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Everything posted by weinshie

  1. By David Weinshilboum In 2013, the Golden State Warriors basketball team seemed on the verge. A franchise that had been a laughingstock for decades had been to the playoffs two years in a row. Led by coach Mark Jackson and a young injury-prone sharpshooter by the name of Stephen Curry, the steam had suddenly thrust itself into relevancy. Yet, just three days after a playoff loss in 2013, the Warriors fired Jackson (who had a year left on his contract). He was a good coach who had many positive attributes. The team was headed in the right direction. Why fire him? The Warriors hired Steve Kerr who implemented a new offense that maximized Curry’s long-range shooting abilities. The team went on to win Championships in three of the next four seasons. As the tired sports cliché goes, the rest is history. The Minnesota Twins – until this train-wreck of a year—were a team and organization on the rise. Then rookie manager Rocco Baldelli led the Twins to a 100-win season in 2019 and another division championship in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Today the Twins are mired in a disaster season that simply isn’t going to get better. Their best player is injured and half a dozen others are playing well below expectations (Sano, Maeda, Kepler, Polanco and, sorry to put this in print, Colome). When the Twins 2021 season comes to a close, they will be a failure: no playoffs and well below expectations of 90-plus wins. In October, the Twins will have to ask themselves an important question: is Baldelli the leader who can take this team and franchise to the next level? I would argue that, for some very rational, logical reasons, the answer is no. The Twins Twitterverse wants Rocco’s head now, and a few days ago, during a television broadcast, a fan wandered behind home plate and held a sign calling for a managerial change. There’s a lot of emotion going into the Fire Rocco movement. Baldelli has NEVER been a good in-game manager, oftentimes making fans scratch their heads or, at times, yank tufts of hair from scalp. His choice of defensive substitutions, pinch hitters and pinch runners feels arbitrary at best. The most obvious example was a couple weeks ago in Oakland when, in extra innings, Baldelli pinch ran Travis Blankenhorn for Josh Donaldson. The move compromised defense in a big way. And Baldelli made matters worse when he put second-baseman Luis Arraez at third and Blankenhorn at second – eroding the leather at TWO positions instead of just one. The game ended when Blankenhorn booted one grounder and Arraez air-mailed a routine throw to first. Another reason fans might dislike him is his press conference demeanor: he is dullard diplomat who makes former Vikings Coach/statue Bud Grant look emotional. Worse, he never calls out terrible plays – both physical or mental – and seems to dismiss garbage baseball as “part of the game.” Neither of these negative attributes are fireable offenses, though. Baldelli is a good manager. Players love him. They want to play for him. He is flexible and allows them to select preparation that fits their needs. He maximized player abilities in 2019, getting the most out of Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver and Max Kepler. All good things must come to an end, though. And Baldelli’s millennial approach to players might not be as conducive to good baseball as it once was. This year, many players aren’t properly prepared for games. Too often, players seem to be using their first at-bat to “learn” about a pitcher’s repertoire instead of reviewing the scouting reports. Players appear ok with early-inning strikeouts since they’ve seen the stuff. It’s not a stretch to assume many Twins are taking advantage of Rocco’s laissez faire approach to being game ready. Also, Rocco’s concern for injured players seems incredibly detrimental to the team, particularly given how the roster has been assembled. The Front Office has routinely preferred more pitchers and a short bench. But Red-Cross Rocco sits players if they report a hangnail. Worse, he won’t even consider them for pinch hitting or late-inning defense. There have been over a dozen instances this season when Baldelli has chosen to pinch hit a weaker bat instead of a resting star who is at 90 percent. All for the sake of future health. In a year where rosters are 26 players deep, the Twins have been playing with 22 or 23 players. Is Baldelli having a bad year? Absolutely. When the leader of the team forgets how many mound visits have been made, it’s a bad, bad look. The Twins in many ways have played the way Baldelli has managed this year: haphazardly, unevenly and obliviously. Baldelli certainly has the ability to manage better than he has. But when his contract ends, the Twins must decide whether he is the best fit for the club. Their decision will be huge because this team is on the precipice of irrelevancy. David Weinshilboum lives in California and bemoans this year’s Twins ineptitude from afar. Follow @weinshie on Twitter.
  2. By David Weinshilboum On opening day, Willians Astudillo was coming off a white-hot spring training and remained beloved as “La Tortuga” in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. When he stepped in the box against Milwaukee flamethrower Josh Hader in the 10th, there was hope the Twins could pull out a win. A runner had been placed on second, per new rules, and Astudillo was a contact guy, maybe capable of moving Andrelton Simmons to third—what a professional hitter *should* do. What happened? The Turtle fouled off two heaters then swung and missed on the third. Luis Arraez and Jake Cave also K’ed and the Twins lost. Little did Twins fans realize that Astudillo’s failure to move the runner over would be a recurring theme for this woebegone team. Four times the Twins have gone into extra innings, and every single game, they’ve failed to move runners over. In each instance, at least one at-bat has proven to be disastrous. The inability to take smart situational at-bats will continue to haunt this team, and will put them at a disadvantage in extra innings. Sure, Astudillo’s opening-day at-bat can be forgiven. Hader is a beast that tosses fire. But on April 10, he had another opportunity to lead off the 10th. This time Seattle pitcher Keynan Middleton was on the mound. Astudillo swung at all three pitches – two of which were on the outer edge of the strike zone. He popped out and the runner remained on second. Forgotten in the brutal error-laden loss to the Athletics on April 21 was Mitch Garver’s feeble at-bat to begin the 10th. Granted, Byron Buxton launched a monster home run in the next at-bat, but Garver kept swinging for the fences — and missing in his at-bat. The last strike was a fastball “center cut” as announcer Dan Gladden would say. Trying to punch the ball to the right side would have been the right approach. Garver swung hard and missed. Perhaps the most problematic situational at-bats took place on April 6 against the Tigers. The Twins began the 10th with a Nelson Cruz single that put runners on first and third. All Max Kepler had to do was hit the ball in the air. Instead, he watched a high strike sail by then swung at a pitch in the dirt for strike three. One out. Next Buxton – having an amazing year – erred. With the infield in, Buck swung at a pitch down and away and the Tigers’ drawn-in infield got Jorge Polanco at the plate. Too often, Twins hitters make no adjustments to a given situation; they want to believe it’s still 2019 and they are still the Bomba Squad, so they swing from the heels with two strikes. And fail. Sano, Garver, Cave, Astudillo and at times Kepler seem to be without a plan when they step to the plate. It’s fair to question whether dual hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez are adequately preparing this team for their work in the batter’s box. If changes aren’t made, there’ll be a lot more extra inning losses when the dog days of summer arrive. David Weinshilboum, who wants to replace the inimitable and great Patrick Reusse as the most hated Twins blogger, is on Twitter. Follow weinshie and troll him.
  3. Hey Dante, Not sure what you've been watching, but I know terrible baseball when I see it. This team is bad in a litany of ways, and much different than past poor-record Twins teams. They ain't making the playoffs. Periodt. Happy to tell you "I told you so" in August. Peace.
  4. The Twins are playing horribly and are ill equipped to make a run because of talent (visible) and psychology (body language and seeing how they respond to adversity). It's sort of like the Chauvin trial: believe what you've seen. I do; this team is done. If you disagree I'm happy to make it interesting bet-wise; unlike the shills on ESPN, I put my $ where my mouth is.
  5. I guess my blog is a counterpoint to yours. This team is done imho.
  6. By David Weinshilboum The Twins had lost the first two games of the series and just wanted to salvage something –anything – against the Oakland Athletics. They were the favorites to win the division and maybe make a run in the playoffs. In the ninth inning, it looked like a win was almost a certainty. Then the wheels fell off. A closer blew a save. It was brutal. While this is a seemingly accurate description of what happened in Oakland yesterday, I was referencing a different game, one that took place July 29, 1992. Then, the Twins had a loaded team and seemed ready to make another World Series run after their improbably 1991 championship. Their team was complete. They had a gamer for a second baseman in Chuck Knoblauch, a fantastic center fielder and good pitching. (Sound familiar?) The Twins were 60-40 before that game in Minneapolis. When the ninth inning rolled around, the Twins had a lead of 4-2 over the A’s; Bill Krueger had outdueled Oakland ace Dave Stewart and the reliable Rick Aguilera took over to nail down the series finale. Aguilera gave up a 3-run shot to journeyman outfielder Eric Fox, Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley closed it out, and the Twins lost. I remember the shock on the faces of Minnesota players; Aguilera just didn’t blow saves, much less surrender bombs to no-name outfielders. The Twins walked off the field in disbelief because this sort of loss just didn’t happen, not to this team. I remember walking out of the Metrodome thinking, “It’s just one loss.” It wasn’t. The Twins managed a .500 record the rest of the way but never had the same swagger or confidence. The A’s took the division. The loss ended the Twins’ season. It would lead to a 10-year playoff drought and a near-death experience when then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig tried to contract the Twins out of existence. That was the worst Minnesota Twins loss I had ever witnessed in person – until yesterday. On Wednesday, I sat behind home plate with my friend. At least four different times my friend (a California native oblivious to Minnesota sports futility) turned to me and said, “The Twins are going to win this one!” He was particularly happy for me since he had also witnessed the disinterested effort the Twins had produced the day before. All four times, I responded with something along the lines of, “You don’t know this team or this relief corps; it ain’t over.” When Travis Blankenhorn — manchild who plays double-A defense— muffed a game-ending grounder, my usually phlegmatic friend cursed aloud in disbelief. When Arraez —a second baseman stuck at third — airmailed the game-losing throw, my friend was without words. When the Twins walked off the field, they weren’t surprised or shocked. They expected the loss, just as I had. That’s the sort of mentality that has led to a disaster of a season we’ve all witnessed. I love this team, feel horrible for Blankenhorn and Arraez, a hard-nosed hitter who has worked hard to become decent defensively at three different positions. I’ll keep watching the Twins because many of their players can do great things. I semi-heckled Josh Donaldson prior to his first AB on Wednesday; he heard me then launched a homerun on the first pitch he saw. Buxton’s game in the outfield and batter’s box is always a thing to behold; a 40-year-old who could barely walk blasted two monster homeruns. But this team is done. Anyone suggesting this team is a playoff team is blind and lobotomized. They are terrible, and they expect to play terribly. Those are just the facts. David Weinshilboum, who survived 4-20 despite lots of second-hand smoke, is on Twitter. Follow weinshie to watch him clap back the baseball Twitter establishment.
  7. The last time I witnessed the Minnesota Twins play in person was almost two years ago. Back then Corona was an alcoholic beverage; police brutality was a back-burner issue; the likes of Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Alex Trebek all had tomorrows to experience. On the diamond, the Twins were the talk of the nation. They destroyed baseballs and home run records en route to a 100-win season. I attended a game in Oakland (as I am a displaced Minnesotan). It was July 2019. The Twins' offense did its part: Sano launched a towering bomb to left field and catcher Jason Castro rocketed two homers into the Oakland night. Jake Odorizzi was about to be named to the All Star Game, but he didn't fare well, giving up a grand slam to former Twin Chris Herrmann. The A's won 8-6. Granted, the final score was not what I'd wanted, but that didn't overshadow the joy of being a fan, being present. I tried to attend a game last year, was ready for the 2020 Oakland home opener against Minnesota. Of course, we all know how that turned out. The country -- in an attempt to slow the pandemic -- went on lockdown. The baseball season hit pause. The only thing that filled stadiums were the echoes of emptiness. When I purchased tickets to attend today's game, I was certain my baseball drought would be over. Like over 200 million Americans, I had been vaccinated. Normalcy felt so close; hope infused my soul. Then reality. First Andrelton Simmons. Then others. Later, Kyle Garlick. An outbreak had infiltrated my team's clubhouse. This wasn't supposed to happen. Game after game postponed. The Twins' west-coast swing was turning into a swing and miss. I was certain that the baseball gods had it out for me. Then late word: Twins baseball was a go. The Twins would travel to Oakland and take the field. Hope. Normalcy. Baseball. So my jaded self will be in the stands, observing it all. Yes, I'll shake my head at any Twin miscues and just might curse a certain closer if a bullpen collapse occurs. I'll complain, cheer then complain some more. But I'll appreciate it, all of it: the big swings, line drives and flashes of leather. Tomorrow's not promised, so I'll enjoy today. *** Follow this jaded Twins fan --who most certainly will get a contact high at the Oakland Coliseum on 4/20 -- on Twitter. I'm @weinshie
  8. I think it's fair to raise questions about Polanco post PED production. Yes, he was banned in 2018, but he didn't sign an extension until the 2019 offseason (Feb). And his 2019 breakout pre-All Star was much better than the second half. Since then he's been replacement player level at best.... Could weaning off PEDs be an issue? That's got to be fair game when discussing his production imho.
  9. I don't share your optimism; Vegas' Over/Under for Donaldson's innings tomorrow is TWO! smdh
  10. A few minutes ago, I made a bet with a Minnesota sports aficionado (Darren Wolfson) that the Red Sox would sweep the twins in Wednesday's double header. For the record, I did not make the bet ($10 and a mea culpa tweet) because I am an attention whore or because I hate the Twins. (Though I AM an attention whore and I am not a fan of how the Twinks have played of late). I just have a baseball vibe and, from what I've observed the past couple weeks, it just seems like the Twins have yet to hit baseball rock bottom this season. I figure the Sox will assist them with their downward spiral. So here's why I made the aforementioned bet: 1. Rocco will make a bonehead move He's a good manager, but he errs on the side of letting the starting pitcher go too long. Today, he allowed Happ to pitch to a tie -- even though he was giving up lots of hard contact. Arguably, he should have taken Happ out one or two at-bats earlier. While today's move was a bit of a nit-pick, Sunday's loss to the Mariners should fall squarely on Baldelli's shoulders. In the 6th inning, Shoemaker began the inning by tossing up a homerun ball to Seager. Then another rocket. And another. My dog and her fleas knew Shoe was done. What did Rocco do? Let him give up a 3-run jimmy-jack to some cipher. The game never should have gotten that close, and it's Rocco's fault it happened. Rocco loves Kenta and Jose -- and will probably make the same mistake tomorrow. 2. Sano will play Miguel just plain sucks now. There's no two ways around it. He'll strike out to end a threat. Or strike out to begin a non-threat. 3. This ain't Detroit's offense The Twins' pitching has looked good, but they've gone up against Milwaukee, Detroit and Seattle. Here are some of the feared hitters they've faced repeatedly: Jackie Bradley, Jr, Niko Goodrum and Jose Marmolejos. The Red Sox can hit. They got thump, and they Twinks gonna feel it. 4. Colome It's not just physical. It's totally mental now, like RON DAVIS mental. I won't go into more detail so as not to trigger those who still experience PTSD from the 1980s. 5. I'm an attention who.... You get the idea. Just don't come crying to me when you are crying in your beer tomorrow evening in bewilderment...
  11. The non-injury injuries: why the Twins might have trouble against Houston The Minnesota Twins completed the whirlwind COVID season atop their division. They are a different team than the one that won over 100 games last year, and probably much more likely to make an October run, thanks to improved starting pitching. On paper the Twins are a better team than the Houston Astros this year. From starting pitching to bullpen to lineup, Minnesota is just superior.* But one significant issue could end the Twins’ march into October before it begins: Performance Compromising Injuries, or PCIs. The Twins know all too well how injuries can impact a player’s on-field performance. When Joe Mauer returned to the field after a concussion, he admitted that he didn’t really see the ball as well as before. His K rate escalated; his hitting abilities went from elite to very good. While Mauer’s injury persisted to the end of his career, other maladies are far less debilitating long-term. Still, some short-term injuries can destroy quality performance on the field. Just ask Max Kepler. Last year, he suffered a shoulder issue in September. He “healed” and played all three postseason games against the Yankees. Chances are the lingering issues impacted his playoff at-bats. He ended up hitting 0.00. This year, several Twins look out of sorts in the batter's box, perhaps due to the dreaded PCI. Ball-killer Nelson Cruz has been unable to barrel up pitches over the past month, a month that he’s battled hip pain. Pitches down and away – ones that previously found the right-center field gap or beyond – are now nestling into catchers’ mitts for strikes. If Josh Donaldson plays through calf problems, one can only wonder how much it will affect his swing. Kepler rejoins the list of PCI concerns. Since his groin strain, he has had games where he simply misses inside fastballs. The most significant player who might have a PCI is someone who hasn’t even visited the IR this year: Jorge Polanco. With the exception of a few games, Polanco’s hitting has been off. His power is completely gone this year. Some fans might have forgotten that he underwent ankle surgery in the offseason, a surgery that has led manager Rocco Baldelli to give the shortstop several days off, even during the homestretch. Even when in the lineup, Polanco’s swing looks broken this year. Down and away pitches that in previous years would be rocketed hard to the opposite field are now soft popups. Fastballs down the pipe are high fly balls. And nasty breaking pitches that Polanco would foul off when healthy are missed completely. So, while many fans discuss pitching depth, defensive alignment when analyzing postseason odds, the Twins just need starters to feel comfortable, pain free. Because when the Minnesota baseball team’s PCI is zero, its lineup is lethal. *I will let other pundits comb through the numbers and data on this.
  12. FYI, players NOT on the 60-man roster can *not* be traded this year, per mlb.com, so Balazovic or Duran are safe, i.e. untradable, literally.
  13. Hi everyone, Long time firsts time (in awhile, I guess); I'm posting because I genuinely think today's game is pretty important, and here's why. Last night the Twins won; they played poor ball in the middle innings: bad fielding, bad pitching and certainly some putrid at-bats. After the game, I kept hearing about how the Twins kept after it, how they overcame obstacles and found a way to win. And they did. That's what I love about this team. They played a below average game -- arguably a BAD game in terms of fundamentals and focus and quality, yet they "stole" a win. Bad plays, bad at-bats, bad pitching -- that's gonna happen. But HOW they happen is important. Twins gave away a lot in last night's KC game: they gave up outs and unearned runs; they gave up pitches and at-bats, almost predictably: Get a bad call? Pout and whiff on a slider down and away. Give up an error? Hang your head and let the inning metastasize. That didn't happen earlier in the season. Ever since the Twins became frontrunners, there's been a change in HOW they have played. There's less resolve, less intensity, less focus. And, with the possible exception of Kepler and Berrios*, it's been a team-wide problem. Adversity has been met with, "We're good enough to overcome this." But the intensity isn't the same. And I know that's hard to maintain over 162 games, over a long season. But mindset is huge, and if they Twins lay an egg today, Rocco is going to have to talk about something the Twins will have to avoid if they want to be a real contender come October: complacency. *I LOVED how Berrios handled a very rough first inning in his last start: he gave up 3 hits in a row, focused, then retired like 19 batters in a row. I really hope the Twins' bats explode today in a laugher. That's what the team is capable of...
  14. OK, I'm over the anger. But Twins Daily and other outlets need to begin asking questions. Why do so many Twins prospects suffer from major elbow issues? (Sano, Gibson, Chargois, Wimmers) Why does it take so long for Twins to figure out major issues, at least in the Gibson case? Are they learning poor throwing/pitching technique? Are the Twins using advanced kineseology reports/experts? If not, WHY? Is there a lack of communication in the organization? (Gibson pitched a MONTH with a jacked up elbow.) Yes, ligaments are stupid. But now we need to determine if members of the Twins' development system are troglodytes. (micdrop)
  15. I would think the Rangers would have much more interest in Mauer: they need a pure hitter who can catch and play 1b. And Mauer might net Profar and a SP prospect. I love Joe Baseball, but let's be honest, he's injury prone and, at Target Field, he's got little power; his defensive skills have already eroded (you can run on him now) and his contract is an albatross to a rebuilding team. Curious to hear what other fans think of letting Joe go....
  16. First off, Hicks hasn't even reached AAA. Revere's proven he can hit big-league pitching. Revere's D is the best--far better than Span's. Also, on the basepaths, he forces pitchers to pay attention to him and makes Mauer better. Mauer was a .270 hitter with a propensity for double plays prior to Revere. When pitchers had to respect Revere and toss more fastballs to Joe, the DPs went WAY down and the average increased. (Mind you, I'm not attributing ALL of Mauer's success to Revere, but the speed does fit well into the lineup...)
  17. Reasonable list, but shouldn't the title be "SP Shallow Chart"? Sorry, couldn't help myself!
  18. Love the minor-league updates--especially since Twins fans must look to the future to find much joy this season. I was wondering if you had any updates on Byron Buxton's leg injury. Also, Pudge's son, Dereck was raking in the GCL initially, but I haven't seen his name in the lineup of late. Any reason? Thanks again for the great coverage!
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