During parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Hildenberger was one of Minnesota’s most reliable relievers. Paul Molitor relied on him heavily during the team’s run to the 2017 AL Wild Card Game. He didn’t debut until the end of June and he went on to post a 3.21 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP including eight games finished and a save. He seemed like he could be a vital part of a Twins team looking to rebound after multiple rough seasons in a row.
Hildenberger continued to be reliable to start the 2018 campaign as he compiled a 3.33 ERA with a 1.13 ERA in the first half. His month of May was terrific as he limited opponents to three earned runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA) with 12 strikeouts and two walks. He was continuing to be used in late inning situations while racking up holds on a team trying to get back to the playoffs.
From there, something changed with Mr. Hildenberger.
Reliable No More
There were some bumps in the road during the second half including a four-game stretch during the beginning of August where he allowed nine earned runs. Overall in the second half, he allowed 27 earned runs across 27 innings with a 1.82 WHIP. There were blown leads and blown saves, but Molitor continued to use Hildenberger in late inning situations.
Even with the late-season struggles, Hildenberger was expected to be a bullpen option under new manager Rocco Baldelli. He struggled through the early months of the season as he posted an 8.36 ERA across 19 games (14 innings). Eventually, he ended up being demoted and then spent a couple months on the IL with a flexor mass strain. The injury might have been the result of working through some mechanical changes.
For a pitcher trying to get back to the big leagues, his injury might have been a blessing in disguise.
Hildenberger worked with Rochester’s pitching coach Mike McCarthy to tweak his delivery, because he was flying open too early and the results, as described above, were not great. With his unique side-armed delivery, Hildenberger provides two versions of himself, a very good pitcher with control and deception or a pitcher struggling with command and location.
To return to his role as a very good pitcher, his journey back started in the GCL with a couple appearances against lower level competition as he tried to get a feel back for his pitches. He pitched four innings over three games and allowed one earned run on four hits. From there, he headed back to Rochester where he started to look more like the player he was in 2017.
Since coming off the injured list on August 20, albeit in a small sample size, he didn’t allow any runs and he pitched more than one inning in five of six appearances. He added six strikeouts and issued only one walk. Hildenberger earned a save, a win, and pitched in the late innings of all, but one of his appearances.
Manager Rocco Baldelli told the Pioneer Press, Hildenberger has “been a good major league reliever in the past. It’s in there and we know it’s in there. We just have to find a way to bring it out.”
Minnesota might find a way to bring it out of Hildenberger in September and this could make him a potential wild card for Minnesota’s postseason bullpen.
- Sep 09 2019 07:57 PM
- by Cody Christie
Twins owner Jim Pohlad said Paul Molitor would continue to manage the club when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Twins front office. Molitor would win the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2017 as the Twins surprisingly qualified for the final Wild Card spot. It was hard to dump him at that point so Falvey and Levine stuck with him for one more season.
Even with the Twins finishing second in the AL Central, the writing on the wall was clear: The new front office wanted a more forward-thinking manager to steer the Twins back into contention. Molitor was removed from his managerial duties and the Twins went on the hunt for a modern manager.
Enter Rocco Baldelli.
Baldelli’s once promising playing career was cut short by illness and injuries. He joined the Tampa Bay Rays as an assistant and then was a coach in the years since he was forced to retire. Last season, he was given the title of major league field coordinator. This allowed him to work with the manager on in-game strategy while continuing to work to develop the team’s younger players.
Now the 37-year old is tasked with turning around a core of young Twins players that need their own development. Players like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano underachieved throughout 2018. So far this off-season, Baldelli has visited both of these players at their homes. Just one of the first signs of his abilities to connect with players.
Baldelli should also bring some new ideas to the Twins managerial position. Tampa Bay has long been considered a hotbed for forward-thinking coaches. Baldelli played almost his entire career in the Tampa Bay organization and even played under Joe Maddon, who is considered one of the game’s best managers.
One of the new things Baldelli could bring to the Twins is a comfort with a concept like the opener. This was originated with the Rays last season and Minnesota has some in-house options that could slide nicely into an opener role. Minnesota started using openers throughout their system last season but Baldelli might make this a regular occurrence for big league pitchers.
He’s also mentioned that he wants players to be more mentally prepared for the game. Baldelli even mentioned that the players might not always be ready physically, but he needs them to have their heads in the right place for this team to find success. As a player, he fought through plenty of injuries, so this seems a likely focal point for the new manager.
Baldelli will need to establish his culture in spring training and the early months of the season. He’s been saying all the right things but winning isn’t going to happen overnight. Minnesota’s window of opportunity is just starting to open and the club needs Baldelli to take them to the next level.
What can Baldelli do for the club in 2019? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jan 30 2019 09:39 PM
- by Cody Christie
In Part 1 today, find out which articles ranked 21 - 30 in terms of most viewed articles of 2018.
30. Twins to Hire Rocco Baldelli as Manager - October 24
Late on the night of October 24th, reports started trickling out that the Twins had made their decision. Derek Shelton had been informed that he would not be the next Twins manager, and Rocco Baldelli would be named manager. The next morning, the Twins made it official. It is interesting to me that a managerial hire would fall this far down the list, but generally speaking, articles on players or strategies, etc., get more discussion.
29. Twins Select Trevor Larnach in First Round - June 4
Drafting 20th overall is a little different than having the first overall pick. It’s much more difficult to know who the Twins might have available to them, much less who they will take. When their pick came, they selected outfielder Trevor Larnach out of the Oregon State. Following the draft, he played hero in his team’s march toward the College World Series championship. After signing, he played briefly in Elizabethton before joining the Cedar Rapids Kernels to end the season.
28. 2018 MLB Draft Day 3 Thread - June 6
At Twins Daily, we take a lot of pride in the draft coverage that we have provided in recent years. It started with Jeremy Nygaard’s hard work and great sources. In 2018, Andrew Thares took over the draft coverage and did a great job. The draft is clearly a major event for Twins Daily readers as even our Day 3 of the draft article made the Top 30. Maybe it is because we update the article after each of the Twins 30 Day 3 selections (Rounds 11-40). You never know when you’ll find a late-round sleeper.
27. The Wall of Ground Ball Prevention - February 15
While most articles in this Top 30 are Twins-related, this Parker Hageman feature doesn’t mention the Twins. What it is a a very interesting article on how teams (professional and college) are working to help hitters increase launch angle.
26. Why I believe the Twins are going to sign Yu Darvish - January 8
A year ago at this time the Twins had made some bullpen moves (Zack Duke, Fernando Rodney). But most Twins fans coveted Yu Darvish, the ace-right-hander who finished the 2017 season with the Dodgers after five-and-a-half with the Texas Rangers. That was a big part of why Twins fans were hopeful that Darvish might sign with the Twins, the Rangers connection between Darvish and Thad Levine. Nick Nelson wrote an article pointing out several reasons that he felt the Twins were the favorites to sign Yu Darvish. Of course, one year into his six year, $126 million with the Cubs, Twins fans are thankful that the Twins did not acquire him.
25. Ryan LaMarre just might make the Twins opening day roster - March 24
Ryan LaMarre was one of the best stories of spring training. He was coming off of an injury and the Twins signed him to a minor league contract. He had made several adjustments to his swing, and he hit well all spring. His speed and defense made him the choice for the team’s fourth/fifth outfielder on Opening Day. In spring training, I had the chance to chat with him for a while about why the Twins were the right choice for him last offseason.
24. Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #2 Fernando Romero - February 19
Each year, Twins Daily provides our choice for the Twins top 20 prospects before spring training. Romero has been a top prospect for several years, even through his two missed years of development time due to Tommy John surgery. That didn’t change coming into the 2018 season. Just a few months later, Romero made his major league debut with a strong showing.
23. Twins Sign Anibal Sanchez No Really - February 16
Just as spring training was about to start, the Twins announced the signing of Anibal Sanchez. It was a non-guaranteed deal that could have been worth $2.5 million. Admittedly, most - if not all - Twins fans hated (or at least didn’t understand) the signing and specifically why it needed to be a MLB deal. Maybe that’s why this was a Top 25 article in 2018. Over his final three seasons of a six-year deal with the Tigers, Sanchez went 20-30 with a 5.67 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. As we now know, Sanchez didn’t stick around long. The Twins soon signed Lance Lynn to a one-year contract. We were all excited, and Sanchez was released. Atlanta claimed him and he went 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA this year. He turned that into a two-year, $19 million deal (with a third-year option) with the Nationals.
22. 5 Things the Twins absolutely must accomplish this offseason - September 20
As the disappointing 2018 Twins season came to an end, Nick Nelson wrote up a set of five Must-Do’s for the Twins front office in this offseason. To this point, none of the five have happened, but to be fair, a couple of those things have not yet needed to be done. For me, if #3 is completed this offseason, I will call the offseason a success.
21. Is Paul Molitor the right man to lead the Twins? - June 18
While Paul Molitor was the easy choice or AL Manager of the Year in 2017, 2018 started out badly, and by mid-June, Nick Nelson penned this article wondering aloud if Molitor was the right choice for the Twins. There is no doubting Molitor’s intelligence and baseball IQ, along with his willingness to use new analytics and new thinking. Well, as we now know, soon after the completion of the season, the Twins announced that Paul Molitor had been fired. It was very interesting to me to see that the article announcing the Molitor dismissal barely made the Top 50 articles of the year at Twins Daily. Not sure I can really explain that.
In the coming days, we’ll continue to count down the Top 30 most viewed Twins Daily articles of 2018. They are fun to look back at, to read what we wrote, and to read the comments of what people thought at that time. Hopefully you will enjoy this look back as we now look forward to 2019.
- Jan 02 2019 07:43 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Instead of regurgitating old, tired discussions about why the Twins needed to fire Paul Molitor (or Ron Gardenhire before him), let’s be a little more productive. Let’s not jump to hyperbole and automatically bash everything about the Twins brass. Like all of us, there is good and not-so-good in everybody. People have strengths and areas for improvement. What are the areas of strength that you find most important for a manager?
So, for the sake of important, meaningful discussion, let’s limit this discussion to the manager role. Today, I’m going to post several qualifications that I think are either important for an MLB manager or that come up often in discussions. Feel free to discuss the qualifications in the comments, but mostly, use this article to start thinking about who you would like to see replace Paul Molitor.
MANAGERIAL EXPERIENCE (BACKGROUND)
Do the Twins need to hire someone with experience as a big league manager? If so, does it need to be a manager who has put together World Series championships, or could you consider a candidate who wasn’t good in his first manager job but meets many other requirements? (Note that none of the three men generally presumed to be the Twins finalists have any major league managerial experience.)
How about minor league managerial experience, and if so, how much? Do you prefer a candidate who has been second-in-command in a winning organization, for instance, a respected bench coach? Can the candidate be a former player, or would the negate him as a possibility for you? While they probably couldn’t officially ask, does age factor into the decision?
This is one that people think that the Twins are so far behind on, but with Derek Falvey on board, it’s now known as an organization that embraces analytics. So what level of analytical skill or curiosity is enough, or maybe even too much?
And how do you evaluate that? A manager may not always go by the analytic book. A manager has to go by the gut sometimes, based on factors that we as fans may not see or ever know about. Players need rest. Players may have other things going on.
Which leads to a pretty important topic; how does the manager communicate?
How should the manager communicate with the front office? How much voice should he have in the conversations about any number of topics?
How should the manager communicate with his coaching staff?
How should the manager communicate with the players? We often hear the term “lose the clubhouse.” That didn’t happen with Paul Molitor, but it is always a topic when a team loses. How much screaming and yelling do you want from a manager? Or do you prefer a manager be more laid back and professional in his communication? In other words, do you want someone with "fire in his belly" like Ron Gardenhire, or someone generally more calm and collected like Paul Molitor?
While less important than the above, what would your expectations be for a manager with the media? Ron Gardenhire was great, gave good, fun answers, and often didn’t say much. Paul Molitor was terrific with the media as well, very smart and thoughtful in his responses. As fans, we want to know everything and we want to know the real reasons for whatever situation, but that’s not always best for the team. So, what would you want?
How much input should the major league manager have in the development of philosophies on the minor leagues and player development?
How can the manager be helpful in the transition from minor league baseball to the big leagues? How much of this is delegated to the coaching staff?
How can a manager help players continue to develop once getting to the big leagues, and how do you evaluate that? Player development is rarely linear. For example. Miguel Sano came up in July of 2015 and played so well that he was named the Twins MVP. In 2016, he took a step backward. But then in 2017, he played well in the first half and was an All Star. And then he got hurt, and 2018 was a mess. How much of that is on the manager? Every manager (and hitting coach, and pitching coach) will have his successes and failures, so how should it be evaluated?
Bullpen usage has been a topic as it relates to Ron Gardenhire and Paul Molitor. Both were often accused of not being very good at it. How do you expect bullpen arms to be used? How much usage is too much usage? How much negativity would come up when a top reliever is given an extra day off and a secondary reliever comes in instead and gives up a lead? But over the long haul, was it the right thing? How is it evaluated when there are only three or four reliable options in the bullpen? How do the manager and the pitching coach share responsibility in this?
WINS AND LOSSES
At the end of a day, Wins are what any manager will be evaluated by, right or wrong? What are the expectations for Win total in 2019, and how does that change if the Twins front office makes more July deadline deals, or if a couple of major contributors get hurt?
How long are you giving a manager to ‘Win”? Two years? And does that mean winning an AL Central title, or are you talking about a playoff series, or even a game? Or, a World Series title?
How do you define “Success” with the next manager?
What should the clubhouse atmosphere be like under a new manager?
What should the atmosphere between the manager and the front office personnel be?
How does the managerial candidate feel about building from within?
How does that manager candidate create a culture of accountability with his players, coaches and himself?
Which current major league and minor league coaches would be let go, and who would you bring back?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
All right, now it’s your turn? What are the most important qualities that a Manager can bring to an organization? I brought up a lot of topics, and how do you go about acquiring those kinds of players?
Put yourself in the shoes of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. You need to decide which manager will lead your vision. What does that look like, and how embodies that?
Again, I appreciate this thread not turning into yet another negative, bashing thread, but instead, let’s be productive and each of us jot down our thoughts on what makes a good manager, and what type of candidate we would support for the Twins.
- Oct 23 2018 01:38 PM
- by Seth Stohs
The team's 2017 season earned Paul Molitor Manager Of The Year Award honors, and a winner for this last season has not yet been announced, meaning he is still the reigning Manager of the Year. But his position as the Twins manager has been in doubt each of the last three seasons.
In 2016, the Twins dismal start led to the dismissal of General Manager Terry Ryan, which would often mean a change in manager as well. But Twins ownership announced that any new GM would need to retain Molitor as manager.
Which, of course, meant that questions emerged during the 2017 season as to whether new CBO Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine would retain Molitor after their inaugural season was over, especially since Molitor's contract would also conclude after the 2017 season. A strong finish in 2017 and the resulting Manager of the Year award convinced both sides to extend the contract through 2020, though the amount of the contract was not announced.
This year's disappointing start led to a trade deadline selloff when the Twins were out of the race by mid-summer, but there had been very little speculation that a coaching change was imminent.
Comments from the Twins:
“I would like to thank Paul for his tremendous dedication to the Minnesota Twins over his last four years as manager of this club,” said Twins Executive Vice President, Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey. “Paul’s roots here run deep and his commitment to the organization, his staff, and the players is special. I have every hope and desire that he remains a part of this club for many years to come.”
“The importance and contribution of Paul Molitor to the Twins, our community and Major League Baseball cannot be diminished,” said Twins Owner Jim Pohlad. “On behalf of our family, I offer thanks to Paul for his four years as Twins manager and look forward to the continuation of our relationship with him.”
Comments from Paul Molitor:
“I was informed today that the Twins will seek a new manager for the 2019 season and I fully respect that decision. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity they gave me to serve in the role as manager for these past four years. I’m going to consider their genuine offer to serve in a different capacity to positively impact the Twins from a different role. Special thanks to my coaches and players I have had a chance to manage and I certainly appreciate the tremendous support I received from all of Twins Territory.”
- Oct 02 2018 06:35 PM
- by John Bonnes
Joe Mauer still would not tip his hand, too much, on whether or not he will return for a 16th season with the Twins in 2019. While we have seen on-field celebrations this season for Victor Martinez and David Wright, Mauer says that he's going to take a little time for other things before making such a big decision.
"I’m doing nothing for the first week, besides just hanging out with the girls. I made it a point not to do anything for at least the first week, and then go from there."
His wife Maddie is due in mid-November with the couple's third child. (No, they aren't going to find out the gender ahead of time)
And that's probably wise. Making that decision after a long career can't be easy. And making that decision at the end of a long 162-game season (plus spring training) when he likely is experiencing plenty of aches and pains isn't necessarily fair to himself either. Certainly he doesn't want to regret whatever decision he makes, so taking some time to do so is smart.
Paul Molitor retired from baseball twenty years ago (on Friday), and he acknowledged that he went back and forth in his mind a few times on when the right time to retire was. In fact, he contemplated that decision before joining the Twins for the final three seasons of his career.
Asked if he would provide Mauer with any advice as he contemplates his future, Molitor said, "He knows that I’m an available resource; I don’t know where on his list that will land. So, we have had some of those discussions about -- not where you get down to maybe actually listing pros and cons -- but I do think we’re all kind of guessing about the order of priority. You think about physical condition, the work to prepare to play. Family considerations. How much does he believe this team has a chance to win?"
And Mauer says that he believes that the players in the Twins clubhouse have a lot of talent and can win.
"We had meetings, and I was telling the guys that this is a good team, there’s a lot of talent in this room, so it’s been fun to see guys step up. Guys you probably wouldn’t think would get an opportunity in spring training, and they’ve responded." Mauer continues, "You can go up and down the lineup, there are guys who got an opportunity and have taken advantage."
Mauer specifically mentioned Willians Astudillo and Jake Cave as guys who have taken advantage of their opportunities this year.
Molitor spoke also of how Joe Mauer has been a leader in the clubhouse, a resource for teammates and hard working in the community.
He said, "In doing this job, the rewarding part is being around the people and relationships, somewhat true to when you were a player. But Joe, you know, you think about who he was coming off the sandlots in St. Paul, and what he’s done at this level, and being the same guy -- the consistency, the humility -- sometimes people don’t understand just how competitive he is, his desire to win. There’s a lot of things that make managing him pleasurable."
Such as? Molitor continued, "I think just the way he goes about his job, the way he handles his relationships with his teammates, the way he gives back to the community, you just couldn’t ask for a more complete package of integrity."
The admiration certainly goes both ways. With some question on whether or not Paul Molitor will return as Twins manager, Mauer talked about playing for the 2017 Manager of the Year.
"l have the utmost respect for Paul. I really enjoy playing for him and just being around him. I hope he’s here for a long time, as long as he wants to be here. he’s great. It’s hard to describe my feelings toward him. He’s a great baseball guy, a great person, and I really enjoy playing for him."
However, when asked if his return could be tied to Molitor's return, Mauer said that he hadn't heard of that possibility.
"That’s the first I’ve thought about it, I haven’t even processed that. Hopefully he’ll be back if he wants to be."
If one thing is known, it's that there will be a lot of emotion on Sunday at Target Field.
According to Molitor, "Don’t know where it’s going to go, but I do know there’s been a lot of emotion around this week, and rightfully so -- no matter what the future holds. Today will be a great day. I think that whoever comes out are going to be very observant and aware of the potential here, as well as the guys in the clubhouse.I told the players yesterday, ‘We’ve all learned something from Joe Mauer.’ It might be different person to person, player to player, but he teaches life lessons well by the way he lives."
For Mauer, it's been a great week on the field but also with his teammates and more. "Yeah, the last couple of days have been a little emotional, but it’s been fun. Just the interactions I’ve had with people here. Just having conversations on personal levels, with people inside, fans, teammates, all sorts of people."
There has been a lot of emotion on the field and in the Twins clubhouse this week, but this has also been emotional for a lot of Twins fans, especially those whose baseball fandom began around the mid-'00s when Mauer was beginning his career. He's got a lot of family and friends in attendance, for just in case it is his final game.
Mauer said that he is planning on playing nine innings on Sunday, but one would think that if he gets on base in the later innings, there is a chance that he will be removed for a pinch runner. Or, since he is playing at first base today, he could run out to his position only to be removed before the beginning of an inning. That will be a special moment for everyone at Target Field and any Twins fan able to watch the game today.
- Sep 30 2018 04:17 PM
- by Seth Stohs
Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
De Jong: 33 Game Score, 3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 66.2% strikes (49 of 74 pitches)
Home Runs: None
Multi-Hit Games: Forsythe (2-for-5), Astudillo (2-for-4)
WPA of 0.1 or higher: None
WPA of -0.1 or lower: De Jong -.241
This pretty much sums it all up:
Both Paul Molitor and third base coach Gene Gylnn were ejected after that play. Word came through later that they were both arguing the pitch should have been called a strike, that the batter didn’t pull back the bunt attempt soon enough.
I've never seen Molitor more angry. He ended the confrontation by yelling "stupid, stupid, stupid" at the umpire. I'm sure he's been called worse, but it's pretty out of character for Molly to get so upset. Maybe he's feeling the heat ...
There were other embarrassing moments in this one. Jake Cave lost a ball in the lights. Willians Astudillo made a boneheaded baserunning blunder, apparently forgetting how many outs there were.
Chase De Jong made his second start for the Twins. It did not go well. He only lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up five runs (three earned) on eight hits. The bullpen was brutal, as well. Zack Littell gave up four earned runs in his 2 2/3 innings, and was removed from this game due to an apparent injury.
The Twins lineup tallied 11 hits and drew a couple walks, but could only come away with three runs. A big reason behind that was the only extra-base hit they got was a Joe Mauer double.
The Twins will hope to avoid the four-game sweep at Kauffman Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Next Three Games
Sun at KC, 1:15 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Jakob Junis
Mon at DET, 6:10 pm CT: TBD
Tue at DET, 6:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. TBD
Last Three Games
KC 8, MIN 4: OH THE HUMANITY!!!
KC 6, MIN 4: Coming Down is the Hardest Thing
MIN 3, NYY 1: Odorizzi Carries No-No Into 8th Inning
- Sep 15 2018 09:02 PM
- by Tom Froemming
There are a lot of similarities between Jim Thome and Joe Mauer, though they may not be obvious at first glance.
Sure, Mauer has been mostly a singles and doubles hitter, batting for high average while Thome knocked over 600 home runs in his career. Mauer is long and lean while Thome is power-packed and burly. Hey, there’s a reason that the Paul Bunyan comparisons (and bobbleheads) have been made.
But as Paul Molitor discussed the impact that Thome made in his brief time in Minnesota, it was natural for the conversation to swing toward Mauer and his accomplishments on and off the field.
Jim Thome spent the 2010 season with the Twins and hit 25 home runs. In 2011, he played with the Twins until an August 25th trade sent him back to Cleveland.
According to Molitor, Thome certainly made an impact. “He did. I think it’s to his credit that, although the time wasn’t very long, there was a bigger impact that maybe didn’t match up with the time.”
Molitor continued, “What he did on the field was obviously impressive, added to his Hall of Fame credentials, but the influence he had on our group of young players. I remember in spring training, he’d go over to to the minor league fields to get extra at bats. Just the way he responded to those young kids and the example he set (provided an impact). He never took himself too seriously. It was always about enjoying the game and trying to make people around him better. It’s nice that we have the chance to honor him tonight.”
But both Jim Thome and Joe Mauer are such nice people, caring people. Generally, they are quiet people as well. But don’t doubt their drive. Players don’t achieve as much as Thome and Mauer have in their careers without being extremely competitive and driven.
Molitor noted. “I don’t think that you should be misled by the external demeanor or the fire of both of those guys. For a long time, I’d be asked ‘What’s Joe like in the clubhouse?’ He’s top shelf. You may not see it. He handles the ups and downs without the heavy outbursts. But even last night, in talking to his teammates, it was about staying in the moment and looking forward to come out today and trying to win a baseball game.”
He noted that Mauer and Thome are strong leaders. “People define vocal. Vocal doesn’t mean volume.”
Jim Thome’s career began in 1991 in Cleveland. At that time, Molitor’s Milwaukee Brewers were still in the American League. Then Molitor moved to the Blue Jays and ended his career with three years for the Twins. So, he saw a lot of Thome through the 1998 season when Molitor retired.
Molitor noted that it’s been a long time, but he remembers Thome’s early years. “I remember him coming up as a third baseman. I’m not sure if I bunted on him somewhere along the way. You could tell early on. A guy who was exuberant on the field and played with passion and his power stuck out back then as a young player, maybe a little smaller version of the current Jim Thome. His run in Cleveland. Transition to first baseman. DH. Turned into one of the better power hitters of his generation.”
In the same way that Thome had an impact on the field and in the clubhouse, Mauer still is having an impact. One way that he does that is providing a game ball after each Twins win. The ball doesn’t always go to the obvious choice. According to Molitor, “I think his biggest intent in getting up there is to make sure he recognizes all the little contributions. It’s not always about the two-run homer or the 7-inning shutout. It can be about a guy making a play or advancing a runner or battling with two strikes.”
After the Friday night game when Mauer passed Rod Carew on the Twins all-time hit list, Molitor addressed the team following the game. “We took a moment. Talked about the history of the organization, how far back it goes, and over that span of time, Joe has more hits than anyone wearing this uniform than anyone else except one guy. It speaks a lot.”
The Twins have stated publicly that they have not approached Mauer about a contract extension, and the Mauer side hasn’t reached out to them about his plans beyond 2018 when his contract ends and he can become a free agent.
Mauer continues to do so much around the community. You may hear often about the work he and his wife Maddie do with the Gillette’s Childrens Hospital, but we have probably all heard stories of things that Mauer has done in the community which have never been made public.
Mauer has been making an impact in the Twin Cities for a couple of decades. Jim Thome impacted this community for a couple of seasons. Both are Hall of Famers on and off the field.
- Aug 26 2018 12:08 AM
- by Seth Stohs
I think he's doing fine. A manager's role in wins and losses is vastly overstated (wins or losses). As for the lineup, I'd say he does just fine. He mixes it up pretty well and isn't married to certain hitters in certain spots. Bullpen usage is where most find fault. I definitely think he has a tendency to overwork the reliable relievers which, practically, is understandable. But he will need to find a way to trust others to try to keep those top guys from wearing down. He's obviously well respected in the clubhouse, but I don't know what we can really comment on his role in there. We just don't know. A manager can't be at all places. In terms of analytics, he certainly has the people around him that will encourage it.
This is an impossible question to answer with any certainty. Managers usually get too much credit when the team wins, and they get too much of the blame when things go bad.
I'd give him a D. We're not at the point where I'm demanding he be fired, but I definitely think the team would be better off with someone else running the show.
I'm happy to see the Twins are bunting much less frequently this year, but I'm still depressed at how inefficiently the bullpen has been managed. There's also no shortage of strange lineup decisions. He seems to have no interest in providing opportunities for younger players and caters to the veterans far too often.
I have a lot of respect for Paul Molitor. He's certainly knows more about baseball than I do, but expertise doesn't always translate to management.
Expectations were high for the Twins heading into the 2018 season and things haven’t exactly gone as planned. Falvey and Levine seemed to have put together some strong pieces to build off of last season’s playoff run. However, no one could have predicted the lack of production from Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Brian Dozier. There’s little a manager can do if the team’s best players aren’t performing or aren’t even on the roster.
I honestly think the front office will decided to go in a different direction this off-season. I believe Falvey and Levine are going to want to bring in someone younger that fits the mold of “being their guy.” They could give Molitor one more chance to see what he does with the club next year but Minnesota won’t have the likes of Sano and Buxton around forever.
If the time isn’t now, when will it be? Overall grade, C- but he moves to a C+ with extra credit for AL Manager of the Year.
Molitor was put in a difficult position, but he also hasn’t done himself any favors. This front office likely would’ve hired their own guy had they not been mandated to do otherwise. He saved his skin by winning Manager of the Year in 2017, but he’s continued many of his poor habits this season. Bullpen usage has been questionable, in-game strategy leaves something to be desired, and lineup configuration has been head-scratching at times.
Nothing he’s done has been egregious, but the sum of all parts seems average at best. It’s hard to gauge his relatability to this roster without being in the clubhouse, but I tend to believe there’re better options in that department. On a grading scale, I’d tag him with a C-. Regardless of his three-year deal, which did seem odd, I don’t know that Falvey and Levine won’t move on this winter anyways.
I'll begin this one by pointing out the cliche that managers get too much of the credit for winning and too much of the blame for losing. The players hit, pitch, and play defense while managers really can only make personnel decisions and have situational influence. But that is where good managers can make their mark.
As far as personnel decisions go, Molitor doesn’t get a passing grade from me. Overuse of bullpen pitchers has quite clearly affected their performance. Platoon advantages have not been utilized enough. At times I've thought it was like he's spinning a roulette wheel with players names on it to figure out the lineup order he'd throw out. The up and down records of his his teams during his tenure also tells me he may not have that special sauce that extracts the best out of most of his players consistently. That's one idea I do think the great managers accomplish.
When it comes to the situational side during a game, outside of his use of the bullpen, I do think Molitor does well. He's embraced shifting on defense, I don't think they've done much bunting, and based on his Hall Of Fame playing career I know he’s seen it all. I trust him to make the correct decisions in that sense.
Overall, I’d rank him around the middle of MLB managers, but his time is running out.
This is really a tough question.
Obviously, you can’t say Paul Molitor has been an incredibly good manager at this point, based on the results on the field, even though last season’s second half was certainly encouraging.
But I’m not really sure you can lay the lack of success this season purely at his feet, either. While most of us were looking for a strong year as they prepared for spring training, I think if you’d have told us then that Polanco and Santana would each miss the entire first half of the season and Sano and Buxton would spend so little time on the active roster, our expectations might have been more muted. I’m not sure you can blame the manager for not winning more games when those major pieces were absent.
Personally, I’d probably give him an overall grade of C+ and, based on that, I won’t really have any objection whether the front office decides to keep him around or bring in someone new.
If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Hall of Fame Impact
Baseball in 2028
- Aug 22 2018 07:10 AM
- by Cody Christie
"Now, if we could just find some offense." I’ve seen this evergreen sentiment regarding the Twins frustratingly up and down play since April. 2018 has been a season of irritation for Twins fans, characterized by an anemic offense, a bullpen which has been solid but ineffective in the most critical situations, and comical base-running on a daily basis.
Molitor won Manager of the Year in 2017 after a historically impressive second half from the Twins offense. Let’s reground ourselves in some of those numbers:
If we look at Molitor’s record as manager outside this sliver of a season, it’s pretty bleak.
It might seem like I’m cherry picking here by leaving out August-October of 2017. Two points to counter that argument: firstly, how often does your team offense click enough to lead every important offensive category as a team, over a two month stretch? Secondly, Molitor’s Twins teams do not have a consistent track record of being competitive.
This brings us to the really challenging aspects of evaluating team, organizations, and roles - culture and climate. It’s impossible to measure or begin to assess Molitor’s true impact on the Twins, because the nature of teams and organizations is that the problems and challenges they are attempting to overcome are adaptive, not technical. What we can do, is look at indicators of Molitor’s impact. The best place to start is on the field.
Matt Magill was called up to the Twins at the end of April. Since then, he’s put up solid numbers in limited relief work for the Twins, managing a K/9 of 8.04 and BB/9 of 1.29. While Magill’s 2.45 ERA doesn’t match his 3.92 FIP, he’s at worst, an average MLB reliever. Since being called up, Magill has made 15 further appearances for the Twins. Ryan Pressly and Addison Reed, have made 51 combined appearances in that time, with decreasing effectiveness. Molitor had a similar issue with Trevor Hildenberger in 2017, pitching him almost nightly until his effectiveness diminished. The Twins are not playing in one run games on a nightly basis, so why not spread out the work load more?
Another aspect of Molitor’s vaunted baseball mind was his technical skill as a base-runner. The Twins are not a base-stealing team in 2018, particularly with no Byron Buxton. They only have 25 stolen bases (league average is 39). They are however, second in pickoffs with 12, with only four other major league teams having more than 7. There is no excuse for being picked off regularly, particularly for a team who isn’t really trying to run in the first place.
The most popular counter argument to these ‘team issues’ is to ground them in individual player execution as opposed to managerial impact (particularly base running). This where I think Molitor has a higher degree of culpability than most. While he can’t make the players execute, if he can’t compel their performance towards competence, what is his use and roll? In the business world, the primary work of leaders is to manage through others, in this case, players and coaches. Sometimes the best performers are the worst teachers, and Molitor and his coaches seem to have had a challenging time compelling the 2018 Twins team towards consistent, high level execution.
This brings us to Lovullo, the current manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lovullo has presided over his own turnaround in Phoenix, where he won 2017 NL MOY after reversing the Diamondbacks 69-93 record in 2016 to 93-69 in 2017. Currently, the 2018 Diamondback sit in first place at 45-34, in spite of franchise player Paul Goldschmidt getting off to a slow start and their number one starter, Robbie Ray, being sidelined for most of the season with an oblique strain.
Lovullo has quickly become known through major league baseball for embracing the analytical side of the game. While Molitor is often thought of as a great baseball mind, modern analytic trends tend to show up less in his decision making, such as a lineup constructed around Brian Dozier hitting leadoff and Joe Mauer hitting second in recent history (although the two recently flip-flopped positions).
More importantly, Lovullo has become known for a strong culture of clear and transparent communication with his players since taking on the role. Upon taking the job, Lovullo expressed some of his initial organizational goals ‘Establishing a culture of togetherness and family and unity was the most important thing to me’. The culture is not simply reflected in Lovullo’s own thoughts, but also those of his players. Zack Godley said of Lovullo ‘We just really enjoy playing for him. I think the trust he puts in us allows us to put the trust in him as well.’
While these reflections may sound like a trite, sports movie cliché, I think they are particularly important given the context of the Twins organization. The current Minnesota team has a core of talented young players. What’s typically true about young teams is that highs are higher and lows are lower. There is often a need for more intentional and vocal leadership on such teams. I find myself wondering increasingly if Lovullo was a better contextual fit with the Twins than Molitor was.
The final thought I have is a wondering. Over the last few seasons, the Twins have brought in several players whose strengths have fallen under the mantle of ‘clubhouse leader’. Matt Belisle is a perfect example of this. He has no business being on the Twins roster with Busenitz, Duffey, Curtiss, Bard, Moya, and Reed all offering more upside. If the Twins are in such dire need of clubhouse leadership then both their veteran players, and Molitor himself, have a lot to answer for.
- Jun 28 2018 07:27 PM
- by Jamie Cameron
Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
Kyle Gibson: 44 Game Score, 7 IP, 5 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, 63.7% strikes
Bullpen: 1 IP, ER, 2 K
Lineup: 2-for-6 w/RISP, 8 LOB
Bottom three per WPA: Gibson -.170, Wilson -.140, Kepler/Mauer -.070
Gibson did end up finishing seven innings and struck out seven, but whenever Chicago needed a big hit, they seemed to get it. Among the twelve baserunners he surrendered, only five were left on base and the White Sox were 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position against him.
On the mound opposite him for the Sox was James Shields, and he looked like the younger version of himself against a hapless Twins lineup. He got thirteen outs on ground balls, struck out five, and had three one-two-three innings among his seven frames.
In the sixth inning, it was a “what the heck just happened?!” moment when it comes to umpires, and the Twins were on the wrong side of it. Third base coach Gene Glynn was mysteriously ejected (nice video, by the way, MLB…) after a Brian Dozier single put Eddie Rosario 90 feet away from home. A balk was then called that should have given Minnesota a run, but the White Sox protested and somehow that call was reversed. Paul Molitor then came out to object to that decision and also got tossed…
The weirdest part in all of that, is just like strikes, arguing a balk is not supposed to be allowed:
Not that it mattered much other than it would have kept the Twins from being shut out to that point, but I can’t wait to hear any explanations from Major League Baseball.
Out of the bullpen, Ryan Pressly gave up a home run to Avisail Garcia in the eighth inning and his ERA on the season has now increased by two full runs in the month of June to 4.14.
The only star of the game on offense for Minnesota was Ehire Adrianza, who went 4-for-4 with his 14th double, and finally got the Twins on the board officially in the top of ninth with an RBI single.
Go back at ‘em tomorrow, fellas…?
Postgame With Molitor
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
AL Central Standings
MIN 34-42 (-8)
DET 36-45 (-8.5)
CWS 28-51 (-15.5)
KC 25-55 (-19)
Next Three Games
Thu @ CWS, 1:10PM CST – RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 4.97 ERA)
Fri @ CHC, 4:05PM CST – RHP Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.15 ERA)
Sat @ CHC, 1:20PM CST – LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-0, -.--ERA)
Last Three Games
CWS 8, MIN 4: South Side Slip
MIN 2, TEX 0: La MaKKKKKKKKKKKKina
TEX 9, MIN 6: Odorizzi Lays an Egg
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Twins Minor League Report (6/27): Moves Making Waves on the Farm
- Jun 28 2018 05:50 AM
- by Steve Lein
Molitor was still getting accustomed to his new office when we chatted in it that January afternoon. I don't think he'd done many media interviews yet, and his burgeoning excitement was easily detected.
The hardball lifer genuinely enjoyed being asked thoughtful questions, and answering them thoroughly. I noticed – especially upon transcribing – that his responses were eloquent, intelligent, and enlightening.
This would become a recurring trend in my experience with him.
Molitor's intellect is undeniable. The term "baseball IQ" gets bandied around a lot but this Hall of Famer embodies it. In my first interaction, and many others I've had with him during spring training scrums since, he has always exuded a deep knowledge of the game. With no disrespect to his affable predecessor, I gain actual insight from talking to Molitor, in a way I never did before.
As someone who coaches young kids during the summer, I'm beyond impressed with Molitor's ability to articulate concepts and break down strategic intricacies in a way that makes total sense. These are, seemingly, the hallmarks of an impactful coach.
But unfortunately there is little evidence of Molitor being able to move the needle effectively while at the helm
THAT FAMILIAR FEELING
We all understood that Minnesota was taking a gamble when Molitor got the nod to replace Ron Gardenhire. The finalist he beat out for the job, Torey Lovullo, was a seasoned MLB coach who'd been serving as bench coach for John Farrell's Red Sox, one year removed from a championship.
Molitor, on the other hand, offered little substantive experience. He briefly served on the coaching staffs for Minnesota and Seattle after retiring as a player, and he was in Gardy's dugout during the 92-loss 2014 season, but Molitor had never managed at any level.
The Twins opted for their guy, a known favorite of the Pohlads. Hiring Molitor made sense in that, as a longtime roving minor-league instructor, he was very familiar to the organization's rising young core. But his lack of a track record was conspicuous.
Lovullo ended up joining the Diamondbacks as manager two years later. From all appearances it's been a great move for Arizona. They made the playoffs as a wild-card last year, improving by 24 wins in Lovullo's first season, and are currently in first place.
Molitor's tenure with the Twins thus far has been much more of a mixed bag.
UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN
This section is not an advertisement for one of my favorite spots in my Uptown (though I highly recommend Up-Down to fellow enjoyers of beer and video games).
It is instead an apt description of this team under Paul Molitor the manager.
So it goes, right? As Ernie Halwell put it so well: "Baseball is a lot like life. It's a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs."
The problem is that, under Molitor, Minnesota's "ups" haven't risen all that impressively high. And the "downs" have been harrowingly low.
In 2015, Molitor led the Twins to their first winning season in five years. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton debuted. Brian Dozier made his first All-Star team. The future was very bright.
Then: Total. System. Failure.
That 2016 campaign was an unmitigated disaster. A team that was expected to – at the very least – hang on the fringe of contention instead spiraled uncontrollably, losing 103 games in the franchise's worst season since transplanting from Washington.
There's really no need to rehash it. We all remember.
Because of that catastrophe, Minnesota's jump to 85 wins in 2017 looked like a momentous achievement, rather than a modest improvement from their 83 wins in 2015. And that drastic turnaround, punctuated by a brief postseason run, earned Molitor the distinction of AL Manager of the Year. (Naturally, Lovullo won it in the National League.) Then came the three-year contract extension, almost a formality at that point.
And this context makes it strange to be discussing the possibility of Molitor's dismissal.
A reigning Manager of the Year? Less than three months into a new deal? With forceful support from ownership?
In many ways, the notion of firing Molitor seems absurd. But frankly, it would be more absurd not to seriously assess it as an option.
The fact is that, as much as I may sympathize with the Pohlad family's affinity for Molitor, he just doesn't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to managerial chops.
IGNITING A FIRE
Without question, Paul Molitor was one of the greatest baserunners in MLB history. Despite lacking elite speed he pilfered 504 bases with a 79% success rate in his playing career, and he stole home 10 times.
I think anyone who's watched this 2018 team regularly would agree they run the bases as sloppily as any in memory. They've been thrown out, picked off, and caught adrift countless times.
Molitor was a sharp and versatile fielder prior to becoming primarily a DH in his 30s.
Miscues are all too common for this year's defensive unit, as they were in 2016.
At the plate, Molitor's discipline was legendary, his power surprising, his bat relentless. He was known as "The Ignitor."
This offense has most often failed to launch, with astoundingly mediocre numbers across the board. The Twins have hit fewer home runs than all but three AL teams, which seems unfathomable after the way they finished 2017.
Suffice to say, knowledge and expertise don't transfer directly. We knew that.
But if Molitor isn't – in some way – passing along his strengths, then what are we doing here?
The jury is out on him as a tactician. Molitor's designed plays – steals, hit-and-runs, going on contact – haven't worked out very often. His bullpen, while capable, hasn't performed in leverage, as evidenced by mop-up longman Matt Magill leading the relief corps in WPA.
Ryan Pressly has appeared in 36 of the team's first 68 games and has seen his performance decline. Meanwhile Magill works once a week, while looking perfectly capable of taking on more. The bullpen decisions have sometimes been baffling.
I hesitate to attribute these things entirely to Molitor. He's not making decisions on an island. He receives input from his coaches, specialized pitching analyst Josh Kalk, and the players themselves. From my understanding, it is a more sophisticated system than one might assume. "Collaborative," as its mastermind Derek Falvey would undoubtedly say.
And that's sorta the trouble with trying to gauge Molitor's culpability. He's only one piece in a very complex puzzle. Would making a change really be worthwhile?
I do know this: It takes some contorting not to see him as part of the problem. In 2016 a reasonably talented team tanked to the dregs of franchise precedent. And right now a more talented team – built to win, with a record payroll – is sputtering along, incapable of capturing any kind of sustained momentum despite an incredible window of opportunity.
There's no question that Molitor understands and – most endearingly, I think – continually studies the game to an obsessive degree. I trust his judgment on baseball decisions and could never really doubt his acumen. Few rightfully could.
But given what we saw in 2016, and now are seeing in 2018, one must question his ability to rally the troops and become a uniting force.
I'll be honest: typing that last sentence felt nauseatingly cliché. What does it even mean? These vague and intangible leadership platitudes in sports have always driven me crazy, but there's simply no denying their reality. Managers matter.
Players aren't "quitting" on Molitor, as I've seen a few people ludicrously suggest. His bullpen management, if occasionally odd, isn't a fireable offense. And it'd be tough to make the case that Molitor has wrongfully alienated certain players, or the clubhouse at large.
But something is out of whack with this team's engine, which simply hasn't been able to ignite. And while I fully believe the players bear the brunt of that burden... you can't fire the players.
Speaking of fire, and ignition, maybe these words hint at what is amiss.
As I pondered this subject, I went back and listened through that first interview I conducted with Molitor, still filed away in my phone's audio log.
I had asked him to explain, from his view, what differentiated him from his predecessor and friend Ron Gardenhire.
Naturally, Molitor opened with a complimentary remark about his general sameness with Gardy, but then addressed the question head-on:
"If there's a difference that pops into my head, it would be that he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Whether it's protecting his players, going out on the field and dealing with umpires and things. And I have a tendency to be a little bit different in my demeanor in that regard.
"Not to say one is better than the other, but again, you can't try to be someone you're not."
A part of me wonders whether pushing this team to the next level requires something that Molitor – by his own earnest admission – is not.
Another part of me thinks that's all a bunch of hooey.
Needless to say, I'm conflicted. But I'm curious to hear what others think.
- Jun 19 2018 04:46 AM
- by Nick Nelson
When the news came out that the Twins had signed Matt Belisle, my level of surprise was fairly low. I don’t know why. It just seems like what we would have always deemed a “Twins” type of move. The DFAing of Petit was also not a surprise.
But as I gave it more thought, my mind raced in several different directions, and at the end of the day, I’m much calmer, but I can’t say that the move makes any more sense than it did eight hours ago. It still begs several questions.
1.) What Does Matt Belisle Have Left?
Matt Belisle got off to a very slow start last year with the Minnesota Twins, but he turned it on in the second half. He pitched well and did a nice job as the Twins closer after the Brandon Kintzler trade at the deadline.
Late in the offseason, he signed a one year, $1.5 million deal with Cleveland. He made the Opening Day roster. He began the season with three scoreless outings before giving up runs in his next three outings. He responded with two scoreless outings. Cleveland DFAd him. Belisle became a free agent, but soon re-signed with the team. He was released on Sunday and signed with the Twins on Tuesday.
In his 10 2/3 innings, he posted a 5.06 ERA. He walked one and struck out just four. In nine outings (and also 10 2/3 innings) for Triple-A Columbus, Belisle posted a 4.22 ERA with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
In other words, he shouldn’t be a late-inning reliever, but the 38-year-old can probably be a solid big league pitcher still.
2.) What Does It Say About The Front Office’s Opinion of the AAA Relievers?
This was my first thought, and I know it was the thought of many others. First and foremost, it is inexplicable to me that Alan Busenitz isn’t pitching in the big leagues. Of course, that was my opinion before the Belisle signing. He pitched well late in the 2017 season for the Twins and became a reliable arm for Paul Molitor.
While Busenitz didn’t make the Opening Day roster, he was promoted in mid-April. He then pitched in four of the next six games. The Twins were struggling and needed arms, so Busenitz was sent back to Rochester. In 14 games for the Red Wings, He has posted a 0.38 ERA. In 24 innings, he has given up 15 hits, walked five and struck out 28. The 27-year-old has nothing to prove in AAA, and he still have some upside.
But Busenitiz isn’t the only reliever in Rochester who has to be wondering what the Twins front office is thinking.
- Tyler Duffey was just sent down over the weekend to make room for outfielder Jake Cave. Duffey had pitched well in limited duty since being called back up. That said, it did make sense to want a fourth bench bat. So, three days later, adding a bullpen arm and going back to three bench bats has to make him think. In 26 innings over 11 outings for the Red Wings, Duffey has posted a 1.38 ERA. He’s walked seven and struck out 26 batters.
- John Curtiss has the pitches to be a dominant reliever. While his short stay with the Twins earlier this season wasn’t pretty, it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) limit anyone’s idea of his potential. Coming into Tuesday, he had a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. In that time, he had 31 strikeouts, but ten walks.
- Luke Bard has 19 strikeouts and six walks in his 17 innings (11 games) since his return to the Red Wings after his stint with the Los Angeles Angels. His big fastball, slider and spin rates are pretty much big league ready.
- Nick Anderson has given up nine earned runs in his last three outings (2 2/3 innings) which raised his season ERA from 1.16 to 4.15. So, as rough as this current “slump” is, it’s important to think about the first 14 games and 23 1/3 innings. In his 26 innings, he has walked 12 and struck out 39.
- Jake Reed remains in the organization. He missed time earlier in the year and has struggled somewhat in his return. In his 15 2/3 innings over ten outings, he has walked seven and struck out 14 batters.
- While he’s left-handed, Gabriel Moya has also pitched well in his five weeks with the Red Wings after being optioned at the end of April. He’s posted a 2.11 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. In that time, he has walked eight and struck out 29 batters.
- Trevor May is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. As his rehab stint ended, the Twins optioned him to Rochester and he has worked out of the bullpen since. At some point, he’ll be ready as well.
The team likely calls it "depth." Hopefully the players will consider it a challenge. The other option is that they get overly upset and don't handle it well.
3.) What Kind of Leader is Belisle? (And What Kind of Leadership Does This Twins Team Need?)
Matt Belisle likely isn’t going to be a difference maker for the Twins bullpen (which, frankly, has been pretty solid most of the season). The Twins have pitchers at Rochester who are just as talented, if not more talented, and younger. What we keep hearing is that the Twins are bringing in Belisle for his leadership in the clubhouse.
Fair enough. There were plenty of good stories in 2017 about the role Belisle played for the team, particularly in a leadership role.
However, when the Twins signed Fernando Rodney, there was some conversation about him being brought in as a leader for the pitchers. Then Zack Duke was signed, and we heard about how great of a teammate he is. And, when they signed Addison Reed, his leadership was again mentioned.
I don’t mean to downplay the value of veteran leadership. It is important. But there are a lot of veterans, and there are a lot of veterans who are touted as leaders, and there are several indications that the clubhouse is not a happy place right now. There are issues. The team is five games under .500, not at all where they felt they would be at this point,
Can Matt Belisle’s leadership push the Twins to more wins? That is to be determined. Can he help the Twins offense score more runs? That would also be helpful. As would getting more of the regulars back on the field and healthy.
So at the end of the day, this is a minor move. Matt Belisle probably has a little left in the tank. Maybe he can help out. Maybe he can eat some of the innings that are currently constantly going to Addison Reed and Ryan Pressly so that they don’t reach 100 games pitched this year. Trevor Hildenberger is starting to take more and more of those opportunities, and Matt Magill has pitched well enough to earn those opportunities as well.
We have also seen what Paul Molitor likes from his bullpen. He trusts Addison Reed and Ryan Pressly. In the first half last year, he trusted Taylor Rogers and ran him into the ground by the second half. We saw that somewhat in the second half last year when he used Trevor Hildenberger most every day over the final couple of months. My guess is that Molitor will not be afraid to use Matt Belisle late in games because of how well he did in the role last year. Trust.
I also suspect that this is one move that the front office is giving Molitor and the team, a veteran, in an attempt to win this year. The trade deadline is about seven weeks away. By mid-July, the front office will have some big decisions to make. Most important, will they believe that the Twins could still make the playoffs this year? As Nick wrote yesterday, it’s not yet time to give up on this year.
What this signing appears to me to be, in the big picture, is a message to the team and its veterans that they have a little over a month to turn things around and put themselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot. If not, all bets are off and at that time, we can start discussing which veterans could be on the trading block and which players will come up to take their places.
- Jun 13 2018 04:51 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Buxton struggled out of the gate this season. In his first 11 games, he went 8-for-41 (.195 BA) at the plate with two extra-base hits, both doubles. He posted an 11 to 2 strikeout to walk ratio and his .233 on-base percentage is almost 60 points lower than his career mark. Minnesota’s wintery weather in the early season might have been to blame for some of his cold start.
Now the Twins are getting back quite possibly the best defensive player in the game. Manager Paul Molitor was forced to use a smattering of other players as fill-in options in center field. There have been some misplayed balls and bad routes that hurt the team along the way so the pitching staff must be excited to have Buxton back.
“I think everyone feels a little void when he’s not around,” Molitor told reporters.
One has to question Minnesota’s decision not to send Buxton down for another rehab assignment. Over the last week, he has tested his ability to run and do other baseball activities. Even though he has been given the green light from the team’s doctors, his swing might not be ready for big league pitching.
Buxton wasn’t exactly on fire prior to the injury. Fans have also seen how much his swing is based on timing. He’s dropped and added his swing’s leg-kick throughout the course of his career. Playing a handful of games against minor league pitchers could help Buxton to get some of his timing back.
The Twins are scheduled to face the Angels top three pitchers, with Garret Richards, Tyler Skaggs and Shoehi Ohtani set to start three games out of the four game set. Saturday’s starter is still to be determined for LA. Skaggs is left-handed but Richards and Ohtani are both righties. For his career, Buxton has hit .235/.285/.404 against right-handed pitching.
Do you think the Twins should have sent Buxton on another rehab assignment? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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- May 10 2018 08:23 PM
- by Cody Christie
April 22, 1961
First Walk-Off in Twins History
In just the second home game in team history, the Twins and new expansion Senators played to a 4-4 tie through nine. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the tenth, Zoilo Versalles drove in Earl Battey with a sac fly to center for the first walk-off win in Twins history, improving to 6-2 on the season.
April 22, 1980
Eighty-Nine-Degree Home Opener
After the Twins began the season with a 12-game west coast road trip, they returned to Bloomington for a balmy 89-degree home opener against the Angels.
Geoff Zahn allowed just one run on six hits over nine innings. Hosken Powell, Ron Jackson, and Roy Smalley each homered in the 8-1 Twins win.
April 22, 1986
Tapani Pitches No-Hitter
Central Michigan University senior Kevin Tapani pitches a no-hitter at Eastern Michigan for a 10-0 win the second game of a Tuesday doubleheader. Central Michigan would go on to win their third-straight MAC title.
Tapani was a walk-on at Central Michigan. His high school in Escanaba, MI did not have baseball team, although he was a state champion quarterback.
April 22, 1988
Twins Day Goes From Bad to Worse
Bert Blyleven gives up seven runs on nine hits and four hit batters in just 4.2 innings. Four of those runs came on a grand slam by Cleveland right fielder Cory Snyder. Center fielder Joe Carter added a grand slam of his own off Keith Atherton in the 11-6 Cleveland win.
To add insult to injury, after the game the Twins traded Tom Brunansky to the Cardinals for clubhouse cancer Tommy frickin’ Herr.
April 23, 1863
Birthdate of Lou Galvin
Lou Galvin was born in St. Paul on this date in 1863. He went 0-2 in three starts with the 1884 St. Paul White Caps of the Union Association (generally considered a major league).
April 23, 1961
Pitcher Kralick Delivers Twins’ Only RBI
In the final game of the Twins’ first-ever home series, Jack Kralick pitches a four-hit shutout and drives in Billy Gardner in the fifth for the Twins’ only run in a 1-0 win over the new expansion Senators. The Twins improved to 7-2 on the season.
April 23, 1980
Landreaux Begins Record Streak
Ken Landreaux begins his team record 31-game hitting streak by breaking up Angels pitcher Bruce Kison’s no-hitter with a one-out double in the ninth. California held on to win 17-0.
April 24, 1988
Tim Laudner hits three-run home runs in both the third and fourth innings as the Twins beat Cleveland 13-7.
April 24, 1996
Five-RBI Game for Molitor and Myers
Twins DH Paul Molitor and catcher Greg Myers collect five RBI each in a 24-11 Twins win at Tiger Stadium.
Molitor went 2-for-5 with a home run, walk, reached on two fielder’s choices, and scored five runs. Myers went 5-for-6 with three runs scored.
The Twins jumped out to a 6-1 lead after two innings, but had used three pitchers by the end of the third, and trailed 10-7 at the end of four innings. But they kept adding on, outscoring the Tigers 17-1 over the final five innings. They scored in every inning except the fourth.
April 25, 1883
Birthdate of Russ Ford
Minneapolis Central alumnus and seven-year major leaguer Russ Ford was born in Brandon, Manitoba on this date in 1883. The Ford family immigrated to the United States when Russell was three years old, eventually settling in Minneapolis.
At age 27, Ford had one of the all-time great rookie seasons in baseball history with the New York Highlanders in 1910, going 26-6 with a 1.65 ERA and 0.881 WHIP. He won 22 games in 1911, for a total of 48 in his first two full seasons. He won 99 major league games altogether, pitching for the New York Highlanders/Yankees, and Buffalo Buffeds/Blues from 1909 to 1915.
Read T. Kent Morgan and David Jones‘ SABR BioProject biography of Russ Ford.
April 25, 1885
Birthdate of Hack Spencer
Hack Spencer was born in St. Cloud on this date in 1885. He grew up in the Minneapolis area. He made his one and only major league appearance for the St. Louis Browns on April 18, 1912, allowing two runs on two hits in the final 1 2/3 innings of a 12-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Read Bob Tholkes‘ SABR BioProject biography of Hack Spencer.
April 25, 1961
Fred Bruckbauer Has Career ERA of Infinity
With the Twins trailing 7-2 after three in Kansas City, 22-year-old St. Mary’s High School(Sleepy Eye, MN) graduate Fred Bruckbauer makes his major league debut, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk before being pulled without recording an out. The Twins went on to lose 20-2.
Unfortunately, this was Bruckbauer’s only major league appearance, making his career ERA infinity.
Fred Bruckbauer was born in New Ulm. New Ulm native Doc Hamann also had a career ERA of infinity, giving up six runs without recording an out in his only major league appearance with Cleveland on September 21, 1922.
April 25, 1971
Jim Kaat pitches a two-hit shutout for a 8-0 Twins win at Yankee Stadium.
April 25–29, 1985
Twins Sweep A’s
Kirby Puckett hits a walk-off single on Thursday, Tom Brunansky hits a walk-off home run on Friday, and Mickey Hatcher strings together nine consecutive hits between Saturday and Sunday in a four-game series sweep of the Athletics.
April 25, 1989
Molitor Has 2-HR Game vs. Twins
1974 Cretin High School graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Paul Molitor homers on Twins starter Roy Smith’s second pitch of the game, and reliever German Gonzalez’s first pitch of the eighth inning. The Brewers won 10-4 for the first of Bryan Clutterbuck’s two major league wins.
April 26, 1986
Dome Deflates, Twins Collapse
With the Twins beating the Angels 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth on a stormy night in Minneapolis, a tear causes the Metrodome roof to deflate. The L.A. Times described the scene, with “80-m.p.h. winds tearing holes in the fiberglass dome and whipping through the stadium, sending speakers and light standards swaying on their cables like yo-yos in a wind tunnel… Above the third base line, a geyser of water shot through a drainage hole in the roof, dousing a handful of spectators.” Remarkably, the roof was re-inflated with the game only being delayed nine minutes. The Twins went on to score once more in the eighth, with Mickey Hatcher driving in Steve Lombardozzi with a sacrifice fly for a 6-1 lead going into the ninth.
Frank Viola gave up a leadoff double to Brian Downing and a two-run home run to George Hendrick before giving way to closer Ron Davis, still up 6-3. Davis gave up a single and two-run home run to the first two men he faced. With one out he walked pinch-hitter Reggie Jackson, representing the tying run. After striking out Bobby Grich for the second out, Ron Davis gave up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Wally Joyner, who had made his major league debut less than three weeks earlier. Tom Brunansky, Roy Smalley, and Gary Gaetti went down in order in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 Twins loss.
April 27, 1903
Bender Pitches First Shutout
After earning a win over Boston’s Cy Young in his major league debut, 19-year-old Crow Wing County native Charles Albert Bender makes his first start, pitching a shutout versus the New York Highlanders, opposing Hall of Fame pitcher Clark Griffith, the father of former Twins owner Calvin Griffith. Bender became the first Minnesotan inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953.
April 27, 1965
Pascual Hits Second Grand Slam
Before even climbing the mound, Camilo Pascual hits the only grand slam by a pitcher in Twins history, staking himself to a 7-0 first-inning lead in Cleveland. He went on to pitch a heckuva game, allowing just two hits and two walks in an 11-1 Twins win.
Pascual hit his first grand slam in the Senators’ final season in Washington, on August 14, 1960 in a 5-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. The Senators won the second game 6-3 in 15 innings.
April 27, 1969
Killebrew Hits 400th
With two out in the top of the first of an afternoon game in Chicago, Harmon Killebrew hits his 400th career home run. Rod Carew hit a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Twins a 4-3 win.
This was a fun boxscore to read. The top of the Twins lineup that afternoon went Tovar, Carew, Killebrew, Oliva, Alison.
All told, Killebrew hit 573 home runs, fifth-most in baseball history at the time of his retirement. He hit 84 as a member of the Washington Senators, 14 as a Kansas City Royal in 1975, and 475 in a Twins uniform.
April 27, 1994
Erickson Pitches No-Hitter
Scott Erickson pitches the first no-hitter in Metrodome history as the Twins beat the Brewers 5-0. It is the third of five no-hitters in Twins history, and the first since Dean Chance in 1967.
Erickson, who had led the American League with 20 wins and finished second in Cy Young balloting in 1991, was coming off a ‘93 season in which he led the league with 19 losses and 266 hits allowed.
April 28, 1985
Hatcher Ties Oliva’s Consecutive Hits Record
Mickey Hatcher goes 4-for-5 in a 10-1 Twins win over the Athletics at the Metrodome. He had gone 5-for-5 the previous day, giving him nine consecutive hits, tying Tony Oliva‘s team record set in 1967. Todd Walker matched the feat in 1998.
April 28, 2010
Hughes Homers in First At-Bat
Leading off the top of the third, Australia native Luke Hughes lifts Max Scherzer’s 2-2 pitch to right for an opposite field home run in his first major league at-bat.
Hughes had originally come up to bat in the second, but Delmon Young was thrown out attempting to steal third for the third out of the inning. The Tigers won the game 11-6.
Six Twins have homered in their first major league at-bat: Rick Renick, Dave McKay, Gary Gaetti, Andre David, Hughes, and Eddie Rosario.
Between August 26 and September 20, 1981, Kent Hrbek, Tim Laudner, and Gary Gaetti each homered in their first major league game.
April 29, 1962
Twins Hit Six Solo Home Runs
The Twins hit six solo home runs in the second game of a doubleheader in Cleveland. Lenny Green, Don Mincher, Zoilo Versalles, and Bill Tuttle hit one each, and Johnny Goryl hit two. The Twins scored in each inning except the third and ninth in the 7-3 win.
The Twins did not hit a home run in the first game, which they won 8-4.
April 29, 1986
Beane Goes 5-for-5
After going 3-for-21 in his first 17 major league games (four with the Twins), Billy Beane goes 5-for-5, including his first home run, in a 14-11 Twins loss at Yankee Stadium.
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- Apr 21 2018 09:22 AM
- by Matt Johnson
April 1, 2002
Twins Hit 5 HRs on Opening Day
The Twins tie an American League Opening Day record with five home runs in Kansas City. Jacque Jones hit a solo and three-run home run, while David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and Torii Hunter each hit solo shots in a 8-6 Twins win.
The Twins are the most recent of five AL teams to hit five homers on Opening Day. The Mets set the major league Opening Day record with six home runs against the Expos in 1988. The major league record for home runs in any game is 10, by the Blue Jays against the Orioles in 1987 (full list on Baseball Almanac).
April 1, 2007
Carneal Passes Away
Legendary Twins radio broadcaster Herb Carneal passes away at age 83. Carneal spent 44 years calling Twins games, joining Ray Scott and Halsey Hall in 1962, the Twins’ second season in Minnesota. He received the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award in 1996. He and Jim Kaat comprised the sophomore class of the Twins Hall of Fame, inducted on July 7, 2001.
On a personal note, when I was in elementary school I won a drawing at Hardee’s (true story) and got to spend an inning in the booth with Herb Carneal and John Gordon.
Happy 67th Birthday, Tom Johnson
It’s the birthday of former Twins reliever Tom Johnson, born in St. Paul in 1951. Johnson graduated from St. Paul’s Murray High School (now a middle school) in 1969, the same year that Dave Winfield graduated from St. Paul Central. Both players accepted scholarships to play for coaches Dick Siebert and Jerry Kindall at the University of Minnesota, but Johnson backed out at the last minute and signed a professional contract with the Twins.
Johnson made his major league debut at Met Stadium on September 10, 1974 (age 23), starting the top of the 14th in relief of 1961 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate Tom Burgmeier. The Twins had a 4-1 lead entering the ninth when White Sox catcher Brian Downing hit a three-run homer off Bill Campbell to tie it up (Campbell had a historic ’76 season with the Twins, which he parlayed into a big pay day with the Red Sox following the season). Each team scored in the 11th and 13th innings for a 6-6 tie. Johnson struck out the first batter he faced, Eddie Leon. He gave up a single to the second batter, Jorge Orta. During the next at-bat, Johnson had Orta picked off first but made a throwing error, allowing Orta to advance to second. Orta later came around to score, with the run being unearned, despite the error being on Johnson himself. Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the inning, Eric Soderholm reached on a two-out single, and scored on a Tony Oliva double. Johnson came back out to pitch a 1-2-3 top of the 15th. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Goose Gossage walked Rod Carew, who stole second, and scored on a Larry Hisle walk-off single, giving Johnson the win over future Hall of Famer Gossage.
Johnson also earned the win in his second appearance three days later (September 13), again with Carew scoring the walk-off run, this time with a home run leading off the 10th. He pitched in both halves of a doubleheader on September 14, earning a save in Game 1. He pitched seven innings total in four appearances in 1974, giving up just four hits and no walks (0.571 WHIP).
After making 18 appearances in both 1975 and ’76, Johnson had the best season of his career in 1977, going 16-7 with 15 saves, 3.13 ERA, and 1.357 WHIP in 71 games (146.2 innings pitched).
He struggled during 18 appearances in 1978, his final major league season.
Read Jim McKernon‘s SABR BioProject essay on Johnson (click here).
April 2, 1962
Twins Trade Ramos for Power and Stigman
It what is commonly considered the first major trade in team history, the Twins trade Pedro Ramos to Cleveland for four-time All-Star Vic Power and 1954 Sebeka High School graduate and 1960 All-Star Dick Stigman.
Ramos started the first regular season game in Twins history, pitching a three-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium on April 11, 1961.
He was involved in an interesting piece of Twins history on May 12, 1961, as he and Angels pitcher Eli Grba traded homers off each other. Grba homered off Ramos in the top of the fifth to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. Ramos returned the favor in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. He added a two-run single in the sixth, and the Twins held on to win 5-4, with the pitcher driving in the final three runs.
Dick Stigman went 12-5 in 40 appearances (15 starts) in 1962. 1963 was his best season. He pitched a three-hit shutout in his second start of the season on April 18, and went on to post a 15-15 record in 33 starts. That’s just three no-decisions! He posted career-bests with a 3.25 ERA, 1.207 WHIP, 15 complete games, and 193 strikeouts, finishing third in the American League in the latter two categories (Camilo Pascual led the league in both). Pedro Ramos, incidentally, was second in the AL with a 1.067 WHIP, and 8.237 strikeouts per nine innings in 1963.
April 2, 2010
First MLB Game at Target Field
The Twins and Cardinals play an exhibition game at Target Field, the first major league game at the new ballpark. Center fielder Denard Span had himself a day, collecting the stadium’s first hit (a triple, of course), first home run, and first run scored.
Jacque Jones, attempting a comeback with the club, pinch-hit and received a memorable standing ovation. I sure wish the Twins would make this kind of footage available. If they want to monetize it, fine, but don’t just keep it in the damn vault!
April 3, 1982
First MLB Game in the Dumb Dome
The Twins and Phillies play an exhibition game at the Metrodome, the first major league game at the new ballpark. After Pete Rose collected the Dome’s first base hit, 1978 Bloomington Kennedy graduate Kent Hrbek hit the first AND second home runs in Metrodome history, powering the Twins to a 5-0 win.
April 3, 1997
Old Man Grand Slam
40-year-old Twins DH Paul Molitor hits a grand slam off Detroit’s Willie Blair at home in the Dome, driving in Todd Walker, Chuck Knoblauch, and Rich Becker.
It is the third and final grand slam of the 1974 Cretin High School graduate’s career. The second came off Minnesota’s Dave Stevens on July 5, 1994. The first came way back on April 22, 1981.
41-year-old Dave Winfield hit a grand slam at the Metrodome on April 4, 1993. I believe he is the oldest Twin to do so.
Atlanta’s Julio Franco became the oldest player in major league history to hit a grand slam on June 27, 2005 at age 46. Playing for the Mets, he became the oldest player to hit a home run off the Diamondbacks’s Randy Johnson on May 4, 2007 at age 48.
April 4, 1990
Twins Trade Pomeranz for Ortiz
The Twins trade future-KARE11 anchor Mike Pomeranz to the Pirates for Junior Oritz and minor league pitcher Orlando Lind.
Oritz, who wore number 0, hit .335 (57-for-170) in 71 games (47 starts) in 1990. He is best remembered at Scott Erickson‘s personal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Championship season. He hit .209 in 61 regular season games (41 starts), and went 1-for-8 in six postseason games.
Mike Pomeranz never made it to the majors. These days he works in San Diego, doing, among other things, Padres pre- and post-game broadcasts.
April 5, 2004
Wuertz Makes MLB Debut
1997 Austin High School graduate Michael Wuertz strikes out the first two batters he faces in his major league debut, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth in a 7-4 Cubs win in Cincinnati.
Wuertz made 426 relief appearances over eight seasons with the Cubs and Athletics.
April 5, 2014
Gardenhire Wins 1,000th
Brian Dozier homers on the second pitch of the game, leading the Twins to a 7-3 victory in Cleveland for Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th managerial win. The milestone victory didn’t come without a new gray hair, however, as 2001 Stillwater grad Glen Perkins gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth before securing the Kyle Gibson win.
Happy 67th Birthday, Bert Blyleven
It’s the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven, born in Zeist, Holland in 1951. He grew up in Garden Grove, CA, and was drafted by the Twins out of high school in the third round in 1969.
After only 21 minor league starts, Blyleven made his major league debut on June 2, 1970 (age 19) at RFK Stadium versus the Ted Williams-managed Senators. After Tony Oliva drove in César Tovar in the top of the first, staking the youngster to a 1-0 lead, Blyleven gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Lee Maye. He recovered, striking out the second batter for the first of 3,701 career K’s, and pitched seven strong innings, allowing just the one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven. Tovar put the Twins back on top 2-1 in the fifth, driving in Frank Quilici. Ron Perranoski pitched the final two innings, saving the first of Blyleven’s 287 major league wins (currently 27th all-time).
Blyleven earned a 7-1 complete game victory over the Brewers on July 12, 1972 for the 1,000th win in Twins history. Remarkably, he also earned the 2,000th win in Twins history on September 25, 1985.
Only July 31, 1972, Blyleven gave up two inside-the-park home runs at Met Stadium to Chicago’s Dick Allen, who went on to win the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award that season. The next player to hit two inside-the-park home runs in the same game was Greg Gagne at the Metrodome on October 4, 1986, doing so in his first two at-bats. He tripled in his third at-bat. Remarkably, Blyleven was on the mound for that game, too. More on Blyleven’s ’86 season later.
On May 23, 1973, Blyleven pitched a one-hit shutout versus the Royals at Met Stadium. He would pitch two more one-hitters on September 26, 1973, and July 4, 1974, but the first was the only shutout of the three. Jim Kaat also pitched a one-hitter in 1973.
1973 was Blyleven’s best season, posting his only 20-win season (with 17 losses), with a career-best 2.52 ERA, major league-leading 2.32 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and a major league-leading nine shutouts in a staggering 325 innings pitched (Wilbur Wood led the majors with 359.1 innings pitched). He pitched back-to-back shutouts twice in 1973 (and once in 1971). His 25 complete games, nine shutouts, and 325 innings pitched are still Twins records. He finished the season with 258 strikeouts, a team record that would stand for 31 years until Johan Santana K’ed 265 in 2004 (Nolan Ryan led the majors with 383 K’s in 1973, 125 more than Blyleven’s team record!). Blyleven made his first of two career All-Star teams in ’73.
Blyleven earned an 11-inning 1-0 win in Milwaukee on August 27, 1975. Craig Kusick tied a major league record with three hit-by-pitches in the game. Blyleven earned a remarkable 15 1-0 complete game wins in his career.
Blyleven was involved in contentious contract negotiations with Calvin Griffith early in the 1976 season. With trade rumors swirling, Blyleven walked off the mound after the top of the ninth on May 31 trailing the Angels 3-1. Some of the 8,379 fans in attendance, frustrated by Blyleven’s refusal to sign Griffith’s latest contract offer, gave the pitcher grief, singing “bye, bye, Bertie.” Before he got to the dugout, Blyleven, visibly angry, looked to the stands and gave someone—possibly hecklers, but likely Griffith himself—the ol’ one-finger salute.
The next day, June 1, Blyleven was traded along with Danny Thompson to the Rangers for four players, including Roy Smalley and Mike Cubbage, and $250,000 cash.
Blyleven wasn’t the only player involved in the trade that had bad blood with Griffith. Contract negotiations between Danny Thompson and the owner were also at a standstill. Griffith refused to give the infielder, who had been diagnosed with leukemia prior to the 1973 season, a fair price, insisting that no other team would offer someone with cancer a contract at all. Thompson struggled in Texas, and passed away that December.
Blyleven pitched a two-hit shutout at Met Stadium in his first game against the Twins on July 26, 1976.
He pitched a no-hitter in his final start as a Ranger on September 22, 1976. The Rangers sent him to the Pirates as part of a four-team, 11-player trade on December 8. Not until the Phillies traded Cole Hamels to the Rangers during the 2015 season would another pitcher be traded after pitching a no-hitter in his final game with a team.
Blyleven made his second postseason with the Pirates in 1979 (he had pitched two innings of relief in the ALCS as a rookie in 1970). He earned a complete-game 1-0 win over the Reds in the third and decisive game of the NLCS in Pittsburgh. Johnny Bench homered for the Reds’ only run. Blyleven started Game 3 of the World Series in Baltimore, leaving after six in a 2-2 tie. The Pirates went on to win 3-2 on a Manny Sanguillen RBI single in the ninth. Down three games to one and trailing 1-0 in Game 5 in Pittsburgh, Blyleven entered in relief in the sixth and held the Orioles scoreless on just three hits over the final four innings of the game. The Pirates rallied for a 7-1 win, sending the Series back to Baltimore where they won both games.
Blyleven was traded with Manny Sanguillen to Cleveland following the 1980 season. He won 19 games with Cleveland in 1984, finishing third in AL Cy Young balloting. He finished third again in 1985, when, playing for both Cleveland and Minnesota, he led the AL with 24 complete games, five shutouts, 206 strikeouts, and 293.2 innings pitched. After making his second All-Star team that summer, the Twins reacquired Blyleven on August 1 in exchange for four players, including former first-round draft pick and future All-Star Jay Bell, who would become the 11th player to homer on his first major league pitch on September 29, 1986. The Twins’ Andre David had also homered on his first MLB pitch on June 29, 1984, as did Eddie Rosario on May 6, 2015.
The Twins put on one heckuva show at the Metrodome on August 1, 1986, as Blyleven two-hit the A’s, striking out a team record 15 (broken by Johan Santana with 17 strikeouts in just eight innings on August 19, 2007), becoming just the tenth player in major league history with 3,000 strikeouts. One of Oakland’s two hits, not surprisingly, was an Alfredo Griffin homer in the eighth. Kirby Puckett, meanwhile, hit for the seventh of ten cycles in team history, and the first at the Dome. Twins won 10-1.
On September 13, 1986, Blyleven set a team record by giving up five home runs in a 14-1 loss to the Rangers at the Metrodome. Carlos Silva tied that record with five home runs allowed on August 22, 2006.
On September 29, 1986, Blyleven gave up his 46th home run of the season, breaking Hall of Famer Robin Roberts’ 30-year-old single-season record. He would give up 50 altogether, while notching 17 wins and pitching an American League-leading 271.2 innings.
Blyleven was solid again in 1987, going 15-12 in 37 starts, pitching 267 innings. He did, however, again lead the majors with 46 home runs allowed. He beat Jack Morris in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, and earned the win the fifth and decisive game in Detroit.
He held the Cardinals to two runs over seven innings as the Twins won Game 2 of the World Series 8-4. He took his only postseason loss in his final postseason appearance, giving up three runs over six innings as the Cardinals won Game 5 4-2 to take a 3-2 Series lead. The Twins, of course, won Games 6 and 7 back in Minnesota. Altogether, Blyleven went 5-1 in eight career postseason games (six starts), with a 2.47 ERA and 1.077 WHIP.
Blyleven tied a major league record by hitting four Cleveland batters on April 22, 1988, giving up seven runs in just 4.2 innings. That wasn’t the worst thing that happened that day, though. After the game, the Twins traded Tom Brunansky to the Cardinals for clubhouse cancer Tommy frickin’ Herr.
Blyleven notched his 250th major league win on June 19, 1988. Of his eventual 287 wins, 149 came in a Twins uniform, second only to Jim Kaat‘s 190 (including one as a Senator). Blyleven holds Twins records with 141 complete games and 29 shutouts. For comparison, Brad Radke pitched 37 complete games.
1988 was a rough season overall, though, as Blyleven led the majors with 17 losses. After the season he was sent to the Angels as part of a five-player trade that brought Paul Sorrento to Minnesota.
Blyleven came roaring back in 1989, going 17-5 with a league-leading five shutouts. He finished fourth in Cy Young balloting and was named AL Comeback Player of the Year.
1992 was his final major league season. He was 41 years old. He retired with 3,701 strikeouts, fifth-most in major league history behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and 1987 teammate Steve Carlton.
Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011, his fourteenth year on the ballot. The Twins retired his number 28 on July 16, 2011.
April 6, 1973
Oliva Hits First HR by DH
With Rod Carew aboard in the top of the first on Opening Day, Tony Oliva hits the first regular season home run by a designated hitter in major league history off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter. Interestingly, it was Oakland owner Charlie Finley who spearheaded the movement for the AL to adopt the DH.
Bert Blyleven pitched the first of his 25 complete games of the season as the Twins won 8-3.
April 6, 1982
First Regular Season Game at Dome
The Twins opened the 1982 season versus Seattle at home in the dumb new Dome. 1977 St. Cloud Tech graduate Jim Eisenreich, making his major league debut, had the honor of being the first Twins batter to the plate. He grounded out to short. Two batters later right fielder Dave Engle homered for the first regular season hit in Metrodome history.
Gary Gaetti was thrown at at home trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run in his first at-bat. He put the ball over the fence in his next two at-bats, going 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored in an 11-7 Twins loss.
April 6, 1993
Winfield Homers in Twins Debut
1969 St. Paul Central graduate Dave Winfield (age 41) homers in his Twins debut, a 10-5 loss to the White Sox at the Metrodome. Kirby Puckett also homered in the game.
Winfield signed with the Twins after winning a World Series in his only season with the Blue Jays. He had been sensational in 1992, hitting .290 with 26 home runs, 33 doubles, 92 runs, and 108 RBI, finishing fifth in American League MVP voting (Dennis Eckersley won the award, with Kirby Puckett coming in runner-up).
It was certainly exciting to have him in Minnesota, but his production was pretty pedestrian, hitting .270 with 21 home runs, 27 doubles, 72 runs, and 76 RBI in 143 games for a 0.2 WAR (wins above replacement). He hit another 10 of his 465 major league home runs in 77 games with the Twins in 1994. He wrapped up his 22-year Hall of Fame career with Cleveland in 1995.
April 7, 1970
Alyea Has Record-Setting Opening Day
In his first game as a Twin, outfielder Brant Alyea drives in a team record seven runs, helping Jim Perry to a 12-0 shutout on Opening Day in Chicago. Alyea went on to drive in 21 runs in the Twins’ first 12 games. Remarkably, 19 of those 21 RBI came in Jim Perry’s first four starts. Perry would go on to win the AL Cy Young Award that season.
Pretty hot start to his Twins career. His Senators career got off to a hot start, too, homering on his first major league pitch on September 11, 1965.
Alyea matched his team RBI record on September 7, 1970, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and driving in all seven Twins runs in a 7-6 win over the Brewers at Met Stadium.
Glenn Adams broke Alyea’s record with eight RBI on June 26, 1977. Rod Carew also made Twins history that day, going 4-for-5 with a walk and a team record (since tied) five runs scored, raising his season average to .403.
Randy Bush tied Adams’ team record with eight RBI on May 20, 1989.
April 7, 1984
Morris Pitches No-Hitter
Playing for the Tigers, 1973 Highland Park (St. Paul) graduate Jack Morris pitches a no-hitter in Chicago.
April 7, 1987
Hrbek Hits Walk-Off in Opener
After tying the game with his second RBI groundout in the eighth, Kent Hrbek hits a walk-off single in the tenth to give the Twins a 5-4 Opening Day win over Oakland at the Metrodome. Kirby Puckett homered and doubled in the game.
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If you have any notes to contribute, please leave a comment or e-mail me at Matt@TwinsAlmanac.com.
- Apr 01 2018 07:13 AM
- by Matt Johnson
The Twins outfield appears set. In reality, it’s been set for about two years. Ryan LaMarre knew that when he signed. But after a conversation with Twins minor league director Jeremy Zoll, he felt that this was the right place for him to sign.
“I talked to Jeremy Zoll. He had some great things to say in terms of where he saw me fitting in, what he thought I could bring to the table. Obviously we’ve got Buck (Byron Buxton), Eddie (Rosario) and (Max) Kepler, so that’s pretty much set. Then Robbie (Grossman) and (Zack) Granite behind them, but behind them there wasn’t as much. So it was an opportunity to come in here and show what you can do.” LaMarre continued, “Also as you know, they use a lot of players throughout the year. There’s always going to be that opportunity. But I just really liked what he said about where I fit in, especially coming off of the injury I had last year, so it seemed like a good opportunity.”
Ryan LaMarre is not a star. The 29-year-old knows that. He understands that if he were to make the Twins roster, be it for Opening Day or later in the season, it will be as a backup. That’s just fine with him. By definition, Ryan LaMarre is a journeyman. He has played for three MLB clubs (and four organizations) in the last three years. In 2018, he joins his fifth organization, the Twins.
LaMarre was the second-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 out of the University of Michigan. He worked his way up the ladder. He never hit over .300, but he always showed a good approach at the plate and a little bit of pop. He also plays strong defense. In August of 2015, he finally received the call he’d be waiting for his whole life.
The story of his first big league call up is pretty entertaining. LaMarre explains:
“I was with Cincinnati. I was in AAA. We were in Gwinnett, the Braves AAA team. I was having a decent year, but they were losing a lot of games. I was hot for about the last three weeks leading up to the series. Billy Hamilton was injured. They ended up calling up someone else on the team.”
Lamarre was disappointed, but got a motivational chat from his manager, “I was pretty close to the manager. I had played for him for two or three years. He called me in and said ‘Don’t worry. Just keep playing hard. September’s right around the corner. I know they didn’t call you up right here, but just keep playing.’
LaMarre went out onto the field to stretch, and as he tells it, “Within an hour, he (the manager) came running out to the field and said, ‘You’re going up! It’s four o'clock. I don’t have time to explain. You’ve got to pack your bag. You’ve got to go. You have a six o'clock flight out of Atlanta.’”
Imagine the excitement of getting that news, but now needing to leave the AAA ballpark, pack up your belonging from the hotel and rush to the airport to catch a flight that is less than two hours away.
“It was rush hour. I packed my bag and grabbed a bat boy who drove me to the airport. I didn’t even get there until an hour after it left, So I missed my flight. I remember calling the guy from the Reds and I was like, if this is it, I’ll rent a car. I’ll be there by the 8th or 9th inning somehow. They said ‘No, no, no. Just take it easy. It was so last minute, we understand. We’ll just get you a flight tomorrow morning. If you miss that, don’t even bother showing up.’
A positive message, yet also pretty direct. LaMarre heard it, “So I stayed that night at the airport, and then I got on a flight the next day.”
It was an exciting time Ryan LaMarre and those close to him. “My family was super excited. My wife was my girlfriend at the time. She was very excited. They were all excited. They came into Cincinnati for the weekend. It was fun.”
LaMarre played in 21 games over the season’s final six weeks. He was used primarily as a defensive replacement and got just 25 at-bats.
Following the season, he was DFAd and signed a minor league free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox. In late June of 2016, he was called up and got five at-bats (no hits) in five games played. He actually played in one more game, on July 2nd. The Red Sox were losing 21-3 to the Angels, and LaMarre threw a scoreless ninth inning. He gave up two hits, but the final out of the inning came off the bat of Gregorio Petit who also remains on the Twins spring training roster.
Following the 2016 season, LaMarre was let go by the Red Sox and signed a minor league deal with the Angels. In late April, he was traded to Oakland. He was immediately called up to the A’s and played in three games (0-7) before being sent down. He remained in AAA until a mid-June injury cost him the rest of his season.
The Twins signed LaMarre in late November, 2017. He began to rehab last July and was cleared in October. About that same time, he was getting married to his wife Whitney who is a Minnesota native. Because of his injury and rehab, they spent the majority of their offseason in Florida, but he says he could see himself living in the Twin Cities.
He noted with a smile, “That wouldn’t be a bad place to play for awhile.”
It might be even more cool for his wife and her family for LaMarre to make the Twins roster in 2018. “It would be amazing. She obviously represents her family. Her parents are from Minneapolis. Her dad was down here and he got to meet Rod (Carew) and Tony (Oliva), and for him, those were the guys he looked up to as a kid. So it would be special. It’d be a fun time.”
LaMarre’s big league track record hasn’t been strong, but it’s also been a very small sample size. Paul Molitor was asked how he takes past history into account with spring success.
“You try to know these guys’ history, but you hear about swing changes and other things he’s been doing. He’s had a nice camp. He can play around the outfield. I think he plays the outfield well. He’s been taking good at-bats all spring. He’ll swing and miss some, but he’s got that opposite field power that we’ve seen more than once. He’s got a little bit of that hockey player mentality.”
Makes sense since LaMarre played hockey in his younger years. Another reason it makes sense for Ryan LaMarre to make the Twins roster in 2018, is to be part of the State of Hockey. And, with the hopes and expectations of the Twins and their fans for 2018, maybe he can help make it more of a State of Baseball again.
For LaMarre, he’s happy to be a part of this year’s Twins organization and sees it as a special place. “It’s been fun. It’s an awesome group of guys. The coaches are amazing. The manager. The hitting coach. Everyone’s pulling in the right direction. This is a good place to be right now.”
And on Thursday, Baltimore would be a great place for Ryan LaMarre to be for his first Opening Day. The odds were long six weeks ago (even two weeks ago), but it just might happen.
- Mar 25 2018 06:44 AM
- by Seth Stohs
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- Mar 24 2018 06:05 PM
- by Seth Stohs
The pitchers were told of their demotions before the game on Sunday. The hitters were told following the game.
Myles Jaye signed as a free agent with the Twins early in the offseason after making his major-league debut for the Detroit Tigers in 2017.
Jake Reed gave up a solo home run on Saturday as part of 1.2 innings of work for the Twins. It was the first run he had given up this spring.
Regarding Gordon's spring training, manager Paul Molitor said, "I think he was a lot more comfortable. We saw him swinging the bat pretty well for the most part. We saw him on both sides of the base defensively. There's still some work to be done there in terms of consistency. You have to be pleased with the way he's progressed offensively. His at-bats were really competitive when he got the opportunity to play."'
Asked if he would encourage Gordon to play both sides of the infield, Molitor said, "I would advise that they do that, if I get asked."
Regarding LaMonte Wade's showing at big league camp, Molitor was clearly impressed. "As advertised. Good strike zone knowledge. He's got a lot of good at- bats as well. He's one of the few guys you see in the game who chokes up as much as he does on the bat for bat control. I think he's here to compete. Defensively, we put him in all three spots. He's probably more comfortable in the corners, but that's OK. He's just another guy who's coming. He knows his future is in front of him."
Molitor continued. "He did a really nice job of using some of the resources we provide including the alumni players and our coaching staff and our current outfielders here."
Jake Odorizzi struggled some with command, but he threw four scoreless innings. He said that he couldn't get his split-finger command which cost him some walks early.
On the back fields, Molitor watched Lance Lynn. He said that he "didn't have the command he had last time out" but he "saved his best for Rosie." Lynn threw four innings without giving up a hit, though he did issue a couple of walks. Eddie Rosario batted each inning against Lynn, and he also played left field. (Below is a video of a Brent Rooker RBI double in which Rosario threw the ball in from the corner.)
Asked about how he felt after the throw, Molitor said Rosario told him, "He said that I overthrew the cutoff man, so I must be feeling pretty good."
The Twins spring training roster is now at 40 players, including nine non-roster players.
- Mar 18 2018 06:26 PM
- by Seth Stohs
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2. Go into your iPhone podcast app and click on the "Library" tab at the bottom and then click on "Edit" in the upper right-hand corner:
3. Click on "Add a Podcast by URL..."
4. Paste the link you just copied into the dialog box and click on 'Subscribe'.
Now you'll get every episode delivered to your phone to listen to whenever you want
- Mar 09 2018 12:28 PM
- by John Bonnes
Happy 56th Birthday, Rick Aguilera
It’s the birthday of longtime Twins closer Rick Aguilera, born in San Gabriel, CA in 1961.
Aggie saved 254 games for the Twins between 1989 and ’99, second only to Joe Nathan‘s 260. He saved 42 regular season games for the 1991 World Series Champion Twins. Aggie, who hit three home runs with the Mets, pinch-hit in the 12th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, becoming the first pitcher to do so since Don Drysdale pinch-hit for Sandy Koufax vs. Jim Kaat in Game 2 of the '65 Series.
The Twins acquired Aguilera on July 31, 1989 in what was perhaps the greatest trade in team history. The Twins sent ’87 World Series MVP and ’88 Cy Young winner Frank Viola to the Mets for David West, Aggie, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage (as a player to be named later on October 16).
I was watching the Twins vs. Red Sox game at my grandparents' trailer near Cohasset on July 6, 1995 when Aggie was traded mid-game to Boston for pitching prospect Frankie Rodriguez and a player to be named later. Aggie re-signed with the Twins following the season. His Twins career ended for good on May 21, 1999 when he was traded along with Scott Downs to the Chicago Cubs for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.
Aguilera was announced as the 19th member of the Twins Hall of Fame on January 25, 2008, and inducted the following June 21st before a 4-1 loss to Houston. Ironically, starting pitcher Glen Perkins took the loss. Perk, of course, would become a closer himself, finishing his career with 120 saves, third in Twins history behind Aguilera and Nathan.
Fun Fact: Aguilera, former Twins infielder Tim Teufel, and their Mets teammates Bobby Ojeda and Ron Darling were arrested after an altercation with off-duty cops working security at a Houston bar on July 19, 1986. The Mets went on to defeat the Astros in the NLCS that fall, and then beat Bill Buckner and the Red Sox in the infamous seven-game World Series.
Happy 34th Birthday, Neil Wagner
It's the birthday of 2002 Eden Prairie High School graduate Neil Wagner, born in Minneapolis in 1984. Wagner pitched for North Dakota State for three seasons before signing with Cleveland in 2005.
He made his major league debut pitching for the Oakland Athletics against Cleveland on August 30, 2011. He pitched five innings over six games with the Athletics that season. He made it back to the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays, getting into 36 games in 2013, and 10 in 2014.
Wagner pitched three scoreless innings over four appearances against the Twins, holding them to 1-for-11 (.091). Chris Colabello hit a seventh-inning double for the Twins' only hit off Wagner in the second game of a doubleheader at Target Field on April 14, 2014. The next inning, Blue Jays pitchers combined to give up six runs on EIGHT walks and just one hit.
Happy 75th Birthday, Bob Gebhard
It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher and front office exec. Bob Gebhard, born in Lamberton, Minnesota in 1943. The Twins drafted Gebhard out of the University of Iowa in the 44th round of the very first amateur draft in 1965. That summer he went 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA for the St. Cloud Rox.
Gebhard pitched professionally for 11 years, including 30 relief appearances for the ’70-’71 Twins, and two innings with the ‘74 Expos. He was a player/coach with the Expos’ Triple-A club in ‘74 and ’75, Minor League Field Director and pitching coach from ’76-’81, part of the major league coaching staff in ’82, and Director of Minor League Operations through 1986.
Andy MacPhail brought Gebhard home to Minnesota in 1987, hiring him as Director of Major League Personnel. Here’s a fun remembrance MacPhail shared of Gebhard’s first season back in Minnesota: “Literally we had just won the world championship and Bob Gebhard turns to me and goes ‘Damn, Andy, we won this thing. We were just trying to get organized!'”
He assumed the title of Vice President of Player Personnel in ‘88. Following the 1991 World Series, Gebhard became General Manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies, who began play in 1993. He hired ’87 Twins World Series hero Don Baylor as manager, signed first baseman Andres Galarraga the day before the ’92 Expansion Draft, and pulled off a trade for slugger Dante Bichette immediately following the draft. He signed Larry Walker in the spring of ’95, and that year, just the team’s third in existence, the Rockies won the NL West. The following season the Rockies won the NL’s first-ever Wild Card spot. Gebhard resigned from the Rockies on August 20, 1999 amid speculation that he was about to be fired.
Gebhard served in the St. Louis Cardinals front office from 2000-2004, and as Vice President, Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Diamondbacks from 2005-2016. Gebhard received the Roland Hemond Award from the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) in 2012 in recognition of his contributions to the community of professional baseball scouts.
Gebhard makes his home in Centennial, Colorado.
Happy 39th Birthday, Michael Restovich
It’s the birthday of former major league outfielder Michael Restovich, born in Rochester, MN in 1979. Restovich was named Minnesota High School Baseball Player of the Year in 1997, his senior season at Rochester Mayo. That June he was selected by the Twins in the second round of the amateur draft. The Twins’ first-round draft choice that year was a Virginia high schooler named Michael Cuddyer.
Restovich hit .369 in 76 games between the Rookie League Elizabethton Twins and Class-A Fort Wayne Wizards in 1998. In 1999 he hit .312 with 19 HR and 107 RBI for the Class-A Quad City River Bandits. He made his major league debut on September 18, 2002.
Restovich’s first major league hit was a ninth-inning pinch-hit home run in a 14-4 Twins loss at Comiskey Park on September 21. Future-Twins closer Jon Rauch started the game and earned the victory for Chicago despite giving up lead-off home runs to David Ortiz and Corey Koskie in the second and fourth innings. Koskie hit a second lead-off homer in the sixth off of reliever Mike Porzio. Brad Radke had an uncharacteristically bad day, allowing six earned runs on nine hits in just three innings.
Restovich went on to play parts of six major league seasons with the Twins ('02-'04), Rockies ('05), Pirates ('05), Cubs ('06), and Nationals ('07). He made 297 plate appearances over 152 games, hitting .239 with 28 walks, six home runs, and 21 RBI.
January 4, 2002
Gardenhire Named Manager
The Twins announce former third base coach Ron Gardenhire as the 12th manager in team history, succeeding Tom Kelly, who, after the team’s first winning season in nine years, announced his retirement on October 12, 2001. TK was the longest tenured manager or head coach in all of professional sports at the time of his retirement.
The Twins won the AL Central in each of Gardy’s first three seasons, and in six of his first nine. They only advanced past the divisional round, however, in Gardy’s first season of 2002. After five runner-up finishes, he was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010. He managed the Twins for 13 seasons before being fired on September 29, 2014, having amassed 1,068 wins, just 72 shy of TK’s team record of 1,140.
After serving as Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach in 2017, Gardy will manage the dumb Detroit Tigers in 2018.
January 5, 1935
Birthdate of Earl Battey
It’s the birthdate of five-time All-Star, and three-time Gold Glove catcher Earl Battey, born in Los Angeles in 1935 (83 years ago).
Battey saw limited playing time with the Chicago White Sox from 1955-’59. Then, on April 4, 1960, the White Sox traded Battey and Don Mincher to the Washington Senators for 1957 AL home run leader Roy Sievers. Battey broke out that season, winning his first of three consecutive Gold Glove Awards, and even garnering some AL MVP votes.
Battey scored the first walk-off run in Twins history on April 22, 1961, scoring on a Zoilo Versalles sac fly.
He retired after the ‘67 season having caught 831 games in a Twins uniform. That stood as the club record until Joe Mauer surpassed him on August 27, 2012.
In 1980 Battey enrolled at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL, graduating summa cum laude in just 2½ years. After graduation he became a high school teacher and baseball coach in Ocala, FL.
Earl Battey passed away on November 15, 2003. He was just 68 years old. He was inducted as the 13th member of the Twins Hall of Fame in 2004.
January 5, 2009
Pohlad Passes Away
Longtime Twins owner Carl Pohlad passes away at home in Edina. He was 93 years old.
Pohlad grew up dirt-poor in West Des Moines, Iowa. After high school he played football at Compton Junior College in southern California. The entertainer Bing Crosby saw Pohlad play and recruited him to his alma mater, Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. While in school, Pohlad earned a little extra money boxing in clubs along the West Coast. He dropped out of school his senior year to focus on his lucrative side job of selling repossessed cars.
Pohlad was drafted into the Army in 1942 and served as an infantryman man during World War II in France, Germany and Austria. He was wounded in battle and awarded two Bronze Stars, an Oak Leaf Cluster, and three Purple Hearts. After the war Pohlad partnered with his brother-in-law, taking control of Marquette Bank in Minneapolis in 1949, just three years out of the Army. Pohlad took sole control of the bank after his brother-in-law’s death several years later. He branched out from there, establishing a web of banking, bottling, real estate and other companies.
In 1984 the billionaire financier bought the Twins from original owner Calvin Griffith for a cool $38 million, almost certainly preventing the team from leaving Minnesota. Ever the shrewd businessman, Pohlad was a frugal owner, always looking to maximize value. Rather than spending big money on acquiring -- or even retaining -- marquee talent, Pohlad emphasized building a team from the ground up through a farm system that is still regarded as one of the best in the game. His prudent approach paid dividends with World Series championships in 1987 and 1991.
You can say a lot about Carl Pohlad. Here’s one thing: Carl Pohlad, the son of a dirt-poor Slovak immigrant who grew up to be the second wealthiest man in Minnesota, never retired.
January 5, 2011
Blyleven Elected to Hall of Fame
On his 14th ballot, Twins all-time strikeout leader (2,035) Bert Blyleven is elected to the Hall of Fame with the support of 79.7% of voters. He was inducted on July 24 alongside Roberto Alomar and 27-year GM Pat Gillick.
The Twins selected the Dutch-born, SoCal-raised Blyleven out of high school in the third round of the '69 draft. Bert made his major league debut on June 2, 1970 at age 19. He would pitch for 22 seasons, 11 in Minnesota (‘70-’76, ‘85-’88), amassing 149 wins in a Twins uniform, second only to Jim Kaat’s 190 (including one as a Senator). In addition to the ’87 Twins, Bert was a member of the 1979 World Series Champion Pirates. He was an All-Star in 1973 and '85.
Bert pitched three one-hitters with the Twins, two in 1973 and another in 1974 (only one of those, incidentally, was a shutout). He pitched a no-hitter in his final game as a Texas Ranger on September 22, 1977. His 3,701 career strikeouts rank fifth in major league history behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton.
Blyleven was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on June 1, 2002, and his number 28 was retired on July 16, 2011.
January 6, 1923
Birthdate of Red Hardy
It’s the birth date of Minneapolis South High School graduate Red Hardy, born in Marmarth, ND in 1923 (95 years ago). He began his professional career in 1942 with Eau Claire of the Class C Northern League before enlisting in the US Navy. After pilot training at Camp Croft in South Carolina, he saw active duty during World War II.
After receiving his discharge, Hardy enrolled at the University of St. Thomas for whom he pitched in the spring of ‘46, once losing a 13-inning complete game 3-2 to the University of Minnesota. After the college season, he resumed his pro career briefly with the Minneapolis Millers, and then the St. Cloud Rox, for whom he went 7-0 with a 1.70 ERA.
Hardy eventually made it to the majors in 1951, pitching 1 1/3 innings over two appearances with the New York Giants. He passed away on August 15, 2003 at age 80.
For a more thorough picture, read Terry Bohn’s SABR BioProject article on Red Hardy.
January 6, 2004
Molitor Elected to Hall of Fame
1974 Cretin High School grad and Golden Gophers all-time great Paul Molitor is elected to the Hall of Fame alongside legendary closer Dennis Eckersley, both on their first ballots. Molitor appeared on 85.2% of ballots, meaning a staggering 75 members of the BBWAA were complete ignoramuses.
The two-time All-American Molitor was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the third overall pick in the 1977 draft behind Harold Baines and Bill Gullickson, who, incidentally, was born in Marshall, MN, but attended high school in Joliet, IL. In 1978 Molitor was runner-up to Detroit’s Lou Whitaker for American League Rookie of the Year.
Molitor set a World Series record with five hits in Game 1 of the ‘82 Series, which the St. Louis Cardinals won in seven games. The Cards’ Albert Pujols tied that record, going 5-for-6 with six RBI, three home runs, and four runs scored in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.
Molitor stole second, third, and home consecutively in the first inning vs. Oakland on July 26, 1987. Forty-one players have pulled that off a total of 51 times in MLB history, 12 since 1940. The feat was accomplished four times in the '80s, twice in the '90s, once in the '00s, and, most recently, by Dee Gordon in 2011 and Wil Myers in 2017. The Twins’ Rod Carew did so on May 18, 1969.
Molitor hit for the cycle vs. the Twins at the Metrodome on May 15, 1991, tripling on Kevin Tapani’s first pitch of the game, and homering off Tapani to complete the cycle. Despite the 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Twins would salvage their ‘91 season.
In total he played 15 seasons for Milwaukee before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays following the ‘92 season. In ‘93, at age 37, Molitor had his first 100-RBI season, collecting 111. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1993 World Series, hitting .500 (12-for-24) with two home runs and 10 runs scored, tying the record set by Reggie Jackson in 1977.
Molitor signed with the Twins for the 1996 season, when, at age 39, he hit .341, drove in 113 runs, and led the league with a career-high 225 hits. He tied Rod Carew and Tim Teufel’s team record with five runs scored on April 24, 1996 (later matched by Luis Rivas on June 4, 2002). Molitor tripled for his 3,000th hit on September 16, 1996, exactly three years to the date after 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield collected his 3,000th off Molitor’s Hall of Fame classmate Dennis Eckersley.
The 40-year-old DH went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored on July 25, 1997. On September 3-4, now 41 years old, he homered in back-to-back games.
He stole his 500th base on August 8, 1998, joining Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Lou Brock, and Rickey Henderson in the 3,000 Hit/500 Stolen Base Club. Ichiro joined the club in 2016. Molly retired following the ‘98 season.
Molitor was introduced as the 13th manager in Twins history on November 4, 2014. On November 14, 2017, just one year removed from the worst season in club history, Molitor became just the second Hall of Fame player to be named Manager of the Year. Baltimore’s Frank Robinson received the award in 1989.
Molitor was the second of three St. Paul natives elected to the Hall of Fame. 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield was inducted in 2001 alongside Kirby Puckett. 1973 Highland Park grad Jack Morris will be inducted this coming July.
Fun Fact: Paul Molitor went 33-for-103 (.320) vs. Jack Morris, including a home run on September 20, 1987.
Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter & Facebook.
- Dec 31 2017 09:31 AM
- by Matt Johnson
Until the last couple of days, it's fair to say that the Hot Stove has been lukewarm at best. Then Shohei Otani made his decision to sign with the Angels. And on Saturday, the Marlins and Yankees agreed to a deal in which reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton will join Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in The Bronx.
So now, the Hot Stove is preheating. Things are lined up for this to be the busiest Winter Meetings in recent years. Or, we could be set up for disappointment and have to wait even longer.
Let's not forget that the Winter Meetings are set up to actually hold a lot of meetings. Many are with league officials. Some are to determine new rules, or to discuss topics like pace of game and more. While we as fans only want to hear about the meetings between GMs or between teams and agents, the Winter Meetings are much bigger than that.
The Twins offseason has been quiet in terms of transactions. Here's the quick rundown:
- 40-man roster decisions - Several players have been removed from the 40-man roster, and when they were, most were claimed. Niko Goodrum was outrighted, but he became a free agent and left to join the Tigers.
- In the last couple of weeks, the Twins have signed six or seven players to minor league contracts. The most exciting minor league signing to this point is catcher Bobby Wilson.
Brad Steil became the pro scouting director .He hired John Manuel from Baseball America. Former reliever Wesley Wright retired to join the Twins as a scout. There have been changes in the international scouting department.
And they have added several more front office types. Some we have read about. Some have gone under the radar.
And some more positions will continue to be added. The Winter Meetings also is a place where people can go to interview with teams for prospective jobs. Don't be surprised if we keep hearing about additions to the front office.
Also, we learned that Tommy Watkins will be the Chattanooga Lookouts manager in 2018. Toby Gardenhire will take over as the manager of the Cedar Rapids Kernels where coaches Brian Dinkelman will remain hitting coach and JP Martinez will remain pitching coach. At a minimum, they still need to hire a manager for the Rochester Red Wings (Mike Quade is taking a roving instructor position) and the Ft. Myers Miracle.
But let's be honest, we want to hear about player acquisitions, right? The Twins made one of the biggest turnarounds in MLB history in 2017. They went from 59 wins in 2016 to 85 wins in 2017. Now the challenge is to find a way to bump that win total up to 92 or so in 2018.
So here's a quick reminder of what the Twins need...
1.) Starting Pitching
2.) Relief Pitching
8.) Maybe a right-handed bench bat
Will the Twins be active in the free agent market? Will they be more active in the trade market?
Likely the answer is Yes in both cases. I tend to think they'll be more active in the trade market as it relates to starting pitching, and I expect they'll be fairly active on the free agent market with relievers.
The asking prices at this point for starting pitchers, at least those top four options (Darvish, Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb) are pretty much silly. But that's just money and a draft pick whereas a trade would cost multiple players.
As for the relievers, there are probably a dozen or more guys who will get three or four years at $7-9 million per year. Plenty of options.
So, will it be disappointing if the Twins don't make a couple of moves this week? Yes. But I think they will.
Will it mean they were not an active participant at the Winter Meetings if they don't finalize a deal? Not at all. I would suspect that they'll be one of the busier teams there in terms of meetings held.
As always, the Winter Meetings presents an opportunity for the meetings, while the actual transactions can take place in the coming weeks.
The Royals are likely to lose free agents Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, or at least a couple of them. There are rumors that Danny Duffy is available. You' have to assume that Alex Gordon and probably Ian Kennedy are guys they'd love to trade, but there likely won't be much market for them. The Royals may be in full rebuild mode.
The White Sox acknowledged that they were rebuilding a year ago when they traded Adam Eaton and Chris Sale for a huge supply of top-end prospects. They continued that in-season with trades of David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Jose Quintana for more prospects. Is Jose Abreu on the market? Probably, and anyone else on that roster who costs more than a couple million dollars might be too.
The Tigers are an interesting group. They made some trades during the 2017 season, including getting rid of JD Martinez and Justin Verlander. Rumors are that teams are calling on Ian Kinsler. They likely want to continue to push a rebuild. Ron Gardenhire was hired as their manager. He stole Joe Vavra from the Twins and named him their quality control coach. Steve Liddle (bench coach) and Rick Anderson (bullpen coach) are also on his staff.
Cleveland got to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. In 2017, they lost to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. They have good starting pitchers. They have a strong bullpen. They've got a good offense. But Carlos Santana and Bryan Shaw are free agents, and I would think they would want both back. They will likely remain busy.
Rule 5 Draft
Finally, the Rule 5 draft will take place on Thursday morning. The Twins have the potential to lose a couple of players. Nick Burdi and Jake Reed would seem most likely candidates to be lost while Luke Bard and Kohl Stewart could also be lost.
The Twins 40-man roster is still at 36, so they could add a player in the Rule 5 draftif they choose to.
Enjoy the week. Click refresh here at Twins Daily often. As noted, we'll be sure to post articles of any moves that the Twins make. Later, you can expect to learn more about any players and/or prospects that the Twins may acquire. If you haven't already registered, be sure to do so and add your thoughts to these articles and rumors.
- Dec 11 2017 05:50 AM
- by Seth Stohs
- Nov 19 2017 02:14 PM
- by John Bonnes
Paul Molitor received 18 of the 30 first-place votes for the Manager of the Year award including that of Twin Cities media member Pat Borzi. Star Tribune's Phil Miller voted for Terry Francona, who received 11 first-place votes.
Molitor becomes the Twins third AL Manager of the Year, joining Ron Gardenhire in 2010 and Tom Kelly in 1991.
Molitor also becomes just the second Hall of Fame player to win Manager of the Year.
Molitor was re-signed to a three-year contract extension that could keep him at the helm of the Twins through the 2020 season.
- Nov 14 2017 06:27 PM
- by Seth Stohs
Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
AL Central Champions (102-60 Record)
Resume: The defending AL Champs had high hopes for 2017. Many considered them the favorites to repeat at the top of the league. Francona had to navigate his team through a potential World Series “hangover.” A slow start at the beginning of the year was quickly forgotten as the Indians compiled a record 22-game winning streak. Cleveland won the AL Central by 17 games.
AJ Hinch, Houston Astros
AL West Champions (101-61 Record)
Resume: Everyone knows what the Astros were able to do in the postseason but only the regular season figures into MLB’s award season. Houston has had high expectations the last couple of seasons, but Hinch was able to push all the right buttons as his club crossed the 100-win mark. He was able to use the right mix of young talent and veteran players to be a dominant regular season squad that went on to quite the postseason run. Houston won the AL West by 21 games.
Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins
AL Wild Card (85-77 Record)
Resume: While the Indians and the Astros were expected to be strong clubs, no one expected Minnesota to make the playoffs. On the heels of the worst season in franchise history, Molitor was able to bring playoff baseball back to Minnesota (even if it was only for one game). Young players like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton were able to take huge strides under Molitor’s guidance. Sometimes the voters can give the Manager of the Year to the team that improved the most and Minnesota definitely fits into this category.
Who do you think will take home the award? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.
- Nov 07 2017 09:52 AM
- by Cody Christie