Jeopardy!’s prime time Tournament of Champions has found a lot of fans this week, with one notable exception with local ties. “The heck is a game show on at night for anyway,” asked former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Phrase that in the form of a question.”
The Detroit Tigers skipper was looking for “my stories” on ABC this week and instead found Alex Trebek peppering three of the game show’s greatest players with “answers” about art, history, college football and more. Gardenhire was not amused.
“You watch the news, you watch Wheel (of Fortune), you watch your stories, and you go to bed,” he said. “I don’t Netflix and chill, I don’t have Lulu (sic), and I’m fine with that. But man alive, you see these wisenheimers buzzing and booping, talking about Van Gogh and Mozart when you just want to watch a show about doctors. It’s enough to drive you crazy.”
Gardenhire didn’t limit his criticism to the pre-emption of normal programming.
“None of these contestants look like they know a goldang thing about baseball,” said the Oklahoma native. “You know who Paul Gauguin is, Einstein? How about Paul Goldschmidt, or how to pitch to him? That’ll impress the hell out of me, because I sure don’t.”
The rapid approach of spring training only irked the baseball lifer more.
“My Christmas vacation is pretty much done, and I have to head south pretty soon to get back to work. I just want to see some cops take down some bad guys or an unconventional district attorney take down some Wall Street fat cats. Instead I get these jokers. May as well just tell Andy (Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson) to rent the RV early so we can hit the road. Sick of this.”
- Jan 09 2020 09:51 PM
- by RandBalls Stu
High-profile blown calls and ridiculous strike zones in the 2019 playoffs have only enhanced the call for robot umpires. One “old school” MLB manager accepts that something needs to be done. However, he urges caution.
“I just need to know this: can I yell at the robots?” asked Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. “If the guys are out there getting after it, picking it and taking it the other way, I want blue to keep it fair. If they’re missing calls, they need to hear about it.”
The former Twins manager and notoriously fiery baseball lifer allowed that making the strike zone more consistent was necessary.
“If I got my guy out there rocking and firing, I want the strikes to be strikes and the balls to be balls. But if they have a robot back there and one of their wires gets crossed, I’m going to defend my guy. Is it a person-shaped robot like The Terminator? Is it just a goldang laptop on a card table? I’m going to give it what for regardless, but I just need to know if I can do that.”
A spokesperson for Major League Baseball said that no determination on changes in umpiring have been made, and likely wouldn’t be until the Winter Meetings. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the ghost of Earl Weaver issued a statement that Weaver wants all robot umpires to know that, like their human forebears, they can perform a physically impossible sexual act upon themselves and then do the same to their mothers, grandmothers, and a startling variety of woodland creatures.
For his part, Gardenhire just wants there to be clear guidelines when there are issues to be addressed.
“Robots are one thing, but what if they use one of them flying robots,” said Gardenhire, referring to drones. “Nothing gets my blood up more than an umpire who turns his back on me when I’m saying my piece. They get a robot that can fly away? Not gonna happen, not on my watch. I gotta hear your bleeps and bloops, you're gonna hear me, that's for certain.”
- Oct 31 2019 06:16 PM
- by RandBalls Stu
The Tigers have managed to win just 46 games despite playing 155 thus far. A winning percentage below 30% in baseball is laughable at best, and this team is worse than both assumed bottom-feeders in Baltimore and Miami. Ron Gardenhire has had little to work with, and has gotten less from them. He’ll be back in 2020, along with Miguel Cabrera’s anchor of a contract, but this team is hapless in their current construction.
What They Do Well:
It’s not a surprise that a team this bad would have little going for it. We’ve harped on their deficiencies in this space all season long so continuing to beat that dead horse does little for me. They are in the bottom third across all facets of the game, and while the farm system has some big names, no significant contributors (sorry Jake Rogers) are currently up with the big club.
To really fish for something they’ve done well in 2019, there’s probably no better place to look than their record against the Cleveland Indians. Detroit managed to go 1-18 with a -78 run differential against Terry Francona’s club. Obviously that’s not good at all, but you almost have to be trying to stink up the place that badly against a common opponent. With little place else to turn, the Tigers were great at losing to the Indians this year.
What They Do Not Do Well:
As the flip side of the section above this is also a bloodbath for the home club. In fielding they are 26th and dead last in batting, I suppose they can be proud of their 20th ranking in terms of pitching. Minnesota needs a few homers to catch the Yankees for the MLB single season record, and Detroit should provide them in spades. During a three-game series earlier this month the Tigers coughed up 10 longballs to the Bombers.
Spencer Turnbull has been an arm of intrigue in 2019 for Detroit, but he’s 3-15 with a 4.66 ERA. Wednesday’s starter Daniel Norris was a once-heralded arm but has taken his lumps as well, going 3-13 with a 4.58 ERA. Sweeps are never an easy ask, regardless of the competition, but Detroit will do its best to provide the Twins ample opportunity.
Individuals of Note:
Former Twins farmhand Niko Goodrum has actually provided the greatest fWAR for Detroit this season, but his year is over due to a groin strain. Victor Reyes is one of the lone productive bats in the lineup at this point. He’s been worth 1.6 fWAR in just over 60 games this season. Although he is batting .304 on the year, his .772 OPS leaves a bit to be desired.
The staff ace Matthew Boyd won’t be seen having just taken a turn, but the aforementioned Turnbull will throw. He’s responsible for the second highest fWAR on the pitching staff and has a FIP that suggests a bit better numbers than what he’s accounted for. Of the trio that Minnesota will square off against it’s Turnbull who keeps the ball in the park the best.
These two clubs have not seen each other since the end of August. A four-game series in Detroit was won by the Twins dropping only game two. On the year Minnesota is 11-5 against Detroit.
The Twins are 7-3 over their last 10 games while the Tigers are an opposite 3-7. Minnesota hasn’t lost a series to a sub-.500 team since dropping two of three to the White Sox on August 21st. Detroit last won a series on July 31st taking two of three against the Angels.
Tuesday: Odorizzi vs Turnbull
Wednesday: TBD vs Norris
Thursday: TBD vs Zimmermann
Detroit is terrible and the Twins have an eye on the postseason. I’d like to see Mitch Garver be available this week even though he didn’t initially make the trip to the Motor City. Max Kepler playing in a regular capacity would be good for his playoff outlook as well. Minnesota is three positive outcomes from an AL Central division title, and 100 wins is in reach as well. A sweep here would go a long way to positioning them well for both opportunities.
- Sep 24 2019 03:57 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Game 1 Box Score
Pineda: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 68.4% strikes (65 of 96 pitches)
Home Runs: Castro (5), Cron (8)
Multi-Hit Games: Castro (2-for-4, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Cron .288, Harper .161, Castro .127
WPA of -0.1: Cruz -.120, Rosario -.137, Kepler -.214, HIldenberger -.402
(chart via FanGraphs)
The Twins entered the ninth inning tied and had a freakishly fresh bullpen to work with. Rocco Baldelli had both Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers warming in the pen during the bottom of the eighth inning. He went with Hildy. It didn’t work out.
Hildenberger gave up a solo homer, his first home run allowed this season, and allowed a second Tiger run to score in the inning. He’s now surrendered eight runs in his last six appearances. You have to wonder when it’s time to roll him back to low-leverage work whenever possible.
Michael Pineda started this game. In the fourth inning, he gave up his third home run of the day to the struggling Tigers lineup, sparking conversations about what to do about his spot in the rotation going forward.
He ended up providing a quality start.
The Twins’ starting pitching has been so dominant of late that a performance the club would have been desperate for from a back of the rotation guy in recent years inspires cause for concern in 2019. Pineda ended up giving up just those three runs on the solo homers over his six innings of work.
Pineda did get an assist from Ryne Harper, who stranded two inherited runners in the seventh, but Big Mike ended up surrendering just six hits and didn’t walk anyone. Serving up taters is bad, obviously, but Pineda has always done a nice job limiting damage by limiting free passes. He now has 35 strikeouts and just nine walks on the season, a 3.88 K:BB ratio. That ranks second on the starting staff behind only Jose Berrios.
In the sixth inning, Jason Castro appeared to have been hit by a pitch. Detroit should have left well enough alone, but instead they challenged the call and it was overturned. Castro responded by destroying a home run to bring the Twins within a run of the Tigers. C.J. Cron tied things up in the eighth with a home run of his own.
Unfortunately, that’s when Hildenberger came in and allowed Detroit to re-take the lead. The Twins’ lineup failed to make the most of their opportunities in this game. They drew five walks and had a batter hit by a pitch, but were also 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
Ron Gardenhire was ejected from this game, drawing a fun reaction from the Target Field crowd. Good to see Gardy still has some fire left in him.
Bonus Fun with Morneau and Perkins
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Next Three Games
Sun vs. DET, 1:10 pm CT (Perez-Norris)
Mon vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (TBD)
Tue vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (TBD)
MIN 6, DET 0: Odorizzi Deals (Again), Twins Win Fourth in a Row
- May 11 2019 10:10 PM
- by Tom Froemming
Other American League Previews
AL West: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem
AL East: New York State of Mind
Key Additions: Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Matt Moore, Tyson Ross
Josh Harrison, a two-time All-Star, will take over at second base. The Pirates declined his $10.5 million option and Harrison signed with Detroit on a one-year, $2 million deal. He can play multiple positions, but he figures to get the majority of his time at second base. During the last three seasons, he has hit .270/.317/.398.
Jordy Mercer joins the Tigers from the Pirates organization. He hopes to fill the middle infield hole left by Jose Iglesias. Over the last three seasons, he has hit .254/.324/.387 while averaging 10 home runs and 25 doubles. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, he was the third worst defensive shortstop in the NL last season.
Matt Moore and Tyson Ross signed one-year pacts in Detroit, and they will fight to be in the rotation. Moore was once considered one of the best pitching prospects in the game. Over the last three seasons, he has posted a 5.20 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. Tyson Ross has put up similar numbers over the same stretch with a 5.21 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. However, Moore has pitched 270 more innings than Ross.
Key Departures: Victor Martinez, Alex Wilson, James McCann, Jose Iglesias
Victor Martinez retired at the end of last season and that leaves a hole in the Tigers offense. James McCann leaves a spot open behind the plate for Greyson Greiner to take over. Wilson pitched 60 innings or more in each of the last four seasons, but he wasn’t tendered a contract.
Since 2015, Jose Iglesias has started a minimum of 119 games at shortstop. He was an All-Star in 2015. Cincinnati signed him to a minor league contract at the end of February. Due to an injury, he will get to begin the year as a starter for the Reds.
Potential X-Factors: Nick Castellanos
It’s no secret that Detroit has been trying to deal Castellanos this off-season. He will be a free agent at season’s end. That being said, he is coming off a year where he hit .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs and 46 doubles. Entering his age 27 season, he might be playing for a decent off-season contract.
He’s played third base in the past, but he has shifted to the corner outfield in recent years. Corresponding with that shift has been a much-improved offensive player. His slugging percentage has been .490 or higher in each of the last three seasons.
Can he be part of the solution in Detroit? Or will a hot start from Castellanos result in a trade before the deadline?
FanGraphs Projected 2019 Record: 66-96
My Projected 2019 Record: 63-99
2018 Record: 64-98, (3rd Place in the AL Central)
2017 Record: 64-98 (5th Place in the AL Central)
2016 Record: 86-75 (2nd Place in the AL Central)
- Mar 24 2019 04:44 PM
- by Cody Christie
In a nice moment, Toby Gardenhire, the Ft. Myers Miracle manager, walked out to exchange the lineup card with Twins Hall of Famer Rod Carew. There to meet them, along with the umpires, was his father, Ron Gardenhire. Toby Gardenhire spent some time with the Twins as an extra coach in September and the Twins did the same thing then.
Kyle Gibson looked good on Monday. He worked three scoreless innings, and he had to work himself out of a little trouble in that third inning. Three straight singles loaded the bases, but after a Wes Johnson mound visit, Gibson really bore down.
Gibson said, “You want to work on stuff and you want to use all your pitches, but today was a day that I probably should have just thrown more fastballs. All three of those hits in the third inning were on offspeed pitches and not that they were necessarily bad pitches all the time but I mean just probably could have just challenged them a little bit more and used the fastball a little bit more but that’s why it’s spring training.”
He got Jeimer Candelario to ground into a three-two-three double play (first base to catcher and back to first base).
But the danger was far from over. Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate. Gibson struck out the future Hall of Famer in the first inning, but this time Gibson fell behind 3-0. He came back and struck out Cabrera again to end the inning.
While often pitchers have certain goals in mind and things to work on in spring training, there was value in being able to work out of a tough situation too.
Following the game, Rocco Baldelli noted, “It all matters. When we’re out there and it doesn’t matter what kind of games we’re talking about, he’s very competitive and was not going to just give in and let the at-bat go. Instead of just throwing a breaking ball in the dirt and be done with it, he refused to let that at-bat end.He kept battling and competing, and that’s nice to see. It doesn’t matter that it’s a spring training game for me.”
Always humble, Gibson noted that it was just about working a game-situation in March so that he is ready for it when it presents itself in the season. “Once you get to this point, the hitters are treating it like they’re trying to get at-bats and for me I’m still looking at sequences and trying to see what the hitters’ approach is and I try to read what they’re trying to do. Spring training’s a little bit harder. Miggy’s probably not quite in midseason form trying to do this or trying to do that in certain at-bats. He’s really just seeing pitches but you try to attack it like it’s a game and focus on the sequences that you’re doing so when it comes end of March, beginning of April, you’re in that kind of mode where you don’t have to flip a switch and get into game mode.”
Gibson said that the plan was to throw 60 pitches and he finished at 53.
As Gibson’s post-outing press conference came to a conclusion, the Twins game was on the TVs in the clubhouse. Taylor Rogers gave up three runs in the fourth inning. Gibson joked, “Those are probably the first runs he’s given up since May.”
And, at the end, those were the only runs of the game. The Tigers won 3-0.
GAME NOTES AND QUOTES
Lefty Tim Collins came on to pitch the seventh inning for the Twins. The non-roster invite struck out all three batters he faced. He has been impressive to his manager.
Baldelli said, “he looks healthy to me. He's thrown the ball well. He's missed a lot of bats. That's one thing that is impressive and it's something that you do want to see. You bring a guy in from the bullpen with his good breaking ball and good riding fastball, and that's what you want to see. You want to see bats missed, and that's exactly what he's done,”
In the bottom of the third innings, infielder Ehire Adrianza lined a solid single to center. As he reached first base, he and Miguel Cabrera embraced. They are both from Venezuela and are friends.
Soon after, Tyson Ross threw over to first base to try to pick off Adrianza. There wasn’t really a play. Cabrera faked throwing back to the mound as Adrianza stood up. Cabrera, still holding the ball in his glove, tagged Adrianza for the out. The ol’ Hidden Ball Trick.
Rocco Baldelli was asked about it after the game and chuckled. “ It happens. It happens. Miggy has been working on that play for about 15 years and he’s getting pretty good at it so it happens.”
And MLB’s official twitter feed had the video up quickly...
Baldelli continued, “Truthfully being a spring training game, it’s probably a lot easier to take and smile about. Again, I’m not going to say I was smiling but I might have smirked.”
Trevor May struggled in his inning of work. He needed a lot of pitches and issued two walks to go with a strikeout. That was the only out he recorded before Baldelli came and took him out of the game. DJ Baxendale came in and issued a walk on a close pitch to load the bases. However, he got a hard-hit grounder right at second baseman Luis Arraez who tossed to Nick Gordon at second who completed the double play with a strong throw to first base to get out of the inning. Arraez and Gordon teamed for another inning-ending double play an inning later.
Arraez’s defense has always been a question mark. But while he has played mostly second base in his career, he has played some third base too in spring training and held his own.
Nick Gordon showed a strong arm. At the plate, he also showed some serious strength when he drilled a line drive off the wall just to the left of center field for a triple.
Baldelli noted, “He hit that ball really well. I mean it’s a pretty big yard out there and for a guy, he’s a wiry, strong guy and it shows us, again I haven’t had too many at-bats with him, but it’s a good glimpse at what’s in there.”
Asked about the weight and strength, Baldelli pointed out, “I don’t really worry, I don’t check the scale. The actual weight doesn’t matter. I think it’s more of a strength discussion and an endurance discussion but he’s plenty strong. The thing is, he’s plenty strong enough. He’s a strong guy. You shake his hand, it’s there. We saw it today. It’s there and it’s inside him. I think it’s more along the lines of putting a entire complete season because he’s shown for periods of time that he can do it at a high level.”
Baldelli noted that he had seen Gordon play going way back to his high school days in Orlando.
And finally, yes, there is this…
LaMonte Wade hit a foul ball. I didn’t think it would get here, and it barely did. I was afraid it would hit my laptop, so I jumped up and lunged forward. I got a finger on it, and it dropped into the crowd below. And yes, my finger hurts. The catch probability on that ball, however, was only 3.2% so just getting a piece of it was pretty impressive if you ask me.
Following the game, in the clubhouse, Tommy Watkins found me and asked me why I didn’t catch the ball and if my finger was OK. Ah yes, good times.
In my defense, I was multi-tasking. I was editing the thousand or so pictures that I have taken in the first two days here in Ft. Myers. And I was working with FSN’s Audra Martin on finding the perfect shot or her. We think we found it.
Feel free to discuss and ask questions as you like.
On Tuesday, the Twins are sending a team up to Bradenton to play the Pirates. I will be staying in Ft. Myers and watching a lot of minor league baseball.
- Mar 11 2019 08:30 PM
- by Seth Stohs
Back in 2009, Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times opined, “What looked like an incredible break - the Twins passing on Prior and taking the more ‘signable’ Mauer with the #1-overall pick - has turned into yet another example of how fate seems to taunt the Cubs and Cubs fans.”
In hindsight, it is easy to say that the Twins made the right choice, but it is also fun to consider what would have happened if things had gone differently. What if the Twins would have drafted (and signed) Prior instead of Mauer? Let’s consider.
… for the Twins
Let’s start with an assumption that the Twins were actually able to convince Prior to sign. That’s a big assumption as Prior made it clear that he did not want to sign with the Twins at that time. But let’s think more positively.
The Twins have a strong history of drafting high school hitters and college pitchers. That was even more the case at that time for years to follow. Looking at some of the pitchers that the Twins employed in the early-to-mid ‘90s, you see a lot of college guys. Starting pitchers included names like Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, and Jeff Manship, who were all drafted out of college. The Twins moved each of them fairly aggressively in the minor leagues, and yet, in comparison to Prior, they were very patient. Of course, none of them were the #2 overall pick, or even first round picks.
The Twins likely would have had Mark Prior begin his professional career at Ft. Myers (High-A). He would have maybe spent a half-season there, and after the Florida State League All-Star Game, he may have been promoted to New Britain (Double A affiliate at that time). Honestly, because the Twins were in the playoffs, he probably would have been called up directly from Double A. If not, he would have gone to spring training 2003 with an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster. And he probably would have.
The Twins have been known for taking care of their pitchers, especially young pitchers, at least once Ron Gardenhire took over as manager. Dusty Baker was willing to let Kerry Wood and Mark Prior throw 120 to 140 (or more) pitches late into the season. I have no doubt that the Twins would have controlled pitch and inning counts much more tightly.
Does that mean that Prior would have stayed healthy? There’s no way to know that with any certainty. It is possible that Prior had underlying arm issues that may have caused inevitable injury. However, it is also possible that he could have been an All-Star, Cy Young-contending starter for the Twins from 2003 through 2008, and maybe beyond.
And think about the Twins 2006 team. That roster included the AL MVP (Justin Morneau), a top closer (Joe Nathan) and the AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. They also had Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Jason Bartlett, Brad Radke and a strong bullpen. How much could a healthy Mark Prior have helped that team? The thought of Prior and Santana in the same rotation, along with Brad Radke, and ideally a healthy Francisco Liriano is sure fun to think about. (Of course, the AL Batting title winner (Mauer) would not have been on the team.)
… for the Cubs
Had the Twins taken Prior, the likelihood is that the Cubs would have drafted Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira who was said to be looking for a $15 million deal after the draft. (With the Rangers, as the fifth pick, he signed a four-year, $9.5 million big league contract with a $4.5 million bonus.) Teixeira would have moved quickly through the Cubs farm system and probably put up numbers similar to those he has put up with the Rangers, Braves, Angels, and Yankees in his career. But would the Cubs have kept Aramis Ramirez or acquired Derrek Lee? Would they have gone after Alfonso Soriano? I would venture to guess that Teixeira would have been a building block for the Cubs and would likely not have played for as many teams in his career.
… for Joe Mauer
To me, it makes a lot of sense that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would have selected Joe Mauer with the third pick in the 2001 draft. The Rays were a team that was constantly building at that time. They had a lot of early draft picks that they used to select several talented high school players. They took Carl Crawford in 1999, Rocco Baldelli in 2000, BJ Upton in 2002, and Delmon Young with the first-overall pick in the 2003 draft. Mauer likely would have thrived with the Rays had this scenario played out.
While he batted third through most of his career with the Twins, you have to assume that Joe Maddon may not have been afraid to bat him leadoff. As earlier adopters of analytics, the Rays would have loved Mauer’s on-base percentage at the top of the lineup. Assuming health, it’s hard to believe that Mauer would not have been equally successful with the Rays.
Now, the economic reality is that the Rays would not have been able to keep him through free agency. The Twins actually extended him for two years beyond free agency before giving him the big contract. The Twins had to do the deal for a variety of reasons, including the new stadium, his performance on and off the field, and being a hometown player. If the Rays would have pushed him to the big leagues as quickly as the Twins did (likely), he probably would have been traded either before or after his 2009 season. At that time, Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek were on their last legs with the Yankees and Red Sox, respectively, so there would have been a big market and the Rays could have received a lot for Mauer. Mauer would likely have gone to a team that was in the playoffs often and would have had some great playoff and maybe World Series moments. Assuming health, he would have received, probably, an even bigger contract than the Twins gave him.
The Twins had a huge decision to make in 2001. Should they draft the All-American, can’t-miss college pitcher from a baseball-rich college? Or, should they take the tremendous high school athlete with the full ride scholarship to Florida State for football and baseball - a guy from their backyard with the perfect swing, a strong arm, and the perfect mentality?
The Twins went chose Mauer, and have never looked back or questioned it. Fortunately for the state of Minnesota, Mauer has proven the Twins right over time, regardless of what Prior has done in his career, by being one of the best players in baseball. Even if Prior somehow goes on to win three or four Cy Young Awards, the Twins’ selection is justified. It was not a case of the team being “cheap”: Mauer’s signing bonus still ranks among the highest of all time (in part because of baseball going to the slotting system in the draft). It was not a case of picking the hometown kid over a better player (as the Padres did in 2004 when they picked Matt Bush instead of Justin Verlander).
Scouting and the baseball draft can be such an inexact science. The Twins have a solid track record in drafting and player development, but no team is perfect all of the time. In 2001, the Twins had a difficult decision, and they made the right choice.
- Apr 17 2018 08:46 PM
- by Seth Stohs
He became a huge prospect nationally. Now, he has too many at-bats to still be called a prospect. Through Wednesday’s game, Kepler has ten home runs in 196 major league plate appearances. He has quickly climbed the prospect ladder as he worked his way toward the big leagues. Now in the big leagues, he is climbing the list of top rookies in the American League, arguably behind only Detroit’s Michael Fullmer if Rookie of the Year voting were done today.
Der Schlager (The Slugger) is also climbing the statistical leaderboard for German-born major league players. According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 43 big leaguers who were born in Germany. As of today, Kepler ranks 14th in plate appearances. His ten home runs are already fifth on the list.
A brief look at the players born in Germany who have more plate appearances than him tells even more about the unique story of Max Kepler. When the Twins signed him for about three-quarters of a million dollars, it was the highest bonus ever given to a player from the country, or anywhere in Europe. Assuming health, Kepler will most likely set all of the records for players from Germany.
Glenn Hubbard - Those of us old enough to remember when most Atlanta games were on TBS in the ‘80s remember the long-time second baseman fondly. He is the current leader in plate appearances with 5,122 over 12 seasons in the big leagues. He was born in Germany, the son of a father who was in the United States Air Force. He moved to the States when he was very young and went to school in California and Utah.
Bill Kuehne - Born in the German Confederation city of Leipzig in the mid-1800s, Kuehne accumulated 4,423 plate appearances over his ten year career. He grew up in Chicago.
Mike Blowers - Blowers was a power-hitter, mostly playing for the Mariners, during the years that Ken Griffey, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner played in Seattle. He had 2,585 plate appearances over 11 big league seasons. Born in Wurzburg, he was the son of a US army dad and moved to the United States at a very young age.
Jeff Baker - Baker spent parts of 11 seasons in the big leagues. He accumulated 1,958 plate appearances between 2005 and 2015 as a utility player (primarily). He also was born to a military family, his dad being in the Army.
Fritz Mollwitz - A Coburg native, Mollwitz played in the big leagues between 1913 and 1919. He had 1,909 plate appearances.
Charlie “Pretzel” Getzien - Getzien became the first MLB player from Germany when he debuted in 1884. A pitcher, there are multiple stories on how he earned the Pretzel nickname. Maybe it was based on his country of origin. Some believed it was because of his curveball, which people say curved at least twice, like a pretzel. He came to the plate 1,140 times over his nine big league seasons.
Ben Koehler - Born in Schoerndorn, Koehler had 804 plate appearances in just two big league seasons. He played major league baseball in 1905 and 1906.
Ron Gardenhire - The long-time Twins manager and coach was born in Butzbach, West Germany. He is the son of a Army man. He moved to the States as a very young child. He came to the plate 777 times between 1981 and 1985.
Dutch Schliebner - The Berlin native spent just one season in the big leagues, 1923. He batted 587 times that year but never got another opportunity.
Marty Krug - He played in 20 games for the Red Sox in 1912 and then got into 127 games for the Cubs in 1922. He accumulated a total of 571 plate appearances. Born in Koblenz, he left Germany when he was three years old.
Heinz Becker - Between 1943 and 1947, Becker spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues. He had 412 plate appearances in MLB. He was born in Berlin but his family left Germany following World War I. They went to Venezuela before moving to the United States. He was the only player from Germany during World War II.
Edwin Jackson - Jackson was recently called up to the big leagues again. He has spent parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues, starting in 2003. He has accumulated 412 career plate appearances.
Next in line is Max Kepler, just shy of 200 plate appearances. Let’s guess, and hope, that Kepler stays healthy and productive the rest of 2016 and through 2017. He could reach 1,000 plate appearances by the end of 2017 which would rank eighth on this list.
As far as the home run list, Kepler already ranks tenth, though it’ll take him a few years to climb the list. Bill Kuehne (25), Jeff Baker (54), Glenn Hubbard (70) and Mike Blowers (78) are the four German-born players ahead of Kepler on the list.
So what we see from the list of players born in Germany, they fit into a couple of categories.
- Players born in Germany before World War 1.
- Players whose family left Germany when they were young.
- Players born to military families who were based in Germany for their birth.
Kepler is unique in many ways, but he is certainly one of the first in nearly a century to be raised in Germany. Though his mother is from the United States and he visited family in Texas on vacations, Kepler grew up in Berlin. When he signed, his only real baseball experience came in Germany.
Kepler signed in July of 2009, the same day the Twins signed Jorge Polanco. Miguel Sano was signed in October of the same year. That’s an impressive class filled with a lot of potential.
Kepler has the potential to be the greatest player ever born in Germany. He may already be the greatest player who ever grew up in Germany.
And he is the first player from Germany ever to grace the cover of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook..
- Jul 21 2016 05:53 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Among his duties, according to the press release from the team, will be "traveling to all minor league affiliates serving as a special roving instructor and evaluator."
This is a role set up for Gardenhire, and yet it isn't a new role in the Twins organization. In fact, it's a role that Tom Kelly has embraced over the years. Kelly often traveled to the Twins minor league cities and worked with the prospects, but also watched the practices and games to evaluate.
Ron Gardenhire, aside from the 2015 season, has been with the Twins organization going back to 1987. He was Tom Kelly's third base coach on the 1991 World Series championship team and remained on the staff until Kelly decided to retire. At the time, Gardenhire was the clear choice to take a young and talented group out of the contraction talk and led them to six division titles. He was the AL Manager of the Year once, though he finished second in the voting five times.
In 2014, he became the Twins second manager to reach the 1,000 win plateau, joining Tom Kelly. Following that season, the Twins relieved him of his managerial duties.
It was clear at the time that it would be just a matter of time before Gardenhire rejoined the organization. He took 2015 off, and he was in the running for the manager jobs in Washington and San Diego. When San Diego offered him a job in their front office, and he declined, it was inevitable that it was just a matter of time before he would rejoin the Twins.
Certainly, there will be some who don't like this move. Some may chose to call it a "bringing back the band" type of move. Sure, there's some of that, just like there is when they ask Torii Hunter, Rick Aguilera and LaTroy Hawkins to come to spring training. Or, when they give similar jobs to the likes of Kent Hrbek, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew and others.
The difference is that, like Tom Kelly, they're going to put Gardenhire to work. And that's a good thing. Terry Ryan trusts Gardenhire and they have a good relationship. Ryan will trust any evaluation done by Gardenhire.
And, when it comes down to it, Gardenhire got to the big leagues as a player because of hard work. He got to the big leagues as a coach because of hard work and his ability to coach, and teach. And now he's going to be asked to spend some time back in the minor leagues, working and teaching young players. And that's a good thing.
It's like when Terry Ryan came back as General Manager. Bill Smith was an obvious choice to bring back to the front office. He had done his job very well for 25 years before becoming the GM, and since his return, he has done a great job with the Hammond Stadium's renovations, with the minor league academy in Ft. Myers and he will be a big part of the new academy going up in the Dominican Republic.
Bringing in and keeping good baseball people is important. Gardenhire certainly fits into that category. Soon, I'm certain, he will be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. It's great to see that he's back in the fold even before that happens.
And finally, Ron Gardenhire has always been a terrific ambassador for Twins baseball and represented the organization well. He's tremendous in the community and will continue to be.
- Apr 18 2016 05:35 PM
- by Seth Stohs
4/3/82: The Twins beat the Phillies 5-0 in an exhibition game, the first major league game played at the Metrodome. Pete Rose collected the new stadium’s first hit, and Bloomington-native Kent Hrbek hit the Dome’s first two home runs.
4/4/90: The Twins traded future-KARE 11 anchor, Mike Pomeranz, to Pittsburgh in exchange for Junior Ortiz and a minor league pitcher. Ortiz, who wore #0, is best-remembered as Scott Erickson’s personal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Championship season.
4/5/14: The Twins beat the Indians 7-3 in Cleveland for Ron Gardenire’s 1,000th managerial win. Leadoff hitter Brian Dozier homered on the second pitch of the game. Leading 7-1 in the 9th, 2001 Stillwater Area High School graduate and former Golden Gopher, Glen Perkins, gave up 2 runs before securing the Kyle Gibson victory.
4/6 is the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven, born in Zeist, Holland (1951). Blyleven grew up in Garden Grove, CA and was drafted by Minnesota out of high school in the third round in 1969. After only 21 minor league starts, Bert made his major league debut on June 2nd, 1970 at age 19. Blyleven went on to pitch for 22 seasons, 11 in Minnesota (‘70-’76, ‘85-’88). He is a two-time World Series champion, winning his first in 1979 as a Pittsburgh Pirate, and his second as a member of the ‘87 Twins. Blyleven won 149 games as a Twin, second only to Jim Kaat (190). His 3,701 career strikeouts rank fifth in major league history. Bert Blyleven was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, his 14th year on the ballot. His number 28 is retired by the Minnesota Twins.
4/6/66: The Twins traded Nimrod, MN native and 1954 Sebeka High School grad, Dick Stigman and a player to named later to the Boston Red Sox for backup catcher Russ Nixon and second baseman Chuck Schilling who never appeared in a major league game for Minnesota and retired rather than accept a minor league assignment. Schilling became a math teacher in Long Island, NY.
4/6/73: Tony Oliva hit the first home run by a designated hitter in major league history off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter in the top of the 1st, driving in Rod Carew. Bert Blyleven pitched the first of his season’s 25 complete games in the Twins’ 8-3 victory.
4/7/70: Outfielder Brant Alyea drove in 7 runs to back winning pitcher Jim Perry in the season-opener. Alyea went on to collect 21 RBI in the Twins’ first 12 games, 19 of which came in Perry’s first four starts of the season.
4/8/88: The Twins beat the Blue Jays 6-3. Dan Gladden went 4-for-5 with 3 runs scored, 4 RBI and 2 home runs. He homered in the 1st and 8th and, and stole home off of David Wells in the 7th with Kent Hrbek batting.
Gladden stole home three times in his career, twice in ‘88 and once in ‘89. He was caught attempting to steal home five times. Rod Carew stole home 17 times, and Paul Molitor 10 times.
4/9/00: The Twins hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in a 13-7 win in Kansas City. Already leading 6-0 entering the top of the 6th, Corey Koskie led off the inning with a base hit. Ron Coomer, Jacque Jonesand Matt LeCroy then proceeded to hit three consecutive home runs on four total pitches, Coomer and Jones hitting first-pitch homers, and LeCroy taking an 0-1 pitch out of the park. Coomer homered again in the 7th, again with Koskie on base.
Eric Milton had retired the first 20 batters in order and had a two-hit shutout going into the 8th. After retiring the first two batters, including former Twin David McCarty, Milton allowed two hits and was relieved by Eddie Guardado. Guardado gave up an RBI single and then back-to-back home runs to Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye. He was relieved by Hector Carrasco who surrendered the Royals’ third consecutive home run to Mike Sweeney. It was the first game in major league history in which each team hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.
The Twins are one of seven teams to have hit four consecutive home runs, doing so on May 2, 1964 in Kansas City versus the Athletics. With the score tied 3-3 entering the top of the 11th, Tony Oliva hit a leadoff home run, followed by Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew, giving the Twins a 7-3 victory.
The Twins set the American League record by hitting five home runs in a single inning on June 9, 1966, also against the KC Athletics, but this time in Bloomington at the Met. The Athletics erupted for four runs in the first off Camilo Pascual, who only lasted ⅔ of an inning. Facing 1987 Hall of Fame inductee, Catfish Hunter, the Twins pulled within 4-3 on a Bob Allison RBI double in the 5th and a two-run Killebrew homer in the 6th. Then, in the bottom of the 7th, Rich Rollins and Zoilo Versalles connected for back-to-back homers off of Hunter to take the lead. Reliever Paul Lindblad retired Sandy Valdespino before allowing back-to-back homers to Tony Oliva and Don Mincher. The Athletics then turned to John Wyatt who allowed the Twins’ third consecutive home run, and the fifth of the inning, to Harmon Killebrew, his second of the game.
Four National League teams have hit five home runs in an inning. The first time was in 1939 and the most recent in 2006. All four were against the Cincinnati Reds.
For the history of the Minnesota Twins told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
For the stories of the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook and follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter.
- Apr 03 2016 10:42 AM
- by Matt Johnson
Since there are currently no openings, he isn't actively pursuing a position, but he's open to considering all possibilities. There's also no reason to hurry since he had a year remaining on his contract when the Twins let him go at the end of last season.
Some managers are already on the hot seat even though the season is relatively young. Here are a few of the possible landing spots as Gardy looks for new employment.
Reports out of Miami have manager Mike Redmond, a former Twin, on the hot seat even though he is only in his third year at the helm. Many writers picked the Marlins as a playoff team this year but they have floundered out of the gate. Team owner Jeffrey Loria has been quick to pull the trigger on managers in the past so it wouldn't be surprising if Miami decided to go in a different direction. From Gardenhire's prospective, Miami might not be the ideal spot since his job security would immediately be called into question. This would be quite the change from the consistency he knew in the Twins organization.
Much like Miami, the Brewers are off to a poor start as they entered the weekend with the fewest wins in baseball. Center fielder Carlos Gomez, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and second baseman Scooter Gennett are all on the disabled list so that hasn't helped the situation. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio came out earlier this week and said that neither Ron Roenicke nor general manager Doug Melvin are on the hot seat. That tune could change if the Brewers continue to lose games in the coming months. Since Gardenhire still makes his home in Minnesota, it seems like staying with a Midwest team like Milwaukee could fit his needs.
Los Angeles Angels
There have been some high expectations in Los Angeles over the last handful of years. Signing big name stars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to add to the likes of reigning AL MVP Mike Trout was supposed to put the Angles on a path to greatness. The club has only made the playoffs once in the last five seasons and they were swept out of last year's divisional series by the Royals. Mike Scioscia has been at the helm since 2000 and the Angels front office might want a new voice to try to lead their team to the playoffs. From Gardenhire's perspective, any manager would be crazy not to want to pencil Trout's name in the line-up card everyday.
Charlie Manuel has only been out the door for a couple seasons but Ryne Sandberg hasn't finished better than fourth in the NL East. The Phillies roster is aging and it's hard to pick out what direction the team is going. There isn't a lot of light at the end of the tunnel at this point and the Philadelphia sports scene can be tough on failing clubs. A new manager like Gardenhire might not completely be the answer. But if the fans get out the torches and pitchforks for Sandberg, Gardenhire would be available and the rich Phillies history could be enough to lure him to the City of Brotherly Love.
For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
- Apr 25 2015 05:58 AM
- by Cody Christie
- Mar 22 2015 09:06 PM
- by John Bonnes
- Feb 23 2015 11:37 PM
- by John Bonnes
The Twins have been in a losing funk for such a long time that it can be difficult for fans to remember just how quickly fortunes sometimes turn. But it can happen, and it has. The dramatic shifts that have coincided with the last two managerial changes provide evidence enough of that.
Kelly originally stepped in midway through the 1986 season, with the Twins on their way to 91 losses. At the time, they had not finished above .500 in eight years, but the club experienced a renaissance under Kelly, capturing two championships in his first five seasons.
After this successful stretch, they fell back into a rut, and by the end of the 90s they were caught in an extended losing spell similar to the one they are presently trying to escape. The Twins lost 90 or more games every year from 1997 through 2000, and while it appeared they were headed for a division title in 2001, they collapsed in the second half and fell short.
Gardenhire took over the following year, and we all know the rest of that story.
In light of this history, Molitor shouldn't feel too intimidated as he takes the reigns and seeks to steer the Twins out of the darkness.
Despite the timing, it likely wasn't the changes in leadership that primarily drove these last two turnarounds, but rather influxes of prospect talent and emergences of young star players, as well as savvy veteran additions.
The team is in a comparable position now as Molitor embarks on his journey, so it's not hard to draw a parallel and envision a similar outcome. It stands to reason that the new skipper himself -- uninterested in sitting through multiple years of stagnation -- is doing so.
Will the resurgence be as abrupt as it was in those aforementioned instances? Of course, the answer is 'probably not.' The Twins need to get back to the .500 range before a deep postseason run becomes a consideration. Talk of a worst-to-first swing in the Central is mostly just rosy optimism that always tends to manifest at this time of year.
It's hardly unthinkable that the Twins could find themselves in contention for the division late in the season. Obviously they need to stay healthy and get a lot of good individual performances. But, in a broader sense, two things need to happen:
1) Fast start. The team needs to put itself in a competitive mindset with a surprisingly strong start, and a record at or above .500 heading into July. This would set them up as "buyers" at the deadline, allowing them to upgrade in areas of need midway through the season. It would also make more urgent the calling up of prospects who could make a positive impact (e.g., Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano).
2) Weak division. This part, unfortunately, isn't really in the Twins' control. During his Q&A at the Winter Meltdown event, team president Dave St. Peter opined that the AL Central might be the strongest division in baseball. Well... that needs to be not the case. Not so much because the Twins need to be able to come out on top -- the addition of an extra wild-card spot somewhat negates that aspect -- but because they need a team or two they can beat up on and pile up wins against.
In 2010, when the Twins won the division, they went a combined 26-10 against Chicago and Kansas City. In 2009 they went 24-12 against those same two clubs. Between '02 and '03 they won 29 of 38 games against the Tigers.
With baseball's unbalanced schedule, taking care of business against the division's bottom-feeders is critical to contending for October. For the last few years, the Twins have been that bottom-feeder; they need to swap out of that role.
It's a little difficult to envision such a scenario this year -- the Royals and Tigers ain't what they used to be, and the White Sox and Indians both look pretty good on paper -- but you never know.
What do you think? What will it take for the Twins to be competitive in the division and in the American League this year?
- Jan 28 2015 05:54 AM
- by Nick Nelson
#5 Busiest Traffic Day at Twins Daily – December 11, 2014
We knew it would be a busy day. In fact, I took a day off of work in anticipation of a busy day. Of course, there were other reasons for that decision as well, including putting the finishing touches on the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2015 (which was completed at about midnight that night).
On the site, the day started with a very interesting look at payroll from Jon Marthaler. $200 Million Is The New $100 Million discussed the changes in baseball’s revenue streams and how teams, including the Twins, needed to adapt. As you would expect with any payroll discussion, there were plenty of opinions shared.
That morning was also the final day of the Winter Meetings which means it was time for the Rule 5 Draft. There was plenty of discussion on players that the Twins could potentially lose or add in the Major League portion. The Twins used the fifth pick of the Rule 5 to select right-handed pitcher J.R. Graham from the Atlanta Braves. Several picks later, the New York Mets drafted lefty Sean Gilmartin from the Twins.
In the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Twins picked up right-hander Greg Peavey from the Mets organization. Unfortunately, the team also lost lefty Matt Tomshaw to the Marlins.
However, that wasn’t the last news of the day. Less than two hours after the completion of the Rule 5 draft, it came out that the Twins had agreed to a four year contract with right-handed veteran Ervin Santana. Nick wrote about how the signing showed a shift in the Twins mindset. Parker wrote about what we should expect from Santana.
#4 Busiest Traffic Day at Twins Daily – September 29, 2014
It was a day that many Twins fans and Twins Daily commenters had been waiting a couple of years for. A day after the 2014 season concluded, the Twins announced that Manager Ron Gardenhire had been fired. The press conference was certainly interesting and unusual as both Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire.
Soon after, we started discussing the potential managerial candidates.
The perceived Twins loyalty could not overcome four straight losing seasons from the Twins. Both the Gleeman and the Geek podcast and the Twins Hangouts podcast had special shows to discuss this move.
It took a month, and a lot of interviews and rumors, before the Twins decided to hire Paul Molitor as the next Twins Manager.
#3 Busiest Traffic Day at Twins Daily – June 5, 2014
The draft is one of the busiest times of the year for the Twins. Jeremy Nygaard is the most knowledgeable draft expert of anyone not in the Twins organization. He wrote a series of articles leading up to the draft on several topics. Twins Daily writers also profiled ten potential players that the Twins could have drafted with the fifth overall pick. It all led to the first day of the draft. The last couple of days, the draft has been broken into three days. On the first day, it is just rounds one and two and it starts in the evening.
However, the Twins Daily MLB Draft Day 1 Thread got the conversation going throughout the day. Finally, with the fifth overall pick, the Twins took the player most assumed that they would select. The Twins drafted Nick Gordon, a shortstop from Orlando with great bloodlines and tool set. In the second round, the Twins drafted Nick Burdi, the flame-throwing closer from Louisville whose team was in the College World Series. The Twins had drafted Burdi three years earlier out of high school but were unable to sign him them.
#2 Busiest Traffic Day at Twins Daily – July 31, 2014
When your team loses 90 games four straight seasons, you know that the July trade deadline will be a busy time. There were several rumors throughout the day that were discussed.
In the morning, the Twins traded outfielder Sam Fuld to Oakland in exchange for left-hander Tommy Milone. Ironically, the Twins had claimed Fuld off of waivers earlier in the season when he had been DFAd by the A’s. He had played well in his time with the Twins. The A’s made several deals around the deadline, including trading outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston. They needed an outfielder and Fuld made a lot of sense. In return, the Twins received Milone who had pitched well the last three seasons with the A’s and yet found himself in AAA due to a numbers crunch in the A’s rotation. As a side-note in the article, it was mentioned that there were rumblings that Kennys Vargas would be promoted from Double-A New Britain.
The other big topic of the day revolved around All Star catcher Kurt Suzuki. He had signed a one-year deal with the Twins before the season. At the deadline, the Twins had to decide if they were going to trade him while his value was high. Instead, the Twins extended Suzuki for two years and $12 million with an option for a third year.
#1 Busiest Traffic Day at Twins Daily – June 6, 2014
The Twins were about to start a series at Target Field against the Houston Astros. Sean Gilmartin also pitched well again for the Rochester Red Wings. However, those articles weren’t the big draw of the day.
The first day of the MLB draft is a busy day at Twins Daily, but since the draft is later in the day on Day 1, Day 2 is actually an even busier day. A more in-depth story on Nick Gordon called Beyond the Bloodlines was written. Sure, Gordon’s father Tom was a big league pitcher for two decades, and his brother Dee was an All Star in 2014, but Nick Gordon has an incredible tool set and is very talented and isn’t in the same mold as either of his family members.
The Twins also made their 3rd round through 10th round draft picks on Day 2. The discussion revolved around the fact that each of these picks was from college and also that they were drafting a lot of relief pitchers after selecting Burdi in the 2nd round. Of course, since then, we learned more about Michael Cederoth and his high-90s fastball. The Twins had him starting games for Elizabethton. And, at this point, Jake Reed looks like an absolute steal in the 5th round.
Though it ranked just outside the top 10 busiest days of the year, Day 3 of the draft also was quite busy. That day, the Twins drafted 30 players (Rounds 11 through 40) and announced that they were signing DH Kendrys Morales now that he would not cost a draft pick. Later in the day, one of our favorite Twins Daily contributors, AJ Pettersen, announced that he was Moving On from baseball as a player. As you now know, he has been hired to coach the varsity baseball team at Chanhassen high school starting in 2015. (By the way, if you have read the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2015 already, I’m sure you enjoyed his article in it about finding joy in all things)
There you have it, the Twins Daily Top 5 Busiest Days of 2014. I’m sure this brings back some memories. What were your favorite memories and story lines of 2014?
- Dec 30 2014 11:23 PM
- by Seth Stohs
Guentzel talks about her time with the MLB FanCave, her experience as a pregame show host for the Twins Radio Network and drops all of the names. Pettersen shares his thoughts on targeting a manager that can relate to the Latino players, his inside sources that are close to Paul Molitor and the shift from New Britain to Chattanooga.
Listen below, on iTunes or on Stitcher:
- Oct 06 2014 10:17 AM
- by Parker Hageman
- Sep 29 2014 10:40 PM
- by John Bonnes
- Jul 27 2014 08:55 PM
- by John Bonnes