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2019 Minnesota Twins TV Analyst Conundrum

Posted by whatyouknowtwinsfan , 05 January 2019 · 6,883 views

In 2018, the Twins and Fox Sports North used a variety of analysts alongside longtime Twins TV PBP guy Dick Bremer. Bert Blyleven, Roy Smalley, Jack Morris, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau (several times along with Smalley creating a 3-man booth), and Latroy Hawkins all took a shot at it this past year. Going into 2019, the crowd looks very similar. However, there appear to be multiple changes. Back in October, It was reported that the Twins were lessening the amount of games Bert Blyleven would work in 2019 and 2020. Blyleven will work around 50 games in 2019 and around 30 games in 2020 as part of his contract. In the near term, it makes me curious who will take those remaining games in 2019. In the long term, it makes me curious whether the Twins will be making significant changes to their broadcasts after 2020.

With Blyleven working fewer games, it's likely that the other Twins commentators will pick up the slack in 2019. Here's the case for each of these men:
  • Roy Smalley: According to the Twins website, Smalley has worked in some capacity on Twins broadcasts the past 16 seasons, first as a pre/post game analyst and the past few years as a fill in broadcast analyst. In my opinion, Smalley has tremendous knowledge of the game and among the contenders has the most broadcast experience. I think it's likely he sees the majority of the games available in Blyleven's absence, especially considering some camaraderie with Bremer as well as several occasions last year when Fox Sports North went with the 3-man booth of Bremer, Smalley, and Morneau.
  • Jack Morris: According to the Twins website, Morris has worked in some capacity on Twins broadcasts off and on since 2005. In addition to the Twins, Morris has been an analyst with both the Tigers and Blue Jays. Because of his extensive experience and pitching insight, it would seem likely that he would see an increase in his schedule similar to Smalley. However, recent reports out of the Detroit believe that Morris and Kirk Gibson will be the replacement for Rod Allen on Fox Sports Detroit after his highly publicized altercation with former play by play man Mario Impemba back in September. What's interesting about this is that Morris will likely see a heavy amount of Tigers games as Gibson has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and generally works a limited amount of games. It's possible Morris will be the analyst for half or more than half of Tigers broadcasts. In addition to his occasional appearances on MLB Network and MLB.com, it's possible (and likely) that Morris doesn't return to Twins broadcasts in 2019 or if he does, returns in a heavily reduced role (10-15 games?) meaning that Hunter, Morneau, and Hawkins may have to pick up the games that Morris would normally work in addition to their regular schedules in the booth.
  • Torii Hunter: We all know Torii Hunter for his smile, off the cuff remarks, and flamboyant personality. In fact, these are traits he relies on in the broadcast booth. Along with Bremer, he provides a unique, positive, and entertaining analysis of the Minnesota Twins. However, he also serves as a special assistant in baseball operations, meaning he has another role to fill with the Twins that takes priority over broadcast analysis. Does that mean he can't work more? That remains to be seen.
  • Justin Morneau: Morneau showcased an extensive knowledge for baseball, particularly hitting, during his time in the booth and pre/post game chair in 2018, especially when he was paired with Roy Smalley in the booth for games. While Morneau also has a role within baseball operations, it seems like he's more willing to spend time as a broadcaster as he appeared on broadcasts more than Hawkins and Hunter in 2018. Additionally, he not only appeared in the booth, but also made appearances on the pre and post game shows. Out of the Hunter, Morneau, and Hawkins trio, it seems like Morneau is eyeing further broadcasting opportunities the most.
  • Latroy Hawkins: Rounding out the 2018 candidates is Hawkins. Out of the previous 3, Hawkins appears the most poised to be a broadcaster. He seems confident in the booth which aides his analytic approach to the game. This analytic approach is very much welcomed as Hawkins seems to be the only pitcher on this list to emphasize it as part of his analysis (I would argue Morneau and Smalley share a fair amount of analysis when on air). Bremer seems to encourage this as well when Hawkins is in the booth. Like Hunter and Morneau, Hawkins also works as a special assistant to baseball operations for the Twins. While Hawkins seems like the most polished among the three, he's continually seen the smallest workload. As a result, I'm curious if he's willing to reduce his baseball operations role to broadcast more or if Hawkins will continue to work only 10 or so games every year.
  • Outside Candidates: Another possibility is the Twins could add analysts in 2019 to this group to fill in the remaining games. Among former Twins personnel, Tom Kelly, Michael Cuddyer, Glen Perkins, Dan Gladden, and Joe Mauer would likely top the list. Kelly has previously worked in the booth on Fox Sports North. While Cuddyer and Mauer haven't broadcasted, Cuddyer seems like a natural every time he's in the booth as a guest and Mauer would bring prestige and higher ratings. Gladden likely will remain on the radio. Glen Perkins is interesting to me. He broadcasted a couple of Facebook games last year, so he clearly has interest in getting into the business. Being he's only been retired for a little over a year, he knows a good portion of the Twins roster and being from Minnesota, he would be a local celebrity, like Mauer. Fear not Twins fans, it could also be A.J. Pierzynski. Obviously, he brings a unique personality, has interest in broadcasting, and has history as a Twins player. I don't know how possible any of these are, but they could also be a possibility.
This answers the question surrounding 2019, but the Twins may have a broadcast opening after 2020. It seems like the reduction of Blyleven's schedule will lead to his eventual departure. Will it be one of the men listed above? That seems likely. However, it might also give the Twins in opportunity to search for media free agents. Bremer has been in the booth for 30+ years. Could he be nearing the end of his time with the Twins? Gladden has been in the booth for 15+ years. Could the Twins look to make a change there. While I believe Bremer, Provus, and Gladden are safe for both the short-term and long-term, it's likely the Twins will have an color analyst opening on Fox Sports North, interesting considering the current situation the network is in. This past year, Fox Sports North was sold as part of Fox's selloff of assets to Disney. However, Disney will be forced to resell the regional networks (FS North included). There are several candidates to purchase the networks, including Sinclair, Tegna (owns KARE 11), MLB, Amazon, Fox, Ice Cube (yes, the musician) and Comcast. However, multiple sources (including this NY Post article) speculate Jim Pohlad might be interested in purchasing Fox Sports North individually. The Twins tried and failed creating their own network (Victory Sports One) during the 2000s. However, they might have more clout with cable companies by purchasing a network that also broadcasts every other major men's professional team in Minnesota. Additionally, the Pohlad owned GO Radio stations already have an online and smartphone presence. Could they morph FOX Sports North into the GO branding similar to YES Network in New York, NESN in Boston, MASN in Baltimore/DC area, or the new Marquee channel the cubs are creating? In that case, Twins broadcasts would be directly under ownership. What could that mean for the broadcast teams long-term? A lot of questions have to be answered, but there are some interesting possibilities for Twins broadcasts over the next few years.

  • h2oface, tarheeltwinsfan, nclahammer and 1 other like this



Jim Thome
    • sloopjont and whatyouknowtwinsfan like this
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whatyouknowtwinsfan
Jan 05 2019 09:59 PM

 

Jim Thome

 

If he wasn't a special assistant for the White Sox or on MLB Network, I think he'd be great, not sure I see that happening.

    • Philip Burfeind likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 06 2019 01:47 AM
I would pay out of my own pocket to get rid of Bremer. It is time for Mr. Bremer to move along. He is no longer relevant in today's game. Bremer's knowledge has fallen behind.
    • Winston Smith likes this
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strumdatjaguar
Jan 06 2019 09:50 AM

A.J. Piezynski! I know he's an analyst on FS1 Games already. Maybe he would want to do a few games or many games for his former team.Paraphrasing Ozzie Guillen::When he's another team's color commentator, you hate him - When he's our team's color commentator, you hate him less!!!!!!

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strumdatjaguar
Jan 06 2019 09:51 AM

Let's get rid of the following phrases and words:Doink, middle in, good piece of hitting, trying to do too much . . .

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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 06 2019 05:05 PM

I enjoy each of them for their individual unique styles and knowledge.As long as the Twins win we all enjoy the broadcasts even more.

 

I would pay out of my own pocket to get rid of Bremer. It is time for Mr. Bremer to move along. He is no longer relevant in today's game. Bremer's knowledge has fallen behind.

Bremer's focus on pitch counts is annoying.We can all read the scoreboard.

I just thought I would add a divergent thought.I do not have a television, I listen to the radio.If you have a TV and can see what is happening what difference does the announcer make?Answer to my own question:Pace of game gives so much down time there must be someone to fill the void.On radio I am usually cutting wood, working in my garden or doing something so pace is not so obvious.

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whatyouknowtwinsfan
Jan 15 2019 11:10 PM

 

I just thought I would add a divergent thought.I do not have a television, I listen to the radio.If you have a TV and can see what is happening what difference does the announcer make?Answer to my own question:Pace of game gives so much down time there must be someone to fill the void.On radio I am usually cutting wood, working in my garden or doing something so pace is not so obvious.

Interesting thought-I find Provus to be a storyteller on the radio, something important because he has to describe the game. Gladden to a lesser extent, provides stories as a former player. Bremer, imo, serves to be a storyteller in a different way. On TV, I think it ends up being a conversation. I think he needs to be spurring a conversation with whoever is analyzing the game. The analyst's job is to describe what a player is thinking or planning, connect it to their own experience, or provide a statistical analysis that goes beyond the stat itself. In other words, I want the analysts leading the conversation in the TV booth, describing what decision they would've made, explaining the statistic behind the play, and how the player/team used historical situations/statistics to come to decide a shift, pitch selection, or a late game match up.

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whatyouknowtwinsfan
Jan 15 2019 11:11 PM

https://www.freep.co...oit/2576683002/

 

Morris is headed to Detroit for Tigers broadcasts. He went on the Twins Caravan, so it seems like he might be sticking around to do 10-20 games. However, it looks like 80+ games are in store for him in Detroit, so who knows? 

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Mike Amundsen
Jan 20 2019 11:48 PM
I really dislike Smalley. He seems out of touch compared to some of the younger guys. I say Bremmer, Hunter, and Hawkins. 3 man booth for the win.