Tag Archives: Michael Cuddyer

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-four

CHICAGO 3, MINNESOTA 1 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Sunday, April 27.

Batting stars:  None.

Pitching stars:  Rick Reed pitched seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk and striking out five.  Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Esteban Loiaza struck out eight in seven innings, giving up one run on six hits and no walks.  Damaso Marte struck out two in two perfect innings.  Jose Valentin was 1-for-3 with a home run, his sixth.

The game:  The Twins got a pair of singles in the first but did nothing with them.  Valentin homered with one out in the bottom of the first to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.  They made it 2-0 in the second.  Brian Daubach walked, Carlos Lee reached on an error, and the two then pulled off a double steal of second and home.

The Twins got on the board in the fourth when Torii Hunter had a two-out double and scored on an A. J. Pierzynski single.  Chicago got the run right back in the bottom of the fourth.  Magglio Ordonez led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Lee, putting the White Sox up 3-1.

And that was it.  The Twins had only two hits after that, both singles, and neither man got past first base.  Chicago didn't do any more on offense either, but they didn't need to, and the game ended with a 3-1 score.

WP:  Loaiza (5-0).  LP:  Reed (1-4).  S:  Marte (1).

Notes:  Michael Cuddyer was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz.  Chris Gomez was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Bobby Kielty was at DH in place of Matthew LeCroy.

The Twins made no in-game lineup substitutions.

Kielty was 1-for-4 and was batting .339.  Gomez was 0-for-3 and fell to .310.  Jacque Jones was 1-for-4 and was batting .302.

Dustan Mohr was 0-for-3 and was batting .125.  Cuddyer was 0-for-3 and was batting .197.

By game scores, this was tied for the second-best game of the season for Reed, and was his best of the season so far.  It dropped his ERA to a still-high 6.26.  Guardado lowered his ERA to 1.04.

This was easily Loaiza's best season.  He went 21-9, 2.90, 1.11 WHIP.  He led the league in strikeouts and finished second in Cy Young voting to Roy Halladay.  It was the only season in which he had an ERA under three, and one of only two seasons in which he had an ERA under four.  I don't know what was different about 2003, but it is really an outlier in his career.  His career numbers are 126-114, 4.65, 1.41 WHIP.

The White Sox really didn't have a closer in 2003, with Tom Gordon (12 saves), Billy Koch (11), and Marte (11), sharing the job.  And it really does look like sharing the job--it doesn't appear that they went with one, then another, then another.

This was Cuddyer's first appearance at first base in 2003.  He would play just a few more games before being sent back to Rochester, not returning until September.

The Twins had now lost eight out of nine games.

Record:  The Twins were 10-14, in third place in the American League Central, eight games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game One

MINNESOTA 3, DETROIT 1 IN DETROIT

Date:  Monday, March 31.

Batting stars:  Dustan Mohr was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer.  A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-3 with a home run.

Pitching stars:  Brad Radke pitched 6.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits and one walk and striking out three.  J. C. Romero pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.  Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition star:  Mike Maroth pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and no walks and striking out three.

The game:  Michael Cuddyer hit a one-out single in the second and Mohr hit a two-out two-run homer to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.  After that, neither team got a baserunner until the fifth and neither team got a man to second until the sixth.

The Twins missed a chance to add to their lead in that sixth inning.  Jacque Jones led off with a double and Cristian Guzman singled to put men on first and third.  With the contact play on (my assumption), Torii Hunter grounded to third and Jones was thrown out at the plate.  Matthew LeCroy then grounded into a double play and the chance was gone.

It looked like it might cost them.  In the seventh, Omar Infante singled with one out.  With two down, Bobby Higginson walked and Dean Palmer delivered an RBI single, cutting the lead to 2-1.  The go-ahead run was on and the tying run was in scoring position, but Craig Paquette grounded out to end the threat.

In the eighth Pierzynski homered to give the Twins an insurance run.  The Tigers did not get a man past first base after that.

WP:  Radke (1-0).  LP:  Maroth (0-1).  S:  Guardado (1).

Notes:  Michael Cuddyer was at third base in place of Corey Koskie.  Cuddyer would mostly play right field when he played, but he would spend much of the season in Rochester, as we will see as this series progresses.  Sorry if I should've spoilered that.

Other than that, the Twins used what would be their regular lineup for 2003.  Denny Hocking went to third base in the seventh, replacing Cuddyer for defense.  Chris Gomez pinch-ran for LeCroy in the ninth.

This was the year Detroit lost 119 games and Maroth lost 21 games.  This one was a tough luck loss, but overall he did not pitch well in 2003--5.73 ERA, 1.45 WHIP.  Still, he made 33 starts and pitched nearly 200 innings, due mostly to the fact that the Tigers had no one better to replace him with.  Of the six Detroit pitchers who started ten or more times, only one had an ERA under five (Nate Cornejo) and two had ERAs over six.  Remarkably, they were not last in the league in ERA--they were next to last at 5.30, but Texas was dead last at 5.67.

Maroth was actually in the Twins farm system for a time in 2010.  Most of that time was spent on the disabled list.  Another Tiger in this game with a Twins connection is Eric Munson, who went to spring training with the Twins in 2005.

Record:  The Twins were 1-0, tied for first place in the American League Central with Kansas City.

Happy Birthday–March 27

Miller Huggins (1878)
Effa Manley (1897)
Wes Covington (1932)
Bill Sudakis (1946)
Lynn McGlothen (1950)
Dick Ruthven (1951)
Dave Hostetler (1956)
Jaime Navarro (1967)
Tom Quinlan (1968)
Dee Brown (1978)
Michael Cuddyer (1979)
Brian Slocum (1981)
Buster Posey (1987)
Ryne Harper (1989)
Matt Harvey (1989)
Jake Odorizzi (1990)

Effa Manley was the owner of the Brooklyn Eagles and the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues.

Dick Ruthven was drafted by Minnesota in the first round in 1972, but did not sign.

Brian Slocum was drafted by Minnesota in the fourteenth round in 1999, but did not sign.

We would like to wish a very happy birthday to Can of Corn.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to Milt on Tilt.  Gone but not forgotten.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–March 27

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.

Bilateral Cerebral Incontinence Strikes Hack

The disease, once thought to affect only politicians and political journalists, is both physically debilitating and detrimental to any career with public contact. That's what doctors told Jim Souhan earlier this summer. Longtime readers alerted the Star Tribune medical staff that something in Souhan's delivery was off, and that the paper's resident enforcer appeared to be struggling more than usual to support his warrants and make credible arguments.

Extensive examination revealed that Souhan appears to have contracted bilateral cerebral incontinence (BCI), a mental affliction for which there is no known cure. Star Tribune doctors immediately ordered testing of the paper's entire pool of reporters, discovering an undisclosed number of infected journalists. A source close to the organization has indicated the other reporters cover politics for the paper, suggesting a possible chain of transmission from politicians to Souhan.

Little is known about the specific damage caused by bilateral cerebral incontinence. In fact, I spoke with several trainers from other news organizations, and they indicated to me that they've never heard of such a thing. One, on the condition of anonymity, said it sounded like a PR-driven diagnosis with no credible medical basis, indicating simply that "the goon is completely full of shit, right up past his eyeballs."

In an effort to establish, once and for all, whether BCI was a legitimate malady, I spoke with specialists at the Thomas H. Moodie Institute in Bismark. The opinion was unanimous: not only does bilateral cerebral incontinence exist, but (in their opinion) Jim Souhan has a classic case. The increasingly irrational and unsubstantiated attacks in his columns indicate full-blown BCI. Souhan, say the specialists, simply can't help himself. The volume of twaddle in his system has compromised his ability to think clearly, conduct even a minimum of actual research, or distinguish fact from feverishly-held personal views. The most visible symptom of BCI is evacuation of built-up septic mental effluent into columns and blog posts, which Souhan has exhibited at an excessive and increasing rate this summer. The Moodie Institute specialists concur that transmission from politicians, the usual carriers of the disease, to Souhan likely occured via his colleagues at the political desk.

As BCI is untreatable with any known medicine, little can be done for Souhan. Not wanting to be painted as a malingerer, Souhan has informed the Star Tribune's management that he intends to continue writing regularly as long as he doesn't harm the paper's circulation or oft-rumored negotiations with Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

-----

I won't link to the various columns Souhan has written in the "Mauer is soft" vein, nor do I think it necessary to mention each besotted reference to Cuddyer (or Hunter), or to even point out how gobsmackingly stupid his post on Kevin Slowey was last night. All that we know. The question I'm more interested in is why this inanity is allowed to continue.

Souhan's attacks on Mauer are damaging the Twins in several ways. They are corrosive to Mauer's relationship with Twins fans. This affects everything from Mauer jersey sales and Mauer posters to the atmosphere at that shiny new ballpark. These things eat into the bottom line and hamstring the Twins' ability to capitalize on the popularity of their marquee player.

Moverover, it hurts Mauer's relationship with the club if every time he's savaged in the press the only noise coming from the Twins' front office is the chirping of crickets. The Twins willingly signed Mauer to a contract which pays him $23 million per season until 2018. If they actually think Mauer is as soft as Souhan frequently implies, they should have made their offer low enough to ensure they collected compensation picks when Mauer signed with a team in the Eastern time zone.

Worse still, the club's complicity or apparent unwillingness to defend its star player and hometown boy significantly harms the club's free agent drawing power. What free agent with enough talent to entertain multiple offers is going to simply shrug off his agent telling him that the club in Minnesota allows its homegrown star to be pilloried by the press on every possible occasion? Sure, there's plenty of new ballpark money to spend, but any agent worth his commission is going to demand some additional consideration for placing his client into such a FUBAR situation.

If Souhan's expressing the views of the Twins' management, the whole bunch needs to be sacked. If he's trying to gin up controversy (read: circulation) and provoke people on the club, whether that's Joe Mauer, Gardy, Dave St. Peter, Bill Smith, Jim Pohlad, or someone else, he wins whether or not the club addresses his unfounded claims. The front office has to go on the record at some point, simply to protect its significant investment in Joe Mauer and preserve its ability to lure quality free agents to Minnesota.

Game 118, Indians 3, Twins 2

A pinch hit recap for Twayn...I wish I was on vacation and he were writing this.

I was really looking forward to having all of our opening day starters back together again. Then Cuddy tweaked something in his neck in early batting practice and Kubel had to sub in right. Good start out of Pavano. Not a good outing by Perkins. Mountie and Lexi back in the lineup - Laddie back out of the lineup in the 7th with a tweaked hamstring...lots of "tweaking" tonight.

Batters 1 through 6 were 1 for 20 with a walk and rare were the outs made on well struck balls (typically they didn't even leave the infield). That's simply not going to cut it. Most exciting moment for the hometown 9 may have been the Dude's 400+ ft fly out to center in the 5th. Nishi had both rbi's for the Twins, but also had a pretty gawd-awful night in the field.

"We basically gave it away," Gardenhire said. "We missed a lot of plays. It's a tough loss for us. We need some people to play a lot better baseball. It's kind of embarrassing to tell you the truth."

I couldn't agree more. Highlight of the night for me was the shout-out to Rhubarb_Runner of WGOM and é rayhahn, rayhahn fame who is "jostling for position" with someone named Matt Krieger...and Rhu_Ru didn't even submit the winning answer tonight!11!1!

For some reason, I've been hanging on to hope that this team would make a run and challenge for a playoff spot. Watching them run around like monkeys f*cking a football tonight has pretty much cinched it for me. How about you?

Cuddyer’s Teammates

I've been following and enjoying Michael Cuddyer's weekly web column for FSNorth. I often get behind and catch up on a few weeks' worth at once. Today, I read the two most recent columns, including this one from June 29th: "Teammate bonds stand test of time". In it, he remarks:

If I had to guess, I would say I have had more than 100 teammates since I began my major league career, and I have played for only one team!

Well, that's the kind of info that I can muscle my way through a bunch of data to find! Just a few hours on b-r.com!

In honor of Cuddy's All-Star selection, I present the following list of all 172 players that have been Michael Cuddyer's active-roster teammate on the Twins for at least one day.

Continue reading Cuddyer’s Teammates

Name Games
Justin Morneau 1003
Torii Hunter 993
Joe Mauer 862
Nick Punto 747
Jacque Jones 727
Jason Kubel 706
Cristian Guzman 554
Luis Rivas 549
Corey Koskie 542
Doug Mientkiewicz 514
Lew Ford 494

Game #70: Twins 5, Padres 4

Twins Record: 31-39
Fangraphs
MLB Game Wrap

Happy Father's Day to the WGOM Nation from Sunday Recap Central. Just imagine there's a picture of Butters Stotch hugging his dad or something right here.

Hitter of the Week: Even in a week during which the Twins win all their games, when two of those are 1-0 wins, picking this award gets a little tougher. Or, maybe it gets a little more obvious: Team MVP Michael Cuddyer seems to be the best candidate once again.
Pitcher of the Week: All the starters were good-to-great. I'll have to again pick Scott Baker as the best. He is this team's first half All-Star as far as I'm concerned.