Monday, August 29, 2011

Just For Laughs

I'm not the biggest Joe Mauer fan in the world. I mean, I like that he's on the Twins, and when he's healthy, I truly appreciate his talent. I have nothing against him at all, but I've never really developed a personal attachment to him like I have for Cuddyer or Nathan.

However, this brings him up a few spots on my list:

Apparently, this was filmed several months ago, but Anytime Fitness released it Monday.

The irony (well, maybe not irony...coincidence anyway) is not lost that they released this ad just days after Joe Mauer admitted that he needs a better off-season workout routine. Maybe this will prove to be good motivation.

A lot of people are harping on Joe lately about sitting out too much and not being tough enough. I don't necessarily agree. Yeah, he's had a sucky year, but I can't believe this is happening by his design. And, at this point, what the use of him playing hurt?

Say what you will about him. But there's no doubt that this ad is pretty clever. It's worth a fact, I'd say it's worth a chuckle or two.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Short Notes

And by "short," I mean: terse, tense, curt, crabby, rude. Which I am. And I'm unapologetic.

Jim Thome has been traded to the Indians for a player to be named later. And, I'm sorry, but I just can't get over being upset about this. I'm not mad at Big Jim at all; I'm mad that it came to this. I hate that the Twins are in a position to shed players, and I especially hate that the Twins put themselves in the position that a great player like Jim Thome simply deserves better.

I am very grateful to have been able to watch him play in a Twins uniform and lead this team for these last two season. It was a real treat to watch him step into the box late in the game and watch the pitcher shake in his boots. Many Twins fans agree that some of the best memories of Target Field's short history involve the great Jim Thome. And no one can take that away from us.

I sincerely wish the very best for Jim. This move might be a harbinger of a farewell tour for him. I hope the Indians' fans love him as much as they did years ago. And I really want him to hit a few more home runs -- I don't even care if they're off the Twins.


The Twins lost a four-game series to the Orioles. Let me clarify that statement a bit...

The Twins, with sucky pitching and even suckier batting, lost four games in a row at home to a team that has the worst road record in the league (I think that statement is true; I'm in no mood to verify it).

I sincerely hope that after Thursday's game, Gardy flipped every buffet table over, tossed some baseball bats into the showers, and threw a loud, good old-fashioned, Hulk-smash, outright fury. And then, I hope he made each and every one of the players clean it all up until the clubhouse attendant was satisfied. And then, I hope he made each and every one of the players give the clubhouse a generous tip for his trouble. Because something, anything, has to be done to grab their attention.

These guys are clearly not trying and it's hard to imagine that they even care. I suppose that it's hard to go to work every day knowing that your beginning of the year goals simply won't be met. Baseball is supposed to be filled with failure, but, jeez, not this much failure.

Whatever happened to the Joe DiMaggio philosophy on playing hard? -- "There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best."

More of that "my best" stuff, and less of whatever the hell they've been doing the last month.


DL Report: Another repeat injury.

The Twins have placed Francisco Liriano on the DL with left posterior (back) shoulder strain. He was taken out of Thursday's game after two innings in which he was quite ineffective.

This is probably the same injury he suffered back in May.  However, because Anthony Swarzak, who was scheduled to start Friday's game, had to pitch 3.1 innings on Thursday, and there wasn't anybody else they could plug in for Friday's start, the Twins were probably quick to put Liriano on the DL so they could call someone up right away (run-on sentence much?). Scott Diamond has been recalled to take his place.

Other DL Updates:

Baker is throwing. Casilla is running.

Blackburn only has some swelling in his arm that happens to be pinching a nerve, so some rest should help that.

It's likely that Jason Repko will be activated to replace Thome's spot on the roster, but an official announcement hasn't been made yet.

Joe Mauer was out on Thursday with a stiff neck. He says that he has a hard time looking left and right

Tsuyoshi Nishioka was still out Thursday with a sore back.

On Wednesday, Michael Cuddyer got hit in the wrist by a pitch. It hit so hard, you could hear it on the TV broadcast, and it dropped him immediately. He said later that he was sure it was shattered, but x-rays and an MRI came back negative. He played on Thursday. However, I imagine that it is still sore and it might bother him for a few days.

Monday, August 22, 2011

DL Report: Nick Blackburn

The Twins are just piling on names to the Disabled List. With this latest addition, they've now used the DL 23 times. I wondered if that was a record, so I asked the only people I knew would have an answer: Twitter. My Twitter buddy Dan Wade (@dwade), who contributes to Sports Illustrated's Under the Knife fantasy sports column, came back with an answer. Turns out that the Twins are close to the lead for DL transactions, but, in fact, the Dodgers have 24. So, at least there's that. For now.

The Twins have placed Nick Blackburn on the 15-day DL with a right lateral forearm strain. He was taken out of Sunday's game in the second inning after having absolutely no command.

I'm kind of having a hard time figuring out exactly what hurts. "Lateral forearm" is kind of nondescript. In his interviews with the media, he describes it as a sharp pain near the top of the forearm near the elbow. I'm no expert by any means, but I've had that sharp pain in that elbow (or, more classily referred to as: Lateral epicondylitis). At any rate, Blackburn didn't seem to think it was terribly serious, but he is scheduled to have more tests and such on Tuesday.

Anthony Swarzak has been added to the rotation and will pitch Friday in Blackburn's place. Right-handed reliever Lester Oliveros, acquired as the "player to be named later" in the Delmon Young trade, has been recalled to take Blackburn's roster spot.


Also watching:

Justin Morneau has been out for two games so far after fouling a pitch off his right foot on Saturday. X-rays were negative, but if it's still sore tomorrow, he'll have an MRI.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka has missed three games due to back spasms.

Other Updates:

Michael Cuddyer returned to play on Monday after missing a handful of games with a sore neck.

Denard Span won't be with the team for awhile. He's been sent home to rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Joe Nathan: A Case Study on Stupid Stats, Baseball Boyfriends, and Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is defined as that uncomfortable feeling we have because we simultaneously hold two opposing beliefs. Humans tend to eschew this inner conflict, so we do everything we can to get rid of these feelings -- something has to give or else we'll drive ourselves nuts. Usually cognitive dissonance is at its strongest when it applies to firmly held personal values or self-identity. It also applies to baseball.

Here are my dissonant beliefs:
  • I hate the Save stat
  • I love Joe Nathan

The Save state is generally dumb. Specifically, managing and administrating to the Save stat is dumb. Because of the all-mighty Save, teams anoint one man their "Closer" to use pretty much exclusively in Save situations. Usually, his royal highness is the best reliever on the team who can get out both left- and right-handed batters and who has the mental toughness to handle the pressure that comes at the end of a close game. And, usually, his royal highness makes more money than comparable relievers because everyone loves the Save stat.

But what does having a lot of Saves really mean? Not much. It's one of three random situations that someone decided would be cool to name. A pitcher is granted a shiny Save if he doesn't allow the opponent to tie or go ahead in these instances:
  • comes in the ninth inning with a 3-run or fewer lead
  • comes in the any time in the eighth or ninth inning and pitches the rest of the game with the tying run on base, at the plate, on deck, or in the hole
  • pitches the final three full innings regardless of the score (in 2007, Wes Littleton of the Texas Rangers earned a Save in a 30-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles because he happened to pitch the final three innings of the game)
A guy with a lot of Saves will use that to his benefit to earn money and get recognition. However, this completely made-up stat does nothing to measure the value of the pitcher -- the Closer has a lot of Saves because he's a good pitcher, not the Closer is a good pitcher because he has a lot of Saves. Saves tells us more about the team as a whole that the performance of the Closer.

Many times, the philosophy of "starter to reliever to maybe another reliever to Closer" works. The Closer pads his Save count, the manager looks good, the fans are happy, and the Closer's agent sees more dollar signs. Everybody's happy.

However, keeping the best reliever off to the side until the ninth inning is kind of a crappy strategy if you think about it. Sometimes, the highest-pressure situation of the game comes in the seventh or eighth inning, and the manager is reduced to trotting out a parade of lefty or righty specialists to get through. Or, he brings in his set-up man, who may be effective, but get no credit (yeah, he gets a Hold, but those are even dumber than Saves). Oh, and heaven forbid if the team is in a tie game on the road; the Closer will be stuck in purgatory until they go ahead and need him for the Save, regardless of how long the game goes on or how many sticky situations they get in to.

So, teams pay extra money and change their game strategy all based upon the notion of allowing the Closer to earn Saves. Everything about this screams "crazy."

With all that being said, I couldn't love Joe Nathan more. He, along with Michael Cuddyer, is my baseball boyfriend (yes, I have two baseball boyfriends; there are no rules to this and it's not like they care). And even more crazy, I couldn't be more proud and pleased that he recently became the Twins' all-time Saves leader.

Not only do I love it that he's earned so many Saves, I simply enjoy watching him earn each one of them. His nervous habits make the game so much more entertaining. I have great fun staring intently into my TV, radio, or him from afar and urging his success by commanding "no interesting!"

I've met him a couple times at autograph signings and Twinsfest photo-ops and such, and he's always smiled nicely and greeted the fans warmly. And in every interview I've seen with him, he's always said the right things and seemed sincere. I've never seen any hint of anything negative about him at all. In fact, I have read several reports vaunting what a hard worker he is -- especially during his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

He had enough class to remove himself from the Closer role when it was clear that he was hurting the team. Earning those beloved Saves wasn't such a priority if he couldn't do it well. He's an all-around good Twins player and someone Twins fans can be proud of.

Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do to resolve my dissonance. I can't change teams' minds about overvaluing Saves, nor can I persuade the Twins to keep Joe Nathan on the team forever. And I'm not likely to change my mind about either of my positions.

I suppose Bill Smith will soon be suffering his own bout of cognitive dissonance about Joe Nathan as well. On one hand, he'll love everything Joe has done for the team and, understanding that he'll be even better next season, will want him to keep notching those Saves. On the other hand, the team has a $12.5 million option on Joe next season, and that's a lot of money that could be used to add to the team in other key positions; a $2 million buyout to allow him to be a free agent might be a necessary choice.

I don't envy Smith's dissonance resolution at all.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

DL Report: Denard Span -- He Wasn't Really Better

Unfortunately, brain injuries are hard to treat, and even harder to predict. Throw in adjustments to medications, a predisposition to vertigo, and a lot of travel, and a regression is bound to happen.

The Twins have placed Denard Span on the 15-day DL, retroactive to August 14, with migraine and vertigo symptoms. He says that he feels like he did when he suffered vertigo back in 2009. He also reported that he and the trainers have been trying to adjust his medications. Because his concussion is located in the part of the brain that handles balance, he's just not feeling very steady at all. There's a chance he may need to visit the specialist in Pittsburgh he saw before. Unfortunately, this may end his season, especially with the Twins out of playoff contention. There's no reason to bring him back until they're 100% certain that he's 100% well.

Luke Hughes was called up from AAA Rochester to take Span's roster spot. Unfortunately, Hughes got a little lost in the airport, and he missed his flight. He did finally arrive mid-game Thursday.

I have no idea why the paper doll has that black squiggly thing around it. When I copied from the first time I made it, it didn't have that. It's late, and I don't feel like cleaning it up. I figure it kind of represents the fog that's following Denard.


Also watching:

Michael Cuddyer is still suffering a pain in the neck. He had an epidural shot and hopefully it'll feel better in a day or two.

Matt Tolbert has a sore wrist and can't swing a bat. He felt something during batting practice a couple of days ago.



Three guys were unavailable plus Jason Kubel was away tending to a family matter. All this added up to only two guys able to play the outfield. Insert Joe Mauer in right field. And until Hughes arrived, there was no one on the bench. It would've been simultaneously awesome and awful if Drew Butera had gotten hurt. Joe comes in to catch, and one of the starting pitchers goes out in right? Too ridiculous to even hold in my brain.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Everybody Loves Jim Thome!!!

Congratulations to Big Jim for hitting his 599th and 600th home run on Monday night. What a great accomplishment for a great player and a great man. There's not really much more that I can say that so many other writers won't say better. As a baseball fan first and a Twins fan second, I am proud and honored to watch him play.

It amuses me that #600 sailed over Delmon Young's head.

Also, I have a ton of respect for the Tigers fans. They gave Thome a lovely standing ovation right away despite the fact that it cost them the win. Some moments transcend the scope of a single game, and it made me happy to see the Detroit fans appreciate that.

Adieu Delmon

I love Twitter. Without it, how else would I have found out that Delmon Young turned into a Tiger for a pitcher I've never heard of and a player without a name?

Ok, for real, Delmon Young was traded to the Detroit Tigers for minor-league LHP Cole Nelson and a player to be named later.

The Twins are in Detroit today preparing to face the Tigers this evening. Reportedly, Young was informed of the trade right before he boarded the team bus going to the stadium, so he was able to say goodbye to a few of the guys. He's batting third and playing left field for the Tigers.

Keeping up with Twitter also let me know how a lot a fans felt about the trade. Overwhelmingly, Twins fans are delighted he's gone. Many also agree that he should have been traded last off-season while his value was high. He was likly to be non-tendered this offseason, so even though the Twins really got very little, it's good they got something.

When Young was first traded to the Twins for the 2008 season, I was fairly optimistic. I had heard about his "anger management" issues, but I knew he was supposed to be a good hitter. A power hitter from the right side of the plate was just what the Twins needed.

However, that "good hitter" aspect never really panned out as expected. He struck out too much and too uglily. His defense was atrocious and never got better. His best year, 2010, he came into the season in excellent shape after losing about 30 pounds, but as the pounds came back, the athleticism left to make room. Additioanlly, there were hints that he had a less-than-stellar work ethic and attitude. By this season, I, along with most other Twins fans, was begging for him to be traded. It got to the point that the only thing I could find to like about him was the uniform he wore.

However, my disdain for him notwithstanding, I sincerely hope he is happy with his new opportunity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DL Report: Alexi Casilla...Really?!

So, Alexi Casilla was healthy for, what?, fifteen minutes?

The Twins have placed Alexi Casilla on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain. He re-injured it in his first game back on Friday. In fact, he didn't even get the whole game in; he tweaked it in the 7th.

Trevor Plouffe, who was sent down to make room from Casilla, was recalled from AAA Rochester. I wonder if he even had any time to do his laundry.

DL Report: Jason Repko...Whatever

Ok, I should have done this yesterday, but I was busy until after the game, and then by then, I was so pissy, I kind of forgot. Besides, it seems kind of shady, so waiting a day isn't a big deal.

The Twins have placed Jason Repko on the 15-day DL, retroactive to August 11th, with left shoulder bursitis. This announcement completely came out of nowhere. However, he's a bench player, so it's not like he missed any starts that we could notice. He could have been in agony for days, and we were totally oblivious to it.

Bursitis is inflammation of the fluid-filled (bursa) sac that's between tendons and bone.

I think one of the 57 beat writers I follow on Twitter said something about that Repko had and MRI, and that's when they found the bursitis. I'm pretty sure if they did an MRI on me, or you even, they'd find bursitis. I just find it rather convenient that he suddenly is hurt right when Justin Morneau is ready to be activated. I'm not sayin'...I'm just sayin'. It sounds like someone didn't want to be sent to AAA.


Other Updates:

Friday marked the triumphant return of Justin Morneau. Ok, "triumphant" may be a smidge strong -- he went 0 for 4, but it's sure swell to have him back with the team. He swaps spots on the roster with Repko.

Alexi Casilla was also activated on Friday. Trevor Plouffe was optioned to AAA Rochester to make room.

Also Watching:

Gardy was quite excited to finally write up the opening day lineup on Friday's lineup card, but, alas, it was not to be. Michael Cuddyer felt a pop in his neck during batting practice. Reportedly on his last swing of the session. Because that's how things roll with this year's Twins. Everyone is hoping that it's minor and he'll be ok after a day or two off.

Also under the "that's how things roll with this year's Twins" category, Casilla tweaked his hamstring -- yeah, the same hamstring that supposedly just healed -- in the seventh inning of Friday's game -- yeah, the same game that he was just activated for. So, yeah....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Presented Without Comment


Ok...I do have something else to say. I have three winners of the Game 7 of the 1991 World Series DVD drawing...
  • Francis M (@fran_the_man)
  • Amy N (@SoAmySays)
  • Nathan T (@Lecroy24Fan)

I got a lot of great lists of favorite baseball movies. It's fun to see what everyone likes.

And thanks again to A&E Home Entertainment and MLBProductions for this fun thing.

Be sure to check out to purchase this and other great DVDs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DL Report: Scott Baker ... Again

Last time Scott Baker was on the DL, I was on vacation and didn't have the chance to make the paper doll until after he came off. I'm so sorry he felt the need to be on it again so I could do this properly. Or maybe he didn't.

The Twins have placed Scott Baker on the 15-day DL again with a right flexor strain. It apparently is still sore and it's affecting his pitching. Since the Twins' playoff hopes have largely evaporated, it makes sense to shut him down and let it completely heal.

Kevin Slowey has been recalled from AAA Rochester to replace him. Slowey has been pitching very well for the Red Wings since being sent down. He's scheduled to start on Sunday in Cleveland.

Other updates:

Alexi Casilla, on the DL with a hamstring pull, has been running and such, and he is expected to be activated when he is eligible on Friday.

Justin Morneau, on the DL recovering from a wrist injury and a pinched nerve in his neck, is hitting the ball well in his rehab assignment in Rochester and may join the team in Detroit next week.

I was so hoping that we could have a day or two when there was no one on the DL, but alas it is not to be. In fact, the Twins haven't had a day with no one on the DL since Nishioka broke his leg on April 8. And I believe that there hasn't been a day with fewer than two men on the DL since Joe Mauer went down on April 13 (I'm not 100% sure about that second fact, but I'm pretty sure).


DVD Giveaway Update:

Don't forget about my new DVD drawing, this time Game 7 of 1991 World Series. Just tell me your top 5 baseball-themed movies to enter. Three winners to be announced Friday (which is more than I previously stated).


Many thanks to A&E Home Entertainment and MLB Productions for this great promotion.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another DVD Drawing!

I get to do another DVD drawing, and we'll have TWO winners. This time for a DVD of Game 7 of the 1991 W.S.

Just tell me your top 5 baseball-themed movies to enter. Include them in the comments below, tweet me on Twitter, find me on Facebook, or get me on Google+.

Deadline to enter is 6 pm central on Friday, August 12. One entry per person. Winner is responsible to contact A&E Home Entertainment to redeem prize. We here at k-bro's baseball blog are not responsible for the prizes.

For what it's worth, here are my top five baseball-themed movies:
  1. Bull Durham
  2. Sandlot
  3. A League of Their Own
  4. Field of Dreams
  5. Major League

Nothing Can Come of Nothing -- Cuddyer Contract

I'm mad. And hurt. And distraught.

This emotional outpouring has nothing to do with the recent lousy play of the Twins, although I've done my fair share of ranting lately. I've swore so much at my television over the past several days, I fully expect it to send me a bill to reimburse it for all the psychotherapy it needs. But, despite my numerous R-rated rantings, I'm really only frustrated. This isn't our year and it sucks, but I'm not terribly upset about it.

No, instead, I'm boiling at Bill Smith. He simply hasn't put together a good team, and has done very little to repair that fact. And I fear he'll mess it up for 2012. I'm specifically upset about how he's handling Michael Cuddyer. Or, should I say "mis-handling"?

Now, I'm not usually one to criticize Smith, but the realization that the real franchise player might not come back next year is beginning to set in (no, folks, I'm sorry to say that Joe Mauer is not the franchise player). In fact, this article from the PiPress that says the Cuddy is "committed to test the free agent market" feels like a Cuddyer-thrown baseball to the chest. True, the organization recently offered him an extension that he doesn't want to consider right now.

I'm not mad at Cuddyer for being interested in free agency. He's having an outstanding year, and I'm sure there will be plenty of teams taking turns to talk to him. This will likely be his last multi-year contract for significant money. At 32, the all-star's value is at its highest right now, but I have doubts the Twins will, or even can, give him what he deserves.

It is promising that Smith made an in-season offer to Cuddyer; the team doesn't usually worry about contract stuff during the summer. They say that doing so shows that they're committed to re-signing him. But the offer was kind of like a weather balloon -- intended only to gather information and not really do anything more than that.

Cuddyer's value to the team is unmatched. He's obviously quite versatile in the field, but he's also the player-leader in the clubhouse. He's good to the press, the community, and the fans. His team-first attitude is an excellent model for everyone around him. The Twins would be less without him.

So here I am, reading articles and getting worried and then mad, and all this could have been avoided if Smith would've just extended Cuddyer's contract last off-season. The organization has always expressed its high regard for Cuddyer, but the decision to wait probably cost the Twins a lot. When this season is over, he'll be the star, and the Twins will be just one of many autograph hounds trying to get his attention.

Cuddy says he's not mad that the Twins didn't call with an offer last off-season -- he's not going to say anything different. But I have to wonder if he doesn't feel slightly snubbed. So, another team is going to swoop in, offer him a ridiculous contract that the Twins won't be able to match, and he'll be gone.

A reasonable offer last December could've prevented all this, and I'm mad that didn't happen. Inaction then will lead to regrets later.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Winner Winner

We have a winner of the 1991 World Series Collector's DVD set....

And the winner is....

Nicole Margaret (a.k.a. @nmarg34 on Twitter). 

Congratulations, Nicole! I'll contact you with info on how to redeem your prize.


Thank you to everyone who entered. I received way more entries than I thought would. If you're new here because of the drawing, welcome. I hope you visit again.

Don't fret if you didn't win. The DVDs are available for purchase starting Tuesday. Click the links on the sidebar on the right for more information.

Also, other Twins blogs are hosting contests and drawings as well. I encourage you to visit them. So far, I'm aware of the following contests that are still going: