). The added bonus is that even if concussion issues prevent him from being the player he seemed like he could be in the middle of the season, his social media skillz should help younger Twins players know what to do in order to avoid being too Danny Valencia-ish when they make the bigs. Even if some ignore him, the burgeoning hipster market will be inexorably drawn to each of McCarthy's starts.

Step 3: Sign Tony Robbins* to be personal life coach to Liam Hendricks, Luis Perdomo  and Brian Dozier (perhaps Kyle Gibson, Anthony Slama and Joe Benson)--1 year $1.8 Million dollars.

Problem: The Twins have a lot of players who are excellent in AAA and lousy in the majors.
Solution 1: FIRE THEM ALL AND BRING IN FREE AGENTS!
Solution 2: Teach them to unleash the power within! (and save money!)


YOU CAN THROW STRIKES!
This bit of creative problem solving tries a true moneyball approach to the game. Rather than valuing what our competition values (i.e. talent) we can value something else: mentoring and holistic advice! Thus comes Tony Robbins to convince Messers Hendricks Perdomo et al that they don't need to learn how to master the strike zone, because they already have mastered it! (IN THEIR MINDS!!)

*Note: There is a strict: NO FIRE WALK clause in Mr. Robbins' contract

Grady Sizemore:
You're welcome ladies.
Step 4: Sign Grady Sizemore to play RF (1 year $2.5 million).

As I understand it, many of the female fans of the Minnesota region appreciate it when the team not only plays well, but is also mildly attractive. Without Justin Morneau and the charming accent of Luke Hughes, Sizemore will help to increase the HQ (Handosmeness Quotient) of the team.

I'm open to other solutions here, but the plastic surgery needed to make Anthony Swarzak look like Ryan Gosling is a little steep, and creating Fox Sports North Dudes doesn't solve the outfield problem. So, Sizemore might just be a stop gap until Oswaldo Arcia or Aaron Hicks is ready to go. But until then we can all bask in the awkwardness of this story from the Onion.)

Step 5: Decline arbitration for Drew Butera, promote Chris Hermann and sign Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart for $150 thousand.

Now that Matt Capps (aka "Minnesota Fats Jr." aka "Matt Crapps Shoot" aka "Not Him, Please, Dear God Not Him!") has left the team, it's time to address that other outstanding source of fan vitriol--the boondoggle behind the plate.

Rather than let Drew Butera get a raise in arbitration (thus exploding the cerebral cortexes of many fans) I suggest that we let him go, promote minor leaguer Chris Hermann and put the money we save (approximately 150 k) to someone who can radically alter the perception of our catching corps.


Windbreaker not needed
Enter: Jimmy Hart. Those of us who wasted savored our youthful innocence by watching professional wrestling, know that managers in wrestling are even more irrelevant than baseball managers. But! They do provide much needed cache for those they align themselves with. So, if we bring in Jimmy Hart it goes from being "Mauer or Doumit with Hermann  for emergencies"to being "The Twin Cities Triumverate" with finishing moves like "Ryan Sauve's Opposite Field Smash!"or "Hermann's Munster Arm!" or "Chairman Mauer's Great Plate Discipline Forward..." (obviously I'm not as good at this as professional wrestling people are.

And who knows what kind of drama may unfold. Whose to say that Doumit and Mauer don't turn on each other mid-season on a miscommunicated tag? Or that Herman doesn't take a folding chair to create a sudden case of "bilateral leg weakness"? It will be pure sports entertainment...only with an actual sport.

Line up:
CF-Revere-$500k
2B-Walker-$2 M
C-Mauer-$23 M
LF-Willingham-$7 M
DH-Doumit-$3.5 M
1B-Parmelee-$500k
3B-Plouffe-$500k
RF-Sizemore-$2.5 M
SS-Florimon-$500k
Subtotal $40 M
Bench
C-Hermann-$500k
IF-Dozier-$500k
IF-Carroll-$3.75 M
OF-Mastroianni-$500k
Subtotal: $5.25 M
Rotation
#1-Liriano-$5.3 M
#2-McCarthy-$17M
#3-Diamond-$500k
#4-McPherson-$500k
#5-Hendricks-$500k
Subtotal--$ 23.8 M
Bullpen
LHP-Robertson $500k
LHP-Duensing $1.5 M
RHP-Slama $500k
RHP-Perdomo $500k
RHP-Swarzak $500k
SU-Burton $2M
CL-Perkins $2.5 M
Subtotal-- $8 M
Other
Nick Blackburn--$5.5 M
Jimmy Hart--$150k
Tony Robbins $1.8 M
Subtotal--$7.45 M

TOTAL PAYROLL: $82.05 M 

From this position we could easily add payroll as needed if we do well, or swap out others (Sizemore, Liriano, Carroll, Willingham, Doumit) if we don't. Most importantly we've got some marketable commodities here to keep the turnstiles turning and keep the fans interested (if not completely excited) and establish Walker and McCarthy as building blocks back to consistent contention in the years ahead.

10.21.2012

Teachable Moments 2012: Money Will Change Your Life

The playoffs are in high gear, but those who cling to hope for the underdogs might be forgiven for tuning out early this year. The league championship series featured the past three champions (Cardinals, Giants and Yankees) and a preseason favorite (the Detroit Tigers). Gone are the plucky upstarts: the Nationals, the A's, the O's, the Reds. In short all the teams who haven't sniffed the World Series in over 20 years, and in their place, much more of the same.

Baseball's competitive balance is still a little better than you might think, but that's not the point of my writing. My point is that there's a certain something missing from this years playoffs; that plucky scrapper mentality that many mid-market fans cling to as superpowers get richer each year.

Once upon a time, in the good ol' days of five years ago, the Twins were one of those scrappy franchises. Mixing and matching spare parts and raw newcomers to find startling success; while we often wished ol' Carl Pohlad would loosen his purse strings a little more often, we now know that big spending won't solve our problems.

After two years of 90+ losses and nearly $200 million dollars in payroll, frustration is mounting. At the center of all of this frustration isn't the ownership (no longer Carl, just his sons), or the management (penny-pinching Terry Ryan in his 2nd non-consecutive turn as GM), the frustration falls squarely on Joseph P. Mauer. The 23 Million Dollar Man.

We all know the story. Mauer was the scion, the natural, the local kid who was destined to return the Twins to greatness. So, we made sure to give him a contract that would keep him in town for a solid decade. We rejoiced when he signed, and while the price-tag was eye-popping, if anyone was worth it, it was our boy Joe.

Of course, we all know the rest of the story too. In the three years since Mauer signed the uber-deal, his production has vacillated from solid to injury-riddled to elite-catcher level again. At the same time, Mauer has remained the stoic, humble, home-grown star who endeared himself to Twins fans as Minnesota's own throw-back to the crew-cut, mashed-potato-munching stars of yester-year. He's got a house in Florida, but another up north, with a St. Paul-bred wife and a consistent relationship with his St. Paul loving family.

He plays the same. He acts the same. He is the same. Clearly, money did not change Joe Mauer.

And clearly it did change us.

Somewhere along the way, the promise and the paeans to Joe Mauer morphed into demands. Our affection didn't come easily anymore, he wasn't the adorable kid playing stickball on Summit Avenue, he was "the franchise," and he had better play like it! He wasn't a local boy made good, he was a local boy made off with our hard-earned money. He wasn't a great player, he was a shampoo-hawking, prima-donna who let "leg-weakness" get in the way of the game.

Before, we had loved Joe Mauer simply and purely because he was our own and he was awesome. Suddenly, we begrudged Joe Mauer some undefinable something simply and purely because he was our own and he was only "pretty good"...and, oh yeah, he was getting paid a large sum of money (much of which came from our own tickets).

Chances are, if you find your way to this page, this blog, and my style of writing, you have a more complex view of Mauer than simply "the-golden-boy" or "the-sissy-punk". Chances are you've heard plenty of this before. Chances are I'm not saying anything that you haven't thought yourself a time or dozen.

But one thing to bear in mind, as we enter a season of acrimonious bickering over cries of "super rich one-percent-ers" and "the welfare class of entitled moochers" is just how we use these words and why. It's easy to tune out the tit-for-tat argument and snark as irrelevant or impossible, but that avoids the core of the discussion. Does Joe Mauer earn the enmity of disappointed hordes in Target Field because he doesn't perform his job, because he abuses his wealth and privilege, or because class and money affect us in ways we don't feel comfortable talking about. Is it pure jealousy, the shriveled raisin of a dream deferred, the genuine disdain for misappropriated money at a time of fiscal uncertainty?

There's no clear answer to those questions, and that's as it should be. The teachable moments of our year in fandom aren't just moments where a lesson is learned and we move on with life. Teachable moments are the somethings, the anythings, that encourage us to look at things again, to consider and reflect.

I'm a homer, and I'll always love Joe Mauer for how he hits and plays. But after this year, I also have to appreciate how he offers all kinds of teachable moments

10.15.2012

Teachable Moments 2012: The Value of Consistent Casting

I could apologize for the delay between posts, but if you read this blog at all, you know full well why the delay is here (it starts with a "w" and ends with an "orking my a$$ off").


It's the postseason now, you all remember that right, the thing the Twins used to do every October before the current unpleasantness began? And while we're all plotting out our offseason blue prints for returning the Twins to relevancy, there are other things to think about, the kinds of things that may not result in wins or losses but do relate to the business of being a fan. Those are the kinds of things that I'm taking on as subjects of these "Teachable Moment" blogs.

There was a moment near the end of the season where my wife, my father and a colleague at my high school all said the same thing while we watched a game. Namely: "Who the hell is that guy?"

Every one of those three people are serious Twins fans, not bandwagon, casual afternoon channel surfer fans. They watch most games (either out of personal interest or because they married a die-hard), and could easily rattle off the owners of retired numbers, the holders of franchise records, and where they were for big moments (World Championships) and little ones (Kubel's cycle, Baker's near perfecto).

Yet each one of them was befuddled by something, or rather someone in the Twins uniform. Samuel DeWho? Matt CarWhat?
 Chances are if you are reading my writing, then you, like me, are still deeply interested in the Twins despite another 90 loss season. You clearly care more than most average fans, even most serious fans. Maybe even enough to distinguish Pedro Florimon from Eduardo Escobar.

But this isn't about shaking our heads at people who lose track of the Chris Hermanns and Kyle Waldrops of the franchise. It's about what it means to have those serious fans fade away from their old commitment to the team.

As far as I can figure, losing once-serious fans to an abyss of indifference is accepting that you're going to have fewer return customers to Twins Brand Family Entertainment next year leading to a dip in revenues (and by association payroll budget). I'm sure the Pohlads and the other front office people know that and are ready to compensate with more attractive group ticket packages, more food/beverage discounts and generally more ways to bring in casual fans. But as the losing becomes more and more habitual, fewer and fewer casual fans will see a (still pricey) trip to the ballpark (or to the team merchandising store) as a worthwhile expense.

Suddenly that "dip" in revenues becomes a "crater" and that return to respectability that we die-hards crave gets pushed farther and farther into the background. So, losing "once-serious" fans is a bit of a dilemma. But there is a solution.

And that's just 3 seasons
of dead people!
 As my wife pointed out, it's not the current Twins are terrible that stops her from watching, it's that she knows the team won't be back for a little while, and doesn't want to get too attached only to see one of them leave. That goes for the talented like Ben Revere, Josh Willingham, Jared Burton and Ryan Doumit (couldn't they all get traded?). And that goes for the not-so talented (witness my love for the probably doomed Luis Perdomo). For my father, loving a current Twin is like trying to adopt a pet lobster from a seafood restaurant, it makes you happy but you just know that something bad's going to happen. My wife likened it instead to the days of our courtship (when we'd mix baseball talk with Lost episodes). Sure there are some interesting new characters, but given how easy it is for the writers to kill off old characters, do you really want to get burned again?

So, while the "throw out the bums!" shouts get louder, remember that there's something to be said for consistency. There's something to be said for building around a few key parts and encouraging fans to learn to love a new face. If we subscribe to a model of constant turnover we may start slipping into oblivion as a modern day Toronto, or Pittsburgh or [shudder] Kansas City.

I know we can't (and shouldn't) keep everybody. But when in doubt, remember that glorious summer when the Twins returned to relevancy over a decade ago, when after years of turnover the Twins committed to a group of young players (who were admittedly more talented than the current bunch), and invited fans to just "Get to Know 'Em".

 Maybe it won't be next year, or even the year after, but when the time comes it will fall on the diehards to answer "Who the Hell is that" with "Miguel Sano," or "Aaron Hicks" or "Byron Buxton...you should really get to know 'em."

10.08.2012

Teachable Moments 2012: Ragequitting

Some know this, others don't. I'm secretly a teacher at a public high school that shall remain nameless. (If only to protect myself from principals who wonder why they hired a guy who thinks that beards are sentient.)

 My job is great actually. When the baseball season starts it's a sign that the school year is rapidly winding down. As the battle for first place intensifies, I have many opportunities to watch and revel in exciting games. And by the time I get back to work I know whether or not I should assign essays early in the year, or if I should go easy on students so I can watch the games.*

 This year, with the Twins out of contention, I don't need to worry about missing critical late season games. But as one season winds down and another warms up, I've started thinking about valuable lessons from baseball for fans, and for life. Starting with the consequences of rage quitting.

 One Friday night, Stinky and I went to the game with her parents and watched as the Twins squandered an early lead as only they have been able to do this year. Liam Hendricks looked good just long enough to surprise us all when he imploded in 5th. Our solid offensive outburst seemed flukish when David Huff shut down the bats for three innings. And then Alex Burnett struggled and struggled and finally stunk fumbling a weak comebacker with the bases loaded to let in the 6th run of the game.  

Disappointing as that was, it was the fans reaction that I found noteworthy. We didn't boo. We didn't jeer. But a solid 10-20% of fans that I could see stood and left (either for beer or for good). Dispirited, dejected and otherwise done with watching the debacle on the field. It wasn't any kind of organized protest, or meaningful event, it was just a clear sign that fans were tired of wasting their time and ready to move on with life.

 The internet (which you may have heard of) might refer to this as an act of "RageQuitting, meaning simply: "To quit because you are losing, failing or just plain suck" Sure enough the Twins were losing, the players were failing to make an easy play and all season long they have seemed to just plain suck. There are many ways to ragequit, standing up and walking out of a bad game (despite your expensive tickets), clicking off the tv in disgust, avoiding most ESPN/FOX related content because you think they'll glorify the Yankees/Red Sox and denigrate "those hapless Twins" comment, posting "if-they-don't-fix-this-#%@#ing-team-I'm-done" posts in the forum section, even deleting a Twins Daily account...just because you can't take it any more.

This season has taught us all about ragequitting, as even the most ardent supporters may have at least considered the possibility once or twice. So, what happens when you do ragequit? Let's explore: The benefits of the "ragequit" are simple: you don't have to deal with the source of your frustration any more. You can move on to other things, happier things, better things.

Meanwhile the costs of the "ragequit" are less apparent: you lose credibility with fellow fans, and appear petulant in the eyes of those around you (fans and others alike) for letting a group of 25 guys in blue uniforms affect your whole emotional welfare. Most of all, should you choose to return when the team begins to succeed again you risk that most hated of labels "fair weather fan".

 Clearly, I'm not going to ragequit any time soon. Frustrated though I might be, I enjoy little parts of the game and the team too much to be put off by simple bad play. But that's not to say that you can't ragequit if you want to. You, gentle reader are an independent human being capable of free will (or a super-smart extra-terrestrial monitoring electronic blather about Earth sports for signs of intelligent life in our galaxy...in which case better luck next time). You can do what you like, throw down the remote, slam your lap top shut, call Burnett a loser and Plouffe a hack and Gardy a has been.

 But whatever you choose, understand the consequences. If you ragequit, you gain freedom, but risk social-stigma. If you don't...well...you writhe in agony when Alex Burnett boots a slow roller to the mound. The choice is yours. 

 *Note: I don't really alter assignments based on baseball standings. I'm too scrupulous for that...stupid scruples.

9.01.2012

My Dog Writes the News

I'm officially back at work, planning and plotting all that I teach, but after a summer of goofing around with my dog (with Sports Radio/ESPN often on in the background), I felt like I could trust him to write a post summarizing baseball coverage of late. Without further ado...here's a guest post from my dog: Sidney.

Most Exciting Time of Baseball Season Irrelevant Next to Least Exciting Time of Football Season.
by, Sid MacKenzie

With the September stretch run to the playoffs set to begin, all eyes are on the football transaction column to determine exactly how the final preseason game has affected NFL rosters. A host of intriguing story lines with resurgent teams and superb players will be confined to the final five minutes of all SportsCenter programs in order to give Peyton Manning's shoelacing form the attention it so richly deserves.

A man who's not even Hines Ward
For the first time in decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a chance to make the playoffs behind MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen who is not Troy Polumalu or even Ben Rothlisberger and therefore not that important. Said McCutchen of his impressive year, "I'm really glad the Steelers are keeping Charlie Batch. He can be a solid back up if Rothlisberger's rotator cuff doesn't heal quite right. The Steelers should be back in business baby!"

Meanwhile in Baltimore, the Orioles stunning run towards dethroning the Yankees has turned heads away from Camden Yards and towards Insert Generic Bank Name Here Stadium. Manager Buck Showalter replied to questions of his team's staying power by saying: "Shut up! John Harbaugh is taking post-practice questions!"

As California braces for an epic month, with four teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland all capable of making the playoffs, players and coaches alike just hope that either Randy Moss still catches the ball, Tyrelle Pryor proves the doubters wrong, or that the Jaguars move into a new downtown stadium.

A man who does not play for the Cowboys
The principal rival for the California baseball teams (a team that legend says is called the Texas Rangers) has vanished into a black hole of Cowboys fans, painting blue stars on their faces or stomaches and incessantly shouting: "HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!?!?"

In New York, the often insufferable New York Yankees fans have put away their pinstripes in order to more effectively obsess over the Giants and the Jets. Said one wide-eyed and giddy fan named Derek Jeter: "Ohmigod! Tim Tebow looked at me! He looked right at me!!"

A man who should probably
be throwing a football instead.
In an effort to capitalize on this absurdly popular/mind-numbingly dull part of the football season, a variety of other baseball teams have taken their own approaches to expressing their love for football. To boost ticket sales for a series against the rival Chicago White Sox (who do not play football), the Detroit Tigers (who also do not play football) drew 40,000 fans with the promise of a raffle for 2 Lions tickets. In Washington, Jayson Werth has officially changed his name to Robert Griffin III.5 and the Tampa Bay Rays have changed their team name to the Tampa Bay Buccanears (a less expensive generic football brand that may lead to a lawsuit from the NFL).

Reached for comment at his office in New York, baseball commissioner Bud Selig said, "We're just so excited that we can stop playing soon so that everyone can watch football in peace. Please, don't pay any attention to pennant races or Justin Verlander or Mike Trout, you'll simply encourage them to keep playing into October. Nobody wants that."

In other news, football will be starting soon.

8.22.2012

Rooting for Nick and Tsuyoshi

(Apologies for the gap between posts, school is coming quickly and I'll be splitting time between writing lesson plans and writing baseball blogs...probably a little more time on lesson plans)

Poor Tsuyoshi...
Clearly things have changed in the Twins dugout of late, much to the glee of many fans (not to mention the blogging community). Nick Blackburn is gone and it will take some finagling to get him back up again, experience be damned. Gone too is every last drop of hopeful expectation around Tsuyoshi Nishioka, former Nippon League batting champ and hoped for shortstop salvation.

The clear take away here is that these two elements of the Twins system weren't working and now (later than some might like) they are being removed. Many other, wiser bloggers can delve into the statistical benefits of chucking Blackburn's starts or offering Nishioka's opportunities to another, worthier prospect.

The less apparent take away is that, even with this move, Twins fans are still frustrated. Even with two disliked players off the roster, the belief is that the move didn't happen fast enough. Forum posts on Nick Blackburn seem to assume he's personally responsible for all of the Twins pitching's miseries, as well as NBC's poor Olympic coverage and those irritating Health Care Debate advertisements. Tsuyoshi Nishioka seems to be viewed as part underachiever, part natural disaster (though its unlikely a telethon can help Twins fans at this point). Since there are no stats to explore here, that makes it just my cup of tea.

For me, Blackburn and Nishioka are more than just sacrificial lambs to the roster/blogosphere slaughter. They are men who have gone from mighty success to something resembling total disaster. Something that, people who aren't ballplayers can still relate to.


Imagine going through a rough spell at your job, and having your bosses demote you down to being the office gofer. Worse than that, you find out you only became the gofer, is because your bosses couldn't get any other company in town to hire you away from them. Nobody wants you. Everybody knows that nobody wants you. And now you have to start proving yourself all over again. It's the kind of professional debacle you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. So why are we so insistent that Blackburn and Nishioka deserve it?

Dr. Cakeburn, in better days
I won't deny that both played poorly enough to make dyed in the wool optimists like me cringe. And yet, I can't savor any part of their being culled from the big league roster. To me they are just as much the promising young talents that had me practicing Japanese phrases for "tater tot hotdish" and photoshopping diabolical baked goods into game photos to elevate their stature. For me, they are professionals confronting a question of career viability.

And as news breaks that two marginal big leaguers (Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon) used steroids to keep their similarly struggling careers afloat, I'm proud that neither Blackburn nor Nishioka pursued a chemical solution to their problems. I can't gloat in potential replacements or boast of "I told you so's" to Terry Ryan. I just hope that Blackburn and Nishioka find a way to either solve their problems on the field or else move on to a better life off it.Unpopular as it might be: I'm rooting for Nick and Tsuyoshi.

8.02.2012

Back to Where It All Began

First and foremost, you may notice a dearth of postings in this area for the next week or so. We peanuts are on our way to Montana for a much needed vacation, and we'll try our best to be in the moment rather than on the computer, so the blogging slow down is inevitable.

This will be the first time that I (the male member of our salty/roasted snack bag) have been back to Montana in 7 years. My wife makes semi-annual trips to see her grandmother, uncle and relatives in Billings, while I, born and raised in the Big Sky State, have had little chance to go back with grad school and work eating up my life. I'm excited to see the prairies and the mountains, to hike the trails of Glacier and taste locally raised grass-fed beef again. But I'm also excited to go back to where my baseball fandom started. Great Falls, Montana.

I grew up about a mile from our local minor-league park: Legion Field and saw players come up at the very start of their careers in the Pioneer League. The League tours throughout Montana (Great Falls, Billings, Helena, and--at various points--Butte and Missoula) as well as other tourist hotspots (Ogden, Provo, Lethbridge, Idaho Falls, Casper, etc.).

Growing up in a small town it feels like simple is normal. You have a main street with grocery stores and fastfood, a bunch of side streets with houses on them, and if you want to go somewhere else you get on to the highway (usually only one) and go. I thought that was how it always was, but I didn't think about what it looked like to the young men who came to town to play for our local 9. (Something Omar Vizquel addresses here.)

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Still, I would track the doings of the players who had come through town: Pedro Martinez, Raul Mondesi, Erik Karros, and my (unlikely) favorite: Jose Offerman. Our local stations showed no "games of the week," and cable was a luxury item in Montana, so I made do by reading box scores in the local paper, charting the standings, dreaming up the plays I could only imagine (without the help of SportsCenter).

But while reading and dreaming was fun, the most fun I had was just going to games. The spur of the moment idea from my parents; stopping off at a rundown IGA grocery store between our house and the park for big bags of Twizzlers and peanuts that my mother hid in her purse. Walking through the damp, mildewy cement of the concourse to pick up 4 dogs and a Beer Baron Brat for my dad (bratwurst injected with cheese, boiled in beer). Sitting on the bleachers (or on special nights Home Plate box seats), and watching young guys try so hard to be grown men.


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ID:	1742That's where I learned to love not the numbers in the box scores, or the wins and losses, but the individual play on the field. The middle infielders, lunging for 8 hoppers up the middle; bubblegum chewing "sluggers" taking vicious cuts through the air; anxious pitchers who could not help but hear every jeer or cheer of every fan in the intimate park. I saw them not as pieces to be swapped or bartered, as rising talents or wastes of a draft pick, but as people living their dreams, trying to be great.

I left Montana and saw why the Majors won't be coming to Great Falls any time soon. Metropoli have no "main street" and housing is wherever you can grab it, after at least five years of confusion over free-way etiquette I can navigate 35, 94 and 62 with ease. And I came to respect the gung-ho fandom of a team that's consistently in playoff contention.

But I'm about to go home, to a simpler place. A place where I learned that baseball's not just about contending for a division title or a championship it's about the people you're around. The family, the friends, and the people who play a children's game for your amusement and their own desire to be the best. I'm going back to the place where it all started, and I'm awfully excited about that.

7.25.2012

Why Liriano Must be Traded NOW!

There's still a lot of debate over whether or not the Minnesota Twins should trade Francisco Liriano. Sure he's the best pitcher on the staff of a team that's rather desperate for starting pitching, but he's also a free-agent-to-be with a demanding agent who will probably be looking for a sizable pay day (one that we likely can't afford).

Yet, there are plenty of people who would like Frankie Franchise to stick around now that he's figured out how to be consistently dangerous on the hill (Monday's Windy City debacle not withstanding). After all, with a little gum to chew, Liriano's been nigh to un-hittable. But that gum chewing is actually the biggest reason to trade the Cisco Kid.

You might well ask: why does chewing gum mean we have to trade him? The answer, like the answers to all of life's important questions is in a children's book. In this case Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl:

Please believe us when we say
That chewing gum will never pay;
This sticky habit's bound to send
The chewer to a sticky end.
Did any of you ever know
A pitcher called Liriano?...
He chewed while bathing in the tub,
He chewed while dancing at the club,
He chewed in church and on the bus;
It really was quite ludicrous!...
But then one day, he had to put the gum away
(Because the umps hated the delay)
And suddenly, Liriano just could not pitch,
He missed the zone by two feet and an inch
The fastball slowed down, the slider didn't move
As hard as he tried, he couldn't find a groove.
His fans, upset, began to boo
And Liriano just did not have a clue.
So he served up long bombs on his way to a loss
His golden arm turned to nothing but dross
He had to retire, run off and hide,
No teammates or fans would stand by his side
Yes, never was there a tale of more woe
Than this of Francisco Liriano.

It's repulsive, revolting and wrong; chewing and chewing all. day. long
The wa-ay that a co-ow does!
I was as surprised as anyone to find that a 20th century British author wrote an allusion to a 21st century Dominican pitcher, but such is the power of literary imagination. Just be glad we heard it now rather than after he finished his "tale of woe".

7.18.2012

Let's Make a Deal Wrap-up!

Our trade market is less volatile
than this one
It's time to wrap up this blog's trade deadline speculation series/gameshow in the making: Let's Make a Deal. Where I offer you trade returns based on the historical equivalent of current Twins. First, let's check out how the fans did in making a deal for Francisco Liriano in what was nearly a unanimous verdict (until my friend Aly called in a last second vote for door #2).


No one, and I mean, NO ONE, wanted to keep Frankie or trade for door #3. (Since Door #3 contained three hitters and zero pitchers, it makes sense. And since those three hitters were actually career minor leaguers Dustin Brisson, Luis Alfonso Garcia and Rick Asadoorian, it seems like a pretty good pick.)


Now, since I know Aly reads this blog, I hate to tell her that she managed to pull a pretty foul Zonko behind door #2. Yes, in exchange for Frankie and three more starters Aly would have gotten John Christensen, Wes Gardner, LaSchelle Tarver and Calvin Schiraldi. (And hey, since Aly's a Red Sox fan, that Calvin Schiraldi burn stings even more)


But the vast majority of votes (5 in fact) went for door #1. And though the hitters (Corey Pointer and Ron White) are nothing to write home about, that up and down starter just happened to be Jason Schmidt. Not a hall of famer, but not chopped liver either. Nicely done Armchair GM's nicely done.

Sadly, as much fun as I've had creating these silly little mental exercises in the last few weeks, I'm actually out of reasonable research. I did look into the yield on Ryan Doumit and Carl Pavano...but neither one is getting a peep or a squeak of interest on the trading block (a two year extension and long DL stint probably have something to do with that). And I don't quite have the time to research potential Josh Willingham trade equivalents (not that Terry Ryan would trade him for anything less than immediate access fountain of youth/catcher knees).

Thanks to the magic of internet voting, the popular opinion of the Twins blogosphere has been heard, and when it comes four Twins trading chips, they've decided to:
  • Keep Denard Span (passing on three packages with minimal return)
  • Trade Matt Capps (for a package highlighted by an Edwin Jackson in the making)
  • Keep Justin Morneau (passing on a package that included young Steve Finley/Curt Schilling)
  • Trade Francisco Liriano (for a package highlighted by Jason Schmidt)
It seems that, for the fans, the best way to build the pitching staff is to subtract some pitching from the current roster, and keep the hitters. And to be honest, if you were a time traveller who told me that we could trade an irrelevant reliever and an inconsistent starter for two future all stars I would make that deal in a heart beat. But, unfortunately, Terry Ryan can't make trades with a way-back machine and has to deal with the present market (one filled with surprisingly suspicious buyers and a noticable lack of young Jason Schmidts).

To wrap up, I thought it would be instructive to see the general returns on the different types of Twins bargaining chips; the sort of average return to compare against any deals Terry Ryan makes in the next few weeks.

  • Players like Denard Span generally brought back two near major-league reader prospects: usually an outfielder and a pitcher (even mix between relievers and starters)
  • Players like Matt Capps generally brought back between two and three prospects (usually between A and AAA) including one player Baseball America put in it's preseason top 100.
  • Players like Justin Morneau generally brought back three prospects (usually between A and AA) including an infielder, an outfielder and a starting pitcher.
  • Players like Francisco Liriano generally brought back three to four prospects (usually between AA and AAA) including multiple position players and one pitching prospect.

And just so my work doesn't go for naught, here's what I saw for the other researched trades
  • Players like Carl Pavano generally brought back one to two prospects (between A and AAA) usually entirely made of pitching talent.
  • Players like Ryan Doumit generally brought back two to three prospects (between AA and AAA) including one starter and one reliever.

So if that's par for the course, it's time for Terry Ryan to tee it up and go for the green and other cliched golf metaphors as well.

Thanks for trying your hand at this purely speculative enterprise. I wondered how well Twins fans would do at making the deals themselves, and was generally impressed. If there's interest out there, I'll certainly try doing this all again next year (when we'll likely have a different bargain bin to offer up).

But I think whatever you think of this blog series we can all agree on the best part of it: RIDICULOUS TERRY RYAN PHOTOSHOPS!

7.15.2012

Adopt a Prospect #5: The Twins most critical Weakness

Frequent readers of our Adopt a Prospect series know that we like our prospect, Luis Perdomo. They'll also know that we like his beard even more.


Perdomo's beard continues to inspire greatness wherever it goes (recently becoming the Rochester Red Wings go to guy whether they need 1 out or 9). But Perdomo is still off of our 40 man roster and unlikely to be called up anytime soon. Still, this beard merits recognition as one of the most outstanding chin warmers in our minor league system. Because, as all fans know strange things can create great ballplayers...I mean, if gum chewing can fix Francisco Liriano, it's pretty clear that magical facial hair is a real possibility. So adding Perdomo to our squad could immediately bolster the Twins most glaring weakness: quality facial hair.



That's a clown goatee, Bro.
Consider our current roster. In the major leagues we have nine players who occasionally sport some scruff on the field (excluding Joe Mauer's sideburns which are actually a byproduct of a Head and Shoulders promotion), but few of these offer any added value to the player. Justin Morneau's goatee comes and goes and offers little support when it does. Darrin Mastroianni either offers 5 o'clock shadow or this absurd beard that makes him look more like Narnia's Mr. Tumnus than a ball player. Seriously...we can't take you seriously when you look like this Darrin.


Speaking of 5 o'clock shadow, Mastroianni's not alone in his lacksadasical "I-don't-feel-like-shaving" scruff: Alex Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Trevor Plouffe, Drew Butera and Ryan Doumit all favor a look that resembles extras in a Gilette razor commercial than anybody who planned their appearance. Be advised: magical beards are not born of laziness gentlemen.



The only people (other than the aforementioned, chemically enhanced, Mr. Mauer and his sideburns) who plan their facial hair are Denard Span and Alexi Casilla.
Let's be honest about this, Denard's beard is simply a part of his style: inimitable, and undoubtedly classy. Sure, the fashionistas might complain about the fact that he lets the mustachio elements remain thin while the cheeks and chin get bushy. But you have to acknowledge that his particular flair is not the source of his power. Denard didn't always have the beard, and he could be just as well off without. Moreover, he may well be gone from the team in a few weeks, making the need for quality facial hair even more pressing.

Like sands through the hourglass
So are the hairs of Alexi's goatee

That leaves us with the Second Base Special. And we have to admit that Casilla's hourglass soul patch is a unique style to say the least. You rarely even catch Uptown hipsters sporting it (assuming you can see it behind their micro brew pint glasses). The Casilla goat has a special place in Twins lore, powering an otherwise erratic and feeble second baseman to an unusual number of walk off hits. The mighty scruff's role in powering the 8 hopper into right field to win game 163 winner over the Tigers remains the greatest example of bearded greatness in a Twins uniform since Kirby's stubble offered that extra boost in game 6. But now even that isn't enough to keep Casilla in the line-up on a regular basis.


So we need Luis Perdomo's beard, more now than ever before. Denard's classy style may be gone any day now, Casilla's scrap is no longer effective and Mauer's superpowered sideburns are tiring in lifting up the team. Perdomo's beard is powerful, Perdomo's beard is strong. We need Luis Perdomo's beard and the added velocity it inspires.

7.10.2012

Let's Make a Deal Round 4

It's time for the All-Star Game (a favorite event for we Peanuts, because it is just as silly as we always are, and because we feel proud to join the teeming masses who mock Joe Buck every year!)

But before the big(ish) game, we should think about what we do with our own all-stars given that we may be trading a few of them before the month is out. Last week we gave you a choice of what to do with first baseman, three-time all-star and former MVP Justin Morneau. After five heated days of voting we ended up with 2 votes asking to keep Justin and one vote a piece for each of the trade options. Since majority rules, we'll say that our fans voted to KEEP JUSTIN. A fine choice, but was it the best choice? Let's look at what the fans passed up!
  • Behind Door #1, our first comprable Morneau trade would have gotten us a starter named Hunter Strickland (3 years after the trade in question he made it to AA...three weeks ago) and Short Stop Argenis Diaz, whose had one cup of coffee and is looking for another while playing for a different franchise. 1 vote
  • Behind Door #2 there was outfielder Charles Poe (who never went past AA), and starter Andrew Lorraine who had minor success as a long man and spot starter. 1 vote
  • But behind Door #3 that major league ready talent I talked about included the outfielder Steve Finley, starting pitcher (and one-time all star) Pete Harnisch...and Mr. Bloody Sock himself, Curt Schilling. 1 vote
I have to ask--if you're desperate for starting pitching, would Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling (plus Steve Finley) be enough to satisfy your hunger?

But rather than fixating on deals that were (or in this case weren't) done we can move on to the next trade to be. I had intended to continuing our firesale with erstwhile ace and permanent mustache inspiration: Carl Pavano; but all the TwinTweeters have been abuzz about the odds that Frankie Franchise is done in a Twins uniform. So, in an effort to capitalize off the popularity of this situation I hereby present: LET'S MAKE A DEAL FOR FRANCISCO LIRIANO

Every kids' favorite toy: Raggedy Ryan!
Alright, we all know the deal: Frankie's a talented if mercurial lefty, and while he might not be likely to resign with us next year (unless we offer to pay him in gum) he is probably our best pitcher right now. So, remembering that you can always keep him, let's sneak a peak at what is available behind Door #1, Door #2 and Door #3.*

Selecting Door #1 will offer you three talented prospects. First there's an outfielder (20) in Low A Ball who boasts a very promising slash line of: .245/.349/.502. Then there's a first baseman (20) in AA coming off a year in A ball where his OPS was a mighty .967 (.877 so far this year). And finally, because we know how much the Twins covet starting pitching there's a starting pitcher (23) who has been shuttling between AAA and the Majors and came into the year as one of the Top 15 prospects in all of baseball.

Meanwhile, in order to pry open Door #2 you'll have to be willing to give up a bit more than just Liriano (call it insurance against another Frankie being Frankie episode), if you're willing to give up Liriano and three more pitchers (let's say starters from A (21) and AA (19) plus a long-reliever (25) in AAA). But, if you give up that bounty you'll get back a bevy of talented AAA players including one outfielder (24) shuttling between AAA and the majors just waiting for a break through, and another whose slugging leaves a little to be desired but does get on base at a .386 clip. Since the Twins want so much pitching we'll also provide a AAA reliever (24) who has a 1.19 WHIP this year and a starter on the same AAA team who keeps the ball down (HR/9 under .5 for the last four years).

Finally, one organization, with little pitching to offer hopes to make up for it with plenty of offensive talent, starting with a first baseman (23) whose OPS in A ball this year is .812. another first baseman (23) in AA whose OPS is .973, and an outfielder (20) who has 35 stolen bases in his last two seasons of A ball.

*Note: I realize that these are underwhelming offers, but they're based on returns for pitchers like Liriano, not necessarily for pitchers available in a thin starter's market at a deadline with multiple buyers. All things being equal pitchers of Frankie's calibre tend to yield 2-3 prospects from a variety of positions.

So, while that might seem like a fuzzy pack of lollipops to choose from, there is one all-star in the making out there for you. Now, what will you do with Francisco Liriano: Keep him or trade him away for Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3?!?

7.03.2012

Let's Make a Deal Round 3

Another week closer to the trade deadline, another week worth of rampant speculation and wild hopes for Twins fans; after several days of heated voting the fans chose to trade Matt Capps rather than keep him, stunning the blog-o-sphere...oh wait! Let's see what the fans picked and what they passed up.

Door #2 netted two votes and provides my personal favorite proof of idiotic trades made for "closers" Capps compares well with Ugueth [namesake of my first child boy OR girl] Urbina and at roughly the same age in a mid-season trade Urbina netted the Texas Rangers less impressive talents like Will Smith [not the rapper] and Ryan Snare [not that guy who sat behind you in 11th Grade history], but did yield a first baseman you might have heard of: Adrian Gonzalez. Sure the Rangers sent him off to San Diego (and thence to Boston) but still, might be nice to have a bat like that to cover up Mauer/Morneau in years to come. 2 votes...not happening for the Twin Cities


Door #3 got the same number of votes as door #2 and proves that quantity is not necessarily quality, as these candidates turn into Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and YES IT's true! Joe Fontenot...making this the obvious ZONK! 2 votes....OOOPS!

Door #1 was the choice of our voters, despite that fact that it required another pitcher [Jeff the Vulture Gray], still this deal would lead to the Twins acquiring players like Chuck Tiffany [pause to let everyone say "who?"] but would also net starting pitcher/All-Star/World Champion Starter Edwin Jackson...of course he's a Scott Boras client so the likelihood of keeping him once Free Agency hit is anybodies guess. 3 votes gets us a #2 starting pitcher...NICE JOB FANS!!

For our next "Let's Make a Deal" we'll look at what you could get for one of the most hotly debated trading chips the Twins have: local favorite and former MVP Justin Morneau. I offer the options, you vote in the poll on our blog, or in the comments below, next week I reveal what you came away with.

Hip-Hop Dutchman?
Alright, we all know what Justin can do when healthy, the only question is whether or not he's really healthy. The good news is that, behind one of these doors of similar players traded there's a border-line Hall of Famer, but where? Let's sneak a peak behind the curtain as we try to make a deal (remember, you can always vote to keep Justin if you prefer).

Behind Door #1 there's a right handed starting pitcher (20) in A ball whose cut his WHIP down to 1.17 and has a K/BB ratio that's been consistently over 3.5 in his three years of pro ball, as well as a slim short stop (22) in AA who has posted an OBP over .300 at every stop of the minors, his defense is not always consistent, but shows improvement, and both can be yours if you MAKE A DEAL!

Behind Door #2 there's an AA Outfielder (23) who posted near highs in Doubles, OBP, and Slugging in his first full season at the higher level, and a Lefty Starter (22) ranked a top 75 prospect by Baseball America who jumped from Low A directly to AAA and boasts a K/9 rate of 6. All this for just one little Canadian First baseman if you MAKE A DEAL!

And finally behind Door #3 we have major league ready talent. Start with a versatile outfielder (26) who spent almost all of last year with the major league club succeeding on 70% of his stolen base attempts and getting on base at a percentage over .300. We've also got a former first round pick, a right handed pitcher (23) whose minor league numbers include an ERA perpetually under 3, a WHIP consistently under 1.5, and profiles to move beyond his 11-11 record last year. And there's another Righty Starter in AAA (23) who just posted a career best 3.3 K/BB Ratio, and made a few appearances out of the big-league bullpen. Yes, this cornocopia of prospects can be yours when you MAKE A DEAL!

So what will it be would-be-GMs out there? Keep Justin Morneau, or trade him for Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3!?!?

COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR THE REVEAL AND PROPOSED TRADES FOR MR. MUSTACHE HIMSELF: CARL PAVANO

7.01.2012

Adopt a Prospect #4: Movin' On Up

Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles! Luis Perdomo's beard (and Luis Perdomo) got promoted to Rochester this week! (Ed. Note: Sorry for the unintentional mash-up of the Jefferson's theme and a Fiddler on the Roof ditty...hmm, I wonder if I could sell that to Glee?)


This is the first time Perdomo's beard has played this high up on the East Coast since he made his major league debut against the New York Mets! (4/15/09). And thought he temptation to celebrate is great, clearly Perdomo's beard won't rest until it attains that lofty perch of being the most feared set of facial follicles in the major leagues.

So he will toil along side other players with former big league experience. No longer will he be the sage old timer in the bullpen, impressing the young whelps with stories of his time in the show (where you hit white balls for batting practice and the women all have long legs and brains) now he'll be part of a staff where the vast majority have played in the bigs (many, recently).

Courtesy Lewis Carroll
and courierpress.com
To be sure, there's still a challenge here, though Luis Perdomo's beard is far more glorious than say...Darrin Mastroianni's Mr. Tumnus style goatee and worthy of the big time, the beard is stubbornly attached to a reliever in an organization that stockpiles them like separatist militias stockpile ammo/canned goods. The man who owns Luis Perdomo's beard (one...Luis Perdomo) is not on the 40 man roster, something that is unlikely to change until a mess of trades, releases and/or bubonic plague deaths make it possible. And, most challenging of all...Luis Perdomo was called up to AAA only after 7 Rochester pitchers hit the disabled list. If any one of those pitchers comes back, it might be a very short stay indeed for Perdomo and his beard.

But let's not spoil this with cynicism or "facts", the truth is that Luis Perdomo's beard is one step closer to making it back to the major leagues. After battling, fighting and holding fast to that fervent dream of a return to glory, he's moved closer this week. And no matter how long the odds or how questionable the circumstances are, it's great to see a great bit of facial hair (and a dedicated player) keep living their dream.

6.26.2012

Let's Make a Deal! (Round 2)

Welcome back to everybody's favorite form of roster-modification: LET'S MAKE A DEAL! That's right, I pretend to be Wayne Brady, you pretend to be Terry Ryan dressed up like a giant Radish! (Also, you pick a trading partner for an expendable player on the Twins roster)

First, let's reveal what we came away with last week as we made a deal for Denard Span. Between the three comments on Twins Daily, the one comment here and the poll votes it winds up with 6 votes to keep Denard and 4 to trade him (with Ryan Doumit for door #3).

So fans chose not to make a trade this first time around so let's see what they passed up:

  • Behind Door #1 there was a package originally swapped for the immortal Johnny Grubb...[cricket noises]...Grubb was another slash hitting outfielder with manageable salary who was traded from Cleveland to Texas for Bobby [not Mike] Cuellar and Mike Rivera, neither Cuellar nor Rivera ever made the majors for Cleveland. Zero votes...SMART FANS!
  • Moving on to Door #2 we have cash and a prospect named Cutter Dykstra!! (The touted Dykstra went from Milwaukee to Washington for Nyjer Morgan...and is currently rediscovering his form in Low A ball). Zero votes...SMART FANS!! 
  • Finally, behind Door #3 we have solid though unspectacular backups Koyie Hill and Bill Murphy (as well as career minor leaguer Reggie Abercrombie) who were previously traded to Arizona for the pale Denard, Steve Finley, and the weaker Doumit Brent Mayne. Four Votes...manageable, and hey, Koyie Hill will always trump Drew Butera.
So Twins fans made a savvy move holding on to Denard without a great deal in the offing. But before we all get gun shy  I will tell you this: not one but TWO future all-stars are available in the next round of deals to be offered, so keep your eyes peeled as we try to make a deal for everybody's favorite implosion waiting to happen closer Matt Capps! SO LET'S MAKE A DEAL!!
Okay Terry Potters (get it?) we'll pretend for a minute that (1) Matt Capps isn't hurt when the deadline rolls around and (2) that GMs are more focused on how he has done generally--right around average--rather than any specific catastrophes mishaps of the past year or so. So once again you can keep Matt Capps OR trade him away for what's behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3!! (In accordance with the suggestions from readers I'll include ages as well (years old in parentheses)

Door #1 costs a little more than Matt Capps, yes we'd ask you to include Jeff Gray as well, but in return for those two somewhat inconsequential players you can get a young power starter (21) in A ball with a 1.2 WHIP and a K/BB ratio above 3 as well as a starter (21) who has yo-yo'd between the majors and AAA, and despite a less impressive 2.0 WHIP at AAA this year came into this season ranked as a Top 30 Prospect by Baseball America.

Doors #2 & 3 ask for just Matt Capps, and for #2 we have a bonanza of three players, starting with an outfielder (21) with .810 OPS last year in A Ball--steady power numbers between low and High A, a slugging first baseman (21) who came into the season ranked in the Top 35 prospects by Baseball America after a solid AA season, and a starter (24) who ate up AA last year (1.18 WHIP, and 2.0 K/BB Ratio (though it hasn't been as easy there this year) he has started going deeper into games.

Finally, behind Door #3 you might find a budding relief prospect (21)--29 Saves and 2.92 K/BB--a starter (25) who has started rising to the challenge in AAA after struggling as a reliever in AA and a promising starter (21) in AA ranked as a top #50 prospect by BA who has cut back on his walks and wild pitches this year.

So what will it be would-be GMs? Would you like to keep Matt Capps or swap him out for what's behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3!?!? (There's a poll on the right side of our website, and always room for more comments below. Make your voice heard by Midnight Sunday. We'll wrap up the results next week and consider what might be netted in a trade for a cornerstone in the Twins infield.)

6.22.2012

A worthy ally!

And this year, as the Twins remain frozen in carbonite out of contention (with .7% chance of making the playoffs) we COULD fixate on analyzing how the little things done by Ben Revere and Scott Diamond and Joe Mauer may or may not play out when the team returns to the playoff hunt in a year (or several), OR we could balance our love for the Twins with a special National League ally to give this season a hint of the old competitive flavor.

I have other reasons that Twins/Pirate
Fusionswill be awesome, but this is special
(Twinstalk.com)
So it's fortunate that the last few days the Twins have been battling the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of course we've made no secret of the fact that we have a certain fondness for the Swashbucklers on the Allegheny. But why should the rest of the denizens of Twins Territory shift their attention to this particular squad?


SO GLAD YOU ASKED!

  1. AL teams are now and will remain our adversaries. Cheering for one of our direct competitors (a team we've battled for years and will need to battle for future years) can lead to conflicting emotions when the Twins get back to business, so while seeing former Twins like Ron Washington or Delmon Young get a hard fought playoff spot might be nice, it comes with the knowledge that sooner or later we'll have to destroy them. (Ergo we need not cheer for the AL)
  2. The midwest rocks. We here in "flyover" country don't need the razmatazz of major media markets, or the obscene luxury suites that populate various capitals of industry. The more blue collar you get, the more dedicated and focused you are on the teams and players who bring a little notoriety your way. (Ergo we scratch the NL West (save Colorado/Arizona) and the NL East from our: teams to cheer for list)
  3. A little history goes a long way. It's easiest to join fan bases that are already a part of baseball lore. When fans can reminisce and brag up the glory of their guy and their best teams you get a sense of that passion. When fans reminisce about purple uniforms...that's just weird. (Ergo, now we can ignore Colorado, Arizona and Houston) But by the same token Twins fans tend not to mope about the problems of the past when the present is so darn entertaining unlike some other teams we could mention (Cou*CUBS*gh!)
  4. Everyone loves an underdog. And if you're the World champions you aren't an underdog (even if you did lose your MVP). It's been twenty years for the Twins you have to hope that if they don't do it some other hopeful franchise might (Ergo, St. Louis doesn't need us)
  5. Milwaukee is Milwaukee. Enough said (Ergo no Brewers cheering).
Please add one of our guys to this welcoming committee
(From: sfdiamondgirl)
So that leaves us with two teams, the Reds and the Pirates. The two teams who are (conveniently) first and second in the NL Central. But the Pirates have been waiting longer for a playoff berth, longer for a world championship, heck, longer for a winning record. Moreover, they've got this absurdly awesome education program, and their the setting for the new Batman movie! Best of all, they may be in the market for a new leadoff hitter/outfielder or a slugging first baseman (and be willing to give up a top pitching prospect for them)...so maybe we could cheer for our beloved Twins and the Pirates simultaneously (if you know what I mean).

So, while we remain Twins fans first-and-foremost, we'll make the time to root, root, root for the Pirates and we invite you to do the same.

But these are all our biases, where do you land in the quest for relevant baseball team to watch?