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