Saturday, January 30, 2010

The k-bro Twins Fest Report: 2010 Edition

I wasn't really planning on going to Twins Fest this year. I usually go every few years, and I went just last year. But it just so happened that I had nothing else going on, and I knew some of my Twitter friends would be there, so I figured "why not?" So Mom and I headed to the Dome and ultimately had a great time.

It was crowded. That shouldn't have surprised me, but I think it was more crowded than previous years. At least it felt like it.

First up was the Cuddyer photo line. We had a great time chatting with the gals in line near us. After a while of waiting, we got worried because the staff guy cut off the line right before us. But we stayed in line, and we were lucky enough to make it in just before Cuddy had to leave. Whew! And, boy, are we glad we made it! He couldn't have been a nicer, more polite guy -- super sweet. And, I have to tell you, he's better looking in person than any picture can do justice. But here's one anyway.

Next, it was time to buy grab bags. I love the grab bags because you can always get stadium-give-away items that they only give to kids. The kids' give-aways are always the best. The grab bags are great also because sometimes you can get an autographed item. I've never gotten a signed item before; I've got one now! Score! It was certainly worth the $15. 
Yeah, I don't recommend ever putting your stuff on the Field Turf -- all this was covered in little black pellets after I took this picture. And that stuff is static-y too, so it ain't coming off.
  1. Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond "autographed" chest-protector-shaped backpack
  2. Mother's Day give-away t-shirt 
  3. Dan Gladden bobblehead
  4. 2009 Team "autographed" bat
  5. 2009 Stats and Information Guide
  6. and the coup -- 2010 Target Field calendar with Pat Neshek's autograph. 
Oh, and when I was standing around near the Hall of Fame exhibit, Denard Span scurried by. When I told Mom, I nearly got flattened by a friend of my son's who was chasing him. I'm glad he did, because he led us to where Denard stopped and chatted with fans for a bit.

Then, we moved to the KSTP 1500 area to listen to Joe Mauer's interview. We weren't the only ones there. And no, he didn't say anything about a contract; nor did they ask him about it. Just the typical "feeling good...working out...ready for the that JJ Hardy and Jim Thome are here...blah, blah, blah."
Joe's the one in the tan sweater.

After that, we headed down to the StarTribune booth because I wanted to meet Howard Sinker (A Fan's View). It was great to shake his hand; I was glad to meet him and thank him for linking to my food donation post back in September. I also got to meet Seth Stohs (SethSpeaks), John Bonnes (Twins Geek), and Topper Anton (Curve For a Strike) at the same time. It was a great few minutes -- I was pleased that I got to meet these guys because I admire their blogs so much. I wished I could just take our group and go have a beer or DQ or something and talk baseball. I think next year the Twins should set up a booth of all the cool bloggers. I'd visit.

We had a lunch break and ran into Betsy (For The Love of The Game) and Katie (KC's Baseball Blog) -- it was fun to see them again.

Then we headed to the photo line again to see who was there. Brendan Harris. Ok. Turns out that he was super nice and friendly too. And he's better looking in person than I thought he was. So I was happy with this photo too.
And after visiting a few more booths, that was about all we could handle. I don't know how people play sports on that stupid, pellety Field Turf. My legs were killing me. But I had a great time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Despite my doubts, the Twins went ahead and signed Jim Thome. Now that I think of it, though, I have to admit it's not such a bad deal.

  • He comes cheap - one year, $1.5 million plus incentives. Everyone loves a bargain.
  • He's planning on attending Twins Fest. He might have already had plans for the weekend, but no matter, he's going to be here. Everyone loves player who loves the fans.
  • He admires Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and says it's an honor to play with and learn from them. Everyone loves a team player.
  • He's a legit threat. Imagine this: it's late in the game and we're down by a run. Nick Punto is due up, but Thome steps into the box instead. Do you like are chances now? I do. Everyone loves a winner.
  • He's been saying all the right things about coming here. He's excited to come. He's excited that the Twins are excited. Everyone loves a nice guy.
There is one comparison that my younger son, mini-bro, has been talking about for years:

Note: At this time, the comparison to Mr. Incredible relates to his physical-appearance only. His hero-ness comparison is yet to be earned. Although his career speaks for itself; he's well on his way.

Welcome to Minnesota Mr. Thome. Be the Incredible.

Monday, January 25, 2010


A few notes on a couple of things that kind of made me scratch my head.

The Twins signed all eight of their arbitration eligible players
This is good. I've heard that neither the teams nor the players want to go into the arbitration room. The team tells the player how awful he is so that they don't have to pay him as much money as he wants, and then when it's all done, they have to convince him how much the love him. Can't be good for anyone.

So it's great that everyone (JJ Hardy, Carl Pavano, Delmon Young, Pat Neshek, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Francisco Liriano all for one-year contracts and Brendan Harris for a two-year contract) signed so quickly -- all done on the very day when figures were exchanged. But it's curious that it was indeed that fast. The Twins and one other team (I forget which, Dodgers maybe?) were the only ones that had that many arbitration eligibles. So it would have been understandable if a few of them had taken a day or two.

Now, I haven't really followed Twins contract activities in the past, so I'm not sure about what to think of this. But I seem to remember when Cuddyer was arbitration-eligible, he and the Twins came to a "hand on the doorknob to the mediator's room" agreement.

So it seems odd to me that they'd knock off all eight in one swell foop. What does it mean? Are they opening the wallet freely? Are they just trying to get it over with and just saying "whatever" to whatever the players wanted? Were all the players extraordinarily reasonable with their demands? Huh?

The Twins are seriously interested in signing Jim Thome
Um, ok. The White Sox announced earlier this evening that they're not interested in him, so speculation is that he's deciding between the Twins and the Rays.

Now Thome's great. He's the kind of player you hate, only because he always beats you. I always like him a lot better when he's in the National League.

He's been described as the nicest guy in baseball. And that came from Mike Redmond -- after Thome cracked his skull when he forgot to hold on to his bat.

But, despite all that, the curious part is: why? We already have a left-handed, and much younger, DH in Jason Kubel. And it's not like we could put Thome out in the field to rest some guys.
I know the bench is a bit thin, but I seriously think they have other needs to address first. I don't know; bringing him in is like bringing beer to a wine tasting -- really good beer, but it still doesn't quite fit.

Ok, this is a no-brainer
The estimable Seth Stohs is planning a super-duper, action-packed, star-studded, pre-TwinsFest extravaganza podcast tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. Ok, I exaggerate, but it's still going to be great.

Follow this link to listen live:

Here's his tentative schedule (Central Time):

8:00-8:05 – Introduction
8:05-8:20 – John Sickels
8:20-8:35 – Pat Neshek
8:35-8:50 – Joe Benson
8:50-9:05 – Carlos Gutierrez
9:05-9:10 – Catch Up
9:10-9:25 – Kyle Gibson
9:25-9:35 – Open
9:35-9:45 – Denard Span
9:45-9:55 – Jeff Manship
9:55-10:00 – Wrap-Up

Be sure to tune in; it sounds like an awesome show.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is Glen Perkins the Old Maid of Baseball?

Picture of Glen's face courtesy of Betsy
The rest of the image courtesy of me using Word

Remember playing Old Maid when you were a kid? You don't want to get stuck with the Old Maid card, and if you have it, you rely on the other players to take it away from you. No one wants the Old Maid.

Earlier in the season, the Twins tried to trade Glen Perkins to the Padres for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff. This got many Twins bloggers and Twitter-atzi (the correct term is "tweep," but I hate that word for some reason) licking their chops. Rightly so -- the Twins need a third-baseman, and they have a slight glut of pitching. Fair enough.

However, the Padres wanted more and wound up trading Kouz to the A's. Ok.

When I first read the news, my very first thought wasn't "oh bummer, Kouz would've been great for the Twins." That was my second thought. Nope; my first thought was "oh crappola, Perkins is still on the team." It's kind of sad that I immediately went there, but I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who thought that.

So, the Padres didn't want him. I don't think the Twins want him. That's pretty bad, considering he's young, left-handed, and (presumably) breathing.

Why? It's not that he's an inconsistent pitcher. There are plenty of those who don't stir a ton of ire.

It's because he's a selfish baby. Now I don't want to be overly mean, but sometimes I gotta call 'em like I see 'em. He mysteriously claims a shoulder injury after, not one, but two rotten outings. So either he failed to say something before the games because he was only interested in doing what was best for him, or he was making excuses for lame performances. Doesn't even matter why; it's poor either way. Although, the Twins sent him to a specialist to figure out what was going on, who didn't find anything wrong.

But then to top it off, after the Twins sent to the minors to rehab that said injured shoulder, he cried and bitched that it ruined his major league service time to make him eligible for arbitration. Way to piss off the bosses, dork.

So now both the Twins and Perkins are stuck. Perkins's reputation precedes him in any trade negotiations, and teams are leery of his antics. And if he stays with the Twins, he'll have some 'splainin' to do -- to the team and the fans.

From where I stand, if he's on the Twins Opening Day roster, he'll have to absolutely burn it up in order to win me over again. It might happen; I have my doubts.


Of course, because it took me two days to write this post, I've been outdone. BP has a much better and more elegant post, so make sure you read that too.


A true story about that picture of Perkins's face: I was with Betsy when she took that photo. We were at one of the Twins Unplugged events. After the Q and A session, in which she took like a million pictures, she talked Cuddy into performing a card trick for her. As I was trying to sneak my way into a spot to take pictures, I stomped directly on Glen's foot. I apologized, but he gave me the stink-eye anyway. Ex-cuuuuuse me!

So we've never been the best of friends.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Short Notes - Jan. 17

On Friday, Mike Redmond signed with the Indians. I don't have a problem with this; in fact, I think it's a great scenario. He's still in the division, so we'll get to see him a bunch, but he's still on a team I can tolerate. As far as division rivals go, the Indians are slightly less lovable than the Royals, but miles more lovable than the Evil Ugly White Sox.

I'll have to be sure to get tickets for a day game after a night game when Cleveland is in town. Oh, and I'd better not hear any boos for him. If I do, each and every person who does will get a personalized stink-eye from me. I mean it.

I already said my goodbyes. Twins Geek and A Voice From Twins Territory have nice tributes.


On a related note, Friday was a bad day for the Twins backup catcher contingency. Apparently, Jose Morales needs wrist surgery and will likely miss a chunk of Spring Training and won't be ready for the start of the season. Bummer. I hope Buetera is up to the task.


Did you notice that I did a little redecorating? Winter is beginning to bum me out (oh, you too? yeah, it sucks doesn't it?), so I added a handy countdown to Pitchers and Catchers Report.

I really, really wish I could go to Spring Training, but it's not possible this year. I am looking forward to reading reports and hearing about other fans' trips, so if you're going, please share.

Also, as if I don't have enough going on in the sidebar, I've added more. There are a few more blogs in the blogroll, and there's a new podcast section (scroll down a bit to see it). And please consider helping the Red Cross help Haiti.

If you're viewing this in a reader, be sure to click through and check out the new digs.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Short Notes - Jan. 11

Just a few quick thoughts on the Twins and baseball news over the past week.

Bobby Keppel is gone. He was released, and then immediately signed with a Japanese team. Good luck, Bobby. (And with that, that's the second time I initially typed "Booby" instead of "Bobby" and had to fix it. Perhaps my fingers reveal my true feelings of his pitching.)

To replace Booby (I just figured I'd go with it), the Twins signed Clay Condrey. They have a long tradition of signing pitchers I know nothing about. In fact, it's almost as if it's a contractual obligation. And with this, they've fulfilled their commitment. Just so long as it's not another Livan Hernandez/Ramon Ortiz/Sidney Ponson situation, I'll be ok with it. Welcome Clay.

Undies in a Bunch -- or Not
Right after Keppel got the axe, a rumor (which turned out to be true -- so it was a trumor {wow, sorry, I'm really tired, so lame jokes seem really hilarious to me right now}) started that the Twins offered a deal to Jarrod Washburn. A lof of the bloggers I know of aren't really a fan of that idea. I think it's a pretty silly offer; we've already got three mediocre lefties (Liriano, Perkins, Duensing), and they don't make that much money. Doesn't matter; he turned it down.

Cardinals News
Hey, the Cardinals signed Matt Holliday to a monster contract. This is significant not only because I'm a Holliday fan, and I kind of like the Cardinals (if I had to pick a NL team, it'd be the Cardinals), but also it be a blueprint for a potential Joe Mauer contract. Super-size it for Joey.

Speaking of the Cardinals
Ok, Mark McGwire admitted to steriod use. This is not a surprise, but it is sad. Speculation is speculation, and therefore, there's always a fine thread of hope that it's not real. But admission is real. I'm glad the truth is out; I do wish he'd admitted it sooner. But I'm still a fan of his, and I'm neither qualified to nor interested in judging him on this matter. 

Podcast Update
I've got a few more podcasts to add to my previous list.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rocking the Rant

You know how a good cry makes you feel better? Well, so does a good rant. I haven't ranted in a while, and since it's been cold and snowy, and traffic has pissed me off all week, now is as good a time as any to get some stuff off my chest.

And what do I want to rant about today? Hall of Fame voting. I love the actual Hall of Fame. I love the idea of a Hall of Fame. I hate the voting system.

Yeah, I know, eleventy-billion other people have already ranted on this topic. What's your point?

So, as we all know by now, Bert Blyleven must wait at least another year in Hall of Fame Purgatory (which, as far as I can tell, is about 40 miles SE of Cooperstown). As much as this stinks, this is not the true subject of my rant.

Now, to be clear, I really want Bert to go into the Hall, but my reasons are purely subjective. I'm a fan of his and I think it would be cool if he were in. I've seen his numbers, and I think they're good enough to get him in. It should be hard to get into the Hall of Fame, but I think it's been too hard for Bert. However, I can't honestly say that I can be 100% objective about it.

My problem is that I think the voting system is severely flawed, and therefore the results are skewed. Not to take away those who have been voted in, but the current voting system is a crock.

Currently, only members of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) elect players to the Hall of Fame. They also are the sole voters for the yearly post-season awards in each league: Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. This arrangement was started in the '30s to ensure access to the clubhouses. Is this really necessary any more?

Now, I don't want to bash all the writers, as I'm sure many of them do their research and vote with good consciences. However, this arrangement also lends itself to excessive lobbying (someone had to have promised David Segui a vote in return for a scoop on a story), laziness (five people sent in blank ballots), and a springboard for self-promotion (see this rant about Jay Mariotti for an example of that).

Why MLB allows such an important and honored decision to be left solely with a group of people who spend their time in the periphery of actual baseball activities is indefensible. It's a shame and pity, I tell ya.

The good news is that what makes this rant different than straight-up bitching is that I'm going to offer a solution. 'Cuz I'm cool like that.

The people entitled to complete a ballot should undergo a rigorous application process. As tempting as it is to give them an intelligence test, I'm not really suggesting that. But the application should be difficult enough to separate the in-the-knowsers from the posers. Once a person's application has been accepted, it's always good.

Next, allow more than just BBWAA members to vote. In fact, I think people from the following groups should be given an opportunity to apply for a ballot:
  • BBWAA members -- I don't want to take it away from them because, for the most part, they really do have to understand good baseball in order to do their jobs well.
  • Broadcasters -- They probably know as much as the writers do.
  • Professional baseball statisticians and researchers -- Everyone throws around stats from Elias Sports Bureau, why not let the folks who come up with the stats have a vote?
  • Major League scouts -- These guys make a living out of carefully evaluating players; they should know who's good at baseball.
  • Current Hall of Fame members -- They wouldn't have to submit the rigorous application; they would just get to vote if they want to.
For the record, I also think the same process could be used for the yearly awards. The voters for those should include those above (except the Hall of Famers), current team managers, and current team general managers (the managers and general managers wouldn't be able to vote for players from their own teams).

I'm not saying that my system would've allowed Bert to get in any sooner, or even at all, but I do think it would be a much more fair process.

End rant. Whew! I do feel better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Podcast Debut!

Hey, remember a couple of days ago when I was tell you about all the great podcasts I listen to? Well, I was lucky to be invited to participate in Fanatic Jack's podcast on Wednesday evening. We talked about Hall of Fame voting, blogging, guy fans and gal fans, photoshop, food drives, Joe Mauer, and hoping for the best. I had a great time doing it.

Oh, and I'm the opening act for the estimable Seth Stohs, so at least it ends well.

Be sure to check it out here:

Thanks so much to Jack Steal of Fanatic Jack Talks Twins and Topper Anton of Curve For a Strike for inviting me to participate and being so kind to me.

Please forgive my nervous aahs, ums, and other such poor public speaking habits. I was a bit nervous. And, honestly, I don't think I do that annoying teenage-girl-style upspeak thing as much as it sounded like I did (sheesh). Although, I don't pay much attention to myself when I talk, so maybe I do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Made Randy Johnson So Badass?

Randy Johnson announced his retirement today. He's had a hell of a career, and everyone expects a call to the Hall in five years -- he's certainly earned it. But in addition to being one of the best pitchers in the game, he's one of the true badasses in the game. How can you not love that?

image from NNDB
  • He's 6'10". He towers over most everyone. You look up to him; therefore, he's important.
  • His nickname is "The Big Unit." Many guys claim to have a big unit; he's the only guy who is. And rumor has it that he rocks the name, too.
  • He's damn ugly. And not just unattractive-ugly. He's downright scary-mean-ugly. You don't want to spill his beer.
  • Except for his Yankee years, he rocked the mullet. Jared Allen is in awe.
  • He threw nearly 100 miles per hour. And he was almost as likely to hit a guy with that pitch as strike him out. There's no getting comfortable in the batters' box against him.
  • The man killed a bird ... with a baseball. That kind of stuff doesn't happen to nice boys.
  • He pitched a freakin' perfect game. That alone earns him a million credibility points. Plus, it's a great way to pick up chicks.
  • Oh yeah, he's pretty good at baseball, too.
303 wins; 166 losses; 3.29 ERA; 618 games; 603 starts; 100 complete games; 4135.1 innings pitched; 3346 hits; 1703 runs; 1513 earned runs; 411 homeruns; 190 hit batters; 1497 walks; 4875 strikeouts
Best of luck Badass. I'll miss you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Johnny Damon to the Twins?

Hahaha! Fooled you. Hee hee. Yeah, that's a good one. Whoo. Johnny Damon to the Twins. Wow. Rii-iight -- the guy who the Yankees think is asking too much. Let me repeat that: the Yankees (who pay the top four contracts in baseball) pretty much laughed at his requests and moved on (they proved it when they signed Nick Johnson). So there is nooooooo way in h-e-double-toothpicks he's coming to the Twins.

But, just for a minute, let's pretend that money is not an issue. Would we still want him? Or should we just stick with Delmon?

Damon is a top-of-the-order hitter who hit .282 with 24 homers and an OBP of .365 last year. He had 71 walks and 98 strikeouts. He also stole 12 bases. He'd fit in nicely in the two-hole between Span and Mauer.

Young is supposed to be a power hitter, and he should be batting in the middle of the order. But he only hit .284 (ok, a hair better than Damon, but wait, it gets worse) with 12 homers (told ya') and an OBP of .308 last year. He had 12 walks and 92 strikeouts, and he stole 2 bases. Yup, bottom of the order for him.

Damon is fast, but he has a horrible arm. He wasn't a great center-fielder; I doubt he'd be a better left-fielder.

Young has a pretty good arm, but he runs like his shoes are stuck in mud. Plus, he runs horrible routes. Maybe being out of the Dome will help.

Damon is old (36) and going downhill. And his ability to stay healthy is doubtful. There have also been reports that he suffers from "i-don't-wanna-play-hard-itis" from time to time. Plus, adding reality back in, he wants $20 million, and likely multiple years.

Young is young (24), and he's got a ton of potential. He doesn't seem prone to injury, and I think, and here's the part where I drink the Kool-Aid (a phrase I want to slay, by the way), his batting will come around to meet all that potential. He's known as being a bit "uncoachable," but he looked much better at the end of last season. And he's due to make $2 million (est.) next year.

Yeah, Damon is the better hitter ... for now. The defense is a wash. But the big strike against Damon for me is the age. I'll stick with Delmon, thankyouverymuch. Besides, if the Twins spent that kind of money on a washed-up outfielder they don't need, it had better be after Joe Mauer signs on the dotted line for the Twins.

Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I "wrote" this post in my head in the wee hours in the morning the other day when I was unable to sleep. It seemed much more hilarious and reasonable (I know, it doesn't seem likely that it would've been both, but it did) then. Chances are I forgot much of the good stuff. But, for some reason, I find that if I have trouble sleeping, I just have to think about Delmon Young, and it helps.