Sunday, January 29, 2012

k-bro Twins Fest Report - 2012

Nothing breaks up a drab, blah, boring, post-holiday winter's weekend quite like talking baseball. And the best place to talk baseball, and see baseballs, and hear baseball stories, and to think about baseball, and otherwise get your baseball fix in January is TWINS FEST!

I was especially motivated to go this year, because Brad Radke was appearing for the first time since he retired. I don't normally like to spend my time in autograph lines, but this was for Brad Radke, so I had to.

He shared an autograph station with Jacque Jones and Shannon Stewart, so it was kind of like a 2004 reunion tour. The line was longer than I expected, but fortunately I made it in just in the nick of time (they closed the line 5 or so people behind me).


I didn't want Jacque and Shannon to feel bad, so I got theirs too.

For the record both Jacque Jones and Brad Radke are better looking in person than any picture I've ever seen; they both have fabulous smiles.

Brad has short hair now. But he's still good looking. But not so much in this picture.

After I finally got my autographs, I went inside. It's the first time I'd been in the Dome since they put on the new roof. It was a lot brighter in their than it used to be. I can't imagine trying to catch a fly ball with that sun-bright roof.

It was crowded, but not as much as it was a couple of years ago.

I sat at the ESPN1500 radio area, which is one of my favorite things to do -- you can relax, and listen to the radio guys interview the players. It's a great way to see the guys as they're being interviewed.

Justin Morneau also commented on the bright white roof.

When we started wondering around, we checked out Bert Blyleven's new Hall of Fame plaque, ...

Hmm. I don't think it really looks like him.

visited the Twins Pro Shop, ...
You can get your very own Mike Lamb banner.

and found TC Bear, among other things.

Best mascot in the Majors.

By the time I did all that, the Twins Grab bag booth was closed down because they had run out of grab bags for the day. I was really disappointed because for $15, you can get a treasure of stuff -- old stadium giveaways, media guides, and other prizes. Bummer. Next time, I'll get those first.

All in all, though, I had a great time. And now I'm really in the mood for baseball to start.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Notes: Jan. 22

Tuesday was the deadline for teams and their arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary numbers. There were three arbitration-eligible players on the Twins roster: Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, and Alexi Casilla.

There were two others at the beginning of the off-season, but Kevin Slowey was traded to the Rockies (and then traded again -- more on that later), and the Twins declined to offer Jose Mijares a contract (and then he signed with the Royals).

The players are under contract for this year, but they're due raises, so they need to agree on the paycheck.

If the numbers are close, then the team and player generally finalize things right away -- Liriano (who will make $5.5 million) and Perkins ($1.55 million) did this. However, the Twins and Casilla felt like they were a little too far apart to settle right away.

Casilla wants $1.75 million, but the Twins are offering $1.065 million. So what next? They'll schedule an arbitration meeting and keep talking. They have all the way up until the start of the meeting, which will probably be scheduled for early to mid February, to meet somewhere in the middle. If they actually do sit down for arbitration, either Casilla's number or the Twins' will be his salary. There is no compromise in arbitration.

From all accounts, everyone wants to avoid arbitration. Both parties will sit before an independent arbitrator (not arbiter; I looked it up) and try to make their cases, which, I imagine, goes something like this:
Player: I'm awesome and I deserve the money.
Team:'re good, but we wouldn't say awesome.
Player: Yeah, but look at all these awesome things I did....
Team: No, but look at all these crappy things you did...
Player: I'm still pretty awesome.
Team: Not awesome.
Player: Yes.
Team: No.
And so forth until they're done, and then the arbitrator will decide one number or the other.

And after it's all done, the team will tell the player he'd better have an awesome year.


Kevin Slowey, whom the Twins traded to the Rockies early in the off-season, was traded again last week to the Indians. Poor Kevin didn't even make it as a Rockie long enough to go to their fan fest. In fact, I don't even think he's in the country yet after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with R.A. Dickey.

And from the looks of things, the Rockies got a better player in return than the Twins did.

But the Indians were desperate. One of their starting pitchers, the right-hander formerly known as Fausto Carmona, is in some trouble with stolen identity and falsifying his age. He's not likely to get a work visa to come to the US anytime soon.

It's odd; I've always been intrigued by "Fausto Carmona," and, to be honest, a lot of it may have had to do with that magnificent name.


Joel Zumaya passed his physical. Welcome to my spreadsheet, Joel. Oh, and welcome to Minnesota, too.


Seth Stohs is a Twins blogger, and is probably the foremost expert outside the Twins organization on the Twins' minor-league system. He's a great supporter of all us Twins bloggers, and he always does great work.

Seth's 2012 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is now available. I encourage you to buy one -- it's very reasonably priced. He always does a nice job writing it. If you don't really know much about prospects, this is a great resource every time one of those minor-leaguers gets called up. There are stats and such, but he also writes up a brief description of each prospect, so you get some background information every time.

I also encourage you to use his Handbook to become more familiar with the prospects. These guys work hard to move up the ranks, and it's kind of fun to follow their progress. They're the future of the Twins team; we should give them all the encouragement we can, if only from afar.

It's a must have if you're planning on going to Spring Training, or even if you're planning on listening to Spring Training games.

Visit Seth's website for info on getting his Handbook.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quick Notes: Jan. 15

On a Sunday when settling in to watch an afternoon of NFL playoffs was on many Twins fans' minds, the Twins made a surprise signing: RHRP Joel Zumaya -- of course pending a physical.

At least I was surprised.

I'd seen some Twitter rumors hinting that the Twins were interested in LHRP Todd Coffey and RHSP Roy Oswalt, so I wasn't totally surprised that some kind of announcement came today. And I knew that the Twins were among the teams looking at Zumaya around Christmastime. But I just never put things together this way.

The nice thing about this signing is that, even though it is a major league deal, it's not guaranteed (according to to Strib's Joe C.) and it's for relatively little money. Plus, when healthy, he's pretty darned effective -- when he was with the Tigers, he could blow hitters away by reaching 100 mph on the radar gun. So his signing is pretty low risk.

However, that "when healthy" part might be problematic. Fans who don't believe that players can be "injury prone" may change their minds when looking at his history. TwinGeek summed it up nicely in his Twitter feed:
Twins fans may even remember that 2010 injury because it was particularly gross how his arm just snapped sideways after he delivered that pitch.

He'll probably never throw another 100 mph pitch again. Let's hope he can still be effective without it.

And I'll go ahead a prepare an injury paper doll just in case.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Not-at-all Researched, Half-assed, and Probably Completely Lame Opinion on the Hall of Fame Voting

Congratulations to former Reds great Barry Larkin on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a well-deserved honor to be sure. I'm sincerely happy for him.

Former Twin Jack Morris fell short of the needed votes for election. I love Jack Morris. I love what he did for the Twins, and I love what he did in the World Series. He was a very good pitcher who had some great games. But I don't think he's a hall of famer. I could look up all his numbers and research his performances to support my opinion (and trust me, if I had a vote, I'd do that for all my choices), but right now my gut tells me he's not great enough to be in. However, he's pretty close and I bet he'll get in next year.

My all-time favorite Twin, Brad Radke, received only two votes for the Hall of Fame, which isn't enough to be on the ballot again. This is ok with me. In fact, I'm a bit surprised he got any votes. As much as I loved watching him pitch, I'm perfectly satisfied keeping him within the realm of Twins Favorites.

So, that's about it for the stuff I agree with. Now for the grumbling.

I've mentioned before that I'm not happy with the Hall of Fame voting process. I'm even less happy with it now than I was then, which isn't surprising now that the "cloud of suspicion" class of players are beginning to be eligible.

Which leads me to this: why the hell isn't Jeff Bagwell in the Hall of Fame yet? I mean, he was certainly good enough. Oh yeah, because he happened to play at the same time some other players who used PEDs did and he had big arms. Never mind that there was no reason to suspect him for doing anything other than play good baseball.

Now if some writers simply don't feel in their guts that he belongs in the Hall, that's fine. However, I have issues with those who proudly strut their intentional snubbing of him simply because they don't like the way he looked.

And all this nauseating righteousness is going to get worse next year because Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be eligible.

I can understand the difficulty in voting for someone who has been accused of doping. Players have been trying to find a competitive edge for all of time, and this particular edge is more problematic than others. But since we can't know who really did what or what, if any, effect any suspected substances may have had, voters really ought to stick to making their determinations based on players' performance.

But many won't, and that'll be a shame.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Miscellany and Links

No Quick Notes this week because, well, there's been no news this week. Sounds like the Twins front office took the holiday week off. I'm sure that most other teams' front offices and many agents' offices also took the week off as well (except the White Sox I guess as they made a bunch of moves over the last few days), so I doubt the Twins really missed out on much. Besides, that's what cell phones are for.

There's been no real news, unless you count the few random tweets Twins President Dave St. Peter wrote a few days ago. To recap:
  • The reason there are so many afternoon games on Saturdays early in the season has to do with the fact that, in Minnesota, the temperature is usually warmer during the day than it is after the sun goes down, and it matters in April. Based on the number of times Mr. St. Peter needed to answer to this topic, it seems that fans are still wrapping their heads around the logistics of outdoor baseball.
  • The turf will be covered during the Chesney/McGraw concert in an effort to protect it. Any anticipated damage is dependent on the weather. A later tweet by the Twins grounds crew showed a picture of the material they're putting under the legs of the stage.
  • Kent Hrbek is getting a statue out on the plaza. Hopefully it'll be ready for Opening Day.
  • Danny Valencia is changing his uniform number from 19 to 22. Danny verified it by saying he's going back to his lifelong number. This is kind of bad news for those (like my son) who have Danny's jersey. It's also bad news for those (like me) who will always have #22 in their hearts for Brad Radke.
  • Mr. St. Peter is lobbying hard for the hockey Winter Classic (outdoor hockey game) to be played at Target Field. The decision is ultimately up to the NHL and the Wild. It'd be pretty sweet if they could swing it. I'm not sure I could afford to get tickets to the game, but I'd still consider hanging out on the plaza.
So I can't think of any thing else to say. I'd try to write a story or something, but I've got nothing. I guess my Muse also took a few days off for the holidays. However, I've found a lot of interesting things to read. So I'll shore the fine work by other folks for your enjoyment.