The Twins' New Year's Resolutions

It's been a while since our last post (blahblahblah job, blahblahblah earning salary, blahblahblah spending holiday time with friends and loved ones). But we're back with a very special post as we consider the 2014 resolutions of your Minnesota Twins.

Joe Mauer
Baseball Resolution: Hit like a boss now that defense doesn't crush my legs.
Life Resolution: Be hospitable while hosting my fellow all-stars this summer, maybe even say multi-syllabic words to them!

Brian Dozer

Baseball Resolution: Prove that hitting outburst last year was no fluke.
Life Resolution: Find out how Joe got that Head and Shoulder's commercial and send them my audition tape.

Trevor Plouffe
Baseball Resolution: Throw the ball to the big tall guy at first base as often as possible.
Life Resolution: Repeat life affirming mantra ("I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like me") whenever fans make frowny faces at me.

Josh Willingham
Baseball Resolution: Get healthy. Get 30+ homers again. Get the hell out of here.
Life Resolution: See above.

Oswaldo Arcia
Baseball Resolution: Hit many more of those mammoth home runs.
Life Resolution: Build a time machine so I can see those mammoths run home.

Jason Kubel
Baseball Resolution: Rebuild career amongst my people.
Life Resolution: Attempt to smirk with the other side of my mouth.

Josmil Pinto
Baseball Resolution: Improve defensively by listening closely to my veteran catcher and veteran pitchers
Life Resolution: Improve my teammates by teaching them the harmonies to the entire Mumford & Sons catalogue through my walk up music.

Ricky Nolasco
Baseball Resolution: BE AWESOME!!!!!!!
Life Resolution: !!!!!!!!

Caleb Thielbar
Baseball Resolution: Keep being a badass left-hander
Life Resolution: Keep percentages in my favor by brainwashing every hitter to be left handed.

Phil Hughes
Baseball Resolution: Use new stadium to keep home run rates down, try to boost strike out rate.
Life Resolution: Every time I think about mean Yankee fans, just remember I've gone somewhere so far away that they'll forget I've ever existed...until we play a game in the Bronx...then drink heavily.

Jared Burton
Baseball Resolution: Continue to solidify the back of the bullpen.
Life Resolution: Popularize neck beards again.

Kevin Correia
Baseball Resolution: Keep doing what I'm doing, even if I've been demoted from staff ace to staff #3...again...
Life Resolution: Keep my arm attached to my shoulder.

Glen Perkins
Baseball Resolution: Get another All-Star Game spot by racking up the saves...assuming we have games that need saving.
Life Resolution: Keep telling truth to power [hitters]. (And by tell truth I mean talk trash/throw sliders)

Ron Gardenhire
Baseball Resolution: Rebuild the team so it's in good shape for the next guy
Life Resolution: Use word a day calendar to improve nicknames for the boys. Instead of "Plouffe-y" maybe, Penultimate Plouffe-Dog?

What are your New Year's Resolutions Twins Fans?


A Winter Meeting's Guide to Twinsey World

Monday marks the kickoff of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida (aka: a convenient holiday for baseball executives and their families).

Naturally, as the Twins do their part at the Winter Meetings for the next four days, they may make time to have a little fun in the Happiest Place on Earth That is Also a Festering Swamp. But the attractions they see may have extra ramifications on their plans for the next four days. Here we present the possible outcomes of how what they see and could manifest themselves in baseball moves. (From least likely to most likely

Ride: It's a Small World--If there are any little kids along side Twins execs, they may decide to go into Mattel's amazing wonderland of creepy dolls for other nationalities.
Result: BLOW IT UP!--Obviously, standing in the epic line, in the middle of Florida heat, only to sit on a thing for fifteen minutes worth of nauseating jerky motion and the world's nastiest ear worm of a song is going to drive any reasonable person insane. As a result we end up with the bizarre blow up our roster set moves including 
  • Trading Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and the Pentair Sustainable Water Solutions System for the Teseract and access to a super species of baseball players in another dimension
  • Punching Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes turning their signings into a gigantic, evil prank
  • Signing Trevor Plouffe to a 20 year 400 Million dollar contract
If you see any Twins execs around the "It's a Small World Ride" save them, for god's sake, save them.

Ride: Tower of Terror--The stomach-drop-inducing seven story fall is a favorite for thrill seekers...not exactly the most common adjective used to describe the Twins brain trust is it?
Result: Major Trade/signing--Flush with the giddy thrill of some free agent signing success they might just decide to double down on the whole experience and drop some more and throw caution to the win by bringing in Shin Soo-Choo, Matt Garza and/or Carlos Beltran.

Ride: Japan Booth at Epcot Center--This isn't so much a ride as it as pleasant and satisfying experience for people interested in a little culture, knowledge and family bonding. (That does sound like a Twins outing
Result: Make a bid for Masahiro Tanaka--The Twins are big on understanding players and reaching out to them, so maybe they think a little background research will be an added perk to a bid for Tanaka. Of course, first Japan has to approve baseball's new system, then the Twins have to win or tie the bid process, and finally Tanaka has to consider talking to the Twins about anything other than "what's the Yankee's number again?"

Ride: Pirates of the Carribbean--A Disney World landmark and must-see stop on the tourist trail can churn out happy patrons who are only mildly unnerved by the slowly gyrating animatronic pirates.
Result: Minor trade/signing--Did someone say "mildly unnerved by slowly gyrating animatronic" somethings? Sounds like an aging back up catcher to me!! (John Buck? JP Arrencibia? Yorvit Torrealba?) Also, did someone say "churn out happy patrons"? Maybe we're due a minor swap of prospects, or at least a Rule 5 draft pick!

Ride: Wonder why there's only Teri license plates in the gift shop--Honestly, the Twins probably are going to be focused on the baseball side of business. If Terry Ryan does anything, it may just be stopping by the gift shop for a memento only to find that all the playful license plates read "Teri" and "Bort".
Result: Nothing--Every year I predict that nothing much will really happen at the Winter Meetings. And this year I'll hold to that more than ever. They've signed two free agents. They've dropped more money on the market than ever before. If the Twins do anything beyond kick the tires and chew the fat, it might well be a big surprise.


Ricky "Human Exclamation Mark" Nolasco

News broke yesterday that former Marlins/Dodgers pitcher, Ricky Nolasco will be signing with the Twins (reportedly for a four/five year deal worth between 49 and 62 Million dollars).

There are many things to consider in this signing: the sudden acquisition of a (relative) strike out artist for a "pitch-to-contact" team; the commitment through 2018 (making Nolasco one of only 3 Twins guaranteed that long a deal); the degree of responsibility and position of "leader" foisted on a player who has only recently tasted meaningful baseball; the question of whether or not this will make any real difference to a team with so many pitching questions. But rather than ponder any of those things, we at Peanuts from Heaven will do what we do best: bring up something stupid and pretend it's important.

Consider, if you will, Ricky Nolasco's twitter feed (my brother pointed the change in logo to me as proof that he was in fact coming here). 

It is no stretch of the imagination to say that Nolasco's twitter feed makes ample use of the exclamation mark (19 in 6 posts, plus two more just for "LA"). A device that some writers of the English language use to show "excitement, vehement commands or emphasize the intensity of an emotion." Or, as we refer to that in Minnesota, "going crazy".

There have been very few Twins players or even fans in recent years, who could be accused of being either excited, vehement, or even having an intense emotion of any kind. So naturally we wonder, what Ricky Nolasco's first few days as a Twin will be like.

**Dream Sequence**
Ricky Nolasco sits at a pressconference table with Terry Ryan, Ron Gardenhire and (face of the franchise) Joe Mauer

Ryan: We are very proud to introduce Ricky Nolasco as the newest Minnesota Twin [polite applause from assembled reporters].
Nolasco: YEAH!! What's up TWIN CITIES?!?!?!!!!
Reporter: Ricky, how do you feel about joining the Twins?
Nolasco: Amazing!!! Obviously! I get to be in the land of 10,000 Lakes!! That's 9,999 more than LA could offer!!!
Reporter: Do you feel any pressure because of your contract?
Nolasco: Sure!! But I can do it!!!! We've got a tremendous group of guys here, including one of the greatest hitters of all time in Joe Mauer!!! I'm so pumped to play with you Joe!!!
Mauer: Thanks, Ricky. I'm...ummm...really excited to play with you too...you know?
Nolasco: And I get to be coached by a former manager of the year!!! That's awesome!! Nothing against Don Mattingly or Mike Redmond, but, c'mon!!! This is Ron Freaking Gardenhire!!!
Gardy: Thanks Ricky-y...'preciate that.
Nolasco: It's gonna be amazeballs, you guys!!! I know you've had some hard times, but there are some total badasses coming up from the minors!! It'll be great to see them mature! And I'm so grateful that management trusts me to be a leader on a team destined for greatness!!!!
Ryan: Easy, Ricky, let's not get too riled up just yet.
Nolasco: What do you mean!!!?! This is just how I talk!!!
Gardy: We normally try to be very calm and level headed whenever we can.
Nolasco: Oh, for sure, Skip!! Being level-headed is the BEST!!!
Mauer: What about, you know...polite, non-offensive, mutterings about trying hard and...ummm...stuff.
Nolasco: Sure, Joe! I'll try anything!! Why don't you try an exclamation!?!?!
Mauer: What would I exclaim about?
Nolasco: Anything!! Anything that makes your life great!! Your wife! Your kids!! Your job!!! 
Mauer: Wild Rice Soup!

Thank you Ricky Nolasco for reintroducing such a valuable punctuation mark to Twins Territory. Or, should we say: Thank you Ricky Nolasco for reintroducing such a valuable punctuation mark to Twins Territory!!!!


The Promise of Players: A Blueprint to to Win the Game of Bases & Balls

'Tis the season for the best baseball minds (and me) in the Twinsblogosphere to offer their takes on what the local 9 ought to do to improve their roster. Using the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook as a guide, you take your best crack at improving the Twins. Many bloggers dig deep for undervalued gems, or carefully consider how to balance free agency with player development.

I choose an irrelevant theme and offer totally implausible pipe-dreams for about 1000 words.

Let's not mince words: the Twins are in trouble. Once a mighty force, feared throughout the land for their scrappiness and tenacity, the Twins have been brought to heel, defanged, and dismissed. They have bent the knee to the most powerful groups in the American League: Detroit, Boston, Tampa Bay and New York.

And that puts us exactly where we want to be.

King? Or Red Sock?
It may seem silly to think that a lowly group of bunglers like us--a group often looked at as mere comic relief--could put ourselves into a position of power any time in the near future. But if Game of Thrones has taught us anything (besides the fact that there's a whole lot of murder and nudity in George RR Martin's brain), it's that people without power can gain it very quickly provided they are willing to do a few slightly unscrupulous things.

Sure there may be some powerful people right now, but in George RR Martin's world, you're always just a boar hunt, lousy wedding reception or frozen-zombie attack away from being another corpse in the pile. The throne is won in the wheeling and dealing between the powerful and the (seemingly) powerless.

So, let's look at a few...guidelines...for how the Twins ought to behave if we want to improve our standing in this most dangerous game: the game of bases and balls!

Eddie Rosario in 2 Years
1. There are no "guests" or "squires" or "wards"...there are only prisoners
The biggest, strongest and most powerful lords of the land have a simple way to ensure loyalty: take a beloved child of minor houses into your home as a "ward" for several years. This ensures that minor houses don't rise up; if they do, you just slit the throat of your "ward" and they sit back down again. So the Twins may need to send some of their dearly beloved prospects off to more prominent places. Which is I suggest they trade Eddie Rosario and Jared Burton to Toronto for power throwing starter Marcus Stroman.

The Blue Jays have some solid pitching depth but are desperate to shore up second base. While they might find a shorter term solution elsewhere on the market, Rosario gives them someone to have for several years...of course, just because Rosario becomes their "ward" doesn't mean he actually cares for them, and when the time comes for the Twins to battle the Blue Jays for playoff position in a few years if he were to say, make errors in the field and betray Jose Bautista by decapitating him in the on-deck circle...well, we might be able to cut him in on a post-seasons hare.

2. Repairing your weaknesses is less important than exploiting the weaknesses of your rival
No house in the Game of Thrones universe thinks about what their rivals do well, they think about how to exploit their flaws be it hubris, wealth or insanity.

Okay Scott, we'll play your game
There's plenty of money flying around baseball, and sure the Twins have some of it, but not as much as other big name teams...so perhaps it would behoove us to use our rivals' wealth to our own gain. The Yankees are keen on splurging on Masahiro Tanaka? Let's up that bid by one dollar (a la that jerk on the Price is Right) until they dump 80 million. Scott Boras (the enemy of our enemy) needs a "mystery team" for upping the price on Stephen Drew or Suk-Min Yoon, we're happy to help. If played well, all of this costs us nothing and our rivals nearly everything. The bottom line is, it doesn't matter if we don't have money as long as our opponents spend it really, really badly.

3. A great sell-sword is preferable to a loyal knight.
Of course, getting our opponents to spend like idiots is even better if we spend what little money we do have really, really well.  Unfortunately, there are precious few pitchers who would pick Minnesota as a top destination, so our goal shouldn't just be to sign the best available, but those who have something to prove.

Think of it like this: we aren't looking for a brave and noble knight to carry our colors proudly or champion our side for the next decade; we're looking for someone who can keep us alive. So, much as we love brave Ser Liam and Ser Andrew we need someone who might make a difference.

Don't worry I have a clause prohibiting
Phil Hughes from doing this again...
They may not be loyal, but they're better than what we have. If they do well and we all get along we can If they abandon us or hear about better money elsewhere, so be it. If we find out that it's in our interest to sell their services elsewhere again, do it and do it fast.

So congratulations: Ser Josh Johnson (signed for 1 year, 9 Million) and Ser Phil Hughes (signed for 3 years 30 Million), you're both due golden opportunities.

4. Wars aren't won on the field, they're won by having the best set of counselors
As great as a good sell sword is, they can't do much of anything if you don't have the strategists and smarts to know what's worth doing and what's not. Without the right counselors you may well end up with a pot of gold poured on your head, or a smoke demon killing you.

(From L) Molina, Johnson, Kyle Gibson,  Santana
and Chavez discuss how to pitch the Yankees
For the Twins, this is even more important. With a young, inexperienced team it's important to surround our would-be-kings with people who know what it takes to lead: veterans with post-season/high performing experience. Recently, we haven't really done that, but that can be fixed by imprisoning a few people in nearby dungeons making some trades for long shot prospects. (sorry Ryan Doumit you've been traded to Seattle for LHPs Rusty Shellhorn and Roenis Elias and godspeed Kevin Corriea you've been traded to Colorado for SS Rosell Herrera and/or RHP Scott Oberg).

Now we can bring in what we need. A masterful caretaker catcher (Benjy Molina, 2 years 4.5/yr); a skilled warrior on his last legs...or arm as it were (Johan Santana, 1 year 5 M + playing/front office option); and a eunuch (Eric Chavez, 1 year 2 M)

5. Witticisms win no wars, but they are fun.
Finally, we should say this: even with these changes the Twins will likely be below average, if not down right bad (just like life for most medieval houses no matter how conniving they try to be). That's why it's important to find little joys in life, like a wickedly funny dinner guest/prisoner/imp/mastermind/whoremonger.

Our Secret Weapon
So the natural result is that we should hire Peter Dinklage to be an assistant coach/honorary trash talker at all home games. It might seem like a terrible echo of baseball's sordid past with dwarves as mascots, but when you consider that this will probably cost about 3 million for just half a season of Dinklage related chicanery, it's a lot less cruel and a lot more like paying a man what he's worth.

Imagine the joy of having an in-character Dinklage razz rivals across the field ("I may not have a nose, but at least I don't have to catch the whiff of Adam Dunn's rancid stink"; "The wealth and the power the Yankees have will always make them a target. Fortunately, I always hit the targets I piss at.")

If I can paraphrase Bill Veeck: "A losing ball-team can draw more with beer and Peter Dinklage than with a long still silence."

So there you have it, my plan to help restore the Twins to Wooden Throne, or, if you're here because you were looking for Game of Thrones analysis, my conjectures as to what will be in Martin's next book. Below is a summary of the final results.
Eddie Rosario and Jared Burton to Toronto for RHP Marcus Stroman and a betrayal to be named later
Ryan Doumit to Seattle for LHPs Rusty Shellhorn and Roenis Elias
Kevin Corriea to Colorado for SS Rosell Herrera and/or RHP Scott Oberg

Phil Hughes--10 Million/year
Josh Johnson--9 Million
Johan Santana--5 Million
Benjy Molina--4.5 Million
Peter Dinklage--3 Million
Eric Chavez--2 Million

Lineup: Molina/Mauer/Dozier/Florimon/Plouffe/Willingham/Hicks/Arcia/Chavez
Bench: Pinto/Colabello/Escobar/Mastroianni
Rotation: Johnson/Hughes/Santana/Deduno/(Gibson, Diamond, Stroman, et. al)
Bullpen: Swarzak/Welker/Tonkin/Fien/Duensing/Theilbar/Perkins

Total Salary: $82 Million


The 2013 Twins by the Only Stat that Matters (Pt. 3: The Pitchers and Staff)

This is the first in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduced the stat, then we used it to analyze hitters, finally we'll use it to analyze pitchers and staff members.

Anyone can evaluate a player's performance in the field, but what about their performance in the field of entertainment?

The Twins completed their third straight 90-loss season, but rather than chastise the unproductive and cheer the talented, I'm here to praise the players who made it fun to watch games in an otherwise lost season, and punish those who made it tough to be a Twins fan. Using the totally-made-up revolutionary new statistic, AARP (Amusement Above Replacement Players) I'll quantify the contributions made by a few note worthy Twins this year.

Few areas of the Twins organization were as woebegone and bedraggled as the pitching staff. For the third straight year the rotation was abominable, the ERA's were up and the bullpen was overtaxed. Criticizing the pitching staff has passed "going to the lake" and "enjoying three days without storm windows" in top summer pastimes in Minnesota.

Alongside the pitching staff, the front office and managerial staff of the Twins has been similarly critiqued by everyone from my grandma to new born infants. Whether it's Ron Gardenhire's exhausted answers at post-game press conferences, Terry Ryan's intransigence with free agents, or Jim Pohlad's perceived salary dump midseason, the only thing less popular than a Twins pitcher is a Twins executive.

But surely, they aren't all that bad! With that I present a break down of the Twins Pitchers and Staff by AARP.

Vance Worley
Play: Let's keep this simple: Vance Worley stank.  -1.2
Nickname: "Vanimal" is still a pretty solid nickname, even if it captures more of his erratic, irresponsible, total uncontrollable nature 0.5
Traits: Faux-hawk is at least some kind of style 0.3
Demeanor: Given how little time he spent at the big league level, it's hard to tell -0.1
Oddities: A little bit punk, a little bit of quirky history, a whole lot of awkward silence 0.2
AARP: -0.3

Liam Hendricks
Play: The Aussie had the best winning percentage of his career...it was 1-3 and came along with an absurdly high ERA and WHIP, but still! -0.4
Nickname: I don't think "Crocodile Hendree" is going to work, but it's better than nothing 0.1
Traits: He's Australian!! And apparently the accent is catnip to lady Twins fans 0.7
Demeanor: He seems like a nice enough guy, but also a terribly self defeated one -0.2
Oddities: Again, he's AUSTRALIAN!! 0.1
AARP: 0.3

Brian Duensing
Play: Now that he doesn't have to face a line up more than once, Duensing is more frequently effective, especially against lefties...except for all the times he's not 0.3
Nickname: Twins Centric calls him "The Duenslinger" I prefer "You Make me Feel Like Duensing!", they're long ways to go for a joke...but I'm amused by it. 0.3
Traits: A Nebraskan? Yeah, not much to set him apart -0.1
Demeanor: A Nebraskan? Yeah, not much obvious attitude -0.1
Oddities: He was in line to be a high school English teacher, so I like him; and he did out perform fellow Husker Joba Chamberlain, so that's a plus 0.2
AARP: 0.6

Kevin Correia
Play: Our pre-season designated scapegoat actually turned out to be our most consistent and reliable starter...which says a lot...sadly 0.5
Nickname: He couldn't really live up to scape goat status or win any new ones -0.2
Traits: Despite going the whole season with us, I kept forgetting he was due to pitch 0.0
Demeanor: Durable, willing to keep trying even when he's pitching for the Twins 0.2
Oddities: He wasn't totally awful, which qualifies as odd in Twins Territory 0.1
AARP: 0.6

Anthony Swarzak
Play: He came through with one of his best seasons ever, thank god for long relief 0.6
Nickname: We're staying satisfied with calling him the Swarzak duck...god I need better pitcher nicknames 0.1
Traits: He was once suspended for pot... 0.1
Demeanor: A strong armed reliever...like all our strong armed relievers -0.1
Oddities: Pretty much just the pot thing... 0.1
AARP: 0.8

Glen Perkins
Play: In his first all-star season, Perkins was far and away the best pitcher on the staff...if only he was still a starter 1.4
Nickname: "Perky" "Perk-Dogg" "Perkins Pancake Special" "Dread Pirate Joe Nathan (because the real Dread Pirate Nathan retired to Texas a little while ago) -0.2
Traits: Minnesota born and bred, and looks like it 0.2
Demeanor: Steady and sure on the mound and in interviews, a nice combination after our recent...unpleasantness 0.9
Oddities: Uses SABR-metrics to study his own work 0.3
AARP: 2.4

Samuel Deduno
Play: Despite an injury that delayed the start of his season, Deduno performed well when he started his season--or as well as a crazily inconsistent Deduno can 0.8
Nickname: "It's Not Delivery, It's Deduno" and "Samuel De-dude-bro"; If only something summarized how wild he can get 0.4
Traits: Permanently grizzled, but with a body the width of a tooth pick  0.3
Demeanor: Willingly goes cuckoo banana pants when he pitches well  1.1
Oddities: Wild as he is, Deduno is apparently the last best Dominican pitcher left in the bigs  0.6
AARP: 3.2

Ron Gardenhire
Performance: Helped the team overachieve in the spring and underachieve in the fall 0.3
Nickname: "Gardy" "The Unhappy Gnome" 0.4
Traits: Fuzzy, scruffy, as rosy cheeked as Santa with none of the sanity 0.4
Demeanor: Either heavily sedated or in a rage 0.2
Oddities: Ended the year 2 wins short of 1,000; leads current managers in ejections; does tend to use "y" or "ie" in lieu of a nickname: ex. Doumsy, Perky, Benny, Baracky 0.3
AARP: 1.6

Terry Ryan
Performance: Much as we love Terry Ryan and drink his Kool Aid, his inability/disinterest in finding starting pitchers is a little grating 0.1
Nickname: TR, Ol' Bluff and Ready -0.2
Traits: Totally bald, I sometimes wonder if he wears sunglasses to avoid too much reflection from his head 0.0
Demeanor: "Placid" is an understatement, more like "perpetually dormant" 0.0
Oddities: Has a fondness for dressing up and going on Let's Make a Deal...at least in my imagination 0.1
AARP: 0.0

Jim Pohlad
Performance: A hands off owner, it doesn't really matter much 0.0
Nickname: "Mr Money Bags Jr." -0.1
Traits: None noticed 0.0
Demeanor: Mostly calm, slightly irritated by the teams failures...hey, like most Minnesotans! 0.1
Oddities: None...hey, like most Minnesotans! 0.0
AARP: 0.0

Put it all together and you have a pitching staff that's as hard to appreciate as players, and even harder to appreciate as fan favorites. Please, let there be a quirky pitcher out there somewhere...anywhere...


The 2013 Twins by the Only Stat That Matters (Pt. 2: The Hitters)

This is the second in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduced the stat, now we're using it to analyze hitters, finally we'll use it to analyze pitchers.

Anyone can evaluate a player's performance in the field, but what about their performance in the field of entertainment?

The Twins completed their third straight 90-loss season, but rather than chastise the unproductive and cheer the talented, I'm here to praise the players who made it fun to watch games in an otherwise lost season, and punish those who made it tough to be a Twins fan. Using the totally-made-up revolutionary new statistic, AARP (Amusement Above Replacement Players) I'll quantify the contributions made by a few note worthy Twins this year.
A player with a high AARP should appreciate this meme
Coming into this season there were lots of high hopes for the offense. If they did what they had done the year before and the pitching made even a marginal improvement the Twins might be on the outskirts of the playoff race by the time July rolled around.

Instead, the pitchers were on point early on in the season, while the bats were stone cold. And though the pitchers turned into pumpkins around about May, the offense remained as sluggish as the crowd at a Sons of Norway Meatball supper all throughout the summer. In an effort to improve things, management jettisoned underperforming veterans (Jamey Carroll and Justin Morneau) and played the revolving door call-up game with underperforming prospects (Aaron Hicks, Chris Parmelee and Oswaldo Arcia). It wasn't terribly successful and in the end of the year a concussion for Joe Mauer saw our one consistently potent weapon spending weeks in rehab rather than an inning on the field.

Going forward the Twins need to find some kind of offensive identity: piranha style slash and dash? Mauer-powered double carousels? Pull happy homer fests? All are possibilities. But however they choose to play the game, they'll need amusing players to sell it to fans, and we're here to evaluate just how amusing current players were this season, so we can tell if they'll be useful long term.

Here now, the Twins hitters, as measured by AARP.
(Remember -8 to -.6 is an unlikable player; -.5 to .5 is a forgettable player, .6 to 2.0 is an every day major leaguer, 2.1 to 5.0 is a fan favorite 5.1 to 8.0 is a nationally recognizable talent, 8.1 to 10.0 is a national favorite)

Chris Parmelee
Play: Parmelee just didn't have the bat that we hoped he did, and now it's clear why his defense made him such an intinerant fielder throughout his minor league career. 0.1
Nickname: We were rooting for calling him "Chicky Chicky Parm Parm" in a Parks and Rec reference, but I don't think Parmelee deserves it 0.2
Traits: Mostly bland and unrecognizable 0.1
Demeanor: Just a work a-day ball player -0.1
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP:  0.3

Trevor Plouffe
Play: From time to time his bat clicks in the perfect way, but more often than not his defense is so bad that watching it through a bag on your head seems to be the only viable option 0.4
Nickname: "Plouffe Daddy" "Plouffe Diddy" "Plouffe There It Is"--all great signs of Plouffe's cool yet irritating double nature. Harry Potter Fans may still just call him "TREVOR!!" 0.5
Traits: As you'd expect of a close friend to Delmon Young he's both cocky and seemingly oblivous to his failures -0.3
Demeanor: Quiet, distant, nonchalant -0.1
Oddities: None...other than the really weird plays -0.1
AARP: 0.4

Darrin Mastroianni
Play: Hampered by injury, Mastroianni went from a starter to a footnote this season  -0.5
Nickname: None 0.2
Traits: None noticed 0.3
Demeanor: None noticed 0.4
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP: 0.4

Oswaldo Arcia
Play: Statistically, Oswaldo doesn't seem that impressive. By league wide standards he's below average (-.4 WAR), but given his youth, potential and the awesome sight of home runs leaving his bat, his play has a slightly different feel for fans who watched him regularly 0.8
Nickname: I tried "Blizzard of Os" or "Blizzard Wizard" but neither of those really work and "Where's Waldo" is just odd -0.2
Traits: Tall, bulky, with a hesitating and thick Spanish accent. 0.2
Demeanor: Quiet beyond the field, a little proud on it 0.1
Oddities: None, a typical quasi-cocky kid 0.0
AARP: 0.9

Josmil Pinto
Play: Though he only made it up briefly at the end of the season, and has a skewed sample size (see Parmelee, Chris) he was pretty impressive when he was there 0.3
Nickname: None...yet -0.2
Traits: None noticed -0.1
Demeanor: Pretty self amused, full of aww shucks surprise at his good fortune to be in the game 0.4
Oddities: Walks up to the plate to Mumford and Sons...making him the Twins first "Hipster- American" player and my wife's new favorite 0.6
AARP: 1.0

Ryan Doumit
Play: I'm awfully amused by Ryan Doumit, but I get the sense that few others are. A back up catcher who doesn't catch, Rightfielder who doesn't field and designated hitter who had only a few good weeks of hitting this year -0.1
Nickname: I like calling him "Ryan Suave" but I'm alone on that one 0.1
Traits: Permanently scruffy, often quiet, usually distant 0.3
Demeanor: Seemingly cranky when he doesn't get his shot -0.1
Oddities: I may be the only one to notice or care, but Doumit's propensity for leaving three or more buttons undone is something out of Magic Mike 0.8
AARP: 1.0

Pedro Florimon
Play: Awful hitting, really good fielding 0.6
Nickname: None, maybe "Flor-E-mon" for those who aren't satisfied with his defense -0.3
Traits: So quiet and distant that you forget he's out there, seems to have inherited Alexi Cassila's role on the team and his goofy little goatee 0.2
Demeanor: Silent during the game, happy enough to do the jump at the end of the game 0.1
Oddities: He does the same unbuttoned shirt thing as Ryan Doumit, albeit less frequently  0.4
AARP: 1.0

Josh Willingham
Play: After a tremendous first season in Minnesota, Willingham's injury plagued sophmore showing had some looking for a way to get rid of him 0.3
Nickname: "The Hammer" "Willing Hammer" and other hardware puns--I still think the blonde bomber looks like Thor, but I haven't been able to sell that one yet 0.6
Traits: Big, eye black wearing beast of a hitter, easy-going 0.4
Demeanor: Southern-fried courtesy, has some good old Deep Thoughts moments 0.4
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP: 1.7

Brian Dozier
Play: In addition to competent fielding (a rare thing in a Twins second baseman) Dozier had above average hitting (a very bizarre thing a Twins second baseman) 1.4
Nickname: "Brian Dozer", "Bull Dozier", "Tupelo Two Bagger" 0.7
Traits: Beautiful flowing mane of hair, awesome southern accent 1.1
Demeanor: Calm, happy go lucky, easy to talk to and willing to make a few small jokes 0.2
Oddities: None really, other than coming from the same town as Elvis and a recent anthrax mailer 0.3
AARP: 3.7

Joe Mauer
Play: After all the razzing and jokes at the expense of his "bilateral leg weakness", #7 came back with a great season, at least until the concussion knocked him out of the last month of the year 1.9
Nickname: "Chairman Mau-er", "The Joebot" 1.4
Traits: The sideburns have been shaved, but the standard issue Minnesota humility is still on display 1.0
Demeanor: He's got charisma in commercials, in average interviews he sounds like a plate of mashed potatoes  0.4
Oddities: Since we know him, we know about some of the weirder quirks--only because he's our own Prince William. So the "rap" career, the "Twin" babies, the fan mail mom are all endearing oddities to us, even if they're missed on a more national scale  0.5
AARP: 5.2

So by my reckoning, the current Twins line-up has one nationally recognizable talent (Mauer, naturally) one local favorite (Dozier), and five players who are about as amusing as the average major league you watch close to 100 times a year. I'm not even trying to count guys like Alex Pressly, Eduardo Escobar, or Chris Colabello (all of whom have to rank about near Parmelee levels right now.

Sure, Buxton and Sano have all the potential to be interesting and engaging players when their times come, but in addition to a decent middle infielder and a slugging first basemen, the Twins should put some time into developing a little personality in the batters box.

Think my ratings are bogus, you're probably right, they are totally subjective and made up...but unless you say something I'll never know. Offer your revised AARP ratings in the comments below.


The 2013 Twins by the Only Stat That Matters (Pt. 1: The Stat)

This is the first in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduce the stat, then we use it to analyze hitters, then we use it to analyze pitchers.

There's plenty of time to dissect the Twins' season, and there are plenty of people to do it. Rather than crunch the numbers or analyze the trends, I prefer to dissect it in the best way I know how: poorly!

It's in that spirit that I offer the following new statistic: AARP or Amusement Above Replacement Player. [I am well aware that AARP is also the name of the American Association of Retired People, which gives AARP a 8.43 AARS (that's Amusement Above Replacement Statistic) score.]

Why invent such a meaningless statistic you ask? Why not? I answer.

Statistics are not fixed or holy things, they get to be whatever we want them to be. While much of baseball is designed to be measured and quantified (from the 90 feet between the bases, to every degree of drop on a curve), much of it has yet be measured or quantified (from how important it is to have "good guys" in the clubhouse to how willingly we as fans will watch bad baseball because the way a hitter waggles his bat makes us giggle). And since no one else was doing it, I figured I might as well.

Assigning a number to something like "amusing antics" may seem unnecessary or even stupid. Of course it's stupid. So is measuring the degree of drop on every pitchers curveball. This is America, and this is the internet. If you're looking for necessary and intelligent things, you've clearly come to the wrong place.

So, what is AARP and how do we measure it?

As I envision it (and since I'm making it up, that's all that matters), AARP measures a player's contributions, on the field and off, to provide amusement and enjoyment to fans. Certainly a player's actual performance has an effect on that: hit a homer, boost your AARP, come into a tie game and give up five straight hits, your AARP takes a hit.

We like successful players, but we also like players just because they are themselves. So the statistic also considers things like: a player's ability to earn and maintain a nickname (and no, adding -y/-ie to the end of a name doesn't make it a nickname--sorry fans of "Frankie" Liriano); their notable physical and personality traits (thereby giving credit to the short, the squat, the bearded and the crazy); their general attitude and demeanor (the more personable and interesting and less robotic the better); and miscellaneous oddities (i.e. Delmon saying his favorite book is The Great Gatsby or Eduardo Escobar's at bat music being a song from Grease).

Like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) or VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), AARP can have a positive or a negative score. Each category has a range of -2 to +2 and totals up to give their overall AARP. A positive score reflects a player who makes the game enjoyable to watch (however mildly), zero reflects someone whose existence you forget about between games, and a negative one reflects a player who leaves you so bored, depressed or upset that anything (even Kardashians, Ginsu knife infomercials, and "Channel Not Available" notifications) seems to be a more valuable source of entertainment.

How would the stat work? Consider these examples

Eric Fryer: The Forgettable type (-.5 to .5)
Play: Below average at an inconsequential time -0.1
Nickname: None -0.2
Traits: None noticed 0.0
Demeanor: None noticed 0.0
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP: -0.3
Jason Bartlett: An everyday major leaguer (.5-2.0)

Play: Adequate (slightly better once he left the team) 0.7
Nickname: None -0.2
Traits: Little scruffy goatee 0.2
Demeanor: Calm 0.2
Oddities: Name might remind you of The West Wing or a book of quotations. 0.4
AARP: 1.3

Ben Revere: A local favorite (2.1-5.0)

Play: Great in the field, great base runner, terrible at hitting 0.8
Nickname: None (Save for maybe Midnight Rider) 0.0
Traits: Big smile, giddy laugh 0.7
Demeanor: Happy and excited 0.4
Oddities: Superman style leaps after balls, summersaulting triples 0.4
AARP: 2.3

Michael Cuddyer: a nationally notable player (5.1-8.0) 

Play: Impressive arm, above average bat. 1.7
Nickname: "Cuddles" "Magic Man" 1.8
Traits: Big dimples, fondness for magic 2.0
Demeanor: Personable, engaging, happy to talk with fans 1.3
Oddities: Not many--typical dude. 0.0
AARP: 6.8

Carlos Gomez: A player who captivates casual and serious fans alike  (8.1-10)

Play: Phenomenal defense (recently, good offense) 1.5
Nickname: "Gogo" "Mojo Gogo" "Go, go, Gomez" "Rin-go!" 1.8
Traits: Hyperactivity, silliness, goofiness, sporadic bouts of petulance, funny little beard 1.9
Demeanor: Happy, excitable, willing to talk about anything even if you don't understand him 1.7
Oddities: Smelling bats, raptor yells in dug out 2.0
AARP: 8.9

Alex Rodriguez: A player who irritates casual and serious fans alike (< -.5)

Play: Very good at the plate, above average in the field 1.9
Nickname: A-Rod, A-Hole .2
Traits: Really toolish, egotistical, self-obsessed, obnoxiously pretty -2.0
Demeanor: Egotistical, better than thou, convinced of massive conspiracy against him -2.0
Oddities: Supposedly has a portrait of himself as a centaur, has movie star girlfriends feed him popcorn -2.0
AARP: -3.7

Sure there's room to debate the accuracy of these scores, especially since what is amusing to me may not be amusing to you. After all, if a statistic is subjective, is it really a statistic anymore?

Then again, this is a totally made up statistic that doesn't actually exist beyond the confines of this weird little corner of cyber space, so maybe we shouldn't spend too much time worrying about that, and just use this as a mildly amusing way to pass the offseason.

In that spirit I'll use AARP to analyze how the Twins did in 2013, staring with a few notable hitters, then moving on to the pitchers and front office staff. And while the management seems generally disinclined to consider statistics in their evaluations of talent, maybe a made up statistic will have more credence with them and we'll build for a future when the Twins are both talented and fun!


An Alternate Reality Solution to the Twins Problems

I read this in the Economist last week
Cuban athletes in all sports will now be allowed to compete in foreign leagues, as long as they pay taxes of around 20% at home and remain available to play for their country in major competitions.
Unfortunately for MLB, however, the new policy will have only a minimal impact on the league’s access to Cuban stars....The United States’ trade embargo bans any transaction that would fund the Castros’ government. As a result, the requirement that Cuban athletes playing abroad pay local taxes on their income would prevent MLB clubs from signing players who plan to comply. 
So naturally I came up with this simple, totally impossible, utterly unfeasible, only in an alternate reality solution. I hope you enjoy it: dare to dream fans, dare to dream.

New Nation Lends Support to Cuban Regime

Puckettsburgh, TT

In a stunning announcement yesterday, a section of the country known as Twins Territory announced that they would secede from the United States of America and form their own sovereign nation.

"The time has come for, you know, action," said newly appointed supreme Chairman Mauer. "And, huh, you know, It's best for us all to separate ourselves from the bickering and squabbling over debt ceilings and Obamacare and acknowledge that while America has had a good run, it's best for us to get out while the getting is good."

Chairman Mauer then added, "I mean, how much worse could it be than our current system?"

The new republic will encompass large sections of what was formerly Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. Concerns that those who live in the demarcated region may not be Twins fans were immediately allayed by Minister of Martial Redistricting Ron Gardenhire, "we're going to do one of those partitionsies. Mauersy and I talked about it and feel real good about it. It was kinda rough for India-y and Pakistan for a while, but you know, they battled and got through it and uh, real proud of them."

As for how the nation will sustain a functioning economy Minister of Financial Oversight Jim Pohlad was quick to explain. "We figure that a lot of people will keep coming to support us, and without American taxes to hold us back we can spend as much as we like. Beyond that, we've got some great corporate partners lined up, oh...and Best Buy...we've got them too. Plus the Wilfs said we could just have "personal living licenses to raise revenue, that seems like a winner."

But the shocking first act of the new country was to appoint Tony Oliva as official Twins Territory Ambassador to Cuba. As Chairman Mauer said: "It's a, ummm, no-brainer, you know. Uhh, Tony has the experience and the commitment and the willingness to do what it takes to win, so...yeah."

Oliva's first task will be to reopen trade negotiations between the two states, the result of which will be that Cubans can play in Twins Territory without the hassle of often dangerous attempts to defect. Players would be able to return home and improve the lives of their families and loved ones rather than being forced to remain alienated in a foreign land indefinitely. 

"I don't know if they'll remember me," said Oliva, "but hey, it's no crazier than signing Nishioka, and a whole lot faster than waiting for us to develop a pitcher."

Adopting a large portion of Cuba's talent pool into the Twins Minor League system already has Baseball experts salivating. "First Sano, then Buxton and now this?" said ESPN's baseball/foreign affairs analyst Keith Law. "The Twins might be the craziest pack of lunatics outside of North Korea, but crazy has its benefits."


Why are we listening to this?

That was my wife's question to me on Friday night as we drove to Culver's to use a buy one get one free coupon. We got the coupon at a ballgame this summer...a Saints game. Driving to Culver's to redeem it, listening to the Twins (a team that didn't even win me a scoop of ice cream this year) struggling against the Indians, it took me a second to think of an answer to that question.

Then I did.

1. It's the Twins.
2. It's baseball.
3. I love it.
4. I love hearing Josmil Pinto walk up to Mumford & Sons.
5. I love hearing the crack of Oswaldo Arcia's bat.
6. I love picturing Brian Dozier's mullet billowing in the breeze when he dives to make a play.
7. I love the thrill of the crowd when Pedro Forimon does his job.
8. I love the mystery of which Trevor Plouffe is going to turn up on any given day.
9. I love the dream of Josh Willingham getting his stuff together.
10. I love Ryan Doumit hobbling in the field, the basepaths, and up to the plate.
11. I love remembering that in a world of image-obsessed, ego-maniacal, stat-crazed athletes, there is a guy like Joe Mauer who will keep the same hair cut, the same "help the team" approach to hitting, and the same god awful interview skills day in and day out.
12. I love Dick Bremer's childlike enthusiasm.
13. I love making fun of Cory Provus for forgetting the count, the inning, the score and the names of half the players
14. I love the daydreams and rambling memories of Dan Gladden and Bert Blyleven.
15. I love imagining goofy photoshops for Terry Ryan.
16. I love Glen Perkins pitching well whether it matters or not.
17. I love envisioning Bobby Cuellar playing frankenstein with relief pitchers until we have what we need to keep a lead (just in case we ever get one)
18. I love the "surprise in every bite" style of pitching you get from Samuel Deduno.
19. I love the awshucks luck of Andrew Albers
20. I love the stubborn persistence of hardluck Liam Hendricks
21. I love Gardy tantrums.
22. I love having ready made arguments with my mom.
23. And with my dad.
24. And with my father-in-law.
25. And with all the wonderful blog-dwelling fans in the internet.

And most of all, I listen to it, because I miss all of those things for the three-four months of the year when the Twins aren't around.

Oh, Twins, you shouldn't have!
Really...you shouldn't have.
As it happens, I didn't actually have to list all those reasons, the first three were enough to remind my wife why she listens to it too. (As was looking at the St. Paul Grill's Scotch Menu to see a Talisker 25 as her victory drink for correctly predicting the Twins record this year.)

I realize that there's more and more of a push from fans to demand answers, a better product, and greater accountability from a franchise that values loyalty and community over production and success. But as long as there are games to be played and players to be cheered, I'll be a helpless, silver-lining loving fan first, and a critic a very distant second.

The season's over now, and in the absence of the Twins we'll have to make do with other amusements. We'll be riding the Pirates bandwagon for as long as that ride lasts. We'll be watching the Minnesota Opera try to fend off the Kansas City Lyric Opera for the Central division opera crown (it helps that we started our season with Kelly Kaduce!--who sounds like her name should be chanted like "LEWWWWW" Ford's once was). We'll think about the World Cup a little (okay, I'll think about it a lot and my wife won't think about it at all.) We'll obsess over Sherlock and Downtown Abbey with the same intensity that we put into obsessing about the winter meetings and MLBTradeRumors.com.

But rest assured, that wherever there is love to share for the Twins, wherever there is irrational hope to be promoted, and wherever there a dumb jokes to make...we'll be there.


The Great Twins Scotch Bet: Ready for the Final Act

It's sweet of you to keep trying Pedro, really, it is.
Entering the final week of the season there are many dramatic moments left in Twins territory. We could see a team clinch the central division, we could see a team clinch the wild card, neither of those teams could be us...but still...drama!

Still there are a few people who are hoping to see the Twins win a lot this week (other than fans of Texas, Kansas City, and New York). Well..there's one...well there's me. After all, I've got a bet with my wife and father and law on how many games the Twins can win this year

Again, the wagers are
Stinky: 0-69 Wins
Scruffy: 70-74 Wins
Gouger: 75-81 Wins

Where We Are Now
The smart one is the one on the left
It's official...the Gouger is out, his prediction of a .500 record was pretty hard to believe back in March, it was even harder to believe last week when he needed the Twins to win 11 games in two weeks. So we know that he'll buying a scotch, the only question is for whom.

Stinky's got the best chances if the Twins lose 3 or more games this week. And since they'll be facing the top two teams in the Central division (both of whom are still fighting for playoff spots) there's a very, very good chance of that happening.

Stinky: No more than 4 wins
Scruffy: At least 5 wins in the last 7 games

Gut Feeling
Here's a shocker. My wife is right. She was right. She will be right for the foreseeable future. As much as I want to imagine an incredible, amazing, staggering rise from the ashes to victory over two rivals, punctuated by triumphant interviews with Brian Dozer in which his southern drawl says: "this one's for that scruffy blogger who thought we could win marginally more games than standard oddsmakers predicted! You've earned a scotch just for having faith!" it's not going to happen.


The Plouffe Paradox

Last Friday, I attended what will likely be my last game of the year. As you would expect, I ate more than was good for me, and watched the Twins go down in ignominious defeat.

I also heard a noise I had never heard before at the ballpark.

There were men at first and second with one out when a ground ball rolled harmlessly to Trevor Plouffe. One out, easy as pie...but did he throw the ball to second base for the double play? No. No he did not.

I've heard fans boo; I've heard fans jeer; I've heard fans scream and cry and gnash their teeth in frustration, but until that play I had never heard fans make this noise in unison:


It took me a while before I realized what that was. It was the sound of resigned disappointment. It was the sound of hundreds of Twins fans having a reaction that was not only instantaneous, it was bred from months and now years of watching Trevor Plouffe play baseball.

YAA--it starts with excitement, potential, possibility, familiar thrills.

Waaahhhhh--then comes disbelief, sharp, incredulous, dumbfounded.

Ohhhhh--then there's recognition, a sense that this has all happened before, particularly when there's that number 24 on the jersey.

Uuuggghh--finally there's dismay, dissatisfaction, and acceptance that this is our lot in life. As if to say: "Of, course you did that, Trevor, of course you did."

Best of all, the sound can be reversed for a pleasant appreciation of underrated talent (only this time, when Trevor Plouffe is at the plate). A single, a double, the rare high arching home run. They're all moments of pure Plouffey pleasure starting with rumbling fear (uuuggghh), recognition (ohhhh), disbelief (waaahhhhhh) and excitement (YAA!)

That's what Trevor Plouffe adds to the Twins: a familiar face and even more familiar reaction. Whatever else we think of the Twins, whatever we think they ought to do in the offseason, who they ought to fire, hire or blow up in a quest to reverse the bad juju, we can all agree on Trevor Plouffe.

Maybe Plouffe's doing it intentionally. Maybe, like Haley Mills (or more accurately, like Lindsey Lohan), he's offering us a Parent Trap like chance to rekindle our love for each other.

Good Plouffe!
If we're torn between whether to rebuild the pitching staff internally or cast our lot amongst the free agents--Trevor Plouffe reminds us that we can all agree on his crappy fielding.

If we're arguing fiercely over whether Joe Mauer ought to move to first base or keep his catching gear--Trevor Plouffe reminds us that he too can hit from time to time.

If we're arguing over whether Trevor Plouffe totally stinks or only mostly stinks...well...you get the idea.

In a season of lost causes and hopeless false starts, it's important to appreciate the little things: Trevor Plouffe uniting us all in agreement is one of them. Bravo Trevor, Bravo.


The Great Twins Scotch Bet: Part Deux

001twins 9-15.JPG
If I win that 18 year old Highland Park, you get a taste Josmil
As some of you might remember, we Peanuts have found a way to make the last few weeks of yet another lost season slightly interesting: GAMBLING!

Okay, so we don't have any real money on the line, just requests for Scotch that we likely would have spent money on anyway, but still, every little bit of interest helps the cause. And we have Stinky's dad, the Gouger, in on the action too...sadly he won't be in on it for much longer

To refresh your memory: the wagers are
Stinky: 0-69 Wins
Scruffy: 70-74 Wins
Gouger: 75-81 Wins

Where We Are Now
Despite initial success against the Angels and A's the Twins quickly reverted to their uninspiring ways (including on Friday night for what will likely be our last live game of the year). After today's stunner over Tampa, the Twins stand at 64-84 for a winning percentage of .432. Based on that winning percentage the Twins stand to win 69.9 games, which some would call mathematically impossible...but then again this is baseball...what's that...even in baseball it's impossible to receive credit for a partial victory? Oh...never mind then.

Here's what we're rooting for heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Stinky: No more than 5 wins
Gouger: No more than 3 losses
Scruffy: Anything between 6-8 and 10-4
Gut Feeling
All of the sudden a three game set in Chicago is really really important. If the Twins sweep then I'm in a fantastic position. If they get swept I'm pretty well dead to rights because there's very little chance of our posting a winning record against Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland as they fight for the playoffs and we fight for...what's that thing...the opposite of the shame-y feeling we have at most Twins games? Oh yeah! Less Shame!!


The Great Twins Scotch Bet

Kevin Corriea: Determined to Win My Wife a Scotch
At the start of the year my wife (aka Stinky), her father (aka Gouger) and I made a bet. The winner of this bet would win two glasses of scotch (redeemable at any time they chose), the losers would buy said scotch.

The subject of the bet, naturally for a set of Twins fans, was how many games the Twin would win this year, so as we near the end of the season, it seems only right to check our progress and odds of winning the bet. (What else is there to root for this year?)

The Wagers
Stinky: 0-69 Wins
Scruffy: 70-74 Wins
Gouger: 75-81 Wins

Where We Are Now
The Twins stand at 61-80 for a winning percentage of .433. Based on that winning percentage the Twins stand to win 70 games (or 71 if you prefer the science behind predictionmachine.com). The team has 21 games left. which means we're each rooting for the following outcomes.

Stinky: 8-13 or worse wins or less
Scruffy: 9-12 to 13-8
Gouger: 14-7 or better
Gut Feeling
For the time being the math is in my favor. But I'm increasingly hard pressed to see how the Twins can win even 9 games, especially as they face a string of playoff teams. Fielding a team of Rochester's best against the A's and the Rays this week seems like the recipe for an underwhelming week. Maybe they could pull something off against the Angels (if Pedro Hernandez gets his act together) and maybe they can sneak one from the A's...but more than two seems unlikely.


Getting the Band Back Together

Years ago, back when there were frequent playoff berths and easy jokes to crack amid winning seasons, we debuted a segment called: Sargent Gardy's Lonely Hits Club Band. Part Beatles homage, part McLaughlin Group homage, all goofy. Few people read them...but I was amused enough to make a t-shirt in their honor. I was wearing that t-shirt yesterday when my father-in-law sent the following text message: "Morneau is gone-hope they can get him back next year."

My wife and I reacted as most fans did, simultaneously upset and yet hopeful that Morneau gets a shot at the World Series. But soon enough I realized that Morneau's trade would officially end Sargent Gardy's Lonely Hits Club Band...in Minnesota...but now that three of the four members are in the National League, perhaps it's only the beginning.

 Below is the first installment of their reunited panel discussion show, almost four years in the making:

[Theme Music plays, lights come up on four men in various far flung hotels, all wearing Beatles inspired military regalia]

McNeau: Welcome, at last, to the reunion of Sargent Gardy's Lonely Hits Club Band. The most elite roundtable of baseball minds ever to play in Minnesota.
Ringomez: AND MEE!!!!
McNeau: I'm Justin McNeau, the adorable one, and with me as always are Denard Spannon in Washington....
Spannon: The cerebral one.
McNeau: Brendan Harrisson in Round Rock Texas...
Harrisson: The quiet one.
McNeau: And Carlos Ringo-mez in Milwaukee...
McNeau: Gentlemen, I'm new to this whole playing for a totally different team, what is the best part of going elsewhere?
Spannon: You have the magical appreciation of a new realm of potentialities which, of late in Minnesota, have diminished in attainability to becoming a mirage of athleticism in a desert of despair.
Harrisson: Yeah...the chance to win is nice, but I really like getting to know real people elsewhere, beyond the bright lights big city scene [the other three snicker], seriously [snickering grows louder] I don't need to play in the majors [everyone just laughs] I AM MY OWN MAN!
McNeau: Good one Brendan...Carlos, what's your favorite part of playing elsewhere?
Ringomez: CHEESE CURLS!! Oh, and I hit home runs now!!
McNeau: Sure you do...
Spannon: No...actually...he does...
McNeau: Huh, well, issue number two, what differentiates the National League from the American League? Brendan?
Harrisson: There is a real beauty in the purity of having pitchers hit.
Spannon: Even if they hit better than you do?
Harrisson: They do not!
Ringomez: Hehe! Brendan can't hit!
Spannon: Ancient systems are uninteresting to me, we are only whatever we can be in the moment. The National League has won more recent all-star games and the world series. This is the thrill of what is immediate and makes it truly both a and the present.
Harrisson: Even if your team's barely over .500?
Spannon: At least my team's playing in front of more than 500 people!
[Everyone begins talking at once]
Harrisson: You guys are too fixated on the fame and the popularity of what we do, what about the art behind it! My sitar teacher's been telling me that I need to focus on my own sense of inner peace, and that's what I'm doing, if you can't respect that...
Spannon: Winning isn't everything, that's part of this culture's over emphasis on competition that no one appreciates the little things any more, these fasco-capitalist oligarchies pretend we can only be happy if we win; but winning is lots of things, like enjoying your family or teaching Bryce Harper not to say "bro" as often...
Ringomez: I have a  love-ly bunch of coconuts! deedle-dee-dee! There they are all standing in a row!! Bum, bum, bum! Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head...
McNeau: Gentlemen! Seriously, I'm kind of freaking out. I'm not an MVP any more and while Minnesotans had happy memories of my glory years to keep the cheers coming, what if Pirates fans boo when I only get a single and strike out three times?
Spannon: Embrace the victory of the self Justin. You are strong and powerful and you can help them have their first winning season in 20 years, they might not love you, but they'll thank you.
Harrisson: And even if they don't, it doesn't matter. You're a good person, with a family and a successful career. Besides, when you return to Minnesota, they'll still cheer for you.
Ringomez: And you are a good mentor! You make winning easy and playing fun!!!
McNeau: Thank you guys. As we wrap up today's analysis, do you guys find yourselves missing anything from Minnesota?
All: Joe's Sideburns.
McNeau: I thought so.


Adopt a Prospect II.5: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

This is the final installment of our inconsistent series attempting to motivate Luis Perdomo who was today, released by the Rochester Redwings and Minnesota Twins

Good luck, Luis
To most that would sound like a defeat, like the baseball gods are telling you--none too kindly--to get out of the way and not let the door hit you where the good lord split you.

It's sad, but true Luis. You're 29 playing on a team where the average pitcher's age is 26 and a half. You're having one of the two worst seasons in your eight year career. You've only pitched twice in the last two weeks...and not particularly well either time.

It's pretty clear that you have been defeated, Luis. But while that would be the end of the conversation for many people (particularly those in a highly competitive field like professional athletics), that is not the way of those who follow our motivational seminar: De-Restraining the Force Inside You!

So don't give up, Luis. Don't surrender. Keep trying to do what you love. If it's still baseball, by all means keep trying to make your way into a baseball line-up. Keep pitching, or hitting, or take up coaching. Few players who take up baseball ever make it to the Major Leagues, and you did. While it makes sense for someone your age, with your recent track record to give up on baseball, if you want to keep dong it you really should.

If you want to do something else, then by all means, do that, and no matter how many opportunities you have to give up or surrender, please keep working at it until you have the success you desire.

It's not often that a blog writer gets so worked up about the release of a middling middle reliever in AAA. Or that he genuinely hopes said middling middle reliever finds true happiness. But following the career of Luis Perdomo over the last two years taught me precisely this same lesson. Writing about a player who has worked assiduously to do his best, to elevate himself back up to the major leagues reminded me of some of the things I love best about baseball.

It would have been easy to give up writing this blog when the Twins sank into last place. It would have been easy to surrender to the truth that the players I write about and care about aren't terribly exciting, or even all that good, and that my time is better spent elsewhere.

But Luis Perdomo kept pitching, and I kept writing. I'm glad I wrote about him. I'm glad I've continued to write this blog. And I hope that he keeps doing what he loves, just as I'll keep doing what I love.

Never give up, Luis; never surrender.