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  1. A: Bob Allison (211 Home Runs) Allison is possibly one of the most underappreciated sluggers in Twins history. His first All-Star appearance and his first 30-home run campaign came in a Senators’ uniform. Even with his season’s in Washington, he ranks sixth all-time in home runs in a Twins uniform. B: Tom Brunansky (163 Home Runs) Brunansky hit 20 or more home runs for eight straight seasons from 1982-1989. He also became the Twins first Home Run Derby participant when the Twins hosted the 1985 All-Star Game at the Metrodome. In that contest, he finished two home runs behind Dave Parker and tied with some all-time greats like Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, and Jim Rice. C: Michael Cuddyer (141 Home Runs) Cuddyer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year and his home run total puts him in the top-12 in Twins history. He’d make his first All-Star appearance as a 32-year old in his final season with the Twins and he went on to win the NL batting title in 2013 with the Rockies. D: Brian Dozier (167 Home Runs) Dozier was a late bloomer when it came to Twins prospect as he wouldn’t make his big-league debut until he was 25. His first season with 30 or more home runs was 2016 when he was already 29-years old. His 42 home runs in 2016 are the most all-time in Twins history by a player not named Harmon Killebrew. E: Eduardo Escobar (63 Home Runs) Escobar is the gift that keeps on giving as the Twins seem to still be benefiting from his trade to the Diamondbacks. His best home run season came in Arizona, but he hit 21 home runs for the Twins in 2017 and he probably would have crossed that mark again in 2018 if he weren’t traded at the deadline. F: Dan Ford (57 Home Runs) This would be a lot of fun if Lew Ford ended up with the top spot, but he only hit 32 home runs as a Twin. Dan Ford played 11 seasons as a big-leaguer and broke into the AL as a 23-year old in 1975. He hit double-digit home runs in all four seasons with Minnesota. G: Gary Gaetti (201 Home Runs) A long-time fan favorite, Gaetti is one of only eight players to clock over 200 home runs with the Twins. He’d play at the big-league level until he was 41-years old in a career that spanned 20 seasons. He’d end his career with 360 long balls which is no small feat for a player that was also a strong defensive presence. H: Kent Hrbek (293 Home Runs) Bloomington’s own has his number retired by his hometown team and only one player in team history has hit more home runs. He retired at age-34, so it’s interesting to think about how many home runs he could have ended up with if he had played well into his 30s. I: None No Twins player has ever hit a home run with the last name starting with I. J: Jacque Jones (132 Home Runs) Jones ranks 13th on the Twins all-time home run list, but he is only one home run ahead of Miguel Sano. He played seven seasons in a Twins uniform and he would only accumulate 33 home runs outside of Minnesota. In 2002, he finished eight among position players in WAR when hie hit 27 home runs. K: Harmon Killebrew (475 Home Runs) The best home run hitter in Twins history and it’s not even close. No other player hit over 300 home runs for the Twins. He led the American League in home runs six different seasons, and he is one of two Twins players to hit more than 40 home runs in one season. Oh yeah, he did that seven different times. L: Tim Laudner (77 Home Runs) Laudner played all nine of his big-league seasons in Minnesota and hit double digit home runs in four different campaigns. His lone All-Star appearance came as a 30-year old when he hit .251/.316/.408 with 13 home runs and 18 doubles. M: Justin Morneau (221 Home Runs) The more powerful half of the M&M duo, Morneau hit 18 or more home runs in seven consecutive seasons. Only a handful of Twins players have hit more than 30 home runs in a season which Morneau did three different times. He has the third most home runs in team history. N: Eduardo Nunez (20 Home Runs) He helped the Red Sox win the World Series, but his lone All-Star appearance cam with the 2016 Minnesota Twins. He’s never hit more than 16 home runs in one season, but his defensive versatility allowed him to play parts of 10 different seasons at the big leagues. O: Tony Oliva (220 Home Runs) Outside of Joe Mauer, Oliva might be the greatest Twins player that hasn’t been elected to the Hall of Fame. He became the first designated hitter to hit a home run while hitting 13 or more home runs in 11 different seasons. Only three players have hit more home runs for the Twins. P: Kirby Puckett (207 Home Runs) Puckett’s most famous homer came in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, but he hit plenty of other home runs in a Twins uniform. He hit double digit home runs in nine different seasons, and he hit 20 or more home runs in six different years. He ranks seventh in club history. Q: Frank Quilici (5 Home Runs) Surprisingly, his five home runs aren’t the lowest total on this list. He played parts of five different seasons with the Twins and ended his career as a .214/.281/.287 hitter. He was part of Minnesota’s first World Series team in 1965 and he played on the 1970 team that lost to Baltimore in the ALCS. R: Eddie Rosario (119 Home Runs) Rosario’s time in Minnesota might be done and if it is, he will finish his Twins tenure with the 15th most home runs in club history. As part of the 2019 Bomba Squad, he hit a career high 32 home runs. He has hit 10 or more home runs in every big-league season. S: Miguel Sano (131 Home Runs) After six seasons, Sano already ranks 14th in team history when it comes to home runs. If he hits 13 or more home runs next season, he will pass Joe Mauer and move into 11th on the Twins all-time list and he’s 22 home runs away from breaking into the top-10. T: Cesar Tovar (38 Home Runs) Tovar hit double-digit home runs in two seasons, but he was more known as a doubles hitter. He led the American League in doubles and triples back in 1970 and he had the most hits in the league during the 1970 campaign. U: Ted Uhlaender (23 Home Runs) His lone double-digit home run season came after he left the Twins organization. As a center fielder, he wasn’t known for his power, but he got on base over 30% of the time. V: Zoilo Versalles (86 Home Runs) The 1965 AL MVP led the league in runs, doubles, and triples that season. Versalles is one of three Cuban born players to take home MVP honors including Jose Abreu in 2020. He only hit double-digits in home runs in four seasons, but all those seasons were with the Twins. W: Josh Willingham (61 Home Runs) Willingham only played parts of three season with the Twins but only four Twins players have hit more than his 35 home runs in 2012. His career took a steep downturn from there as he never hit more than 14 home runs in another season. X: None No Twins player has ever hit a home run with the last name starting with X. Y: Delmon Young (47 Home Runs) Young was acquired to be the powerful right-handed bat to break-up Minnesota’s lefties (Mauer and Morneau). He hit a career high 21 home runs in 2010 before going on to have some postseason success with the Detroit Tigers when he won the 2012 ALCS MVP. Z: Jerry Zimmerman (3 Home Runs) Zimmerman play parts of seven seasons with the Twins, but he only played more than 85 games in one season. He hit one home run in each season from 1965-1967 to end up with the most home runs for the letter Z. What names stand out to you on this list? What home run from these players do you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. News broke on Sunday that Ron Gardenhire was retiring, effective immediately. The former Twins manager had been Detroit’s skipper for the last three seasons. He’s had a losing record in every season for the Tigers as they have been in full rebuild mode. Initially, his plan was to retire at the conclusion of the 2020 season, but a case of food poisoning and underlying health conditions pushed him into an early exit. In a press release, Gardenhire said, ““This is a bittersweet day for myself and my family. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the countless players and coaches that I’ve had the honor of working alongside for the last 16 seasons as manager. I’d also like to thank the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins for giving me the privilege of leading their clubhouses. While I’m stepping away from managing, I’ll be watching this group of Tigers closely in the next few years. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and a lot coming through the farm system. Tigers fans are going to enjoy the exciting times on the horizon.” Gardy’s Twins tenure started back in 1986 in his final year as a professional player. He played 117 games for the club’s Triple-A affiliate and hit .272/.347/.380 with 26 extra-base hits and a 70 to 45 strike out to walk ratio. He must have impressed the Twins, because he retired following the season and immediately started coaching in the Twins system. He quickly made his mark in his first three years as a minor league manager. He led teams in the Midwest League (Class A) and Southern League (Class AA) to one second place and two first place finishes. From there, he was promoted to being a coach on the big-league squad and he served as a coach for over the next decade (1991-2001). When Tom Kelly retired, Gardy took over with a flurry. In his first season as manager, he would lead the Twins to the AL Central crown and all the way to the ALCS before eventually losing to the eventual World Series champions, the Anaheim Angels. The Twins have yet to win a playoff series since that run, but Gardenhire’s impact was far from over. Minnesota would complete a three-peat of AL Central titles in 2004 before winning the title again in 2006. The club lost to the White Sox in Game 163 to end the 2008 season before coming back and winning a Game 163 against the Tigers to close out the Metrodome one year later. His final AL Central crown came in 2010 when he won his lone the AL Manager of the Year award. Many great players came to stardom under Gardenhire’s watchful eye. Johan Santana went on one of the greatest pitching runs in franchise history as he won two Cy Young awards before being traded to the Mets. Joe Mauer made his debut in 2004 and played a large portion of his potential Hall of Fame career under Gardenhire. Other players like Torii Hunter, Corey Koskie, Denard Span, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer would have long careers tied to Gardy’s tenure. Gardenhire’s personality was what separated him from previous Twins managers. He was able to connect with players and fans and he brought a passion that would overflow into the game. His club record 71 ejections would attest to that fact. If Twins teams were in contention, he pulled the right strings to be able to keep them in the race. Overall, he seemed to be able to get the best out of his players and to guide young players as they entered the league. Following the 2010 season, things went the wrong way in a hurry for Gardenhire and the Twins. For four straight seasons, the club lost over 90 games in the worst stretch of losing in franchise history. At his final Twins press conference, he said, “Sometimes people need to hear a different voice. They need a new face. I just want this organization to win; I’ll be rooting just like everybody else.” His 27 years in the Twins organization were over, but he was still part of the Twins family. Twins President Dave St. Peter said, “Baseball has always been better with Ron Gardenhire part of it. His legacy is highlighted by the hugely positive impact he made on players and staff. I will always remember his authentic connection to the fans. The Gardenhire family will always be part of the Twins family.” Twins fans might not have agreed with every on-field decision during the Gardenhire era, but his legacy will be felt throughout Twins Territory for years to come. Congratulations on retirement to Gardenhire and his family. May he stay healthy and enjoy the years ahead. What are some of your favorite Gardy memories? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Longtime Twins color commentator Bert Blyleven signed off after 25 years in the booth with Dick Bremer on Wednesday night, but not before revealing a startling secret about one of his favorite pitching aphorisms. “The downward plane isn’t real,” said the Hall of Fame pitcher. “I made it up just to see if (Twins play-by-play voice Dick) Bremer would repeat it. Totally worked. Totally worth it.” Longtime viewers will no doubt recall Blyleven’s constant exhortations for pitchers to “maintain a downward plane” as they offered up a fastball. It appears that it was another ruse in the prank enthusiast’s arsenal. “’Maintain’ and ‘plane’ sound good together, but beyond that it’s nonsense,” said Blyleven. “I came up with it the same day I…left a present in Dick’s suitcase in Kansas City.” [unconfirmed reports say the present in question was a human poop.] Bremer could not be reached for comment on the revelation, although sources close to the veteran broadcaster said he has been staring into the middle distance for hours as a single tear slowly rolled down his cheek, an unlit cigarette dangling from the left corner of his mouth. “25 years (of Blyleven) takes a toll on anyone,” said one person close to Bremer. “On (Justin) Morneau’s first night in the booth, Dick asked him when he was going to give him a hotfoot, or if he planned to ‘press ham’ on the driver’s side window of his Honda Civic in the employee parking lot. Justin was perplexed. Dick just assumes anyone who is in the booth with him is going to engage in an unrelenting, multi-front prank spree. It’s why he’s in therapy.” For his part, Blyleven says he’s grateful that his addition to the baseball lexicon became so pervasive. “If just one kid learns that he can torture a co-worker with goofs and fart noises spanning decades, man, that’s the dream,” said Blyleven. “Lots of people come up to me and say they grew up watching me on TV. And you can just tell that they’re going to put their partner’s hand in a glass of lukewarm tap water while they sleep. I just hope they remember to put peanut butter in their shorts. Never let up.” Image license here.
  4. Tom Kelly suffered through some rough Twins seasons but when he retired after the 2001 season, he left the team in a good spot. Ron Gardenhire took over and the team won six division titles in a decade. As we have seen in other decades, much of that credit for this decade belongs to the offense. The team had two MVPs, a three-time batting champ, several Silver Sluggers and Gold Glove Awards, more All Stars, lots of 30+ double seasons and many 30+ home run seasons. The list below includes some of the better players in Twins history, but don't worry, there are still a few tough choices in this "lineup." And, frankly, there are some snubs that are deserving as well. Read through this list and share your thoughts in the lineup. The Twins Hitters of the 2000s C - Joe Mauer (2004-2009) 699 games, .327/.408/.483 (.892) with 158 doubles, 72 homers, 397 RBI. The #1 overall pick of the 2001 draft rose quickly through the Twins minor league system and made his debut on Opening Day 2004. In the following seasons, he became one of baseball’s best players. In 2006, he hit .347 to become the first catcher in American League catcher to win a batting title. He won another in 2008 (.328) and 2009 (.365). He was baseball’s best player in 2009 when he won the AL SABRmetric Triple Crown at .365/.444/.587 (1.031). He was named the league’s MVP that season. Through the 2009 season, he had three batting titles, three All-Star appearances, three Silver Sluggers and his first two Gold Glove awards. 1B - Justin Morneau (2003-2009) 867 games, .280/.350/.501 (.851) with 190 doubles, 163 homers, 623 RBI. Morneau was the Twins third-round pick in 1999. He made his MLB debut in 2003. He had his ups and downs for a couple of years, but he came into his own in 2006. He hit .321/.375/.559 (.934) with 37 doubles, 34 homers and 130 RBI. He won his first of two Silver Slugger Awards. He was an All-Star each of the next four seasons. He was the runner up for MVP in 2008. From 2006-2009, he hit 31 or more homers three of four years and drove in at least 100 runs all four years. 2B - Nick Punto (2004-2009) 659 games, .249/.325/.327 (.652) with 91 doubles, 11 homers, 174 RBI. Punto was the Twins 33rd-round pick in 1997, but he didn’t sign. He was later drafted by the Phillies and worked up to the big leagues with them. The Twins acquired him after the 2003 season in the Eric Milton trade, and he became a regular, playing a variety of positions, by 2005. While he’s not a perfect fit at second base, he provided the Twins a ton of versatility. He always took quality at-bats and made pitchers throw a lot of pitches. He also was a plus-plus defender around the infield. In 2006, he hit .290/.352/.373 (.725) with 29 extra base hits in 135 games. In 2008, he hit .284/.344/.382 (.726). He averaged nearly 16 stolen bases between 2005 and 2009. Also considered at the position: Luis Castillo. 3B - Corey Koskie (2000-2004) 688 games, .278/.373/.465 (.838) with 159 doubles, 89 homers, 377 RBI. Koskie, a native of Manitoba, was the Twins 26th-round pick in 1994. He made his debut late in the 1998 season. In 2000, he hit .300/.400/.441 (.841) with 45 extra- base hits. In 2001, he both scored 100 runs and drove in 100 runs. He also hit a career-high 26 home runs that season. He hit 37 doubles in both 2001 and 2002. He posted an OPS of .815 or higher in seven of eight seasons between 1999 and 2006. He also became a very reliable defensive third baseman. SS - Cristian Guzman (2000-2004) 710 games, .272/.308/.398 (.706) with 130 doubles, 38 homers, 263 RBI. Guzman was acquired by the Twins in the February 1998 Chuck Knoblauch trade. He was the Twins Opening Day shortstop starting in 1999. Initially, he was known for strong defense and his great speed. In 2000, he led the league with 20 triples. 2001 was his best season. He hit .302 and played in his first All-Star Game. He hit 28 doubles, a league-leading 14 triples, and a career-high ten home runs. He led the league with 14 triples again in 2003. LF - Jacque Jones (2000-2005) 881 games, .278/.327/.455 (.781) with 165 doubles, 123 homers, 432 RBI. Jones was the Twins second-round draft pick in 1996 out of USC (Southern California). The Olympian signed and made his debut midway through the 1999 season. 2000 was his first full season. In 2002, he hit .300 with 37 doubles and 27 home runs. In 2003, he hit .304 with 33 doubles and 16 homers. He hit 23 and 24 homers in 2004 and 2005, respectively. He was a solid left fielder with a great - though sometimes inaccurate - arm. Soon after the Twins acquired Shannon Stewart in 2004, Jones moved to right field. CF - Torii Hunter (2000-2007) 1,092 games, .273/.326/.478 (.803) with 241 doubles, 183 homers, 674 RBI. Hunter was the Twins first-round pick in 1993 out of high school. He had brief call ups in 1997 and 1998 but spent a lot of time traveling between AAA and the big leagues in 1999 and 2000 as well. He became a regular in 2001 and took off from that point. He was incredible with the glove and won six straight Gold Glove Awards between 2002 and 2007. He was an All-Star in those two seasons as well. Hunter hit a career-high 45 doubles and 2007. He had hit a career-high 31 homers in 2006. While known for his defense, Hunter came into his own offensively as well with the Twins. RF - Michael Cuddyer (2001-2009) 843 games, .270/.344/.457 (.801) with 173 doubles, 107 homers, 479 RBI. Cuddyer was the Twins top pick in the 1997 draft. He debuted very late in the 2001 season and had several cups of coffee in 2002 and 2003. He became a regular in 2004 and remained as such through the decade. He moved all over the diamond, but he became his best when he was thrown into right field where his rocket arm became a huge asset. That happened in 2006 when he hit .284/.362/.504 (.867) with a career-high 41 doubles, 24 homers and 109 RBI. In 2009, he received MVP votes for really leading the Twins in their incredible September to force a Game 163. That season, he hit .276/.342/.520 (.862) with 32 doubles and a career-high 34 home runs. DH - Lew Ford (2003-2007) 494 games, .272/.349/.402 (.750) with 80 doubles, 32 homers, 172 RBI. This may be a controversial choice, but Ford did play some DH throughout his time with the Twins. We could have gone with Denard Span whose first two MLB seasons were incredible with high batting average and on-base percentage. You could go with AJ Pierzynski who played in an All-Star Game as a Twins catcher before the Mauer years. How about Jason Bartlett for his short time with the Twins? For me though, the choice was Ford. In September of 2000, the Twins traded reliever Hector Carrasco to the Red Sox in exchange for Ford. He debuted in 2003 by hitting .329 (.928) in 35 games and made the playoff roster. In 2004, he burst on the scene with a huge first half which found him on the AL’s final vote for the last spot on the AL All- Star roster. Overall that season, he hit .299/.381/.446 (.827) with 31 doubles, 15 homers and 72 RBI in 154 games. He also had 20 stolen bases. That was the pinnacle, but he did play in 147 games in 2005. He spent most of the next two seasons with the Twins as well, though his performance dropped. But that 2004 season was special. What are your thoughts? Agree with the choices? Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers)
  5. The date is July 7, 2010. It’s the top of the eighth inning and Justin Morneau is playing in front of his home nation. After driving a single to center field off Scott Downs, Morneau finds himself a part of Jason Kubel’s 4-6-3 double play. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t routine. Justin slid into the bag and upon doing so took a knee to the head from Toronto second basemen John McDonald. As a former hockey player, it wasn’t his first concussion, but this one would definitely be the most memorable. Morneau went on to play another 597 games from that point forward. He did it in uniforms for the Twins, Pirates, Rockies, and White Sox. His .764 OPS was a lackluster one, and while he did win a batting title in Colorado during 2014, there was no denying the guy was never the same. It’s that moment during the 2010 season though that begs the question: What did we actually miss out on? Going into that year Morneau had played seven big league seasons. He owned an .851 OPS and had already won an MVP at the age of 25. He was a three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger. To say that the Twins had a superstar first basemen to go along with their elite catcher was nothing short of obvious. In 2010 though, things had reached otherworldly levels. That season, the first of Target Field’s existence, Morneau played the first half like a man of legend. He owned a .345/.437/.618 slash line. In just 81 games he’d blasted 18 dingers and recorded 56 RBI. He was on pace for 50 doubles, which would have been a career high, and he was tracking toward surpassing 200 hits in a season for the only time in his career. To say the production at that point was unprecedented would be selling it short. It wasn’t like Morneau was impressive just among Twins hitters either. That 2010 team won 94 games, the AL Central, and appeared in the ALDS. Through those first 81 games Morneau compiled more than 300 plate appearances. His 183 wRC+ was first in the game, topping Hall of Fame teammate Jim Thome. His .448 wOBA bested superstar Josh Hamilton. Producing 5.0 fWAR to that point, he would’ve cleared Hamilton’s league leading 8.4 fWAR by more than a full win.. Looking back on some of those numbers since the year 2000, only 16 times have we seen a player surpass 183 wRC+. Six of those instances have been generated by either Barry Bonds (4) or Albert Pujols (2). In that same time we’ve gotten 10.0 fWAR seasons just 9 times, half of those from Bonds and another two from Mike Trout. That’s the company of numbers Justin Morneau was among. He was also compiling those while playing a defensively overlooked position and without the aid of any performance enhancers. You won’t find many (maybe any) fans around Twins Territory that don’t fondly remember Justin Morneau. It was weird seeing him in a White Sox uniform, and odd celebrating him winning that batting title with the Rockies. He’s become a mainstay in Minneapolis now, and his presence on Fox Sports North broadcast has immediately been celebrated. There’s nothing that could take away from his on-field production, and the unity as part of the M&M Boys with Joe Mauer are feelings that will never leave. None of that stands in comparison to how good 2010 could have been. Rod Carew gave the Twins 8.6 fWAR back in 1977. Joe Mauer produced 8.4 fWAR in 2009. They both went on to win MVP in each of those years. Justin was on track to do that and more in 2010 and we all had that taken away. It’s unfair to speculate on what could have been, but it’s foolish not to recognize what was. I’m certainly glad that the career of Justin Morneau didn’t end that July day in Canada. I’m also beyond disappointed that season was robbed from us and what was ahead became stunningly different from anything we could have expected. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. Make your plans now. On Saturday, May 23rd, the Twins will be hosting the White Sox at Target Field. On that day, Justin Morneau will be inducted as the 34th member of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony. It was just a matter of time, really, as Morneau had an impressive career with the Twins. In 1999, the Twins made the New Westminster, Vancouver, native their third-round draft pick. At the time, he was a catcher, but he quickly moved to first base after an arm injury. He made his much-anticipated major-league debut for the Twins in 2003. If you can recall, he received a standing ovation before that plate appearance. In 1,278 games, Morneau hit .278 with 289 doubles, 221 home runs and 860 RBI. His 221 home runs currently rank third on the Twins all-time list. In 2006, he was the American League Most Valuable Player. In 157 games that season ,he hit .321/.375/.559 (.934) with 37 doubles, 34 homers and 130 RBI. He was an All-Star in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. 2010 was shaping up to be his best season yet. Through 81 games, he was hitting a robust .345/.437/.618 (1.055) with 25 doubles and 18 home runs when he slid into second base and took a John MacDonald knee to the head and suffered a concussion that altered the trajectory of the Twins season and his career. He remained with the Twins through August 31, 2013, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates to end the season. He spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Rockies. He owns the 2014 National League batting title when he hit .319 in 2014. He played in 58 games for the White Sox in 2016 before retiring. He joined the Twins as a Special Assistant to Baseball Operations the last two seasons. He has now spent time the last couple of seasons in the broadcast booth with Dick Bremer and will do about 60 games in 2020. On Friday, May 22, the first 5,000 fans in attendance at Target Field will receive a Justin Morneau Hall of Fame pin. The first 10,000 fans to enter on Sunday, May 24, will receive a Morneau Hall of Fame bobblehead. There is a 71-member committee that votes on the Twins Hall of Fame. It includes local and national media, club officials, fan vote and past elected members. Morneau joins the following in the Twins Hall of Fame: 2000: Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Calvin Griffith 2001: Jim Kaat, Herb Carneal 2002: Bert Blyleven, Tom Kelly 2003: Bob Casey, Bob Allison 2004: Earl Battey 2005: Frank Viola 2006: Carl Pohlad, Zoilo Versalles 2007: Jim Rantz 2008: Rick Aguilera 2009: Brad Radke, George Brophy 2010: Greg Gagne 2011: Jim Perry 2012: Camilo Pascual 2013: Eddie Guardado, Tom Mee 2014: Chuck Knoblauch (elected, but not inducted) 2015: none 2016: Torii Hunter, John Gordon 2017: Michael Cuddyer, Andy MacPhail 2018: Johan Santana 2019: Joe Nathan, Jerry Bell 2020: Justin Morneau
  7. Partnering with Fan HQ, located at both Ridgedale and the Eden Prairie Center, the former Twins great is in search of new or gently used winter coats. The donated coats will be distributed throughout the Twin Cities by the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center and they have already begun handing out coats to those in need. Through the relationship with Fan HQ, Justin has decided to hand out free autographs in exchange for each coat donated. In case you can’t donate in person, a $33 donation can be made to the Salvation Army’s website to receive a signed photo through the mail. The coat drive began at the start of the decade, and since 2010 over 30,000 coats have been donated. This year the drive total will surpass Morneau’s playing number with the hometown team. 33,000 coats coming in over the course of the entire effort is no small feat, and the response has been significant to Justin. Making himself available for a quick conversation, Justin had plenty to add on the drive itself and the state of the Minnesota Twins. Twins Daily- Having been around cold weather climates your whole life, a coat drive seems natural. What specifically about giving back and providing for others is important to you? What has this coat drive meant to you personally? Justin Morneau- At some point we all need help, and this is a simple gesture that can change, or even save, someone’s life. The most amazing thing to me about the coat drive is the people who put in so much time and effort to collect hundreds and even thousands of coats. All coats are appreciated, but the time and effort that people put in for the benefit of others is the type of thing that the world could use a little more of. TD- Minneapolis has been a part of your life for over a decade. What about the city and the people inspire you to use your platform to help those in need? JM- I feel at home in Minnesota and the people have made it that way for me. I tell people all the time, we could live almost anywhere, but we chose to live here. In a place that has been so good to me and my family, the coat drive seems like a small way to say thank you to people who may be going through a tough time and could use someone to help lift them up. TD- The coat drive has been a yearly thing. Where did the idea come from and what has been some of your favorite memories over the years? JM- The coat drive originated out of necessity, not sure who’s idea it was in the first place. My favorite memory of the coat drive has been witnessing a young man named Ben set up coat drive donation boxes all over town and drive with his parents to collect all the coats. He was 7 or 8 when he started doing this. To think of someone so young being able to do something for others is an inspiration for me and should act as one for others as well. TD- Switching to baseball, how do you feel about where the Twins are heading into 2020? Obviously coming off a great season, how serious of a threat do you see them in the immediate future? JM- I’m excited to continue to watch the development of this Twins team. There were so many big years from guys that didn’t have those expectations going in. Garver is one of those guys that comes to mind; he had a great year and I’m looking forward to seeing how he follows that up. I’m also looking forward to the Twins vs. White sox becoming a rivalry again. Chicago is going to be better than people think and those were always series that I looked forward to playing. TD- Finally, how have you enjoyed taking in the game from the booth? Personally, you’ve become one of my favorite broadcasters for how you combine many different aspects of the game. Are you looking for it to be a more expansive role? JM- I have enjoyed being in the booth far more than I ever could’ve imagined. I like being around the game and the preparation that goes into a broadcast. Talking baseball for a few hours on TV with possibly the biggest Twins fan of all in Dick [bremer] has been something that I really look forward to. There will not be anything that will ever replace the feeling of stepping in the batter’s box or running out of the dugout onto the field, but broadcasting does give me an adrenaline rush that I miss from my playing days. I’m looking forward to doing a few more games next season, while still being able to spend time with my family during the summer. For more information regarding the coat drive call Fan HQ at 952-545-6460 or visit JustinMorneau.com. Thanks again to Justin and Fan HQ for the discussion and setting up such a positive event.
  8. The decade of 2010-19 brought two division pennants, three playoff berths and a zero playoff wins. In total, the Twins finished the decade with a record of 765-855 and -438 run differential, both good for 23rd in the Majors. Here's my take on the Twins All-Decade team from the 2010s. After reading through my team, I would love to hear your thoughts what gripes you have with my selections. Without further ado ... C: Joe Mauer (2010-18) 1,159 Games .788 OPS 24.0 fWAR The future Hall of Famer was the team MVP for the Minnesota Twins in the 2010s decade, leading the team in games played, batting average (min. 600 PAs), RBI, runs and WAR. It’s hard to come up with enough stats to quantify just how much Mauer meant to the Twins and to the state of Minnesota. While Mauer split the decade pretty evenly between catcher and first base, I put him as the catcher so that I could put in the next guy as our first baseman. Honorable Mention: Mitch Garver 1B: Justin Morneau (2010-13) 411 Games .791 OPS 5.3 fWAR While he didn’t have enough healthy seasons in his career to make it into Cooperstown, Morneau is certainly another Twins all-timer. Morneau peaked at the end of the 2000s, but did enough to be the first baseman for the 2010s all decade team. Morneau was in the middle of a possible second MVP season prior to his concussion in 2010 that ended his season in July. Honorable Mention: Joe Mauer 2B: Brian Dozier (2012-18) 955 Games .772 OPS 22.5 fWAR Arguably the most underappreciated Minnesota Twin in recent memory, when I looked back on Dozier’s stats over the decade it struck me how truly impactful he was at the plate year after year. Dozier hit 49 more home runs than any other Twins player over the course of the decade and paced the team with 98 stolen bases. Dozier posted an All-Star Game appearance, competed in the Home Run Derby and somehow won a Gold Glove. Honorable mention: Luis Arraez SS: Jorge Polanco (2014-19) 441 Games .783 OPS 7.2 fWAR Even with just 441 games played, I decided on Polanco for the All-Decade team because of his consistency appearing as a shortstop for the Twins. Players like Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez certainly performed admirably at shortstop and the plate over the decade for the Twins but played so many different areas across the diamond that they didn’t qualify as a shortstop for me. Polanco has now posted three separate seasons with a .750 OPS or better and just completed his most successful season as a Twin, leading the team in WAR and starting for the AL in the All-Star Game. Honorable mention: Eduardo Escobar 3B: Miguel Sano (2015-19) 486 Games .836 OPS 8.5 fWAR Sano led all Twins third basemen this decade in home runs and WAR, even though he played 237 less games than his predecessor, Trevor Plouffe. Concerns surrounding his health and strikeout tendencies have been well documented, however, incredible strides were made in 2019 that point towards a bright future for Sano as a potential cornerstone for the Twins. Honorable mention: Trevor Plouffe LF: Eddie Rosario (2015-19) 640 Games .788 OPS 10.5 fWAR Deciding between Josh Willingham and Rosario as the left fielder for the Twins all-decade team was the most challenging decision that I had to make in this exercise. Willingham posted a higher OBP, OPS and wRC+ than Rosario in the decade, punctuated by his Silver Slugger season in 2012 when he posted an .890 OPS and hit 35 home runs. I decided on Rosario, though, because of his longevity with the team. Rosario played in twice as many games as Willingham this decade, hit for a better average and slugging percentage, hit more home runs and RBI, posted 5.0 more WAR and became the face of the "Bomba Squad” in 2019. Honorable mention: Josh Willingham CF: Byron Buxton (2015-19) 393 Games .706 OPS 7.4 fWAR The former No. 1 overall prospect in the Majors had arguably the highest expectations ever for a Twins player coming into the majors. Much of his time on the Twins this decade has been marred with injuries and struggles at the plate. His consistent struggles have left many Twins fans wondering if Buxton will ever be the player that we all hoped that he could be. That being said, he is still the starting center fielder on my All-Decade team for the Twins. It says a lot about Buxton’s game and his immense talent and skill that he could have so many strikes against him in Twins nation, but still post a 7.4 fWAR and be the best center fielder of the decade. Honorable mention: Denard Span RF: Max Kepler (2015-19) 553 Games .763 OPS 9.8 fWAR Just two seasons with the Minnesota Twins in the 2010s wasn’t enough for Cuddyer to make the cut as the right fielder on the All-Decade team. That honor, instead, belongs to Max Kepler. It’s hard to believe that the young German-born lefty has already played in 553 games, but his trajectory of improvement has been such that it’s really exciting to imagine where he could be when this article is written again about the 2020s All-Decade team for the Twins. Kepler’s 9.8 fWAR was fourth on the team in the 2010s. Honorable mention: Michael Cuddyer DH: Nelson Cruz (2019) 120 Games 1.031 OPS 4.3 fWAR While I disqualified Cuddyer and Willingham for not playing enough with the Twins, Nelson Cruz’s 2019 season superseded any self-imposed rules that I made for myself. Anytime you post a 1.031 OPS and 4.3 WAR in your age 39 season, you make the All-Decade team. That’s my new rule. Honorable mention: Jim Thome Util: Eduardo Escobar (2012-18) 671 Games .729 OPS 8.5 fWAR Escobar was another Minnesota Twin that was underrated in my book. As a utility man, Escobar spent time in a Twins uniform playing second base, third base, shortstop and outfield. Save for 2016, Escobar saw his OPS increase in every season that he was in Minnesota, peaking in 2018 when he was traded to Arizona. In the 2010s decade with the Twins, Escobar ranked inside the top five on the team in hits, doubles and WAR. Honorable mention: Eduardo Núñez Starting Pitcher: Jose Berrios (2016-19) 596.2 Innings Pitched 4.21 ERA 9.9 fWAR Though he had only three impactful seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Berrios was the best starting pitcher the Twins had in the 2010s. He has had an ERA under 4.00 in each of the past three years and has been an all-star the past two seasons. Berrios led all Twins starting pitchers (min. 450 IPs) in K/9 and has become the ace of this pitching staff. The next step for Berrios will be for him to maintain his April-August production into September and October. Honorable mention: Kyle Gibson, Ervin Santana Relief Pitcher: Glen Perkins (2010-17) 342.2 Innings Pitched 3.18 ERA 120 Saves 6.2 fWAR It’s easy to forget just how dominant of a relief pitcher Glen Perkins was for the Twins this past decade. After converting to a relief pitcher in 2010, Perkins became the full-time closer for the Twins in 2012. A three-time All-Star, Perkins collected 120 saves in just over four seasons, posting a save percentage of 83%. Perkins was the man during a really challenging time for the Twins and he ensured the Twins could close out any potential win opportunities there were. Honorable mention: Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Offseason Handbook Preview: Everything You'll Find Inside — 4 Under-the-Radar Relievers Who Could Help in 2020 — Assessing Eddie Rosario's Trade Market
  9. It was always fun to go to the park and watch the fireworks shows when I was a kid, or when Uncle Ken came over with his special fireworks from South Dakota and Mom would yell at him. Now that I’m home with the kids, I wanted to make sure they got to experience a real 4th of July celebration. Here’s what I found out: They have fireworks at Target now. Did you know about this? At first I thought it was a set-up, like when (former Twin Justin) Morneau told me I had to grow sideburns or Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t let me on the team plane for road trips. I didn’t know he was kidding me about that until 2016. Pretty funny deal, but I wish he’d told me sooner. I don’t even like sideburns, but I sure as heck didn’t want to drive to Tampa all the time. Anyway, I go to Target, and there’s this big shelf of fireworks right out in the open by the birthday cards. I look around, and I don’t see any hidden cameras or police officers. I pick up a couple roman candles and take them to the register. I even asked the clerk if it was ok for me to buy these, because Mom would get pretty steamed if I was on the news for breaking the law. The clerk looked at me kinda funny, but said sure. And I walked out of Target with a bag of fireworks. It was a pretty neat deal. I took out my flip phone and sent a text to (former Twin Glen) Perkins and asked him if he knew that you could get fireworks in Minnesota now. He said yeah, they changed the law a couple years ago, but the good s-word was still in Wisconsin. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to Hudson to buy some bottle rockets and then get held up in fireworks customs at the border. Unless Morneau was kidding about that too. I should probably check on that. Have a great weekend, Twins fans.
  10. On May 11 against the Angels, he made a dive for a foul ball and something wasn’t quite right. Even Mike Trout, who was on first base, noticed something might have been wrong as Mauer returned to his position. Mauer would play another week before leaving in the middle of a game on May 18. His drive home that night sounds like it was a scary situation. He felt the concussion symptoms “pour on” on his way home. Mauer stayed at home and away from the team for a couple of days to try and recover. Thursday was supposed to be another step towards Mauer returning this weekend. He worked out on the field before the team’s contest against Cleveland. Things went fine while he was hitting but jogging and fielding caused some of his concussion symptoms to resurface. https://twitter.com/MikeBerardino/status/1002302502631591936 Mauer hoped to be able to sit on the bench during the Cleveland series to see how his body responded to the lights and sounds of a big league game. Twins Territory saw a Mauer resurgence in 2017. In his age-34 season, he hit .305/.384/.417 with 44 extra-base hits in 141 games. He was also robbed of being a finalist for the AL Gold Glove at first base. He finished third in SABR’s SDI rankings and Eric Hosmer, the eventual winner, finished with the second worst ranking. So far this season, Mauer has hit .283/.404/.355 with eight extra-base hits in 38 games. Concussions are a dangerous part of sports. Mauer’s career has been altered because of his recurring symptoms. Former Twin Justin Morneau saw his career cut short because of concussion issues. There are long-term repercussions from continuing to play with mounting concussion concerns. Mauer has a family to think about and a post-baseball life that might be starting sooner, rather than later.
  11. On Monday on the back fields of the Lee County Sports Complex, Brent Rooker played first base for the Chattanooga Lookouts work group against the AA work group of the Boston Red Sox. Long-time big leaguer Chris Heisey came down from big league camp and introduced himself to the Twins 2017 draft pick. As usual in those games, he got a couple of at-bats and played half of the game at first base. He was then replaced by another quality Twins prospect, Lewin Diaz. However, Rooker’s day was not over. After watching an inning of the game, he shifted to the half-field adjacent to the field in which the game was being played. He and fellow prospect Chris Paul went to first base where Joel Lepel hit them ground balls, and they were to throw it to second base. They were working on turning and throwing and other footwork basics. After a while, the were joined by a couple of new Twins instructors. Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau found their way over there. Cuddyer mostly observed and later hit fungoes to other infielders. Morneau stood by Paul and Rooker, offering suggestions and even showing the footwork. The opportunity is great for the minor leaguers to learn from such talent. Twins Hall of Famer Torii Hunter has worked with the players. Michael Cuddyer was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame following the completion of his career. Justin Morneau announced his retirement in January. The former MVP has joined the Twins front office as a special assistant to Baseball Operations. These are guys who have accomplished so much, including All-Star Games in their long MLB careers. To get pointers from them can mean the world. Rooker noted later, “Having guys like Justin and Michael around is awesome because they have so much first hand experience and knowledge that they’re able to share. Just being around them and listening to them talk about the game is a huge help to guys like me who are trying to get where they have already been.” Rooker grew up in a small town, Germantown (TN), just miles from Memphis. His father played baseball at Memphis, and his younger brother is currently on the Memphis team. Rooker headed south a couple of hours and chose Mississippi State for his college baseball. Rooker noted, “I originally thought, in my junior year (of high school), that I was going to play football in college. Then I started getting bigger looks for baseball, from SEC schools. I went on a few visits. The atmosphere. The energy surrounding Mississippi State is what sets it apart.” Rooker is a great athlete and participated in three sports during his high school career at Evangelical Christian Academy. Not only did he participate, but he was a team leader in all three sports. “I did it because I really enjoyed all three of them. I was blessed to have the opportunity to play all three (sports) and compete for a state championship in all three sports. We won in baseball twice, and then lost in football and in basketball my senior year. When people ask what advice I have for younger players, it’s always to play multiple sports as long as you can and as long as they enjoy it and have some success and contribute to a team. I think they should try to compete in multiple sports for as long as possible because it helps develop young athletes both mentally and physically.” The coaches at Mississippi State told him that he would redshirt his freshman season. While it wasn’t ideal and could be frustrating at times, Rooker says it was the best thing for him. “Simply put, I wasn’t ready to compete at the level I needed to to help the team, so the redshirt was the best thing for me. I was told I was going to redshirt. It’s not the most fun thing to do. You have the choice though. I could leave and go to a JuCo and play right away, or I could stick around and try to figure out how to play at this level. I chose to do the latter and it really paid off for me. That year was hard. It was a lot of hard work, and it was tough not to be able to play and compete and practice all the time. At the end of the day, I really needed it and think it was the best decision for me. Following a strong junior year (redshirt sophomore season), the Twins took Rooker in the 38th round. He chose not to sign, betting on himself. “Going into the draft, I was telling teams, Top 5 rounds and I’ll sign. After that, it would be a financial decision that we can discuss. After I got picked, I did have some conversations with the Twins people. At the end of the day, it was a better decision for me from a development standpoint to go back to school and compete in the SEC which is as good as amateur baseball gets.” He continued, “I knew there was more in me.” He spent a lot of time that summer trying to figure out how to take his game to the next level. “My focus was to figure out what that was for me whether it was an approach thing or a physical thing or a swing thing. I knew it was in there. I knew I had more capability than I was showing. I did whatever I could, talked to people to try to figure out what it was that would take me to the next step.” Video has become a big part of Rooker’s preparation and work toward becoming a better player. He notes that while he has had favorite players and favorite teams in the past, he now watches baseball players a little differently and has found a couple of guys whose swings he likes and studies. “I didn’t necessarily model my game after people. I found people that I liked what they did with their swing and watched a lot of video of those guys and tried to learn a lot from those guys. The two guys that I’ve watched the most video on and studied the most over the past two years while I was trying to figure out my swing. Josh Donaldson was one, and Barry Bonds is another guy I’ve watched a lot of video on.I look at how they move and how they made their swings work efficiently.I think those are the two guys I’ve probably learned the most from from an offensive standpoint.” On Sunday, Lance Lynn pitched in a minor league. In that game, Rooker lined a double to left field. The below video was recorded, and it illustrates the results of his work. You can see a nice, efficient swing with little extra movement and a lot of power generated. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/975406420911800320 Later that day, Parker slowed down the video to better illustrate the efficiency. https://twitter.com/ParkerHageman/status/975428645979348992 Rooker noted that the jump from the SEC to the Appalachian League “wasn’t too big, but the jump from E-Town to the Florida State League was a big jump for me in terms of seeing the quality of stuff that guys are throwing every day.” He is working with the Chattanooga group right now, so it makes sense the that organization may plan to have him start the season back in Ft. Myers where he posted a .917 OPS with six doubles and 11 homers in just 40 games in 2017. It’s also possible that he will begin the season with the Lookouts. While we will continue to look at his statistics, Rooker will continue to work on his process. As he said, the numbers will take care of themselves. Could we see Rooker in a Twins uniform, playing games at Target Field by season’s end? The odds probably aren’t high, but the fact that at this time a year ago, he hadn’t even started SEC games yet, it is remarkable to note that it is absolutely possible. If not, maybe 2019. He’s been working hard at first base, trying to learn some of the nuances of the position. Getting help from a guy like Justin Morneau, who made himself into a very solid defensive player over his career, can’t hurt. He’s also spent some time in left field this spring. “My job is not to worry about the assignment. My job is to show up wherever they put me and continue to work my process and get better every day. If I continue to take incremental steps, every game, every week, then I’ll be where I need to be and I think the numbers should take care of themselves. I don’t worry about the end results. I just worry about my own process and what I need to do to be the best player I can.” Twins fans, that player could be really good.
  12. Let’s take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Jan. 5-Thursday, Jan. 11. The Twins Almanac for January 7–13 - Matt Johnson Projecting The 2021 Twins Line-Up - Cody Christie Gleeman & The Geek: Ep 350 Mega Mailbag - John Bonnes The Return of Seth Speaks (The Podcast) - Seth Stohs The guest list included Gopher baseball player Luke Petterson, LaMonte Wade, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Wells and Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline. Why I Believe The Twins Are Going To Sign Yu Darvish - Nick Nelson Justin Morneau To Retire, Join Twins Front Office - Cody Christie Winter Meltdown And Diamond Award Tickets Available Now! - John Bonnes Projecting the 2021 Twins Pitching Staff - Tom Froemming Hey Joe, What's Next? - Ted Schwerzler 2018 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections - The Catchers - Seth Stohs Minnesota’s Base Running Resurgence - Cody Christie Did Nick Gordon’s Second Half Turn Him From Prospect to Suspect? - Tom Froemming Hard Work Jorge Pays Off - Ted Schwerzler Twins Daily Blogs Below are some additional items of note from both the blog area. I've pulled excerpts from each piece in attempt to hook you in. On acquiring Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole By Hosken Bombo Disco “Now compare Cole to Darvish. Fangraphs projects Cole for 3.8 fWAR in 2018, while Darvish is projected only for 3.6 fWAR in 2018. Consider that Darvish’s contract will fetch more than $20 million per season for each of the next five or six seasons; Cole will not earn $20 million over the next two seasons together. Moreover, Cole might be motivated to pitch his best in order to increase his value in free agency following 2019.” HildenWho? By Jamie Cameron “Hildenberger had good MiLB numbers, but I had no idea how dominant he was. In any MiLB stint in which Hildenberger pitched at least 20 innings, he never had a K/9 of under 9.6, and never had a GB% lower than 53%. He topped out at 11.8 K/9 at low A. His GB% peaked at 67%. To put that into some major league perspective, only 4 guys who threw at least 40 innings in 2017 had a GB% higher than 67% (one of whom, Scott Alexander, the Dodgers saw fit to trade for as a replacement for Tony Watson in their bullpen). Granted, Hildenberger was at high A, but the signs were promising. Hildenberger had consistently shown an ability to do two things which in combination can make a reliever elite; get lots of strikeouts and induce a ton of ground balls.” Minnesota Jumeaux – Eh! By mikelink45 “With Justin Morneau returning to Minnesota it just seems to fulfill destiny. The Canadians have only two teams – Toronto (officially) and that offshoot of Ontario called Minnesota with the Twins (Jumeaux). Canada should celebrate both and we should take pride in straddling the border with both temperature and hockey to welcome our northern kin. Morneau was a natural and Colorado was just a blip on his resume. Now he is coming back home. Welcome Justin – you can let your o’s get longer and slip in an Eh! Or two.” Understanding the "Quality of Pitch" (QOP/QOPA/QOPV) Statistics By Lenzy2108 “I've spent a lot of time over the last few days reading about a relatively new statistic called "quality of pitch" (QOP), which assigns a numerical value to each pitch a pitcher throws. The values can then averaged together to come up with a pitchers average quality of pitch (QOPA) or you can look at a quality of pitch set of values (QOPV) as another tool to measure the performance of a pitcher. The purpose of this post is to provide a simple overview of this data as it may be referenced in future articles.” Additional Links Minnesota Twins: Paul Molitor’s New Year’s Resolutions By Benjamin Chase of Puckett’s Pond “The most obvious example of this was lefty Taylor Rogers. He made 69 appearances on the season, 19 of them on back-to-back days. However, early in the season, Molitor drastically overused his left arm, using him for three days in a row 3 times and five days in a row once all before the All-Star break. Predictably, Rogers had a rough time coming out of the All Star break, making 6 appearances between July 22nd and August 5th, throwing 4 innings, with a 22.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, and allowing 3 home runs (he allowed only 6 on the ENTIRE season).” Twins had planned to call up ByungHo Park in 2017 By Maija Varda of Twinkie Town “Though news came out awhile ago that ByungHo Park would be returning to South Korea to play baseball in 2018, he actually only arrived back in his home country yesterday. Since it was his first time back, Park held a press conference about his return with his new/old team, the Nexen Heroes. He didn’t really say that much new about the Twins or his time in the US, but one small comment stuck out to me: apparently, at the end of spring training in 2017, the Twins told Park they wanted him to start the season in the minors, but that they planned to call him up later that April.” Podcasts Minnesota Sports Weekly Episode 52 By Travis Aune/Chad Smith I had the pleasure of chatting with the guys from Minnesota Sports Weekly. We talked about everything from the prospect handbook/rankings to Yu Darvish. I believe I'm welcomed on to the show at around the hour mark. They led off the show with Josh Whetzel, who is the radio guy for Triple-A Rochester. Baseball is Good Episode 30 By Cory Engelhardt “Shea McGinnity is a big time baseball fan who lives in Kansas City, MO. We will talk baseball, Minnesota Twins, and anything else that comes our way.” The Show About the Show Episode 2 (airs Friday night at 7 pm) By Devlin Clark Before we close out the podcast segment, I just wanted to give a heads up that Devlin will be recording his first full-length episode with special guest and former Twins pitcher Cole De Vries later this evening. Calling All Bloggers!!! One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when writing is figuring out just what the heck to write about. Well, here’s a topic to consider … TwinsFest stories and tips. This idea was offered up in the comments last week by TD member IndianaTwin. Anybody have good stories to tell about TwinsFest? What’s your most memorable moment or favorite person you’ve met at the event? Do you have any pro tips to pass along for first-time TwinsFesters? Just to be clear, this simply an idea I'm throwing out there to consider. Just a reminder, anyone can start a blog at Twins Daily. If you're interested in being a regular writer for the site, the blog section is how you get your foot in the door. The only reason you're reading my words right now is because I started my own blog at Twins Daily. Calling All Readers!!! I don’t want to leave you out, either. If there's anything you'd love to read about next week, please let us know in the comments. Twins Weekly will continue to be posted every Friday morning at the site. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
  13. Reports are that Morneau will officially retire and become a special assistant in the Twins. The team has yet to make the announcement official but that could come as Twins Fest approaches. Under the Twins new front office, the club has added former players like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins as special assistants. Morneau became a star in the Twin Cities on his way to being elected to four All-Star Games. From 2006-2010, he hit .298/.372/.528 (.900) while averaging 27 home runs and over 100 RBI per season. On his way to the 2016 AL MVP, he compiled many of the numbers voters like to see with 34 home runs, 130 RBI and a .934 OPS. In 2010 with the Twins leading the AL Central, Morneau looked well on his way to another MVP. He posted an eye-popping 1.055 OPS with 44 extra-base hits in 81 games. A slide into second base in Toronto resulted in a concussion that ended his season. Over the next two years, multiple concussions limited his playing time. Morneau had plenty of other memorable moments throughout his career. Josh Hamilton’s performance in the 2008 Home Run Derby was legendary but it was actually Morneau who took home the title that year. He returned to Target Field for the 2014 Home Run Derby and received a standing ovation from Twins fans. His 2014 season was also memorable for the fact that he won the National League batting crown. Over 135 games, he hit .319 and outlasted Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen. During his time in Minnesota, he also took home two Silver Slugger awards (2006, 2008) as the top hitting first baseman in the American League. Morneau ranks very highly in multiple categories on the Twins all-time lists. His 221 home runs are third behind Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek and one ahead of Tony Oliva. He ranks sixth in RBI, ninth in runs and third in slugging. What was your favorite Justin Morneau moment? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.
  14. Before he kicks off the next phase of his baseball life, I caught up with Landon Leach to ask a few questions. --------------------------------------------------------- Off The Baggy: Let's start with the organization, what is your knowledge of the Twins and Minnesota at this point? Landon Leach: During my first showcase as a pitcher (at 15), Walt Burrows (Twins Canadian Scout) came up to me and was saying positive things about my body type and that they'd keep in touch in the future. That ended up being true as he's the one who signed me. That was really the first contact I had with the Twins. My visit to Minneapolis and Target Field was just a great experience. It's a very nice city; very quiet compared to Toronto, I found. I have much more knowledge now about the organization than before the draft. OTB: Describe your pitching presence to me. What pitches do you throw? What do you rely on? How do you attack hitters? LL: This is actually just my second year pitching, after moving from catcher. My pitches are fastball (4 and 2 seam), changeup, and slider. I can reach 96 with my fastball, so I can rely on that. My out pitch is my slider, which is above average. My changeup is still in the making, just need to perfect it for strikes. Having been used to coming out of the pen, I'll soon get used to starting. I'm going to need to attack hitters with my fastball, and as the lineup turns over, I'll need to change looks and use offspeed stuff. OTB: Being from Canada, are you a Justin Morneau fan, or who are some of your big league influences? LL: Actually, Morneau was one of my coaches for my team Canada trip. I know him fairly well, definitely a great player for the Twins. I feel like my game right now, my body and my arm angle, I'm more of a Corey Kluber kind of guy. I like how he pitches and what he does for his team. OTB: In making the leap to pro ball, what's the area of your game you think is going to set you a part? What requires the most work yet? LL: Most amount of work, like I said, I haven't pitched many innings. Getting more innings under my belt is going to be the early focus. I feel like a strength is that I've played against many professional players having been with team Canada. We've gone to extended spring training and instructional leagues to against guys from the Dominican and Cuba, so I have a good idea what the level of competition looks like. I feel comfortable playing against those types of players. OTB: What's the one thing you want Twins fans to know about you as a person, and also as a pitcher? LL: I love when people interact with me face to face. I've had a lot of support in my classroom and school, and seeing Twins fans continue that support would be great. As a baseball player, I'd do anything to get to the major leagues. The work ethic is there, and I'll do anything for my teammates. --------------------------------------- Ready to get going down in Fort Myers, Leach is going to be a player that's absolutely worth keeping an eye on in the coming years. As he continues to grow into a pitcher as a professional, it will be exciting to watch the Twins organization help him come into his own. He should be making starts in short order for the GCL squad, and seeing him rise the ranks is something Twins Territorians can get behind.
  15. The WBC is coming next month. It is the reason the spring training is starting earlier across baseball. But let's take a look at the teams that have current or former members of the Twins organization. AUSTRALIA Let's start Down Under where there are 14 players with Twins ties. Current Twins minor leaguers RHP Todd Van Steensel, LHP Lachlan Wells and OF Aaron Whitefield are on the team. Wells will be joined by his twin brother Alexander, a member of the Orioles organization. James Beresford will again represent the green and gold of Australia. He remains a free agent following his long-awaited MLB debut last September. Former Twins big leaguers Liam Hendriks and Luke Hughes are also on the roster. There are a bunch of former Twins minor leaguers also on the Australian roster: RHP Tim Atherton, C Allan De San Miguel, RHP Josh Guyer, RHP Peter Moylan, OF Trent Oeltjen, IF/OF Logan Wade, and RHP Matt Williams. Also, former Twins Rule 5 pick, LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, is on the team. PUERTO RICO We expected the Twins to be well represented on the Puerto Rico team. Big leaguers Kennys Vargas, Eddie Rosario, Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios are on the team. RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who along with Rosario helped capture the Caribbean Series championship for Puerto Rico this past weekend, is a surprise addition to the team. He pitched very well in the Puerto Rico Winter League. Finally, former Twins LHP JC Romero is still pitching, and he is on the team as well. Another former Twins player, catcher Rene Rivera, is also on the roster. CANADA Oh Canada! The team has three former Twins big leaguers on its roster. Justin Morneau is still looking for a big league team to sign him this year, but he's on the WBC roster. Andrew Albers signed a deal with the Braves. The lefty will pitch for Canada. OF Rene Tosoni is also on the team again. COLOMBIA Colombia has two current Twins minor leaguers on its WBC roster. Yohan Pino was another guy who put in his dues in the minor leagues before finally getting a shot with the Twins. He also saw time with the Royals. He is returning to the Twins this spring. 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez has been in the system for a few years now. He played a huge role last spring in giving Colombia a berth in the WBC with a strong Qualifier. NETHERLANDS The Netherlands has a lot of players from Curacao on its roster. One of them, RHP Shairon Martis, spent a season with the Twins and even pitched some in September for the big club. Tom Stuifbergen played hero for the first Netherlands WBC team when he pitched four scoreless innings in a game that eliminated the strong Dominican team from the first round. 7-footer Loek Van Mil had a couple of stints in the Twins organization including in April of 2016. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Only former Twins RHP Sam Deduno and LHP Fernando Abad have any ties to the Twins organization from the Dominican roster. VENEZUELA Three former Twins minor leaguers are on the Venezuelan roster. Omar Bencomo pitched for the Twins AA and AAA rosters the last couple of seasons. He's a free agent now. Former top prospect Deolis Guerra is a reliever on the team. Finally, Yangervis Solarte, who always hit well in the Twins minor leagues, has put together a solid MLB career as a third baseman for the Yankees and Padres. ISRAEL The team from Israel has three former Twins on their roster too. We all remember the Jason Marquis era. Also, outfielder Sam Fuld is on the roster. And, Craig Breslow, former and current Twins LHP will be on their staff. ITALY Italy was the team that surprised a lot of people in the previous WBC. Drew Butera and Chris Colabello both played a big role in that, and they'll hope to do the same in 2017. CHINA Ray Chang spent a couple of seasons in the Twins organization. Remember the story of Denard Span going up to Chang, thinking he was the newly-signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Span politely bowed, introduced himself and asked if he knew any English. To which Chang responded "Sure I do. I'm from Kansas City." Chang is retiring after the WBC to work for MLB. CHINESE TAIPEI Chi-Wei Hu is not on the roster, but former Twins prospect Kuo Hua Lo - who spent the first four months of 2016 with the Kernels - is pitching for them. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Well, there are not any current Twins on the roster. There was some talk that Brian Dozier might make the roster, but he didn't. However, one Minnesotan and former Twins player, Pat Neshek, is on the Team USA roster. That's it, and that's a lot. So, are we cheering at all for Australia? Maybe Puerto Rico? Or... USA! USA! USA! Discuss your thoughts on the WBC, the players, and what it should do going forward.
  16. The Twins weren't the only team to give up on Ortiz before he reached his full potential. Around Thanksgiving in 1992, Ortiz was signed as an amateur free agent by the Seattle Mariners. He'd play three seasons in the Mariners system and he hit 18 home runs in the Midwest League as a 20-year old. Minnesota liked what they saw in Ortiz and he was dealt from Seattle as a player to be named later in a trade for Dave Hollins. He would fly through Minnesota's three highest minor league levels during the next season and he even made his debut by season's end. In 140 minor league games, he cracked 31 home runs, drove in 124, and posted a .940 OPS. He's was only 21-years old and it looked like he might be one of the players to help turn around Minnesota's losing ways. Prior to the 1998 season, Baseball America ranked him as the 84th best prospect in the game. It was the only time he would be featured on their prospect list. During that season, he was limited to 97 games but 86 of those games came at the big league level. He combined to hit .277/.371/.446 with 29 extra-base hits but he struck out in over a 25% of his at-bats. Minnesota couldn't find a place for Ortiz in the 1999 line-up as he played all but 10 games at the Triple-A level. Keep in mind, the 1998 Twins were on their way to finishing with a 63-97 record and their leading home run hitter was Ron Coomer. Meanwhile at Triple-A, Ortiz slugged 30 home runs and 35 double while posting a .315/.412/.590 batting line. As the calendar turned to a new century, Ortiz was given his first full season of MLB action. He posted a .810 OPS with 47 extra-base hits. He finished second on the team in doubles, third in OPS, and he was one of four Twins to hit double-digit home runs. Things started changing in 2001. Ortiz was hurt again for a chunk of the season as he was limited to 89 games. Even with the limited number of games, he was able to hit 18 home runs and 17 doubles. However, the Twins were looking for Ortiz to have a breakout season and he hadn't been able to do that up to that point. 2002 would be the final season for Ortiz in Minnesota. He put up very respectable numbers as he collected 20 home runs for the first time in his career and hit .272/.339/.500. The Twins won 94 games and made it all the way to the ALCS before falling to the eventual World Series champions, the Angels. Ortiz hit .313 in that ALCS with a pair of RBIs but it wasn't enough. Minnesota entered the off-season at an interesting point in their franchise. They were on the brink of a string of six division titles in nine seasons. Ortiz was eligible for arbitration and would likely get a bump in pay to around $2 million. Matt LeCroy, a former first-round pick, was a much cheaper option at designated hitter. The club also had Doug Mientkiewicz at first base and budding first base prospect Justin Morneau. Oritz was getting pushed out by the other options. The Twins still needed to be conscious of how they were spending their money and Ortiz was getting expensive. He had yet to produce a breakout season at the big league level and there had been some injury concerns in the past. It was the cheap choice but that's where the Twins were in the Metrodome era. Boston signed Ortiz for $1.25 million, a figure that was almost half of what he would have made in arbitration. The Red Sox took a flyer on him and it was a franchise altering move. He has gone on to win multiple World Series rings and was a vital reason the Red Sox were able to break their championship drought. After nine All-Star Game appearances and six Silver Slugger Awards, Ortiz is a legend. It was a mistake and you'd be tough pressed to find anyone who didn't come to the same conclusion. Every team has skeletons in their closet but the Ortiz decision will live on in Twins Territory for years to come.
  17. But maybe you don’t believe in karma. Maybe you don’t believe in any knowledge other than scientifically proven knowledge. The bad news is that makes it hard to meet girls. The good news is that there is still some evidence that Morneau wouldn’t be a terrible fit for the Twins. Morneau has been better than you remember. Over the last two years, he’s posted a .850 OPS. Yes, that’s with Coors field being his home ballpark, but his OPS+ (which adjusts for ballpark) was 120. The only Twins batter who exceeded that last year was Miguel Sano. And his health? Well, he missed a good chunk of last year with a combination concussion and cervical neck strain caused when he dove for a ground ball. He was on the shelf for three months, returning at the beginning of September. However, he seemed to have fully recovered, hitting .338/.423/.474 for that last month. So he’s a good fit spiritually. Maybe even theoretically. And he definitely is prosaically. It’s logistically that things get messy. First, signing him requires trading Trevor Plouffe. That might happen regardless of Morneau. First, the Twins have suggested they want Sano to begin his MLB career at third base. Second, with the paucity of free agent third baseman available, the market for Plouffe might never be higher. But there is no reason to force a Plouffe trade. If the offer comes, great. Second, even if Plouffe is traed, whatever flexibility that provides is immediately sacrificed. The Twins have plenty of question marks in both their outfield and at designated hitter, but they also have lots of possible answers. Bringing in a veteran team leader who expects to play full time – and can realistically play only at designated hitter and maybe first base - has the potential to block any prospects who break through next year. If a veteran must be brought in, he needs more positional flexibility than that. Specifically, he probably needs to be able to play in the outfield. If not, he becomes a roadblock to Kenny Vargas or Oswaldo Arcia. Both were a mess last year, but Vargas is just 25 years old and posted a .772 OPS in his first 234 plate appearances in the majors. Let’s not forget that at this time last year, the words “David” and “Ortiz” were those most commonly associated with Vargas. Arcia, despite a dismal year, is even younger. Also, despite numerous struggles, he still has a career OPS of .741 and a home run about every 22 at-bats. Versus right-handers, he’s been even better, with an .807 OPS in over 500 plate appearances. Finally, Morneau’s durability needs to be considered. When a 34-year-old gets a concussion diving in the infield… let’s just say there were some people this June wondering if he might need to be saved from himself. If you’re still hoping for Morneau’s return, that last point, oddly enough, could provide it. It is not inconceivable that Morneau, due to the health concerns, has trouble getting a full-time job with any MLB team because they just can’t trust him to stay healthy. As the offseason ends, maybe he’s willing to take a part-time role and part-time salary. Maybe the Twins have traded Plouffe. Maybe they’re worried about their depth a bit, and don’t want to ask too much from Arcia or Vargas too soon. (Or maybe they just didn’t find an outfielder they really liked on the free agent market.) So don’t give up hope in what has been a tough week. There might be a path toward a reunion. The path could be winding, and maybe not particularly wise, but Morneau has shown he’s still got some gas in the tank. Maybe enough to get him home.
  18. As Kurt Suzuki laid on the ground after a home plate collision with the Royals’ Jarrod Dyson. On Twitter, I was being asked what the Twins would do if Suzuki needed to miss significant time. In mid-September, the Twins would have to rely on the combination of Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer down the stretch. On September 12, 2009, Justin Morneau dove head-first into first base in an attempt to avoid a tag. He jarred his back and ended up with a stress fracture in his lower back. It was all bad news. Morneau had just reached 30 home runs and 100 RBI. The team was also 5 ½ games back of the Detroit Tigers. At 70-72, the situation looked bleak. The good thing was that the Twins were scheduled to play the Tigers seven more times over the final 20 games. Little did we know at the time that they would play them an eighth time, in Game 163 at the Metrodome. Michael Cuddyer moved in to first base. Jason Kubel was primarily DHing, and he moved out to right field. The DH position was filled with the likes of Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris. But if the Twins were going to get to the playoffs, they needed those two to step up, but others as well. And, that’s exactly what happened. The offense took off, and the Twins went 17-4 down the stretch, catching the Tigers and winning Game 163. Here is a look at how the hitters performed over that final stretch. MICHAEL CUDDYER The team-first Cuddyer stepped up. Over the final 21 games, he hit .325/.398/.675 (1.073) with three doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 24 RBI. He also played very well at first base in Morneau’s absence. Overall, Cuddyer hit 34 doubles, 32 homers and drove in 94 runs. This final stretch got him a lot of MVP votes. JOE MAUER Mauer’s MVP season was absolutely incredible. Though Cuddyer hit the home runs and drove in 24 runs, Mauer was on base most of the month. In 21 games starting September 13, he hit .378/.521/.527 (1.048) with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBI. Those numbers are amazing, but they were right in line with his full-season numbers in 2009. Overall, he hit .365/.444/.587 (1.034) with 30 doubles and 28 homers. ORLANDO CABRERA The Twins acquired the 34-year-old shortstop from Oakland in exchange for former 2nd-round pick Tyler Ladendorf (who made his MLB debut for the A’s in 2015). Cabrera was magnificent down the stretch. He played all 21 games and hit .355/.378/.538 (.915) with six doubles, a triple, three homers and 19 RBI while playing a strong shortstop. JASON KUBEL Kubel moved out to the outfield from DH and hit well down the stretch. He played in 20 of the final 21 games and hit .278/.333/.597 (.931) with five doubles, six home runs and 21 RBI. DENARD SPAN The 25-year-old Span was in his first full season with the Twins and did a great job leading off. He played in 19 of the final 21 games and hit .333/.398/.397 (.795) with three doubles and a triple. He drove in 11 runs and scored 16 times. DELMON YOUNG The 23-year-old was in left field. He played all 21 games and hit .353/.380/.576 (.957) with five doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBI. NICK PUNTO Ron Gardenhire loved his defense and his approach at the plate. He was a polarizing figure with fans. However, he took over at second base late in this season. He played in all 21 of the final games and hit .250/.407/.297 (.704) with three doubles. In that stretch, he walked 17 times and obviously played great defense. MATT TOLBERT 2009 was the year they brought in Joe Crede. As he had in previous seasons, Crede ended up out for the season with recurring back issues. Tolbert wasn’t much of a hitter, but he started 18 of the final 21 games. After September 13th, he hit .313/.347/.448 (.795) with four doubles, a triple and a home run. GAME 163 HEROES Mauer and Tolbert each had two hits in Game 163. But that game was also a reminder that anyone can play hero in a big game or a pennant stretch. In the final inning, Carlos Gomez was on second and scored on a game-winning single off the bat of Alexi Casilla. Bobby Keppel was the winning pitcher, his first and only major league win. BRIAN DUENSING People may forget, but Duensing was alright as a starting pitcher for a while. In his final four starts of that 2009 season, he went 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA. On September 13th, with the Morneau news fresh, Duensing threw seven shutout innings. He backed that up with 6.1 scoreless innings in his next outing. OTHERS Francisco Liriano was pretty bad and had been moved to the bullpen later in the season. Scott Baker went 2-1 despite a 4.61 ERA. Jeff Manship wasn’t great, but he picked up his first career win in Game 160. Joe Nathan posted a 1.46 ERA and recorded nine saves. The Twins went 12-0 in games he pitched. SUMMARY 2010 was the last time the Twins were in the playoffs and Twins fans were involved in a pennant race. However, the second half of the final month of 2009 was as exciting as it gets in the baseball world. The former MVP gets hurt. Things don’t look good. Someone needs to step up. Everyone did step up. Mauer was amazing. Cuddyer had some huge home runs. And then there was Game 163, one of the most exciting games in Twins history. So, what will happen in the final three weeks of the 2015 season? There’s no way to know. The Twins are just 1.5 games back of a playoff spot. Who will step up? Will it be a big name? Will Miguel Sano hit a few more big home runs? How will the rookies respond? Will the veterans lead the way? Will a role player come up in a big situation and come through? In reality, they will need a combination of all of the above. No one knows the answers to those questions. All I know is that it’s going to be a lot of fun to find watch!
  19. Of course, it turned into a lot of work. Trying to find similar contracts wasn’t easy. A lot of players sign long-term deals to eat up some arbitration years and buy out a couple of years of free agency. In the last 15 years, the Twins have done that with the following players (and some that didn’t work out as well): Joe Mauer – 4 years, $33 million - bought out three years of arbitration and a year of free agency. Torii Hunter – 4 years, $32 million – bought out two years of arbitration and two years of free agency. It included an option year that made it a five year, $42 million deal. Michael Cuddyer – 3 years, $24 million – bought out one year of arbitration and two years of free agency. Justin Morneau – 6 years, $80 million – bought out two years of arbitration and four years of free agency. Johan Santana – 4 years, $39.75 million – bought out two years of arbitration and two free agent years. Joe Nathan – 4 years, $47 million – That came after two separate two year deals. If the Twins go that route, they can wait until after the 2019 or 2020 season to try to lock him up long term. It may make sense. The sample size and his track record will be much more telling than a 40-game sample. However, here are some recently signed deals for players who waited until they were arbitration eligible to sign long-term deals. Mike Trout – 6 years, $144.5 million – Trout is obviously in a world all of his own, so this would be the ceiling for a potential deal. He would have gone through his first arbitration year but instead signed the deal. Albert Pujols – 7 years, $100 million – This deal was almost a decade ago, but he, like Trout, should have had more MVP awards than he actually did. He avoided arbitration with this deal. Giancarlo Stanton – 13 years, $325 million – Stanton made $5.5 million in his first year of arbitration. The Marlins surprised many with the deal, though Stanton has an opt-out in six years, if he feels he can make more. The first six years of the deal are worth $107 million. The seven years after the opt-out would be worth $218 million. Ryan Howard – 3 year, $54 million – Howard set records before arbitration and made $10 million in year one of arbitration. He signed the three-year deal the next year and then got a huge deal later. Sano has less than a year of service time. As I said earlier, there are not many examples of players who signed long-term deals with less than one year of service time. Evan Longoria – 6 years, $17.5 million with three option years. As I mentioned above, it turned into a nine year, $47.5 million deal. He remains with the Rays and has signed another long-term deal to stick there. Ryan Braun – 8 years, $45 million – Braun came up about the same time Sano did and the next offseason reached this deal. He proved to be well worth it and has signed another long-term deal. Those two deals were made about eight years ago, and inflation and new national TV deals mean that Sano should make a bit more than they have. Let’s play a couple of scenarios out. Let’s say that Sano becomes a perennial All- Star, maybe even an MVP candidate. Let’s estimate what he would make from year-to-year if the Twins and Sano went year-to-year. 2016: $550,000, 2017: $650,000, 2018: $800,000 (pre-arbitration, $2.0 million) 2019: $7 million, 2020: $14 million, 2021: $20 million (arbitration years, $41 million) That would be $43 million for six years. At that point, he would become a free agent. He would have teams lining up for his services and $30 million annual salaries might be the starting point for negotiations. So, after looking at the contracts of mentioned above, plus the long-term contracts of All-Stars like Andrew McCutchen, Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt, let me try to lay out what a long-term deal could look like for Miguel Sano and the Twins. Pre-Arbitration – 2016: $600,000, 2017: $700,000, 2018: $1 million ($2.3 million) Arbitration Buy-Out – 2019: $5 million, 2020: $8 million, 2021: $12 million ($25 million) Free Agency Buy-Out – 2022: $18 million, 2023: $20 million, 2024: $30 million option with $8 million buyout ($46 million) That equates to an 8 year, $73.3 million deal, with a team option. Why the Twins Should do this deal? The term ‘cost certainty’ comes up when these types of deals are made. Rather than going year to year and not knowing what it’ll cost, they will have one certain contract for eight years. Also, if Sano becomes the player that many believe that he will become (a slugging, middle of the lineup hitter), this deal would give them at least two to three extra years with the slugger. They would also potentially save a bunch of money to spend elsewhere, including a similar deal with Byron Buxton or others. He’s 22, and eight years would take him through his 20s, his best years. Why the Twins Should Not do this deal? That’d be a $73 million risk. What if he gets hurt? What if he strikes out 240 times every season and never makes an adjustment? Knowing the make-up for Sano, there is little concern that he will take the money and stop working, but how a player will handle that kind of financial security has to factor into the discussion. Most believe that he will be a star, but there is risk. As Nick wrote yesterday, the Twins have tied themselves to some big contracts in recent years that have not yet paid off. Why Miguel Sano Should do this deal? Can you imagine being offered $73 million when you’re 22 years old? That kind of money takes care of Sano and his family for generations to come. He can still become a free agent at age 30 and get another long-term deal. Why Miguel Sano Should Not do this deal? If he truly wants to optimize his earning potential, it makes the most sense for him to go year-to-year. He would then become a free agent at age 28 and be set up for a ten-year deal if things play out right. It is an interesting discussion, and likely one that we will have regarding Byron Buxton in the next year or two as well. Who knows? Maybe they’ll pull a Parise-Suter and sign equal contracts to stick around together for the next eight to ten years. What would you do? Reach out to Sano’s agent (Rob Plummer) now, or wait a couple of years?
  20. * Aaron Gleeman wrote a lengthy and thoughtful piece last week on the transformation that Joe Mauer has undergone as a hitter since sustaining a concussion in 2013. There's no assurance it was that brain injury, suffered on a foul tip off the bat of Ike Davis in a meaningless August game, that turned the six-time All Star from a great hitter to a mediocre one, but he was having a very Mauer-esque season at the time it occurred, and has never been the same since. The careers of Mauer and Justin Morneau – "The M&M Boys" – seem inextricably linked. Both reached the majors around the same time. Both rose to the top ranks at their respective positions, and won MVP Awards. And now both have been struck by concussions on seemingly innocuous plays that, evidently, robbed them of their elite offensive ability. The good news is that Morneau did rebound. It took him a few seasons, and he never regained his standing as a dominant slugger, but he did bat .319 last year with Colorado to lead the National League. It may be that patience is required with Mauer... more than we'd like. However, if the primary culprit for Mauer's devolution as a hitter is aging or cumulative leg wear, it may be that what we see is what we're going to get. In that event, the enormous remaining commitment to him becomes a very serious problem. As painful as it is to say, Mauer is currently the worst offensive first baseman in the American League (by OPS). Will he block better young hitters at the game's most bat-driven position for three years sheerly by virtue of his status? It's an uncomfortable topic to ponder. I just hope Joe can improve. * Speaking of Morneau and uncomfortable topics to ponder, the 34-year-old hasn't played for the Rockies since suffering another concussion while diving after a ground ball on May 16th, and has no return in sight. His manager's words 10 days ago were ominous: "It's difficult for Justin, given his history with concussions," manager Walt Weiss said. "This is a process and we have to wait it out." That's heartbreaking, especially when you look back at some of the quotes in this ESPN.com column written by Jim Caple back in March, titled "Concussion fears real for Justin Morneau." Get well, Justin. * Wow, we're off to a depressing start. Let's round things out with a happier note... How about that Brian Dozier? The contract extension signed by Dozier near the end of spring training was mystifying in that it appeared to provide little benefit to the team, other than potential cost savings in the event that the overachieving Dozier somehow got even better. Right now that's exactly the direction things are headed. Dozier's power over the past two years has been very impressive for his position, but now he's taking things to another level. After piling up four more extra-base hits in Texas over the weekend, the infielder now leads the American League with 36. He has an .883 OPS, and with nearly 40 percent of the season in the books, he's on pace for 53 doubles, eight triples, 34 homers and 133 runs scored. These numbers would not only firmly establish Dozier as one of the top second basemen in all of major-league baseball, it would place him squarely in the MVP discussion.
  21. The Twins drafted Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster High School in British Columbia, Canada. At the time, Minnesota drafted him as a catcher, but scouts were unsure of his long-term defensive position. However, his bat was good enough to make him the first Canadian drafted in that draft class. Morneau's first professional action came in the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .302/.333/.396 with five doubles in 17 games. As a 19-year-old, he returned to the GCL, and he destroyed the ball to the tune of a 1.143 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 52 games. He continued to work on his catching skills, but his bat was what put him on the map as one of baseball's best prospects. Baseball America got excited about Morneau following his 2001 minor league season. Over the next three winters, they included Morneau as one of their top-25 prospects. He entered the 2002 season at #21, the 2003 season at #14, and the 2004 season at #16. Morneau also appeared in two Futures Games during that stretch. Scouts considered him one of baseball's best prospects, and there was excitement for what he could mean to Minnesota's long-term future. During the 2001 campaign, Morneau played at three different levels, including making it to Double-A, where he was over four years younger than the average age of the competition. Minnesota decided to move him to first base, and this was even before the team drafted Joe Mauer as the team's catcher of the future. Morneau's change in defensive position didn't hurt his offensive output. He destroyed the ball in the Midwest League (Low-A) with a 1.018 OPS. He got on base over 38% of the time at High-A and had 17 extra-base hits in 53 games. As a 21-year-old, Morneau spent all of the 2002 season at Double-A. Even though he was over three years younger than the competition, he posted an .830 OPS with 51 extra-base hits in 126 games. It was getting tough for the Twins to keep Morneau in the minors, and it would get even more challenging in 2003. At the beginning of 2003, Minnesota had fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz handling first base, and the team was coming off a 2002 run to the ALCS. This left Morneau back at Double-A with a bat that was close to big-league ready. He posted a 1.004 OPS in the Eastern League, where he was still younger than the competition. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A, and he logged 28 extra-base hits in 71 games. Morneau made his big-league debut that season and hit .226/.287/.377 in 40 games, but Mientkiewicz was still at first. Morneau's minor league time wasn't finished as he went back to Rochester in 2004 and mashed the ball. In 72 games, he posted a .992 OPS with 22 homers and 23 doubles. At the trade deadline, the Twins traded Mientkiewicz to Boston, and there was now an open spot at first base. Morneau proved he belonged in the big leagues by hitting 19 home runs and 17 doubles in 74 games with the Twins. He had cemented himself as the Twins first baseman for the next decade. What do you remember about Morneau's minor league career? Where were you when Mientkiewicz was traded? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Justin Morneau was considered one of baseball’s best hitting prospects for multiple seasons, but Doug Mientkiewicz was blocking his path to the big leagues. He played parts of the 2003-04 seasons at the big-league level with mixed results. In 114 games, he combined for 44 extra-base hits and a 109 OPS+. By 2005, he got his first full season with the Twins, and things didn’t go perfectly out of the gate. Minnesota handed Morneau the starting first base job in 2004, as the team was in the middle of a winning window. This can mean added pressure for a top prospect, especially when they are taking over for a fan-favorite like Mientkiewicz. His 93 OPS+ in 2005 was his lowest total in a season where he played over 70 games. The 2006 season was magical for the Twins, and Morneau was a big part of that success. He’d win the 2006 AL MVP after hitting .321/.375/.559 with 34 home runs and 37 doubles. His MVP win is somewhat controversial as his 4.0 WAR ranked as the 22nd best in the AL. However, he compiled substantial numbers in the counting stats (HR, RBI, etc.) that were important to voters at that time. In retrospect, a benching in early June might have been the reason Morneau won the MVP. Minnesota was in Seattle and Morneau was called into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office. He entered that meeting hitting .236/.297/.450 (.747) with 19 extra bases for the season. Gardy told him that his focus needed to be on the field, and he helped Morneau realize that he could be a lot better. For the rest of the season, he hit .362/.412/.611 (1.023) with 53 extra-base hits. It was a career changing conversation for Morneau. Over the next four seasons, Morneau was a perennial All-Star as he combined for a 137 OPS+. His 2010 season looked like he was headed for another MVP as he hit .345/.437/.618 (187 OPS+) in 81 games, Unfortunately, a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. It wasn’t his first concussion, and it wouldn’t be his last. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward, and it can leave fans wondering what could have been. From 2011-2016, he bounced from Minnesota to Pittsburgh with eventual stops in Colorado and Chicago. During these years, he hit .275/.331/.433 (.764), which resulted in a 106 OPS+. During his final season as a full-time player, he led the National League in hitting with a .319 batting average. Concussion issues and other injuries followed him throughout the rest of his career. By the time he retired, Baseball Reference had viewed Morneau as similar to players like Freddie Freeman, Cliff Floyd, and Kent Hrbek. Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed for election to Cooperstown, but his time in Minnesota was memorable. He helped keep the Twins relevant for most of the 2000s, and he lived up to the hype he garnered as a top prospect. Morneau’s post playing career has kept him close to the game. He immediately signed on as a special assistant with the front office, and he has assisted multiple Twins players and prospects in this role. He and his wife, Krista, continue to stay active in the community including holding an annual coat drive that keeps families warm throughout the Twin Cities. Twins fans have also enjoyed his time as a color commentator as he brings an insightful approach that had been missing from the booth. His impact has been felt long after his retirement, including with players like Gerrit Cole, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff. However, one has to wonder if his playing career would look different at the end if he had avoided that slide in Toronto back in 2010. What are some of your favorite Morneau memories? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Inconsistent pitching and injuries have been just some of the issues for the 2021 Twins. There have been some positives as with any season, but it’s hard not to be disappointed as expectations were high this year. Here’s a look at some of the other disappointing teams from recent years. 2011 Twins (Record: 63-99) The 2010 Twins had opened Target Field with a bang, including winning the division by six games over the White Sox. It was the team’s second consecutive AL Central title, and there were many that thought the Twins would be fighting for a three-peat. It’s easy to find connections between the 2021 Twins and the issues faced by the 2011 squad. Justin Morneau struggled to return after a concussion ended his 2010 campaign. Joe Mauer dealt with bilateral leg weakness and back problems. Players like Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka were relied on to fill full-time roles. Minnesota’s starting staff struggled to reproduce their numbers from 2010, with Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, and Francisco Liriano all posting ERA totals of 4.30 or higher. 2007 Twins (Record: 79-83) The 2007 Twins didn’t implode like the 2010 season, but they were indeed a disappointment. Back in 2006, the Twins put together a magical season with Justin Morneau being named AL MVP, Joe Mauer winning his first batting title, and Johan Santana earning his second Cy Young. It was only the fourth time the team had won over 95 games since moving to Minnesota. During the 2007 season, Minnesota finished just under .500, but that was closer to last place than first place in the division. Outside of Johan Santana, the team left fans wanting more. Jason Bartlett finished with the highest WAR among position players, and the pitching staff took a step back. Terry Ryan stepped aside from the GM role in the middle of September. This left Bill Smith to trade Santana and watch Torii Hunter walk away in free agency. The franchise was heading in a new direction. 1993 Twins (Record: 71-91) Minnesota had won the World Series in 1991, and the club finished with 90-wins in 1992. Many of the core pieces of the championship club were still in the prime of their careers. There was hope the team could bounce back in 1993 and keep their winning window open. However, the club was entering a stretch of nine straight losing seasons. During the 1993 season, many of the team’s issues were on the pitching side of the ball. Out of the team’s regulars, six of the nine batters had an OPS+ of 100 or more, including Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek with 120 OPS+ totals. Every starting pitcher with over 100 innings had an ERA north of 4.00, with Willie Banks being the lone starter to post an ERA+ greater than 100. It was Hrbek’s last season of over 100 games, and Puckett was only two years away from being forced to retire. The end of an era came more quickly than many would have anticipated. Which of these seasons was most disappointing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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