Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shut Him Down

On Monday, Nick Nelson talked about how it would be in the better interest of the Twins if they shut down Joe Mauer for the remainder of the season. Its a very valid idea. The team is going nowhere, and they can get him healthy for next season. But, the team should also look into doing the same for his old roommate.

Yesterday, the Twins announced that their first baseman Justin Morneau will be out with mild concussion symptoms. This coming while he has been battling a sore shoulder since Sunday's game. Its just been that kind of season for Morneau. One injury after another. Morneau suffered a sprained wrist in June, but then a few weeks later he underwent surgery to remove a herniated disk in his neck, which kept him out of action until August 12th.

So the message is quite clear: Shut down Justin Morneau for the remainder of the season.

The Twins are paying Morneau $14 million in 2012 and '13. And if they want to be successful for those seasons, they need Morneau at full strength. And the right step towards having him at full strength is shutting him down. And that step is probably more logical now, with those mild concussion symptoms.

No one in this game is tougher than Justin Morneau. Before 2009, he was averaging over 140 games played in each of the full seasons he has been with the Twins (Including playing all 163 games in 2008). But all these injuries have made us forgotten how tough he is. And the Twins can help themselves out, by shutting him down now, so they can have him for the long run next year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Time To Move The Fences

Yesterday, the Twins were swept by the Orioles at home for the first time in the franchise's 51 year history. And in this series, the Twins failed to score more than one run in all four of their games. following the game, the Twins traded DH Jim Thome, Target Field's all time home run leader, to Cleveland.

But I am not here to dwell on that series. I'm going to take a shot at what was a hot topic last offseason, and should be again this offseason: The fences at Target Field.

You may remember last offseason, Justin Morneau pleaded with the Twins front office to move the fences in. But seeing that the Twins had one of the best home records in the league, the team dismissed Morneau's request, despite the drop in power from a team that was supposed to hit many home runs.

This year, we've seen just about the same thing at home. The only change, the team has a worse record. And their power hitters (Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel) have seen a severe drop in power (Injuries have contributed to this too). There is no better example of that, than Buster Olney's tweet today, that since Justin Morneau's concussion last July, the Twins have just one home run from Mauer and Morneau at Target Field in 368 combined at bats (The homerun was via Joe Mauer, last August, his only TF homerun). Between the pair, they have hit a combined 5 home runs at Target Field, in the ballparks two year history (Morneau 4, Mauer 1).

If they offer up a suggestion to the Front Office to move in the fences in again, I highly suggest they take it. You are paying these two guys a combined $37 million dollars each season between 2011-2013. You are paying them to hit the ball in the seats. And please, don't take your pitching staff's opinion into account, because they have no issues giving up home runs with the fences the way they are.

The only player who could consistently hit the ball with authority in Target Field was Jim Thome. He had hit 21 home runs in the ballpark (Leads all players), before being traded yesterday. And now that he is gone, you need your power hitters to step up and hit the ball out of the park. And the only way to do that right now, is move the fences in.

So please, Twins hierarchy. Make this happen. Move your fences in. Let your star players do what you pay them to do. Hit home runs.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farewell Jim Thome

Today, the Twins and Indians finalized a deal that sent Jim Thome back to Cleveland. Who the Twins are getting in return has yet to be determined. The slugger was claimed by the Tribe on waivers Wednesday and had to waive his no trade clause to finalize the deal. A good move for the Indians, who lost their DH Travis Hafner this past week with an injury. Thome also is returning to the team he originally came up with (1991-2002), and hopefully he can spark a Tribe run to the postseason.

Personally, this is a bittersweet move. I have loved every minute of having Jim Thome in a Twins uniform. He gave us the defining moment of the inaugural season at Target Field.

And this season, he gave us a great moment in baseball history as he launched his 600th home run in a game against the Tigers.

As I said, its been great watching Thome play for the Twins. And if I had one regret, its the fact I do not own a Thome shirt, jersey, or autograph. But none the less, he gave us some epic blasts that we will never forget. And now, all I can do is hope the Tribe takes off from his arrival, and somehow gets into the postseason to get him a shot at a ring. Because we all know, Jim Thome deserves a World Series ring.

Thanks for the memories Jim.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Few Good Notes: The Little Things, Disabled List, Tickets, and a Draft Pick

  • Yesterday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire spoke on his weekly appearance on 1500 ESPN, and he said he was tired of certain players making the same mistakes. These things are those "little things" that the Twins did so well for years. It was more directed at the younger players on his team. He also hinted that they may need to be more forceful in the minor leagues about this stuff. The Twins need to be much more forceful on this in the minors because the little things, have cost the Twins big time this season.
  • Yesterday was supposed to be the day Michael Cuddyer returned from a neck injury that he suffered on the 12th in batting practice in Cleveland. But, he did not. And Cuddyer has yet to be placed on the disabled list despite the fact he has not played in 10 days. This is something that has always bothered me. The Twins are so reluctant to put players on the disabled list, they sacrifice a roster spot for a player who will be out 7-10 days. We recently saw this with Denard Span, who the team waited a few days before he got put on the DL. This is a trend that needs to stop. Not particulary this season anymore, but going forward in the future.
  • The Twins announced that their season ticket prices for 2012 will not change from their 2011 prices. This is a big push for them to keep their 25,000+ season ticket holders in spite of the teams poor performance this season. But they are going to need a big offseason to help keep that number up there.
  • Yesterday, Aaron Gleeman tweeted that the Twins are in line to get the #5 pick in next years MLB Draft. And since 2001's #1 overall pick (Mauer), they haven't picked higher than 14th. If the Twins do continue at this pace, I would be very pleased to see them get a top 10, and more likely top 5, pick. Then it would be great to draft a pitcher that could potentially become the future ace of this team.
  • Apologies for the lack of posts on here lately. I have been real busy with work, and I have spent some more time getting my new blog on the Minnesota Wild up and running. So I should be back to getting stuff regularly on here now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jim Thome Hits Career Home Run #600

Every so often, we get to see a great baseball accomplishment. And most times, its always from afar. But on Monday night, we got to see a great baseball milestone firsthand. We watched Jim Thome blast his way into select company, as he hit career home runs #599 and #600 as the Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 9-6. Jim became just the 8th member of the 600 home run club, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr, and Alex Rodriguez. It was really quite something to watch this while Thome donned a Twins uniform. And perhaps, we may never see something like this again from a Twins player. This will probably be his last great achievement until he is receiving his plaque in Cooperstown. Congrats to Jim and his family on a truly great accomplishment.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Twins Trade Delmon Young

This afternoon, the Twins traded OF Delmon Young to the Detroit Tigers for LHP Cole Nelson and a player to be named later. This coming as the team gets set to open up a three game set against Detroit tonight, in the Motor City.

Young has been having a dismal season batting .266 with 4 HR and 32 RBI in 84 games played. This coming off an impressive 2010 season where he hit .298 with 21 HR and 112 RBI. His time in the lineup in the second half this year has been limited due to his poor outfield defense and the emergence of Ben Revere as a reliable outfielder for the Twins. Delmon has one year of arbitration left, but was expected to be non tendered by the Twins due to his high salary and poor production.

Cole Nelson, the prospect the Twins acquired in this trade, is in his first full season of professional baseball. He has spent the 2011 season with the Lakeland Flying Tigers of the Florida State League (Class A Advanced), going 5-11 with a 4.87 ERA in 26 games played (17 starts). Since the beginning of July, Nelson has been moved to the bullpen (reaching his innings pitched limit, I assume?) and has been effective going 1-1 with a 2.86 ERA in his last 10 games. He will probably finish out the season with the Fort Myers Miracle (Twins Class A Advanced affiliate).

I personally think this is a good move for the Twins. They were going to have to move an outfielder this offseason because of the good play of Ben Revere this year. Had the Twins just waited until the offseason, they would of just non tendered him and got nothing in return. Hopefully, the player to be named later will turn out to be a good prospect as well, but I'm guessing thats depending on how well Delmon plays for the Tigers to close out the season.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The New All Time Twins Saves Leader

Congrats to Joe Nathan on becoming the All Times Twins leader tonight. He surpassed Rick Aguilera, with his 255th save as a member of the Twins, and his 256th save overall in his career. Joe was acquired (along with Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser) in November of 2003 from the Giants for catcher AJ Pierzynski. Congrats Joe!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Ugly Gets Uglier

For anyone who went to see or watched the Twins this past weekend, you saw one absolutely abysmal baseball. Perhaps the worst we have seen them play under manager Ron Gardenhire. And to make it worse, they got their you know what handed to them by their punching bag over the past decade, the Chicago White Sox. And the White Sox aren't exactly a good team right now.

So one colored Sox (White) team leaves town, another (Red) comes in for a three game set starting Monday. And fresh off a come from behind victory against the Yankees, now is not the best time for the Twins to bump in to the Red Sox. And the Red Sox are playing at a ridiculous pace following their 2-10 start (68-33 since, .673 win pct) But it only gets worse from there.

After the Red Sox pay Minneapolis a visit, the Twins are traveling to Central contenders Cleveland and Detroit. Teams who the Twins could only muster a 3-5 record against, in a mid July homestand. Then come home for four with the team they can never seemingly beat, the New York Yankees.

And as I before said, the Twins played absolutely awful baseball over the weekend. And they can not afford to carry that into this upcoming stretch. Well...its more like we, the fans, can't afford to have them play like they have. Its too painful to watch.

With this upcoming schedule, you have to think how the front office stood pat at the trade deadline. They either should of made this team better, or sold off some key assets and help replenish a farm system that is in rough shape. And with the team playing very inconsistent, it would of made sense to sell. Because lets face it, this is a team going nowhere but down...