Le Mort de le Marqius de Marquis

We here at Peanuts from Heaven don't usually advocate for the French (they talk funny and haven't given us much since the Statue of Liberty, the Louisiana Purchase and Fried Potatoes) but we have to say that  perhaps we underestimated the satirical French playwright Moliere whose stinging account of "The Death of the Marquis de Marquis" seems oddly prescient in light of this week's roster move.

We provide the most relevant scene below:

...Bijoux and Pyjama [a pair of young sophisticates recently arrived in a country house to woo the daughters of Ronald le Lutin [the gnome] a wealthy, and crumudgeonly, old man with a large estate] sit in a drawing room debating their situation

Bijoux: Is it just me or is this frightfully easy?
Pyjama: It is indeed old friend. For those with youthful faces and adventurous spirits anything is possible.
Bijoux: I feel as if I could fly above the larks and the jays, indeed, higher even than the angels, such is the love I feel for my dear Minnie.
Pyjama: Though your poetry tastes of bog water, I admire your sentiment, good sir. My love for Sota is such that I would gladly battle with tigers or even wash the socks of the foulest Welsh pig butcher!
Bijoux and Pyjama mid discussion
Bijoux: My god! That is love!
Pyjama: Indeed, there is only one flaw with our situation...
Bijoux: Le Lutin's insistence that we grit and pluck?
Pyjama: No, le Marquis de Marquis
Bijoux: Ah yes, the poor Marquis de Marquis.
Pyjama: He is a fine man...
Bijoux: Indeed, fine as a fine Bordeaux
Pyjama: ..and a wise man...
Bijoux: Indeed, as wise as a sage farmer.
Pyjama: ...but...He does not belong here.
Bijoux: No.
Pyjama: He cannot help Minne or Sota to learn their lessons.
Bijoux: No, no.
Pyjama: He cannot teach Le Lutin to behave like a nobleman.
Bijoux: No, no, no.
Pyjama: He cannot burn with the fire of youth as we do.
Bijoux: No, no, no, no, a thousand times no.
Pyjama: What is there to do, Bijoux?
Bijoux: Perhaps we could play a joke on him! If we pretend that he has passed away from this world and is now an etheral spectre beyond our vision and hearing, he may wander off of his own accord!
Pyjama: Genius! Such chicanery is normally seen in Parisian theaters, but why not here in the country! Quiet now, here comes the Marquis!
[Le Marquis de Marquis enters, stumbling slightly, looking very shabby and totally out of place in comparison with the young men]
Man believed to be the inspiration
for Le Marquis de Marquis
Marquis: My god! What a horror! The brewers, they are revolting! My head is ringed with barrels and my barrels are headed with rings!! I don't even know what that means!! But if I keep up this charade perhaps I can keep the kind hospitality of le Lutin a little longer. [Sees Bijoux and Pyjama] Oh! There are those young men, Messieurs Bijoux and Pyjama (odd names, but good men). Gentlemen how are you!! [Bijoux and Pyjama ignore him] I say sirs! GOOD DAY!! [Walks over to them, still being ignored]
Bijoux: Stop friend, I feel a wind across my cheeks that I have not sensed since le Marquis de Marquis left us.
Marquis: Because I have returned!!
Pyjama: I feel the same gust my friend. But surely it's our sorrow at having lost so good a man so young.
Marquis: But I am found!! HERE!!
Bijoux: His death was quite the shock, it reminds us to savor our successes as fleeting wisps of air in the clouds of life.
Marquis: D-d-d-DEATH? MOI?! Yet here I stand! Could this be some trick,?I could push a hand against them and know for sure. But that would be rude and we French are never rude! Better to just float away, ghost that I am, for a better place. Adieu, adieu dear friends...live well and remember me!
[He is about to leave when Le Lutin enters, looking grumpy. Bijoux and Pyjama look forlorn that their ruse will be discovered]
Marquis: Oh, le Lutin! How I'll miss you! Your rosy cheeks! Your stern facade!! Your incoherent mutterings about pitchers for contact! Know that, though I may be dead to you, you will always be alive to me, my chubby little Lord Dumpling!! Goodbye Goodbye! A dozen times goodbye!! [Marquis de Marquis exits and Le Lutin crosses over to a relieved looking Bijoux and Pyjama]
Le Lutin: See, if you got grit you don't go crazy like that.


Put another way for those readers who don't care to read Moliere or catch the little French in-jokes here: "Adieu Jason Marquis, parting is such sweet sorrow"


Adopt a Prospect #2: Dreams of Glory

It's been a couple of weeks since we last checked in on Luis Perdomo, and while the recent road trip has been kind to the Twins (winning four in a row for the first time since mid-June 2011) it has been a little tougher on the bullpen with favorites like Jared Burton suddenly giving up runs. So, is there a chance that Luis might get a call to the bigs?

No. No, there is not.

Even if, the bullpen suddenly developed a bad case of leprosy and had their arms fall off in the middle of a long toss session, there are plenty of other options that would get the call before Luis Perdomo who got only 4 calls to the mound in the past two weeks--including one big fat stinker of an outing against Reading. And while plenty of other relievers have gotten calls to Rochester and/or the majors, Luis Perdomo is unlikely to be headed to the big time. But Luis Perdomo's beard...well..maybe...

You see as John Bonnes noted on my previous entry over at Twins Daily, Perdomo's chinstrap is positively Lincoln-esque. So Lincoln-esque in fact that it almost made a career change. You see after the beard (and Perdomo) were sent back down to AAA after a slow start in 2010, they nearly gave up baseball because it seemed ideal for the title role in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Yes, so potent is Perdomo's beard that it could have been walking the red carpet this summer instead of riding the bus from New Britain to New Hampshire. So powerful and magnetic is the beard that a horde of Hollywood starlets were lining up to be its leading lady.

Sadly, the beard had not yet obtained the sentience necessary to remove itself from Perdomo's chin and make a go of it solo. And, sadly, American movie goers weren't ready for a Dominican Lincoln. So it was off to the Minors for Perdomo and the beard, but perhaps there will be some opportunities to do some Vampire, or even, Yankpire hunting in the beards future.

That's the beautiful thing about the minors, no matter where you've been or where you are, there's always that dream of glory for where you might go. So while it's home for Binghamton and then off to Portland, great days and dreams of glory are still ahead.


Lessons from a mom

Yesterday for mother's day I helped honor the woman who taught me how to irrationally love a bunch of wild, punk kids...she had practice with my brothers and I, and it's clearly served her well as a baseball fan too.

My mother is a die-hard, eternally loyal and unflaggingly optimistic, and permanently enamored of the Twins. She cheers for Mauer when others boo, she cheers for Nishioka when others leave him for dead, somehow-someway, she even cheers for Matt Capps. But over mother's day brunch yesterday, after I told the whole table "we're rebuilding this year," she looked me dead in the eye and said, "Thank God!"
We can't believe it either Ron
(Credit Pioneer Press)

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Truth be told, I still find it hard to fathom that it IS like this. I mean...for a decade the Twins average record was 89 and 73, their average runs scored was 775 while giving up only 720 (that +55 is well above the league average). We had two sluggers still ascending into the prime of their careers who hadn't had a WAR under 3 since they were punk kids. Did last year stink? Sure! But it seemed like a one-off aberration, a trick of the light or the ghosts of pine trees or something. 

That the Twins are the worst team in baseball right now is staggering. Last in runs scored. Last in home runs AND home runs allowed (we don't hit them and our opponents do). Last in total bases. Last in ERA. Last in strikeouts per 9 innings. Last, Last, Last. 

It is, as the cliche puts it, a very short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse, but the Twins didn't so much take an express elevator as they took a Wil-E-Coyote Style Face plant to the bottom of the standings.
Could we spend time analyzing how and why it all went so wrong? Second guessing signing Jason Marquis, triple guessing the Nishioka deal, dectuple guessing Bill Smith's Santana trade? Yeah, but why bother? It happened. It can't un-happen. Move on.

I'd say Joe looks sad but I don't
Have much to compare it to.
(Credit: Sam's Spam)
Could we spend time fixating on the failures of certain players we've come to expect more from: the sudden aging of Carl Pavano, the power outage of Joe Mauer, the utter debacle that is Senor Francisco Liriano? Yeah, but again, why bother? I'm not as intelligent in analyzing such matters as others (see Nelson, Nick; Bonnes, John; Strohs, Seth; Hageman, Parker; Walter, Peter; Christie, Cody, etc.) so I doubt that the players, coaches or fellow fans would gain much from reading my thought that "boy, Danny Valencia sure does stink, eh?"

So, if I'm not going to analyze and critique management, and if I'm not going to whinge and bellyache about players, what else is left to do for a losing ballclub? Clearly, now would be the time to turn tail and run. To shut down the blog, to cut the cable cost, and to hide away until the Twins are once again competitive and then reemerge claiming that "I knew it all along!"

That might be the intelligent thing to do...but, and here's a shocker...I'M NOT VERY SMART. So I'll keep writing, keep finding little things in the game to make myself laugh, keep looking for  players to root for and reasons to get excited. I'll plug away little by little, because that's what the Twins themselves are doing. I'll keep hoping and wishing and appreciating the little things, saving up for the cheapest season tickets available, and loving every minute of fresh air, sunshine and baseball.

My mother raised me right. Play nice. Work hard. Make dumb jokes if it makes you happy. And above all else: love everybody (even when it's tough). She loved me when I was an insufferable teenager, and no matter how bad the Twins are they aren't pubescent teens.

So, as mind-boggling as this boondoggle of a season is. I'll keep going, just like my mom will. Just like the Twins will.


Adopt a Prospect #1: Meet Luis Perdomo's Beard (and Luis Perdomo)

Earlier this month, we Peanuts accepted the plea from our benevolent overlords at Twins Daily to adopt a prospect. This means that on a bi-weekly basis we'll update the rest of the blogosphere on the doings of one particular player until he graduates to the big club, or floats away into prospect purgatory.

While our fellow bloggers leapt at the chance to explore the victories and challenges of potential superstars, we picked ours based on this photo (used by our pal Betsy on her blog)
Photo courtesy Minnesota Twins
We Peanuts are an irrational sort, we like who we like just because it seems like the thing to do in the moment. And in the moment, that beard caught our eye and made us convinced that it had a place on the major league roster.

A thing of beauty and a joy to behold. A powerful symbol of truth, justice and scruffiness. This was no mere chin warmer, this was a no-holds-barred, Rutherford-B.-Hayes-taunting, Hemingway-prose-poem-inspiring, BEARD OF DOOM!

Now we just needed to know more about the pitcher attached to it, and so we adopted Luis Perdomo (and especially his beard), and now he is our very own prized prospect.

Luis was born April 27, 1984, in San Cristobal of the Dominican Republic. Though Perdomo is now 28 his beard is slightly younger and has higher upside, having sprouted to hirsiute glory after puberty.

Luis is a right-handed relief pitcher; meanwhile the beard is a beard and while it hasn't grown any hands yet, though we do suspect it might conceal a roundhouse kick (a la Chuck Norris).

After two partial years with Padres, Luis signed a minor league contract with the Twins last fall and came to spring training in hopes of being slightly less terrible than other prospects. He was not. So, he  ended up assigned to AA New Britain. To some this might seem like a career heading the wrong way...to we Peanuts it's simply more time for the beard to develop into a fully-fledged force of fury.

To be fair, the time in AA might also be a means of helping Perdomo overcome the stigma of being the garbage man during his time with the Padres (as RJ Henderson points out in this vintage FanGraphs piece from 2009), gaining more importance and relevance to the Rock Cats season could help Perdomo become a future Alex Burnett, and could build his beards' confidence as it confronts the steely gaze of clean-shaven Yankees.

Though his season started out with a hodgepodge of performances ranging from good (2 shutout innings with 4 Ks in his debut against Richmond) to nasty (giving up 2 runs and taking the loss without recording an out at Portland), Perdomo has pulled together a solid recent resume, running up a 9 and 2/3s scoreless inning streak over his last 6 appearances--including 2 shutout innings on his birthday, and 2 more last night! He's easily in the top half of Eastern League pitchers in terms of Walk-to-Strikeout Ratio and K's/9 innings and while that might well be expected of a 28 year old pitching to 24 year-olds, Perdomo's GORP (Grizzle over Replacement Player) remains remarkable at any level.

Sure, Luis Perdomo might not be in the Twins long-term plans, but let's be frank about this: in assembling a bullpen Terry Ryan has worked the waiver wire, honed in on the Rule 5 Draft, spun trade-upon-trade and scavenged for diamonds in the Free Agent rough. The only thing he hasn't done is  gone all Frankenstein on us and assembled a monstrous creature meant to dominate the opposition. If this mad science experiment is Ryan's master plan (and in the spirit of totally erroneous conjecture, let's say that it is) then Luis Perdomo's beard may well serve as a fire baller's inspiration, a batter's nightmare, and a hipster accessory worthy of a return to the big time.

We'll check in on Luis Perdomo (and his facial hair) again in two weeks, until then: good night and great beard!


Grade Check!

Yes, we peanuts are still alive and kicking, but it has not been easy keeping up with our beloved Twins. You see, Stinky has this thing called "work" which makes her do many, many important things, but very few of them are baseball related. Where as I, Scruffy, have this thing called "teaching" which will eventually lead to a wonderful summer full of partial planning and lots of baseball watching, but which (right now) requires me to be working from 7 AM most mornings till 9 PM most nights, plus plenty of hours on the weekend to boot (also--I decided that coaching Track was a good idea...not sure why, but I did).

So, as we try to get back into the blogging swing of things we're proud to present a little grade check (thereby blending both baseball and my job...clearly, I need a social life). Yes, hard as it is to believe the season is almost 1/6th of the way gone. So without further ado, here's the check in

Honor Roll
Most Likely to Succeed (Credit: CBS)
A+ Josh Willingham--"The Hammer" is like that kid who moves into your school district over the summer and suddenly is the coolest, most happening guy ever. Girls want to date him, guys want to be like him, dogs want to sniff his crotch...basically James Bond with a bat. (Random stats: if the Twins were just 9 Josh Willingham clones their winning percentage would be .879 and the likelihood that the clones would overrun the city and take over the world would be .798!)

A Joe Mauer, Denard Span--Here's a shock, Joe Mauer is quietly (almost boringly--shocker) hitting well, fielding well and offering stock answers to questions (Quoth the Chairman: "I feel pretty good but um...we gotta get more runs across and ahhh...you know...get back to ahh...winning ball games"). Meanwhile Denard Span has been equally stellar anchoring a tumultuous outfield and offering a great season at the top of the lineup (Random stats: say what you will about cavernous Target Field, Denard Span has managed to hit above the league average for Batting Average, On Base Percentage AND slugging percentage--thank you gaps!; meanwhile Joe Mauer continues to lead the league in soft, manageable hair--thank you Head and Shoulders!)

B Justin Morneau-- "Shows great signs of improvement" that's the key phrase on Dr. Neau's report card. Where once there was only doubt and concern, now there is doubt and concerned mixed with verifiable accounts of lingering awesomeness. PLUS, the sight of him by first base makes Stinky all twitterpated again. (Random stats: 53% of all Morneau's hits are extra base hits; Unfortunately he is one of several millions of Canadians diagnosed with "Canuckitis" aka--how are there teams from Phoenix, LA and Nashville still playing hockey while we've got bupkus?)

Under the Radar with Potential
B- The Bullpen--Sure Carl Pavano's pitching well, but this recognition needs to go to a group of pitchers we were frankly worried about who have, surprisingly, not totally sucked! Yes, of the Twins 16 losses only 4 fall on the heads of the Bullpen, we've seen fine performances from stalwart Glen Perkins, ex-rotation-also-rans Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak and Alex Burnett and newcomer/"who-the-hell-is-that?" candidates Jeff Gray, Jared Burton and Matt Maloney. So shine on Twins bullpen, you might be beneficial in a year or two! (Random Stats: Perkins, Duensing and Burton have helped batters get themselves out with swinging strike percentages of 19% or higher--6% of the league average; also the bullpen has managed to knit four Afghans, three camisoles and one lamb-theme onesie while waiting for their chance to come in with a lead)

This child's adorableness made possible by bullpen free-time
(Stealing a pattern from the Knitting Queen)

C+ Jamey Carroll--Besides inspiring perhaps my favorite new nickname "Country Strong" Jamey Carroll, our new Shortstop has been a solid contributor in the field and in the batters box. He won't earn many highlight reel mentions or gushing fan praise, but he does his job, he does it well, and he has earned our respect (Random stats: He doesn't have many hits, but 60% of the hits he does have have been stretched for an extra base; he has successfully avoided 99 consecutive calls from Garth Brooks' alter ego "Chris Gaines")

Under the Radar with Some Concerns
C- Right Fielder "TBA"--This little slot in the line up seems to give our team fits. Over 23 games, the Twins have rotated through 5 players (Plouffe, Thomas, Doumit, Revere and Parmlee) and while a positional carousel isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does have the potential to drive one crazy: what with the ups and downs, the general nauseous feeling and the maddening sound of incessant Wurlitzer music. (Random stats: your AL average Right Fielder holds runners to their base 45% of the time, your average Twins Right Fielder holds runners to their bases 27% of the time; The Bluth foundation has, to date, raised almost $50,000 to fight TBA and give us an honest to goodness player out there...)

D Matt Capps--As sure as the sun rises in the East, as sure as there will always be an England, Matt Capps will be around to drive us NUTS. At a certain point you feel bad for him, I mean how would you feel walking into your job, with 30,000 people fairly certain that you are going to fail? But then again, if you don't fail, then people won't feel that way! (Random stat: Matt Capps has thrown a strike in an 0-2 count only 40% of the time this season...I know it's a small sample, but no other Twin has that bad a rate)

We feel the same way...
F Francisco Liriano--If I were teaching Francisco Liriano I would be calling home at least once a week, begging parents to come in for an intervention. I'd be begging administrators and colleagues and even other students for some idea about what in the heck to do for him. And I'd probably be just as dumbstruck as the Twins coaching staff is now. The deal was if the Twins got good performances from Mauer, Morneau and Liriano they might be sniffing contention...two out of three isn't bad, but it's not nearly good enough when Frankie has gone from "Lira-no-no" to "F-Bomb". Seriously please direct all advice on how to help this man to the Twins front office before they start placing want ads for exorcists. (Random stat: 98% of all bloggers analyzing Francisco Lirano's stats have no idea where to begin)

Any grades you feel like handing out? Leave them in the column below and vote for the grade you give the Twins season so far at the right.