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USAFChief

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  1. Like
    USAFChief reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Matt Wallner hit by pitch   
    Matt Wallner was hit in the face by a pitch in this afternoon's game versus Mesa.  Looked like his lower jaw.  I happened to be taking photos during that plate appearance - it's a bit out of focus and blurry but I can't help uploading and posting it anyway.  Matt was able to make his way to the training room at the far end of the ballpark under his own power, so I'm hopeful that he escaped serious injury.

  2. Like
    USAFChief reacted to Dave Overlund for a blog entry, Please Stop Telling Me How To Be A Fan   
    I attended dozens of Twins games every year in the mid-90's as a kid. I sat through lineups composed of Otis Nixon, Butch Huskey, Midre Cummings and Rich Becker. I watched rotations that featured Scott Aldred, Bob Tewksbury and Rich Robertson.
     
    Then, the 2000's happened. On one hand, it was very fun to see the Twins consistently contend for the playoffs and win 85-95 games every year. But the team never went out and traded for that one missing piece that would get them over the top and make them legitimate World Series contenders.
     
    In the Metrodome years, it was understandable that they would be hesitant to take on contracts like those. The revenue streams were not there to support a $125 million payroll. Fine, so be it.
     
    Then Target Field opened and fans were treated to what seemed to be a magical 2010 season. They had everything but a true #1 starter. Rumors flew around at the deadline, with names like Cliff Lee being floated as possibilities for the team to acquire at the deadline. We got Matt Capps, and were promptly swept by the Yankees in the first round.
     
    Then, this time as a season ticket holder, I got to watch such studs as Darin Mastroianni, Chris Parmelee and Doug Bernier at the plate, while Mike Pelfrey, Sam Deduno and Scott Diamond "pitched" during the 2011-2018 seasons.
     
    Meanwhile, the Twins raked in the money with revenue from the new ballpark and a new TV contract.
     
    So forgive me if my patience has worn thin, and I am not content to just "enjoy the ride." I have been a loyal, money-paying, tv-watching, jersey-wearing fan for 35 years. It's time for the ownership to reward me, and the others who have been through the same thing, by unlocking the money bin and making some serious moves to become an actual World Series contender, not just a division crown contender.
     
    I think the Twins need upgrades in the rotation and the bullpen. The team has the money and the prospects to get it done, right now. I personally don't give a crap if Trevor Larnach turns out to be a 10 time all star after he is traded if he brings back a player that can help the team win right now. Think of Shields/Davis coming to the Royals for Wil Meyers. Do any Royals fans really care if Meyers becomes a Hall of Famer after they traded him? I doubt it.
     
    Don't think Madison Bumgarner is an upgrade over Kyle Gibson? Great. I can respectfully disagree with your opinion. However, calling fans who would like a trade "barbarians" (as Reusse did today) or talking down to people who aren't content to stand pat and see what happens, is just so frustrating.
     
    It's great if you are fine to let the Pohlads rake in the dough and try to back their way into titles, that's your prerogative. I just think the narrative of fans who would like to see moves made being idiots, or bad fans, is growing tiresome.
     
    Despite what Patrick Reusse, Jim Souhan or even commenters here might say, I personally think it's okay for fans to want more. We have waited long enough, and some of us aren't content with division championships.
  3. Like
    USAFChief reacted to Supfin99 for a blog entry, The dynasty that wasn't; The 2002 to 2010 Twins Part 2   
    In Part one we covered to injuries that had a massive affect on this era of Twins teams. I didn't even get into the concussions that derailed both Morneau's and Mauers careers.
     
    In Part 2 we will cover what I consider personnel decisions that range from bad to ridiculous to borderline criminal. The first one I want to cover is the one I alluded to when discussing Jason Kubel's injury. Kubel was a very solid outfielder before the injury, even playing some centerfield. His range after the injury was greatly reduced.
    In looking for better production in LF the Twins made a bad trade after the 2007 season. The Twins sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young and Brendon Harris. Delmon was famously the number 1 overall pick in 2003 and was considered the top prospect in baseball for several seasons. In his first full season he had slashed .290/.336/.405 with 21 doubles and 12 homers in roughly 3 quarters of a season. He finished 2nd in the ROY voting. Delmon would go on to have 1 really good and 2 below average season for the Twins while playing horrendous defense in LF. He would be traded during the 2011 season. Harris would have 2 nondescript seasons for the Twins. Garza and Bartlet would go to Tampa Bay and were huge reasons why the Rays went to the World Series in 2008. Before being traded Bartlet had hit .309/.367/.393 and .265/.339/.361 in his previous 2 seasons for the Twins. He had 3 seasons of team control left and was only 27 at the time the trade. Bartlet would hit .286/.329/.361 and .320/.389/.490 for the Rays in the next 2 seasons while garnering MVP votes in 2008 and making the All Star team in 2009. Garza was 24 at the time of the trade and entering his 1st full season 5 seasons of team control remaining. Garza had been solid for the Twins when called up during 2008 season with an ERA+ of 117 and an FIP of 4.17. He definitely showed promise. Over the next 4 season from 2008 to 2011 for the Rays and then the Cubs after being traded he would average 200 innings per year and had ERA+ of 119, 110, 100 and 118. He was absolutely the type of above average innings eater that the Twins craved during these years. To add a little salt to the wound Garza was traded for Chris Archer among others when he was sent to the Cubs after the 2010 season.
     
    The next decision is still hard for me to think about. David Ortiz was non tendered after the 2002 season. We all know what Big Papa went on to a HOF career for the Red Sox leading them to 3 World Series titles. This is not a case of 20/20 rear view vision. The release of Ortiz made no sense at the time. He had struggled to stay healthy at times, wasn't in the greatest shape and clashed with TK. But there was no reason to non tender him. In his final year for the Twins Ortiz had hit .272/.339/.500 with 32 doubles and 20 homers. His OPS was .839 and OPS+ was 120. He was just 26 years old. He was one of the few Twins that showed plus power. It isn't like the Twins had some huge prospect they needed to make room for. Mathew LeCroy received most of the DH at bats in 2003. He had a respectable .832 OPS. But it doesn't mean there wasn't at least room for a platoon with Ortiz batting against righties and LeCroy vs lefties. The Twins would struggle to get production from the DH position for the next decade while Ortiz was crushing for the Red Sox. The Twins trotted out luminaries as Jose Offerman, Rondell White and Jason Tyner as designate hitters during this time. In 2006 while White was putting up a .641 OPS, Ortiz was hitting 54 homers and knocking in 137 RBI. Instead of non tendering Ortiz you should have been signing him to an extension.
     
    The 2006 batting order could have been Luis Castillo 2B, .358 OBP. Jason Bartlett SS .367 OBP, Joe Mauer C .936 OPS .429 OBP, David Ortiz 1.049 OPS 54 HR, Justin Morneau 1B .936 OPS 34 HR, Torii Hunter .826 OPS 31 HR, Jason Kubel LF .800 OPS 25 HR (Projected) Michael Cuddyer .867 OPS 24 HR, Nick Punto 3B .352 OBP
     
    Lack of reasonable extensions and filling the bottom parts of the roster. Terry Ryan hated spending the Pohlads money. I truly believe he did this because he looked it as badge of honor that the Twins could compete with a budget that often times was less than half of the big boys. I liked this fact too. I'm not advocating doubling the payroll during this period, But a well placed additional 10 to 15 million dollars per season could have done wonders. Ryan was very leery to go past 4 years for contacts even for his best players. Santana, Hunter, Mauer and Morneau all signed similar 4 year deals that contained no options. Meanwhile the rest of the industry was signing guys to 6 and sometimes even longer deals. If Santana had been offered a 6 year deal at market value there is a strong chance he would have taken it. This would have you allowed to have him for 2 to 3 more years of his prime. Same for Torii Hunter. You would have had Mauer signed thru 2012 originally and not been forced to sign him to a monster extension after his incredible 2009 season. I know small market teams cannot afford to get stuck in long expensive contracts but all 4 of these guys were young when they signed there 1st big contracts but already had proven track records of excellent production. They were all worth the risk of longer extensions. A longer contract can have good and bad risks. Sometimes the market grows so quickly that a contract is outdated by the time it is up. Sometimes it turns out like Mike Hampton. In the case of Mauer, the Twins could actually have saved millions of dollars by signing him to a longer more expensive extension the 1st time. By the time Mauer would have been a free agent after say a 6 year contract he would have already moved to first base. His next contract would have paled in comparison to the 8 year deal he signed in 2009. Longer contracts would have allowed the Twins to keep Santana's and Hunter's services farther into their primes.
     
    It was always frustrating to see the Twins fill out the rosters with the fillers all making near the league minimum or signing hope and a prayer types. Too many rejects like the cast covered earlier that played DH, plus all the middle infielders, relief pitchers and 5th starters that they brought in. If they would have sent just a little money on a few free agents they could have extended the quality of their lineup, bullpen and/or rotation.
     
    With better decision making and injury luck I really believe this era of Twins could have been a dynasty that won multiple championships. The top end talent was just so good. In Santana, Nathan, Mauer, Morneau and Hunter they had 5 of the best 20 players in baseball all in their prime at the same time. With better decisions and luck you could have added Kubel, Liriano and Ortiz to that list. No team in baseball could have matched a group of high end talent like that. A lineup that boasts Mauer, Morneau, Hunter, Ortiz, Cuddyer and Kubel reads like an all star game. This would have been the best lineup in the majors even if you had Seth playing SS, Arron at 3B and Nick at 2nd. A rotation led by Santana and Liriano would have been favored in any series against any opponent during the playoffs in this time. The rest of the rotation spots would have been filled by pitchers such as Brad Radke, Matt Garza, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Carlos Silva and Nick Blackburn during different years.
     
    Just imagine all the 10 year, 20 year and 25 year anniversaries we could celebrate for championships in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010. Oh what could have been.
  4. Like
    USAFChief reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, The Cheapskate's Guide to Attending the World Series   
    I'm a five-minute walk away from the east-west commuter train that also stops at Fenway Park. So with Game 1 of the World Series being held at Fenway, Tuesday night, despite not being a diehard Red Sox fan and despite the forecast of iffy weather I felt like I'd be a fool not to take advantage of the logistics.
     
    The title for this blog entry is deceptive because I didn't actually "attend" the game. I didn't have tickets, and of course no way was I going to pay scalper prices. But I thought I'd enjoy the atmosphere outside the ballpark. It's like Wrigley, and maybe a few others, with thriving neighborhoods that are worth enjoying even when the home team isn't playing.
     
    I decided to arrive early, in part because I wasn't sure whether the train might already be packed with fans from further out, if I left nearer to game time. My train wasn't too bad, but they only come once an hour, and who knows what the next one was like. So, at 5:15 I arrived at Yawkey station (still so-named even though nearby Yawkey Way has been renamed back to Jersey Street).
     

     
    David Ortiz Drive is a short block leading to Brookline Avenue which is one of the bordering streets for the ballpark. It has uniform-number monuments to some of their greats. Here you see the ones for Boggs and Ortiz, and to the left you can see the obscured number for Pedro (45).
     

     
    My general plan was to wander around, until game time (8:10 or so), and then take the next train back home assuming things had quieted down outside the park. I was prepared to stay later, if some kind of awesomeness broke out. The area was already busy with people milling around. Cars were double-parked in several places, apparently with official blessing, and the parking lots were advertising a pretty consistent $60 fee. The commuter rail station had a sign stating that the last train of the night would be held until 1:00 am, more than an hour later than its normal schedule; since the game lasted until about midnight, that wasn't really overkill.
     
    I took a long way around, heading south on Brookline and then heading back up on Van Ness.
     

     
    Boston isn't really laid out on a grid and you can get disoriented pretty easily, but I've learned my way around Fenway by now. I reached the intersection with Jersey Street where several street vendors are set up and some of the entry gates to the ballpark are. That part of Jersey Street is actually part of the team's venue - the metal detectors and turnstiles are outdoors and the street is just a ballpark concourse on game day - which is why I couldn't use Jersey as part of my circuit.
     

     

     
    I kept walking, to Ipswich Street and then Landsdowne Street. It all was pretty busy - here is Landsdowne at its junction with Brookline, basically the end of my circuit. All the bars or restaurants I would have considered trying had huge lines of people waiting to get in, to little surprise.
     

     
    Security was everywhere you looked. Dogs sniffed the trunks of cars entering the parking lot within Fenway Park itself, SWAT team humvees were stationed in various places, heavy city trucks were eventually parked to block key intersections, and of course you were never out of sight of police officers (uniformed and I'm sure plainclothes).
     

     

     

     
    There also was the expected swarm of media vehicles.
     

     
    I mentioned not being willing to pay scalper's prices, but actually I don't think I had an opportunity. There were plenty of scalpers, but they were always asking if I had tickets to sell, not if I wanted to buy. I think I had seen $400 for standing room tickets, on StubHub. Whatever few tickets changed hands on the street at game time were apparently already spoken for. I saw a couple of people who seemed more normal and less scuzzy than the typical scalper, with signs begging for cheap tickets because they were diehard Sox fans or whatever, but I have little doubt that they would have immediately forgotten their loyalty to the team and would have turned a quick profit had someone been suckered in by their pleas.
     
    It wasn't raining when I arrived, but around sundown there started to be drizzle, and pretty soon it rained hard and there was significant lightning a mile or two away. I had brought an umbrella and was walking in light hiking boots, but those who had decided to rely on their hooded jackets decided to cram into the already crowded bars and restaurants, or else (if they had tickets) make their way into the ballpark, because the streets were suddenly pretty sparse of pedestrians. I walked the perimeter of the ballpark again. For some reason I never get tired of photographing the Citgo sign.
     

     
    Somewhere along the perimeter, I spotted a window into which you could see a makeshift Media Room.
     

     
    Even aside from the rain, I have to say that the atmosphere somewhat disappointed me. I guess I was expecting something like a big block party. There was one guy playing makeshift drums on the bridge over I-90, and a couple of times I heard a "Let's Go Red Sox" chant or similar commotion from people lined up to get inside the park, but that's just like a normal game day. A couple of locations on my circuit had a very strong odor of weed, I think maybe from the broadcast media enclave behind a chain link fence within the Fenway Park premises. I believe the Mayor and the Police Commisioner had let it be known that no nonsense was going to be brooked, and maybe that accounts for what I saw on the streets. Certainly, I wasn't hoping for hooliganism, especially with the presence of a smattering of Dodger Blue jerseys and hats, and I'm not sure exactly what I was hoping for, but this was altogether too normal. So buttoned-down. I opted to cut my evening slightly short and take a train that departed shortly before first pitch.
     
    Still, I'm glad I went. After sundown, the Prudential Building had their lights on to urge on the Sox to victory, and I think any baseball fan would have felt some excitement, Sox fan or not. Game 1 of the World Series, baby!
     

     

     

  5. Like
    USAFChief reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Red Wings at Pawtucket, August 3 2018   
    [re-posted from the night's minor league summary thread...]
     
    I was in attendance at Pawtucket last night, so let me offer some additional impressions and details.
     
    First, a minor correction: the Red Wings' final run scored on a wild pitch. The bases were not loaded when Motter walked, but when ball-four skittered past Mike Ohlman, Edgar Corcino on third scored anyway. He was there because of another wild pitch on the previous batter.
     
    I don't have a lot to say about Pawtucket's players in this game, as I really don't follow the Red Sox and definitely have no clue about their prospect pipeline, but I must mention starter Mike Shawaryn. He was much, much better than his line score indicates, pitching perfect innings his first time through the lineup, in his very first appearance at AAA at age 23. He probably had only that one really bad pitch, to Astudillo, and the additional run came in the seventh as described above after he was out of the game. Looks like the Red Sox have found a way to feed their farm system with 5th round draft picks. Maybe having a short-season single-A team for college draftees is their secret sauce, hint hint.
     
    Anderson wasn't very effective for us in his stint as "opener", but the run scored in the bottom of the first was as much due to runners taking advantage of Jeremy Hazelbaker's arm as the base hits themselves. Tony Renda's "double" should have been a single but the word apparently is out and he challenged the center fielder and won. And then what seemed like a harmless single by Rusney Castillo plated Renda, with the throw from CF taking way too long to get there. I'm guessing there's a reason Hazelbaker was available for cash. Anyway, Anderson then permitted a single to Sam Travis, so the run probably would have scored anyway. So, not a good start to the game for either guy.
     
    Nick Gordon also had a stinker of a game. No errors in the scoresheet, but his opportunities to impress, on a couple of plays that major league shortstops would likely make, went unclaimed. One was a grounder to his right that I thought he would get to but didn't. Another was one where he had to come in, but his throw was high and pulled Austin Tyler Tyler Austin off of first base. What's more, he looked feeble at the plate, striking out twice and making two easy outs in the air. Mrs Ash remarked that he might do better if he didn't have his pant legs pulled up so high - I think he should take Mrs Ash's scouting advice to heart as she is rarely wrong about anything. In any case, do NOT bring this guy up now, and probably don't bring him up for a September look-see either. Maybe he'll be ready someday, but he is not, today.
     
    Speaking of Austin Tyler Tyler Austin, I thought he acquitted himself well. He didn't get any base hits, but one of his outs was a sharp liner to third base in the eighth, and he walked which resulted in a run when Astudillo hit a homer. The first baseman also got three chances to field popups, all in the final two innings - indeed he notched the last putout before the fatal home run.
     
    Speaking of liners to third, Astudillo scorched an even tougher one to Tony Renda's right in the sixth inning. You simply can't play a liner better than Renda did, leaving his feet and stretching to full extension to barely snag that rocket. Beautiful play. Kudos to him.
     
    Speaking of Willians Astudillo, that home run to left in the fourth inning was a rocket too - a no-doubter. It was one of the few bright spots in the game for my team. He was unremarkable in left field, making the easy fly outs and handling the base hits in his direction. However, what stood out to me was how very slowly he moved when going to his position, and slow coming back to the dugout. He exerted effort on balls in play, as I said, but I don't recall someone taking that much time to and from. It's like he's the anti-Charlie Hustle (which itself is not originally a compliment, so I'm not sure what bearing it has).
     
    Speaking of home runs, how about that Tyler Duffey? On that last batter, it was a 2-2 count, with curveballs missing twice. I don't often try to guess pitches, but I was sure it would be a fastball, and mentioned to Mrs Ash that they should come back with another curve instead. I'd go with another curve even on 3-2, too, and if it was a walk, so be it - there were two out. Nope, flat, 91-MPH, nothing fastball. Brandon Phillips was sitting on it, just like me. Ain't I smart? Ball game. There was of course also the dong by Josh Ockimey that tied it in the eighth. Duffey is another of the disappointments this franchise has suffered in the past few years. It won't surprise me if he's non-tendered this off-season - this guy never progressed beyond being a two-pitch pitcher, and now he's down to one. He's cooked. Or, if some other team signs him and gets something out of him, a hard look needs to be taken at the coaching and why they didn't help him find answers.
     
    Speaking of fastballs, Stephen Gonsalves.... oops never mind. He may have reached 90 or 91 on the radar gun display, but generally sat at 88 or 89. I can't identify off-speed pitches, one from another, but he had a variety that would register at 79 or 74 or even 69 - a knuckler? Visibly slow, and entertaining, from our excellent first-base-side cheap-seats. That much differential from the fastball is said to become counter-productive, but he's getting AAA guys out. The homer in the third inning to the aforementioned Tony Renda was a cheapie to right, barely clearing the 325 foot mark, so I don't hold that against him. He weakened in the 7th, walking the first two batters, and was bailed out slightly by an ill-advised stolen base attempt by the PawSox' Mike Miller - down two runs, you need to be awfully sure you can take the base, and he was out by a mile thanks to an accurate throw by Juan Graterol. Gonsalves might have gotten out of it unscored-upon, had Gordon made the play previously mentioned. It's unclear to me that Gonsalves's stuff is going to play, in the majors, but if this is who he is, let's bring him up now, or in September, and start to find out. Unlike Gordon, he's mastered his game, such as it is. If he bombs, there will still be time to option him to the minors mid-2019 and try to retool his entire game in some manner.
     
    Speaking of ill-advised baserunning, with the score tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth, Edgar Corcino got a clean single to left leading off, and was (wait for it) out by a mile trying to stretch it to a double. Left fielder Kyle Wren had come up with the ball practically by the time Corcino rounded first. There was time to go a third of the way and then change his mind. Nope. As events played out (which of course might not have), we would have had bases loaded with one out, with the top of the order coming up. And that lone out was thanks to a possibly game-saving snag by PawSox right fielder Aneury Tavarez near the foul line on a drive by Graterol. Of course the top of our order was third baseman Taylor Motter followed by Gordon, and Motter actually did strike out looking, which brings us to Gordon, so never mind.
     
    Speaking of never mind, when we didn't score in the top of the ninth, and I saw Duffey coming out again, I said to Mrs Ash, this won't take long. It took longer than I expected, five batters. Good for him, I guess.
     
    Speaking of good, despite the ragtag nature of our lineup, and the generally negative results, I enjoyed the evening a lot. McCoy Stadium gets a lot of criticism locally, but as far as I can see it's only because there are no luxury boxes to make the team more profitable. The park has been kept up, and I have yet to have a poor experience there. It's my east coast version of the Oakland Coliseum - a straight ahead old school place to watch a baseball game, in my book. The site-grilled Italian sausage with onions and green peppers never fails to satisfy, likewise the Foolproof Backyahd [sic] IPA available on draft which leaves me pleasantly sleepy.
     
     
    Source: Article: Twins Minor League Report (8/3): Brusdar Cruises, Severino Soars
  6. Like
    USAFChief reacted to Respy for a blog entry, Byron Buxton Retires, Hired by Homeland Security to Catch Bags of Drugs   
    Byron Buxton practicing his catching in front of a US border wall prototype in June, 2018
     
    SAN DIEGO – After suffering for months with severe migraines and with a history of concussions, Byron Buxton announced on Twitter (@OfficialBuck103) yesterday that he’s officially stepping away from Major League Baseball.
     
    “We’ll miss his presence on the field and in the clubhouse. He’s definitely one of the best center fielders of all time. We wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said Derek Falvey, Minnesota Twins Executive Vice President and Chief Baseball Officer.
     
    Buxton later announced that he’s been working out at a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) facility in San Diego, California where he’s training to catch bags of drugs, typically heroin, being thrown over the border walls from Mexico to the United States.
     
    When asked about the new work he’s preparing for, Buxton said “At least I don’t need to hit anymore.” He added, “I was born to climb walls and catch. And this way, I can also do it while proudly serving my country.”
     
    But, is catching baggies of drugs going to be as easy as catching baseballs? Buxton stated, “The tricky part is that all of the bags can come in different sizes and weights. But if it fits in my glove, I’m going to catch it. Just as long as the border wall is not 55 or 60 feet tall like I’ve heard some people are proposing.”
     
    Carla Provost, Acting Chief for the U.S. Border Patrol division of the DHS, said that they have had their eye on Buxton for a while, and contacted him when he went on the disabled list in April for migraines. “Last year we really dove into the analytics of border security. We have this new metric, abbreviated DRS, which stands for Drug Rings Squandered. We expect that Byron will step right in and lead the division in DRS.”
     
    We caught up with Border Patrol Assistant Chief, Percy Woolbright, to ask about Buxton. “He’ll be a natural at this. He’s really talented. He can cover a lot of wall, too, because I saw his sprint speed has been measured at over 30 feet per second. Also, Byron can come to work every day knowing that the weather along the US-Mexico border is much more predictable than in Minnesota. And if Florida ever decides to secede from the Union like it did in 1861, we’ll set up a new border wall along the US and Florida, and Byron can work close to his family in Georgia.”
     
    One might assume that because of the orientation of catching fly balls against the fence in baseball, he should technically be positioned on the south (foreign) side of the wall to catch drugs being catapulted from Mexico. Commenting on this, Woolbright said, “Umm…Oops.”
  7. Like
    USAFChief reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Wander Javier injury Q&A   
    News came down yesterday that highly-touted Twins SS prospect Wander Javier will undergo season-ending surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder to repair a torn labrum. According to LEN, this was an injury that was suffered initially late last season, but initially the decision was made to attempt to treat Javier with rehabilitation. Unfortunately, he has continued to have pain in the shoulder, and he has taken the dreaded trip to Pensacola, FL to see Dr. James Andrews. It sounds like Dr. Andrews will perform surgery soon, and that Javier is expected to be out six to nine months.
     
    Shoulder injuries are common in baseball players, certainly. But they are much more common in the throwing shoulder, particularly in pitchers. Let’s discuss how this injury may be similar and different.
     
    Question 1: What is a labrum, anyway?
    The shoulder is considered a ball-and-socket joint. The round ball (humeral head) sits in the socket (glenoid) similar to how a golf ball sits on a golf tee. Around the perimeter of the golf tee is a strong cartilage tissue called a labrum. The labrum surrounds the socket similar to the red gasket on a mason jar lid. Its function is to help act as a ‘bumper’ to hold the golf ball on the golf tee. It is also an attachment point for ligaments around the shoulder that also contribute to shoulder stability.
     
     
    Question 2: How does a labrum get injured?
     
    There are several ways that someone could injure the labrum of the shoulder. In baseball players (and pitchers in particular), it is common for a labrum tear to occur at the top of the socket near the attachment of the biceps tendon. This is called a SLAP tear (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior) and is typically the cumulative result of repetitive use. However, it can also occur as a result of a dive/fall if the mechanism is just right.
     
    Another way the labrum can be injured is as a result of a shoulder dislocation. In the majority of cases, the ball dislocates out the front (anterior) of the socket, and the attachment of the labrum to the rim of the socket is damaged.
     
    A final way that I have seen labrum injuries in baseball players is in the front shoulder of hitters. Occasionally, as a result of an aggressive swing (or combination of swings) a player can damage the labrum in the back part (posterior) of the shoulder. This is also an injury that I sometimes see in golfers.
     
    In Javier’s case, the injury is to his left shoulder. As he is a right-handed hitter, this would be his front shoulder. I was not able to find any reports of him dislocating his shoulder last season (which would suggest an anterior labral tear). It is possible, then, that his labral tear is more in the back of the socket (though this is purely speculation on my part).
     
    Question 3: Why didn’t he just have surgery in the off-season to get this taken care of?
     
    This is always a difficult question to answer without knowing specifics of the situation. Hindsight is 20/20, but it is not always known at the time of an initial injury whether it is going to require surgery or whether rehab will be sufficient. Clearly, the Twins and Javier felt that rehab stood a reasonable chance of being successful, or I suspect surgery would have been undertaken previously.
     
    Question 4: What is done at surgery?
     
    There are subtle variations in technique for these type of injuries, but the majority are treated with arthroscopic surgery. This means a small fiber-optic camera is inserted into the shoulder, and the shoulder is filled with fluid. The labrum is then examined and the extent of the tear is assessed. Typically, the pre-op MRI will give the surgeon a good idea how extensive the tear is, but the precise size and location of the tear is not known until surgery.
     
    Once the tear has been assessed, the repair process begins. Small anchors (similar to plastic drywall screws) are inserted into the rim of the socket in the area of the labrum damage. These vary in size, but are typically somewhere around 3.0mm in diameter. These anchors have strong stitches attached. The stitches are passed around the labrum using special tools and the labrum is secured back to the rim of the socket. This process is repeated for as many anchors as are needed to completely repair the tear.
     
     
     
    After surgery, the small incisions are closed with suture and the patient heads to the recovery room. Surgery typically takes around 1-1.5 hours.
     
    Question 5: What happens after surgery? Why does it take so long to get back to full activity?
     
    Any time we repair a structure in orthopedics, the rate of healing is dependent on a number of factors. Some factors include the type of tissue injured, the severity of the injury, the age and health of the patient as well as numerous others.
     
    One helpful comparison in this case can be a fracture of a bone. Bone, as compared to cartilage (labrum) has a much greater blood supply. As such, most bone fractures are able to fully heal somewhere around 6-10 weeks (with some variability of course). Labrum (as with all cartilage) has a much poorer blood supply, and as a result takes a lot longer to heal. This is one of the main reasons for the lengthy rehab.
     
    In addition, the stresses placed on the shoulder are significant. The labrum has to withstand a tremendous amount of force when throwing a baseball or swinging a bat. The muscles around the shoulder tend to get weak quickly after surgery, and it takes time to rebuild the muscles. Proceeding too aggressively (before the muscles have recovered) places extra stress on the labrum, and can lead to failure of the repair to fully heal.
     
    Question 6: Will Javier’s shoulder ever be the same?
     
    This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer. Without knowing the extent and location of the damage, it is very difficult to comment on this subject. It is certainly better that this is his non-throwing shoulder, as that likely portends a better chance of full recovery. Few surgeons have done more of this type of surgery than Dr. Andrews, so he is in good hands.
  8. Like
    USAFChief reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Surprise Saguaros game, Saturday Nov 11   
    I offer a brief writeup for the final game of my three-game Arizona Fall League visit, which the host Surprise Saguaros lost to the Peoria Javelinas 11-10 in disappointing fashion Saturday night.
     
    The headline from the game of course would be Lamont Wade's concussion injury from a collision in right-center field. I posted a few photos in reply to that thread, found here. He was injured in the top of the second inning, before having a turn at bat.
     
    I haven't talked too much about the other teams, but in this game Ronald Acuna launched 2 home runs for Peoria. The guy hasn't turned 20 yet - he's a huge prospect for Atlanta. Here he is:
     

     
    One thing about Acuna: he doesn't cheat himself when he swings.
     
    Chris Paul had a nice game. He went 2-for-4 including a triple, scoring both times and driving in 4. He was part of the big 7-run fourth inning, in which he was driven in by Nicky Lopez's grand slam.
     

     
    The Twins' other batter on the roster, Sean Miller, did not appear in this game.
     
    Given the 20-man pitching staff, it was questionable whether we would see any Twins pitchers, either, given that they all had pitched on Thursday. But Andrew Vasquez did come in, in the eighth, and unfortunately the results were not good. You'd think the big inning for Surprise would have put away the game, but no, pitchers for both teams were giving up rockets all over the place, and the bases were loaded with only a two-run lead by that point. Vasquez earned himself a Blown Save by surrendering a walk and then a hit batsman before getting that third out on strikes. The lefty was brought in to face a lefty - a classic LOOGY situation - so had he done his job the lead would have been protected. Very disappointing that he wouldn't throw strikes. A rude fan was heard saying "you had one job. ONE JOB!" Wait, that fan was me.
     
    Peoria pushed across another run in the top of the ninth, and Surprise went quietly with three strikeouts to end the game. A downer of an outcome. I still found the short vacation very satisfying - beautiful weather, and it's baseball! I close with a post-game photo of Chris Paul visiting with (apparently) a relative or family friend.
     

  9. Like
    USAFChief reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Thoughts on Brian Dozier   
    Let me preface what will undoubtedly be a long entry by saying I am a Dozier fan. I have spoken to him at Spring Training a couple of times and like the young man. I believe he has been the Twins MVP for each of the last four seasons (counting this one) and I have no doubt that he is the team's best player at this point. Certainly, he isn't flawless, but the Twins need more players like Brian Dozier, not less.
     
    Over the course of this long, horrible season, Brian Dozier has often been a hot topic of conversation in Twins Territory. He isn't shy about stepping up to a microphone, my wife and daughters think he's good-looking and he's been a regular with the club as their second baseman for four years. If someone casually follows the Twins, they know who Dozier is, so it figures that he would be a topic of conversation.
     
    Let's see why Dozier has been discussed so much and what I think should be the conclusion for the topic: First of all, as the Twins started the season, Dozier couldn't get it going. After a bad second half in 2015, Dozier came out of the gate slow in 2016. Through all of April and May, Dozier barely reached .200 and the signature power was lacking. Had the league figured him out? Was the 28 year old (turned 29 in mid-May) regressing already? Should he be benched or put at the bottom of the order? My thought, then and now, was that it is a long season. If a guy is a good player, he'll come out of a funk. Robbie Cano had a similar stretch at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 and Cano might be a Hall-of-Famer. Along for the ride early in the season was the question whether BD was too pull-happy and if he used the whole field, he would be a more consistent and productive hitter. My thought was that Dozier needed to be able to hit the ball with authority when he was pitched away and as the season has progressed, he has accumulated some oppo hits and several to the middle of the field, the key being that he hit the ball hard, not a lazy popup or routine fly ball.
     
    Moving on, Dozier has spent most of the season hitting #1 or #2. Many have thought it wasn't ideal for a guy whose calling card is big power for his position to hit first or second. My thought then was that the Twins simply didn't have a better option. Dozier takes some of the longest at-bats on the team, he's walked a fair amount since arriving in the majors and he's a good base runner who doesn't clog the bases for those behind him. Ideally, he should have hit lower in the order to make a few more of his homers multi-run shots and I think that where Dozier hits in the lineup in 2017 will be a hot controversial topic if he is in a Twins' uniform next year.
     
    As the season rolled toward the All-Star break, the call to sell and rebuild the Twins included Dozier's name prominently. He had some value and the club is/was going nowhere in '16, so cashier him for a prospect or two and let Jorge Polanco handle second base. In June and July, Dozier recovered from his slow start. He put up a great line in June, posting an OPS for the month in excess of 1.000, he slowed in July, hitting only .240 but still putting up an OPS of .824. Trade Dozier at the deadline? Didn't happen and IMHO shouldn't have happened. He hasn't slowed down much since his monster June and with a team-friendly contract and relative youth, his value should only be higher in the off-season or at next year's trade deadline.
     
    Another topic that has emerged is defense. After a truly stout year in 2013, Dozier's defense has been categorized as below average by most metrics. While I don't believe Dozier is elite defensively, my eyes tell me he is in the average range. He makes a few outstanding plays (probably more than any other Twins player) and doesn't get to some balls he should, perhaps because of shifting, maybe because the position of shortstop has been in flux since he became a second baseman, maybe because in three of the last four years, the team never had a shot at contention. I don't know. In checking BB Ref, Dozier lags in zone rating, but is above average in runs saved. I see it as a wash, making Dozier average in the field. I'm waiting for someone to refute this, but in the final analysis, defense probably is an "eyes of the beholder" topic.
     
    Since the All-Star break, Brian Dozier has been en fuego. He's hitting .320, with an OPS of 1.091 and a mlb-leading 21 homers. I guess that puts to rest the "first half player" meme that was circulating among the diehard fans remaining. The question that stems from his performance both the cold April and May and his elite performance since is what to expect going forward. I have turned over in my mind what the most likely trajectory of Dozier's career figures to be. One extreme is Dan Uggla, who like Dozier wasn't highly regarded, got a chance in his mid-twenties and became a star in large part because of his power numbers. Uggla fell off a cliff in his early thirties. An opposing example is Jeff Kent. Kent was an okay player, but not even a full-time regular until he was 29. Starting from age 30, Kent won an MVP, was an All-Star five times with three different teams and posted OPS+ numbers over 119 every year until he was 39. This seems to be the extremes for power-hitting second basemen. Is Dozier going to be productive for most of another decade or is regression going to meet him around his 30th birthday? My answer is that no one knows for sure. It appears to me that Dozier has made adjustments to become a more complete hitter without diminishing his best asset--home run power. IMHO, it makes him a candidate to sustain high-end performance, although the end of 2015 and April-May of this year give a good argument that he could turn into a pumpkin at any time.
     
    In the last few weeks as the tumult in my life has moved Twins baseball on the back burner, I've managed to check the box scores, cluck over the disastrous pitching and watch highlights of games. Dozier has been front and center continuing his power surge. He now projects to exceed 40 homers and if he hits just one more long ball, he will have hit more in a single season than any Twin since Harmon in 1970. 40 homers would be a Top Ten season in franchise history dating back to the Senators who started playing at the turn of the 20th century. Only Harmon and Roy Sievers (once) have ever hit 40 homers in a single season in franchise history. Dozier is projected to score and drive in over 100 runs, also a rare feat, especially for guy who has hit first or second most of the season. He may or may not make 40 homers, 100 RBI or 100 runs, but on such a bad team those numbers stand out big and bold. Although I'm not a big fan of WAR, it does represent a quick and dirty assessment of value and Dozier's 5.6 WAR for this season is in the Top Ten in the league. Because the season has been so bad, I don't think Dozier has gotten the attention he deserves for his huge season. He won't win a Silver Slugger or MVP, he won't win the HR championship or set any other records, so there hasn't been any national coverage, but his overall season and particularly his production since June has been off the charts.
     
    Now in the season's final month, most Twins fans are thinking about the future (with good reason). Augmenting a terrible rotation is Priority One and trading Brian Dozier to get pitching help makes sense, since his value should be at an all-time high. This argument is buttressed by the play of Polanco, who has hit over .300, showing good on-base skills, but a questionable glove at short or third. I believe Jorge Polanco is best suited to second base and I believe adding him for Dozier wouldn't be all bad since Polanco is a switch hitter and wouldn't be prone to long slumps with his swing and approach. However, unless the payoff is monumental, Brian Dozier should be the Twins second baseman next year. He has had a season for the ages despite the wreckage around him, he's only 29 and if the last 100 days are an indication, he might get even better. Finally, he's been a solid citizen off the field. If the club wants somebody as the face of the franchise, they could do worse than Mr. Dozier.
     
    Just a couple more thoughts before I summarize--Dozier has been durable. Since becoming the team's second baseman, he hasn't been disabled and has missed only a handful of games with injuries. Secondly, my observation is that he is a good teammate. He doesn't sulk, cheers for his mates, appears to like their company off the field (loved the State Fair video) and despite having strong religious views, doesn't put that in the face of his teammates or the media.
     
    I have mentioned many of these thoughts in previous threads on the forums of Twins Daily. I find this player to be fascinating, especially in light of his minor league career and low status when drafted. I think Brian Dozier is a fine player who hasn't gotten the appreciation he deserves for this, his best season. I will continue to be a Dozier fan, hopefully as he continues to be a Minnesota Twin, but even if he's traded. In the event that he is traded, I will be pulling for the players acquired in return and hope they make the Twins better.
  10. Like
    USAFChief reacted to jorgenswest for a blog entry, Looking at the 40 man roster   
    With the depth of the Twins system, they will have several players that need to be put on the 40 man roster this winter to avoid the rule 5 draft. Are there so many that the Twins should consider trading some of them this summer? How many spots will reasonably be available this winter?
     
    With the DFA of Tim Stauffer, the Twins currently have 40 men on their 40 man roster. There is one spot available as Ervin Santana will not count until he return in July.
     
    The Twins will have some players entering free agency following the season. Those spots will be open. Those players include
     
    Torii Hunter
    Blaine Boyer
    Mike Pelfrey
    Brian Duensing
     
    Any of those players can be replaced. The Twins should not feel the urgency to extend them this summer. They might consider trading them for whatever the market will return. That is 4 spots.
     
    The remaining 36 are under team control in some form or another. Some will be eligible for arbitration. The Twins may elect not to take them to arbitration.
     
    Trevor Plouffe
    Jordan Schafer
    Tommy Milone
    Shane Robinson
    Eduardo Nunez
    Casey Fien
    Eduardo Escobar
     
    I would think that Plouffe, Fien and Escobar would be offered arbitration. If Milone isn't traded, he may also be offered arbitration. I would think Schafer, Robinson and Nunez can be replaced.
     
    Adding those three that is 7 spots
     
    The Twins have some players on the 40 man roster that might be considered close to replacement level. They include
     
    A.J. Achter
    Logan Darnell
    J.R. Graham
    Ryan Pressly
    Caleb Thielbar
    Aaron Thompson
    Michael Tonkin
    Jason Wheeler
    Chris Herrmann
    Josmil Pinto
    Doug Bernier
    Aaron Hicks
     
    Darnell and Wheeler are lefthanded and may not make it through rule 5 but have little upside. The Twins really need to see what they have in Achter, Thielbar and Tonkin this season. At their age, if they don't feel Achter and Thielbar are worth a long look on the roster, they probably feel like they can be replaced. Pinto now has red flags due to concussions. If he can't catch does he have a spot? Among this list, I think Graham, Pressly, Tonkin, Pinto and Hicks are safe. The rest can be thrown with the group that will need to be put on the 40.
     
    That is 7 more spots for a total of 14.
     
    You could probably add Suzuki, Mauer and Nolasco to the performing near replacement level list but they have too much money tied into their contract. The Twins could free up a spot if they found a way to dump their contracts.
     
    There are two players that don't need to be added to the 40 until the following year, but could get called to the majors in 2015. Buxton and Berrios. They would not be a good candidate for a September call up because of the 40 man status. The only reason to call them up would be to help the team soon. I think they will call up Buxton. With Ervin Santana's return, I don't think we will see Berrios until 2016.
     
    13 spots
     
    These are the players will be eligible for the rule 5 draft if they are not put on the 40.
     
    Bard, Luke
    Baxendale, D.J.
    Duffey, Tyler
    Haar, Bryan
    Harrison, Travis
    Hicks, Dalton
    Jones, Zack
    Melotakis, Mason
    Muren, Alexander
    Polanco, Joel
    Rogers, Taylor
    Valera, Rafael
    Vielma, Engelb
    Wade, Logan
    Walker, Adam
     
    Michael, Levi
    Johnson, Cole
    Goodrum, Niko
     
    13 spots for those and players above not yet added.
     
    I think adding Baxendale, Duffey, Harrison, Jones, Rogers and Walker are givens.
     
    7 spots
     
    Achter, Thielbar and Herrman should be safe.
     
    4 spots
     
    In summary...
     
    Hunter, Pelfey, Boyer, Duensing, Schafer, Robinson, Nunez, Darnell, Thompson, Wheeler and Bernier were removed
     
    Buxton, Baxendale, Duffey, Harrison, Jones, Rogers and Walker were added
     
    There are 4 more spots. Are there more than 4 players that urgently need to be added? Do the Twins need to trade away prospects due to 40 man roster decision this winter?
     
    Note: Thanks to TD and the organizational report. It is very likely I missed something or someone in doing this article. Any help would be appreciated.
     
    Edit: Schafer released. Buxton added to 40. Bernier removed. Fryer added. I would remove Fryer at end of season.
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