Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

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Posts about Twins fans

Team can't hit

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 1, 2013 - 5:06 PM

Remember the good ol' days, when Twins fans could just blame everything on hitting coach Joe Vavra?

Guess what: The 2013 Twins are even worse offensively than the 2012 Twins.

Replacing Vavra with Tom Brunansky hasn't helped. I'm not saying Brunansky isn't good at his job. I'm saying that hitting coaches don't create good hitters.

The Twins struck out 30 times in the three-game series against the Royals.

They've struck out 65 times in their last six games.

They haven't scored more than four runs in a game since July 23, when they had 10 at Anaheim.

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With Cris Carter heading to the Hall of Fame, a couple of my favorite memories of covering him:

-At the begining of his career with the Vikings, we talked for an hour about his struggles in life and with the Eagles. Then he told me, ``If I like what you write, we'll get along fine. If I don't, I"ll punch you in the eye.''

I didn't get punched.

-During his last season with the Vikings, I asked how he had maintained his talent. He said he has assembled an entourage: A chiropractor, trainer, masseuse, physical therapist, chef, nutritionist...and about five other people.

He was one of the most dedicated and divisive athletes I've ever covered. A lot of his teammates couldn't stand him because he could be vain, and arrogant, and outspoken. Noone questioned his drive or his toughness.

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Wrote about the Twins' pathetic effort and pathetic roster for the Friday paper.

I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow. Scott Korzenowsky and I will run the Ron Gardenhire Show and Sunday Sports Talk from 9:30-noon on Sunday from the 3M Championship.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib

What a game

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 23, 2013 - 11:01 AM

Ryan Braun is a fraud, and anyone who believed his previous denials about PED use is a fool, and what more is there to say about him? He's a drug cheat, and there will be more, and if baseball ever eliminates all drug cheats ballplayers will find other illicit advantages. This story will never end.

So last night while the Braun news was breaking, I just watched a ballgame, and was reminded of the beauty of baseball.

It was a meaningless game between two lousy teams, but strip the context away and the Twins' victory over the Angels last night was everything you could ask for in a night of entertainment.

Doug Bernier got his first big-league hit and RBI. Clete Thomas hit a double and a homer and made a game-saving catch. Glen Perkins sweated through a highly-difficult four-out save. Best of all, Sam Deduno showed more emotion on the mound in seven innings than many pitchers do in their entire careers.

This is why baseball survives work stoppages and drug scandals, and bad umpiring and terrible public relations, as evidence by the silly wording of the statements from Braun, the Players Association and MLB last night: The game can be great on any given day.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd & Dubay.

Diamond stuck in the rough

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 21, 2013 - 5:19 PM

Scott Diamond allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday, and it could have been worse. Clete Thomas saved a home run and Aaron Hicks made a diving catch of a line drive in centerfield.

In fact, those two plays preceeded a stretch of five batters that knocked Diamond from the game, a walk, single, single, popup and bases-clearing triple in the fifth.

I spoke with Twins' pitching coach Rick Anderson about Diamond after the game. Diamond has failed to contribute a quality start (six innings or more and three earned runs or fewer) in seven of his last eigth starts.

``He's inconsistent right now,'' Anderson said. ``He'll throw a good curveball, then he'll try to throw one that's even better, and it will just spin up there. He needs to get back to throwing strikes early in the count.

``I called down and asked (bullpen coach) Bobby Cuellar, `Is this the same guy we saw warming up earier?' Scott just has to relax and have some fun with the game.''

Although the Twins don't have any pitchers at Class AAA they consider worthy of an immediate callup, they could find a way to give Diamond a break from the rotation. They could always use a long reliever for a spot start if they think Diamond would benefit either from a mental break while in the big leagues, or if they think he needs to work on his pitches in the minors.

I think Diamond could return to being a good big-league starter, but he falling behind in the count right now, and his stuff isn't good enough to allow him to pitch in those situations. He has to get strike one, then turn to his breaking pitches and try to get hitters to at pitches down in, or out of, the strike zone.

``He's just trying to do too much right now,'' Anderson said.

Bits: Joe Mauer's eight-game hitting streak ended on Sunday. He hit .483 during the streak...Justin Morneau's slugging percentage fell to .405. That's going to dampen his trade value. I wrote the other day that the Twins need to trade him, but they won't get much...Brian Dozier leads all big leaguers with 18 doubles since July 1.

Upcoming: I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon every weekday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Mauer taking to Target Field

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: June 13, 2013 - 11:08 PM

Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 on Thursday.

He has at least one hit in his last eight games at Target Field, hitting .423 in that time. He's hitting .424 at Target Field in his last 16 games with a .521 on-base percentage.

He's hitting .378 at Target Field this season. Entering last night's game, he ranked second in the AL and third in baseball in home average.

He's hit only two of his six home runs at home.

The dimensions of Target Field, with a deep leftfield fence, limit his power production.

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The Twins are 29-34, and I'm not sure how their record is even that good.

Their rotation hasn't been good enough. Their fielders lack range. They don't have speed to create runs. They have only one true home-run hitter on the team, Josh Willingham, and his 10 home runs are offset by the slump that has reduced his average to .214.

The bullpen has been the team's strength, but the bullpen tends to be most important for good teams that frequently attain leads.

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Wrote about closer Glen Perkins for the Friday paper. He's a Sabermetrician who doesn't think Sabermetrics properly appreciate the way a bullpen should be set up in real life.

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Ben Revere, who had four hits last night, is hitting ..319 in his last 35 games.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.

 

 

 

Ryan says Gibson close, but not quite ready

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 24, 2013 - 3:00 PM
I was speaking with Twins general manager Terry Ryan about a column that I’ll have in the Sunday Star Tribune when I asked about a more topical subject: Kyle Gibson.
Gibson is the best pitching prospect at Class AAA Rochester. He’s 3-5 with a 3.25 ERA. He’s pitched two complete-game shutouts. The Twins have opted to call up Sam Deduno and P.J. Walters instead of Gibson in the last week. Deduno is a journeyman with good stuff and poor control; Walters is a grinder whose stuff is not considered good enough for him to succeed over the long term as a big-league starter.
Gibson is a former first-round draft pick. When a team calls up lesser prospects, the team is accused of trying to save major-league service time to avoid losing the player a year earlier in free agency, or paying the player more because they become a ``Super 2’’ player who qualifies for free agency a year earlier than their service time would otherwise allow.
I asked Ryan whether the decision not to promote Gibson was made for baseball reasons, or financial reasons. He noted that if he was worried about service time, he wouldn’t have been so eager to put Aaron Hicks on the opening day roster or call up another rookie, Oswaldo Arcia, so early in the season.
``If I was worried about all of that, I wouldn’t bring up Hicks and Arcia,’’ he said. ``Any GM in any organization knows you’re always going to get that question. In every decision, it comes down to baseball factors first. Can you bring up Gibson now? Yeah. Sure you could. But I guess you’d be sending him back pretty quick, and I don’t want that to happen.
``There’s no hiding a guy who’s in your rotation. I’d like to tell you when we bring up a young guy that it’s for good. Gibson is getting there. He’s been inconsistent. His last outing was very good and I’m hoping he’ll back that up with another one.
``Every start for him is important, and so far he’s been good, bad, good, bad, good, bad. He’s close, but he’s not quite there yet. We’re looking for him to string together four or five of those good one. That would give us confidence that it’s time for him to come up here.
``I saw him recently and he hit a wall in the fifth inning.''
Whether coincidence or planning, Ryan's baseball judgement will align nicely with the Twins' long-term financial interests. By the time Gibson pitches well for four or five starts in a row, he will likely have missed the opportunity to be a ``Super 2'' qualifier in arbitration two years from now.
 

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