What is up with these Kevin Slowey rumors floating around?
Clearly, the bullpen is the Twins' biggest weakness at this point considering the absence of Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes -- all once-important role players in the middle and late innings -- but are they really willing to trade a starting pitcher for some relief?
The team has chosen Scott Baker (remember when he was the Opening Day starter? Oh yeah, that was last season) as their fifth starter. Does this necessarily mean that Slowey is on the trade block? Not really. He just isn't a part of the rotation to kick off the season. You'll have that. He'll come in super handy in the unfortunate case of an injury or an awful start along the way, though. Anyway, a former starter can only strengthen the bullpen. In theory.
Besides, who has a bevy of relievers to toss at a right-handed pitcher with a career 4.41 ERA? No offense, Kevin. And honestly, the Twins can't believe Anthony Swarzak, Glen Perkins, Jeff Manship, or even Kyle Gibson is better suited as the sixth man... your thoughts?
I suppose if all five starters tossed the ball like Francisco Liriano did yesterday against the Baltimore Orioles (Spring or not) all year long, they won't need much more help in the way of relievers. Nine strikeouts in three innings? Yikes.
Some other stuff...
Joe Mauer has a ways to go before he beats out Derek Jeter for best-selling MLB jersey. [Big League Stew]
Victoria's Secret Twins gear for you or your special lady. [Babes Love Baseball]
Take a trip on the TwinsTrain this season. So fun. [TwinsTrain]
Need a new t-shirt? [Super Pavario at Seventh Ink]
Twins pledge relief assistance to Japan. [MLB]
A pink hat's journey. [Toss it Around]
The long-anticipated return of Joe Mauer is finally here.
The hometown hero made his Spring Training debut this afternoon, his first start since undergoing offseason knee surgery in December. Of course, he nailed a single up the middle on the second pitch he saw from New York Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey in the first inning.
Man Muscles went 1-for-3 as the designated hitter, taking a base on an error and grounding out as well. Now all he has to do is pile on the catcher's gear and squat for a while between now and two weeks to be ready for the season opener, which he says should be no problem. In fact, he's expected to catch in a minor league game tomorrow, according to LaVelle.
The good old days: Today marks the first time since July 7 that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were in the same lineup. Together. On the same day. Morneau finished the day 0-for-3.
It's time to rev up Sooze's engine and get her back into gear for the 2011 Twins baseball season. Only 24 days to go until it's actually here!
First thing's first: Justin Morneau played in an actual baseball game today. A real, live B Squad game in which he nailed a bases-loaded double during his second at bat. Yes, this is the Canadian Crusher we know and love. And miss a lot.
A few other things and people have changed since this offseason, and I'd like to hear some reactions and opinions from you guys. While change can be scary, it's generally a good thing. For instance, I know some folks will miss with all their hearts Nick Punto's headlong dives down the first baseline. I won't, but that's because I'm embracing this change. Besides, he probably won't suit up for the Cardinals until June anyway.
Some of you may be saddened to see Jesse Crain head to the South Side of Chicago, I guess. I'm sure you'll get over that soon. Jon Rauch has headed to the Blue Jays, Brian Fuentes (who we barely got to know) is with the A's now, and Matt Guerrier has moved leagues entirely to join the Dodgers.
Then there's the old middle infield: the double play combo of Orlando Hudson's nagging injuries and J.J. Hardy's dreamy blue eyes (and nagging injuries) have departed for the Padres and Orioles, respectively. I'm sure Alexi Casilla is pumped to be the starting short stop in 2011.
In with the old, out with the new, as they say. The biggest acquisition this season was Japanese batting champ infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who signed on for three years and roughly $10 million back in December. Here's a post from Josh Q. Public, who is calling a Rookie of the Year award for the Twins spankin' new second baseman.
Jim Thome and Carl Pavano are back for another season, both big reasons the team was able to win the AL Central last year. While Jim Jam turned the big 4-0 last August, Pavano has shaved off the stache and turned 35. Hopefully age is but a number for those two.
Joe Mauer's been a busy guy lately, landing on the cover of MLB 11: The Show as well as a deal with Head and Shoulders to keep his hair and sideburns healthy and gorgeous. Read more about Man Muscles' adventures in this interview with Hugging Harold Reynolds.
That's all for now, but if you happen to speak Japanese, it would be nice if you could enlighten us as to what Nishioka is saying in this video. Otherwise, just enjoy his talent...
Disappointment and outrage are unhealthy, but sometimes it's necessary.
Of course we're disappointed. Of course we're angry. Being wiped out once again by the New York Yankees makes us sick. But the fact is, last week we couldn't have been more proud of those 94-68 Twins who won their division. We filled their new house almost every single home game this year with sell-out crowd after sell-out crowd, so we can't really say the regular season wasn't a success.
We were fired up over their incredible second half and most of us weren't worried about their end-of-season slump, until we were set to play the Yankees. Apparently, they're just a better team. They spent $200 million last season in an effort to make certain very few teams would be able to compete with them and the Twins are not anywhere on that short list.
However, we'd like to think their beautiful new ballpark and $100 million payroll would have been enough to facilitate hanging with the big dogs. Consider this comparison: you go grocery shopping for a week and only have $50 to spend. You'd really like a porterhouse, but are you willing to go without milk and bread just to eat that steak? That's more or less how I feel the Twins have maintained their budget. Yes, Joe Mauer is incredible, but at what cost? Francisco Liriano is a heck of a pitcher, but what about the other four guys? Can they really afford to pick up any talented, big name free agents?
Jim Thome isn't going to be around forever, and who knows what Justin Morneau's future holds. And just look at that middle infield. Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy? Scrappy is one thing, sucky is entirely another. They're both very nice gentlemen, but yikes. If the Twins are willing to settle for .250-ish hitters who are going to be injured half the time anyway, shouldn't they just rely on younger, less expensive players, possibly from within their own system?
I penned a Dear John letter for Big League Stew on Sunday, when I was in a different stage of grief. I let optimism and sadness cloud my judgement. Today, I'm trying not to be negative, but it's seriously time for this organization to get real. If they want to bring another championship to Minnesota, it's time to spend some real money on a few guys who will help them get there when it matters most.
What are your thoughts on what moves the team should make during the offseason? Who should stay and who should go, or do you like things just the way they are?
Well that certainly was fun while it lasted.
Blame the pitching. Blame the lack of timely hitting. Blame the manager. Blame that old The Yankees Are Just Plain Better Than the Twins Curse. Regardless of who or what you'd like to charge with Minnesota's premature finale to their incredibly exciting 2010 season, it's been real.
"It was a fun, fun summer. Hopefully we can do it again." -- Jim Thome
Well that is some excellent news.
Not so excellent news: the New York Daily News and their pish posh attitude toward their beloved Bronx Bombers playing the (yawn) Minnesota Twins in the ALDS. Apparently winning 94 games isn't convincing enough. Apparently, the thought of the Twins winning even one game is rather absurd.
I'm going to have to disagree with that for obvious reasons: the lower ERA, higher batting average, better mustaches, etc.
The Twins are with me on this one, having posted these ridiculous headlines on the clubhouse bulletin board as fuel. Besides, if Minnesota fans were so sure their team was going to fail in the playoffs, why even watch? That would be masochistic.
In this dark 24 hours without baseball, I'd like to take the opportunity to first congratulate Francisco Liriano on winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. After a devastating end to his 2006 season that kept him out of the game in 2007 and restrained him the past two seasons, Frankie bounced back with 14 wins and a 3.62 ERA with 201 strikeouts this year. Way to go buddy!
Second, I'd like to get your playoff predictions. Are you with the NY Daily News? Have you no faith? Or are you an optimist with high hopes for the Twins?
Will they win or lose the ALDS, and how many games will it take?
P.S. If you like watching the Twins work out, then you'll love this video, courtesy of ESPN 1500...
Don't forget to check out the Twins on ESPN's E:60 at 6pm tonight, with commentary from Gardy and a few players including Nick Punto and Michael Cuddyer.