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 management

Why I don't hate the HR derby

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 16, 2013 - 10:12 AM

Here's why I don't hate the home-run derby as much as most baseball writers:

It's on cable TV.

Modern-day cable.

Are we really going to start enforcing old-school standards on modern cable?

Have you seen what becomes a hit on modern cable TV?

Duck Dynasty: A show about inbred southerners who make duck calls. (It's actually pretty funny in small doses, but Shakespeare it ain't.)

Cooking shows: Get one angry chef and a bunch of lowlife wannabe chefs and have 'em cook stuff. Brilliant!

Reality TV about wives: I'd review this genre if I could bring myself to watch any of it.

By these standards, the home-run derby IS Shakespeare.

Chris Berman is an embarrassment to himself and his profession, but the home-run derby is mediocre cable TV stretched out long enough to fill prime time. It's not awful. It's just not as good as ESPN and MLB want it to be.

It's like the NBA all-star game. There's no defense, but it can be interesting if the right personalities are involved.

The Josh Hamilton-Justin Morneau duel was fascinating theater. Seeing Yeonis Cespedes win the Derby on the same day that the San Francisco Chronicle published a wonderful story about his and his family's struggles to make it to America was heartening. Seeing Bryce Harper hit homers off his father's nasty cutter gave us insights into what made Harper such a prodigy.

It ain't Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but even those brilliant shows offer a few bad episodes.

The home-run derby is like most cable television: A decent way to kill time when nothing better is on.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd & Dubay. Planning a couple of name guests for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday on 1500ESPN, following the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30. (We will take a lot of calls this week if you'd like to ask the manager anything.)

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.

 

 

 

Walters, Morneau overcome Twins' mistakes

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: June 11, 2013 - 10:35 PM

P.J. Walters is now the Twins' ace.

Seriously. The guy is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has shown the aptitude known in the big leagues as ``pitchability.'' Tuesday, he limited Philadelphia to one earned run in 7 1/3 innings by throwing his breaking pitch as slow as 73 mph. ``That makes his fastbal look like it's about 95,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Justin Morneau (the subject of my Friday column) went 3-for-4 with the game-winning hit, and Jamey Carroll broke out of a slump with two hits and a walk, and Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save and lowered his ERA to 2.66.

But there were a few mistakes that shouldn't happen on a major-league diamond.

Brian Dozier ran into a doubleplay in the fourth inning, ending a rally that had already produced two runs. He was on first with one out when Clete Thomas hit a chopper to second and ran into the tag so the Phillies could turn an easy double play, preventing the runner on third from having a chance to score.


Shortstop Pedro Florimon has looked good compared to many of his teammates this season, but he made a low throw that was ruled an error on Morneau when the ball went under Morneau's glove, and was playing Ben Revere up the middle when Revere's single went into leftfield to produce a run.

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Miss Aaron Hicks? You should. While Clete Thomas made one spectacular catch on Tuesday, he couldn't get to two balls that Hicks routinely catches.

Sometime in the next two years the Twins hope to field an outfield of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia made a fine running catch in left on Tuesday. Hicks is an outstanding centerfielder, and Buxton could become the best centerfielder in the game.

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Spoke with Morneau before the game. He's gone 168 plate appearances without a home run ,and he admits it bothers him. He was gracious when speaking about it. That column will be in the Friday paper on on the web site.

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

 

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.
 

New LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 17, 2013 - 3:49 PM

Doug Mientkiewicz wanted to add one thing to our conversation that was the basis of today's column: ``My biggest regret in baseball is that we didn't win a World Series when I was with the Twins. We thought we would.''

On to today's Local Power Ranking of the seven local revenue sports, which have shifted since the last time I did them:

1. Gopher men's hockey

This team is skilled enough to win the national title. Is it tough enough?

2. Minnesota Wild

I'm quite impressed with the way Mike Yeo has melded incoming stars, holdover veterans and promising youngsters. He's gone from hot seat to coach of the year candidate in my book. Ryan Suter has played brilliantly ever since his first two, quite nervous, weeks in a Wild uni.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Didn't like seeing a team in a passing league lose its only dynamic receiver and best cornerback, but Rick Spielman has a chance to make his plan work. If he can complement Greg Jennings with another quality receiver or two (I vote for Cal's Keenan Allen and one more free-agent pickup), the offense could be better, and if he can use the draft to land a couple of defensive starters, the defense could be more talented.

His plan will only be as good as his execution.

4. Gopher basketball

I'm rooting for Minnesota facing VCU in the first round. Tubby vs. Shaka Smart. Tubby vs. the man who should replace him. Bring it on, please.

5. Minnesota Twins

I'm encouraged by a handful of individuals in spring camp, but not by the pitching staff, and the pitching staff will determine this team's fate.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves

I love the way Ricky Rubio has played, knowing the season is lost and his teammates aren't good enough.

7. Gopher football

Jerry Kill is 4-12 in the Big Ten. Facts are so annoying.

 

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