The team is again chasing the Tigers and White Sox, trying to repeat as the AL Central Division champions.
The Twins entered the All-Star break in a slump, winning only three of seven games, but surprisingly are in the same place in the standings as they were a year ago when they won the American League Central Division.
They are in third place behind the Tigers and White Sox, although they are only 3 1/2 games behind the Tigers this season, compare to four games out last year.
If you compare the team's stats with last year's at the All-Star break, they are almost identical.
A year ago at the break, the Twins were hitting .269 as a team with 96 home runs, 401 RBI and 432 runs scored. This year at the break, they are hitting .271 with 77 home runs, 388 RBI and 408 runs scored.
While the starting pitching has been horrible recently, the staff has a better overall ERA of 4.08 compared to the 4.34 at the 2009 All-Star break.
Comparing the pitching records in 2009 and 2010 of the Twins starters, Nick Blackburn had an 8-4 record and a 3.06 ERA in 18 starts; this season he is 7-7 with a 6.40 ERA in 17 starts. Scott Baker was 7-7 last year with a 5.42 ERA in 17 starts; this season he is 7-8 with a 4.87 ERA in 18 starts. Francisco Liriano had a 4-9 record and a 5.47 ERA in 18 starts a year ago; this year he is 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 17 starts. Kevin Slowey in 2009, before he injured his wrist on July 3, was 10-3 with a 4.86 ERA in 16 starts; he is 8-5 with a 4.64 ERA in 17 starts this season.Young's improvement
Delmon Young has had a productive first half compared to last season at this time. His batting average is up from .266 to .305, his home runs have increased from three to 10 and his RBI total has improved from 25 to 58.
Joe Mauer is hitting .293 with four home runs and 35 RBI compared to .373 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI last season at the break. Justin Morneau is hitting .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI this year, compared to hitting .311 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI last year.
Nick Punto has increased his batting average from .201 to .241 and his RBI by two (from 16 to 18). Denard Span is down in 2010, hitting .273 compared to .292 last season. He has two fewer homers (three this year, five in 2009), but six more RBI (37 in 2010, 31 in 2009). Michael Cuddyer is down in all the main hitting categories, from average (.273 in 2009, .255 this year) to homers (14 to nine) and RBI (47 to 40). Jason Kubel was hitting .311 last year at the break compared to .264 this year and his homers are down (14 in 2009, 11 this year), but his RBI total is up (49 this year to 45 in 2009).Wefald likes Beasley
When trying to learn something about new Timberwolf Michael Beasley, one might normally go to the player's college coach at Kansas State and not the college president.
But in the case of Jon Wefald, who recently retired after 23 years as president of Kansas State, he is the most well-informed college president I have ever met when it comes to judging athletes.
"He's an outstanding young man," Wefald said of Beasley. "He never gave us a minute's worth of trouble in the year that he spent at Kansas State. But then, just in terms of basketball, he was one of the best college basketball players that I've ever seen."
Wefald mentioned that Wesley Johnson, the Wolves' No. 1 draft choice this season who played two years at Iowa State before transferring to Syracuse, played against Beasley four times. In one game, Beasley scored 33 points in 22 minutes against Johnson and the Cyclones.
"During his year at Kansas State, I think he averaged about 24, 25 points a game [actually 26.2], and he was the top rebounder in the country [12.4 per game]," Wefald said. "He is an all-around great player."
Wefald also said Beasley had some of his biggest games against Kansas State's biggest rival, Kansas.Jottings
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire about his lineup plans after the All-Star break: "We're going to do the best we can the rest of the way. Just like we talked about, we're going to move people around. If you want to see [Jim] Thome in the lineup, then you're probably going to have to stay with Cuddyer over [at third base], and I think that's probably a good thing. But we'll mix it around as best we possibly can."
With the trade of Al Jefferson to Utah, Wolves owner Glen Taylor said the team has a payroll around $40 million, while the salary cap this year is a little more than $58 million. Taylor, who said he was reluctant in giving Wolves President David Kahn the go-ahead on the Jefferson trade, did approve the deal once the team traded for Beasley. Taylor said Kahn and coach Kurt Rambis convinced him the team can play more entertaining basketball without Jefferson. ... Taylor said he expects Kahn to add more players. As for Beasley and his off-court issues, Taylor said: "We talked to a lot of people about Beasley's conduct [before making the trade], and we are confident he will not be a problem."
The Gophers football team received commitments from Kyle and Luke McAvoy, twin brothers from Bloomington, Ill., for their 2011 recruiting class. Both are offensive lineman -- Kyle is 6-5, 293 pounds, and Luke is 6-5, 278 -- and Rivals.com had Kyle rated as a three-star prospect and Luke as a two-star prospect. Kyle had offers from Arizona, Kansas, Louisville and Michigan State, among others; Luke had offers from Arizona, Kansas and Memphis.
Aaron Studt, the shot put standout for the Gophers, won the silver medal at the NACAC (North America, Central America and Carribean) Under-23 championships in Mirimar, Fla., with a throw of 59 feet, 9 inches. His teammate, Ben Blankenship, won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters earlier in the championships with a time of 3 minutes, 45.43 seconds.
Here are the latest stats on Gophera baseball players performing in different leagues. In the Northwoods League, Troy Larson is hitting .247 with Mankato and Ryan Abramson is hitting .169 with Brainerd. Kurt Schlangen is hitting .397 for North Fork in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and Ethan Liederman is batting .171 for Glens Falls of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. AJ Pettersen is hitting .278 for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League, while pitcher Austin Lubinsky is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA for Brewster in the same league.
One of the most impressive basketball players in the Howard Pulley League is Jake Thomas of Columbia Heights. Thomas is going to play for former Gophers coach Dan Monson at Long Beach State, and Monson was here recently to visit Thomas.
Former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, now head coach of the Steelers, has signed a three-year extension, ending any speculation that his job was in jeopardy.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org