Monday, May 30, 2011

Here We Go Again...DL Report

The Twins have placed LHP Francisco Liriano on the DL retroactive to May 23rd with left shoulder inflammation. This doesn't come as too much of a surprise as he's been experiencing soreness since he pulled himself out of Saturday's start. Like I mentioned last time, an MRI showed inflammation and maybe a bit of tendinitis. According to the StarTribune's Joe Christensen, Gardy is hopeful he'll only miss one more start.

Anthony Swarzak took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in a spot start replacing Liriano on Saturday. Swarzak will start in Liriano's place again on Thursday.

The Twins called up RHP Anthony Slama from AAA Rochester to replace him on the roster.

Other transactions:

The Twins activated LHP Jose Mijares off the DL who will be available Monday.

The sent down LHP Dusty Hughes to AAA to make room.


Joe Mauer continues to play extended spring training games. Mauer has been DHing rather than catching due to some shoulder soreness. I think I remember reading somewhere that Gardy hinted that maybe they'll send Mauer to AAA at some point to face better pitching, but I don't remember where I saw that.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been playing both 2nd base and shortshop in extended spring training. He's eligible to return June 7.

Glen Perkins could begin throwing again in a couple days.

Also watching:

Jason Kubel hurt his left foot trying to bring back a home run by Victor Martinez in Monday's game. X-rays showed no breaks, but he is wearing a boot. He said it's the top of his foot, not the ankle or the toes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The "Win" Stat

The series against the Angels pretty much sums up everything I hate about the "Win" stat for pitchers. I hate it so much, I usually won't acknowledge it when determining a pitcher's worth and I use stats that pitchers actually have some kind of control over such as WHIP or K/BB rate. (For the record, I do use ERA, even though it's flawed. It generally gives an accurate feel for how well a pitcher does, as long as he pitches enough innings to make it meaningful.) I believe that teams win games; pitchers just guide the team there.

This series paints the ridiculous picture of the Win stat is.

First, let's define the Win: if you're the guy who threw the last pitch before your team took the lead for good, you get a "W". If the other team ties or goes ahead after you come out of the game, you can't get a W. Oh, and if you're a starter, you have to pitch 5 innings or more in order to earn the W, but if you're a reliever, all you need is one pitch -- as long as your timing of that one pitch is good. Getting a Loss is easy -- you cough up the baserunner that turns out to be the go-ahead run, and that go-ahead sticks, you get the L. It's not so easy to get the W; it depends so much on the rest of the team.

Take Scott Baker for example. On Friday, he pitched brilliantly, going seven innings without giving up a run and leaving the game with a 5-run lead. He must have felt pretty good about himself as he sipped his Gatorade in the bottom of the 7th -- as well he should have. And then he probably choked on that Gatorade as he watched Alex Burnett, Dusty Hughes, and Jim Hoey parade through to piss away the lead. Scott Downs, who faced two batters, got the W because he happened to throw the last pitch before the half-inning when the Angels scored their sixth run. Scott went home with a homely "No Decision" for his efforts. That's all he deserved because he couldn't get his bullpen to pitch well.

On Saturday, both Anthony Swarzak and Jered Weaver sparkled as they pitched eight and nine scoreless innings, respectively. However, neither one would take home a W, as they simply couldn't make their teammates score runs. Alex Burnett got it, because he was able to will that winning run in the 10th. Fortunately for Swarzak, his No Decision wasn't as homelys as Baker's because at least his team won. Poor Hisanori Takahashi had to wear the L, and he wasn't even on the mound when the Twins went ahead.

Then Carl Pavano was going for his 100th career W on Sunday. This was his sixth try at that golden stat. Now, to be honest, in some of those tries, he didn't pitch well enough to actually earn that W. However, on Sunday, he probably did, except he just didn't have the ability to make his fielders behind him make routine outs. If he had, well, who knows.... But, instead, he takes home another ugly L.


DL Report:

The Twins have placed RHP Joe Nathan on the 15-day DL with elbow and forearm soreness. This is probably an expected condition as a result of his Tommy John surgery. The forearm flexor muscle has to be pulled apart during the ligament replacement, and can be easily irritated if the patient works very hard during rehabilitation, which Joe did. An MRI showed only inflammation, and no other damage, so he and the Twins are hopeful that two weeks' rest will do the trick.

(Don't worry, he's not as deformed as this paper doll suggests. I'm at the lake this weekend, and I'm borrowing my nephew's computer. It only has Paint for photo editing, and only one of those lame touch pad things for a mouse. This was way harder to do than it looks. Although the Popeye forearms and lack of wrists are kind of funny.)

The Twins purchased the contract of LHP Chuck James to replace Nathan. In order to make room on the 40-man roster for James, the Twins placed Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the 60-day DL. This transaction is paperwork-only as it does not change the expected return date for Nishioka.


Matt Capps experienced some soreness in his forearm earlier in the week, but after resting a couple of days, he's fine.

Jose Mijares has been pitching in extended spring training games and could be activated Monday.

Joe Mauer is continuing to play in extended spring training games and increasing his activity. Gardy says he's doing and feeling well. As far as I know, the super-secret timetable for his return has still not been revealed.

Also watching:

Jim Thome needed a cortisone shot in his right shoulder that he tweaked while swinging hard on Saturday.

Francisco Liriano was pulled from Saturday's start due to shoulder soreness. According to ESPN1500's Phil Mackey, an MRI showed some inflammation and maybe a touch of tendinitis. They'll determine his status on Tuesday after his scheduled bullpen session.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shuttle Plane: MSP/ROC

First of all, I just want to kiss Nick Blackburn fully on the lips. Oh, and I think he pitched pretty well on Tuesday, too. Complete games are hawt!

Oh, and I want to give Matt Capps a time out. A time out in my house consists of sitting on the floor holding a folded-up washcloth against the wall with your forehead until I'm not mad anymore. It's hell; just ask my kids (although, if they were really tired, they'd just fall asleep that way). And Capps isn't the only one; he's just the only one I can think of right now. I have plenty of washcloths to go around.


Kevin Slowey is hurt again (more about that in a bit). This sure changes things with his "traaaade meeee, traaaade meeee" dilemma (check out what I wrote about it over on From The Third Baseline). Instead of sending him down to AAA to get stretched out to start, the Twins placed him on the DL and will call up another pitcher.

So, all this moving of guys back and forth between Rochester and Minneapolis made me think that the Twins should just invest in a commuter plane. Just run it every-other day; someone will need it.

See what I mean?

Some serious frequent-flyer miles for some of these guys. And it's only May.


DL Report:

At least this time I didn't have to make a new paper doll; I just had to move the boo-boo on one I had.

RHP Kevin Slowey has been placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/21, with  strained rectus abdominis. This is a pair of muscles that go from the sternum down alongside the belly-button -- the "6-pack abs" muscles.

He had an MRI with the team physician a few days ago, and that showed nothing. He, or maybe the Twins, requested a second opinion (I have varying reports). A specialist gave him the diagnosis.

The recommended course of action is 7-10 days rest and ice. 

No one has yet been called up to take his spot; many are speculating that it will be RHP Jim Hoey.

Updates: (info from StarTribune)

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is continuing his rehab, and could start playing in games as early as Friday.

Jose Mijares threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, and could pitch in rehab games this weekend.

Joe Mauer has been DHing in rehab games and felt good running the bases. Oh, and now there is a timetable for his return, but Gardy isn't telling anyone what that is. So, it's a super-secret timetable.

Also watching:

Michael Cuddyer has been out for a couple of games with a sore hip, but he was available to pinch-hit on Wednesday. Thursday's an off-day; he should be ready to go on Friday.

Matt Capps has a sore forearm, probably from overuse his last few outings. He's day-to-day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


So just when we fans get all excited and begin to believe that things were looking up, then WHAP! we're slapped with more mediocrity.

This series did feature some timely hits, homeruns even, but those were countered with lame strategy and even lamer pitching. Oh, and don't even get me started on the defense. Really?!

It's sad that the team needs the death of a legend to motivate them. It's even sadder when that doesn't even last more than three games.

Ok, so I'll cut myself short again. I don't want to rant and rave like a crazy woman. But, I tell ya', I'm this close...

Let's hope this upcoming home stand will be better. Much better.

Check out what I wrote over at From The Third Baseline regarding the players who might be traded if the Twins are sellers at the trade deadline.


DL News:

Glen Perkins has been placed on the DL with a strained right oblique. This is kind of a blow to the Twins because he was just establishing himself as a reliable set-up man. However, his reliability may have cost him; it was beginning to seem like Gardy was over-using him. In fact, my buddy Andrew predicted it on Twitter (he tweeted this just as Perkins was coming out of the 'pen on Saturday's game).

The Twins recalled Dusty Hughes to take his spot.

Also watching:

Kevin Slowey is scheduled to have an MRI on his abdominal area on Monday in the Twin Cities.

In better news:

Jim Thome and Jason Repko are ready to play and have been activated for Monday's game. Ben Revere and Luke Hughes have been re-assigned to AAA Rochester to make room.


No new news on Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Joe Mauer has been increasing his baseball activities, donning catching gear, blocking balls, etc. Still no timetable for his return.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Little More Fun

Let me ask you something...which was more fun: the last three games, or the previous nine?

Ok, yes, obviously winning is more fun. However, I'm a little scared to admit that maybe the Twins turned a corner and are finally becoming the Twins we all know and love. Of course, I'd love nothing more to say that with all the confidence I have, but I'm not there yet. I mostly don't want to jinx it.

But there were things about the last few games I really liked seeing. Justin seems to be swinging the bat better. How much did you love that two-run homerun on Thursday? Off a lefty even? And he's swinging more like Justin, and less like a little leaguer.

Liriano looked good on Tuesday. It seems like every time we're all ready to give up on him and send him to the bullpen (or worse, send him packing), he pulls out a gem and makes us forgive him. I like that Francisco; the icky Francisco can stay away. He admitted that his shoulder (elbow?) had been bothering him, but he's feeling better now.

Pavano looked better on Wednesday than he had been. He still didn't really strike out very many, but he got outs when he needed them. So hopefully he's back to being the good Carl.

And how awesome was Nick Blackburn? More of the same, please.

It's only three games, but it's great how a little winning streak improves our attitudes.

Inter-league play next!


Injury update:

Jason Repko and Jim Thome might be able to re-join the Twins in time for their next homestand on Monday. Thome has had a number of plate appearances in extended spring training, and will have a few more this weekend. Repko is with the Rochester Red Wings.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is suffering some pain as his fractured fibula, which is to be expected. He's working through it, and as a few days away from playing in games.

Jose Mijares had an MRI on his sore elbow and it showed no structural damage. He should be able to start throwing again soon.

And, Joe Mauer (remember him?), has flown to Florida and is working out there. LaVelle Neil from the StarTribune reports that his elbow and shoulder are feeling better. Which is odd, because he was put on the DL because his legs were weak. Apparently, according to an article by Jim Souhan of the StarTribune, the problem isn't that his legs are hurt so much, but rather it's one leg overcompensating for the other one that had knee surgery and then both legs overcompensating for a sore shoulder. Or something like that. I don't know; I don't think Joe knows. And, of course, there's no timetable for his return. Maybe that could be his mob name: Joey "No Timetable" Mauer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Great Player, Great Ambassador, Great Man

Today, the Twins lost a great player, baseball lost a great ambassador, and the world lost a great man. Harmon Killebrew passed away at the age of 74 from the effects of esophageal cancer.

I was about 7 or 8 during his last seasons with the Twins, not really old enough to appreciate him as a player. But I always knew him. He and his legacy was always there, always part of the Twins experience, much like the Minny and Paul logo. You couldn't know the Twins without knowing Harmon.

I enjoy reading the stories about him what a great person he was. I experienced that a little myself in a 30-second encounter with him in the halls of the Metrodome. I was with my family, including my mom, on a tour of the dugout and clubhouse. Somehow, we became separated from our group, and we were hustling down the hallways to catch up before we got into trouble. Hurrying in the other direction was Harmon. My mom was thrilled to see him and stopped him to talk for a bit. Despite the fact he was clearly on his way somewhere, he was more than willing to shake her hand and chat with her for a moment. I'll always remember that; he taught me that if a great ballplayer like him could take a selfless moment to be kind to a fan he didn't know, anybody can afford to be nice to others.

I also enjoy reading the stories about how proud he was about his autograph and how he would chide the younger players about the importance of having a readable signature. I'd have to agree:

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Yes, I've been absent for a while. I am in the middle of a project that I must finish by tomorrow night, so I've been busy with that. In fact, I've got to keep this quick.

Not that I have much that I want to write about. It's damned hard to refrain from bitching and complaining while this Twins team plays like their desire to win is absent. I don't want to spend a lot of energy ranting and grousing -- there are plenty of other blogs that do that. Oh, fans certainly deserve to rant, grouse, complain, and bitch; I certainly don't blame them, I just don't have the desire. Even the neutral, facts only type blogs are tough to read; no one can scrape together two nice things to say about this mess.

We all know nothing is going right; and fans are mad. This series against the Blue Jays exposed a lot of faults: not locating pitches, not making adjustments, not fielding routine plays, on and on and on. This team is not having fun and it shows. The fans aren't having fun either.

Time to change subjects; I promised not to start complaining...


DL Report:

Yup. It's time to break out the DL paper doll machine.

Left-handed relief pitcher Jose Mijares has been placed on the DL with a strained elbow.

In his relief appearance on Saturday, his velocity was down and his command was virtually non-existent.

RHP Anthony Swarzak has been recalled from AAA to take his place.

Additionally, the Twins felt that the services of Jim Hoey were no longer required, so they reassigned him to AAA. The Twins purchased the contract of LHP Phil Dumatrait to take his place.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Dumatrait, the Twins designated C Steve Holm for assignment. This means that Holm must pass through waivers.

Other DL Updates:

OF Delmon Young has been activated (did anyone tell him that, because he played on Sunday like he was still resting) and OF Rene Tosoni has been reassigned to AAA Rochester to make room.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Read and Follow Directions...

I don't have to tell you, it's not easy being a Twins fan lately. I'm sure, like me, you're being pounced on by anyone who knows you're a Twins fan demanding to know what's wrong. Everyone has questions. Everyone has answers too. Everyone wants to tell the Twins what to do and how to do it.

Well, it just so happens that I write directions for a living. I'm very good at telling people what to do. So, it's come to the point where my work life must step in to my baseball-fan life.

Instructions for fixing the Minnesota Twins. Please note that the following instructions are to be used under the supervision of trained professionals (not really, I just have to say that all the time).

  1. Inspect the training staff: Of the six guys still on, or recently off, the disabled list, Nishioka is the only one whose injury doesn't seem to be from a lack of proper training or conditioning. Two oblique strains, a case of shoulder bursitis, a quad strain, and a mysterious bi-lateral leg weakness all seem to me to be potentially preventable. It's true that the cold, damp weather all over the country isn't helping matters any -- many teams are suffering through a lot of injuries (including both my fantasy teams). However, this isn't the first year that people have questioned the effectiveness of the Twins' training staff; last season, Pat Neshek openly criticized them for mis-diagnosing his hand injury. Improve the training and conditioning techniques or get a staff that can.
  2. Review Justin Morneau: Gardy needs to sit down with Justin and have a heart-to-heart discussion with him and really figure out what's wrong. His offensive numbers are horrible (and well-documented), but he just looks over-matched in the batter's box. He swings and misses at pitches on the outer half of the plate -- pitches he used to hit, or at least foul off. Additionally, his defense is nowhere near what fans have come to expect. He simply doesn't make the nice scoops he usually does. He's thin, and weak, and clearly not himself. I commend him for trying to tough it out, but he's not really helping the team much in this condition. Unfortunately, due to the diminished capacity of the team as a whole right now, there isn't much anyone can do about it; he's a warm body and those are hard to come by. However, as soon as Young and Thome return from the DL, perhaps the Twins should consider giving Justin some more rest. A lot more rest. Like 15 days of rest. Oh, and just for kicks, check his vision and see if his LASIK procedure didn't take a step or two backwards.
  3. Get on Carl Pavano's back: I know Carl's a veteran. I know the Twins signed him to a two-year deal. I know he's supposed to be the leader of the rotation. He stinks lately. He knows he stinks lately. He admits he stinks lately. Not only is his stinky pitching putting too much pressure on the hitters, but it's also putting too much pressure on the other pitchers. Granted, he's the type of pitcher who really needs a good defense behind him, and he doesn't really have that. However, he's walking too many guys and he isn't striking out anybody. Gardy and Anderson need to kick him in the pants.
  4. Get off Francisco Liriano's back: It's pretty well known that Liriano can be a bit of a head case. It's also pretty well known that Liriano's real talent is as a strikeout pitcher. In order to be effective, he has to trust his stuff. But since the bullpen is so lame, the Twins want him to get outs using fewer pitches so that he can go deeper into games -- i.e. "pitch to contact." However, this strategy simply doesn't seem to work for him. It's as if the Twins are trying to force him into a mold that he simply doesn't fit into. They need to just leave him be, let him pitch the way he wants to pitch, build his confidence, and let him go. I think that if they let him strike out batters, he'll wind up walking fewer.
  5. Figure out the shortstop position: Shortstop is considered the leader of the infield. Alexi Casilla has proven he's not leadership material. The Twins have now handed the job to Trevor Plouffe, but he's hurt and may land on the DL. Even if he's ok, he should have a pretty short leash -- I just don't think he's quite ready for prime time. It's time for Bill Smith to pick up the phone and get a decent rent-a-shortstop. Strength in the field, and in the batter's box, will go far to picking up this team.

DL Report:

Delmon Young and Jim Thome are headed to Florida to rehab. Thome had an MRI and it indicated that there was only a slight strain in a back muscle. He should be able to re-join the team as soon as he's eligible. Young needs a couple minor-league games, and he should be ready to come back.

Nishioka is also in Florida, rehabbing his broken fibula. He's working with Paul Molitor on fielding drills.

Also watching: Trevor Plouffe. He tweaked or pulled a hammy on Sunday. He's due to have an MRI on Tuesday to see if it's serious. 

Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has all the injury details.

As you know, Kevin Slowey is off the DL. Dusty Hughes was sent down to AAA to make room.

And, finally, Joe Mauer is getting stronger all the time. But, sing it with me -- you know the words, ♪♫ there's no timetable for his return ♪♫.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Two Paper Doll Day: Thome and Repko

Good grief. I'm beginning to think I need to make preemptive paper dolls for everyone on the team. It would be easier; these things are kind of a pain to make. Two more guys now puts the current number at six. I'm also beginning to wonder if Ron Gardenhire shouldn't send a multitude of gifts to Tom Nieto, the manager of the Rochester Red Wings, as an apology for destroying his team. I kind of feel bad for the Red Wings fans; it's hard to win with so much thrash -- don't we know it. Now that I'm done complaining, let's get on with this.

Jim Thome - Strained Left Oblique, retroactive to May 1

Big Jim has been slowed by soreness for a few games now. He sat for a couple of games, tried to man-up and power through on Saturday, but on Sunday, he just couldn't get loose again. The cold weather the Twins have been playing in can't be much help. And, well, to be blunt, he is 40.

The thing about oblique strains is that they can be kind of naggy. We've all had an oblique pull -- they take forever to feel better. And I imagine that anything I've suffered from is much, much less that what he's probably got.

He'll need plenty of rest; workouts could re-aggravate it. And hopefully the weather will turn more seasonal and warmer conditions will help.

The Twins have recalled INF Trevor Plouffe from AAA Rochester. He's batting .282 ba/ .344 obp/ .590 slg in 21 games. He struggled defensively during Spring Training, but has been doing much better during the Red Wings season.


Jason Repko - Right Quad Strain, retroactive to May 2

Jason Repko's quad muscle has been barking for about a week. Gardy's tired of having a bench full of guys he can't use, so he put Repko on the DL.

I haven't been able to find much info on how this happened, so I'm going to go ahead and blame the cold weather on this one too. It's hard to keep one's legs loose when it's so cold that one needs earflaps on one's ballcap.

I don't know much about Repko's injury history, either. So it's really hard to tell when fans should expect him back. Hopefully, it's a slight strain, and he'll be back when the weather gets warmer.

The Twins recalled OF Ben Revere from AAA Rochester. He's batting .293/ .330/ .315 in 23 games. He started the season out slow, but he has been hitting very well the last handful of games. His defense is good, but his arm is a bit weak. He's fast, and can steal a base or two.


Joe Mauer's legs feel stronger and he has started participating in baseball activities. He admitted that he wasn't strong enough coming out of Spring Training to handle everyday catching duties. There is still no timetable for his return.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is in Fort Myers to continue his rehab after X-rays indicated that his fibula is healing on schedule. He's still at least 10 days away from rejoining the team. Some media members are speculating that he could be put at shortshop when he does return.

Kevin Slowey is pitching well in his rehab stint in Fort Myers. Gardenhire admitted that he's trying to increase his pitching load in case there's an emergency in the rotation, but that doesn't seem likely for now. The Twins expect to put him in the long relief role -- ready to pounce fill in if a starter needs him to.

Delmon Young is following his rehab program and feeling better every day. He's eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, but he may need a bit more time. He should return within a week or so.

Currently, no one has the flu. At least, no one is admitting it.

There's been no word on whether the garbage can in the visiting dugout in Kansas City that Carl Pavano taught a lesson to will be placed on the DL or will simply retire from baseball. Word is that Alexi Casilla's bat, also involved in the lesson, is fine and has since resumed bunting baseballs into foul territory.

Other Transactions:

The Twins optioned C Steve Holm to AAA Rochester, with no corresponding move back up. They need a backup catcher, so this is an odd move. Even odder; they immediately quelled rumors about adding someone from outside the organization. They'll likely call up Danny Lehmann or Rene Rivera from Rochester. This is a head scratcher because neither Lehmann nor Rivera is much of an upgrade from Holm. Why bother wasting another minor-league option...unless they know that Mauer is still quite a long time from returning.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beers All Around!

I have piece about Fransico Liriano half written. It talks about his struggles, and how he walks everybody, and how he and the coaches can't line up, blah, blah, blah. Well, all that may still be true, but I don't care -- not tonight. I'm shelving it because Liriano just no-hit the White Sox. It's Francisco's day, but for all the right reasons!

I've always been a huge fan of wonderful pitching, but when it's my guy, it's an amazing event. I can't even tell you how nervous I was for those last two innings; I'm not sure if I'll be able to sleep tonight. Add to it the pressure that was a 1-0 game. Plus, that was some great defense behind him to save the game. Impressive!

Sure, he had six walks. Sure, it took 123 pitches. Sure, the White Sox are pretty sucky right now. None of that matters. Fransico threw a freaking no-hitter, and he and fans should celebrate! And this comes at a time when the team and its fans were at their lowest. Call it a bit of a stimulus package. Hopefully all these good vibes carry forward.

As fine as Frankie did, it takes a whole-team effort to pull off something this special: Butera for calling a good game and helping Frankie keep his wits, Denard Span for making a nice play in the outfield, Danny Valencia for making an incredible play, Justin Morneau for making a couple nice outs, Jason Kubel for hitting that homer for the only run Frankie needed...and so on.

So, Minnesota Twins, I'd like to buy you all a beer.


Unfortunately, there's some DL news too. Jim Thome is on the DL with an oblique strain. Sounds like Jason Repko will be placed on it too with a strained quad (I think). I saw on Twitter that Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere are being recalled from AAA. Paper dolls and more info tomorrow.