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  1. Trade Target Team Profile: New York Yankees

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ID:	1467The Big Picture
    The Bronx Bombers have made the playoffs in seven of the past eight years but have reached the World Series only once, when they beat the Phillies in 2009. For most teams, one championship in eight years would be perfectly adequate, but not for the Yankees. This is a franchise that appeared in the Fall Classic six times in nine years prior to their latest "drought."

    Now, with a 48-32 record that qualifies as second-best in baseball (behind ...
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  2. Are Span's Days in Minnesota Numbered?

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ID:	1440Since he was first called up in 2008, Denard Span has been an integral cog for the Twins. He's also been a joy to watch. He plays hard, brings a great approach to the plate, offers very solid defense in center, and is good with the fans.

    Yeah, it's fair to say that I'm a big fan of Span. So I'm going to make sure to savor watching what will very likely be his final month in a Twins uniform.

    There are a number of factors that lead me to believe ...
  3. Twins Ink Doumit to Two-Year Extension

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ID:	1416Cross one name off the trade deadline "selling" list. Ryan Doumit is here to stay at least for the foreseeable future.

    Pleased with the impact of their offseason acquisition, the Twins announced Friday that they've signed the backup catcher and frequent DH to a two-year contract extension worth $7 million.

    As the 2011 season came to a close, it had become clear that the catcher position was in drastic need of an upgrade. Joe Mauer, battling ...
  4. Trade Target Team Profile: Toronto Blue Jays

    The Big Picture
    The Jays currently find themselves in a familiar situation, enjoying a good season but struggling to gain traction in a treacherous division. Toronto's 38-36 record would have them a game back in the AL Central, but the team sits last in the East, trailing the red-hot Yankees by 6.5 games.

    That's right, the Blue Jays with a record two games over .500 are only two game closer to first than the Twins, who hold the American League's worst record. Yep, life in ...
  5. Proving Grounds

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ID:	1346This week's series against the first-place White Sox will serve as a tough test for this Twins team. They've rebounded after a lousy start to go 13-10 over their last 23 games, remaining on the periphery of an AL Central race that no club seems poised to run away with. In three days, the Twins could conceivably be within 5.5 games of first place. They could also find themselves out of it by double digits.

    Perhaps no one will be under a bigger microscope in ...
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  6. Reasons For Hope

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Size:  13.4 KBYou'd figure a team that lost 99 games last year, and now finds itself on pace to lose 96 this year, would instill little confidence in its fan base. Yet, as we creep up on the season's halfway point, I find myself feeling rather optimistic about the Twins' future.

    No, I don't believe the club is going to miraculously climb back into the AL Central race this year. But I do think that, given some of the positive signs we've seen, the path back to contention ...
  7. Blackburn's Persisting Struggles

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ID:	1266It took almost six hours, but the Twins were able to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Brewers on Sunday. To do so, they needed to overcome another non-quality start from Nick Blackburn, who yielded four runs over six innings in what sadly qualifies as one of his best outings this season.

    The right-hander's results weren't bad until Corey Hart took him deep for a three-run homer with two outs in the fifth, but he had been dancing on a tight rope all day. ...
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  8. Diamond's Shine Hasn't Worn Off

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Size:  61.6 KBOn Thursday night, Scott Diamond allowed four runs over six innings against the Phillies. It qualified as arguably his worst start since being called up back in early May, but it was hardly a disaster and would have kept the Twins in the game had the offense mustered any kind of production against Joe Blanton.

    Even after turning in just his second non-quality start in eight tries, Diamond remains the class of the Twins' rotation. His recipe for success up ...
  9. Looking Ahead to the Deadline

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Size:  8.5 KBIt would be nice if the Twins kept up their recent winning pace through late July, climbing back into the AL Central picture after being left for dead in May. Unfortunately, their lack of starting pitching makes that difficult to realistically envision.

    In the more likely event that the Twins are firmly out of contention when the trade deadline rolls around, they'll find themselves in an unfamiliar position. Only once in the past decade has the club behaved ...
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  10. How Good Are the Twins?

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ID:	1198The circumstances and details have differed, but so far the course of this Twins season has very closely mirrored the last one. In both instances, the club looked strong coming out of spring training before being derailed by injuries and poor performance over the first two months, digging a deep early hole.

    When June came around last year, the Twins suddenly turned things around, taking advantage of weaker competition and rattling off victories (17 out of ...
  11. R.A. - The One That Got Away

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Size:  30.8 KBOn Thursday afternoon, R.A. Dickey tossed 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball for the Mets in a win over the first-place Nationals. The victory moved the knuckleballer's record to 9-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.44. Holding opponents to a .225 average and sporting a dazzling 78-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 81 innings, Dickey has to be considered a Cy Young front-runner in the National League, and he might start the All-Star Game.

    This is the best we've ...
  12. Bang For Your Buxton

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Size:  23.9 KBFive-tool potential? Check.

    Comparisons to all-time greats like Bo Jackson and Willie Mays? Check.

    Classic baseball name? Check.

    Yep, Byron Buxton seems to have everything you'd hope for in a top pick. Now he just needs to turn his elite tools into production on the professional stage something the last high-profile prep outfielder drafted by the Twins has failed to do thus far.

    The comparisons to Aaron Hicks were ...
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  13. Second in Line

    The last time the Twins owned the No. 2 pick in the MLB draft, they selected a college pitcher named Adam Johnson out of Cal State Fullerton. As most fans will recall, he cruised through the minors and made his major-league debut at the age of 21, but hit a wall and quickly fizzled out.

    That's a scary memory as the Twins eye a handful of collegiate hurlers with this year's second pick, but fortunately the history of the draft slot has been much brighter since the Johnson bust.
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  14. Depending on Dozier

    Prior to the start of the season, I called Jamey Carroll "the latest passenger on Minnesota's never-ending shortstop carousel," noting the position's instability over the past decade. As it would turn out, the veteran's ride didn't last long, as he ceased drawing regular starts at short by early May.

    Granted, this had as much to do with external factors most notably Danny Valencia's struggles at third as Carroll's own play. But it quickly became apparent that the light-hitting 38-year-old ...
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