Tag Archives: Minnesota Twins

The Twins, the playoffs, and you

I decided to call my friend, March ElGringoLoco, to discuss this year’s baseball playoffs.

Me: How’s it going. You know, the Twins won 88 games this year.
MEGL: 88, huh? Probably good for 3rd in the AL Central.

Me: Not really, actually, the Twins went 88-75
MEGL: 75? That means they played a one-game playoff? Lemme guess, they lost to the Mariners in the one-game shot for the Wild Card?

Me: No. The Mariners actually lost 100 games
MEGL: OK, Cleveland. Sabathia has pwn3d us the last few years.

Me: Well, Sabathia could win the Cy Young, but no, it wasn’t Cleveland, and it wasn’t for the Wild Card
MEGL: Again? Damn, I thought he would fall back to earth…and if it wasn’t for the Wild Card, it had to be for the Central. I guess the Tigers’ offense was just a little too much.

Me: No, actually, the Tigers finished in last.
MEGL: So we lost to the freaking Royals?

Me: Well, 2 of the last 3 at the Dome, but it was actually the White Sox. They ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs.
MEGL: Ha. Who’d they lose to? The Red Sox? The Yanks?

Me: Actually, the Rays.
MEGL: HAHAHAHAHA, no seriously.

Me: Yes, the Rayz. They won the East by 2 games over Boston.
MEGL: You mean the Yanks, right?

Me: No, Tampa Bay.
MEGL: So, you’re telling me that the Tigers finished in last, and the Rays finished in first? Whatcha gonna tell me next, Cliff Lee is the front-runner for the Cy Young?

Me: Well, actually—
MEGL: You’re kidding, right. I thought Sabathia was the Cleveland lefty that would win it.

Me: Sabathia may win the Cy Young. The NL Cy Young.
MEGL: Ah, he got traded. Probably to the Cubs, they needed some more pitching. Ryan Dempster as a starter? I bet that didn’t work out so well.

Me: Dempster was actually very good. Actually, Sabathia went to the Brewers.
AEGL: Sonofa—-

Me: Easy, easy, this is a G-rated blog.
AEGL: Fine, fine. How did Johan do?

Me: Very well. Led the league in ERA, even pitched a complete-game shutout on the next-to-last-day of the season.
AEGL: Guess it makes sense, the Mets probably wouldn’t start the playoffs until Thurs—

Me: Actually, the Mets didn’t make the playoffs. They blew another lead down the stretch.
AEGL: Willie Randolph should be fired.

Me. He was. In June. He was replaced by Jerry Manuel.
AEGL: HAHAHAHAHA. No wonder, his Zen bullcrap never did work with the White Sox.

Me: Actually, Manuel led the Mets to the 3rd best record in the majors down the stretch. He even referred to Johan as “gangsta.”
AEGL: Well, I’ll be damned. So, I’m guessing the Cubs are fixing to win the World Series now. It’s been 100 years.

Me: Actually, they were swept by the Dodgers. James Loney hit a grand slam in Game 1 that really turned momentum, and Manny hit 2 absolute bombs in the first two games at Wrigley.
AEGL: Manny? Is that your nickname for Andre Ethier or something?

Me: Actually, Manny Ramirez got traded to the Dodgers in a 3-way deal that sent Jason Bay to Boston.
AEGL: So…the Red Sox traded Manny for Jason Bay? I bet that cost them.

Me: Actually, Boston had a better winning percentage with Bay than Ramirez. Heck, Bay even hit 2 homers against the Angels in the first round of the playoffs and scored the Series clinching run.
AEGL: Wait…you’re telling me the Cubs got eliminated and the Red Sox beat the Angels in the playoffs? I guess some things never do change.

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You know, this K-Rod thing is getting a tad ridiculous

Before I post this, I want to make it perfectly clear that I think Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez is a great closer, and that he is certainly in the discussion of the top 5 closers in the game. However, a few people (John Kruk, for one) have insisted that K-Rod should win the Cy Young, because he is on pace to have 64 saves, which would shatter the previous record of 57 set by Bobby Thigpen in 1990. That, however, doesn’t tell the whole story.

Pitcher A has a 1.84 ERA, 62 K in 53.2 IP, a 0.86 WHIP, with 4 blown saves

Pitcher B has a 1.64 ERA, 64 K in 55 IP, a 0.75 WHIP, with 1 blown save

Pitcher C has a 0.98 ERA, 61 K in 55 IP, a 0.89 WHIP, with 3 blown saves

Pitcher D has a 2.70 ERA, 58 K in 53.2 IP, a 1.28 WHIP, with 5 blown saves

Pitchers A, B, and C are having phenomenal seasons, while Pitcher D, while having a nice season, is clearly a notch below those three.

Pitcher A is Red Sox closer Jonathon Papelbon. Pitcher B is Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Pitcher C is Twins closer Joe Nathan. Pitcher D…you guessed it, Francisco Rodriguez. This is not to take away from the guy, but he’s clearly not even the best closer in the American League, certainly not the best pitcher, and most definitely not the Most Valuable Player of the American League, either.

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Our long national nightmare is over

Finally, thank God, Francisco Liriano is back. Liriano, whose agent was worried would never get back to the majors this year, will Start for the Twins Sunday afternoon when hopefully, they will be going for a 3-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians.  This move comes on the heels of the AL Central leading Whtie Sox picking up Ken Griffey, Jr. This move, along with the acquisition of Rochester first baseman Randy Ruiz, will hopefully be the type of trade deadline move within the organization that will lead the Twins to their 5th AL Central title in 7 years.

This does mean the end of the line for Craig Monroe, who hit a few big homers (including one against KC that may turn out to be a turning point game for the Twins, as well as Livan Hernandez, whose recent shelling at the hands of the White Sox was his last start as a Minnesota Twin. While I think Livan did as well as could be hoped for this season, it was clearly time for him to move on, and a rotation of Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Glen Perkins, and Kevin Slowey, with Boof Bonser hopefully getting better, should be very good for years to come. However, with that, here goes my tribute to Livan Hernandez…

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Liriano is annoyed

Full disclosure…in 2006, I fully expected this to be the Twins year. Cy Young winner Johan Santana would be in a contract year, the bats of Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Michael Cuddyer would still be going strong, and a solid group of young pitchers like Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Boof Bonser, and Kevin Slowey would be beginning successful MLB careers. Well, Morneau and Mauer have definitely lived up to their end of the bargain, and Baker, Perkins, and Slowey seem to be on the right track to success. However, Santana is no longer a Twin (he’s with the Mets, where for the first time in years, he didn’t get to the 5th without being pulled for a non-rain reason last night. However, the real reason the Twins looked to be on the upswing was another young lefty. Kid by the name of Francisco Liriano. In the short time he spent with the Twins in 2006, he put up these numbers:

121 IP, 144 K, 89 H, 32 BB, 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

It should be noted that his season ended with him needing Tommy John surgery, and the prognosis of him being back in 2008. When he started this season, he struggled, including a pretty terrible start at Oakland where he didn’t get out of the first inning. However, since then, he has been dominant at AAA Rochester, going 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA since his return to the minors. With the craptacular Livan Hernandez still pitching, many Twins fans (myself included) are wondering why Liriano hasn’t gotten called back up.  So is Liriano and his agent. Clearly, it’s a difficult situation. Liriano feels the Twins don’t want him to come back up and make him arbitration eligible (where he probably would expect to get a slight raise, if only for his contributions in ’06). However, He Shall be Livan will be owed $5 million, and frankly his trade value is so low nobody will take him. Some clubs could afford a hit like that, but the Twins aren’t one of them, so expect Livan to be pitching more than the Cisco Kid down the stretch.

This will, by the way, probably cost the Twins the AL Central, but oh, well, I’m surprised they’re doing this well.

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Random Thoughts of a Crazed, Crazed Individual

For the…maybe 8 of you who read this, here we go…

The Minnesota Twins are leading the moribund AL Central as of now, with a 1/2 game lead on my AL favorite, the Cleveland Indians. While I figure that lead will not last too much longer (what with the Indians’ ridiculous pitching staff, including the vastly improving CC Sabathia), I think the Twins may be a lot better than I thought…sure, the offense isn’t producing much, and Livan Hernandez is almost certainly due for a dramatic drop-off, but the Twins have found ways to win without any power production from Delmon Young. If Young can come back, the Twins may be able to compete for a wild card berth into…we’ll say August.

Praise be to David West, CP3, and the rest of the Charlotte New Orleans Hornets for their destruction of the Spurs last night. While I have no doubt this series goes 7, I also don’t think the Spurs can win in New Orleans. The two games tonight, Cleveland @ Boston and Utah @ Los Angeles, should be excellent, although I have this feeling the TD Waterhouse Garden will be too much for the LeBrons to overcome. Early predictions: Boston by 17, Los Angeles by 4.

Spygate is over. While I do think what Belichick did was probably illegal and unethical, there is really no more to this story that needs to be done. Stripping any team of a Super Bowl title would be extrememly problematic, because God only knows that Belichick is not the first, and probably will not be the last, coach to film other team’s signals. Heck, Jimmy Johnson, who won 2 titles with the Cowboys, acknowledges that it went on, and admitted that he himself had done it. Letting the story die may not be the popular thing to do, but in this one instance, I think it’s for the best.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs look to be nearer to the Finals, as the Penguins defeated the Flyers 4-1 to take a commanding 3 games to none lead in the Keystone State Championship. Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings will have a chance to finish off the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center in Dallas later tonight. According to many who follow the league, a Wings-Pens series is just what the doctor ordered for the NHL. I dunno, but maybe it will be, playoff hockey really is fun to watch, but the marketing of it sucks. Getting ESPN to retake it would be a nice start, but they really, really need something to inject some life into the sport, and this may be their best hope.

Also, congrats to my friend Collin, from Armchair Talking Head for his graduation from the University of Alabama this weekend. He’ll probably attending either the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University or or the University of Mississippi’s Law School, both of which are 10000x better than any law school I could get into right now.

And, before I leave, for YOUR viewing pleasure, I give you…the namesake of this blog, as well as his nephew Chavo, at their best

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Twins nearly no-hit…to the surprise of noone

Despite the Minnesota Twins surprising AL Central lead (thanks in large part to the surprising struggles of the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians), by almost any standard their offense isn’t very threatening outside Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, and hopefully Delmon Young. So, when I found out they had been one-hit, my reaction was, “Eh.” However, the guy who did the near-no-hitting was Gavin Floyd, who had nearly no-hit the Tigers earlier in the year, and right now is the 2nd best pitcher in the AL Central (behind the ridiculous Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians, who dropped his ERA to 0.81 tonight in a 3-0 win over the Yankees).

In other news, the Magic will almost certainly defeat the Pistons, and hopefully will do it 3 more times and save us from our long, national nightmare (ok, it’s not THAT bad…)

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My team is going to suck

 Anyone who knows me knows I am a baseball fan, and also a fan of the Minnesota Twins (blame Kirby Puckett and Bud Selig, if you must). Having said that, the Twins may not be…well, they may be god-awful this year. The offense may not be too bad from 2-5, with the addition of another MLB-level bat in Delmon Young in right field, which along with Joe Mauer at catcher, Michael Cuddyer in left, and the meastiness of Justin Morneau at first, gives the Twins 4 decent bats in the lineup. That, however, will be offset by unknown quantity Carlos Gomez (one of the key components of the Johan Santana trade) in centerfield, Brendan Harris at 2nd (career .273/.331/.418 hitter, not too great, but on this team a damn bona fide threat), Mike Lamb (.281/.339/.427, not bad numbers for a shortstop, but not really for an AL 3rd baseman) at 3rd, Adam Everett (.248/.299/.357, godawful for any position) at short, and either Craig Monroe or Jason Kubel at DH (both have shown signs of being good hitters, Monroe-who had a monster 2006 playoffs with the Tigers-in particular, but neither have been consistent enough to warrant full-time spots with their teams). The pitching will be anchored by a young lefty with possibly the filthiest stuff in the game. However, this guy does not wear #57, he wears #47, and he is coming off Tommy John surgery. His name is Francisco Liriano, and he will be starting the season in the minors. Liriano was downright filthy in 2006 and along with current Met Johan Santana gave the Twins the best 1-2 punch in the AL for about 2 months before Liriano’s elbow exploded. Along with Boof Bonser and Scott Baker, both of whom should be improved with a year’s experience,  he will lead a young Twinkies rotation this year, with Livan Hernandez brought in to help strengthen the backend of the rotation. Kevin Slowey will probably be the #5 starter, although University of Minnesota grad Glen Perkins will be in the running later on. The bullpen should still be fairly solid with the excellent Joe Nathan closing out, and Pat Neshek (who could probably close for many teams) as the set-up man. Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, and Matt Guerrier should give the Twins some options in the 6th and 7th innings, with Dennys Reyes being the LOOGY (left-handed one out only guy) and the aforementioned Perkins being the primary long reliever.

 The Twins will probably struggle this year to score runs, and their pitching will probably not be lights-out enough to survive that. Add to that a division that includes two bona fide World Series contenders in Detroit and Cleveland, and an up-and-coming team in Kansas City, and the Twins may be fighting an uphill fight for 4th in the division with the White Sox.

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