Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could keep lies from conquering the minds of the weak. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.
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Take it from someone who was 5-foot-1 as a high school sophomore and 5-foot-9 as a senior. Sometimes it feels good to be average.
Can the Twins keep going? Will we be 6-foot-5 someday? Maybe ... and no.
Here's a quick look at what has helped the Twins return to decency:
1) They are currently 15th in MLB in runs scored. That's squarely in the middle of the pack. Last year they were 16th. Two years ago, they were 25th. So as we know, the offense was OK last year. The pitching was horrendous. And this year, the offense has still been decent -- particularly in key spots, where the Twins are 10th in BA and 14th in slugging with RISP (as opposed to 14th and 23rd overall).
2) How much better is the pitching? Well, the Twins are still 24th in team ERA, but with a not-so-terrible 4.25 mark. It was 4.77 at the finish a year ago. Half an earned run per game means a ton. The troubling thing is Minnesota's starters are still very near the bottom of baseball with a 5.18 ERA after being next-to-last a year ago at 5.40. Much of that has to do with two-thirds of the revamped rotation (Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey) having bloated ERAs. History suggests they will be better than they have been. History also suggests a comedown for Kevin Correia, but overall the Twins' starters should inch more toward the middle of the pack (or at least the low 20s) as the year goes on.
3) Thanks primarily to timely hits, Justin Morneau is on pace for 114 RBI. That figures to change since his power numbers aren't that great, but production from Morneau is huge. Ryan Doumit and Aaron Hicks figure to produce more than they have; Morneau and Oswaldo Arcia will likely dip. Nobody else is absurdly above or below a reasonable pace. Translation: the offense should be able to sustain middle-of-the-pack standards.
So if the offense is middle of the pack and the pitching starts moving closer to the middle of the pack -- with starters faring better and eating up more innings to spare an already taxed bullpen -- we're left with defense. The Twins have made 18 errors, sixth-fewest in the AL. They were a bottom-half team a year ago in terms of this simple metric, and at least that quick glance suggests the fielding is more like average than bad.
Decent offense, decent pitching, decent defense. It adds up to a decent record -- which, again, feels a lot better when you've been down than when you've been up.
Anyone clamoring for the Twins to load up the payroll with high-priced veterans -- you know, the folks always yelling that the Pohlads are cheap -- should pay attention to this piece by Tom Verducci in SI.com. It goes beyond buyer beware in MLB free agency to what he describes as a culture shift. A few grafs:
For all the overhyped noise of baseball's silly season -- when fans demand teams spend on free agents and owners get emboldened by their TV money -- free agency is becoming a more and more inefficient market. In addition to the troubles of Greinke, Hamilton and Upton, among other top free agents who changed teams Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39) has been horrible for the Cubs and Michael Bourn has been hurt for the Indians.
Kirk Gibson in 1988 became the poster player for the "one player away" philosophy that pervades baseball's winter: sign the right guy and you can win the World Series, which the Dodgers did after Gibson left Detroit for Los Angeles and had an MVP season. More recently, the Yankees spent nearly half a billion dollars on Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett after New York failed to make the playoffs in 2008. The Yankees did win the World Series the next year, but paid $20 million to make Burnett go away and are paying steep prices for the decline years of Teixeira and Sabathia.
Free agency isn't quite dead, but it's become a used car lot cluttered with lemons and high-mileage models -- with high price tags -- among the rare gems.
Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. Also, Minnesotans love to find the good in the bad (and the bad in the good, but we digress).
So how about this: As bad as this alleged spring has been, the Twins are lucky they are on a nice, long road trip right now. And we are lucky that, at least here in Minneapolis, the May snowstorm of the century never really materialized. Because if the Twins had been at home in early May and been dumped on with eight inches of snow, it might have been at least the termporary breaking point for a lot of people.
Instead, they were in Detroit -- where it was gorgeous yesterday. On Friday they go to Cleveland, where the forecast calls for 72 and mostly sunny.
And we'll muddle through a few more days of ridiculousness before things return to normal.
It could always be worse -- like it is, for example, for the Gophers softball team. Minnesota has had five home games flat-out canceled (including a doubleheader yesterday) and five more moved from home games to away games in the more balmy cities of Ames, Iowa and Champaign, Illinois. Minnesota has played just THREE home games this season out of 46 total games. And yet the Gophers are 30-16 heading into this weekend. You guessed it, it's a home series -- the Big Ten regular-season three-game finale against Indiana.
Will they play? Quite possibly. So it could always be worse.
We've been to 20-plus current MLB ballparks, including 9 of the 10 on this list ranking the top 10 parks in terms of craft beers. We have no idea if the list is spot-on or not. But we do know this:
1) Target Field, which seems to us to at least have a reasonable selection of craft beers, did not make the cut.
2) The first two ball yards on the slide show -- Coors Field and Miller Park -- are named for two beer behemoths. Sure, they serve plenty of the craft stuff, too. We just find it funny.
Have a look-see at the whole list thanks to a link from Les, a known Packers fan and therefore a likely spy, according to Clarence Swamptown.
But for now, we are mired in misery. The Twins have already had three home games postponed: one against the Angels, one against the Mets and now tonight's game against Miami has already been wiped out (not to mention a road game at Chicago, though with two more trips there this year that is less of a big deal). This is a two-game series. The plan now -- or at least the hope -- is to make it up as part of a day-night doubleheader tomorrow at 1 pm. and 7 pm.
But let's say for the sake of argument that the projected snow -- yes, there is more coming late this afternoon and overnight -- lingers for a while. It is supposed to clear some tomorrow, but it will still be cold. What if they can't play at all tomorrow? It's possible, at least.
Worst-case scenario, the Twins would be looking at four home games postponed -- all of them against teams that are not scheduled to be back in Minnesota for the rest of the season.
That would mean finding common off-days with three different teams for four total games ... all while not infringing upon any other rules regarding consecutive games played.
Translation: It would be a mess. Further translation: Count on the Twins doing everything in their power to get two games in tomorrow so they only have half as big a problem as they would have otherwise.
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