Category Archives: MLB

Game 152: Minnesota @ New York Yankees

In a move suggesting they still have aspirations of winning the AL East, New York has moved their best starter up a day in order to get him a chance at 3 more regular season starts. Young* Luis Severino (13-6, 2.93 ERA, 156 ERA+, 1.031 WHIP) is now in line for the final start of the regular season, home against Toronto on October 1 ... which would make it improbable that the 2nd Wild Card team would face him in the AL Wild Card game on October 3. If nothing else changes, it looks like that game would be started by former Twin Jaime Garcia.

Opposing the Yankees will be the 'ageless' Bartolo Colon (6-13, 6.39 ERA, 69 ERA+, 1.602 WHIP) who was passed last night by Sabathia for most career innings pitched by an active player. According to the four letter,

Colon last pitched Friday during a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He allowed four runs and five hits in six innings. In his past three starts -- all defeats -- Colon owns a 7.53 ERA after going 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA in six August starts.

so we got that going for us ... which is nice.

Baseball's a funny game - anything can happen. That being said, I'm (unfortunately) with joe.

*he's only 23!!1!

Game 139: Minnesota at Tampa Bay

The Twins have now lost their past two series and past three games in a row. That, combined with the Angels winning ways, has knocked the team out of the 2nd Wild Card slot. They now stand .5 game back of LAA and only .5 games up on Baltimore (currently on a 7-3 run in their past 10).

A win today helps them keep pace - I'm not familiar with Blake Snell (Tampa's starter), but let's hope Slegers is ready to deal and the offense wakes up.

Edit - Leadoff Dongerjack by Dozier!

Game 132: White Sox at Twins

When is it okay to begin truly scoreboard watching? I only ask because the Tribe beat dem Yanks in their first game today, and a win by Berrios, combined with another NY Loss tonight, would leave the Twins only 1 game behind the first Wild Card spot ... I'm not looking behind 'em (the O's have won 6 in a row and LAA play Oakland again this evening after beating them 8-2 last night).

Berrios
-v-
Holland

Lets hope the Twins and Berrios are a little sharper against Holland and the Sox this week. Looks like Kepler's struggles against lefties (2017: .131/.202/.172--career: .170/.240/.252) will keep him out of the starting lineup, Garver sees his second start behind the dish, and your 3 & 4 hitters appear to be Buxton and Polanco. If you'd have told me in June that those fellas would be hitting in those spots in late August and the Twins would also be in contention for the post-season(!?!) ... I probably would have asked you if you'd been watching those Twins at all in 2017.

Hall of Shame

This weekend the Twins will induct Michael Cuddyer (2001–2011) & Andy MacPhail (1984–1994) as the newest members of the club's Hall of Fame. This honor was first bestowed on five players—Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, & Kirby Puckett—and a former club owner in 2000.

MacPhail was the primary architect of the Twins' two World Championship teams, which had the potential to develop into a mini-dynasty had his boss Carl Pohlad given him slightly more latitude with payroll, particularly following the second trophy in 1991. MacPhail left the Twins in 1994 to take over the capsizing Cubs, and soon after Pohlad began issuing a string of threats to sell the team to an ownership group in a mediocre mid-Atlantic market (still without a team decades later), where it doubtless would have quickly withered in a minor-league ballpark under the heat from the Atlanta Braves dynasty to its south. True to form, a couple years later Pohlad conspired with his pal Bud Selig—so distraught over the loss of his beloved Milwaukee Braves that he hijaked the Seattle Pilots—to take a payout from MLB and contract the Twins. I doubt that is mentioned in his Twins Hall of Fame bio.

Apart from MacPhail and Pohlad, four other executives have been inducted, a somewhat restrained number given the franchise's Brezhnevesque fetishization of internal stability in its front office, to the point of systemic intellectual stagnation. These are:

Calvin Griffith, the owner who relocated the franchise to Minnesota, and whose considerable baseball savvy was only trumped by his racist grudges & motives.

George Brophy, general manager of the Minneapolis Millers until the club folded in advance of the Twins' arrival; he was promoted to the majors in Minnesota and eventually presided over the club's entire farm system, developing a prospect-rich pipeline that won it all two years after he retired.

Jim Rantz, who succeeded his mentor, Brophy, and ran the farm system through thick & thin for twenty-seven years.

Tom Mee, tridecennial PR man, uneven official scorer, and holder of various other titles, none more singular than "First Twins Employee*" (*non-player personnel, of course).

Cuddyer, the Twins' first round draft pick (9th overall) in 1997, will be the 20th player inducted by the Twins. He joins real some real Hall of Famers, some Very Good-ers who rightfully claim legendary status in Minnesota, and a couple guys with notable careers but dubious credentials. Unfortunately for Cuddyer, this last group describes his own Minnesota curriculum vitae. By position & rWAR with Minnesota, these players are:

C: Earl Battey
1b: Kent Hrbek
2b: Rod Carew
3b: Harmon Killebrew, Gary Gaetti
SS: Greg Gagne, Zoilo Versalles
LF: Bob Allison
CF: Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter
RF: Tony Oliva
SP: Bert Blyleven, Brad Radke, Jim Kaat, Frank Viola, Jim Perry, Camilo Pascual
RP: Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado

The lone elected–but–uninducted player is Chuck Knoblauch, the brassy second baseman of the 1991 World Champions who has ridden his way into ignominy on waves of domestic assault, performance-enhancing drugs, and sewer-worthy social media activity. Twins fans pelted Knobby with hot dogs in 2001. The Twins disinvited him from the Hall of Fame in 2014.

We are fortunate to live at a time when public monuments to reprehensible conduct are being contested and removed. Knoblauch's anathematization suggests the Twins are willing to draw a line; the question becomes, should the club reconsider how it has celebrated:

Calvin Griffith, who was memorialized in bronze outside Gate 29 in 2010. This is the same Calvin Griffith who said of moving his club from the District of Columbia to Minnesota—"I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. ... We came here because you've got good, hardworking, white people here."—and drove away the best position player in franchise history with his potent combination of bigotry & parsimony in the same night. If the Twins are an organization with a conscience, Griffith's statue should be razed before the end of the season. I am not the first to point this out. Perhaps I could make the first suggestion for its replacement: Carlos Paula, a Cuban right fielder who broke the Washington Senators' color barrier in 1954 and played for the Minneapolis Millers in 1957.

Carlos Paula presents an opportunity to consider the status of Torii Hunter, the Twin Cities media darling whose brand of casual bigotry seems to be amenable to the Pohlads, Dave St. Peter, and the new Derek Falvey-Thad Levine front office regime that retained him. Hunter once slandered black Latino players like his then-teammate Vladimir Guerrero, pioneers like Carlos Paula, and the most beloved Twin of all time, Tony Oliva, as race "imposters." One wonders what he makes of Miguel Sanó, the Twins' emerging slugger and a Dominican of Haitian & Cocolo heritage. During the press conference celebrating his return to Minnesota, Hunter indulged himself by publicly branding a reporter a "prick" four times for asking him to reflect on his freely-professed anti-gay rhetoric. The Twins had expressly brought Hunter back to mentor its talented, ethnically diverse next generation.

Carl Pohlad was a multi-billionaire who, as a young bank official, foreclosed on mortgagees during the Depression and then, at the end of his life, bilked his community for the beautiful ballpark the Twins call home. His manipulative, naked avarice will likely be forgotten thanks to the Vikings' new monstrosity, and in any case his kids aren't about to remove the statue of their parents from the ballpark's grounds. Hopefully a future owner of the Twins will find a more suitable place for that statue, perhaps overlooking the HERC.

Finally, there's the thorny question of what to do about Kirby Puckett, a phosphorescent talent whose effervescent personality made him a hero of a generation of Twins fans, and who, after his forced retirement, fell hard from atop the improbable mountain he scaled out of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. Frank Deford's "The Rise and Fall of Kirby Puckett" read like the kind of hit piece someone as misanthropic as Deford would relish writing, but looking away from the accusations it detailed is not an option, no matter the apparent glee with which they were related. Over a decade after Puckett's early death, many of us remain deflated as the Metrodome he electrified, uncertain how to address a man who did much good in the community and failed to live up to that standard in his private life.

There are four other non-player members of the Twins' hall, disparate talents unified by indelible personalities:

Herb Carneal, always and forever the stentorian Voice of the Minnesota Twins.

Tom Kelly, laconic, fungo-weilding skipper of both World Series Champions.

Bob Casey, public address announcer whose quintdecennial gig in Minnesota's pro ballparks barely outlasted how long he held the second syllable of "Kirby."

John Gordon, everyone's loquacious radio uncle who, in his later years, could make guys like Jason Tyner sound like Babe Ruth.

The gap between the number of club executives and people who shaped the games on the field and in fans' minds suggests a couple areas where the Twins Hall of Fame neglects the club's history.

Rick Stelmaszek's two visits to Minneapolis this season following his pancreatic cancer diagnosis have been bittersweet. Stelly's firing in October 2012 after 32 years of coaching struck me as particularly cold-blooded. Stelmaszek was not the GM who assembled a bullpen corps that included Brian Duensing, Jeff Gray, Matt Capps, Tyler Robertson, and Anthony Swarzak. Stelmaszek was a notorious conditioning taskmaster for decades; unpreparedness and ambivalence would have been completely out of character. Twins players across generations seem to love the guy. For his critical role on two World Champions and his decades of relationship & player development, Rick Stelmaszek should be in the Twins Hall of Fame while he is still among the living.

Wayne Terwilliger's tenure with the Twins coincided with Andy MacPhail's, but it was neither his first experience in the organization nor his first Minnesota go-around in professional baseball. Twig might be the embodiment of both Minnie & Paul. He played for the St. Paul Saints in 1952 and the Minneapolis Millers from 1954–1957. In between, he played for the Senators from 1953–1954. Jackie Robinson's understudy on the '51 Dodgers, Twig appears to have been out with an injury when Carlos Paula broke the Senators' color barrier at home on 1 September; Twig & Paula saw action as replacements in the first game of a double-header in Detroit on 12 September. They both met again in Minneapolis as starters for the '57 Millers. Twig joined the Twins in 1986 and is one of a handful of on-field personnel on both the '87 & '91 teams. After leaving the Twins (why?), Twig managed the St. Paul Saints from 1995–2002. I don't know much about Twig's personal life other than his WWII tour with the Marines (including Saipan, Tinan, & Iwo Jima), but not many non-owners get to spend over sixty years in professional baseball if they're jerks. Somebody could go ask Willie Mays for a character reference—he & Twig were teammates on the Giants.

I am not ready for Sue Nelson to retire, but I hope that the Twins will see fit to celebrate a woman who has had as much influence on the soundscape of Twins baseball as any player to knock out a home run, or any broadcaster whose voice rises in anticipation, meshing with the fans shouting a hip-hooray as the ball soars out of the field. Sue would be a fantastic addition to the Twins Hall of Fame.

The last of these is Halsey Hall. Halsey's the namesake of the Minnesota SABR chapter, and he was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame nearly thirty years ago, so this should be a relatively easy. If more proof of his merit was necessary, his status as an Twins' original—and easily the all-time most colorful—broadcaster, his longtime affiliation with the Minneapolis Millers, and his post-retirement tour as pre-game emcee at the old Met would be sufficient. And yet, with every year it seems less likely that Halsey will be elected to the Twins Hall of Fame. He retired from broadcasting in 1972 and died in 1977, so the current voters and younger fans likely couldn't care less about a loveable nut calling baseball games on radio signals that are probably passing into interstellar space.

But that's still a shame for the Twins. It's just not a Hall without Halsey.

Game 100: Brooklyn Dodgers at Los Angeles Senators

Los Angeles Senators

Celebrating 70 Years of Baseball in the City of Angels

All credit to "Tom" over at Ghosts of DC.

Griffith declared he has assurances from Los Angeles officials that a written proposal for transfer of the Washington franchise would be forthcoming before the Nats 5-man board of directors meets on Friday.
“I am sure we will have a Los Angeles offer to consider in addition to those received from San Francisco and Louisville,” Griffith said. “That is the word I received by telephone from Kenneth Hahn, Los Angeles county supervisor.”

Included in the Los Angeles proposal, Griffith said, would be guarantees of a stadium seating “at least 50,000, perhaps larger, with parking for 20,000 cars, and low stadium rental.”

The Louisville proposal offering use of the new Fairgrounds Stadium seating nearly 32,000, which could be expanded to 40,000, was made, Griffith said, by William Henry, Fairgrounds superintendent. It was accompanied by a letter from Kentucky Governor A. B. (Happy) Chandler.
The mayor of San Francisco authorized that city’s bid for the Washington franchise, Griffith said. It emphasized the availability of a $5 million bond issue, already passed, into which to build a stadium for the stipulated purpose of inviting major league baseball.

The negotiations and bidding war was heating up (by the way, Happy Chandler was also the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and a U.S. Senator). On Wednesday, October 17th, the Post reported the official offer received by the team.

Los Angeles officials yesterday telegraphed Calvin Griffith an offer of a new $11,000,000 stadium and appropriated $2,000,000 with which to buy out their minor league franchise in a new move to lure his Washington team to that city.

Griffith said he was disappointed at the County Board’s failure to spell out its proposal in complete detail for submission to the Friday meeting of the Washington Club’s board of directors.
“I’m not going out there to work out any plans,” said Griffith, president of the Washington club. “They are the ones seeking a franchise. We’re not.”

Griffith was non-commital on the question as to whether construction of a new, municipal stadium in Washington would be sufficient to keep the Nats in the Capital. “We’ll answer that question and a lot of others on Friday.”

The good news, albeit temporary, was that Griffith didn’t like the deal offered by Los Angeles. He ended up passing that year and the Senators would stay in Washington for the 1957 season.

After the 1957 season, L.A. successfully lured the Dodgers from Brooklyn with San Francisco pulling in their rival Giants. The Senators lost their negotiating position slightly and rebuffed an attempt by Minneapolis to bring them to town for the 1958 season.

Major League Baseball expanded after the 1960 season by adding a new franchise in Minneapolis. Still stuck in D.C. with an old stadium and lagging attendance, Calvin requested that his team swap with the new expansion team. The Senators would become the Minnesota Twins and Washington would get a new, even crappier Senators team, complete with a roster of unrecognizable players. The Twins would go on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1965 World Series.

Maybe alternate history helps the current iteration of the club salvage a win & avoid a sweep. We'll see what Erv has for them tonight.

"With Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list with a lower back strain, manager Dave Roberts will insert righty Brock Stewart into the Dodgers' starting rotation."

"Stewart, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Dodgers' No. 10 prospect, will make his first start this season on Wednesday against the Twins..."

Source

Game 94: New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins

This started as a response to sean's comment in the CoC, but I realized I had a game log to write, so I moved it over here. The response/question I began morphed into this: It is now July 19th, and after 93 games, the Twins are 47-46, two games back of the Indians in the Central and (now) a game-and-a-half behind the Yankees for the 2nd Wild Card spot. The Yankees, at 48-44, are in 3rd place in the AL East and currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot. They're buying.*

[placeholder for a poll question ... to be inserted once I learn how to create a poll] Should the Twins:
A) Buy (starting pitching, relief pitching, pitching pitching)
B) Sell (Santana, Dozier, Kintzler .... uhm, yeah)
C) Neither (Play it out and see where the chips fall)

I keep reading all of these click-bait analysis (analyses?) of teams who should be sellers at the trade-deadline, who on their roster is/should be available, teams who are/might/should be interested, and what those teams might have to offer in return. Lots and lots of pitching being discussed, but I HAVE NOT SEEN ONE MENTION of the Twins as a team that should be involved in either end of the equations.

There was a graphic shown during the game last night which broke the season thus far into nine, 10-game blocks. Though it was late, I recall that in each of those 10-game blocks, the Twins were basically playing .500 baseball: lots of 5-5, 4-6, 6-4 blocks. They've never won more than 4 games in a row, and never lost more than 4 games in a row. They've never been more than 3 games up in the Central, nor have they been more than 3 games back. Also of note, with 422 RS and 488 RA, a -66 Run Differential, their Pythagorean W-L is currently 40-53...

After last season, if you'd told me this club would be an 82-win team, irrespective of where they finish in the standings, I'd have been pretty content (maybe even 'happy'). I've now seen half a season of these guys, and watched what's happening in the rest of the American League and the Twins' play against each of the front-runners: 1-5 vs. Houston, 2-5 vs. Boston, 5-8 vs. Cleveland, and 2-3 vs. the leading WC clubs - a combined 10-21 against the current field of playoff teams...ugh.

So, I hold no illusions that the team, as currently constructed, is a team that could win in the post season. According to multiple sources, during the last offseason, the Twins shopped (or took phone calls for) their admittedly limited assortment of players with value to other squads. In the end, they did not move Dozier or Santana and basically signed a few roster-filler arms for the bullpen, a utility-infielder and a couple of catchers. It did not appear that they were making moves to contend in 2017. Now that they are contending, what should they do?

One thing I believe they should continue to do is feed innings to José Berríos. He has allowed an average of 5 runs over has past four starts, but at this point in his first "full" year with the big club, I expect some bumps and think they'll only help him get better long term. He's currently sitting at 8-3, 120 ERA+, 1.151 WHIP and 4.01 FIP. He's been worth 1.1 WAR in 12 starts and could conceivably reach 200 IP and 200 K's for the season (though very unlikely - averaging ~ 6 IP/GS and 5.83 K/GS with maybe a dozen or so starts left this year). No matter the final outcome (either today, or in 2017) I'm happy to note that he's been their second best starter this year.

*

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Game 76: Minnesota @ Boston

Wide-eyed Rookie v. Reigning Cy Young Award winner

-or-

Mejia v. Porcello.

Let's hope last night's defensive lapses and poor decision-making on the base paths were simply an aberration due to the wet conditions and localized lightning strikes.

Let's hope the bullpen continues to pitch well competently.

Let's also hope that the boys bring their bats and see the early-June 2017 (5.00 ERA) Porcello because last night, they sorta made Drew Pomeranz look like circa-2016 Porcello.

Finally, let's also hope that the young "core" of Polanco, Kepler & Sanó can get their mojo back, who after good-to-great months of April & May are respectively slashing .231/.273/.308, .217/.244/.349 and .239/.309/.466 for June.

Game 15: Cleveland at Minnesota

After a 5-1 start, the Twins have now dropped 6 of 8, are 3-7 over their past 10 and are 7-7 (.500) overall. This record is tied with Cleveland for 3rd in the Central Division and 1.5 games behind first place Detroit.  They're also a cool .500 at home and on the road, 4-4 and 3-3 respectively.

Today's Focus: Pitching

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Young lefty, Adalberto Mejia (0-1, 4.05 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) takes the mound for the Twins this evening, having shown significant improvement in his second start last week against Chicago, giving up 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 4 (and walking 3).

Cleveland sends former 1st rounder (3rd overall) Trevor Bauer (0-2, 8.44 ERA, 1.59 WHIP) against the Twins who, after an unspectacular first outing against Arizona (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER -- he did strikeout 7) followed with an even worse performance in Detroit on Friday (5.0, 8, 6, 6 w/ 6 SO).

Cleveland starters are last in MLB in ERA (5.86), 27th in WHIP (1.39) and tied for 2nd in Hits allowed (85). As a team, they're 28th in ERA (4.94), 23rd in WHIP (1.37) and 2nd in Hits allowed (131) ... so ... let's WAKE UP THE BATS!!!

Twins starters are 2nd in ERA (3.18) in MLB and 2nd in WHIP (1.06), and as a team, lead the majors in WHIP (1.04), sit in 2nd in the AL in ERA (2.98) and 3rd place overall. They're 29th in Hits allowed (95) but are tied for 27th in SO (93) ... so ... yay for good defense?

Also ... I have little hope that the Wild will win even 1 game, let alone their series against St. Louis. However, I hope they take heart and abide:

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