Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 MLB Trade Deadline

Good morning everyone. I was rather relieved when I woke up to see that Denard Span is still a member of the Minnesota Twins. But, that can change in the next four and a half hours. It makes me very nervous that Span is being talked about. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that A) The Rockies traded Ubaldo Jimenez, and B) The Cleveland Indians were the team that traded for him. Heard he needs to pass a physical today for the deal to be finalized. So that could be interesting...

So I will be updating this with news from not only the Twins, but other deals and rumors that go on around Major League Baseball today. I will also offer up some opinions on the deal as well. Lets dive in:

3:10-This will be my last update on this post today. But I'm glad the Twins chose to stand pat rather than trade. And if your wondering why they did not get any relievers, the price was simply too steep today. But that should go down in August, so look for some outside help to come then.

3:05-One last trade gets through, as the Red Sox land Mariners SP Erik Bedard. It would also appear that the Twins stand pat at the deadline, and keep Denard Span (YES!!!). He will more than likely be rejoining the team Tuesday in Anaheim.

3:00-The deadline is here. It looks as if our final deal of the day will be Ryan Ludwick to Pittsburgh. But who knows, some deals don't get announced until after the deadline. So we shall see what happens.

2:45-SPAN UPDATE: It would appear that the Twins and Nationals won't be making a deal today involving CF Denard Span. Jon Morosi just tweeted that they two sides are not close on a deal. And with just fifteen minutes left, thats something Twins fans have really wanted to hear.

2:30-Joe Christensen reports that the Twins chances of making a move in the next 30 minutes are bleak. So it would appear, the team is standing pat today. Also, Buster Olney tweets that Ubaldo Jimenez has passed his physical and the trade sending him to Cleveland has been ok'd.

2:25-SPAN UPDATE: Denard Span is in the Rochester Red Wings lineup tonight (5:35 PM start) batting leadoff, playing CF. This could change of course but its worth noting. Also, Jon Morosi now reporting that Padres OF Ryan Ludwick is close to being traded to Pittsburgh. This is a move Pittsburgh really needs to make.

2:20: Verlander loses no hitter with two outs in the eight on a hit by Maicer Izturis. 3-2 Tigers

2:15-Twins beat writer Rhett Bollinger of states in his blog that it appears the Twins are more likely to stand pat today. So it would appear that Bill Smith would rather wait to see if the Twins can perhaps make a run, then add some players later on. But note that the players would have to clear waivers first if no deal is reached before 3 PM today. And as I write this, Justin Verlander almost loses his no hitter, but was given an error on his throw to first. So Verlander still has a no hitter going in the eight inning.

2:00-One hour till the deadline. One hour till the Twins game. This is intense. Haha

1:55-Tigers P Justin Verlander is carrying a no hitter through 7 innings in his start today against the Angels. I will continue to update this in the timeline as well. This is the third time Verlander has carried a no hitter past the 7th inning, this season. Also, Richard Justice now reporting that the Wandy Rodriguez to Cleveland deal has cooled off. But still surprised to hear Cleveland is in on him though.

1:50-Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Astros are close to trading SP Wandy Rodriguez to Cleveland, yes Cleveland, for two minor leaguers. If this is true, Cleveland is going all in to win in the next couple of years. And they are building a pretty solid rotation as well.

1:35-Rosenthal's report was incorrect. It's Mike Adams, not Heath Bell, going to Texas. The deal was just announced by Texas, making it offical. The Rangers are sending a couple of prospects back to San Diego in return. So Heath Bell is still a Padre for the moment. But that could change at any moment...

1:25-Ken Rosehthal reporting that the Rangers have a deal in place to get Padres closer Heath Bell. I definitely did not think Bell would leave the National League. I wonder now if he will close for Texas or will setup Neftali Feliz?

1:10-Again, we have hit a dead spot. It has gone quiet. Probably will get hot real soon and that will carry on through the deadline.

12:40-Jon Morosi of Fox Sports just tweeted that the Twins are not trading Kubel today. So it would appear right now that the Twins are just standing pat unless they pull the trigger on another trade for some relief pitching, or go back to the Span/Storen trade. I still believe they need to acquire relievers without sacrificing a player like Denard Span. As before mentioned, the Twins have inquired about the Jays' Jon Rauch. So we may see some moves yet.

12:35-SPAN UPDATE Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports and Scott Miller of CBS Sports now tweeting that the Twins believe the Span/Storen trade will not happen today. I'll hold my celebrations until the clock hits zero.

12:15-Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune just reported that the Twins have kicked the tires with Toronto on former Twin Jon Rauch. And as Joe says, no deal is close. Honestly, I'll take him at this point. Twins need relief help terribly. Its so bad they are considering trading their starting centerfielder to get some in return.

12:05-Bob Nightengale of USA Today now reporting that the Oakland A's and Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a deal that will send relief pitcher Brad Ziegler to Arizona. Not sure what the A's will get in return (probably a low end prospect or two). Ziegler pitched two-thirds of an inning last night against the Twins and struck out one. He carries a 2.39 ERA in 43 games this season. Was hoping the Twins would perhaps give him a look today.

11:50-Lots of talk today around Astros SP Wandy Rodriguez. Sounds like the Yankees are inquiring on what it would take to get the lefty in the Bronx. If he goes today (heard its 50/50 at this point of happening), the Astros would be defined as having a fire sale. Although GM Ed Wade said earlier today they are not having a fire sale. Pence, Bourn, and Wandy Rodriguez...sounds like a fire sale to me.

11:40-SPAN UPDATE: Keith Law just tweeted that the Nationals and Twins are fighting over Nats prospect Steve Lombardozzi Jr. So perhaps this has been the snag that has kept this deal from happening. Maybe they will get so mad at each other this deal blows up! (Gotta have positive thoughts!)

11:30-Its been pretty quiet in the last half hour. In fact, its been so quiet that it makes you think that something big is coming (Hopefully not a Span/Storen trade). It should start getting real busy soon. Also keep in mind there are games starting on 30 minutes. So we might see more players pulled off the field today.

11:00-SPAN UPDATE: SI and MLB Network analyst Jon Heyman just said on MLB Network that he believes the Span for Storen deal will happen. Ken Rosenthal also said that the deal is stalled right now due to a disagreement as to the other players that will be a part of the deal. I just want this to go away.

10:55-Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review just tweeted that the Pirates number one target today is Twins OF Jason Kubel. Still unheard of whether the Twins have decided to trade him.

10:50-SPAN UPDATE: This is more old news, but here's what is being said by national media this morning regarding the Span/Storen deal. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reported that the chances of a deal getting done today is around 50/50 and that the Nationals could look at getting Justin Upton. Then a few minutes later, SI's Jon Heyman tweeted that he was told by a rival executive that he believes that the Nationals will give into the Twins because they want Span very badly. For those wondering, I'm still standing firm on my belief that trading Denard Span is a huge mistake.

10:30-This is kind of old, but still worth noting. Astros dealt OF Michael Bourn to Atlanta for four prospects. Houston dealt Hunter Pence on Friday, and Bourn today. So...who are they trying to build their team around? Not a good weekend to be a Houston fan. Good move for Atlanta. They needed a good outfielder, and got one. Braves should be a lock now to get in the postseason as a Wild Card, at the very least.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Few Good Notes: The Trade Deadline

  • Over the past week or so, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal has been reporting that the Washington Nationals are hot after Twins CF Denard Span. But as he tweeted today, it would appear that the talks are about to either die or intensify (hopefully die). And if you follow me on twitter (@gilesferrell), you will know how I feel on this issue. As long as Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard are not an option, the Twins need to continue to say no. Span is incredibly valuable as a leadoff hitter and a centerfielder, and his team friendly contract needs to up his trade value as well. These rumors just need to go away.
  • It is still unclear whether the Twins are going to be buyers or sellers this weekend. If they choose to buy, they need to buy big time in the reliever market. Over The Baggy has the list of relievers that the Twins have been linked to, and should be considering acquiring to help the very weak bullpen.
  • It is too bad that Jason Kubel missed over a month of action with that foot injury. Had he not, his trade value would probably be much higher than it is. As Jayson Stark of ESPN points out in his Rumblings and Grumblings post, the Pirates could be interested in Kubel, but it would appear that GM Bill Smith doesn't want to move him, unless it adds a piece or two that helps the Twins this year. As you know, Kubel is in the final year of his contract and is a free agent at season's end. And since it is unclear who will be back in the Twins outfield, I would rather move him now and get something in return rather than wait and let him leave as a free agent at season's end.
  • Don't expect Michael Cuddyer to be traded this weekend. In fact, you can probably count on him being back in a Twins uniform next season as well. As Rosenthal tweeted on Tuesday, the Twins will keep Cuddyer even if they sell and possibly try to resign him. Cuddyer has been the only consistent player in the Twins lineup this year hitting .301 with 15 HR and 51 RBI and is one of two players from the opening day lineup that has yet to have a stint on the disabled list. The Twins love Cuddy and Cuddy loves playing for the Twins, so this really is no surprise.
  • On Sunday, as more of a fun thing, I will be doing a live blog with all the trades from the day. I did this back in 2009. You may remember the Twins acquired Orlando Cabrera that day, and as I wrote on the page, they were also kicking the tires with the Padres on Heath Bell. Think about this: Had the Twins acquired Heath Bell that day, they would of certainly never needed to acquire Matt Capps in 2010, and our catcher for most of this season would of been...Wilson Ramos! Yikes...I better stop now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Buying or Selling

As a baseball fan, this is one of my most favorite weeks of the baseball season. The week leading up to the trade deadline. Teams trying to bolster their roster to make that playoff push or just add more depth for when they make the postseason. But, for us Twins fans, we are on the fence as to what the Twins should be doing this week. They put up a 7-5 record on a homestand they needed to win at least 8 games on. So, as Bill Smith and his staff look at what his options are this week, I will give some pros and cons to the Twins either buying or Selling.


Pros: If the Twins buy, they are telling the team and their fans, that they believe that the division is still winnable. The team takes this gesture from the front office, and makes another insane run and gets to the top of the division again.

Cons: To acquire the players you wish to buy at the deadline, teams that are selling ususally are looking for some quality prospects that teams are willing to give up because of their desperation. So if the Twins choose to buy, they could be forced to part with prospects that they shouldn't be dealing for a player that will be here for just two months. And especially with how thin the Twins farm system is at the higher levels (AAA & AA), it would really be unwise to give up big name prospects.


Pros: The Twins would bring in some quality prospects and help replenish a farm system that has slowly been going dry. If the Twins chose to deal Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel, they could get a decent return of prospects, since there is not that much great outfielders out there to move. The Twins could perhaps grab some prospects, who could impact the team in the 2012 season (i.e. a starting pitcher or middle infielder). Also, the Twins would get a higher draft pick in next year's draft (They drafted at #30 this year), because the team would have a bad finish to the season if they sell.

Cons: You are giving up on 2011. That is the message that is sent if you sell this week. The team would struggle in the remaining months of the year, and most likely finish in fourth place (The lowest under manager Ron Gardenhire). And you would have to part with great players such as Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, who impact the Twins in big ways.

I'm still on the fence with what I believe the Twins should do this week. Had they won yesterday, I probably would be on the buying train right now. But they lost, and instead of being 5 games back with a win they are now 7 games back with that loss. They haven't made up any ground in a month, and their schedule gets extremely tough in the next month with series against Texas, Anaheim, Boston, New York, Cleveland and Detroit.

If the Twins want to buy, they need to be buying NOW. Not at the end of the week...NOW! They need all the help they can get, so waiting until the end of the week would be unwise, and you could potentially be further out of the race. So unless the Twins start making moves in the next few days, I'm more and more convinced that they should just sell and start making plans for how they can build their roster in 2012. I hate to say sell, but realistically, this is not a playoff team. And I don't know if a few middle relievers can change that fact either...

(Note: Please check out the poll on the side here and let me know what you think the Twins should do this week, buy or sell)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Road Goes Through Detroit

This past week, we saw one of the two teams within a game's lead of the Central division, the Cleveland Indians. The team look very sharp with their young pitching (Good starting pitching lead to a very solid bullpen), and got some timely hitting. This team reminds me of the 2001 Twins: Young, talented, but inexperienced. And that inexperience caught up with them big time in the second half. It is my belief that that will ultimately happen to the 2011 Indians.

So if the Indians aren't the force in the division, then their co-leader atop the standings are: The Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers enter tonight's four game series with the Twins with a 51-46 record, and are currently tied with Cleveland for the division lead. They have some talented pitchers (Verlander, Valverde) and some pretty good hitters (M. Cabrera, V. Martinez). But beyond the before mentioned players, the Tigers have not played like they should be playing. They have gotten poor quality of starts from the likes of Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, and Max Scherzer. Their bullpen has been one of the worst in the AL (Joaquin Benoit signed a 3 yr/$17.5 mil contract this past offseason and he carries a 4.25 ERA). Needless to say, their bad pitching has held the Tigers back from a division lead.

The most pointed out fact about the Tigers, is that under manager Jim Leyland, this team has never had a winning second half of the season. And that does include their AL Pennant winning 2006 season. So there is reason for hope, that that trend will continue for the Tigers this season (One could assume that if that happens again this season, Jim Leyland might not be back in the Motor City next year).

With all the negative things that have been pointed out here, I still believe the road to win the AL Central goes through the Detroit Tigers. They are not the best team out there, but in this weak division, they are the team to beat. So hopefully the Twins can see this, and make some improvements (i.e. bullpen) and make their charge at the Tigers. And it all begins tonight at Target Field.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Spark

With just about any team that is destined for the playoffs, there comes a point in a season where the team just takes off (unless you're the Yankees, you never seemingly need one). Last year we saw the World Series winner San Francisco Giants fall to 41-40, riding a 7 game losing streak, come from behind and beat Colorado 11-8 and sparking their second half which saw them finish 92-70 and go on to win the World Series.

In the past decade of Twins baseball, there have been many seasons that have had that much needed spark to propel them to a Central Division title and a shot in the postseason.

In 2003, the Twins were 44-49 and 7.5 games behind the first place Chicago White Sox during the All Star Break. On the Wednesday following the All Star Game, GM Terry Ryan acquired OF Shannon Stewart from the Blue Jays in exchange for OF Bobby Kielty. The move filled a much needed hole in the leadoff spot for the Twins. Following the trade, Stewart batted .322/.384/.470 with 6 HR and 38 RBI and lead the Twins to their second straight Central division title. Stewart's play was so impressive, he would go on to finish fourth in the AL MVP voting that year.

2006 saw Justin Morneau slump for the first two months and a week (.235 12 HR, 38 RBI), before he was called into a managers meeting with Ron Gardenhire. At this time, the Twins were 25-32 and 11.5 games back of first place Detroit. This June 7th meeting saw Gardy tell Morneau he would be benched for that nights game, and that it was time to get it going. The Twins lost the game that night to Seattle, and the next day Morneau was back in the lineup. Clearly, Justin got the manager's message. From June 8th on, Morneau batted .361, with 22 HR and 92 RBI while leading the Twins to a 71-33 record during that time. The Twins went on to win the Central division on the last day of the season, and Morneau would win the AL MVP over Yankees SS Derek Jeter. Since then, Morneau has been on of the best first baseman in all of baseball.

Michael Cuddyer had found a nice home in right field for the Twins after his move there from third base. But in 2009, the now infamous 'I can play anywhere player', was forced to move to first base to take over for an injured Justin Morneau in early September. Following their game on September 6th (3-1 loss at Cleveland), the Twins found themselves 7 games behind Detroit, and they were forced to play the remainder of the year without their All Star first baseman. But Cuddyer saw this as an opportunity to step up in a big way...and he did. Cuddy hit .279 with 10 HR and 29 RBI, while helping lead his team back from a seemingly impossible deficit. The Twins forced a one game playoff with the Tigers (Game 163), and went on to the postseason again, thanks largely to Cuddyer's efforts.

With Tuesday's win, the Twins now sit 45-51, 6 games behind the first place Cleveland Indians. This team has the talent (for the most part), all they need now is that one spark to push them in the right direction. Was Danny Valencia's walkoff hit that spark? Or will another midseason trade trigger that spark? Or will the return of Denard Span. Jason Kubel, and Justin Morneau spark this team? All we can do now is wait, and find out...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Few Good Notes: Hot and Cold,The Deadline, Blyleven, and Make A Wish

  • Yesterday, on the hottest day of the summer, the Twins were swept in a day night doubleheader by, the team they are chasing in the standings, the Cleveland Indians. They lost game one 5-2, and they lost game two 6-2. Both games had acceptable starting performances from Anthony Swarzak and Scott Diamond. But it was too bad that the offense picked an awful time to go completely ice cold.
  • Perhaps the only bright spot from yesterday's doubleheader, was watching Joe Mauer raise his average from .260 to .290 by going 6 for 8 (3-4 in each game). And if you got the chance to watch the first game at all, Mauer looked just as impressive at playing first base as he did at the plate making two diving stops. It was very refreshing watching Mauer play at that high caliber once again.
  • Yesterday, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted that the San Francisco Giants have some interest in Twins OF Michael Cuddyer, but that the Twins are unlikely to sell now given the fact they are still in the race. Even if the Twins have a fall off in the next week in a half, I would be very surprised to see Cuddyer traded. And in fact, given how valuable Cuddy has been for the Twins this year, I would think Cuddyer would return to the Twins next year as well.
  • I've said this before, but if the Twins wish to remain in contention, they need to fix their bullpen. They need to acquire at least two solid righty relievers before the July 31st deadline, if not sooner. And now all of a sudden, we are talking about Jon Rauch having a second stint in a Twins uniform. The only solid arms in the bullpen right now are Glen Perkins and closer Joe Nathan. So obviously, two more right handed arms would be greatly appreciated.
  • On Saturday, the Twins retired Bert Blyleven's #28. He became the first Twins pitcher to have his number retired. And coming up on Sunday, he will be enshrined in Cooperstown. This has been a long, overdue series of events for Bert. He is one of the best pitchers to ever don a Twins uniform, and he is one of the best pitchers to take the mound, period. The last Twin inducted into Cooperstown was Kirby Puckett, who was inducted 10 years ago (2001), along with former Twin Dave Winfield.
  • This week, SportsCenter is doing their annual My Wish series. And on yesterday's show, the Minnesota Twins were the featured team. This is a great video to watch and I encourage you to do so here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Second Half Improvements

Tonight, the Twins open up their second half of the 2011 season. They stand with a 41-48 record (this after a 17-37 start) and sit just 6.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers. The Twins also have a huge advantage by playing the first 12 games of the second half at Target Field, and against divisional foes. You may recall in my previous post, I mentioned the time for the Twins is now.

Despite the recent success of the Twins, there are still several weak points in this team moving forward. Most of these holes will be filled once players start returning from the disabled list. Key players like Denard Span, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel still sit on the DL (Although, sounds like Span could be back at the end of this homestand).

But if the Twins wish to remain in contention, they need to fix their bullpen. Right now, the Twins bullpen consists of Alex Burnett (6.75 ERA), Anthony Swarzak (3.38 ERA), Phil Dumatrait (5.71 ERA), Jose Mijares (5.49 ERA), Glen Perkins (1.87 ERA), Joe Nathan (5.82 ERA, 1.42 ERA since return from DL), and Matt Capps (4.42 ERA). And right now, the only ones you can truly trust are Perkins and Nathan.

So the Twins have two options here. Try and fix the bullpen using players in the system, or acquire some solid relievers before the July 31st trade deadline. There aren't many options with the promote from within plan. Chuck James was fairly successful in his brief stint with the Twins in June, but since his return to AAA his command has not been great (4 BB in 5 IP). The Twins could also try Kevin Slowey, Scott Diamond, Eric Hacker, or Kyle Waldrop but none of them have pitched well at AAA, so it doesnt make sense to bring them up (For those wondering Anthony Slama is on the DL right now, but he could be an option when he returns).

So clearly, this will have to be a fix from outside the organization. And in the previous two seasons, Bill Smith has made moves that did benefit the Twins down the stretch (O. Cabrera, Pavano, Rauch-09, Capps-10). So I do have confidence in him to bring in some bullpen help via trades.

The Starting pitching will be fine going forward, and the timely hitting will be fine as well assuming those key players start returning soon. The bullpen is what the Twins need to improve upon heading towards the end of July. Because lets face it, a bullpen featuring Burnett, Dumatrait, and Mijares as middle relief, won't get you very far. So lets hope it gets improved. Because the Twins season could depend on it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Few Good Notes: Past Twins All Stars, The Deficit, and TwinsTrain

  • Tomorrow, Michael Cuddyer will be representing the Twins at this years MLB All Star Game. And since he will be entering the game as a reserve, it may be possible that he will only get one at bat. Hopefully, he can make the most of his at bat or two because past Twins hitters have not had great success in the mid summer classic. Since 2002, Twins hitters in the All Star Game (Torii Hunter, AJ Pierzynski, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau) have hit just .174 (4-23) with 2 2B, 2 BB, and 1 RBI. But its possible that Cuddyer could help add to those numbers with his hot hitting in July (.417, 3 HR, 13 RBI).
  • On June 1, the Twins took their final loss in Detroit, and their record dropped to 17-37 and sat 16.5 games out of first place. Since then, they have gone 24-11 and have cut their deficit in the AL Central to 6.5 games. And now coming out of the break, they will have Delmon Young returning to the lineup, and the prospect of Denard Span and Jason Kubel returning shortly there after. And as Nick Nelson writes in his blog yesterday, he doesn't see the Twins being buyers at this years trade deadline even if the team stays in the race. I mainly agree with him on that, but I do think they would consider looking to acquire bullpen help as deadline nears.
  • This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go watch the Twins play a couple of games against the White Sox. I chose to do that this year with TwinsTrain. And if you haven't heard of TwinsTrain by now, I strongly encourage you to do so. For a very fair price, you get to see a couple of games, explore the city you are in (The destinations are different every year), you travel everywhere on a nice coach bus, and the hotel is also included in this package. I wasn't sure what to expect going in to this trip, and after it was all said and done, this was probably the best road trip I have ever taken. Got to see two Twins/Sox games (The second game we got to hang out in the patio), and then on Saturday night we did a bit of eating and drinking (more of the drinking, haha) around Chicago. The event was very well organized. I believe they are out of trips for the 2011 season, but continue to check their site for additional trips this year, or check back later on for 2012 trips. I will keep a link for them on the right side of the blog here. Again, I look forward to doing this again and I encourage you to do so too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Time Is Now

If the Minnesota Twins are gonna make a charge in the AL Central, their time is now. As they kick off a four game series with Chicago tomorrow, it also starts a string of 16 straight games against the AL Central. 12 of those 16 will be played following the All Star Break, and to make it even better, those 12 will be played at Target Field. Following Wednesday's loss, the Twins have won 14 out of their last 19 at Target Field. Clearly, they have regained their home field advantage this season.

Yes, the Twins are still without Jason Kubel, Denard Span, and Justin Morneau. But they should be getting Delmon Young back following the All Star Break (Although, with the way he has played this season, that is not a great thing to boast). But, somehow, someway, this team always finds a way to win in its darkest hour. And that time has suddenly come upon us.

One thing that will be vital to the Twins success during this stretch is their closer. Matt Capps is in the middle of a torrid stretch right now. In his past three outings, Capps has allowed 9 hits and 5 earned runs in just 1.2 innings pitched. He blew a save then had to be replaced by Glen Perkins (Who finished the job both times) to get the save. Gardy said following Tuesday night's game that Capps is still the closer, but his situation would be addressed in the next few days. So my interpretation is that Gardy wants to give Capps the same leash he gave Joe Nathan in April, but Capps is running out of time. Meanwhile, Joe Nathan has not allowed a run in four of his five outings since returning from the DL, and has only allowed just 2 hits in those 5 outings (5 IP) while striking out 5. Needless to say, Joe Nathan is knocking on the door of his old job.

Besides the closer spot, and the bullpen for that matter, the Twins have been playing at a much higher quality lately. Starters are going deeper into games and pitching more effectively, and hitters are starting to get those clutch hits that weren't coming in April and May. Its been much easier watching the Twins play as of late.

Another role that will be key to the Twins in this run, will be that of their catcher/first baseman Joe Mauer. Mauer will get his first shot at first base in tomorrow's opener against the Sox. And if all goes well, he should be getting some more regular action there with Justin Morneau out until early-mid August. So having Mauer in the lineup regularly, against divisional foes, will really help the Twins moving ahead.

And finally, the biggest reason for a Twins surge now, is it can shape how the Twins will shape the roster with the trade deadline looming at the end of the month. If they can have a successful run and get their AL Central deficit down to 4-6 games and keep it there, look for the Twins to become buyers at the trade deadline. Because lets face it, the central is a weak division. And a acquisition or two could make the Twins contenders again. But, if the Twins can't get it together and have a horrible stretch, they could easily turn into sellers at the trade deadline. So a lot is riding on these next 16 games.

So now the time has come. It really is win or go home in the next two and a half weeks for the Minnesota Twins. And what makes this favorable is the fact they are playing the teams they have had the most success against since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager, their AL Central foes (Chicago, Kansas City, Cleveland and Detroit). The time is now Twins, lets show the world we can still do this!

NOTE: I will be in Chicago this weekend to watch the Twins battle Ozzie's bunch. I'll try and get a post in, but since its a vacation for me I wouldn't bet on it. Look for my recap of the weekend on Monday.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011 MLB All Star Game Roster Predictions

Well, I know yesterday I said I wouldn't post anything until Tuesday. But I almost forgot about the MLB All Star Game roster announcement tomorrow. So I suddenly had some free time and I'd thought I'd share my annual predictions with you. For this I took into account the balloting results (through Thursday) for the starters and the fact you need at least on player from each team on the roster. This year I also took into consideration who the managers are, because they will favor a player from their own team over a player from another when making a selection. And I believe the roster size (not including the final vote player) is 32, so I have 32 players on each squad. The rosters will be announced at 11 Central Time tomorrow, on TBS. Here are my predictions:


SP: J. Verlander (DET), J Weaver (LAA), G Gonzalez (OAK), M Pineda (SEA), J Shields (TB), C Wilson (TEX), J Beckett (BOS), A Ogando (TEX)

RP: M Rivera (NYY), J Valverde (DET), C Perez (CLE), K Farnsworth (TB), N Feliz (TEX)

C: A Avila (DET), A Pierzynski (CWS)

1B: A Gonzalez (BOS), M Cabrera (DET)

2B: R Cano (NYY), H Kendrick (LAA)

3B: A Rodriguez (NYY), A Beltre (TEX)

SS: D Jeter (NYY), A Cabrera (CLE)

DH: D Ortiz (BOS), M Young (TEX), V Martinez (DET)

OF: J Bautista (TOR), C Granderson (NYY), J Hamilton (TEX), A Gordon (KC), M Cuddyer (MIN), A Jones (BAL)


SP: J Jurrjens (ATL), C Hamels (PHI), R Halladay (PHI), J Zimmerman (WSH), C Kershaw (LAD), M Cain (SF), T Lincecum (SF), C Lee (PHI)

RP: J Hanrahan (PIT), H Bell (SD), B Wilson (SF), F Cordero (CIN), J Axford (MIL)

C: B McCann (ATL), Y Molina (STL), M Montero (ARZ)

1B: P Fielder (MIL), G Sanchez (FLA), J Votto (CIN)

2B: R Weeks (MIL), B Phillips (CIN)

3B: P Polanco (PHI), A Ramirez (CHC)

SS: J Reyes (NYM), T Tulowitzki (COL)

OF: R Braun (MIL), L Berkman (STL), M Kemp (LAD), H Pence (HOU), J Upton (ARZ), C Gonzalez (COL), S Victorino (PHI)

Bold denotes expected starter based on fan balloting

Again the All Star Game roster announcement comes tomorrow at 11 Central Time on TBS.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Yes, I know its only July 1. But I will be retreating to the cabin this weekend and will not be posting anything until Tuesday most likely. So I wanted to wish all my readers a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend. Here's to hoping the Twins can get some revenge on the Brewers too.